Friday, 7 August 2020

A guide to picnic outfits

A guide to picnic outfits
I've had more picnics this year than I've had in my life. Is that a bad thing? In my opinion, no. To me, there's nothing bad about sitting outside in nature, soaking up the sun, the fresh air and the sound of wildlife. We've gone on and on about how we can hear the birds singing from our at-home office windows - why not get out there and enjoy their songs in an environment that doesn't involve a computer screen?

One thing that has stumped me, however, is how my pre-lockdown wardrobe was so unfit for picnics. I had rails of smart dresses on one side, and ripped jeans and band t-shirts on the other - neither of which permitted the flexibility required to sit on the ground for a picnic.

A guide to picnic outfits

Determined to get the most that I could out of summer picnic season, I decided to get my hands on some more suitable picnic attire. But what does the perfect picnic outfit consist of? In my perilous quest, I've discovered an idiot-proof recipe. Here's my checklist:

  • You must be able to sit down without cutting off circulation to any part of your body (that's kinda vital for any outfit, but you'd be surprised at what I've sacrificed)
  • You must have shoes that you can easily slip on and off (because is there anything more indulgent than the feeling of grass on bare feet? It's the only thing these days that makes me feel like a child again)
  • It should cover up a food baby
  • It should be ventilated to prevent awkwardly wet thigh sweats
With these points in mind, I've put together a picnic outfit that's totally comfortable - and stylish - for your next picnic. Thank me later...

Public Desire Kalia Nude Wide Fit Strappy Block Heel
Kalia Nude Wide Fit Strappy Block Heel, £29.99 from Public Desire

Slip these off while you're eating - they're pretty to look at when they're both on and off your feet. They also have a block heel, which will keep you stable while you're wandering across a grassy field looking for a space to plop your blanket down.

Halterneck Dress in Dark Russet, £19.99 from Zara

This dress is loose enough to keep you comfy while still looking like a chic summer midi.
Jamie Leopard Print Faux Ponyskin Belt, £16 from Fy

Add an accent to the above dress with this statement belt.

A guide to picnic outfitsA guide to picnic outfits

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Sunday, 5 July 2020

Outfits for your first post-lockdown drink

Post Lockdown Drinks Outfits

Lockdown has meant that many of us have missed out on seeing loved ones and friends, going on holiday, hosting birthday parties and attending weddings, and much more. I think that the updated government advice allowing pubs to open has given those (who are able) a much needed break from being cooped up inside for months. It's a small win, a celebration, a sign that things are (dare I say it) starting to get better, while remembering that protecting ourselves and others is still of the utmost importance.

If you are planning on heading out for a bite to eat or a drink with your friends and supporting your local, there's no reason you can't get dressed up. It might seem like the first time in forever (cue an Anna of Arendelle solo) since you put your best outfit and makeup on - so if you're going to do it, why not do it properly? 😉



If you're looking for going out-out outfits, I've put together a few looks to give you some inspiration. That's right, I got dressed up so that you didn't have to... 

I usually love dresses, but this year I'm trying out more jumpsuits and playsuits for a different look. I've found that jumpsuits can be so lengthening, which is ideal for me as I'm on the short-to-average side when it comes to height. Of course, there's nothing wrong with embracing your height whether you're small, tall or in between - I, personally, like to add a few inches.

With the looks below, I've chosen a gorgeous mesh-sleeve playsuit, a sage-green one-shoulder jumpsuit and a black jumpsuit with mesh detailing - all from Femme Luxe*. 

Femme Luxe Black Mesh Sleeve Playsuit
Femme Luxe Black Mesh Sleeve Playsuit


This mesh-sleeve playsuit is beautifully tailored at the waist, and the mesh is so current. It's on the more dressy side, and definitely requires a dash of highlighter on your legs to make the most of them during the warm evenings!


Sage Belted One Shoulder Jumpsuit - Evelyn
Sage Belted One Shoulder Jumpsuit - Evelyn


This green one-shoulder jumpsuit is perfect for a night out at your favourite bar with your friends. I would accessorise with a necklace and bracelet to embellish that bare arm, and it definitely needs heels due to the length of the legs. Size up if you're on the larger side of your size.


