Shopbop’s #Seasontoshine

shopbop gift guide 2014 aminuteawayfromsnowingGetting organised for the festive season has never been a strong point of mine. I’m off to my husband’s Christmas party this weekend and only just decided what to wear (FYI, it’s this two-piece by Alice McCall. I’m stuck as to what shoes to wear though!). I’m always the one booking restaurants at the eleventh hour, finding something to wear at the last minute, or going on a wild goose chase for that perfect present the day before.

I’ve still got a couple of Secret Santa gifts to shop for (the budget is $50 each), so my collaboration with Shopbop.com this Christmas couldn’t come at a better time. After browsing Shopbop’s #SeasonToShine gift boutique, I’ve put together a wishlist of things all under $100 (most are under $50, though!) that I’d love to give (and receive – ha!). As some of you may have noticed, I’ve become so much more about the home and less about the clothes (which does go hand in hand with some pretty big and exciting news I hope to share with you within the next few weeks).

But alas, this wishlist is for your benefit as much as mine, because as part of the launch of their #SeasonToShine gift boutique, Shopbop are giving you the chance to win a $100 Shopbop.com gift voucher*. Simply share your wishlist/gift ideas from the boutique on Twitter (or just by retweeting this) – easy peasy!

As for what’s on my wishlist?

1. Rifle Paper Co. x Garance Dore Greeting Card Set | 2. Jonathan Adler Pop Bourbon Candle

3. Kate Spade Gold Dots Pencil Pouch | 4. C. Wonder Serving Set | 5. Small Mirror Tray

collage by me.

* winner will be chosen at random by me & entries close a week from now – 10th Dec.

A breath of fresh air.

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One of the hardest things about freelancing (and essentially, owning your own business) is feeling the guilt that sets in at the mere thought of having a day off – even on a weekend. After a particularly trying week, my husband managed to drag me out of the house yesterday to recharge, refresh and unwind an hours’ drive away from home. I put on something dressier than what I have been wearing lately (which, to be honest, doesn’t take much), and we drove somewhere we had the whole place to ourselves. With my phone out of range the whole afternoon, switching off was exactly what I needed.

I also can’t remember the last time I posted a picture of what I’ve been wearing – what I’ve been truly wearing – day to day. Not to say that this above outfit is what I wear every day – ha, if only! If anyone is looking for Equipment silk shirts by the way, I’ve found them at The Outnet (prices on the US site seems to be the most favourable – I did the hard work for you and cross-checked regions). Those PJ silk tops have my name written alllll over them.

Anyway, despite what my Instagram will have you believe, life lately has merely involved coffee runs because I’ve run out of Nespresso, turning up to meetings in five-day-old-hair (I wish I was joking, but #lifegoals) and doing all my grocery shopping in these Sömn linen pants that I’ve also been wearing to bed. Because, #freelancelyf.

And I feel like a hypocrite saying this but, as some of you may have noticed, it’s something that has reflected in both here and on social over the past couple of months. Taking incessant photos of myself for funsies suddenly seems pointless, narcissistic and self-indulgent. Because you know, taking photos of my food has a lot more substance. Does anyone agree? Do you actually want to see more #whatimwearing posts or are you totally satisfied with the gazillion instagrams of peonies at the moment?

Let me know what you think below!

P.S. thanks so much to all of you who has left me a question over the past few days. Keep them coming!

Ask and you shall receive.

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For those of you who have been following me for a few years now, remember the Ask function on Tumblr?

It probably made my blog a lot more entertaining (and mildly controversial) but I decided to give it up after a good two or so years because 1. I could never be as sharp-witted as Rumi; 2. I could never, ever, be as dedicated or as succinct in replying as much as Margaret; and 3. My Tumblr started to become an Agony Aunt column of sorts, and I was conscious that for my readers who couldn’t care less what my favourite colour YSL BDJ or favourite size Emile was…well, I’m pretty sure I was fast-tracking to an Unfollow.

So, before my inbox implodes with yet another travel/career/life/handbag question – and before I explode with yet another sob story on life lessons – I thought I’d shift the focus on you this week. 

Have a question – big or small – you’ve always wanted to ask me? Need some advice on life’s pressing issues?

Simply leave your question in the comment box below (feel free to remain anonymous – most people just seem to use a fake email address particularly if they’re being a jerk, but whatever floats your boat) and I will shortlist and answer ten questions in an upcoming Q&A post. To give you an idea, I seem to get asked these questions a lot on social and/or in real life:

How do you edit your photos?

How tall are you?

What’s it like blogging for Vogue?

Do you think blogging is viable as a full-time, long-term career?

