Thursday, 27 November 2014

Flat shoes are having a moment...

I'm probably quite late on this one but flats are clearly having a moment. I've been stalking a pair on Net-a-Porter all season and when a sneaky 25% sale popped up, I swooped:

Black patent leather pointed toe flats are the absolute dream, no? I'm already fantasising about pairing these with skinny jeans and an ivory blouse, topped with a classic smart beige trench. Perfection!!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Red, navy and Hermes

I have meetings early this morning but after that I'm just clearing work and running some errands before my flight on Saturday - getting some scripts filled, getting some USD. I needed a bit of a boost so I went with this bright blouse that always makes me feel cheerful :) 

Top: LK Bennett
Jeans: Country Road
Heels: Bally
Bag: Chloe
Scarf: Hermes

Only two more days!! xo

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

5 things that make internet shopping awesome

Australians spend over $20 billion per year  shopping online.  As we're fast approaching Christmas, I thought I would do a quick recap on the top five reasons why this figure is so large and amazing :)

1. The range of products

I was about 14 years old when I started reading Vogue seriously, grabbing my copy every month, becoming familiar with sections of the publication, recognising recurring names of content contributors. It will sound hilarious (and some Gen Zs might have no idea what I'm talking about) but my favourite section was the 'stockists page', tucked away towards the end of the mag. This page had all the names and Australian contact numbers of the brands/designers of every item of clothing and accessory featured in the magazine's stories.  When I was reading Vogue and Bazaar, I would find dresses and shoes and the prices would usually be well out of my meagre school student range (natch). However, I started to get an idea of what these sorts of items cost and when I had saved enough money, I got out the stockists page and found the number for the store that apparently 'stocked' the particular Pierre Hardy black patent peeptoe pump I planned to buy as my very first pair of investment high heels (bless, look at me, the sophisticated 18 year old). I called the store and explained I was calling from Queensland and that I wished to buy an item over the phone that I had seen in Vogue using a credit card. The lady laughed so hard I was amazed she had the breath left to tell me that 'people don't buy things over the phone'. True story.

So Australian retail was a pretty woeful experience for fashion lovers in the late 90s/early millennium. It was a revelation when Net-a-Porter launched (sidebar: I was a Net-a-Porter subscriber so early on, it was when they still divided designers into the 'Salon' and the 'Boutique' - aw...). As internet retail expanded, the outraged squeals from local bricks-and-mortar retailers came in loud and clear: it's not fair, how can we possibly compete?!!

Answer: well, giving your customers what they want might be a novel idea. We don't want the bare minimum of any designer's collection. Oooooh, David Jones has finally stocked Christian Louboutin shoes? Wow, how exciting! it's just two actual designs? And you got two in each size for, like, the entire country? That sounds intelligent. And they're um, $900 for why exactly, coz I can buy them online for about $450 with the exchange rate?

It may be impossible for people in Europe and the UK and US to understand but trust me ladies, this was the true retail picture in Australia for a very long time. Minimal range, snooty sales assistants who knew less about the product than most customers but thought we were lucky to be spending money in their stores and prices that were sometimes twice what we would pay overseas. And the worst part? The companies treated us, their customers, as though we should be grateful for it.

I'm now a firm internet buyer for anything high-end. Matches, Net-a-Porter and Browns are my poison as far as clothes are concerned. There's a clear UK-bias and I don't really know why, it's just that the edits just seems to speak to my personal aesthetic so well. Matches in particular seems to stock lots of really wearable classic investment pieces season after season, that enable me to step away from the reliable-but-boring world of black pants/pencil skirt plus two-button jacket *bleurrgh*.

Now, it's not all about giving Australian retail a toe up the clacker ;) I also prefer whenever possible to buy from local or domestic stores online as well, because...

2. Convenience!

I don't have to go into detail about this one. Shopping is a time-consuming activity. I'm an economist, time is my number-one valued commodity. I'm also a lawyer, and time is pretty damn expensive for those people too, ESPECIALLY if you're paying for it. I don't want to go out when it suits the shops to be open to me. I finish work usually around 6pm and then I'm off to walk my dog, exercise, cook, clean and heaven help me, spend some time with my soon-to-be husband.  Shopping is something I'm very happy to do when I'm sitting on my couch or in bed, with a glass of wine or cup of tea, on a lazy Sunday evening while dinner is get the picture.