Black Mesh Panel Wide Leg Jumpsuit - Wendy


This black jumpsuit is so slinky and elegant. I love how the mesh detailing brings a bit of uniqueness to an otherwise simple look. It's stretchy, so I would purchase your regular size. Accessorise with bejewelled earrings - and heels are a must! The legs are quite long, and might need taking up an inch or two in my case.



*gifted
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Thursday, 11 June 2020

How to be more aware of micro-aggressions and what they mean

Micro-aggressions


So, now that it's been a week since you (may have) participated in Blackout Tuesday, what have you learned? 

I've learned a great deal over the past seven days. I've read and listened to a huge variety of opinions, theories, facts and statements from many voices. Each one is important, regardless of whether others stand in agreement. It has been a journey of understanding and enlightenment, and I am very glad to have taken this journey and continue forward (forever learning), despite the awful circumstance which prompted the first step. 

Obviously, the subject of race is so multi-facted that the best that any of us can do to comprehend it is to listen and educate ourselves without the interjection of our own preconceptions. It may never be possible to fully understand all of the intricacies of such a vast topic, and even harder to reiterate to our friends, family and followers what we have learned, or implement our education, without making mistakes. But we should try, and we will learn much more in the process.

One learned phrase that I want to share today is 'micro-aggression'. Micro-aggressions often come from good intentions, but because they're based on widespread racist assumptions, they are more insulting than complimentary. 

You look so exotic


For example, perhaps you are intending to pay your black colleague a compliment, like saying they're having a 'good hair day' when they're wearing a straight hair wig. This could be seen as a micro-aggression because it plays into the negative assumption that wearing their natural hair would signify a 'bad hair day' (this is obviously just an example and the situation might require more context - i.e. If you also regularly compliment your colleague when they're wearing their hair naturally, then your compliment about their straight hair may not be seen as a micro-aggression, etc. Use your educated judgement). 

The key here is to learn about common racial stereotypes (plenty of info online) and think of them before you speak. 

I wish I had your tan


I have also learned that, being from a non-black minority, I have benefited from the 'model minority' myth in my disposition to view micro-aggressions (towards myself) as compliments. In the past I've enjoyed people saying to me, "you're so tanned" or "you have an exotic look". 

Really, I should have addressed the fact that: 1) it shows white privilege to covet another race's skin colour or ability to tan when that is one of the very things that help racists identify us, and 2) the word 'exotic' is used to objectify and sexualise women from minorities.

You're pretty for a person of colour


Moving forward, I will address these micro-aggressions in the hope that my friend/colleague/whomever will think before repeating the mistake with another person, be they black or from another minority. I will also make sure that I do not make these mistakes when addressing others, no matter how well-intentioned.

So how does this help us become a less racist society? Due to the fact that micro-aggressions are, as I said, based on widespread racist assumptions, addressing them might make people question why they have those assumptions in the first place and provide them with an alternative way of thinking. 

In the grand scheme, addressing micro-aggressions may help (if only a little) to dissolve the negative stereotypes relating to black people, thus laying the foundations for a more inclusive society. There is no switch that you can press to turn off racism, but addressing micro-aggressions is a small step in the right direction.
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Monday, 11 May 2020

Lockdown loungewear | Working from home



Having spent much of my career working from home (even before the lockdown), I have to say, it's interesting to see how my friends, family, and the rest of the internet, are adjusting to the changes. Some people are getting to see just how productive they can be, while others are stressing over a lack of motivation; some people are getting to spend extra time with their other halves, others are using Zoom for 99% of their conversations. For me, life hasn't really changed much at all, apart from a new sense of community - suddenly I'm not all alone in the 'work from home' brigade, and it feels kind of nice.

Together we can do this


Before the lockdown measures came into play, some of my friends told me that they wished that they could work from home. They're either in heaven right now, or they're deeply regretting that statement. As I told them at the time, working from home isn't easy; you do have to be self-motivated and structured, and most of all I've found that this kind of lifestyle can have a negative impact on your mental health. During the years that I've worked from home, I've experienced severe loneliness, massive highs and lows, frustration and anxiety. There were times that I spent so long creating a routine and comfort zone inside my home, that I was almost afraid to go outside.

