Wedge

5 Swoon-Worthy Summer Pieces from a Few of Kate’s Favourite Designers

Elegant and timeless, the Duchess of Cambridge never seems to miss a step when it comes to dressing appropriately and fashionably for every occasion – that’s one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by her style. While I may not attend as many formal and special events as the dashing duchess, I can certainly pick up a few pretty pieces made by some of her favourite designers. From preppy to feminine to regal, she has mastered the art of picking proper attire without losing her own personal sense of style. I’ve gathered a handful of inspiring pieces that you’ll want to wear all summer long.

Temperley London

Blazer

If you wish to look smart like Kate while also keeping your cool in the summer heat, Lyst’s editorial team suggests a jacket in a lightweight material with thoughtful tailoring. The pink Lanai blazer by Temperley London is crafted from linen for breathability while still offering a polished and professional appearance. Wear an outfit like this with a pair of Kate-inspired wedges to the office, and then dress it up with jewellery and a clutch for cocktails after work. This looks so much like a riff on the peach Tara Jarmon coat that Kate wore when visiting Naomi House in Hampshire that I can really imagine her selecting this – a pretty pastel colour on a traditionally unisex item makes it ultra feminine and especially appropriate for summer!

Alexander McQueen

Dress

Named as one of her favourite designers by What Kate Wore, McQueen’s dresses are definitely staples in the royal wardrobe. Although pricey for the average household, you can still use the garments as inspiration for the pieces you can pick up within your price range (think Reiss or Whistles!). There’s something so ethereal about seeing the duchess in different shades of white, which is why I’ve chosen this lovely perforated A-line dress in cream and black. It’s perfect for baby showers, engagement parties, and brunch with the girls. McQueen has always been one of my favourite designers, too, and although the items are out of my price range for every day wear, I sometimes splurge on a item that could work season after season, for multiple events!

L.K. Bennett

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The royal fashion experts over at Kate Middleton Style assure us that L.K. Bennett shoes are definitely in her rotation. The duchess often selects pumps and court shoes, as well as bags, dresses, coats, and jackets by this designer. In this instance, though, I’ll focus on a pair of elevated jute wrapped wedges with tan leather straps. Priced under £300, these sandals are surprisingly affordable and definitely channel Kate’s easy fashion sense. Wear these anywhere a little open-toe shoe action is appropriate. Also, note that wedges are much easier to walk in than pumps, particularly after you’ve been hitting the Pimm’s – and they’re also perfect for stamping down the divots in between chukkas when you’re watching polo!

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Print

With Kate being such a huge fan of the effortless ease of a flattering dress, especially now that she’s a mum of two, I’ve chosen another one that is reminiscent of her signature style. This conservative Carmen V-neck sleeveless dress by REISS is the perfect work-to-weekend piece. Pair it with a cardigan, polished pumps, and a structured handbag for a truly classy ensemble that’s perfect for the office, date night, and dinner parties. Blue florals prints are a favourite of the Duchess (think her ditsy blue Whistles dress she wore at the Diamond Jubilee Concert, or her Beulah scarfs in blue and white) – I can definitely see her in this with her hair up for a dinner out!

Emilia Wickstead

Trousers

Although we don’t see the duchess donning trousers very often, they are an occasional part of her repertoire, albeit usually in the form of skinny jeans. But there are plenty of Kate-fans who would love to see her make trousers part of her formal wardrobe, and what better way to start than with one of her favourite designers – Emilia Wickstead? These lovely high-waisted cloque trousers by Wickstead are perfect for the everywoman – you don’t have to to be Kate to find plenty of reasons for breaking these out of the closet. Excellent for an important meeting or dressier event outside of work, perhaps a charity or art gala, wear these with confidence. Pair them with strappy sandals and an embellished blouse for a more formal gathering, or with a simple silk tank and casual peep-toe wedges for a more casual get-together.

From dresses to blazers to trousers, these lovely garments are fashion forward and wearable at the same time, which is something I find so endearing about her style. I hope you’ve been inspired to start your own royal wardrobe with a few of my favourite pieces from a few of Kate’s favourite designers!

