Hearts beat fast.

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I remember the first time I picked up my first DSLR; a rookie Nikon D60. It was on my 24th birthday and two days before I was due to go on this photography adventure with two guys I barely knew (I think when you’re single – or in my case, newly single after being in an 8-year relationship – everything seems reasonable). I obviously knew nothing then – about photography, about life, about love, about this risky business, about the likelihood that I could have been ambushed, or about the very fact that one of those guys I was standing on the jetty with that night would later become the person I’d choose to spend the rest of my life with.

So this post is for the Keepers in our lives.

The ones who make our lives infinitely better during the highest of highs and the lowest of lows; the ones we can sit on rooftops with at 2 in the morning with the stars bright and the night so young. This post is for the one-of-a-kind friends who know exactly what goes on inside my head and reminds me there’s no reason to be afraid, ever. And most of all, this post is for the one person I’ll be spending the rest of my life with, teaching me the greatest love I’ll ever know.

A metaphor to write about.

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Wearing I Love Mr Mittens cropped cable sweater, Scanlan & Theodore trousers (these ASOS ones are identical), Acne Studios Jensen boots, Givenchy Antigona, Daniel Wellington Classic watch.

It’s almost two in the morning and although I’ve made it a rule to shut the laptop at least a couple of hours before bed for my own health and sanity, some deadlines never get the memo (okay, so that’s a poor excuse for my own disorganisation…) but alas, here’s a super quick post to say thank you for your well wishes under my previous post (will get around to replying to them all soon!). This is also a sneak peek of my next blog post for Vogue, featuring all the favourite things I was talking about here.

In other news, it’s the week of sample sales in Perth (I couldn’t help but snap up this blazer from Ellery yesterday!) but more excitingly (and terrifyingly) I’m holding my first ever pop-up sale this Sunday for my online store A Cup of Chic alongside my favourite store Hello Parry who are holding their own amazing sale. More details here! If you’re in Perth and homewares + fashion are your thing, drop by! We’d love to meet you all.

Thank you again for all your emails, messages, and words of support. I appreciate (and read!) every single one of them.

Calm before the storm.

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I’ve been sitting here since last night writing an eloquent and witty opening paragraph for this post; about how it’s been a month since I swapped ice cream and sandals weather in Santorini with the impending grey and gloom in Perth; about how it’s actually not quite winter yet; but how it doesn’t really matter because winter in Perth is usually just sweaters and Birkenstocks weather anyway.

Then I backspaced the entire thing because all of it – the weather, the Santorini blue, the small talk, celebrating the fact that I’ve been comfort dressing in monotones lately – seems so futile after an ominous morning I’ve spent inside a dimly lit room, listening to a doctor saying things I didn’t want to hear today. It’s funny how a single moment can make your heart beat so fast when you don’t want it to beat at all.

So I backspaced the whole paragraph because there is nothing more paralysing than pretending not to care.

But I remember the afternoon these pictures were taken, and I remember how much I love this outfit, how much I loved the way the clouds rippled across the sky for just a few seconds. And how wearing grey – and all at once – has this magical ability to instil a sense of calm in me as I fall in and out of fear on an otherwise gloomy day.

But then the wind changed. It started to rain shortly after. It’s unnerving how a split second can make you feel like you’re either on top of the world, or under it.

And it’s times like these photos let me remember how beautiful the world is before it all comes crashing down.

In collaboration with Topshop | wearing curved hem tunic over raw-edge sweatshirt, MOTO slim boyfriend jeans, and grey long duster coat. All items available from Topshop instore.

Styling by me. Photographs by Jamie Lau.

A New Nest.

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I would like to think that my husband and I have come a long way since the first night we moved out of mum and dad’s.

I still have a photo on my camera roll of us sleeping on the beat-up vinyl floor of our tiny living room, literally using one of his tank tops as a pillow case (this is how you win at life, btw). It was the night after Christmas and as far as slumming it in your first home goes, we couldn’t have lived up to the cliche in better fashion.

As much as I loved the shoebox house we called home as newlyweds, I can’t tell you how excited we are to be putting the pitted vinyl floors and seventies bathroom tiling behind us. After five years of planning, saving and wishing for it, we’re about to start designing and building our new home, one that we can finally have a ridiculously deep and meaningful emotional attachment to.

With any luck, a year from now, we will have survived the nightmare that is living with my mum and dad, hadababy, and moved into a home we can truly call our own. That said, this build won’t actually be our ‘forever home’, so we’re designing it (and financially investing in it) with this in mind. Which unfortunately means some things on our wishlist – marble bench tops, glass hallways and floor to ceiling windows have had to be put on hold for now.