Why do you never socialise?

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

When do you plan on having children? (ok, so this may or may not be asked most by a certain mother in-law)…

What do you do for a living nowadays? (hi, mum!)

If, for whatever reason, you can’t comment below, post your question on either my Facebook or Twitter and I’ll add it to this pile. The more thoughtful and constructive the question (and if it’s a super popular and pressing question!) the more likely I’ll answer it. And though I have no issues with constructive ‘feedback’, please try to play nice! I’m afraid Tumblr never really had a Jerk Filter and neither does WordPress for that matter.

In the meantime, head over to The Daily Edited blog where I most recently answered things I’m often asked by fellow bloggers and Instagrammers.

Looking forward to reading (and answering) your questions soon!

A Minimal + Chic Guide to Summer.

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This time of year for me has always called for simplicity, lightness, and uncomplicated essentials for a timeless summer wardrobe.

I was recently asked to style Country Road’s new jewellery collection together with a few high summer essentials that I recently purchased. The beautiful linear, geometric, and clean simplicity of the jewellery paired perfectly with what I plan to be wearing over the next few months: oversized oxford shirts and silk dresses, androgynous slides, a pair of classic sunglasses, and a brimmed hat.

We all know by now it actually takes a lot of effort to look effortless, so I’ve come up with my five go-to tips as a thoughtfully devised guide to a minimal and chic summer wardrobe:

1. KEEP IT SIMPLE + SIMILAR

Refine your style by wearing only one or two pieces of jewellery, and in a similar aesthetic. Here, I’ve paired a maximum of two or three pieces for any one outfit. I don’t mind mixing and matching metals but when it comes to jewellery on the hands and wrists, I always tend to stick to either silver or gold, not both at the same time or on the same hand. I love the way these Country Road pieces embody new relevance and character whilst still staying true to a pared-back aesthetic.

2. A STUDY IN PROPORTION + POISE

Re-imagine classic button-down shirts as shirt dresses by going for a few sizes bigger than what you’d normally buy. It’s the perfect thing to wear at the beach or a casual get-together if the hemline is long enough (think mid-thigh). For this post, I’m wearing all of the shirts in an XL to gain the most length as possible. A small tip though: to avoid re-enacting a classic Clueless moment with your Dad (like I did a few weeks back), a pair of silk shorts underneath your shirt for modesty will do the trick. A study in proportion and poise is also important here to achieve a modern balance: going a few sizes up means the shoulders will be ill-proportioned so roll-up the sleeves to just below your elbow and button the shirt all the way to the collar. I think the resultant voluminous trapeze shape anchored with minimal accessories is such an effortlessly cool and counterintuitive look for summer.

3. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TONES

Don’t stray too far from a natural and neutral colour palette. If one-colour dressing isn’t your thing but you still like that refined, minimal and chic aesthetic, pair colours of similar tones and shades. And if we’re talking accessories, I personally love pairing gold jewellery with soft pinks/creams and save silver for navy and cooler, undercurrent of blues.

4. THE NON-STATEMENT, STATEMENT PIECE

Pick one statement piece with its own distinct character and make that the only focus of your outfit. For me, it’s a great hat (I was drawn to the unique ‘high crown’ and asymmetry of the black raffia hat – with the added bonus of making me look taller than I really am, ha!). Country Road’s jewellery collection embodies an aesthetic approach that’s one of delicacy and simplicity. My favourites are the gold T Bar Bracelet (the epitome of a non-statement statement piece!) as well as the black leather tassels that add edge to the otherwise delicate silver on the Mini Tassel Necklace – I love a good juxtaposition.

5. THINK OF IT AS A MODERN, REFINED SENSE OF LUXURY

Make this your summer wardrobe mantra: comfortable, wearable, and versatile; all of which share a modern, refined sense of luxury. Think crisp cotton shirts, silk cropped culottes, light cashmere layers, and nuanced neutrals. It’s important to note when trying to achieve that ‘minimalist’ aesthetic, that the most special and prized pieces are not always the most memorable wardrobe mainstays. It’s the simple, uncomplicated pieces which are instantly adaptable to different moods and occasions, that always wins out in the end. And it’s the same with jewellery; it’s all about finding something that you can wear every day that embodies the perfect balance of character and longevity.

In this post, I’m wearing:

Gold T Bar Bracelet | Knuckle Ring | Multi Stack Ring | Circle Necklace in gold & silver | Mini Tassel Necklace

Contrast Collar Stripe Shirt | Pink Career Shirt | Bib Stripe Shirt | Woven Baseball Cap

High Crown Raffia Hat | Canvas Print Shopper | Harriet Sandals | Ray-Ban Wayfarers (these items are from my own wardrobe)

Photographs by Jamie. Still-life by me.

