Saturday, 24 December 2016

Carluccio's has your Christmas dinner sorted

Carluccio's Christmas in July press day was one of the highlights of my year; the food, the festive atmosphere (regardless of the 28 degree heat) and the free samples ticked all the boxes - but what made the event really special was finding out the story behind each product in the Carluccio's Christmas range.

Me being the skeptic that I am, I believed that, as Carluccio's is a chain brand, it did not deliver 'proper' Italian food. 

Oh how wrong I was. 

They source their products straight from Italian producers, from the cioccolateria in the village square to the family which has been making pandolce for generations. These manufacturers are visited every year by the Carluccio's buying team, who taste everything to ensure great quality goods for their consumers. The love and passion (yes, really) that go into each piece of food sold by the company is jaw-dropping. It made me truly appreciate every mouthful - and there were quite a few. I sampled everything from melted stilton on flatbread, to the obligatory Prosecco, to a chocolate panettone that was to die for

Carluccio's Christmas collection has a food to suit every taste, and one for every part of the Christmas meal, making it so easy to gather everything you need right before the big day.

Here are a handful of the delicious foods on offer this Christmas from Carluccio's, as well as the story behind them:

F I C H I   A L   R H U M

A fig bar covered in dark chocolate - ideal for those who can't stand the overly sweet, overly manufactured taste of the regular Christmas chocolate box assortments. This features chopped Calabrian figs, candied peel and walnuts - all doused in a good helping of rum, left to rest for a day, then coated in chocolate.

P A N E T T O N E   A L L A   C R E M A   D I   P R O S E C C O

For me, being non-Italian, Panettone is a Christmas luxury, but at the same time complete necessity. Its creamy texture goes so well with a cup of tea, and this version is one not to be missed. Carluccio's Venetian producer makes a 'custard' with the locally produced Prosecco, then pipes it into the Panettone. Buy this and thank me later.

C H O C O L A T E   C O A T E D   G R I S S I N I

Unbelievably rich, these grissini sticks (like little biscuitty bread sticks) are made the old-fashioned way - with lard, not olive oil. And they're completely coated in chocolate. Yes, you do feel the fat seeping down to your thighs when you eat them, but that's what treadmills are for.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Play a Game with Lipstick Queen's Stunning New Collection

It's fair to say that 2016 has been the year of the lip, with many makeup brands releasing collection upon collection of beautiful lip products in every colour imaginable. Nudes have been incredibly popular this summer, but with winter well underway nothing can stop me from donning a festive red lip - and Lipstick Queen's new Lipstick Chess collection has all the shades you'll need to achieve that glamorous vibe.

Launching in January 2017 on the Lipstick Queen website, the collection consists of six stunning hues from deep ruby red through to mocha and a medium nude. The formulas are enriched with natural oils, waxes and anti-oxidant vitamin E, and produce a hydrating matte suede effect - no dry, uncomfortable, heavy concoctions here. 

Each colour is designated to a different chess piece, which says something about the wearer:

The Ruby Red Queen who reigns supreme
The Rich Berry King who is noble
The Deep Plum Rook who is bold
The Dashing Mocha Knight who is unpredictable
The Determined Mauve Bishop who is courageous
The Subtle Nude Pawn who is loyal to what they love

Each lipstick is priced at £22.

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Sunday, 18 December 2016

Bloggers vs Journos: Why can't we all get along?

If you follow any major bloggers or vloggers on Twitter, you may have seen a flurry of tweets about an article written by Francesca Hornak for The Sunday Times Style entitled '24 Hours With... A Beauty Vlogger'. Part of The ST Style's relatively new series, this installment focused on the imagined life of a beauty vlogger, and included Starbucks, fairy lights and fitness-obsessed boyfriend cliches. Needless to say, this did not go down well in the blogging community.

A full-time blogger is often met with a look of doubt, or even an eye roll from time to time, when asked his or her profession. It's 'narcissistic', it's 'not a real job', it's 'lazy', say the masses, thanks to a superficial image perpetuated by traditional media. Take Zoella, the UK's most popular lifestyle blogger, as an example: on social media, her life seems a whirlwind of fairy cakes, pugs and top knots. It would be easy to think that that's all there is to her. But, just like models, actors, artists, singers and everyone who works in the creative industry, there is far more to the blogging profession than meets the eye.