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Drinks

Thai Tapas Time! Koh Thai Salisbury

Tapas style is one of my favourite ways to enjoy food with friends – everyone ordering their dishes and sharing them around, discovering new delicacies and dipping in and out of plates here and there… Cutting the final piece into two or three pieces so everyone can try, ordering ‘just one more of these please’, after a particularly delicious dish disappears in an instant.

I’ve tried Greek, Turkish, Carribbean and even Mexican-style tapas, but until this month I’d never tried Thai. But really, when you think about it, Thai tapas is a genius idea. Like the Japanese izakaya snacks or kaiten-sushi, or even Chinese dim-sum, small dishes shared in a group is definitely a concept at home in Asian cuisine. So when Koh Thai asked me to come and review their tapas menu, I was more than happy to jump in the car and head on up to Salisbury.

Entrance

Koh Salisbury is located right in the city centre, meaning that you can hit the shops and the sights and then head in for a fantastic meal, and make a day of it. It’s also a really short walk from the main city car park, making it really easy to get to.

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The interior is dark, modern and themed with wooden screens, gorgeous golden lanterns, and hand painted artwork on the walls. When I went for a midweek dinner, the place was buzzing with couples, work parties, and a hen do, so I’d imagine booking in advance is pretty sensible if you want to make sure you get a table!

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The ethos of Koh Thai is a completely tailored dining experience, which starts the moment you order drinks. My designated driver, also my teetotal husband, always goes for soft drinks, but there’s no menu for virgin cocktails at Koh Thai. Instead, you tell the waiter what you like and they’ll come back with a delicious cocktail themed just for you. While I had a delicious Summer Daze, with gin, lime passionfruit and Midori, he had a riff on a strawberry daiquiri, which was completely gorgeous!

Crispy shredded beef

Onto the food! We’d been invited to try the Thai Tasting Menu at £26 a head, which includes starters and main, and all the trimmings. Koh calls this a bespoke ordering style, because that’s exactly what it is – you tell them what you like, which meats you prefer, any allergies or dislikes, and how spicy you like it, and they produce dish after dish of delicious food, exactly as you like it. I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that this was one of the best Thai meals I’ve ever eaten – everything was cooked to perfection and there was a fantastic balance of old favourites and new dishes that I’d not tried before. First up was the Thai sliced crispy beef: tender strips of beef with a crispy crunchy coating, served with a sweet, thick soy sauce spiked with chilli and dressed with spring onions.

24 hour beef ribs

Then came one of their signature dishes, 24 Hour Ribs. These were melt in the mouth beef ribs; so tender the meat fell off the bone. They were served with their cooking jus which tasted like a blend of soy sauce with cinnamon and star anise – although the exact recipe is a secret! I can’t decide if these or the crispy beef strips were my favourite – they were both cooked to perfection and so, so tasty!

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We also had Koh’s Own Chicken Satay. Traditional chicken skewers served with crunchy, spicy peanut sauce, this is always a firm favourite of my husband, and went down a treat.

To be honest, at this point we thought the meal was over, but it had only just begun. You’ll definitely not go home hungry… We were served cashew stir fry  – which I’d never had before, but will definitely be hankering after, and ordering, again for sure.

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It consisted of a sweet and savoury sauce coating a mixture of sliced beef, onions, peppers, spring onions, water chestnuts, pineapple pieces and dried chilli, studded with satisfying crunchy, creamy cashews. I could have eaten this all day.

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But what would a Thai meal be without at least one Thai curry? We had green chicken curry – fiercely hot, spicy, creamy curry sauce packed with bamboo shoots, green beans, peppers, and chicken.

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The dishes also came with Jasmine rice and Pad Thai: soft noodle ribbons fried with egg, carrots, spring onions and bean sprouts, served with sliced pork and peanuts on the side to add your own crunch! Sweet, rich and tangy, Pad Thai is always irresistible, and this was no different.