The Midnight Train.

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Christmas Stollen by Wild Bakery, copper trivet from Kitchen Warehouse, tea towel by Country Road, small plate from Empire.

As time wears on, I find myself becoming more and more of a private person. I’ve been blogging for almost nine years now and have voluntarily shared so much of myself online, from break-ups and depression to moving out of home, to the day I married my husband, and the moment I left my day job after eight years to go out on my own. These days, the more I put myself out there – particularly in front of the camera (where you can’t hide from anyone) – the more I crave time behind the lens.

I’ve been getting into a lot more styling work lately and I’m finding being ‘behind the scenes’ my true happy place. It may sound trite, but this whole year – my 30th – has become so much more of a journey of self-discovery than I had imagined. The day after my birthday, I realised turning 30 isn’t actually as big of a deal as everyone (and I) made it out to be. But it wasn’t until it was suddenly November (!) that the light switch came on. Because it’s what came after 30 that struck the world for me:

Discovering ‘doing what you love’ in its truest, most disarming and earth-shattering sense of the phrase. Realising that the entire year was just this silly dance of trial and error. Being defeated by what I thought I was good at it; then stumbling across something buried deep inside me that has made everything fall neatly into place.

I want to set the world on fire. And although life for me will always be one big experiment, it’s the sound of the shutter, with my own eyes peering through the looking glass, that I’d say, really is, my happy place.

Styling + Photography by me.

Paris Travel Guide.

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This travel guide – in all its quintessential Haussman glory – has been a year in the making, if not more.

There was always one more thing to add, half a dozen things I’ve forgotten to share, or one more trip to make before I could really feel ready to share my personal take on Paris. My laptop crashed three times today finishing this off. So those of you who have emailed me countless times, I’m sorry to have kept you waiting this long! As you know, I do nothing by halves but I hope the wait was somewhat worth it as you read on. Having said that, this guide – as with all my other ones – is by no means definitive. It’s essentially based on my own personal recommendations as well as those of others. It’s a bit less touristy than other itineraries (you’ll notice I’ve left out obligatory must-sees like Notre-Dame) so it’s best to take what you’d like from it and add to your other research.

Lastly, I can’t sign off on this without thanking Hannah (who’s earliest memory of Paris probably coincided with the same time she could pick up a book), Alex (who has just finished up a 6 month exchange in Paris), and Grace (who threw caution to the wind, left everything behind, and spent a year immersing herself in Paris) for graciously and selflessly sharing their own tips and itineraries with me without even me having to ask (or beg!). I hope with this guide I’m paying it forward and sharing a random act of kindness with you all, as they have done with me. Enjoy.

SEE

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Best view of the Eiffel Tower

Champ de Mars – this gets you to the base of the Eiffel. 2 Allée Adrienne Lecouvreur, 75007.

Trocadéro – a large square that overlooks the Seine, opposite the Eiffel Tower. Metro: Trocadéro

Avenue des Camoens - where Abdu’l-Baha delivered many speeches and also a really photogenic spot!

Rooftop of Galeries Lafayette – it’s free and a good resting spot from all the shopping. 40 Boulevard Haussmann, 75009.

Arc de Triomphe – buy a ticket to climb the 284 spiral steps to the top. There’s no elevator and you’d probably need to be reasonably fit, but the view alone will be worth the trek, especially as you can stay for as long you like. Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008.

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Museums

Palais de Tokyo. 13 Avenue du Président Wilson, 75116

Musée de la Vie romantique. 16 rue Chaptal, 9e (metro: Blanche)

Musée du Louvre (metro: Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre)

Centre Pompidou. Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004

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Gardens & beautiful open spaces

Jardin des Tuileries. 113 Rue de Rivoli, 75001

Jardin du Luxembourg. 6e Arrondissement, 75006

Jardin du Palais Royal. 6 rue de Montpensier, 75001

Place des Vosges. Place des Vosges, 75004

Parc Monceau. 35 Boulevard de Courcelles, 75008

Palace of Versailles – this one’s best done as a day trip. Place d’Armes, 78000

Monet’s Gardens – Giverny. If you’re a fan of Impressionism and, in particular, beautiful French gardens, a visit to Claude Monet’s house and garden is a must. It’s a 45 minute train ride out of Paris. From the train station, you can either catch a bus or ride a bike to the gardens (you can rent them cheaply from the corner shop opposite the station entrance/exit, and along a good proportion of the route, there are safe, dedicated bike paths). My friends and I cycled – it’s a roughly 20-30 mins ride depending on how fast you can peddle!

