Real Talk (and goodbye).

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When I was in Santorini earlier this year, it was a place unlike any other.

Well, actually, it kinda was, but not in a way that I – and probably most of you whom had never been – had actually ever imagined. You see, on Instagram and on glossy postcards in souvenir shops, the Santorini that had ingrained in my mind was of the whitewashed, pastel-domed, blue Aegean Sea variety.

The first stray dog I saw, I thought nothing of it. Then I started seeing more, and more, with each one looking even more neglected and malnourished than the last. Then I read about the poor donkeys; the ones that are forced to trudge up and down that ridiculously steep hill to ferry tourists to and from Fira under duress with the stealth crack of a whip. It was like an arrow through my heart; but more than anything, it shattered this honeymoon image I had of this place. Sure, 10% of what laid before me was awe-inducing, jaw-droppingly magical. But the other 90%? Disappointingly – but understandably so – it’s stuff that you would never see on your Instagram feed.

I’ve been blogging for almost 10 years – that’s a third of my life (yikes!) – and in that time, so much has changed in so many ways. When I started my first blog in 2006, I had in total three readers – three friends who were bloggers themselves. It was like some secret club. It was at least half a decade before blogging became a ‘thing’; before blogs could become a brand; before bloggers became The Next Big Thing; and way before anyone could actually fathom that we could all be paid in some way or another to simply wear clothes.

Back then, we didn’t give a shit if our food looked as unphotogenic as heck. There were no Diptyque candles as props, no peonies in brown paper to serve as Instagram-bait. It was all about forging friendships, meaningful conversation, meeting new people and learning more about each other. Fuck, it was like ten years before we even knew what a selfie was.

Back then, I didn’t care who was reading or how many of you were reading. I was blogging my vegemite on toast, my sneaky lunchtime purchases from Sportsgirl, my wedding speech for God’s sake. Because old school blogging was never about creating a Brand. It was never about wearing gifted clothes, sitting front row at fashion week, working for free in exchange for ‘exposure’, or getting invited to events where once you got there, you sorely wish you were sitting on the couch in your PJs eating potato chips. It was never about making a corner of your home all perfectly pretty when in actual Real Life it looked nothing like the 640×640 frame you’ve just spent an hour meticulously editing. And it was never ever about pimping your pet Frenchie or your two-year-old on Instagram just to acquire those three lauded F’s: Free stuff, Followers and Fame.

What happened to just creating beautiful things for the sake of just wanting to create beautiful things?

Yesterday, Jamie and I did something we hadn’t done in years; creating something personal together that wasn’t for ‘work’. I guess anyone who is a photographer (or any creative) would be nodding knowingly at the thought of this – doing something – anything – incredible and inspiring without having to fill a brief. And only doing it for yourself. So yesterday we threw the camera in the car and drove down to our favourite spot to take a few photos of the sunset, the windswept afternoon and my growing bump with my toes in the sand. Stuff that we used to do (minus the bump, of course) that would set our hearts on fire in our own little ways. This makes me happiest and seeing these photos we created together will mean more to me than any ‘work’ we’ve done together.

The thing is, my life also did a 360 this spring. I’ve lost two close family members in the space of less than 10 weeks. I will never understand how some things can suddenly be taken away from you when you least expect it. Life is so quick, and so intense, and sometimes, too short and unfair for me to be able to ever comprehend. My bones can’t stop shaking like trees and every day has been a hurricane since then. It’s been so hard to carry on as normal, to go about my days without feeling guilty about enjoying them; to let that familiar feeling of loss in again so soon. Too soon. Above, all it has become so unfathomably sad that I will never be able to take that time back to have one last conversation with them.

Which brings me to the point of this post. That all good things, I guess, must come to an eventual end.

After almost a decade of sharing my life online, this will be the last blog post I’ll be making on here to make room for new adventures – things that get my heart racing with the people in my life who remind me to be grateful for just being alive. Or just to realise what a big deal being able to live my life offline a bit more really is. It’s hard to walk away from something that has opened the door to so many amazing opportunities, new friends, and ultimately, a place where I share a part of my life but I can’t imagine anything worse than having a phone constantly glued in one hand while I hold my baby in the other. I’ll still be doing the occasional instagram, the odd tumblr and snapchat from time to time. Oh – and I almost forgot to mention, I’ll still be contributing to Vogue Spy Style for the time being. I have quite a few travel and maternity style posts lined up for the next few months, so keep a look out.

My other baby though – A Cup of Chic (and here!) – will be where I’ll be spending all my time now before I spend all my days nursing another baby in three and a half months’ time. I can’t wait.

As for the Real Talk? Well… You can either go out and chase your dreams or stand by and watch other people chase theirs.

Photography by Jamie Lau.

Dressing the bump: part 3

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The last instalment of my bump dressing series is just a basic rundown of some of the things I’ve bought and loved so far during my pregnancy.

When I was about 16 weeks pregnant, I ordered a bunch of maternity clothes from ASOS (upon the helpful advice of blogs around me) only to be disappointed with each and every single item when it finally arrived in the mail. Everything was so ill-fitting – t-shirts didn’t sit properly, dresses swamped me, the fabric was so cheap and nasty, and everything was so unflattering (granted, buying things sight unseen without trying them on first didn’t help). That pretty much signalled the first and last time I’d be shopping for maternity wear, and I’ve since had much more luck finding non-maternity clothes to fit this growing bump of mine. Go figure, right?

Overall, I’ve found shopping for new clothes when pregnant to be a time-consuming and frustrating exercise. I used to buy over three-quarters of my clothes online but with my body changing every day, it has since thwarted any attempt to conveniently shop for clothes from the comfort of my bed. My options are a lot more narrower these days too (i.e. no jumpsuits – oh how I miss jumpsuits! No zippered-anything and no more seams at the waist, which accounts for 90% of clothes in shops right now). I also shop with post-partum/nursing in mind; buying clothes that I’d happily wear (and fit back into) after the baby comes. For the most part, it’s been a massive exercise in trial and error; I’ve been shopping anywhere and everywhere – which has allowed me to discover brands and styles I never really thought to consider pre-pregnancy.

So I thought this little list of loves that I’ve personally bought and wear will help some of you in a similar predicament, especially if you’re still intent on shopping online. I still am – but I have to be particularly choosy with certain fabrics and styles.

Cut to the basics first though and this is where ‘maternity wear’ has proved immensely useful:

Berlei Barely There Cotton Rich Maternity Bra – 100%  soft cotton, gives a nice natural shape and most importantly, it’s non-underwire. It also doubles as a nursing bra so you’re killing two birds with one stone here – and yes, for the mums out there, the nursing clip can definitely undo with one hand. I had to start buying new bras at around 2 months along because that’s when my boobs started growing uncontrollably and I was wearing exclusively underwire at the time which I heard isn’t the best when pregnant. These particular Berlei bras are the best – they’re SO comfortable that I can even sleep in them (I actually hate wearing bras with a passion, normally). Myer tends to have good sales on Berlei from time to time so I would pick them up then.

SRC Pregnancy Leggings – I deliberated over these for the longest time because they’re so expensive and I knew I was going to buy the Recovery shorts for after birth too (so for both it ends up being back breakingly expensive). Because SRC items are all medically approved, you can actually claim a rebate back if you have private health and your policy (usually it’s top hospital) covers items like these. I have mid-hospital only so I can’t claim anything back on these leggings.

At about 22-23 weeks along though, I started to grow out of my old Nike leggings (I had been wearing these over the bump too, which was getting increasingly uncomfy as the belly was growing). But because my body has allowed me to keep pretty active throughout this pregnancy (I do boxing, pilates and walking each week), I thought it’d be worthwhile getting the SRC ones.

I managed to snag a pair in good condition off ebay for around $80 though, which leaves me with some pennies left over for the Recovery shorts which I plan to buy brand new (just a personal preference here). I’ve been wearing the Pregnancy leggings for a couple of weeks now and love them. They’re as comfortable and practical as everyone says – they’re literally made for pregbots. From about 25 weeks onwards, I have also gotten the odd pain in the pubic region so I’ve been wearing these around the house when I’m feeling achey – the anatomical panels really help to alleviate the pain. The quality is excellent (I’ve been through my fair share of compression/workout leggings over the years) and the best part is that the waist is adjustable to fit a growing belly. Sizing can be tricky (based off measurements I was in between an XS and S) so I opted for the S and I’m currently wearing the leggings on the smallest waist adjustment. Another reason I wish I was pregnant in winter – these leggings are definitely good enough to wear out and about and not just for working out! If I had my time over, I would have purchased these leggings earlier on in my pregnancy and not bothered with jeans or any other maternity tights.