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Then it was onto our second round of drinks – I had a Kohtini, which is their alternative to a Cosmopolitan (lemongrass syrup, lychee liqueur, vodka, lime and cranberry) and my husband had a virgin mojito (oh my goodness, even without the rum, one of the best mojitos I’ve tried!)

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As you can see, I had a brilliant time at Koh Thai, and I’d definitely come back. This is the perfect place for a celebration meal with mates, or a quiet romantic date with your other half. The attention to detail was excellent, presentation was perfect and our waiters were very friendly and attentive. All of this would have been for nothing if the food wasn’t good, but I was bowled over by how delicious each dish was – I’d order it all again in a heartbeat.

The good news is there are locations all over the south, with more popping up all the time. There are branches in Bath, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Bristol, Christchurch, Lilliput, Ringwood, Salisbury, Southsea and Winchester, and the new Romsey branch opens this month (July 2016)! They even have a special express light lunch menu for under £10, including a fantastic selection of grilled meats with a choice of sauces, if you’re watching your figure.

Find Koh Thai online at www.koh-thai.co.uk. The Salisbury branch I visited is located at 4A Endless Street, Salisbury, SP1 1DL.

The meal I enjoyed at Koh Thai was complimentary – the views in this review are my own. (Seriously, book yourselves in!)

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Scorchio! Summer Happiness Part One

Summer is definitely here… at the moment… don’t hold your breath, just enjoy it! In order to celebrate the heat-wave, I thought I’d share some of the things that are making me happy this month!

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Summer trips to London: it takes me a couple of hours to get to central London from my house, and although it’s not as though I’m a local, I’m still a fairly regular visitor. No matter how many times I go, I love every bit of it, from the cheesy tourist sights to the upscale department stores.

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There’s never a bad time to visit London, but when the sun is shining and there are flowers and bunting everywhere, it’s just that extra bit special.

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I’ve also recently taken up the challenge of walking a minimum of 10,000 steps a day, and since I started two and a half weeks ago, I’ve walked over 90 miles all in all (yes, really!). It gets boring going on the same old walks, so I’ve started going out in the evenings with my husband, taking advantage of the great weather to visit some places I rarely go (and playing Pokemon Go of course! Do I get hipster points for saying I used to play Ingress as well?)

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Living on the coast, and in between two beautiful national parks (New Forest and South Downs), there are loads of local places to visit – but even closer by we have some pretty views, and Southampton Common is one of my favourite places to go (especially since I worked out several routes depending on how far I want to walk or run!).

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I’ve also been enjoying going on family trips, most recently to Bath – including an awesome, super spooky ghost walk through some of the most haunted areas of the city centre!

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I also had to snap this shot of this canopy of colourful umbrellas in the town – a reminder that even when the sun isn’t shining, you can still bring a bit of brightness into your life!

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A trip to Lordington Lavender Farm allowed me to break out my new Ray-Ban aviators (been lusting after a pair for ages and finally snapped some up in the Next sale!), and dream of ambitions of opening my own lavender farm – or at least, planning a trip to Provence again!

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And speaking of accessories, all this summer heat makes me long for the days of cool nights, long strings of pearls, and sweet perfumes like La Vie Est Belle from Lancome. But you know, just because safari prints and neon accessories are in, doesn’t mean I can’t indulge myself from time to time, even if I look a little weird hunched over the BBQ wearing Chanel pearl earrings… I bought these from Harrods with some money my grandmother left me – my mother-in-law always told me to use inheritance to purchase at least one good keepsake to remind you of someone, and I think that’s great advice.

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I’ve also been making a ridiculous amount of smoothies thanks to Natural Blender, the smoothie delivery service, and my brand new Nutribullet, which I bought after yet another blender broke on me at the beginning of the month. I wish I’d bought one sooner – this baby is seriously good, and blends everything to a perfectly smooth consistency!

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And finally, where would I be without my favourite summer flower – the hydrangea – and my favourite ballet flats, from French Sole?

Let me know what’s making you happy this summer in the comments!