Walk along the Seine at sunset - one of my favourite things to do is exploring Paris on foot and seeing all the bridges and the architecture bathed in the soft afternoon glow. I love taking my Instax with me and documenting the afternoon with all the sights along the way. Remember to wear comfy walking shoes – it’s all cobblestones along most of the route! I particularly love starting from the Eiffel Tower to just past Notre Dame. If you’re not into walking, I also recommend hopping onto a ferry (I think there’s a few that dock in on the left bank, near St Germain way). It goes all the way from the 1st to the Eiffel Tower. You don’t usually have to book tickets in advance as the boats and ticket booths run all day.

 

EAT/DRINK

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Coffee:

Telescope – hands down, best coffee I’ve had in Paris. 5 Rue Villedo, 75001

Recommended:

Maison Kitsuné

Ten Belles

Cafe Coutume – they roast their own beans here and is Hannah’s favourite!

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Patisseries/Boulangeries/Sweets:

Rosa Kiwi – frozen yoghurt! Quite similar to Pink Berry. Rue Mouffetard is also one of my favourite streets to stroll in Paris. 4 Rue Mouffetard, 75005

Rose Bakery – this goes without saying but you cannot leave without having their carrot cake. This English-style cafe is dotted around Paris – 46 rue des Martyrs or at Le Bon Marché (which is the most spacious) or in the Marais (30 rue Debelleyme 75003). They have really delicious, vegetarian options, too, which is a nice change from all the meat, cheese and decadent cream sauces!

Plan B – If you happen to drop into Rose Bakery on rue Debelleyme, it’s worth popping into the little organic juicery and canteen next door for a quick pick-me-up. Claudia, who runs it, previously worked at Candelaria (so it must be good). I ordered the most refreshing freshly squeezed organic orange juice with a French tart/quiche to go. 32 rue Debelleyme 75003.

Les Marquis de Ladurée - Ladurée’s newest venture, entirely dedicated to chocolate. 14 rue Castiglione 75001

Du Pain et des Idées - Kristy says the fig tart is AMAZING. 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010

Pierre Hermé – you haven’t done Paris if you haven’t done Pierre Hermé. 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006

Recommended

Patisserie Ciel

Poliane (famed sourdough)

Patisserie des Reves (a hop, skip and jump from Trocadéro. Hannah says it’s like Zumbo on crack).

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Room with a view:

Le Café Marly. People watching at the Louvre. 93 Rue de Rivoli, 75001

Top of Pompidou – Georges. Amazing at dusk. Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004

Le Ciel de Paris. Tour Maine Montparnasse, 33 avenue du Maine 75015

 

Drinks (I don’t drink much so these are Alex/Hannah’s recommendations!):

Hotel Costes. 239-241 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001

Le Prescription Cocktail Club. 23 rue Mazarine, 75006

Club Silencio. David Lynch’s boutique nightclub in Paris. Make sure you go before midnight to avoid hefty fees. 142 Rue Montmartre, 75002

Bar du Marche. Open til super late. 75 Rue de Seine, 75006

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Restaurants/Cafes:

Café de Flore. For Caesar salad and people watching, obviously. 172 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006.

Crêperie Brocéliande. Cute place in the middle of Montmartre with the most delightful, highly coveted crepes! Be prepared to queue a little bit. 15 Rue des 3 Frères, 75018

Café des Deux Moulins. Obviously a bit touristy due to Amélie but surprisingly really good value for money. Grab the breakfast set here. 15 Rue Lepic, 75018

Bob’s Kitchen. A bit pricey but the smoothies and juices live up to the hype. Great pitstop whilst exploring Canal St Martin. 74 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003

Claus. Breakfast/brunch here is a must (they open from 10am). Christian Louboutin’s flagship store is literally across the road too. 14 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 75001

Merci Café. My favourite place in Paris. 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais 75003

Chez Omar. Sofia Coppola eats here and so does Clemence Poesy apparently. Amazing and well-priced Moroccan food (really generous portions!) but the longest queue you’ll ever see in Paris. 47 Rue de Bretagne, 75003

La Maison Mère. Best fried chicken. Ever. Thanks, Alex! 4 Rue de Navarin, 75009

La Rughetta. Went here with friends (we were all staying in Montmartre) and enjoyed the most delicious Italian food with the most gracious, personable service. 41 Rue Lepic, 75018.

