Get Royally Lippy: Charlotte Tilbury Puckers Up For The Crown with Your Lip Service

You’re not surprised to hear that I am an absolute sucker for anything to do with royalty and my favourite makeup brand, are you? When The Crown debuted on Netflix in November 2016, like everyone else I was enchanted by Claire Foy’s charismatic portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. And, like everyone else, I coveted her perfectly gorgeous raspberry-coloured pout. Charlotte Tilbury, queen of the makeup trends, released a limited edition lipstick called The Queen, inspired by HRH and with exactly the kind of rich, deep, raspberry colour I was after.

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The V&A’s new look: Exhibition Road Quarter launch 

A day before its official opening by Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, I was invited along with a handful of journalists to view the reveal of the brand new Exhibition Road entrance to the V&A Museum in London. A project seven years in the making, the new entrance brings the museum right into the bustling heart of Albertopolis, the cultural learning centre envisioned and coaxed to life by Prince Albert.


At the launch, the practical nature of the new entrance was revealed – an increase of visitors numbers from around 1.5 to 4 million per year meant that the current entrance was under strain, and the new Exhibition Road entrance was sorely needed to not only accommodate the influx of guests, but to also consolidate the museum’s place amongst its neighbours.

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FFF’s Fashion Stories: March On!

March is a weird month – it’s still freezing, but the sun is shining… from inside it looks warm enough to frolick coatless in the grass, but when you finally get outside you realise you might just need to add a scarf as well…

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My dieting and workout regime is continuing well – I’ve currently lost a stone and a half, despite all my restaurant reviews… To keep myself motivated I’ve been creating fashion flatlays with some of my old clothes, because I know it’s just a matter of time before they fit me again. This is an old ASOS dress (seen on me here), paired with my beloved Chloe Drew, and a new pair of shoes from ASOS. These were purchased as a pretty good replikate for the Duchess of Cambridge’s Gianvito Rossi Suede d’Orsay Pumps. As of writing, the Penalty pumps are still available in most sizes, for the bargain price of £32!

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Oscar De La Renta Platinum Lamé Cabrina Pumps: Channel Kate’s Style for Less!

On 27 February and 17 March, the Duchess of Cambridge wore some incredible high heels from Oscar De La Renta, with a gorgeous sparkling effect. The shoes are available here. (Sign up for 10% off!)

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Umbriah3 high heel slip on loafers Nine West, replikate for Tod's fringed leather pumps

Christmas Day Replikate: Fur Scarf and Burgundy Brogues

Replikating Kate’s 2016 Christmas Day outfit…

Hold onto your hats, this is another one of those Kate-fashion posts you didn’t ask for…

On Christmas day 2016, the Duchess of Cambridge and her family attended church near the Middleton family home. Not being royal, or in line to the throne, or important or special in any way, I was lounging around on the sofa eating chocolates at the time, wearing a terrible oversized Christmas jumper. Kate, meanwhile, was wearing a gorgeous ensemble of browns and reds – the perfect festive church-going outfit, which was chic and elegant, as well as thrifty! With her old Hobbs Celeste coat (which I’d never really warmed to), she wore a pretty red faux fur scarf, and accessorized with her red suede Mulberry Bayswater clutch, and her red Tod’s fringed leather pumps. See the wonderful What Kate Wore’s post about the outfit here.

I waited for an ID… And waited… Turns out everyone else was enjoying their Christmas day, while I was obsessively checking and double checking my Twitter feed. So, I decided to try and ID it myself, with my first stop being Really Wild Clothing, which definitely carries similar pieces. Nothing there, and nothing at Helen Moore either… So, I decided to Google ‘red faux fur collar’ and the first result that came up was this listing for an ASOS Faux Fur Mini Slot Through Collar.

ASOS faux fur mini slot through collar as seen on Duchess of Cambridge Christmas Day 2016

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Finally Organised! My Love for Stackers

This might be a familiar problem for some of you: storage. More to the point, intelligent, expandable storage. Until recently, I didn’t think such a thing existed for jewellery. My collection was relegated to fancy boxes and knick-knack trays and spread all over the house. If I wanted a pair of earrings, it was potluck as to whether I’d find them. I actually lost a necklace and a pair of earrings I loved for two years and only just found them, tucked away neatly inside a washbag in a drawer I haven’t been in for a loooong time.

I’ve only started collecting jewellery properly in the last few years. Before then a pair of novelty studs was about as far as I’d go to jazz up an outfit – these days I have some beloved pieces I always wear, and loads of lovely little baubles I wear in rotation. Items like these classic Ulu earrings from Shelley Silversmith are practically irreplaceable as far as I’m concerned – most of my pieces have a story or a meaning to me beyond just going with an outfit, or something that caught my eye in a shop. If you’re spending a lot of money on jewellery, it’s usually an item you obsess over for days, and research thoroughly before buying. So where to store your precious items?