Topshop Maternity Jeans – some people swear by J Brand, but I swear by Topshop. I couldn’t justify shelling out $300+ on a pair of mat jeans I couldn’t try on in store before buying, so spending $70 at Topshop where I could try it on was perfect enough for me. I love love love them. My favourite styles are the Jamie and the Leigh, with the latter more “jegging” like and the Jamie being more thicker and more denim-like. I’ve got 3 pairs – I bought the Leigh black ones instore and once I knew my size, I hopped online to buy these Jamie ones and a mid-blue Leigh pair (Perth Topshop doesn’t have a huge range of mat jeans). Sizing-wise, I’m an 8 in these. It’s best to get these realllyyy snug as they do stretch with wear. I love that they have the usual five pocket styling and look like jeans until you see the elastic waist. Plus, I personally find under-bump jeans a lot more comfortable.

A lovely reader of mine also emailed me recently and after we got chatting about finding stylish clothes to wear during pregnancy, she introduced me to a brand called Storq from the U.S. I LOVE their style and branding and philosophy and they seem to do really good basics for us pregnant ladies. I haven’t placed an order or anything (yet!) but I thought I’d mention it here just in case any of you are in the market for chic maternity essentials. The bundles also make such a thoughtful gift idea for friends who have a little bun in the oven!

NON-MATERNITY CLOTHES

Casual dresses

I’ve been living in T by Alexander Wang and Bassike.

I love love love the t-shirt dresses from T by AW, they’ve been perfect for my bump.The Classic Jersey Mini Dress is my fave (I ordered an M), but the Jersey Maxi Dress would be perfect too if you’re into the more maxi lengths. I find The Outnet has the best prices so it pays to check back weekly for stock updates. Shopbop also has the Classic dress in black and charcoal (I tend to get more wear out of these colours) for reasonable prices.

As for Bassike, my favourite styles so far have been the Stripe Boxy T-Shirt Dress and the Tank Dress II to get me through the long hot Perth summer. The long sleeved styles are also great for cooler weather. Bassike is cut big by the way – I’m a XS or S at most right now in Bassike (and I’m taking a size 12-14 normally!).

Basics from Sportsgirl and Cotton On have also been high on my radar when I can’t afford to be spending $100 on a dress each week. I especially love these tank dresses from Sportsgirl – I have this grey and black one in like 3 or 4 different sizes (XS and S for more dressy occasions and M to L for more casual days). They have a really nice, worn-in cotton feel and are so so comfy – a nice departure from all the fitted bodycon stuff. I’ve been wearing them underneath leather jackets and lightweight trench coats. The black looks especially dressy if you wear them with heels at night!

Other basics

Probably more suited to hot weather, but I’ve been living in Bassike organic cotton tank tops and shorts lately. My faves are the Stripe Jersey Beach Short (they run large, I’m an XS) in black and stripe. I’ve been trying to scour the David Jones sales racks for Bassike and managed to pick up things at 50% off, so I’d head there first.

Viktoria + Woods are also great for good quality basics. I love the Dux skirt as well as the rest of their range. Again, David Jones sales are your best friend.

Evening/dressy dresses

Honestly, the trick here is to look anywhere and everywhere. Stick to stretchy fabrics if possible and if there’s lining underneath the dress, make sure it’ll fit your growing bump too. My favourite styles are shift dresses (they fit a bump perfectly). I also recently purchased the Belize dress by Totême and it’s the most amazing, incredible, comfortable dress for summer (that also looks great if you’re not pregnant!). It’s very resort-style but I’m going to try and make it work for evening events. I purchased an emerald one from The Outnet but I love that navy version from NAP (it’s probably a more wearable colour anyway).

I’ve also been browsing designer consignment stores in Perth and although it’s hit and miss, I’ve managed to come away with a few gorgeous bump-friendly drapey silk dresses by Willow and One Fell Swoop (perfect for pregnant bridesmaids too!). I’ve had some success at Ellery too with this gorgeous dress (but in black) which I nabbed on sale a while back at DJs. Scanlan & Theodore, Zimmermann and Sass and Bide are also great too, but if you’re like me – not so much for the bank account.

A few other random things

I’ve been wanting try this off-shoulder poplin top from Hello Parry because I’m me and don’t want to spend $400 on the Tibi version.

I’ve found Seed incredibly accommodating and perfect for us pregbots – so much elastic waist everything! Hallelujah.

My Cecilie Copenhagen two-piece set is one of my favourite things to wear right now. Elastic waist shorts and a trapeze top – couldn’t ask for much more than that. This dress and this dress are the perfect bump-friendly pieces too – they got me through the first and most of second trimester. Parlour X has a great range and if you’re in Perth, you can buy/try them on at Adam Heath in Claremont.

In terms of swimwear, I stumbled across this one at Topshop recently even though it’s been the furtherest thing from my mind. I’ve never been one to wear a bikini and I definitely wouldn’t be confident enough to be seen out in public in one now that I’ve gained a gazillion kilos so this one-piece with scalloped edging is the way to go for me this summer. I had to size up to a 14 in this though just so it stretches over my torso!

In a random spurt of DIY, I bought this Country Road sleeveless wool/cashmere longline jacket a couple of months ago and turned it into a double breasted tuxedo dress (like the one Eva Chen wore recently). As always it turned out to be a little more involved than I thought (having to buy extra buttons and guess how much I should accommodate for my bump) but the end result was good enough. I don’t know for how much longer it’ll fit me (sad face…) so I’ll try and snapchat it when I get a chance (my username is agirlnamedmish) if you’d like to have a squiz.

For everything else, I’ve been making do with whatever is left in my wardrobe that still fits. From about 14 weeks onwards (when I felt less anxious about my pregnancy going to full term) I separated all my clothes and pulled out all the items that I could still wear to make a ‘pregnancy capsule wardrobe’ of sorts. I dedicated a rack to these clothes so it was easy for me to see at a glance what options I had left and what gaps I needed filling to get me through the next nine months. I loved doing this actually as it also uncovered things I haven’t worn in a while but I could still wear when pregnant. It was also getting way too depressing trying stuff on and not being able to fit into them any more, so out of sight (and out of mind) they went.

See Part 1 and Part 2 of my bump dressing series for a little more gasbagging on my pregnancy wardrobe!

Dressing the bump: part 2

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I’ve always wished for a winter or autumn pregnancy – cosying up in turtleneck sweaters and hiding all those lumps and bumps under stretchy leggings with a warm milo in hand has always seemed much more appealing and comfortable than sweating it out in shorts and flip flops in 40C temps with your feet swollen to the size of a cantaloupe. I mean, throw a coat over anything and you look instantly chic. And a coat will fit you throughout all trimesters, so you don’t have to worry about growing out of it by 32 weeks. Not to mention you’re out the door in 0.0005 seconds. Kim K learnt this lesson the second time around, she’s been throwing a coat over literally every single outfit of hers in 98F temps throughout the LA summer.

Anyway, before I fell pregnant, I had this radiant image of Charlotte Gainsbourg pinned to my Pinterest board, hoping to emulate at least a tenth of her je ne sais quoi when it was my turn to be with child. Because I loved this outfit so so much (and because it was probably far more achievable than Mira Duma’s bump style – though I have to say, I adore this) I promptly went out and bought a pair of maternity jeans (and subsequently two more) until I realised that I had about three weeks’ worth of wear out of them before summer turned up early to the party in Perth. With two more weeks until summer officially starts, I’m still holding out for that freak storm to hit the city so that my maternity jeans aren’t relegated to the back of my wardrobe just yet.

I was fortunate enough to spend my first trimester in winter (July/August) when I was feeling the most crappy and bloated and generally just blergh, so it gave me a little taste of a few firm (non-maternity wear) favourites that would see me through the rest of an autumn/winter pregnancy.

First things first, a black slimline midi skirt.

Possibly even more versatile (and comfortable) than the humble pair of jeans, this is my numero uno bump essential. Preferably in a stretchy fabric with an elasticised waist and a slim/pencil silhouette. I’d have a casual one (like the one I’m wearing above) on rotation as well as one with a front split a la Elin Kling for more dressy occasions to wear with heels. I really love this Topshop one as it’s so lightweight (perfect for summer too) as well as stretchy and comfortable to wear under the bump.