3. Customer service

Point 1 above doesn't exactly paint the world of retail sales assistants in a great light.  However, it seems to me that when you make your purchase through the framework of the internet, customer service can be brought to the fore.  It makes sense in a lot of ways: retail SAs standing around in shops are usually bored, tired and couldn't be bothered even trying to gloss over the fact that they are only turning up to work so they can still get paid.  Nothing about their work inspires them and you, their customer, are nothing more or less than an annoyance. However, email enquiries to customer service in my experience are invariably answered promptly. The best e-tailers include individuals' names and contact phone numbers so that you can go the old-fashioned route and speak to a person if you prefer to take your interaction out of the email arena. I've even had a customer service representative from the UK work with me to arrange a time to speak with her about a particular bespoke item, to make sure she (and I) understood completely what I was trying to purchase and there could be no disappointment.

Now I know that there are larger online traders that don't provide a great level of customer service, but then they probably wouldn't be great at customer service if they were in a bricks-and-mortar store either.  My experience has been that the entire framework of online retail is more readily geared towards providing a great customer service experience simply because there are written records of customer interactions and staff performance. There is no quibbling about how long it took for someone to get back to you about your enquiry - the times and dates are right there on the email for all to see.  There is no confusion about what the customer service rep did or didn't advise the customer. The entire process naturally provides far greater accountability for retail assistants. And the good companies (and good sales assistants) know it.

4. Getting parcels and packages delivered makes any random day like a birthday or Christmas

Call me sentimental, but parcels delivered by post are right up there with raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens in my incredibly busy digital-heavy world of high-speed communication and instant decision-making. Frankly, it's just fun to receive something by post, open the boring cardboard box and find all the pretty wrapping inside. In fact, packaging has become something a lot of e-tailers are focusing more on, because the best ones recognise that there is still an 'experience' to be attached to shopping in the virtual world, if THEY choose to create it. I've received parcels with handwritten notes with nothing more than good wishes by the person who packed it and you know what? I like that. I would never get that shopping at a physical store, would I?

Happy Tuesday to me, happy Tuesday to me!

5. Participation

The modern world and particularly social media move at an incredibly fast pace. I obviously don't maintain an even vaguely-current social media presence (I'm working on it, I do have Twitter and Instagram accounts - yay me!). There is quite a disconnect between those of us who work in 'old' economies/industries and those who are moving almost exclusively into the 'new' industries where social media content and activity is either an essential support component of a product or service, or it is the product itself. I'm an old industry participant - I run a company that employs real human beings in real time and that sells services to real human beings in real time.  My real presence is non-negotiable and consequently, given there are only so many hours in the day, it would be possible for me to feel quite excluded from the virtual world where information moves so quickly.  Internet shopping however, allows me to maintain an (albeit) small level of interaction with the online industry. I might begin by browsing dresses somewhere but then be taken to an online publication such as The Style Report by Matches (one of my favourites). I might want some information about a product and go to my hands-down recommended source of genuine feedback on clothes and jewellery and accessories on the net - The Purse Forum - where I'll find reviews and be able to ask questions from other fashionably-minded individuals. I will also have the opportunity to find blogs, some of which have become firm favourites with posts from lovely women all over the world, all managing lives while keeping their fashion-fantasies alive. It makes me feel connected and I'd take that over Facebook's algorithm-generated, ad-heavy 'news' feed any day.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Maxmara navy perfection

So after blathering on about how much I love slim trousers for work, yesterday a cheeky Matches order arrived and hurrah for navy Maxmara crepe dresses:

Dress: Maxmara
Heels: Bally
Bag: Chloe
M left on a two-week trip for work yesterday and I head off to Chicago for a week on Saturday.  The house has that slightly frantic 'just washed and packed' feel and there are piles of clothes sitting out ready for packing. Fat dog is wandering around the house looking a bit skittish and uncertain because M's not here madly chasing him around the house after dinner. I've got so much work to clear before I go for the week, I'm just hoping I get to Saturday in reasonable shape because at the moment my head is running in a million different directions.