We’re starting to reach a good (and happily, a more budget-friendly) compromise which I’ll detail in posts to come. The overarching aesthetic will be light, bright, simple and very Scandinavian – grey timber-esque floorboards, black subway tiles, industrial copper and black fittings, and all-white walls. We hope to rent this house out in future so a minimalist and monochromatic interior seems to be the best way to play it safe.

Over the next 12 months I’ll be sharing (or venting!) our plans and progress from concept to hopefully completion, and sharing my thoughts on how we’re going to decorate it! In the meantime though, these memories we have of an apartment we stayed at in Iceland is serving as inspiration for our build; namely, that floating white staircase. More on this soon!

Vogue Spy Style: A Santorini Summer.

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If any of you have had the unfortunate experience of standing at the baggage carousel after taking four flights over 14 hours with everyone’s luggage coming out except for yours, you would probably have an idea of how our first half hour of touching down in Santorini kinda went.

With our suitcases lost somewhere in Madrid, it was probably the most unfairytale start to the final leg of our two-month trip – and arguably the world’s most fabled and romantic destination in the world. But as our driver quipped when he came to pick us up at half past nine in complete darkness, “once you get to Imerovigli, you’ll forget everything; all your troubles in the world will disappear.”

And in a way, it did. But in another way, we knew we were doomed for the rest of our days. Because when we awoke the next morning, the view before us – the white-washed everything and an eternity of a velvet blue – was something that’ll linger in our minds forever.

And this is why.

In collaboration with Vogue Australia & Olympus Australia #seetheworldwitholympus

A Winter Escape + A Winter Sale.

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Wearing Farage silk shirt (find it over at my wardrobe cleanout!), Hello Parry Stella dress, Zara pumps.

June marks a new month, a new season, and a brand new wardrobe sale.

I’ve got a few things that I’m hoping to find a brand new home for – all the usual suspects by Acne Studios, Lover, Equipment, this amazing Farage silk shirt above, and – this often doesn’t happen – a little bit of Chanel. Shop my wardrobe cleanout now.

My little list of style loves.

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On a much lighter note today, I’ve been meaning to put together this post for a while now – just a few of my favourite go-to brands and stores that form the cornerstone of my wardrobe basics, staples, and basically my very non-trend driven wardrobe.

I shy away from trends (say no to flares, people!) and my perfect wardrobe would comprise easy, simple, and wearable classics that transcend seasons and years. That said, finding the perfect this – and that – has really been an exercise in trial and error over the past decade (my shitty looking bank account proves this point beyond any doubt) so the list-maker in me thought it’d be insightful and helpful if I put together a quick reference guide containing my very favourite brands/stores (both high street and high-end).

Let’s face it, as much as I love a good mosey around the shops from time to time, it can be frustrating spending hours browsing online or walking aimlessly through a shopping mall on a fruitless search for that perfect pair of black pants. It’s always the simple and basic things that are hardest to find and shop for, so here are the styles and brands I reach for time and time again; and quality basics that no wardrobe should be without.

KNITWEAR

Crew or v-neck sweaters – Uniqlo and Country Road merino, both from the mens’ section.  I prefer the merino from CR (so soft and feels nicer on the skin) but it’s also double the price as Uniqlo. There’s a better colour selection at Uniqlo though and they have both crew neck and v-neck. Country Road’s colours depend on the season, and they’re best snapped up when on sale as they’re usually $99.95 full price. I exclusively wear my classic crew neck sweaters from the mens’ department now; I love that they’re a lot more relaxed and slouchy (I take an XS in both Uniqlo and CR mens’ sweaters).

Classic sweater colours for me would be: burgundy, charcoal, light grey, navy, and black.

On a side note, I do find holes in my merino sweaters quite often, but I don’t know if it’s from wear or from those damn moths! I’ve kitted out my closet with a billion Camphor blocks (you can get them from pharmacies I think) so just a word of caution to you as well – make sure you keep those closet doors closed (I’m so bad at this that it always nearly ends up in divorce with my husband) to keep the moths away.