I'm much better now, but I can imagine that those who are experiencing working from home for the first time may be feeling the same things that I once did. It can be hard to get into a groove, but I find that creating small comforts and self-rewards are a real help. What do I mean by this? When you feel low, or you've just completed a really difficult work task and feel a little exhausted, or it's 8am on a Monday morning and you're struggling to find motivation, reward yourself with a little treat to help get you through the day. Your treat might be your favourite food, or even reading a chapter of a book - it varies from person to person, so there's no right or wrong. Here are a few of mine:

Working from home - small rewards

'Putting on comfy loungewear' is a pretty recent addition to this list. Before coronavirus hit, I never actually owned loungewear. I had an old pair of tracksuit bottoms and, of course, pyjamas, but usually I would wear jeans and a t-shirt as my standard work-from-home uniform.

Once I started seeing people extolling the virtues of loungewear on Instagram - mainly comfort, but also how good it can look - I knew that I needed to see what all the fuss was about. I ordered my first loungewear co-ord, and when it arrived, it's safe to say that my work-from-home wardrobe changed for good. In fact, I'm writing this now while wearing loungewear.

Thanks to the popularity of loungewear right now, Femme Luxe got in touch with me to see if I would like to collaborate on their loungewear collection. They have a huge range of seriously comfy clothes for lounging about the house; but they're not just comfy, they're stylish, too.

They have cosy, oversized 90s-style joggers (the ones that everyone is wearing on Instagram right now); crop top and cycling short sets for when it's warmer; and laid-back-chic ribbed sets which you can probably get away with for a trip to the shops. I picked out three sets, and I was happily surprised to see that the quality is brilliant - I can see these lasting and lasting!

Browse my looks below, and use the links to shop beneath each image.

Pink Cropped Stripe Loungewear Set - Hazel. Shop the look here. Shop the entire cropped loungewear collection here.
Pink Cropped Stripe Loungewear Set - Hazel. Shop the look here. Shop the entire cropped loungewear collection here.

Pink Cropped Stripe Loungewear Set - Hazel. Shop the look here. Shop the entire cropped loungewear collection here.

Sage Ribbed Crop Top Straight Leg Loungewear Set - Aniston. Shop the look here. Shop the entire ribbed loungewear collection here.
Sage Ribbed Crop Top Straight Leg Loungewear Set - Aniston. Shop the look here. Shop the entire ribbed loungewear collection here.
Dusky Pink High Neck Cropped Loungewear Set - Ella. Shop the look here. Shop the entire pink loungewear collection here.

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Monday, 27 April 2020

Getting my gold jewellery fix from Saint Kojo

Over the past year, I've developed what some might call an unhealthy obsession with gold earrings. Studs, hoops, drops - you name it, I've got them. And I love each and every pair. So, in fact, I wouldn't call my obsession 'unhealthy'; I would call it 'finally realising what works for me'.

I got my ears pierced when I was seven. And for nearly two decades after that, I wore earrings because they literally filled a hole. I didn't want my piercings to close up, so I would wear any old earrings that I had lying around on my dressing table. Even while working at a jewellery shop for five years, I never really identified as an 'earring person'.

It was only in the last 12 months that I realised I had a thing for gold earrings, and I think I've worked out why. As humans, we never really know who we are or what we like until we get older. We need time to try things out, to experience things and develop tastes. Sure, you might adore kiwi fruit from age 11, or discover that you can't stand romcoms when you're 19. But when it comes to something as unique and idiomatic as personal style, I think it takes a little while longer to truly figure out what that is. For some of us, anyway.

Since I developed this jewellery preference, I haven't stopped browsing and bookmarking jewellery brands that fit my aesthetic. I must follow close to 50, but one particular brand stands out for me - Saint Kojo.

This independent, UK-based brand is all about everyday luxury - which happens to be what I'm all about, too. Their 'Everday Elegants' collection is made with organic freshwater pearls, and each piece is dipped in 14k gold. But if you think this sounds way out of your price range, think again. Prices start from £15, and many of their gold earrings are priced at around £18-£25. So if you want to treat yourself without breaking the bank, this is the brand for you.

What I love most about this collection is the combination of textures. The use of silky matte gold finishes paired with the iridescence of the pearls elevates each design to a level of luxury that I've only seen from far more expensive brands.

I purchased some earrings from Saint Kojo, and afterwards they got in contact to work with me, so naturally I was delighted to! However, my opinion of their jewellery is in no way influenced by this collaboration, and I will definitely be making more purchases from Saint Kojo in future.

Take a look through my photographs of the collection below.

Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith
Saint Kojo jewellery - Jen Lou Meredith

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Monday, 20 April 2020

How to plan a graduation party - senior invitations, decor and more!


Graduation season is coming up, and that means it's party time! If you're graduating this year, or you're the parent of a child who's graduating, you might be thinking about hosting a party to celebrate. If that's the case - I say 'do it'! Graduating is such a huge achievement that it definitely deserves a get together, however big or small!

Although planning a graduation party can be really exciting, it can also be a little stressful if you're unprepared. However, a little planning goes a long way, and even if graduation is still a few months away, early action will pave the way for a successful party. Here are a few tips to make the process easier.

1. Float a date and make a guest list


Don't nail down a date just yet, as it may change with your venue's availability, but make sure to look at your availability and perhaps the availability of those who are closest to you, to make sure that the most important people in your circle will be able to make the date of the party.

After you've done this, make a list of who you would like to be at this special event with you. Perhaps you'd like an intimate gathering, or a big party with all of your friends and family. Just be aware that, the larger the guest list, the larger the venue will have to be...

2. Find a venue


Will you host the gathering at your house? Or maybe at a restaurant or community centre? The location of your party is your starting point, so it's important to get it right.

The venue will affect your guests. Ask yourself:
- Is it accessible by public transport for those without cars?
- Is there parking for those with cars?
- Is it too far for some guests to travel?
- Is it in a location where there are taxis available for those who want to drink?
- Is it big enough for the amount of people I want to invite?
- Does it have the facilities I require? (E.g. dancefloor, bar, tables, etc.)

Once you've got a venue in mind, give them a call and book in a date for the party. You may need to pay a deposit upon booking; this depends on the venue.

Of course, if you're hosting it at your home, availability will depend entirely upon your schedule. But if this is the case, ask yourself:
- Do I have enough space for X-amount of people?
- Are there enough places for my guests to sit?
- Is there table space for food and drink?
- Is my bathroom accessible to X-amount of people?
- Will I care if my home gets dirty? (accidents do happen - I've been at more than one party where red wine was spilled on the floor or furniture)
- Will the party cause discord with my neighbours?

3. Book event staff


This is optional, depending on budget. However, if you do have the budget, book your event staff once you've got a date for your party secured. Event staff include:
- DJ/band
- Any other entertainment
- Caterer
- Bar staff
- Photographer

If you want to DIY certain elements to save money, you could try the following alternatives:
- Create a playlist to play through a bluetooth or smart speaker on the night
- Make homemade food or ask guests to bring a dish
- Buy drinks from the supermarket or ask guests to BYOB
- Flex your photography skills, or ask a friend to be a photographer for the night. Alternatively, ask people to take their own photos and share them via a unique hashtag.


4. Design your invitations


An amazing party deserves amazing senior invitations, so get those creative juices flowing! There are so many personalisable, pre-made designs online - so if you're not a graphic designer, don't worry.

In terms of design, I think it's a really nice touch to add a photo of the graduate-to-be to the invitation. This turns it from a simple invitation into a beautiful keepsake that you can look back on in years to come.

However, if you're a little camera shy, you could go use a stock image (my favourite website for free stock images is Unsplash) or you can go for a minimalist look without any images at all.

Details to put on your invitation:
- The name of the graduate-to-be
- Venue address
- Date and time
- Parking/hotel details (if any)
- Dress code
- RSVP date and contact details

5. Choose your decor


Now that you've got most of the planning out of the way, now's the chance to have some fun with your decor! Would you want to go full on with a theme for your party? Or maybe just go for something classic and elegant? It's completely up to you to decide the vibe of your decor. However, if you need inspiration, Pinterest is an excellent tool. Here are some of my favourite 'party decor' pins:

credit: marthastewart.com
wolesin.com
houseandhome.com
minteventdesign.com

6. Send out thank you cards


Once your successful party is done and dusted, it's a nice touch to send out a thank you card to anyone who attended. Even though you've put in all the effort to planning an executing an unforgettable event, don't forget that your guests have also put in the effort to get dressed up, make travel arrangements and maybe even bring gifts or food and drink, so a thank you card is just a small gesture to round off the party process once it's all over.

Just like the invitations, your thank you cards would look beautiful with a photo to personalise them (perhaps even one taken on the night!).


Did this post inspire or help you? Please comment below to let me know, so that I can make more useful content for you in future!