I hope you guys are having slightly less mad weeks all round :) xo

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Work to weekend: navy skinny zip jeans

One of the (many) great things about my job is the freedom I have in respect of my working wardrobe.  I moved out of corporate law nearly 7 years ago and left the strict world of black and navy trouser and skirt suits behind.  It sounds somewhat superficial, but one of the things I found trickiest in the transition was how to dress for my new role.  Given my interest in fashion and clothes generally, I felt a bit adrift.

Obviously, I've been in the role for long enough now to feel I have well and truly cracked how 'my' working wardrobe needs to be put together.  I dress according to the occasion, rather than taking my cue from a formal office dress code. This enables me to draw in elements of my personal/individual sartorial taste, while still respecting the reality that how I dress while I'm at work affects how I am perceived by others: clients, commercial partners, subordinates. 

Looking over my blog, it's clear (I think) that, while I adore a well-cut dress, I tend to rely more heavily on trousers at work.  I favour a slender silhouette with slim-cut pants, paired with a more loosely-cut top and a jacket to pull it all together, temperature permitting of course :) 

Following my wardrobe edit and review (a full post is coming, I promise) I am finding it incredibly easy to dress in the mornings because I can see everything.  On Friday, I pulled out navy skinny zip jeans from Country Road. I haven't worn them in a while, probably because I've been enjoying my JBrand 811s, but with the weather being so hot lately, I thought a light thin cotton jean would be more comfortable:

Top: LK Bennett
Jeans: Country Road
Jacket: L'Agence
Heels: Bally
Bag: Chloe

This is a new top by LK Bennett, which I am kind of obsessed with. The UK brand just seems to make chic separates that work seamlessly with a lot of what I already own, sadly not something I can say about Australian contemporary brands. I chose the gorgeous cornflower blue jacket to add a formal element, given that I had a number of meetings to get through during the day.

I decided I loved wearing these jeans again so much that I put them together with a classic white halter top by Saba for Saturday lunch:

Top: Saba
Jeans: Country Road
Flats: Nine West
Bag: Prada

The bight blue leather on this bag makes it perfect for summer weekends. Plus, it's a hobo and we all know how much I like those for weekends and throwing lots of stuff in :) xo

Monday, 17 November 2014

Hot summer weekends

The G20 came and went over the weekend. M was working of course round the clock effectively, so I was pretty much on my own. I did some chores (including a MAJOR wardrobe edit and reorganise, the fruits of which will get their very own blog post) but mostly I stayed indoors. When I did venture out for groceries or to walk the fat dog, I opted for a blue and yellow palette with comfort being the main focus:

Top: Target
Pants: David Lawrence
Flats: Nine West
Bag: Prada
I can't believe I'm off to Chicago in two weeks - it is so hard to think about packing for snow when you're sweating in air-con...

I'm planning a dinner party and I'm so excited...

Surely one of the best things about being an adult is inviting people over, getting dressed up, cooking up a storm and generally creating a small social slice of heaven in your very own home.

M and I don't entertain or socialise often.  We work long hours in demanding jobs - I know, wah wah, poor us - but the fact remains, despite living in a beautiful apartment less than 2 minutes from the centre of the city and with ready access to bars and eateries for something out and great local produce for something at home, we are actually quite reclusive.  As a life-strategy, it has its benefits: without the guilty joys of Friday night take away and couch time, we might never have made our coffee table:

That's right children, stay home a lot and you too could one day make magnificence like this happen...
Just occasionally, however, I get a real hankering to cook up a storm and have someone other than M (or my mum) say "Mmmmm, that was delicious!" **

So in a fit of pre-Christmas joie de vivre, I wrote out invites, addressed, stamped and sent them. So guests will definitely be coming and now I simply have to make it work. Feeling the fear and doing it anyway, no?

I really love to cook. There are so many things in my life I can't control, yet cooking always seems to work out exactly the way it's supposed to. It's very therapeutic - I know some senior execs who run marathons to relax after a busy week. Me, I take pictures like this:

French-style classic tarragon roast chicken 
And make this happen:


I don't have a full menu planned for our dinner party yet. It's set for the weekend after I come back from Chicago, so that's going to be a fun week to prepare for including jet lag and catching up on work *sigh* It will absolutely be worth it though: dressing up, catching up with our beautiful beautiful friends, sharing great food and great wine and celebrating the end of another year.