You could say the same things about journalists. I have been a journalist for over five years and, to some of my friends, my life appears exciting and glamorous: I tell them about the celebrities that attended the party I went to last weekend, the makeup that landed on my desk before it was even on the shelves, and the time I got driven around the French Riviera in a vintage Porsche. I also tell them about the immense stress of never ending deadlines, the 4.30am starts and 11pm finishes, and the pressure of being constantly on the look out for the next story - but no one ever seems to remember those bits.

It's so easy for those who do not work in the creative industries to judge those that do. Because our jobs are unlikely to involve number crunching, heavy lifting or solving world hunger, our lives are often satirised. Which is exactly what Francesca Hornak was doing when she wrote '24 Hours With... A Beauty Vlogger', which details fictional vlogger Glitterbugeroo Instagramming her new pup's poop, much to the disgust of her boyfriend. She then goes on to illustrate the vlogger filming a video with outtakes, her thoughts on a sour encounter with another vlogger at a press event, and her somewhat trivialised struggles with anxiety and trolling.

For those of you with a Times subscription (one which I refuse to pay for as The Times can't give me anything more than what I can get online for free), here's the original feature: 24 Hours With... A Beauty Vlogger.

Francesca's work has appeared in The ST, The Guardian, Marie Clare and Stylist, among other national titles. Her Sunday Times Style column, History Of The World In 100 Modern Objects, ran for two years and, although it was never one of my favourites (I'm a Camilla Long fan through and through), it provided a different perspective on the way we see the objects around us. Inevitably, the column lead to a book deal, and Francesca remains a columnist at one of the nation's favourite fashion weeklies. 

With her credentials available via a simple Google, it's clear to see that Francesca is an accomplished journalist, who has no doubt worked hard to get where she is. So why would she make fun of a group of people who are taking the same journey and trying to replicate that success? 

Lily Pebbles, London-based beauty and lifestyle vlogger, had that same question when she criticised the feature in a recent tweet:

Lily Pebbles on Twitter / @lilypebbles

A little lower down her feed, Lily said she was surprised to read this in The ST Style, having only two weeks earlier had her 'Day in the Life' feature published in the magazine.

Other bloggers joined the conversation, deeming the piece as 'insulting', 'unsupportive' and even 'horrific'. 

Well, in my humble opinion, the only thing I see here that I could possibly call 'horrific' is the laziness of this feature. Toilet humour is never clever, witty or intelligent, and there are so many ways that this, as a satirical piece, could have been improved. I mean, in no world would I, as a blogger, ever think about photographing my dog's messes. I do, however, spend five minutes adjusting the position of my fairy lights before taking a photo so that they appear as if I have just nonchalantly tossed them on my bed. I also like Starbucks, my boyfriend is obsessed with fitness, and, yes, I do mess up my vlogs. By all means, satirise that. But if I were an Editor and someone on my team pitched me this literal shit of an idea, I would question whether that writer had spent the morning gabbing over X Factor results and put this together five minutes before our meeting.

Satire (when it's well written) is something that should exist in the media. It stops us from taking ourselves too seriously, and provides entertainment for those who don't really 'get' what we do, and probably never will. It's nonsensical to expect everyone to love, respect and appreciate who you are and what you do. Hell, even Beyoncé has haters. So when a piece which criticises your work is published, do as Beyoncé does and brush it off. Write a blog post about it. Pitch a counter-argument feature to the magazine. Anything. I know, we all have insecurities, and they're not something to be taken lightly - but if everyone (not just bloggers) crumbled at every piece of criticism, we wouldn't get anywhere in life.

Conversely, it's one thing to write satire about a profession completely different from your own like, say, politicians, but should journalists really be criticising those who belong to the same industry? Who are doing exactly the same work, and are putting in exactly the same (if not more) hours? Even I got mildly annoyed when I saw Vogue's Sally Singer write, 'Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: Please stop. Find another business. You are heralding the death of style.' But then I remembered that the quote came from a publication which dug its own grave by becoming the most hypocritical, backward, stuffy, elitist and downright dull fashion monthly in today's media.

Personally, I hope The Sunday Times Style doesn't take the same route. Yes, publish satire. Yes, highlight the funnier side of life. Just let Francesca Hornak know that, no matter how good a writer you are, toilet humour belongs in a toilet.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Why a fairytale wedding isn't on my bucket list

Many girls dream about a fairytale wedding from a young age, á la Monica Geller: the perfect dress, the perfect venue, and the perfect groom. I've got the perfect groom, but my version of 'perfect' when it comes to wedding aesthetics is far off from what one might expect.