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Sky Ride Southampton 2016


June saw the return of GoSkyRide to Southampton, and despite the dodgy looking weather, it turned out to be another glorious day!


I decided to ride into town from my house, about four miles away – pretty much downhill but I forgot about the few uphill parts and roadworks which made things a little more difficult. Also had the customary beeping from one car – it seems like there’s always at least one person who can’t quite believe their eyes when they see a person cycling or jogging or even walking along the side of the road and they have to beep just to check they’re still awake and not dreaming… (And no, I wasn’t running a red light or cycling in their way, they weren’t even in the same lane as me!)


By the time I arrived I was already pretty knackered, but the fairly flat course was good fun and I got my wind back pretty quickly! The route was fairly congested and it took around 45 minutes to do a complete circuit, which included the Civic Centre, up to the Common, back down again and then through the parks in town to the Bargate (sadly covered in scaffolding at the moment) and back.


There were loads of cool riders, including plenty of people riding with music, and even an entire five piece percussion band who managed to cycle and play all the way around! There were also a few people in fancy dress as well – I don’t know how they do it! I was sweating in my thin cotton top as it was!

I was also sweating it slightly because I hadn’t serviced my bike since last summer, and wasn’t sure if it was up to scratch – luckily, it was still in great condition, and with a little bit of tyre pumping, I was ready to go!


Of course, after a hard day on the bike, the only way to recover on a summer’s evening was with a cool glass of Pimm’s, garnished with some gorgeous Alpine strawberries and mint from the garden!

Have you been to a Skyride in your local area? Let me know! Or, tell me about your favourite cycling route or location!

 

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Polo in the Park Polo 2

Pass The Pimm’s Please: Chestertons Polo In The Park

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If you thought summer activities were limited to wasp-infested picnics, rained-off bike rides, going to the races or being invited to another distant relative’s wedding, then you’ve obviously never heard of polo…

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Situated not far from Parson’s Green and King’s Road is Hurlingham Park, Fulham, home of Chestertons Polo – the best introduction to the crazy, furious sport you could hope for!

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Spread across three days this summer (at the beginning of June), Polo in the Park slots nicely into the summer social calendar and provides ample opportunity for you to dress up, stand in a field, eat burgers and get slightly tipsy whilst watching everyone else do some hard work. I can’t think of many more summer activities I like better…

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This year, Chesterons Polo in the Park had a new attraction – the Great Polo Food Festival, which was held in the Grazing Paddock, from Gorilla Events. The festival brought together some of the finest London restaurants and street food vans, including some of my personal favourites: Hix, Maze, the Meringue Girls, and Bubble Dogs.

Food Festiva Hix

The food area was absolutely heaving, but there were plenty of places to sit (although, pro-tip, remember to bring a picnic blanket just in case. And water (preferably a few bottles already frozen!). And sunscreen!). There was so much to choose from but eventually I plumped on this gorgeous lobster roll from Hix – although this buffalo chicken burger from Maze was sooo tempting…

Food Festival Maze

The event felt very much like a mini Taste of London festival, which was fab! I also picked up some Meringue Girls treats for after dinner back at home – their dessert bar was incredible and included brownies and pavlovas – all picture-perfect and 100% Instagram-friendly!

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Their stand was one of the prettiest there, and I had to snap a few pics of their cool Smeg mixer, which the chap behind the stand was pretty chuffed with and eager to tell me all about how much better it was than certain other brands…

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I’ve followed the Meringue Girls on Instagram for ages so I was so happy to see them at the event – and felt the same way about seeing Rachel Black, the amazing milliner, there too! I have followed her for ages on Twitter, stalking her gorgeous floating feather headpiece for what seems like years… She even had one available for an amazing discount but I just didn’t have the funds. (So sad…) However, I swear one day I too shall wear a floating feather on my head!

Retailer Rachel Black

But as you can see, the floating feather piece is far from her most beautiful item – there are some truly incredible creations here. Check out her site!