Happy Monday everyone :) xo

**Having your partner say your cooking is great is really nice, no question, but it's also a bit like your mum telling you you're great at singing and going to audition on X factor - your mum's opinion just might not be totally objective, know what I'm saying?

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Looks I loved from Spring Racing 2014

I would absolutely love to do the full Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne one year*. Racing is such a fun occasion to dress up, have a great time and enjoy all the frivolity.

I find most people dress badly for races, be they celebrities or the ordinary punters.  Somehow, "racewear" has gradually become synonymous with "clubwear" and I have absolutely no idea why.

But some ladies still manage to do it really well and the sight of a well-dressed racegoer is something that just makes my heart feel lighter *sigh*

1. Jodi Anasta @ Derby Day

Wearing Maticevski and Ann Shoebridge Daily Mail

2. Anna Heinrich @ Melbourne Cup

Wearing Alex Perry and Viktoria Novak Instagram @annaheinrich1

3. Divine Rebecca Judd @ Melbourne Cup
Wearing Dolce & Gabbana and Hatmaker Australia  Instagram @becjudd

4. Rachael Finch @ Melbourne Cup
No idea whose dress but it's all working for her ;)

Of course there were also some absolute shockers, but I think Gabi Grecko takes the cake - click the link if you must, but don't blame me if your eyes bleed...

*Self: Make Spring Racing Carnival a priority one year soon! 

Things I'm looking forward to: November

I thought I would start a monthly series of things I have coming up in the month that I'm looking forward to - obviously this will be a test-run before the fiesta of Christmas good times :)

1. Mini golf Hen's night!

A lovely lovely friend from work has organised another lovely friend from work's hen's function this Saturday. We're playing mini golf and then heading into Cloudland for nibbles and drinks.  I'm thinking of wearing this old favourite:

Dress: Tara Jarmon
Sandals: Nine West

I love the cut and colour of this dress - italways looks so chic and the colour is so bright and cheerful! I'm planning at this stage on pairing it with my Nine West tan stack heel sandals, as I think they will be more comfortable for mini golf compared to stilettos.

2. Chicago work trip

I'm going to Chicago for a conference on 29 November and will be back by 8 December, so I think this can definitely go in November's edition.  I've been researching Chicago eateries and in particular watching Man Finds Food - they did a Chicago episode which looked AMAZING!

I've also been researching Chicago weather and officially, I'm terrified - I still need to find a pair of boots! I do have a fabulous shearling coat though:

LK Bennett Fabia Coat

3. Cleaning out my wardrobe

I know it's nerdy and probably completely boring, but I love an organised closet.  On the weekend, I got to organise my fridge and I cannot wait to achieve the same perfection in my beautiful wardrobe :)

4. M coming back from Victoria

M has been away in Victoria for over a week and I really miss him - as soon-to-be newlyweds that's probably an excellent sign!!

December's edition will probably have a big focus on Christmas parties, presents and my birthday celebrations :) xo

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Silver-blue Saturdays with Narciso Rodriguez

After my morning pilates class, (see, I'm still doing it - nyah!) I had to go shopping in town today so I thought I would a pair of classic nude patent Louboutin slingbacks to a quite casual outfit for a bit of a lift:

Top: Vivienne Westwood Anglomania
Pants: David Lawrence
Shoes: Louboutin
Bag: Chloe
 I love these pants, especially the colour, it's so crisp and cool for warm weather, but they're just starting to look a tiny bit big on me - sad face!! I'm going to keep washing them and drying them in the hope that they shrink a little bit!

One of the things I wanted to do in town was try a new fragrance.  I tend to divide scents into three categories:


I don't strictly apply them to these functions - sometimes I will wear a more traditionally evening/date night perfume for weekend brunch, or bring something from the weekend into work - it's just that it's definitely more usual for me to wear my clean understated white florals for work and softer florals/woods/orientals for weekends when fragrance can be more of a feature.