So why not mini, knee-length or maxi lengths? I personally find midi-lengths (both in skirts and dresses) the most practical and flattering but it could just depend on one’s height and body shape. It’s so much more slimming on me as it conceals the thighs and slims the hips – two areas that I’ve put weight on during this pregnancy. Plus, if you’re working in an office, the midi length is the most corporate-friendly on any figure – it looks best with a silk shirt tucked or untucked (like I’ve done above) or with a sweater over the top – she’s obviously not pregnant here but I’ve always thought this outfit on Anja Rubik would be perfect to wear during pregnancy.

A relaxed, button-down shirt

I love pairing these shirts (preferably in silk or cotton) with everything – they look especially chic over a pair of leggings, jeans, cigarette trousers or aforementioned midi skirt. Tucking in button-down shirts is always a bit awkward as your bump gets bigger (I prefer tucking in t-shirts and tank tops) so I like to leave them untucked to flow over the belly.

However, I’m getting to that point in my pregnancy now where my usual size shirts are no longer buttoning up, so I’ve been making do with shirts I’ve bought in bigger sizes (see, I knew it was never a bad idea to cave into the size 12s just because they were cheap at all those designer sample sales!).

I have to say, the cross-over blouse I’m wearing above has also proved to be super practical (just because I don’t have to worry about popping any buttons!) and because there’s excess fabric at the front to accommodate a growing bump. I’d wear this to the office as an alternative to the button-down, it’s so comfortable but still looks really polished if you pair it with slim trousers or a skirt.

An essential jacket or coat

I’ve always loved how a jacket or coat streamlines just about every outfit, adding a more polished element to whatever you’re wearing. Which is perfect when you’re pregnant and feeling really frumpy.

Perth has been seeing some cooler and rainy days during spring so I’ve been rotating through denim jackets, lightweight trench coats, blazers and leather jackets and wearing them with my jeans, midi dresses and skirts.

This season – well, for as long as I can, anyway – I’ve been trying my hand at the humble denim jacket; opting for one that hits between the waist and the hip so that it sits a bit more flattering with the bump (I find when it comes to denim jackets, if it’s too short – it cuts your body in half in not a very good way and too long – it’ll just look like a painfully unflattering tent over your body).

I’ve been wearing my leather jacket to death (such a winter essential!) so the welcome change in colour and style with this denim jacket has been great for variety’s sake as well as still coordinating with all the black, grey and black I’ve been wearing. It’s also perfect on Casual Fridays where blue denim is a bit more accepted in the office!

Flats when you’re feeling frumpy

As someone who isn’t genetically blessed in the height department but who has an embarrassingly low tolerance for heels, pointed toe flats have become my go-to flat shoe for days I want to look put-together without hobbling to the photocopier by the end of the day. Ballet flats also work quite well but I save them mostly for the weekend as I find they’re a lot more casual plus they’re not as lengthening as a pointed toe. These flats I’m wearing above are comfy enough to wear the whole day; they instantly dress up the most casual of outfits; and anything with a gigantic grosgrain bow on them… well, I’m sold.

By the way, I’ve decided to make this a 3-part series in bump dressing, so for those of you interested, look out for my next post which will feature a few more things and brands I’ve loved wearing during my pregnancy.

In collaboration with Topshop | Wearing Topshop Denim Jacket, Striped Drape Front BlousePlisse Tube Skirtpointed suede bow flatsDaniel Wellington Lady Sheffield watch.

Dressing the bump: part 1

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I don’t think anyone (me included) can say they’ve ‘mastered’ bump dressing until they’ve navigated the tricky waters that is the third trimester. Having said that, trying to stay comfortable and true to your personal style when pregnant is challenging enough throughout all trimesters, as you try to get used to your body’s shape and size that changes and increases literally every single day.

I honestly can’t believe how fast time is flying for me at the moment. Some weeks have definitely dragged whilst the rest has flown during my pregnancy (especially once I got past the 20 week mark). I’m about 6 months pregnant now (24 weeks to precise) with only a few more weeks to go until I enter the third trimester. Crazy!

To be honest, I have been consciously flying much of my pregnancy journey under the radar as I feel it’s something I haven’t yet felt comfortable enough to share online – bump watch, ultrasound pics and all. I’m loving being pregnant so far – more than anything else in this world – and it’s been so special sharing these precious moments with just my closest friends and family.

Having received a few emails about dressing my bump from some of you lately though, I thought I’d put together a few things I’ve learnt about pregnancy dressing – mainly what’s worked (and what hasn’t) for me throughout the first and second trimesters.

I’ll be spending my entire third trimester in a Perth summer which means an average of 36-42C degrees – I’m dreading it so so much! It was 37C degrees when I took these photos a couple of days ago (plus I had just scoffed down a burger and large fries for lunch – no regrets!) so I thought I was somewhat qualified to speak about how to be comfortable, confident and pregnant in summer. I have to say though, it’s definitely no walk in the park.

So far, I’ve put on about 5-6kgs from my pre-preg weight (I’m averaging a weight gain of about 1-2kgs per month so far, which is normal I think) with pretty much all my weight going to my hips, thighs, belly and boobs. Oh and baby/placenta too, of course. I’ve been so far successful in getting away with wearing no maternity clothes except for essentials like bras, a pair of SRC leggings for working out, and maternity jeans. I’ve just been going up a size (or three!) in non-maternity clothes and mostly in stretchy, breathable fabrics. To most of you I probably don’t look 6 months pregnant but I certainly feel it – I’m taking a size 12 and 14 in ‘normal’ clothes these days and even then, I can’t do up the zip (longer tops are a godsend!) or a size 14 doesn’t fit me around the belly at all.

Whilst I’ve found casual dressing a lot easier and simpler, it’s the dressing for parties and weddings that I’ve found SO hard, especially as you want (and need) to feel comfortable too. Pregnancy is no time to be cutting off blood circulation to your limbs for the sake of looking good. Thankfully for me – though after much trial and error – overcoming these challenges have come with practice and knowing what works/what doesn’t.

Here are a few things that have worked well for me in terms of special occasion dressing so far, especially as the temperature rises:

Off-the-shoulder tops and blouses

One of the best things about pregnancy dressing for me is embracing and discovering different styles of clothing to accommodate my changing shape. I’ve never been a huge fan of off-the-shoulder anything, but as my bump and waistline gets bigger and bigger, I’ve learnt off-the-shoulder tops are seriously flattering and also really chic (which is not a word you throw around often when you’re the size of a whale with raging hormones). For evening/special occasions during summer, the best thing to wear is an off-the-shoulder blouse or dress in a fancy or structured kind of fabric. It cleverly hides those expanding arms (I wish I was going into a winter pregnancy as I hate having my arms out!) as well as those awkward first-second trimester mini beer guts until you properly pop. If you want to conceal your bump, choose something with a hemline that falls to your belly button and then pair it with high-waisted trousers, tailored shorts or a skirt like I’ve done here.

When it comes to an off-the-shoulder dress though, I find the fitted silhouettes way more flattering than those grecian-inspired, flowy tent dresses. As comfortable as they are, they look god-awful-potato-dumpling-like on me so I personally avoid them, preferring something more fitted.

Embrace bodycon anything

Going back to my first point about pregnancy dressing forcing me out of my sartorial comfort zone; the only time I’ve ever felt comfortable wearing something skin-tight is when I look like I’ve swallowed a basketball (and don’t have to suck it in). I personally think baby bumps look SO much more beautiful and flattering in something form-fitting than baggy and loose. If you’re not into the head-to-toe bodycon look (let’s be real here – who is after they’ve just wolfed down a burger and fries) I recommend wearing something loose up top and fitted down below – as I’ve done here with this outfit.

Wear all one colour in simple shapes

Okay, I’ve stayed true to something that has always been a part of my personal style and it’s worked wonders during my pregnancy. No prints, no psychedelic colours and no crazy fancy cuts. I’ve always been a big fan of minimal dressing and zeroed in on this ballerina pink two-piece at Topshop as soon as I saw it. I love the simple lines, the gathered detailing at the shoulders, the midi length skirt with a subtle split, and the structured overall shape. Subtle details with maximum impact has been my pregnancy wardrobe mantra. Head to toe black is also your best friend when pregnant!

I’ve always thought I’d take inspiration from Miroslava Duma’s maternity looks when pregnant lol but I soon found out that simple and minimal dressing is the best way for me to look chic during pregnancy because, er, I kind of forgot that I don’t actually have Valentino on speed dial.