Retailer Stella and Dot

There were quite a few other fashion retailers, selling everything from jewellery (Stella & Dot, above, are another fav!) to fur coats and panama hats! Luxury skincare brand Elemis even had a treatment bus parked up for the odd impromptu facial or massage…

Retailer Elemis

Of course, just like all the rest of the punters, I didn’t come here just to eat and shop. No. I came to get an alcoholic beverage of my choice at a pop-up bar! And luckily, there were plenty of choices there, from the traditional Pimm’s…

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…to the rather more interesting Fentiman’s, which was selling its own drinks as mixers for tequila, vodka and gin. I went off-piste slightly with my order…

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Instead of a boring old G&T I had Boodles Mulberry Gin with Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade – and it was utterly delicious! Fruity, floral and deliciously pink! I’d already tried the rose lemonade at a restaurant on its own, so knew that it would work gloriously!

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There was also a tropical themed bar – the Mahiki Coconut Bar –  which sold drinks in pineapples and coconuts.If you were feeling flush you even shell out for a treasure chest for £150, which served eight people and was a mix of Kraken Black Spiced Rum, plus more rum, brandy and peach liqueur, shaken with lime and sugar and topped with a bottle of Lanson Black Label Champagne – served, of course, in a treasure chest!

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But of course, I’m only kidding about the refreshments – the real focus of the day was the polo, and what a thrilling day it was! I’d never seen a polo match before and Chestertons was the perfect place to learn, because it’s geared up for everyone from families to fashionistas, to polo-fiends, to polo-newbies. There were even helpful leaflets explaining the action, including the lengths of the chukkas and what to do with a divot…

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That’s right – if there’s one thing I knew for sure about polo (apart from I was sure it was the horse kind and not the water kind), it’s that you have to go and stamp down the divots ripped up in the lawn by the action of the hooves and the mallets.

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This is why I recommend 100% wedges (or flats) for a polo watching session, because if you come in heels you’ll end creating divots of your own. I wore my trusty Stuart Weitzman for Russell & Bromley Coco wedges in navy blue suede for just this occasion… (Teamed with my Mulberry Lily Gem in blue suede and my Hobbs Bianca sun hat! Oh, and some more familiar accessories, my Brora Gold Charm earrings.)

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(But, don’t forget a trusty tote to carry all those polo essentials, too, like your water, picnic blanket, spare flats, etc…)

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I would massively recommend Chestertons Polo in the Park to anyone who wanted a fun activity for summer – whether it’s a family day out (the day I went, Sunday, was perfect for kids as they had special activities and amazing games for children in the morning), to be seen out and about wearing your finest, to grab some amazing food, or to get out to a summer sport that isn’t horse racing… again!

Check out Polo in the Park here, and keep your eyes peeled for info about next year’s event!

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Stepping On Kate’s Toes: Adidas Pure Boost X Review

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If there’s one thing I love doing, it’s buying workout clothes. There are so many gorgeous outfits and beautiful trainers that whenever I feel like my motivation to work out is waning, I can be sure to revitalise it with a new T-shirt or even a pair of trainers. So when the Duchess of Cambridge appeared in Portsmouth wearing a new pair of Adidas Pure Boost Xs, I knew it was time to make a purchase. I’ve never bought a pair of Kate’s trainers before (although I do have a pair of New Balance x Heidi Klum trainers that Pippa Middleton later wore!) so that helped tip them into my basket – and the fact that I could nab them from Next helped too!

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When they arrived, the first thing I noticed was their rather eccentric construction. The shoe is only attached to the sole at the toes and heel, and the arch of the foot is suspended above the base. This is probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in a running shoe, although it does provide better ventilation for your foot. As I often run on trails, this rang alarm bells immediately, as this shoe is certainly not suitable for running on mud or through puddles. (Can you imagine getting a twig or a stone caught under your arch and on the top of the sole? Ouch!)

The technical term for this construction, according to Adidas, is a floating arch. The idea is that this creates more support by encasing your arch (I called it a foot hammock and I stick by the description), but personally I didn’t feel like this actually worked for my foot in the short time I’ve been wearing it.