My dress will not be designer, neither will it have breathtaking beading or an enviable train. Hell, it probably won't even be white; it will be a pretty, lacy midi-length dress with a delicate pleated skirt from ASOS (or similar) that will likely cost me around £80. 

My venue will be abroad in a picturesque little Italian town on the coast, in a tiny church or on the beach. And since I'm not one for the something-borrowed-etc custom, I'll skip right to the cake, which we'll spot in the window of a tiny family run bakery and ask for just a slice each to enjoy whilst sitting outside at a tiny table for two.

Best of all, we won't have any guests. It'll be just us two, plus witnesses, enjoying each other's unadulterated company before we have to return to the real world. Because that's what I really believe a wedding should be about: love. Not thousand of pounds worth of flowers, not Vera Wang couture, not a venue that will trump all your friends' wedding venues. Just love.

According Brides magazine, the average wedding in 2016 costs around £30,000. 

Let's break that down:

Wedding venue: £2,790
Reception venue: £3,919
Catering: £3,959
Photography/video: £1,046
Flowers: £638
Cake: £300
Entertainment: £773
Dress: £1,378
Shoes: £161
Stationery: £271
Headdress/veil: £138
Attendants' outfits: £436
Mother-of-the-bride outfit: £349
Groom's outfit: £439
Beauty: £301
Engagement ring: £3,037
Wedding rings: £809
Other wedding jewellery: £176
Honeymoon: £4,413

For most people my age looking to get a leg up on the property ladder, that hefty sum is more than a deposit on a house. A wedding, or your first home - which one would you prefer?

Having a tendency to be fairly sensible when it comes to money, it's safe to say that I would rather buy the house than have the wedding of the year. Think of it like this: £30k for just one day. Alright, there's the reasoning that that one day will be cherished by yourself, your husband and your families and friends for the rest of their lives. But really, it's just you and your husband (who cherishes a colleague's wedding they went to twenty years ago?). And surely it's the meaning of the ceremony you cherish, rather than the decor and wedding breakfast.

Before I attended my first wedding as a guest, I had a less cynical view. Perhaps, I thought, people spend that much money because it's a symbol of their love. Now I see that, for some more than others, it's a status symbol: a way of proving to their guests just how much they love each other. Maybe it's that one chance to show off. I know people who are content living quiet, introverted, almost confidential lives until their wedding days, then suddenly it's all glass cherub sculptures and champagne fountains. Maybe it's not just the guests that will see it; we're forgetting Facebook, Twitter and Instagram here. Weddings are a hotbed for acquiring likes. Just think of the photo ops in front of that Kardashian-esque flower-wall or the popular 'frame within a frame'.

Maybe dream weddings are an instrument for social affirmation. A way of keeping people family happy. A wedding invite to the 'most exciting wedding of the year' solidifies the relationship between the happy couple and the guest. Conversely, to receive no invite or, God forbid, to receive a reception-only invite, can only lead to a massive case of FOMO and a decade-long grudge. The dilemma: invite everyone (and watch the costs rise) or decide who you can live without.

Wedding gifts are another nightmare. Back in the day when couples got married, then moved in together, you could kill two birds with one stone by buying them a wedding AND housewarming gift. Now that couples are *gasp* living 'in sin', most wedding invites contain some sort of attempt at a lighthearted poem (see below) asking for money for the honeymoon, or even to contribute to the costs of the wedding. *Furrows brow*. So your guests are here to bail you out of debt? Another reason not to spend £30k.

With all that we have, we've been truly blessed.
Your presence and prayers are all that we request.
But if you desire to give nonetheless,
A monetary gift is one we suggest.

Now, before anyone thinks I have a problem with people who want a dream wedding - I don't. It's your day, so enjoy it as you see fit. If bridal Louboutins and Wolfgang Puck's catering services are what you see in future, and you have to save up for five years to achieve it, then that's your day. But just remember the reason why you're getting married.