Two-pieces/separates are the best things ever invented. Ever.

I haven’t had much luck AT ALL trying to find a dress for a wedding that fits in all the right (and tight) spaces. These days, when I’m looking for a new outfit, I have to shop for it literally the day or two before the event because I’m growing out of clothes way too quickly now (if it’s not stretchy, I’ll only have 1-2 weeks at most to wear it before I can’t fit into it anymore). I’m also finding I take hours or days just to find something suitable, which I don’t really have time for.

Cue the fantastic invention that is the two-piece. I’m wearing a size 10 top here and a size 12 skirt (I would have preferred a size 14 to be able to fully zip the skirt up but there was none available for me at the time). There’s no way I’d be able to find a non-maternity dress that accommodates a smaller upper body and larger bottom half at the same time (unless it’s 100% lycra), so dressing in separates has become my saving grace for special events and occasions. If there’s a coordinating skirt, then go for it – you can kind of create the illusion of wearing a dress and still look super polished. It’s so much more comfortable and you obviously get more wear out of your separates as you can pair them with other things in your wardrobe. I have Elin Kling’s baby shower outfit on file for inspiration (hello, off-the-shoulder top and split pencil skirt!).

The ultimate slimming effect

I’m in flats and sneakers 99% of the time these days, but as I’ve been lucky so far to not experience a bad back, puffy ankles, pelvis dysfunction or any leg cramps during my pregnancy, I’ve been able to get away with wearing heels on occasion. As I start piling on the weight now that I’m nearing the third trimester (and my legs/ankles get sore easily from all the weight), I spend the majority of events and occasions sitting down and I always pack a pair of ballet flats in my bag when I’m out just in case I end up having to walk really far due to a lack of parking etc. I don’t wear heels any higher than 10cm (these Louboutins I’m wearing are 100mm) because I’m clumsy af and I almost took a tumble in my five inch Charlotte Olympias in front of the mirror the other day.

Having said all that, I’m starting to notice this week that my feet have seemed to increase half a size (not sure if it’s pregnancy hormones or the weather, or both) as some of my shoes (especially heels) have started to feel a little tight. Vanity aside, the key to dressing a bump is listening to your body – don’t stay on your feet all day and don’t wear anything too restrictive if that’s what your body is telling you!

I’m hoping I won’t have to switch up much more of my pregnancy style come the third trimester (simply because there are probably more urgent things to think about like picking a name and doing my kegels!) but who knows. I really do love and embrace my new shape and am in complete awe of the miracles my body is really capable of, but when you fall pregnant you quickly realise your body is no longer yours and that you just have to go with the flow!

In collaboration with Topshop | Wearing Topshop Structured Bardot Top and Split Pencil Skirt, Christian Louboutin nude patent Decollete pumps, Daniel Wellington Lady Sheffield watch.

Bubblegum dreams.

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It only seems like yesterday that my husband and I were packing our bags to spend two months overseas.

Suddenly it’s two months away from the end of the year, my waist has officially disappeared, and next week I’ll be five months pregnant. For reals. My time now is divided between researching prams, completing the last of my deadlines, and turning to my husband every so often with a knowing glance that in a few months’ time, we will never be able to sleep in (or travel so carefree) again.

Within a few days I’ll also not be able to get away with wearing this bubblegum pink playsuit again because anything with a zip has become the root of all evil, as far as pregnancy is concerned. So I whipped this playsuit out today for errands and fish and chips in the sunshine. Belly is definitely about to pop!

In collaboration with Topshop | Wearing Topshop Cut-Out Playsuit, Simone Leopard Sunglasses, Mid-Heel Sandals, Daniel Wellington Lady Sheffield watch.

A new take on classic style.

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I love this time of year. It’s finally becoming a little warmer to warrant bare legs with a couple of extra layers. Speaking of, one of my favourite finds lately has been this Topshop trench coat (the other being something I picked up on sale from Country Road yesterday – will post this one soon!). For years I’ve been on this eternal search for a classic trench in the right shade of tan and after a few contenders (which I later ended up selling) I think I’ve found The One in this Topshop number.

Being a fairly average 5’4, it’s hard to find a coat that’s the perfect length for me as well as something that fits neatly at the shoulders. I also have to accommodate my growing bump (it’s somewhere there, promise!) with everything I’m wearing these days. I paired the trench with this season’s lace-up shift dress for a marathon meeting with our builder last week. With a million things to think about and organise in the coming months, I’m all about easy dressing at the moment.

In collaboration with Topshop | Wearing Lace Front Dress, Trench Coat, Snakeskin Lace Up Flats, Daniel Wellington Lady Sheffield watch.

Love at first scent.

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When I was little, I spent most of my summers at my grandparents’ place, moseying around their backyard. I was six, whiling away the afternoon collecting a bounty of grapes, tiptoeing to smell my grandmother’s blooming rose garden, and climbing their apple trees until the sun went down. There was a decrepit wooden swing that would sway precariously from one of the branches and I remember often climbing into it, and staying there for the rest of the day collecting all of my six year old thoughts.

That was 25 years ago, and while the trees are gone and my grandparents now both rest in peace, the nostalgic scent of green apples and memory of that afternoon still lingers to tell a thousand stories.

My recent work for Miu Miu’s new fragrance takes me back to my childhood in all of its rebellion, mischievousness and insouciance.

The weather was absolutely terrible for half of this shoot so much of the photos are of me standing in the rain (while much of my time post-shoot was photoshopping raindrops off the perfume bottle). It was a few days after my grandfather passed away and it all hit home a little too much because I ended up having a hormonal meltdown and an ugly cry in the middle of the most amazing tulip field. It goes without saying though, that my best work always comes out of adversity.

See the story on Vogue here.

Styling by me | photography by Jamie Lau.

How to pack for a weekend escape.

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It goes without saying that travel has been – and still is – a huge part of my life. With the arrival of our little bebe in just under five months’ now, our travels will become more and more of the weekend road trip variety to escape the hum of the city, whilst still being close to home. As selfish as it might seem our love of travelling is probably the biggest reason we didn’t start a family earlier and though I have no regrets, I’m really looking forward to living a more grounded, settled life instead of jumping on the next plane every few months!

As much as I have loved exploring new, far-flung places (though not so much the 30 hours in transit on four different planes!) the idea of mini weekend escapes are something I can’t wait to do more of. I have a couple of trips down south planned before the end of the year (before the home stretch of the third trimester begins!) and now that spring is here, it’s such a perfect time of the year to soak up the sun in idyllic locations.

Little holidays in short doses are so much more fun to pack for, too. All it takes is a little bit of planning but mostly just throwing whatever you have on hand in a large weekender.

This month, I’ve shared what I typically pack for a weekend escape for Country Road. For those travelling to Perth in the near future, you’ll also find a few of my very favourite places to eat, sleep, and relax!

Read the full post here.

Vogue Spy Style: A Forever Ring For Every Bride.

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I can’t ever remember a time in my life when the lowest of lows ran like a hurricane through my highest of highs in a matter of days. It’s been hard to catch my breath over the past week. As deadlines and work keep piling up, so does the grief and the feelings of loss and all the tears that run like a river and have hit the pillow at midnight. Sometimes I can’t quite figure out what’s worse – the agony of seeing one of the most important people in your life suffer beyond comprehension… or the pain of losing them forever.

I’ve since thrown myself into work; sometimes it’s the only way to keep going, ironically enough.

Just before my grandad passed, an opportunity with Hardy Brothers and Vogue presented itself for Jamie and I to flex our creative muscles (and for me, especially, to revisit a dress I wore on my wedding day) to put together an engagement ring editorial at the Alex Hotel.

Our wedding was probably one of the last happiest memories I have of my grandad. A few days before, we were told he only had 24 hours to live, but like always, he fought back like mad to see me walk down the aisle that weekend.

That was almost five years ago, and though he was sadly never the same person after that, the privilege and the memory of having him there on my wedding day will stay with me forever.

So this is an ode to all the forevers in our lives… whether it’s an eternal memory of a loved one, a sentimental token of love to symbolise an unbroken union for eternity, or simply someone we have to make memories and magic with for the rest of our lives…we all have something to cherish.

See my Hardy Brothers story here.

Styling + creative by me | photography by Jamie Lau.

Love was here.

