17.04.2015- Life Lessons: On Friendship, Facebook and FOMO

Friday, 17 April 2015

When you're growing up, being a teenager can seem like a pretty tough deal- and I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to be going through the transition into adulthood surrounded by so much technology today. Back when I was a youth all I had to worry about was beating my highest Snake score on my trusty Nokia 3310, but today there's so much more to contend with- from social media induced FOMO, streams of Snapchat stories and endless Facebook induced fails, online interaction can seem absolutely inescapable. FOMO's a funny old phenomenon too, isn't it? If I'm being completely honest, up until recently I wasn't 100% sure what it was- but it transpires that Fear Of Missing Out is actually a thing- and something which our growing appetite for social media minutiae seems to feed into relentlessly. Don't get me wrong, I'm as guilty as the next girl of serial Insta-spam, but whereas my photos are largely a filtered look at what I'm having for lunch (sorry not sorry), for some living life constantly glued online feeds into some serious FOMO anxiety. Whether it's friends looking like they're having fun without you, someone having the most amazing tropical adventure and sharing on every social media platform under the sun, or a constant collection of people dropping the engagement/baby/mortgage bomb online, sometimes so-called social media can make you feel pretty isolated, left out or left behind. Anti-social, infact.

I'm a huge fan of the internet- after all, I wouldn't be able to share all of this with you without it, but in an age where so much of our communication and conversation takes place online, I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds themselves longing for a good old fashioned chat every now and again. How many times have you been out with friends only to be distracted by your phone, of for them to constantly be checking their notifications? In a world where we're more connected than ever, I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds myself longing for a proper conversation, sans smart phone.

Thinking about FOMO also got me musing on the way in which we use social media, particularly more visual mediums like Instagram. It's interesting to think about these sort of platforms becoming more and more weaponized, whether it's in terms of allowing something like cyberbulling to thrive, feeding body image anxiety or perpetuating the exclusion complex which FOMO originates from. Whereas in the past your invitation to *that* party might have just got lost in the post and you could forget all about it, now you have to dodge the constant stream of selfies, tweets about 'fun times' and Facebook check ins showing you exactly what you're missing out on. Sometimes it can feel like the Mean Girls mentality has gone viral- and not in a 'fetch' way, know what I mean?! 

Ultimately, I think the idea of FOMO (and all other associated web-based anxieties!) can probably be most closely linked to peer pressure. When I was growing up all you really had to worry about was avoiding being ganged up on by the school smokers, keeping your head down and getting on with things (including beating that aforementioned high score on Snake), but the modern shift in communication from first person to online means that day to day life can be dominated by a perceived pressure to conform, to be buying what everyone else is buying and to be doing what everyone else is *having so much fun* doing. In this instance, the voice of experience offers the best advice on this- life's too short. Too short to worry about what other people are doing. To waste time and energy on scrolling through social media to see what you've missed out on because you decided to have a lazy day with Netflix and your duvet rather than rushing about Instagramming that hip new hangout or visiting that pop up shop which everyone else has been raving about. Here's a thought- imagine if we all spent those wasted FOMO spells on celebrating living our own lives in the moment. Because #YOLO, right?! 

What are your thoughts and experiences of FOMO? I'd love to hear what you think so drop me a comment! 

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

15.04.2015- Handbag Heroes

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Whilst it's no secret that I'm a huge fan of handbags and tend to rotate the ones which I use on a pretty regular basis, the basics which I carry around with me tend to remain pretty constant. I'm a huge believer in being prepared for all eventualities (a trait which I inherited from my mum!), but most of the time I'm guilty of carting around far more than I actually need to have with me. In fact, when I last indulged in a handbag detox, I could barely find the essentials amidst a random collection of bits and pieces including a woolly hat, two umbrellas and enough old train tickets to start a museum collection. Anyway, within the chaos, I thought it would be nice to share some of my ultimate handbag heroes with you- the basic belongings which are essential for every day:

Sunglasses, River Island/Pen, Muji/Lip Balm, Kiehl's/Ticket Wallet, Oliver Bonas

I tend to have a pair of sunglasses in my bag no matter what the weather (which is either really optimistic or ultra-prepared!), but when the summer arrives I always like swapping my favourites around. I picked up this jazzy pair from River Island in their end of season sale and I can't wait to give them a whirl this year- the floral detail adds the perfect nod to the holiday inspired style which I was talking about in my last post. In the words of many of my GCSE teachers at secondary school, failure to prepare is preparing to fail- pretty routine as life lessons go and not overly inspiring, but something which has been ingrained into my brain nonetheless- not to mention one of the reasons why I make sure I've always got a pen handy in my bag. These colourful ones from Muji are really practical and not prone to springing a leak in the same way that the Biros which I carted around in my pencil case at school would almost inevitably combust and cover everything in ink. Now that's a life lesson worth shouting about, don't you think?!

As far a lip balms are concerned, my bag used to be something of a bottomless pit, where many a product would disappear and be long forgotten about until they were reclaimed many months later. That is, until I discovered this gorgeous Mango Lip Balm from Kiehl's- something that once you try, you'll make a concentrated effort not to let fall into the handbag black hole. It's super light, beautifully fragranced and is by far one of the best products of this kind I've ever used, as well as being brilliant value for money. Finally, regular readers (and those of you who follow me on Twitter...#trainpain!) will know that I spend approximately half of my life on one form of public transport or another. This personalised ticket wallet from Oliver Bonas is perfect for stashing all of my tickets (for those all important Delay Repay claims!) and Oyster card, as well as cheering me up when I'm in a rush by invoking some serious S Club 7 nostalgia. But I'm sure that's only me!

What are your handbag essentials?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)

13.04.2015- Most Wanted: Palm Prints

Monday, 13 April 2015

Whilst I'm sure I'm not the only one daydreaming about booking a spur of the moment summer holiday to somewhere luxurious, until I win the lottery it seems unlikely that that will happen (for a little while, at least). If you, like me, have got itchy feet and are longing to book a break away, never fear- I've found a little bit of a compromise. Fair enough, it's not a fortnight in the Caribbean or The Maldives, but if you're on a shoestring budget then the tropical prints which are dominating the shops at the moment might just be the next best thing to kicking back on a beautifully sunkissed beach. I know, I know- it's not exactly the same thing, but for now at least I know it's the closet that I'm likely to get to palm trees and sandy beaches- and there are plenty of pretty palm inspired prints in the shops to help you channel a slice of summer holiday chic:

Jungle Palm Shirt Dress, £45, Warehouse/Oriental Belted Duster Kimono, £45, Oasis/Bamboo Overlay Dress, £140, Whistles/People Tree Organic Cotton Trouser in Palm Print, £60, ASOS/Palm Print Bag, £29.99, Mango/Flossy Blue Canvas Pumps, £12, Office/Beach House Bouquet Mini Studs, £40, Kate Spade

This printed button down dress from Warehouse has been on my wish list for what feels like forever, and last weekend it became the latest addition to my wardrobe! It's definitely a new favourite and something which I know I'll get plenty of wear out of as the weather warms up. It's super versatile too, and I can't wait to experiment with styling it in lots of different ways. The kimono jacket was a real favourite of mine last summer, and I’m sure that I’ll be reaching for my old favourites again soon too. In the meantime, this gorgeous bold blue design from Oasis has really caught my eye as it just screams summer holidays, don’t you think? Definitely one to snap up even if you’re not going to be packing your suitcase any time soon.

For regular readers, it will come as no surprise that I’m seriously coveting all of the new season pieces from Whistles, not least this super stylish printed dress. Not only is the monochrome print ultra-adaptable, but the asymmetric detailing adds the perfect modern twist too. For me, another summer staple is the humble printed trouser- in my book you can’t go far wrong with a statement pair and a simple block coloured top. These ones from People Tree at ASOS have got summer written all over them, and from a purely practical perspective the lightweight organic cotton makes them ideal for balmy days in the city *insert thumbs up emoji*!