Similarly, if you would rather elope without the pressure of guest lists and whose second-cousin-twice-removed will or will not get an invitation, then that's okay too - and don't let any meddling in-laws tell you otherwise.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Adidas release first 3D shoe

Never has there been a time when trainers have become such an iconic piece of fashion. These shoes are the epitome of casualwear, yet have somehow seeped into high fashion and, thanks to social media influencers, particular pairs have been known to retail through secondhand sites such as Depop and eBay at over £300 (hello, Nike Air Max Desert Theas).
After reading through the many 2017 fashion trend reports that have landed in my inbox over the last week stating 'heels are making a resurgence', I thought the trainer hype was over and I could kiss goodbye to comfy feet. 
Adidas announced that it has made its 3D technology shoes, first seen on athletes during the Rio Olympics, available to the public in a limited edition release. The '3D Runner' features an engineered 3D web structure with dense zones in high force areas and less dense zones in the low force areas, allowing for the optimum level of performance. It also features a 3D printed heel counter, which is integrated into the midsole to avoid the usual process of gluing or stitching.

In August this year, we saw Team GB heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, USA swimmer Allison Schmitt and Colombian BMX cyclist Mariana Pajon, gifted a pair of the 3D Runners following their medal winning performances in Rio. Now if these amazing women can't inspire you to slip on your trainers and kickstart your New Year workout routine early, then nothing will.
A limited number of the shoes were made available on December 15th 2016 in London, New York and Tokyo. For those of you based in the UK, the shoes cost £240 and are available from the Adidas store on Oxford Street, London - that is, if the hysteria hasn't caused a riot! You'll want to get your hands on a pair of these quickly before they go out of stock, as Adidas has not announced whether it will be adding the shoes to its permanent line. However, I think it was a smart move to release these shoes as an in-store exclusive, as this then reduces the chance of sneaky bots purchasing shoes on mass and upselling them on a secondhand website.
What are your favourite trainers? Have you ever paid more than £300 for a pair?

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Twitter @jenloumeredith

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Semilac Semi Flash - Easy Chrome Nails

Keen-eyed beauty magpies will have spotted the chrome nail trend appearing every now and then on Instagram. If you’re not clued up about this recent development, here’s the gist: nail technicians and bloggers are using a metallic powder which, when applied using a foam-tipped eye shadow applicator, produces a truly eye-catching mirror effect on the nail. This product is not only easy to use (I got the effect right first time), but it eliminates the need for fiddly nail wraps which crease and crinkle at the slightest misapplication. 

Semilac, a brand which you may have seen me work with before (see my video here), has created its own version of this powder called ‘Semi Flash’*. Available for £8.99, this little pot of powder will last you countless applications; all you’ll need is a no-wipe gel top coat and an applicator (I found some in Superdrug for £1.89 a pack). The effect is just stunning, and whilst wearing the product on my nails I received so many compliments – so naturally I was very happy with how it looked.

To apply the product, I began with my normal gel manicure, pausing the process after curing my gel colour under a UV lamp. I then dabbed the tip of a foam applicator in the Semi Flash powder to create a thin layer, before lightly rubbing the powder in small circles onto the surface of my nail. It wasn’t long before the effect became visible. I only needed one layer for the chrome shine to become opaque and completely cover up the colour underneath, so each nail took around ten seconds to complete! To finish off, I applied a UV gel top coat and placed my hand under the nail lamp for a final cure.

As expected, some powder residue was left on the skin around my nails, but I was able to easily remove this with a cotton bud and some rubbing alcohol.

Around three days in, I noticed some small chipping around the very tips of my nails, which could have possibly been avoided with better top coat application on my part. However, overall, the powder lasted as long as my gel coat. As the gel started to peel off around the ten-day mark, the powder came off with it, so I removed the polish and left my nails to breath for a day – but I was longing to recreate the effect again, and so I applied the powder again the next day!

I used the Semilac Semi Flash on top of a light pink gel nail polish; however, as Semilac states on its website, the appearance of the powder alters when applied over a range of varying shades. I’m yet to apply this over a more vibrant colour – a metallic cherry red would look perfect for Christmas – but I will keep you updated on my Instagram when I do!

* This product was provided as a sample for review

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Death By Chocolate Dipping Sauces

There comes a time in the year when the weather gets a little chillier, the nights draw in and all of a sudden our minds automagically switch to hybernation mode and food that was once a no-no during the glorious summer months seems just a tad inviting. Of course, it doesn't help that the autumnal food favourites are out in full force and National Chocolate Week has done a little bit more than just pique our interests in the sweet stuff. So, why give in? If we're programmed to eat a little bit more than usual during the autumn and winter months, then I say 'indulge' - and enjoy it.