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I lost my grandfather last night, on the cusp of father’s day and a Sunday I’d ordinarily find sweet solace in before another week begins. I’ve spent the first half of the weekend on top of the world, then the latter half under it; because the worse moments in life are heralded by things like watching someone drift further and further apart from our clasp and watching them die before your eyes. Maybe it was denial or maybe time stood still because I held back the tears until it came fast and furious yesterday afternoon on a day that was as clear as blue with not a cloud in the sky and I guess it’s true what they say: The feelings of loss are like a signpost: ‘love was here.’

Photographs by Natasja, whom I’m thinking so much of on a day like today x

The Allure of Broome.

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While we’re all traipsing the world in search for the perfect holiday, it’s so easy to forget that heaven’s actually closer than we think. Having spent so much of our travels in far flung places overseas, it was refreshing to explore the natural surroundings that have always been right on our doorstep.

Jamie and I were lucky to have the opportunity to head up to Broome for a weekend in August (staying at the luxurious Cable Beach Club and to attend the Broome Cup as a guest of Allure South Sea Pearls). It didn’t take us long before we were blown away at discovering how beautiful northern Western Australia really is – with all of its ochre red dirt, turquoise waters and fiery sunsets and all.

Each afternoon as the sun set before our eyes and the chill from the Indian Ocean softly blew in, it let us take in the enormity of what lies before us and appreciate what would be the last spontaneous adventure we’d enjoy with just the two of us. Something tells me the next adventure we’ll soon be embarking on will be the most life-changing yet. I can’t wait.

Wearing Allure South Sea Pearls jewellery, Hello Parry Isadora sweater and Morrison Pippin silk dress (available soon).

Styling by Michelle Lau | Photographed by Jamie Lau on location at Cable Beach, Broome.

 

A Light Bulb Moment.

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In between tying the waist of my jeans together with elastic bands and trying to stop myself from throwing up (or falling asleep) behind the camera for all of July/August, I was lucky enough to be commissioned by Clinique and Vogue to style and photograph a set of images for the launch of their new Smart Custom Repair Eye Treatment and Clinique Smart Custom-Repair skincare range.

Having the amazing opportunity to work with some of the most game-changing products aside, it was a small relief to be behind the camera rather than in front of it (if you didn’t already know, I am almost 14 weeks pregnant – and going through that awkward ‘just fat’ stage…) creating content for a brand I’ve long respected and personally used for so many years now (I still wear my faithful Chubby Sticks daily!).

To see the rest of the images and to read more about Clinique’s new range, follow the links below.

If you don’t use a daily eye treatment, here’s why you should

How to tell when it’s time to start using an eye cream

Cut your morning routine in half: meet beauty’s multi-taskers

Styling and photography by me.

Part 1: How to Pack for Copenhagen.

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Effortless style is in the DNA of all Scandinavians. When it comes to dressing the part on a chic holiday to Copenhagen, the look is all about the concept of less is more: uncomplicated but interesting colours, relaxed tailoring, and simple but sophisticated separates – with a dash of the 70s trend thrown in the suitcase for good measure. Making the case for a certain kind of minimalism involves exuding that Scandi-chic vibe without trying too hard. I teamed up with Country Road this month to share a little of my travel and packing tips for one of my favourite destinations in the world. So with a trip to the Nordic city in mind, what does one pack?

1.  The layered effect

Packed two entirely different pieces that you were planning to wear independently of one another? Make your travel wardrobe go the distance by pairing the two together. Here, I’ve layered the Broderie T-Shirt over the Linen Fringed Dress for a play on proportion, colour, and texture.

 2. Depend on denim

No travel capsule wardrobe is complete without your favourite denim. My take on the 70s trend involves teaming the beautiful Drop Shoulder Blouse to soften these Indigo Flare Jeans. The illusion of height these jeans give are always welcome, too!

3. New neutrals

Although packing light and right for a holiday usually goes hand in hand with black and white (i.e. go-with-anything colours), live life on the edge a little and include other neutral shades that work just as well as monochrome. I always love adding camel to my travel wardrobe mix – not only does it pair perfectly with white but it also looks great pared back with this season’s burgundy.

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4. The easy-peasy playsuit

Something that’s easy to throw on (and wrinkle resistant!) is always one of the first things that goes into my suitcase. Just add a classic wool fedora and a pair of suede ankle boots to give an added 70s vibe to this kimono-esque printed playsuit.

Look out for Part 2 of my Country Road travel series up soon – How to spend the perfect weekend in Copenhagen.

In collaboration with Country Road | Styling by me & Photography by Jamie Lau.

Packing for Santorini.

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Those of you who have been reading my blog from the beginning know that the Type A in me loves nothing more than a good packing list.

So I’m really excited that the next three months will see me teaming up with Country Road to share my travel and packing tips from my travels around the world and around Australia.

First up, a summer in Santorini and all my must-have packing essentials for a blue sky holiday.

Head over to the Country Road journal to read the full post.

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.

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!

Vogue Spy Style: Winter Dressing.

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My newest post for Vogue takes me through a journey of subtle colour for this winter (with Iceland serving as the perfect backdrop!). Like many of you, I’ve got a wardrobe full of monochrome – read the post on how to colour your grey this season whilst still staying true to your minimalist aesthetic.

Here I’m wearing Uniqlo heat tech turtleneck (seriously saved me from hypothermia in Scandinavia!), H&M cropped culottes (picked these up on sale in Norway), Porselli ballet flats (sadly on their last legs…) and my trusty Daniel Wellington watch.

Photography by Jamie Lau

Let’s never leave.

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It’s a little crazy to think that it was only three weeks ago when half the contents of my unzipped carry-on bag literally flew halfway up the street outside our Iceland hotel as we piled into the car en route to the airport. A tour bus load of passengers who – with much amusement apparently – witnessed me running after my Roshe Runs as they made for a great escape along with the ferocious wind at 5am.

I can’t begin to tell you about the howling and unforgiving Icelandic wind that morning, but let’s just say steel lamp posts were swaying rather precariously from side to side and it took no less than 10 minutes for my husband to successfully put one suitcase into the boot.

And if that wasn’t enough, my hands were jammed in my pockets out of fear they’d turn blue and fall off in -9 degrees celsius weather.

So I can’t begin to tell you how much I was looking forward to (and dare I say, earned) sun-drenched Santorini – and the daily overdose of vitamin D – to end our two month-long trip.

Of course, the excitement was kinda dampened when our airline lost our luggage on the way to the Adriatic coast – but that’s another story for another day (see, I wasn’t ever joking about packing that spare change of undies).

The short story is that eventually our suitcases turned up and the long story? Maybe I’ll just let these pictures speak a thousand words.

In collaboration with Topshop Australia | wearing Finders Keepers pinstripe top + culottes available at Topshop.

Photographs by Jamie Lau.

On packing lists and two month trips.

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When I first started putting together this post (just under 4 weeks ago), I was on my way to Tokyo, leaving the 98% humidity and 35C temps of Vietnam (thankfully) behind me. I’ve already spent the night on an unforgivingly hard chair in an airport thanks to a missed flight at Narita and a few days ago I left New York City where spring has definitely sprung, with some days hitting a max of 26C, the warmest since summer ended. This week, I’ve been traipsing glaciers and snowstorms in Iceland, where the average real-feel temperature has been a blistering 0C. The last leg of my trip involves spending time in Greece until mid-May for my first taste of a European summer.

So in light of my current travel situation, the idea of packing light to visit 10-12 cities with a million climate extremes seems laughable. Because I’m flying various airlines, my limit is 20kg of checked luggage, so packing for a two-month trip around the world has been about packing smarter, not necessarily lighter.

And by ‘smarter’, I mean packing a spare change of underwear in my carry-on.

My new-found fear of flying has nothing on my fear of packing too much for a holiday. I have these horrific visions (stemming from past travels) of lugging my suitcase up six flights of vertigo-inducing stairs to my Copenhagen airbnb, or walking 2km from my Paris hotel to the subway station negotiating cobblestoned paths and an erratic GPS that sends me astray the entire way.

Many of you have asked for a run-down of my packing list so I thought I’d put together a small insight + guide as to how I’ve packed for my two-month holiday.

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FIRST THINGS FIRST – PREPARING A PACKING LIST

My overarching goal is to ensure everything goes with everything – lots of easy, wearable and fuss-free items from pants and tops to shoes and dresses. This also always means I tend to stick to a very classic and neutral colour palette – grey, white, black, and navy, with the ‘colour’ I add being khaki, blush or mid-blue denim.