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The other thing I noticed was how cool these look in person. It doesn’t really come across in the pictures (and I have to admit, the first pics I saw of Kate wearing made me think this was a pretty boring shoe), but these have some serious style. It was the second batch of pictures released of Kate in her black Ralph Lauren jumper and skinny jeans that made me rethink them as a serious purchase. They’re just so sleek!

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Anyway, after I’d finished mucking around and sticking my hand through the bottom of them, I decided to take them on a run to put them through their paces. I already suspected they wouldn’t be great on trails so I decided to put that to the test and do a normal circuit through the woods. First, though, I tried them out on the pavements – and as  I thought, they’re a decent road runner, nice and light on my feet.

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On my usual, stony, woodland trails, the shoes do fairly well. There’s very little in the way of grip on the sole, but the stones in the soil here help the shoe to stick. Even at this stage, it was becoming apparent that the Pure Boost’s strength was running on concrete, though…

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Things started to get a little bit worse on the narrower, rooty pathways – not having the arch of the foot attached to the sole really started to ache my arches after a while, and if there’s any movement on impact when you put your foot down on something (large stone, tree root, whatever), there’s a lot of sliding inside the shoe as your foot isn’t supported all the way across.

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Here’s a prime example of a situation where the Pure Boosts are completely out of their element. No, I wasn’t drunk when I took this pic – the ground really is that slanted in places. When you’re running on a surface like this your foot will naturally slant to the side, but when wearing the Pure Boosts, the lack of attachment allows the foot to slide inside the shoe quite a lot. At one point, because my foot wasn’t anchored in the centre of the shoe, the toes and heel went sideways with the ground while my arch when downwards with the force of my stride. A little difficult to explain, but suffice to say there was a bit of mid-run foot-in-shoe adjustments going on after this section. I would not run in these shoes on a trail like this again! It also worried me to think of road running in an actual race with these on – if you found yourself running on a street with a steep camber this would be very uncomfortable after a while.

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With all the negatives out of the way, I have to say I’m still glad I bought these. Any runner who goes on a variety of different surfaces will tell you there’s no such thing as an all-purpose shoe. The all in one base on the shoe means there are fewer spots to rub and cause chafing and blisters. You can theoretically wear these without socks, although as you can see I chickened out and wore mine! The shoe does fit quite snugly and all the recommendations I’ve seen are to take a half size up from your normal size (I can’t be the only one who finds this infuriating, can I? Why don’t they just label them a half size differently if that’s the case?). Personally, I would recommend these for short bouts of road running, casual wear, gym wear or doing sports like sailing! (I have no idea on the last front, but Kate seemed to think they were suitable!)

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Reading reviews of the shoe online shows me that I’m not alone in thinking these aren’t the best for running, despite them being advertised by Adidas for that purpose. Most of the feedback recommends these for short runs or gym visits, and I’d agree. If you’re going further than five miles and you’re going off the pavement at any point, this is probably not the shoe to wear. But if you’re looking for a lifestyle/casual pair of trainers that you can also wear for the odd treadmill run or fitness class, this is a great choice.

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The Adidas Pure Boost X is available direct from Adidas, or via Next. This model is the  Pure Boost X Shoes Core Black AQ6681, and they’re priced at £90.(The Pure Boost X also comes in a large range of other gorgeous colourways!)

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Kate’s New BFF: Nina vs Natalie in the Battle of the Clutches

Move over, Natalie. There’s a new girl in town. Her name is Nina, and she comes in trench…

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The Duchess of Cambridge recently debuted a new L.K. Bennett clutch during her royal tour of India, and it sparked a bit of a buzz, not least because it wasn’t even available to the public yet. Teamed with matching high heels (in two heel heights, no less), the Nina in trench looked to be Kate’s new favourite clutch. L.K. Bennett released the item for sale yesterday, and as I find myself with nothing else better to do on a Friday afternoon, I thought I’d take time out to compare it to an old favourite, the Natalie clutch in straw.