Just to encourage you even more, I've created three mouthwatering 'Death by Chocolate' dipping sauces to have with your favourite fruits or, even better, your favourite biscuits. Thomas J Fudge's iconic Florentines may already be covered in chocolate, but they're the perfect companion to a sweet dipping sauce. Find your favourite flavours in Waitrose or Tesco, and make yourself a cheeky little dip with these easy-to-follow recipes.

Ginger and Orange Chocolate Dipping Sauce


40g The Grenada Chocolate Company Organic Dark Chocolate
3 tbsp single cream
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp Valencian orange extract
1 tsp mixed dried fruit to garnish


1. Place the chocolate in a bain marie and agitate with a spoon until melted. Add in the cream and mix until shiny and runny. Pour into a ramekin or small bowl.

2. Stir in the ground ginger and Valencian orange extract.

3. Garnish with the dried fruit.

Raspberry and Vanilla Chocolate Dipping Sauce


40g The Grenada Chocolate Company Organic Dark Chocolate
3 tbsp single cream
100g raspberries
1 tsp vanilla extract


1. Repeat the first step above.

2. Push the raspberries through a sieve to remove excess juice, then stir into the chocolate.

3. Stir in the vanilla extract and garnish the chocolate with a single raspberry.

 Caramel and Popping Candy Chocolate Dipping Sauce


40g The Grenada Company Salted Dark Chocolate
3 tbsp single cream
2.5 tsps popping candy
2 tsps caramel syrup


1. Repeat the first step above.

2. Stir in two tsps popping candy and the caramel syrup.

3. Garnish with the rest of the popping candy.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Golden Oreo Rice Pudding

Golden Oreos are, to me, a bit like glorified Custard Creams. They just don't have the creamy, chocolately texture of the original Oreo, nor do they look particularly interesting. Unlike regular Oreos, I have to enjoy these with a cup of tea or, like this recipe states, as an addition to a pudding dish. 

Now that we're firmly in the beautiful season of autumn, and winter is just around the corner, a hot and creamy rice pudding is a wonderful thing to indulge in on a cold evening whilst you're on the sofa watching Bake Off (or similar). You can customise a rice pudding any way you like; you can make it healthy(ish) with peaches and honey, or go super chocolately with Nutella, or you can sit somewhere in the middle with cinnamon and maple syrup. This recipe includes the two latter ingredients, but with the addition of Golden Oreos just to make it a little bit more fun.

- 100g pudding rice
- 30g sugar
- 600ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 6 Golden Oreos
- 1 tsp cinnamon


1. Preheat the over to 150C/fan 130C/gas mark 2.

2. Wash the rice and drain.

3. Butter a baking dish. Tip in the rice and sugar and stir in the milk, maple syrup and cinnamon.

5. Cook for 1.5 hours.

6. Take the rice pudding out of the oven. Break the Oreos into pieces and distribute them throughout the pudding.

7. Place in the over for a further half hour.


Friday, 7 October 2016

My Plants Are More Carnivorous Than Me

“Animals are my friends...and I don't eat my friends.” ― George Bernard Shaw

Just a few weeks ago, my partner and I were furniture shopping at Ikea when we came upon the plant section. Me being me and having a quirky (one would hope for it to be seen as this and not 'weird' or 'worrying') obsession with exotic plants, I whisked our trolley straight to the cactus stand. Admiring the array of different succulents, with their varying shapes and colours, I spotted a dionaea muscipula, or, Venus Fly Trap, sitting modest and unassuming next to its prickly and flamboyant friends; its little green mouths lay open, spring-loaded, teeth jagged and at the ready, laying in wait to catch its prey. 

I was intrigued by the peculiarity of this plant and, needless to say, it ended up in my basket. I took it home, placed it on a sun-drenched windowsill, and named it 'The Minions' thinking it would be a nice break from the racial stereotyping of my cacti: Juan, José, Jésus and Carlos. After a few days, I noticed that The Minions were beginning to look a bit sorry for themselves. I checked the level of water in the drip tray and, though it could have done with a tiny top up, I was indeed providing my plant with ample hydration. So, in typical millennial fashion, I Googled. 

After around twenty minutes of browsing, my eyes had been opened. I had previously believed that, as seen in cartoons, my dionaea would entrap flies with a swift snap-shut of its toothy pods and become as self-sustaining and low maintenance as my beloved succulent collection. Needless to say, I was wrong.