This post was sponsored by basicinvite.com, a really useful website for creating your own invitations. They have countless designs available for customisation, including unlimited colour combinations. Plus, you can order a custom printed sample to see how your invite looks in real life before you place your order! Visit basicinvite.com to create your invitations and use code 15FF51 for 15% off sitewide!



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Monday, 13 April 2020

Tips for Sydney travelling holidays

Sydney CBD


Travelling to Sydney? Australia's most populous city offers so much to travellers and I highly recommend a visit if you love city life.

A tourist hotspot, it's easy to get caught up in the lights and glamous of the Harbour and the CBD. But there's plenty more to see in and around the city, such as the many beaches (not just Bondi!) and, of course, the incredible Blue Mountains.

If you're planning on visiting, I've put together some tips based on my last visit. I stayed in hostels and Airbnbs during my time in Sydney which, as a solo traveller, allowed me to meet different people from all over the world and make some new friends. It had a few downsides, too, but it was a mostly positive experience! These tips are based on my solo travelling experience...

1. Bring some 'nicer' clothes and shoes.


There are so many lovely restaurants and bars in Sydney, and some of them have certain dress codes. You'll get away with ripped denim shorts and flip flops in the day, but if you're going out in the evening, keep in mind that some places ask that guests are a bit less casual.

2. Ask your hostel for an Opal card. 


An Opal card is a card that you use to travel on Sydney's public transport (like London's Oyster cards). You can use it on trains, buses and ferries.

If you're staying at a hostel, ask the reception if they have any leftover Opal cards. Most hostels don't officially give them out, but a previous traveller is bound to have left one at the desk with some money still on it, and the reception may give it to you for free or for a small donation.

If your hostel doesn't have one, ask a fellow traveller if you can have theirs before they leave. If all avenues have been exhausted, you can just purchase one from an Opal retailer - they're located all over Sydney.


3. Try and travel with friends or as a couple. 


It's ironic that, in locations with more people, it can be so much harder to make friends. For Sydney I recommend cutting out the hard part and travelling with people instead. It's a pretty big city that doesn't have the same communal atmosphere as smaller towns (I'm sure it does if you're a resident, but from a traveller's perspective, it's more difficult to meet people in big cities), so if you're already travelling with a group of friends - maybe even people you met at a previous destination - you don't have to put in the extra effort.

That links to my next point...

4. Don't stay at YHA Sydney Harbour if you're looking for friends or parties. 


It's not a party hostel, and a lot of people that were staying there during my trip were families, couples and older people. Stay at one of the more central hostels like Wake Up! or YHA Sydney Central, or a smaller hostel if you're looking for more of a community atmosphere.

I'm thankful that I stayed in several different locations in Sydney, so I experienced the city from a few different perspectives.


5. Be aware of alcohol restrictions and bar closing hours. 


It's no secret that us Brits love going on a mad one and staying out until the wee hours, but Sydney is very different to London in that respect.

In Sydney's CBD (Central Business District), and many other suburbs in the city, it is illegal to drink on the street and your alcohol will be confiscated if you are caught doing so.

In a designated area within Kings Cross,Sydney and Newcastle CBD there is a lockout at 1.30am. This means that you can't enter bars after that point, even if you've just left for a walk and want to come back in. Last drinks are at 3am. There are restrictions on what can be served after midnight. For example, liquor cannot be served neat - so if you want a round of shots for your group, order before midnight.


6. Visit further afield destinations on a Sunday.


If you want to visit Manly or the Blue Mountains, I recommend travelling on a Sunday. This is because Opal cards are capped at $2.80 for any travel on a Sunday, compared to the weekday cap of $16.10 (figures as of April 2020).



7. Avoid the Sydney airport travel fee.


If you want to save money, you can be smart with your travel and avoid paying extra for the Sydney airport travel fare. The cost to travel to Sydney Domestic or International terminals starts from around $14 for a one-way ticket from Sydney Central. 

You can avoid this if you get off at Mascot station (one stop before the airport) and walk the 1.7km to the airport. You could also look at getting the bus instead, which is easier if you have less luggage.

I'll be honest with you - I just got an Uber. There was an extra $4.20 on top of the normal Uber fare, but it was worth it to skip public transport, queues and walking.


I hope you enjoy your trip to Sydney! Let me know what you're looking forward to most in the comment section below!

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