With co-ordination in mind, this clutch bag from Mango ticks all of the right boxes, and if you're looking for something a little bit more understated for pairing with some of your wardrobe basics, something like this is a great option. Speaking of practicality, a few years ago (ironically enough, when I was shopping for summer holiday clothes!), I came across Flossy- and am yet to find a more comfortable style of shoe. This vivid printed pair from Office have shot to the top of my shopping list, and are pretty impossible to resist at such a bargain price. Finally, if you’re after a subtle hint of summer, then these tropical inspired earrings from Kate Spade are perfect, and a lovely subtle way to liven up some existing wardrobe favourites too.

Are you a fan of palm prints?

(Image credit: Warehouse, Oasis, Whistles, ASOS, Mango, Office and Kate Spade.)

10.04.2015- What I Wore Today #216

Friday, 10 April 2015

Although the weather is definitely a little bit up and down at the moment, the little glimpses of sunshine which are punctuating the duller days are the perfect pick me up, don't you think? Whilst I haven't quite thrown caution to the wind and plucked up the courage to leave the house without a coat just yet, it definitely feels like it won't be too long before it's warm enough to dig out some of my spring and summer style staples. Until then, I'm content to rediscover some transitional basics and spruce them up with some key new season accessories, as I did at the weekend:

Coat- Marks and Spencer 
Top- & Other Stories 
Trousers- ASOS 
Shoes- Converse c/o JD Sports 
Bag- c/o Laura Ashley 
Scarf- c/o Laura Ashley 

I'm a huge fan of updating lots of old wardrobe favourites with a new bag, scarf of some jewellery, so when Laura Ashley got in touch with some new season essentials to style, I couldn't resist. This green bag is the perfect, practical spring essential, and the pop of colour is the perfect antidote to greyer days. Here I paired it with a gorgeous printed scarf, featuring a floral design from the Laura Ashley archive- something which I know I'll be reaching for again and again as we head towards summer. Both pieces definitely added a much needed splash of vibrance to my outfit at the weekend- needless to say the chilly weather and rain had me reaching for some sensible staples! 

Do you have any favourite spring accessories?

(Image credit: Lily Safavi, please do not reproduce without permission.)

08.04.2015- Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited along to a special preview of Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden, the latest exhibition to take up residence at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace. After their amazing In Fine Style installation, this year the Royal Collection Trust are showcasing the best of British botany, theming the exhibition around royal gardens, horticulture and the art of depicting them on canvas. Encompassing a selection of work from artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Carl Fabergé and Maria van Oosterwyck, the exhibition also uncovers some of more unusual pieces, including a selection of vegetable themed table wear, and a gardening manual thought to date back to the reign of King Henry VIII:

Throughout the course of the exhibition, we learn that the concept of the garden becoming a pocket of paradise originated in Persia. Beautifully intricate images and illustrations of gardens can be found across Persian manuscripts, and, from this ancient tradition, the garden as we know and love it today came into existence. Depictions of gardens in Western Europe during the Middle Ages largely found their origins in religious texts, with this idyllic outdoor space becoming inexorably linked with notions of paradise and a utopian existence. It wasn't until the Renaissance that the garden took on a more regimented, architectural appeal- and the birth of horticultural design during this period is traced through many of the sketches and manuals which make up this section of the exhibition.

From here, and throughout the course of the Baroque period, gardens became vast, expansive and expensive- grand, sweeping status symbols which conveyed a distinct sense of power, but which were also depicted extensively across an array of artwork, again intended to invoke a sense of prestige and awe. As it progresses, the exhibition also traces the influence of botany and cultivation on the depiction of plants, as well as capturing the power of the landscape garden as a potent symbol of enlightenment and a social space like no other. The widening appeal of gardening is captured through an array of Victorian artworks, and from here we also learn about the significance and subtleties of the language of flowers.

If you're a budding botanist or an avid artist, then definitely pop a visit to Painting Paradise onto your to-do list. It's a lovely little oasis of calm to visit just a stone's throw away from the hubbub of Buckingham Palace, and I learnt so much from my visit. Now, where did I put my watering can??!

Have you visited any interesting exhibitions recently?

(Image ctedit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)
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