Venus Fly Traps require plenty of water to be topped up every couple of days, PLUS regular feeding. And by feeding, I mean live insects or rehydrated blood worms. A further Google told me I could get the latter at my local pet store, as there was no way I'd be able to stand there watching live insects squirm and die as they're devoured by my plant. That's a little too sadistic for me. So along to the pet store I went, and picked up a sachet of dried blood worms. I brought the sachet home, tipped a pinchful into a small tray, and poured a little water on top.

Swishing the water over the blood worms, they began to rehydrate and looked liked small brown jelly worms (yes, this really is as gross as it sounds). I took two toothpicks, and began feeding the worms to The Minions, each pod snapping shut, securing its meal, ready to begin the five-or-so-day-long digestion process that fuels its growth.

Excited, fascinated and a little bit nauseous, I stood back and admired my Minions like a mother would admire a child who had just eaten all their vegetables. Then, suddenly, it dawned on me. I just fed my plants what were once living creatures, whereas I am a vegetarian and have sworn never to eat meat again. I didn't know whether to laugh or give myself a slap on the wrist for not putting two and two together, but either way it unsettled me.

So it transpires that, yes, my plants are more carnivorous than me, and the act of feeding them goes against my reasoning as a vegetarian. Can you see how this makes me feel a little awkward? On the other hand, starving a plant to death because of my own beliefs sounds equally morbid.


I'm hoping the problem will go away by itself. Dionaeas are particularly difficult to maintain, and it wouldn't be the worst thing if The Minions became ill due to my lack of skill, or if a 'strong October breeze' tipped the pot off the windowsill and onto the concrete floor below. Yes, I'm a terrible plant mother. But the one thing I'm sure of is that I don't want to be a terrible vegetarian. It's all or nothing!

I guess I've answered my own question: the plant must go! But before I finish this post, I want to ask my merciful readers, 'what would you do?'. Do you think I'm being irrational here? Or do you think I should practice my vegetarianism to its full extent?

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

How to Take Blog Photos in Winter

As we're heading into autumn, the days are getting shorter, the temperature's are getting colder, and you're wondering if this blogging thing was such a good thing after all. However, let me just say: please, please, please, don't be a fairweather fashion blogger - consistency is one of the most important elements of blogging, so don't let winter take that away from you! There are many ways to get around the winter months; with a little help, soon enough you'll find that maintaining your blogging game will be as easy as pie.

S H O R T E R    D A Y S

One of the biggest motivation killers when it comes to anything during winter - not just blogging - is the lower amount of daytime hours. Obviously, good light is essential for great photography (unless artificial lighting is part of your aesthetic), and what with work/school/childcare taking up most of those crucial hours of sunshine, taking that killer shot is somewhat of a mammoth task.

Now, there are several ways around this. Firstly, thanks to daylight savings, our mornings will be lighter than evenings in winter. Therefore, it'd make sense to get up half an hour earlier, set up your camera on your tripod (or grab your Instagram husband), and catch your OOTD in the morning sun. The sun will be low in the sky, so you'll avoid those mid-afternoon high contrast shots, and you'll be fresh as a daisy having only just got ready, so your outfit won't have gone through the turmoil of a day's wear.

On the other hand, this isn't the best option for those of us who are attached to our beds, or those who like to go further afield for their shots (as travel might not be an option in the mornings). So, you could always head out on your lunchbreak, source a good patch of shade (perhaps behind a building or under a large tree), and shoot away. This way, you're still avoiding harsh lighting contrasts, but you still have a good amount of light to work with.

In winter, weekends are your friends. Sometimes, I'll spend a good three hours putting together and shooting looks for my blog and Instagram. I know, seems like a lot of work for a weekend, right? But, if you're dedicated and you love to blog, then this is just something that must be done. I shoot mostly on weekends because I don't feel like I'm in a rush, so I can really perfect my look, and even travel to get the perfect background (unfortunately, I don't have a perfect white brick wall at my disposal!).

U N P R E D I C T A B L E    W E A T H E R

So you're finally blessed with an hour to take photos. But, you arrive at your location and it's windy and/or raining. Typical. However, not totally impossible. When unpredictable British weather rears its ugly head, I try and find somewhere that's still outside, but sheltered from the elements. Some creative examples are:

A beach hut with a verandah
Under an archway or bridge
A doorway with a porch canopy
A bandstand or pavilion
By a picnic table umbrella
A narrow alleyway

I wouldn't recommend taking your photos inside unless you're next to a really big window - preferably floor to ceiling to show off your whole outfit - otherwise this can make your shots look unnatural and can often provoke shaky camera blur or ugly flash photography. 