For classic cardigans, I swear by the cashmere at Uniqlo – from the womens’ section, and I always go two sizes up for a slouchier fit. They rarely pill (unless they’re a few years old and even then) and I wear mine almost every day (at home) and they haven’t fallen apart yet – I think I bought mine at the end of 2012. They’re SO warm and soft! There’s no Uniqlo in Perth, so I go on a bit of a binge when I’m overseas. And I don’t know if I was dreaming this – which is often likely – but I swear I walked into Zara (or some other chain store) last week and saw a cashmere sweater for like $400!? I will have to come back to you all on this one. (edit: I went back and checked. It was $200. Haha.)

Moving along, for super special pieces, I recently fell in love with I Love Mr Mittens. It took me a good couple of years or more to bite the bullet and pay several hundred dollars for a beautiful sweater, but given it’s hand-knitted in Perth and made of the most softest, highest quality wool, I thought it could be a classic investment piece. I come from a family of avid knitters lol so I’ve been more and more appreciative of how much time and effort goes into something as elaborate as this! I bought the Cropped Cable Knit in black (torn between this and grey!) and love it so much I’ve been wearing it about 4 days out of 7 past couple of weeks. Funny story, I was at the shops the other day and had 3 girls come up to me wondering where the sweater was from, all in the space of five minutes. Never had that happen before!

COATS

Topshop, And Other Stories, Zara and COS are my high-street favourites. All are exceptionally well-made for the price. To be honest, I usually baulk at paying around $200 for a chain store coat but the above three brands have earned their stripes over the past few winters. If you find them on sale, though, even better! For reference, the coat I’m wearing in the photo above is by Zara, and it’s made from mulberry silk wool so it’s really luxurious on (plus it survived two months around the world with me, so that’s saying something).

For ‘higher-end’, I love Karen Walker for the tailoring and quirky cuts and Etoile Isabel Marant as it ticks all the boxes as an (affordable – no doubt I’d still have to save up weeks for) investment coat. I wish I could afford Max Mara! One day…

BLAZERS

So every wardrobe also needs a go-to black blazer. From the high-street, I make a beeline for COS and Country Road. Witchery are pretty okay too, but only on sale for me. I used to love Zara’s blazers but I find if I pay a little bit more, COS and Country Road give me a little bit more quality and longevity (without a hint of polyester).

When my budget extended that far, I love Acne Studios and Isabel Marant, but I always just buy them when they’re 50-70% off at The Outnet.

Balenciaga are incredible too (fortunately I was able to find one for $250 at Rag Tag in Tokyo once) – they’re lined in silk and the fabric is just to die for. I’d love to own something by Saint Laurent and Balmain one day though. One day!

DENIM

Topshop hands down for a more affordable option. My favourite styles are the ‘Mom’ jeans (I take a 26 in these) and the MOTO Boyfriend styles (try these on before you buy to get the right fit). I actually didn’t own any Topshop jeans before becoming their style ambassador this year (I’ve only tried them on in change rooms) but these two new styles especially are so incredibly comfortable and so flattering – it’s no surprise Emmanuelle Alt counts Topshop jeans as her favourites too (I think her go-to is the Jamie style)!

On the other side of the pricing spectrum, I love love love Acne Studios. My absolute favourite cut is the Needle (I think they’re being discontinued soon though so I’m extremely gutted about that). I find the Needles have everything I want in a jean: tapered/slim leg, high waist, slim through the thighs). In terms of wash, my favourites from Acne are used black and used blue. I usually wait for Matches to go on sale and buy from Acne denim there. Paige make amazing boyfriend styles, whilst Frame is boss at skinny styles whilst being SO comfortable. I also really can’t go past Levis 501s (vintage is best!) in classic blue – every wardrobe needs a pair of these.

A word about shopping for black denim – unless you don’t mind having a gazillion dust particles clinging to your black jeans, you have to be super particular about the fabric composition. Some black jeans don’t attract the fluff whilst others do, so in this case it’s a bit tricky buying online. I’ve found that if it’s a ‘brushed cotton’ kind of denim, then you’ll be fine. But if it’s a ’twill cotton’ kind of denim then steer clear of this. If you have no choice but to buy online, make sure there’s a close up pic of the denim – you can usually tell if it’s a brushed denim or a twill denim by looking at the fibres. If you’re still confused, email me and I’ll show you pics!

SILK SHIRTS

Everlane vs Equipment – this old conundrum, right? For me, I just love the luxuriousness of Equipment (them chest pockets!) but Everlane are pretty much perfect too at a third of the price. I always keep a lookout for Equipment on sale at David Jones, the cheapest I’ve gotten them is $110 or something like that. Otherwise there are always Equipment silk shirts discounted on The Outnet (no prizes for guessing where I procrastishop the most). If you’re a size 6 or smaller, probably best to stay away from Equipment because their sizing is HUGE. For reference, an XS fits a true size 8. Everlane is a better option – the XS fits an AU 6 perfectly.