And Romance...ah, Romance, you coy creature. I once achieved perfection in my Romance fragrance - Prada L'Eau Ambree - so naturally, the gods decided to poop on my head and the fragrance was discontinued.  I have been looking for a replacement fragrance ever since, with no success. I mean, I can slide in Chanel Allure EDT when all else fails but it's a poor cousin at best. It always smells like the fragrance of a much more preppy, simple, sweet girl than I am.

To my way of thinking, Romance fragrances can't be simple.  They need to present with layers: a knock-your-socks-off opening combo that hints at the deeper complex notes to come, something that immediately catches your eye and keeps you interested. 

Sadly, far too many fragrances are 3-note wonders and there's nothing intriguing about them. And amongst the complex, stunning fragrances out there, to date none of them made me think sex. Now, I'm not being crude: it is simply the case that fragrance plays a role in seduction, seduction being a beast that changes as we change.  You cannot, as a 30-something professional seduce your 40-something fiancé whilst wearing Tommy Girl - it's weird and oddly-juxtaposed - and don't try to suggest otherwise.

I tend to read Now Smell This for fragrance reviews. I don't read reviews to tell me what I will or won't like, taste in fragrances is after all extremely subjective.  I don't have any real knowledge of 'notes' or fragrance families or any of that, I defer in that regard to the experts.  However, I do find that NST tends to pick out 'good quality' fragrances from the vast array of commercial sugar water for sale out there. 

Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez got a great review as a 'clever' scent, so I thought I would give it a try. For Her by NR is one of those musk-heavy scents that I've always admired on other people whilst being entirely unable to wear with any credibility myself. I was eager to see whether the latest offering from the designer would be something I could pull off - could it be my long awaited Romance fragrance?

Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez - 50ml

Obviously, a bottle came home with me from Myers! I have to say, it is a very interesting and intriguing fragrance and I think it is going to become one of my new favourites. It's not as 'seductive' as I perhaps would have liked (L'Eau Ambree, I miss you so) but it's definitely getting closer to what I'm after.  It also feels very transitional. I feel I could quite comfortably wear it on weekends as well as on dates.  

Superficially, I am LOVING the bottle, no?

If you're in the market for a new perfume, I would definitely recommend trying this. It doesn't fit neatly into any category so if you're not a floral person and you read that it has rose notes, don't let that put you off. It's something you need to wear on your skin to truly see if you like it.

October Beauty Buys

I've been reading bridal magazines (not loads, just Vogue Bride and Bazaar Bride - it's really my only legitimate time to read these mags so I thought I might as well splurge). The beauty sections tend to include a 'countdown to the big day' piece and they all seem to start at around 6 months. So I figured with the wedding in May, my time starts now!

I'm a big fan of SKII. I don't use it all the time, but maybe once a year or so I will splurge. In anticipation of our nuptials, I thought now would be as good a time as any to pick some up while I was in town to replenish my make-up collection anyway:

SKII Facial Treatment Essence
SKII Clear Lotion
SKII Facial Treatment Mask
Lancome Hydrazen Day Cream
Giorgio Armani Maestro foundation and loose powder
I bought the Clear Lotion and the Facial Treatment Essence.  I tend to use the products on my face, décolletage and my arms - probably linked to my redhead genes, but I've always suffered from keratin plugs on my upper arms which make my skin look quite blotchy. Since I'm wearing a strapless dress for the wedding, I want to get an early start on treating this problem area and clearing it up. In addition to a gentle exfoliation every couple of days, I will be applying the Clear Lotion and allowing to sink in before adding my usual Nivea body moisturiser.  My décolletage similarly just needs to look clear and pale - no blotches or sun damage marks allowed! I'm applying 30+ SPF every day to make absolutely sure I don't get any redness or blotches, and otherwise using the Clear Lotion every morning before I moisturise.

Lucky me, I also received a gift with purchase: a Facial Treatment mask.  I really like these masks and will definitely use them in the week before the wedding. I find they make me skin feel incredibly smooth and very clear/glowing.

I also picked up some Lancome Hydra Zen Day Cream, which is my regular moisturiser and received some additional serum samples - I don't usually say yes to samples, I find they usually just clutter up my bathroom but I thought on this occasion I would be willing to try just about anything to see if I go from being me to being Rosie Huntington-Whitely...I'll keep you posted ;)