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Now, I have a massive soft spot for the Natalie, because during the summer months it really feels like it goes with everything. Kate most often wore it with her trusty L.K. Bennett sledges in taupe, but it also went with the Minx Wedges from Stuart Weitzman, her L.K. Bennett sliver sandals (still only seen once on Kate!), also in taupe, and arguments could be made for it matching any number of her other wedges and espadrilles. However, since Kate’s recently switched from the Sledge to the Fern / Floret in trench, she seems to have ditched the Natalie as her working horse summer clutch in favour of the new Nina.

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Size-wise, there’s not much in the way of difference between the two. The Nina is slightly longer and wider, but the Natalie is fatter. Style wise, the Natalie’s puffy stuffed exterior gives it a pleasantly plump hand-feel, whereas the Nina is much less forgiving and easily marked (mine arrived with a dent in it!). I can imagine the leather becoming damaged from a sweaty palm print or a snagged fingernail very easily, whereas the Natalie really feels fairly indestructible. Natalie has a chic dark taupe satin trim around the edges, like a ribbon, and the Nina is the same trench-coloured leather all around. Finally, while the Natalie has the brand name embossed on the latch, the Nina latch is bare.

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In terms of internal chain, the Nina beats Natalie hands down. I never was too happy with Natalie’s puny, silver-esque chain, but Nina’s is long and elegant, and a pretty pale gold shade. It’s far easier to sling it across your shoulder, and the slightly longer look gives it a sleek mini shoulder bag feel. Despite having several bags with this feature (off the top of my head, the Mulberry Bayswaters, the Jaegar Kates, and the Oroton Odeion snake clutch), Kate never seems to use the chains on her clutches, and in fact rarely appears with a shoulder bag at all.

Inside

Inside, the bag is very similar to the Natalie – lined with a satin type fabric that has an internal pocket for credit cards, with the metal L.K. Bennett plaque attached.

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In the original, the plaque is attached with fabric, but the Nina has its plaque glued on. I also found it really difficult to fit my cards in the pocket, whereas the Natalie’s pocket was easy to get in and out of. Finally, perhaps a fault with my Nina, but the fabric was not glued rigidly to the corners of the bag, rather it had a smoothed effect where it felt like the fabric wasn’t reaching the edges, making the internal space a lot smaller than it should have been.

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That said, what can you fit inside? Pretty much the same as the Natalie, to be honest – except the Nina is slightly better suited to the slimmer, longer phones of the current gen Samsungs and iPhones. You’ll be able to fit a phone, some credit cards, a lipstick and some change, but not a whole lot more.

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Overall, my impression of the Nina is that it’s an expensive bag considering it’s not as versatile as the Natalie – and considering the Natalie originally retailed at £140 (then £160) and the Nina starts at £185, the price per wear is going to be pretty high for me… Of course, the Nina is going to be a year-round clutch, whereas Natalie’s straw effect means it’s best used in spring and summer. And finally, the big question is going to be, does this new season trench match the old season’s taupe? The answer… No.

Trench vs Taupe

Trench is a much pinker-based nude than taupe’s yellow-based one. You can probably wear both together as they’re a close enough match, but they’re certainly not the same colour when you look closely. If you’ve purchased a pair of shoes from L.K. Bennett in trench, the Nina is probably going to be your best bet to match the colour!

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The Nina clutch is available here from L.K. Bennett for £185.

What do you think? Are you going to purchase one? Wait for a sale? Or skip this one all together? I’m still wondering whether or not to return mine…

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What To Wear With A Tan Bag: Ilex London Harriet

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Ilex London were kind enough to send me a bag from their new range recently, and after a lot of umming and ahhing, I went with this gorgeous Harriet Shoulder bag in Wood. For some reason, I have very few tan bags, so when this arrived I immediately went into panic mode about which shoes to wear with it. Silly me – in fact, tan seems to go with everything!

Pictured above, I paired them with Russell & Bromley’s Coco Pop espadrilles, which were worn by Pippa Middleton a few years ago and are still part of the brand’s line. With the toe-cap detailing and the straw wedges, they’re a classic that never goes out of style, and match this Harriet perfectly!