For something a bit more special and unique, I love Scanlan & Theodore (their styles extend past silk crepe de chine) which are perfect for that desk to drinks situation. Again, wait until they’re on sale if you can – they’re usually up to 50% off.

THE STRIPED BRETON SHIRT

This one has taken years to perfect. And I think I’m almost there. THIS one by Le Mont Saint Michel at My Chameleon is the best one I’ve found – but I always prefer a crew neck and long sleeves, especially for winter. I take a size S in this. And the stripe width is pretty much perfect, too. And I go for navy stripes, always. It’s a science, people. I do still find $140 a lot to pay for a striped shirt (maybe I’m just getting stingier with age…) but it really is the perfect cut. PS I know some of you are a fan but I’ve never tried Saint James as the sizing seems huge!?

Other than that, Bassike is hard to beat if I want a more looser, relaxed fit (the organic cotton is great for plane trips) and the fabric is nice and light for those warmer/spring days.

And Country Road tend to have some great styles from time to time if I don’t want to spend too much (I usually stalk the sales for these basics).

THE T-SHIRT

Like the striped shirt, nailing this one has been hard! My main gripe about t-shirts is that they never really last all that long (a year, tops, and even less if it’s white) so I don’t tend to pay all that much for the humble t-shirt.

I’ve found a few of my favourite go-to brands though – they’re all really inexpensive and such great cuts:

Uniqlo – from the mens’ section in those little plastic packets! I always go for a crew neck. I’ve got this in both charcoal grey and white (I’m wearing the white above). If you go to Japan these are like 7 bucks!

Zara – the linen range is THE BEST. EVER. The short sleeve and long sleeve are my staples – they have a great, round neck and the linen drapes beautifully. Not too see-through either. Try to go a size down in these (or try them on if you can) because over time the neckline stretches out a tiny bit, depending on how often you wear it. They’re about $19.95-$39.95 in Australia, but cheaper overseas (especially in Europe and Vegas).

Country Road – again, from the mens’ section because I love that the shoulder drops a bit longer and the sleeve is slightly longer too than the womens’. They’re cut much like the Uniqlo ones so if you can’t get to Uniqlo, definitely scour CR.

TROUSERS

I am obsessed with black pants. I swear I’ve got about ten pairs in my closet right now, all serving an entirely different purpose of course. I love a good peg-leg and a classic cigarette leg (with the latter the hardest working item in my wardrobe when I was still working in the office).

The best affordable brand I’ve found is Forever New – I popped into a store last week just for curiosity sake and was pleased to see they’re still doing their classic neoprene-y cigarette trousers (I love that neoprene-y fabric because it creases way less, and that’s exactly what you need when you’re sitting at your desk for 8 hours). The Faye and the Grace (this one is perfect for girls under 5’5 like me) look exactly like the ones I love the most.

At an in-between price range, I love COS and And Other Stories. They have such unique but tailored cuts in beautiful colours and shades. One of my most favourite trousers are a pair of pleated front cropped culottes from COS. Love.

For something a bit more luxe in terms of fabric and cut, I love love love Scanlan & Theodore. They do all styles so well – I’ve got high-waisted cigarette pants, low-rise boyfriend black jeans (which can pass as pants in corporate and/or on Casual Friday) and a great pair of pegged trousers on heavy rotation. Those three styles are probably my most worn day to day, week to week. They still look as good as new too, so you do get what you pay for sometimes.

Other than that, I’m always scouring The Outnet as I find Acne Studios and Isabel Marant (or Etoile Isabel Marant) always have classic black trousers heavily discounted.

CHELSEA BOOTS

I’ve been through my fair share of ankle boots and as much as I love my Dickers, I still believe a classic Chelsea boot is a must-have in anyone’s shoedrobe.

High – Acne Studios and Churchs are my very favourites – both so insanely comfortable, well-made and lasts for decades, I swear. Acne is a lot more trend-driven; my current love is the Jensen – which is also my first purchase for this winter! You can snap up a pair of Jensens for the cheapest here at Farfetch or here for the Jensen Grain Leather – with free shipping at the moment! Otherwise Churchs are such a classic – I love the Ketsby and all the studded styles, just great classic English shoes. I buy Churchs from Netaporter.