My other ‘deal-breakers’ include:

Shoes that I can walk all day in

Summery clothes that can also be worn for a wintery climate

Things that can be replaced + wouldn’t be devastated to lose or damage on my travels

Wrinkle-resistant items or those that require little ironing

In preparing my packing list, I always use Pinterest as my main packing list tool.

I first start by putting together a (secret) board of items I’m thinking of packing for my trip. This helps me to clearly visualise my packing list at a glance to see if I’m missing anything or have too much of something. I add items and/or refine or cull as I go along. For this particular trip, I created two boards – one for winter and one for summer. It just made it a lot easier to achieve a good balance of summer and winter items.

The second phase involves creating an inspiration board filled with travel outfits that could work for the nature of my holiday.

It doesn’t always happen but I try to complete my boards the week before I fly out. I start packing the day or two before – never any earlier as I find the wrinkles in my clothes are much harder to iron out.

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A TYPICAL IN-FLIGHT OUTFIT

When I’m flying 30+ hours, then walking my bedraggled self and catching a train to my hotel, comfort wins out every single time. I’m all about loose layers, relaxed silhouettes and comfortable, easy pieces, for a long-haul flight:

A merino or cashmere sweater

A relaxed long cardigan or an oversized slouchy coat

Acne Canada wool scarf which I use as a blanket

Black ponte pants or soft leggings

Porselli black ballerina flats (I slip off my shoes as soon as I get on a flight and put on a pair of soft cotton socks)

A large black tote bag

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WHAT I PACKED

WordPress would probably have a meltdown if I listed every single item in my suitcase right now, so here’s a good run-down of a good proportion of my packing list for this current trip:

COATS + JACKETS

Isabel Marant khaki down parka

Zara nude wool long robe coat

Balenciaga navy wool jacket

The rationale:

This is actually packing ‘light’ (for me) especially for such a long trip. I always pack a statement blazer for more dressy occasions and although it’s super heavy, the calf-length Zara coat keeps my legs warm when I’m only wearing one layer of pants. I’ve gotten the most wear out of this coat the most. The parka is virtually indestructible – I packed it specifically for exploring the fjords in Norway and Iceland.

I’ve bought a Uniqlo quilted down jacket on my travels which has proved to be indispensable to wear on its own or as a thin layer underneath my coat. It rolls up like a sleeping bag, too!

What I wish I packed:

Nothing. I think I’ve ticked all the boxes with these three options.  

KNITS + SWEATERS

Topshop charcoal grey coatigan

Isabel Marant merino turtleneck

Country Road mens’ grey merino sweater

Country Road grey knitted sleeveless roll neck

The rationale:

The Topshop coatigan is perfect for plane trips and can be easily layered underneath a coat. For wintery destinations, roll-necks and turtlenecks are essential. The Country Road mens’ grey sweater goes with everything.

What I wish I packed:

I may have packed way one too many grey knits (even though they are varying shades of grey… lol), so I kind of wish I had packed my classic mens’ black sweater by Country Road.

DRESSES

Bassike striped dress

Seed black silk trapeze tank dress

Alice McCall playsuit

The rationale:

Because it’s far less versatile than separates, I tend to pack the least dresses as possible. The Bassike stripes are ideal for in-between weather, the Seed black silk dress is my LBD that works on its own or layered in winter, and the playsuit is my ‘dressy’ piece for my summer destinations.

What I wish I packed:

Nothing, except for maybe my black Witchery jumpsuit. It’s just so heavy, though! 

SHOES

Chanel espadrilles

Porselli black ballerina flats

Birkenstock Arizona in black

Converse trainers

The rationale:

Shoes are always always, always the most challenging part of my packing list. I never want to travel with any more than three pairs of shoes but it never happens because, well, FOMO. For this trip, however, I made sure that every pair of shoe I packed could be worn all day without a hint of a blister.

One thing I always do is to place the insert from my Nike Frees into my shoes (like the Converse sneakers) for added comfort. It makes such a difference to shoes that don’t have a thick sole.

What I wish I packed:

My COS black Chelsea boots or Isabel Marant Dicker boots. It broke my heart to leave them at home this time – they are heavy and they just weren’t versatile or comfortable enough for me to wear through all seasons. Sneakers can make me feel so dowdy though and they’re not waterproof. I’ve almost caved into buying a pair of ankle boots on this trip…

BAGS

Celine Trio in navy

Celine Cabas in black

Everlane backpack

The rationale:

Only the ‘basics’ this time and I really wanted to go light on this – I even left the Le Pliages at home. Even though they’re super compact, all the weight adds up – it’s so important to remember this when you’re packing.

It’s also the first time I’ve ever travelled with a backpack and I swear I will never travel without one ever again. I haven’t yet figured out how to make it look less schoolbag-ish but when you’re travelling for 8 weeks, practicality trumps all.

I brought the Trio as it can be worn cross-body, and the Cabas doubles as a sturdy and expansive carry-on bag.

What I wish I packed:

A larger bag with a shoulder strap that fits my OM-D E-M1. I’ve hardly used my Celine Trio because it doesn’t fit my camera, and the Cabas is too impractical for all-day walking. Also, I wish I had brought my Longchamp expandable weekender – I’m really missing the practicality of a zippered carry-on bag! I’ll never learn…

ACCESSORIES

Acne Studios ‘Canada’ scarf in grey

Country Road black leather belt

Ray Ban oversized Aviators

Knitted grey beanie

Straw boater hat

The rationale:

The scarf doubles as a blanket on the plane, the beanie will keep my ears warm in Iceland, the boater hat works in both summer and (kind of) winter, and the belt is really my only accessory.

What I wish I packed:

My black wool fedora as it’s such a classic winter staple and (call me pedantic) but it just feels weird wearing a straw hat when it’s snowing outside.

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THE VERDICT SO FAR

So I’m at the halfway point of my two-month trip now and the general consensus is that I’ve neither packed too much or too little. If anything, I think I’ve packed slightly more than I probably need, even though when I departed Australia my checked baggage weighed in at roughly 13-14kgs.

My only major regret is not packing a pair of ankle boots because some destinations have turned out to be way colder, snowier and rainier than I anticipated. You can never predict the weather, I guess, and I didn’t own any boots that I could walk all day in plus be ok with trashing them in mud puddles!

At the end of the day though, I’d say 99% of what I’ve packed can be worn together so, and off the cuff, I’ve worn about 90% of what I’ve packed so far. So given packing smarter (as opposed to lighter) was my goal to begin with, my packing list has performed relatively better than others of mine in the past.

And in case you missed it, read my Spy Style post over at vogue.com.au for more of my packing tips + essentials.

Life in the slow lane.

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Fridays are for my favourite things: sunshine, waking up at noon, cups of tea, leaving things half done, and life in the slow lane.

They say time goes quicker in New York, whilst in Iceland, life is the complete opposite. I’ve been watching snowflakes fall to the floor from my bedroom window every day I’ve been here; taken the roads that are less travelled, sat by waterfalls as they crash to the ground and it’s as if the second-happiest country in the world doesn’t know a damn thing about time.

But the thing is, they’re completely okay with that. And so am I.

In collaboration with Topshop Australia 

What I’m wearing today: Oslo

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A quick snap of today’s outfit in Oslo.

We started the day off at noon with a trip to Birkelunden flea market, meandered through Grünerløkka in (a fruitless) search for coffee, then ended up at Fuglen where I experienced my first snow fall whilst drinking my coffee out on the pavement (magical!). The afternoon consisted of a quick visit to the beautiful opera house and an impulsive coffee at Stockfleths at the end of the day just because the sun came out. I’m already becoming one of those Europeans who gets so excited and runs outside to sun bake when the temp hits above 15C.

Sundays are eerily quiet in this small city. All the shops are closed so people either stay indoors or retreat to flea markets, parks, coffee shops, or spend their Sundays along the beautiful river. In a lot of ways, Oslo reminds me of Perth – it’s a distinctively relaxed city, where you can hear the tumbleweeds rolling through the city centre on Sundays, and everyone kind of wakes up real slow (and has no real problem about it).

Today’s outfit is an ode to the black turtleneck. I’m crazy about them at the moment, especially when tucked into denim with an oversized coat thrown over the top. This particular turtleneck I’m wearing is actually from Uniqlo’s heattech line which I swear by to stay warm in the northern hemisphere winters (or spring, funnily enough).

I wanted to wear ballet flats today (instead of my Converse) but with the amount of walking we did, these espadrilles seemed like the best compromise to make me feel a little more polished but comfortable. I’m also going to wear holes in my Scanlan low-rise boyfriend jeans (they’re the perfect ankle-grazing length and sit really relaxed on the hip) and this Zara coat from last winter has been pretty much superglued to me.