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One of my favourite purchases from Russell & Bromley are the Stuart Weitzman Corkswoons, or as they’re called in the UK, the SW Cocos. Dark blue suede contrasts beautifully with the tan bag, and I can imagine this in an outfit with a navy skirt paired with a white blouse – effortless summer chic! This is another item from the Middleton wardrobe, this time made famous by Kate. It seems like you either loves these wedges, or you hate them – I love them, and judging from the offerings from other shoe brands, this combo of navy suede and cork heels is still firmly in style.

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Moving into more recent offerings from Russell & Bromley, these Xpresso Crossover Flats make a lovely pairing with the tan bag – taming the boyish feel of the brown and giving it a softer, even feminine feel. Pair this with a tulle skirt and a blouse tied at the waist for the ultimate in girly summer chic. You’ll feel like a ballerina, but the chunky, solid Harriet bag will prevent your outfit from turning into a costume, giving a cool juxtaposition and providing you ample space to store your stuff on the run. And, of course, wear these with pride knowing they’ve been royally approved – Kate wore these on the recent Indian Royal Tour!

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Finally, white shoes haven’t been on the fashion forefront since the ’80s, it feels like, but I couldn’t resist these Rockstud Valentinos, and they go awesomely with the Ilex – the gold detailing picks out the logo perfectly! (Check out Dune’s Heti in white for a decent alternative at £70.)

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So, enough about the shoes, what about the bag? I love this sturdy little trooper – it’s perfect for work (or play!) as it has a central, easily accesible section with a zippered pocket, plus two additional zipped compartments either side, very much like the Modalu Pippa bag. It has two straps to carry over the shoulder, or an attachment to convert it to a shoulder bag. Priced at £205, it’s an investment bag, but one which will carry you through the seasons. It can fit a heck of a lot inside – the only limit is going to be how much you can physically lift… It fits an iPad easily, and you can just about squeeze an A4 mag or paper inside the middle part.

So far I’ve taken it on weekends away (perfect for stowing makeup and jewellery), work events (to hide notebooks and my camera) and to the cinema (of course, I would never smuggle Coke Zero and a packet of chilli crackers into a movie). It’s even been carried along the ramparts of Warwick Castle and over the London Bridge! I am really looking forward to wearing it in autumn and winter, too, as the new seasons open up a whole new range of styling possibilities!

Check out the Harriet here, and the whole range from Ilex London here.Which bag would you pick from the range?

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Starlight jumper

Save Money This Spring: Hush Sale and Discount Codes!

There are some companies I keep coming back to season after season, because I know their clothes are comfy, reliable and good quality. Hush is one of those companies! They specialise in stylish clothes that are easy to wear – relaxed chic, if you will. Today marks the first day of their spring sale, and if you use this code as a new customer (https://hush.mention-me.com/m/ol/rjz-gemma-cox-18) you get £10 off (and so do I! Win-win!) You can also add APR1610 on the top and get 10% off your order too!

Here are my picks from the spring sale line-up!

Jessica Dress: £20. A cool and effortless dress for spring and summer days, with a contrasting grey back panel for an added edge!

Jessica dress

Lana Lace Dress, £55. Stay cool and breezy with this floaty dress, covered in sophisticated midnight blue lace.

Lana dress

S/S Lilly Dress, £45. Pale ivory and light grey create an edgy contrast for this sweet and simple lace-skirted dress. Just casual enough to wear anywhere!

Lilly dress

Starlight Jumper, £65. Hush jumpers are another staple of mine, and I love the cool star motif dusted across the front of this one!

Starlight jumper

Colourblock Stripe Jumper, £45. You can’t go wrong with a Breton stripe – wear this one baggy with your favourite jeans and a pair of sunnies for cool summer style!

Colourblock stripe jumper

Check out the rest of the sale here! And, don’t forget to follow this link for £10 off if you’re a new customer, and use the code APR1610 for 10% off your whole order!

What’s gone into your basket?

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