Low – COS are my favourites, they’re great quality and the cut is often classic with a twist. Really well-made and great quality. I can always rely on Country Road too each winter and the boots from Seed Heritage this season are seriously so comfortable (just wish they weren’t that expensive though!).

BALLET FLATS

I really can’t go past Chanel classic ballerinas – they’re so incredibly comfortable (true to size, by the way) and you can always find a bargain on eBay rather than shell out $700 for them from a boutique. That said, they’re not the most hardestwearing flats (the lambskin on the toe cap scratches/peels easily if you stub it on the pavement) so I would recommend investing in a patent toe cap. I have a pair of two-tone ballet flats (all lambskin) and an all-black (patent toe/lambskin upper) and latter seems to be more hardier.

For a classic black ballet flat, Porselli and Repetto are my two favourites (I’m wearing Porselli above).

So this ‘little list’ ended up being way longer than I had anticipated and I’ve just realised how much I seem to wear the same brands over and over again (sorry!) but if you’re looking to build your wardrobe from scratch, I hope this post gives you a place to start! Otherwise I’d love to hear your go-to brands and favourites as well, in the comments below! Also, if you’re wondering why The White Shirt doesn’t feature in this list, it’s because I’m on this eternal search for the perfect one! By that, I mean one that doesn’t wrinkle within minutes of sitting down! Would love to hear if any of you have found the perfect white shirt!

With glittering eyes.

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It’ll be a year this month that I quit the full-time skirt suit and cubicle life after eight years to go out on my own.

I won’t sugar coat it; 12 months on and I still wonder if I did the right thing. And by that, I mean the right thing by my bank account, the marketing career I’ve built over almost a decade, and my husband, who still wakes up at 6am (sometimes 5) to put in a 13 hour day at work whilst I sleep in ’til 10am. It’s a guilt that paralyses me every morning, even though I’m so grateful to be surrounded by the most incredible support network (and by that, I mean the full-time emotional counsellor that is my husband, who will always be my biggest supporter) and who believes – sometimes more than I – that what I’m doing is exactly what I should be doing right now. Nothing more, nothing less.

The thing is, everyone wants to be successful until they find out what success looks like.

Often, it’s working weekends (if you’ve been following me on Snapchat @agirlnamedmish, you’ll see what a typical, lonely Sunday looks like for me), it’s working every single day when you’re on a two month ‘holiday’, it’s the very fact that you will never, ever, get ‘paid’ to go on leave if freelancing or self-employed (I will not take annual leave for granted ever again). And believe me when I say that you don’t appreciate sick pay – or Saturdays – until it’s taken away from you. It’s ironic that I haven’t had a proper holiday or weekend since I held down a full-time job.

It’s loneliness, deadlines, late nights, no social life, self-doubt, fucking hard work and more mistakes some people make in a lifetime. When I quit my “real job” a year ago, little did I realise that a monthly mental meltdown and lots of ugly crying into my pillow would lay ahead of me. But sometimes the most rewarding thing for me is knowing that every day is a lesson and a challenge – in the best way possible. There are some things I’ll never ever do again (like staying up until 4am in a Paris hotel meeting a deadline for a client, then being told to start over again the next morning); things I’m trying to be better at (not procrastishop on ASOS); and things that I still want to achieve (giving myself two days off in a row). I’ll admit, I’ll look at you all with envy as you make your way each morning to a decent-paying, comfortable job; and I still can’t quite muster up the courage to delete the Seek app on my phone… but it’s true what they say – the grass is greener where you water it. And this is, after all, the lifestyle I’ve chosen for myself.

As entrepreneurs, we are propelled and are driven to create something from nothing. So when success happens (and I stress that ‘success’ has a different definition to all of us), it’s one of the most incredible, exhilarating, rewarding things you will ever experience. And I kinda think I know why: all those late nights, all that self-doubt, all that work no one ever sees save for that pretty picture on Instagram…and all those damn mistakes you swear you’re never gonna make again. Without them, success just doesn’t happen.

If you grab a copy of this month’s Renegade Collective (the June issue is out today), you’ll see me talking about my biggest achievement yet since I took that leap of faith and left the corporate world. I still don’t think what I do is anything out of the ordinary but seeing my story on the pages of a national magazine – and one that I read cover to cover every month – is still very much a pinch-me moment.

As for what’s the biggest lesson I’ve learnt about going out on my own so far?

Oops is better than what if, and if success is always going to be a work in progress, then we are never done. There is no finish line. And that is exactly what should keep us going.