Channel Kate’s Style in Autumn 2015

If you want to pick up some classic pieces that will serve you well year after year, then you should look no further for inspiration than the wardrobe of Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. If you follow me you know I’m a big fan, and I love picking up pieces the duchess has worn, because I know that they’re always great quality and will last for seasons.

With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite items that Kate has been seen in, that are still available now. Each one of these has been tried and tested by me, and I’ve worn them time and again!

Channel Kate's style

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Burberry Nail Varnish A/W 2013: Oxblood and Stone

Burberry varnish

Following their runway show at London Fashion Week, Burberry has just branched out into a new range of nail varnish for autumn and winter 2013. The key colours that are available to buy  individually (priced at £15 each for 8ml) are Black, Oxblood and Stone. (You can also buy the colours from LFW in a limited edition box of six for £90.) When I visited Burberry’s flagship store at the weekend, I picked up the Stone and Oxblood colours, as I couldn’t resist – even though the range was so new, they didn’t even have testers available yet!

Burberry nail montage

As you can see from the picture above, the silver patterned cap comes off to reveal the applicator and brush top underneath – so you don’t have to struggle with a giant, rectangular handle when applying. However, I wonder whether the bottle top is a little too small for ease of use – I definitely struggled to get a neat finish with the Oxblood colour. The nail varnish is marketed as a quick drying formula – and that is definitely the case, because this dried superfast even though I couldn’t apply it evenly thanks to the thickness. I ended up using two coats and topping off with Seche Vite for a glossy finish.

Burberry Oxblood nails 2

Oxblood is just another trendy name for dark red that comes back around every A/W season, it feels like – although I get the feeling that this season no one can decide whether it should be called burgundy, oxblood or berry. Either way, I love it, and although you can argue there are differences between all these colours (berry is more purple… burgundy more bright) it certainly doesn’t matter to me about the specifics of the pantone chart. Dark red rocks, period. (Urgh, should I leave that in? Yeah, go for it.) Funnily enough, the sales assistant told me that the staff at Burberry’s stores aren’t even allowed to wear the Black or Oxblood colours, as their uniform guidelines specify only natural colours for nails. But, apparently, they are protesting about it!

Burberry Stone nails

This is Stone – and I really like it! I have a big crush on neutrals and Ciate’s Cookies and Cream is one of my favourite colours. (Favourite of all time is probably still China Glaze’s Fast Track, but I’ve not even done a post about that! Hmm!).  Now, this colour is beautiful, but considering the price makes it almost triple what Ciate costs (£9 for 13.5ml) I’ll probably not be making a lot of repeat purchases. I found this colour slightly easier to apply – perhaps because the shade is lighter so I didn’t notice mistakes as much, perhaps because I wasn’t as tired this time around – but I still think the squared off brush needs to be a little more shaped to help application.

I think I’ll plan a neutral nail-off at some point in the future, between Fast Track, Cookies and Cream, Stone and whatever else have knocking around here! Do you dig neutral nails, or do you prefer a bit of drama?

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What’s your style: classic, or cool?

One of the things I love about British fashion is the way it fuses heritage brands with cutting edge cool. Old names like Burberry and Mulberry mixing with new ones like Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen. One side representing tradition, the other side bringing innovation and a playful sense of danger.

Even as I’ve evolved in my own sense of personal style, I can never seem to quite settle on a fashion persona that entirely embraces one or the other. I am certain I would be kicked out with equal amounts of disgust from the front row of any reputable British fashion brand – and it’s almost with a sense of pride I can declare myself to be a free agent in international waters. Of course, it means my wardrobe is a chaotic mess of rock-chick style accessories, prim, retro dresses, and far too many hats – but doesn’t everyone strive for a wardrobe like that? (They don’t? Off with you!)

Anyway, since I love a good scarf, and I seem to have one permanently wrapped around my neck from the months of October to March, I thought I’d investigate some good designer staples – and yet again, came into the age old question: cool or classic?

Brit-Style Scarves
The correct answer is undoubtedly BOTH! In which case, I shall rephrase – which one first? And can you sum up your own personal style? Does your wardrobe follow a general theme, or are you like me – a fashion butterfly, flitting mindlessly from pretty thing to pretty thing, never to settle? What is to become of us poor homeless butterflies? Ask not, for as my cat would tell you, they usually get eaten.
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Autumn Approaches: Time for Wellies!

I’m not even going to pretend I’m not excited that summer is over and autumn is on the way! Autumn is easily my favourite time of the year and it always feels like coming home to me. Crisp country walks in the chilly air and bright sunshine, brand new winter coats, the first hints of red and brown leaves… There’s not a lot I don’t love about autumn!

Of course, I love the accessories that come with autumn and winter – hats, scarves, boots – more importantly… Wellington boots! Here are my picks for the most fashionable wellies on the market, for every budget, from Next to Burberry!

We Love Wellies
As you can see, Hunter still really has the market cornered when it comes to luxe rainy-day wear for your feet – but Joules has some amazing offerings. I think the Evedon wellies with the ribbon are my favourites! Do you have a special pair of wellies for splashing about in the puddles?
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Things to do in autumn / fall

Now, this isn’t so much related to cycling, but I thought I’d post it here nevertheless – and it’s also being posted on my food blog, Distracted Gourmet (check it out if you haven’t already!).

Autumn is my favourite of all the seasons – and I love all of them already! But there’s so much great stuff you can do in autumn that I can’t help but love it. In order to help me get the maximum out of the season, I’ve created a check list for myself. I’ll be heading back every now and then to check my progress, too!