With all that being said, I’ve been in Europe for a grand total of six days and I’m missing the Australian sun so much already!

From Norway with love.

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Wearing Zara robe coat (tracked this one down from eBay), Maurie & Eve top and skirt, Porselli ballerina flats from My Chameleon.

Checking in for a hot second from Norway!

I’m currently bundled up in a cosy cafe in Bergen (Norway’s second biggest city, behind Oslo) determined to finish a deadline that I’ve procrastinated on for the past few days. Aside from our first day in Norway (above) the weather has been dreadful so it’s not such a traumatic experience having to coop up indoors and work.

As for outfit details, after calling practically every single boutique in Perth, I managed to track down this Maurie & Eve Gravity two-piece (top + skirt) literally the day before I flew out. As I harped on about in my latest blog post for Vogue, there’s something about matching sets that makes travelling in style a little bit easier. I also stumbled across this Chloe Paraty for $290 in a Tokyo consignment store last week! The leather is understandably a little worse for wear, but I’m planning to breathe new life into it by professionally dyeing it black when I get home.

In the meantime, we’ve decidedly been keeping our travel itinerary low-key and relaxed, so there’s been less sightseeing and more getting lost in the city’s winding, cobblestone paved roads. It’s been refreshing and so good for the soul.

How to pack light and travel in style.

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For the past ten days I’ve been working on planes, car trips, hotel rooms in five different towns and cities, every single day and night all the while sick with a virus that I caught off my husband and trying not to divorce my parents at the same time (whom I’m currently travelling with during my Vietnam leg). The wheel on my newly minted Rimowa also snapped off yesterday so my last night in Vietnam couldn’t have come soon enough.

For a few hours last night though, I was finally able to switch off work for the first time during this holiday, having caught up on nearly all of my deadlines and projects. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to have the laptop shut and not have it glare at me from across the room.

Sometimes when I have a few hours spare, though, I go a bit crazy because the notion of ‘spare time’ really is non-existent in my life these days. It’s like I have no idea what to do with myself (I don’t even know what it’s like to sit on a couch and relax anymore) so I swing between polar opposites. Case in point: after a leisurely dinner last night at L’usine, I painted my nails a dodgy Rouge Noir-dupe and took a pair of questionable hairdressing scissors that my husband packed to chop two inches off my hair in my equally questionable hotel room in Ho Chi Minh City. The bathroom is a hot mess but my hair seemed to survive the trauma of being hacked into.

So what has this got to do with how to pack light and travel in style? Not much, probably, but with a flight to catch at 8am and my husband tossing and turning next to me as I (not so silently) type away, all I can manage is one schizophrenic post today.

Which brings me to my latest post for Vogue. I’m doing a series of packing posts in light of my travels – and you can read the first of them here.

A few of you have asked what exactly I’ve packed for a two month holiday so I’m planning to try and write a follow-up on the plane today (told you I don’t know what rest means anymore…) which I hope to share on this blog over the coming days. I’ll also be posting my Vietnam travel journal for @olympus_au this weekend but for now, you can follow my real-time updates on Instagram to see where I’m off to next. Hint: it’s my favourite city in the entire world. Not even exaggerating.

Mornings are for oversleeping.

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CULTIVER Lila Nightshirt | French flax linen flat sheet in dusk | French flax linen sheet set with pillowcases in charcoal grey

Linen bed sheets are like a crisp pair of 501s.

The best ones are perfectly worn-in, soften beautifully with age, and bear creases in all the right places. They remind me of comforts I often miss about home; the stack of books on my bedside, an Earl Grey before bed, sunlight that envelopes the curtains at exactly the same time and same place every morning. Comfort is the ultimate luxury.

These French-flax linen sheets and their new sleepwear by Sydney-based luxury brand Cultiver (the French word for ‘cultivate’) are truly a thing of beauty. After being commissioned to style and photograph them in my own home recently, it’s easy – and quite frankly addictive – to cultivate luxury in your daily life with just the addition of linen sheets to your bedroom repertoire.

And, if nothing else, spending the morning wrapped in crinkled linen sheets and captivated in a book whilst it’s pouring with rain outside must be one of the most glorious things in the world.

Topshop: An essay on style.

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Wearing Topshop pale blue raw edge cropped shirt

My catholic high school uniform consisted of a white shirt and striped tie, and a grey pleated skirt no higher than 12cm above the knee. We weren’t allowed to tie our college sweaters around our waist, and our hair had to always be tied back with a teal scrunchie.

Even when I was 14, being indistinguishable from everyone else bored me. So I’d change out the buttons on my shirt cuffs. I wore black Clarks oxfords with a heel a little higher than everyone else. I’d find novel ways to plait my hair each morning.

Style must have come to me early but looking back, it was ironic, given that for most of my childhood, I craved to have the same colour hair and the same contents in my lunchbox as everyone else.

I find ‘style’ difficult to define. I always knew it was an intangible quality – something money can never buy and something you either have or you don’t But it wasn’t until I had a conversation with Tiffany from Perth’s Topshop Personal Shopping (a free service that’s available to anyone) that I realised style – of the sartorial kind – is merely an unapologetic interpretation of what you wear and an expression of our personality.

As Topshop Perth’s Style Ambassador for 2015, that’s precisely the message I hope to convey through these monthly ‘style essays’.

That maybe it’s okay to buy a plain Jane blue shirt in favour of the fuchsia spray-on dress that’s hanging in the shopfront window just because it’s what you think you should wear (and not because it’s something you actually want to wear). They say you should never wear two voluminous things together. That flat shoes should never be worn with hemlines longer than the knee. That you should never leave the house without brushing your hair.

But rules were meant to be broken – and having a sense of personal style is just a matter of knowing which ones to break.

In collaboration with Topshop Australia 

Photographs by Jamie Lau.

My Best Japanese Beauty Buys.

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A new month means a new adventure.

In case you missed it, I took some of you to Japan last week by way of this carefully curated guide to the best Japanese budget beauty buys (at least in my humble opinion) for Vogue Australia. The post has actually been nine months in the making – but it means every single product in my guide has been tried and tested for almost a year by me. And I have to say, I had much difficulty narrowing down my favourite products!

I’m heading back to Japan later this month (look out for my packing list shortly) so I hope my list of beauty recommendations helps those of you also visiting this breathtaking and hypnotic country!

Read the full post on how to shop for Japanese cosmetics over at Vogue.com.au.

Vogue Spy Style: The New Wave

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ICYMI, my latest SpyStyle post for Vogue Australia gives you the how-to on my hair with some secret tips from my hair stylist Marie Cain from Head Studio.

If there’s only one make or break tip I can impart, it’s ensuring you use the appropriate-sized curling iron for your hair length. I tried to replicate these waves with my 32mm Babyliss Pro the other day (it was the only curler I had on hand) and it was. utter. disaster. I’m off to find that 19mm curler this week in an effort to avoid that dreaded aunty look, but in the meantime let me know if you have any tips you’d like to share on hair!

See the full blog post on Vogue.com.au.

You should love for no reason.

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I’ve had this post sitting in drafts since mid-October so it’s almost a relief that I’ve been able to steal some time this afternoon to share them with you. Finally! 

I received these film scans from Natasja a little while ago (the first post was all digital but hey, #filmisnotdead). It’s kind of a continuation from that post but I didn’t quite elaborate on the what, why and how my personal collaboration with Tasj came about. For those new to my blog, Tasj photographed my wedding (almost four years ago, now!) and thanks to Instagram, we’ve been able to keep in touch since then.

One Sunday afternoon, she showed me the way to one of her favourite spots in Perth and we spent the next couple of hours with just each other, her camera and the sunset. We thought it’d be kinda fun if we shot me in my wedding dress again, though this time, it would be different. So I gathered my Church’s boots, a navy Acne blazer and a couple of sweaters, and wore them with my Marnie Skillings dress. I did my own hair and make-up (though probably not very well) and I almost forgot how much I loved this dress, and still do.

It was the most fun I’ve had in such a long time. Her son Harry helped draw chalk on the black drapey background. Then there’s Tasj, who always makes it so easy, so effortless. And for once, it was just really lovely to know we were creating something simply to inspire something beautiful.

A fresh start.

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For those of you still taking the time to drop by my blog, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. In an age where Instagram has consumed nearly all of our online time, it really means so much.