Enter Stackers! I couldn’t believe it took me so long to find this perfect solution for jewellery storage, but since I’ve found it I’ve become obsessed – and it’s really lovely to see my entire collection in one place, too. Just as with your wardrobe, there are classic must-haves with jewellery (pearl bracelet, diamond studs, etc), and trends or styles you may not even have realised you followed until you really step back and take a look at what you keep on buying. Having everything in one place not only helps you organise yourself and stops you losing things, and but it also makes it easier to curate your collection as well.

The great thing about Stackers is that you can house as small or as large a collection as you like, and you can add to it as your collection grows. Because I’m such a hoarder, I knew I had to go for the Supersize (the range is also available in mini and classic), and as everything in my bedroom is white or green, I selected the white with stone interior. Just like a jewellery shop window, my collection is now on display – and doesn’t it look gorgeous?! The range is also available in mink, vanilla, purple, soft pink, black, cream, red, duck egg, and dove grey with either mint, coral and antique rose.

As I get new items, I love to rearrange everything, and since I first purchased my Stackers, I’ve already added to it a couple of times as I’ve unearthed old treasures and bought new ones. In my stack I’ve got the lidded supersize stacker, £39.95 (which also comes in rose gold… ahhh, £41.95!), with a 41 section stacker and an 11 section stacker (both £29.95), which is much deeper – and holds a hidden secret…

 

Inside, you can hide the perfect travel companion – a cute little matching travel box, which you can store ready to use whenever you need it.I asked Stackers if they’d be kind enough to send me the travel box and the 11 section stacker so I could show you how they work – and they were so lovely that they did! Before, when I travelled, I’d tuck my jewellery into makeup bags or zipped sections of my handbag – with earrings getting tangled and strands of necklaces getting all tied up. Then, when I arrived at my destination, there was nowhere to put my things, or a way of checking everything at a glance. Now I have my own travelling jewellery wardrobe, and I love it! I’ve already used it twice – once on my flight to Japan to keep all my pieces safe while I slept (blissfully!), and once on a weekend away with my friends to the country.

I love the fact that while I’m not using it, I can keep it stowed away neatly, and still usefully storing things. The travel case has four small compartments and one large one, with a helpful dividing wall to keep everything separate. The travel box is priced £12.95 in a variety of colours – I won’t be parted with mine!

Check out the Stackers range here, and the supersize collection here.You can see the range of travel boxes here.If you’re finding it all a bit overwhelming, they’ve even made a handy tutorial complete with video here.

You can even purchase home accessories like storage for eyewear, or jewellery wraps, or a handy pocket for the side of your bed, here. I’m currently campaigning for Stackers to release a makeup storage solution – because it’s half as good as their jewellery one, it’ll revolutionise my collection!

Do you have a Stackers collection? Tell me about it in the comments!

 

 

Birthday Fun: Favourites This Week

I love October because it’s got all my favourite things – Halloween, the start of autumn… and my birthday! This year I went to an escape room in my home town before a meal at Mango Thai Tapas – the escape room honestly wasn’t that brilliant, but it did inspire me to try out my own!

My husband got me a beautiful pair of Monica Vinader earrings – as seen on the Duchess of Cambridge (naturally!). They’re my first pair of MV earrings and I absolutely love them – the packaging is gorgeous! (You can find the earrings online here.)

October is also the start of the party season for me – from here on in it’s three months of birthdays, celebrations and family meals. It can be difficult to find something sophisticated and low-effort to keep your guests happy in the time between when they arrive and the start of the festivities, so I was really excited when The Fish Society offered me some sturgeon pâté to try! It’s so handy to keep in the cupboard and bring out as a canapé! I heaped it on crackers with a slice of lemon, and Alastair Blair, founder of The Fish Society suggests serving it on Melba toast with a sliver of dried tomato – or for a luxury touch, some grains of caviar! Find the pâté here and the caviar here – and check out their gift section too for some great ideas for Christmas!

I’ve been spending a few days in London recently, mooning around Jo Malone counters and wishing I could nab one of those gorgeous advent calendars… But, they cost £280 and are sold out – my credit card breathes a sigh of relief!

I’m also still thrilled about the Halloween afternoon tea at Lancaster London – they have regular themed teas throughout the year so don’t worry if you missed out! Find them here (you won’t regret it – the head chef, Ben Purton – is a genius!)

Another tradition at this time of year is to head to Fortnum & Mason to check out their glorious Christmas room… I have to get some of the themed felt decorations; there are so many gorgeous London ones I just need. I mean, how can you resist?!


And while you’re there, go to the basement to check out their glorious food hall – if you pop in late there are some great reductions… let’s just say I came home with some reaaaaaally good ribeye! 

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

Wedge

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!

REISS

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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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.

Nina vs

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.

Inside original

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.

Fit inside

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!

Nina Trench

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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