C O L D   T O N E S

Thanks to a lack of sunlight, winter is associated with a blue, grey and white colour palette - and you may notice these hues in your photos. If you're going for a cool-toned or even minimalist aesthetic, winter might be your best friend. However, if you like to keep your shots warm, there are a couple of ways to get around this.

Firstly, if you've got a DSLR, alter your white balance before you start snapping. Most DSLRs will offer this option, and you'll probably find it in a button on the camera body which is marked with 'WB'. Hit this, and you'll find a range of options including Tungsten/Incandescent Light, Daylight and Fluorescent Light, amongst others. If you want to go for a warmer image, select either Cloudy or Shade options - these will bring out the red and green tones in your image to make your subject and scenery seem warmer.

If you don't have a DSLR, your best option is to recreate the effect with your photo editing software. If you have simple software, you may find that a warm filter will do the trick. However, if you have Photoshop or similar, play around with a 'Levels' layer to alter the tones in the image and make it warmer. If you haven't done this before, it's easy to find a YouTube tutorial to help you out!

Let me know what your tips are for taking photos in winter - or if you have any questions about blogging or photography, please let me know in the comments section of this post!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

LFW SS17 Day 2: Pam Hogg & Rocky Star

Every season I tell myself that I won't go to LFW. It's stressful, shows run over and make me late, and there's always an after party where I get a little bit too drunk and regret it in the morning. However, I just can't help the excitement when the tickets land on my desk; what will this season's trends be like? Who will be walking the runways? Will I find a new design house to fall in love with? In the end, I give in to my curiosity, pop my heels on and grab my camera ready for the week ahead.

This time, however, I chose just one day on which to attend so that I could keep stress levels to a minimum and leave my weekend free. On Friday 16th September, Rocky Star, Paul Costelloe and Pam Hogg were showing, along with Fashion Scout's 'Ones to Watch' show, an assembly of rising talent within the industry (this year's catwalk saw Ana Ljubinkovic, Anissa Aida, Billie Jacobina and Ester Kubisz making their LFW debuts).

Rocky Star's gowns were nothing short of breathtaking. His Bollywood-inspired designs showcased delicate floral applique on floating chiffons and silks, intricate necklines and showstopping headpieces. The models wore ornate and, often, oversized drop and chandelier earrings - some with the additional bejewelled choker - and the makeup focused on dark eye shadows, groomed brows and natural lips. Hair was tied back into low ponytails, then plaited in a simple braid.

I loved the whole show. Despite the heavy ruffling, these dresses would certainly fit in well in my dream wardrobe. The colour palette was heavenly, and makes me nostalgic for a moment in time circa 2003 when all I wore was nudes, browns and dusky pinks; however, this is far, far better. 

As I had priority access to the show, I managed to get a half decent seat; however, I longed to get an up-close look at the dresses, so as soon as the show ended I went to the side of the catwalk and snapped a few photos of the models up close. The fabrics were so beautiful; I could liken them to the delicate surface of a painting. And the applique was just stunning: beads, jewels, sequins, coins, all sewn so deliberately on the fabric in perfect lines and patterns.

Also in attendance were Geordie Shore's Charlotte Crosby, Made In Chelsea's Nicola Hughes and Kimberley Garner, Love Island's Olivia Buckland, actresses Lily Frazer and Natalie Anderson, and singer Hatty Keane.

Pam Hogg's show was, as usual, wacky as ever. Her collection consisted of sixties-inspired block colours and shapes, combined with seventies metallics and wigs. There were, of course, several of the designer's famous bodysuits in both mesh and patent fabrics, alongside some extremely wearable pieces including a fiery orange playsuit that gave off a spiced-up Velma Dinkley vibe.

Alice Dellal opened and closed the show in two different tea dress-style outfits, accessorised with huge platform heels and her signature undercut. Pam Hogg herslef made an appearance midway through the show, walking out in a gold tracksuit, aviators and cane, pointing to her friends on the frow as she went, and again at the end to thank everyone.

All in all, an amazing show which definitely gave me an inkling that the sixties is going to be big next season. Thank God I still have a use for my mum's vintage mini skirts. Note: never throw anything away.
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