I have so much to tell you all after taking (an unintentional!) semi-hiatus from this blog over December. Over the past two months, I moved house to be back home at mum and dad’s, our two houses finished building, and I launched an online business (and took a stab at being an entrepreneur) all before Christmas. It got crazy hectic for a while (I only had a post-Christmas virus to tell me so) but I’m so glad to be back here, posting, again. And yes, that includes answering those questions you’ve thrown at me!

As the title of this post suggests, though, it’s time for new beginnings and fresh starts. There’s so much to say, but so little time.

For now, I will leave you with a snippet from the weekend just gone by (finally got a chance to wear this Karen Walker number out!) and a new wardrobe sale to signal a fresh, new beginning. You’ll find all the usual suspects (Isabel Marant, Celine, Zara, Karen Walker, Acne Studios et al) all from my own personal wardrobe. Shop here!

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!

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.

Pyjama Dressing.

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 Equipment silk signature shirt in Rosewood, Country Road leather loafers, IKEA sheepskin rug.

Life has been so overrun with work and other things lately that I haven’t found a chance to properly update you all on my behind the scenes (other than The Meltdown) until now. I woke up this morning with no rush to be anywhere aside from a trip to the post office and breakfast with my sister. And it made me realise that sometimes the littlest things can mean so much.

In preparation for the house move, my husband and I have been busy packing up our life in a series of cardboard boxes knowing that we probably won’t be opening most of them until 2016 when our new house has (hopefully) been built. I’ve been pinning like crazy (check out the pseudo-progress here) and so far we’ve decided on these kind of floorboards and this kind of kitchen with a black subway tiled feature wall with these light fittings. I couldn’t be more annoyed/exhausted by it all but I’ll try to keep documenting our progress along the way!

I’m also in the process of another online venture (more on this later!) and embarking on my first styling/photography job later this week.

In the meantime, I’ve also started to take on a bit more marketing work which has meant leaving the house in things other than sweatpants and three-day-old-hair. Though the work is decidedly more corporate than creative, everything else has been so refreshingly casual and chill, making getting dressed in the morning so easy.

I’ve been living in silk Equipment shirts (best places to shop for them are The Outnet and ForwardForward) and a pair of perfectly worn-in patent loafers. Now on the hunt for the perfect pyjama jacket/shirt (similar to this) to take my definitive guide to lazy dressing to a whole new level.

Photographs by me.

My #VOSN Wishlist.

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Given 80 per cent of my wardrobe comprises items I’ve purchased with a glass of wine in one hand and a credit card in the other, I was recently asked to put together my top 5 buys from #VOSN – an event otherwise known as one of the biggest online fashion happenings of the year – Vogue Online Shopping Night which kicks off today from noon until midnight tonight.

You can read my post over on Vogue.com.au.

P.S. I’ve included things I’ve already purchased and/or tried on to give you more of an in-dept ‘cheat sheet’ to sizing and fit to take the hassle out of buying something sight unseen. Happy shopping!

Love love love.

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Fuji Instax camera, a beautiful basket from Robert Gordon, Dieppa Restrepo oxfords, and week-old baby’s breath.

I spent the weekend doing only things that make me happy, and it was the best ever.

Vogue Spy Style: La Mer.

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Don’t get me wrong: I’m into technologically-advanced Japanese mascara and anti-blemish masks as much as the next Glossier-obsessed girl; but I suppose I’ve always shied away from beauty-oriented posts simply because 1. Having the camera so close to my face makes me break out in a rash, and 2. Most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing or talking about, anyway.

With warm weather around the corner though, I’m hoping to go make-up free over summer (ok, maybe I’ll start with just foundation-free) – which has been almost impossible after suffering from unsightly eczema all my life. But, after being lucky enough to be given the collaborative opportunity recently by Vogue Australia and La Mer to road test their legendary essentials skincare range, I jumped at the chance to improve my morning and evening skincare regime in the lead-up to summer.

I’ve documented my La Mer experience on Vogue.com.au which went live today – read the post here.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, it is a little on the expensive side (I only have my husband – a qualified chemist  who mixes his own potions and lotions for his patients – to remind me). So far though, I have had such a positive experience with the range. And by that, I mean, today I went foundation-free for the first time in a long time!

I hope to follow up this Spy Style post with one on this blog in three months’ time to give you a more comprehensive overview of what it has (or hasn’t) done for my skin. In the meantime, check out my latest Spy Style post and let me know what you think, particularly those of you already using La Mer or are thinking about upping your skincare regime.

The Daily Edit.

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A happy and lighthearted post today!

My weekend started yesterday, and the brief time off from working three weeks’ straight without a day off has been just what the doctor ordered. These are a few of my favourite things at the moment – a beautiful saffiano leather monogrammed notebook from The Daily Edited, my new business cards which I’m so proud of because I’m painfully hopeless at things like that, a little luxury via La Mer (more on this soon…) and a classic silk shirt.

The French Girl Effect.

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I know things have gotten a little quiet around here.

And maybe a little stale.

I guess I’m missing the old me. And in some ways, my old life. Weekends spent just the way I like them to, instead of making friends with shadows on the wall on a lonely Sunday afternoon, with the screen of my laptop staring back at me. Talking about my day without worrying if it’s “on-brand” (yes, that brand thing). Knowing what I want to do with my life, instead of worrying about what tomorrow will hold. And most of all, coming home from a long day at work and falling into bed without feeling an ounce of guilt about it.

They say doing what you love is a great to earn 30K a year, and it couldn’t be further from my truth. When this blog suddenly became a means to put food on the table and a roof over my head (I’m still not letting my husband pay my bills), I think my passion for it died along the way. Because when you’re working until 3am in your Paris hotel room, it’s hard to love your job.

In all honesty, I could see it coming. My husband keeps reminding me why I chose this path. But when it hits you like a bus, it gets hard to dust yourself off and keep moving. I’ve spent the past few weeks in a state of there’s-more-to-life-than-taking-photos-of-myself. Because right now, I’m grappling between setting the world on fire without sending this blog up in flames. I gotta keep moving. Keep hustling. Stay humble.

Or, I could go just buy a burger after this.

Photographs by me.

Here comes the sun.

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This weekend has been all crisp, fresh sheets, window sill light, and things I’m looking forward to wearing this summer.

1. A pair of worn-in vintage 501s

2. A crisp white carry-all tote

3. Creased button-down shirts

4. Summer slides

5. A new wardrobe hero

If you happen to be in Perth later this month, my friend S from Hello Parry and I will be doing a spring clean and setting up shop at Many 6160’s Blogger Market on Saturday 25th October. There will be a treasure trove of things from our own personal (and overflowing) wardrobes including Celine, Alexander Wang, Givenchy bags and shoes. I’m moving back into mum and dad’s soon (another story for another day – my husband’s coming with me, in case you were wondering) so I’m hoping to find a lot of my clothes, shoes, and bags lovely new homes! Save the date and see you there!

Photographs by me.

A Cartier Fairytale in Paris.

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Nothing worth it ever came easy, and none more so than my recent collaboration with Cartier and Vogue.

Whilst in Paris last month, I had the opportunity to look to some of the most fabled (and my favourite) parts of the city to serve as the backdrop for the centenary celebration of Cartier’s iconic panther jewel with its new ‘Panthère de Cartier’ collection – the biggest in the French maison’s history.

But there is always a stormy undercurrent to fairytales. Haughty princesses are kissed by frogs; tales are riddled with runaway slaves and lions with thorns in their paw, and sleeping beauties and a cursed eternal slumber; fables tell of lost slippers and wicked step-mothers; there is a story of a mermaid who gave up everything for love but lost her beautiful voice; and Aesop’s tales that teach us that although it’s tempting to envy another person’s life, their life is rarely as great as it seems from a distance.

Though I can’t quite begin to describe how much of an honour it was to work with such an iconic brand so steeped in a fabled and bejewelled history, it was our most challenging assignment yet for various reasons. We ended up with only fifteen minutes to shoot the entire editorial (when usually we set aside an hour or two) and I’m sure most photographers can emphathise when I say I feared these photos would be confiscated from us at one point!

But like all fairytales, mine had a happily ever after, so it goes without saying that I’m so pleased (and relieved!) to be able to share my latest Spy Style editorial with you. It’s not every day I’m in working in Paris, alongside Cartier (and my husband!), and wearing a bracelet with a price tag equivalent to a small apartment.

See the full post on Vogue.com.au here.

Photography by Jamie and Michelle; post-processing by Michelle.