New Forest Autumn 3

The beautiful autumn colours of New Forest - by stevestreet

Autumn to do list

  • Have Halloween party
  • Have Thanksgiving dinner
  • Make pinecone decorations
  • Make a leaf wreath
  • Make jam
  • Walk through the leaves
  • Gather chestnuts
  • Make Christmas pudding
  • Celebrate Bonfire Night
  • Carve a pumpkin
  • Cycle down a hill with my scarf flying behind me
  • Make the best hot chocolate
  • Make pickles

What’s on your to-do list this autumn?

Water Off A Duck’s Back

At the SkyRide I was excited to come across a British company selling some seriously stylish (and by all accounts, very waterproof) cycling jackets. Now, I already have a couple of waterproof jackets – one is for walking, and one is a cycling jacket – but both of them are fairly short and neither of them are particularly fashionable. Once you see the beautiful macs from Water Off a Duck’s Back, I’m sure you’ll agree that ‘fashionable’ is definitely the right word to describe them…

WOABD-Ladies-and-Bike

In fact, looking at them, you probably wouldn’t even realise that they’re cycling coats at all…

WOABD-Ladies-3

But, there are loads of really nifty touches to these that make them perfect for cycling – such as reflective bands on the wrists, back of the waist tie, and the collar.

WOADB-Ladies-on-Bike

The sleeves are extra long so that they can cope with the extension of your arms when you’re reaching for the handlebars. There’s even a special clip at the base of the coat that keeps it from flapping open as you cycle. And, there’s a detachable hood as well.

WOADB Ladies 1

You can probably make out the gorgeous purple lining in the hood too – beautiful! You can even tuck your coat neatly into the hood to make it more portable. Best of all, the coats are waterproof – not just, as the site points out, showerproof.

The coat comes in black or stone (love it, but I’m totally scared of getting it dirty!) for £130 – not cheap, admittedly. In fact, probably more than I’d pay for any coat, but let’s just say the sun was shining, my credit card was calling me, and Antonia was offering a special discount at the event which shaved off a few pounds…

Check back later for a real review of the coat in action – I’m pleased to say I’ve not had to use it yet, but my favourite season is approaching and I’m sure there will be plenty of showers!

Hello autumn!

Autumn feels like my season. Ever get that with a season? Something about it just makes me feel like I’m coming home. It helps that my birthday is in October, but I love the fact that autumn is a real season of celebration. Halloween, harvest, bonfire night, Thanksgiving – even Christmas, although it’s obviously in winter, is ever-present. The crisp air of a sunny, cold day, the colour of the leaves, the smell of bonfire smoke. Ah, I love autumn.

Sugar pumpkin

I bought a couple of beautiful sugar pumpkins at the farmer’s market last month – I love having pumpkins and gourds on my windowsill all through autumn and winter, but when I saw this recipe in Good Food magazine this month, I had to eat it. A whole mini pumpkin, stuffed with garlic and thyme infused cream and milk, with a generous helping of parmesan cheese? Yes please!

Hello autumn!

I ate this for lunch and it was really good, but way too much for me. And I felt like a slug afterwards. But, you know, it was still totally delicious and I don’t regret a thing, except maybe my thighs…

Hello autumn! I’ve missed you!

Hampshire Farmers’ Market

One of my favourite things to do is go to our county’s farmers’ market, which is held on Sundays. The best one is held in Winchester (home of King Arthur’s Round Table… sadly not actually the real King Arthur, but still, cool enough!) on the second and fourth Sundays of every month, and man, is it big. There are loads of stalls, selling the best of the produce grown here on the south coast of the UK, where (even though I am biased) I have to say, it’s a little sunnier and warmer than the rest of the country.

Flowers

The market doesn’t just sell meat and vegetables – there are plenty of stalls selling flowers, cakes, bread, pickles, wine, cider, liquors, hot chocolate… you name it! Although I don’t have money to spend at the moment on beautiful flowers, a picture lasts longer, right? Check out that gorgeous autumnal display at the back!

Although when I went to the market it was at the end of August, autumn was definitely creeping in – I had to take some photos of this gorgeous sugar pumpkin reclining with its bed-mates… right before I bought him, of course.

Sugar pumpkins

Pumpkin is one of those things I love but never seem to eat enough of. I would love to eat this beauty in a delicious Thai-style coconut soup… or maybe in a sweet, creamy risotto…

Little gem squash

These guys, though, you can enjoy simply cutting off the top, scooping out the seeds and replacing them with a drizzle of olive oil and a dot of butter, plus seasonings, then baking in the oven. They were delicious – and called ‘Little Gem squash’ – how could I resist?

Blueberries

Hampshire also grows some pretty nice blueberries. I love blueberries! Unfortunately, by the time I got mine home, they had fallen out of the open punnet and gone all over the bag. Luckily, I knew just what to do, thanks to Nigella’s Express…

Squashed blueberries

Cook ’em with maple syrup and eat ’em with pancakes, of course… I’ve got three blueberry bushes in my garden, and so far I’ve harvested two berries, directly into my mouth. I think they need bigger pots…

A real Hampshire speciality, though, is watercress. Hot and peppery, it’s a semi-aquatic plant that thrives in what look like overgrown ponds, but are actually watercress fields, I guess. Alresford, Winchester, is supposedly the ‘watercress capital’ of the UK, and there’s even a railway line called the Watercress Line named for it, which used to carry the watercress harvest to London.

Hampshire watercress

Did you know that watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables eaten by man? (Thanks Wikipedia!) In the UK, we don’t just eat watercress in sandwiches. We’re also pretty good at making watercress soup and watercress pesto – and even watercress pate, crepes and shortbread.

Hampshire watercress soup

Cresson Creative is probably the most prominent watercress seller at the market, and they also have a catering company as well. Their crepes are delicious!

I’m all farmers’ marketed out now, but I still want to tell you all about Isle of Wight garlic (the best!) and my favourite meat and vegetable stalls at the market. Stay tuned!