Chez Hannah. Falafel, falafel, falafel. Cheap and cheerful food. Muji is nearby and so is a host of other amazing shopping in the Marais. 54 Rue des Rosiers, 75004

L’Ardoise. We chanced upon this as it was conveniently located next to our hotel in the 1st. Excellent French food and a real crowd-pleaser amongst tourists, funnily enough. 28 Rue du Mont Thabor, 75001

Le Castiglione. I went here for the cheeseburgers (if it’s good enough for Sofia Coppola…) and it was quite pricey but great for people watching and the burger was decent. 235 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001

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Recommended (restaurants/cafes)

La Favorite

Aki

Frenchie To Go

Nanashi

Da Rosa

Bar du Marche

Candelaria

Mamie Gateaux

Tuckshop

The Broken Arm

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SHOP

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Favourite areas to shop:

Jardin du Palais Royal (Acne, Stella McCartney, vintage shopping)

Saint Germain (Celine, COS, Acne, Dries et al)

Le Marais (Isabel Marant, Merci, COS, A.P.C. et al)

Rue Saint Honore (everything all on the one winding street – Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Chanel shoe boutique, as well as Zara and & Other Stories)

Avenue Montgaine (as above but super high-end)

Montmartre (best for small French boutiques)

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Department stores:

Galeries Lafayette – best place to make those designer purchases as you can claim the VAT back downstairs. 40, boulevard Haussmann, 75009.

Le Bon Marché  – beautifully curated and merchandised. Pit stop at Rose Bakery is a must. They also have their own VAT office upstairs which is really convenient. 24 Rue de Sèvres, 75007.

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Homewares/Bookshops:

Fleux – jaw droppingly beautiful and such a vast range of homewares and furniture. Even if you can’t take most of it back in your suitcase, it’s a great way to while away an afternoon in the Marais. 39 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, 75004.

Zara Home - this is on another level. 2 Boulevard de la Madeleine, 75009.

Shakespeare & Co. – I couldn’t not include this even though after three trips to Paris I still haven’t been! One day. 37 Rue de la Bûcherie, 75005.

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Lifestyle/Fashion/Concept stores:

Colette. It’s always packed to the rafters here. Try to go on a week day (though even then there’s probably some event happening!). 213 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001.

& Other Stories. Such a beautiful store and the only one that hasn’t made it to Australian shores yet. I love the one on  277 Rue Saint Honoré, 75008.

Chanel – 31 Rue Cambon. Okay so even if you don’t buy anything here, it’s worth a visit and a window shop!

Merci. Aesop, Church’s boots, Isabel Marant and Maison Michel hats all under the one (pretty) roof. 111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, 75003.

Espace Kiliwatch. For vintage aficionados. I haven’t been but I really want to. 64 rue Tiquetonne 75002.

shpping

French beauty buys:

City Pharma. 26 Rue du Four, 75006

Parisian markets (thanks to Grace for this!)

These two markets offer something a little bit different from the (what Grace and myself believe to be muchly over-hyped) Rue Montorgueil. They are a lot more local food/produce-oriented, if that’s your jam (see what I did there?).

Marché Raspail. Boulevard Raspail 75006

Marché Maubert. Place Maubert, 75005

In terms of flea markets, I visited Les Puces de Saint-Ouen (metro: Porte de Clignancourt) with friends. It’s huge – set aside a whole morning for this – and it’s filled with the most incredible treasures. It’s very, very, pricey though, but if anything, it’s worth having a gander if you have time.

 

STAY

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A brief overview of where I’ve stayed in Paris and the pros/cons:

1st: Louvre/Tuileries/Vendome et al. Location is amazing if you want to be close to the prettier parts of Paris. Cons: Ruinously expensive.

3rd: Marais. More quaint, slightly less frenetic and you’re close to a lot of the most amazing shopping and parks in Paris. Cons: Still quite expensive.

11th: Bastille. Right next to Marais but probably slightly cheaper. Great area to find an airbnb and it’s still quite centrally located.

18th: Montmartre. One of my favourite areas to stay in Paris. It’s out of the way but that’s the beauty of it. It’s become a little touristy in parts, but it’s still got that quaint, village, local feel that other parts of Paris have lost.

Recommended

6th: Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Would love to stay here as Saint Germain is my favourite area of Paris but it’s on the expensive side!

10th: Canal Saint-Martin. Very hipster but still quite affordable especially if you book an airbnb.

 

All photographs by Jamie and myself.

FURTHER READING:

My past Paris/France travel posts

My travel tips and tricks – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Sofia Coppola’s Paris – NY Times

Paris in Four Months – Carin’s beautiful blog was practically my Paris bible when I was planning!

Paris City Guide – Trotter Mag (don’t miss the curated section on sweets!)