Category Archives: Fashion

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Print Dress‘Wardrobe Stories’ is a series in which I discuss the most beloved items in my closet. They are the pieces I turn to season after season, year after year, and that never go out of style.

The Avoca dress pictured above has been a summer favourite of mine for years. I love the mix of floral patterns (featuring one of my favourite Liberty fabrics), pretty beading around the waistline and the fact that the dress can be worn with flats or heels for a fuss-free day to evening transition. It was warm enough over the weekend to pull the dress out again, ready for exploring the gardens at the Geffrye Museum and drinks in the sunshine.

Several of my favourite summer dresses are in fact by Avoca Clothing. I first discovered the brand years ago on holiday in Jersey, where I stumbled upon a boutique that stocked some pretty Avoca dresses, skirts and their classic ballerina-style wraps. Since then, I’ve been quick to spot their signature floral prints in boutiques in London, and this dress I in fact bought at a shop in Lewes whilst on my way to my first visit to Charleston.

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral DressWardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

Avoca takes its name from the brand’s location, and I would love to pay a visit to Avoca, Ireland myself sometime, not least to visit the lovely sounding shop and weaving mill, which is apparently the oldest in Ireland. The village looks utterly charming, nestled in a valley alongside the River Avoca. I shall definitely get there one day!

Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

In the meantime, visiting some of London’s prettiest gardens is curbing any pangs I have for an escape to the countryside. The Geffrye Museum is one of my favourite places in the city, and it has charming gardens and a leafy courtyard that offer peaceful refuge on a hot day. Devoted to domestic history, the museum is well worth visiting too, with its series of rooms that show the evolution of English living rooms over the last 400 years (my favourite is the 1950s room!). In the summer months, though, I especially enjoy the Geffrye’s gardens.

Geffrye Museum Gardens | LondonWardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress Geffrye Museum Gardens | LondonGeffrye Museum Gardens | London

The gardens at the Geffrye consist of a walled herb garden (with plenty of benches in cosy nooks to read a book or chat to a friend) and several period gardens. The period gardens offer a further insight into British domestic history, as they are based on drawings and recorded plantings of urban middle-class gardens, from the 17th – 20th Century. I particularly delight in the 19th and 20th Century period gardens, with the former featuring a truly Victorian looking greenhouse and the latter a pergola covered in roses (or wisteria, depending on the season). I felt I blended rather nicely into the background in my floral dress!

Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Geffrye Museum Gardens | London Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

If you’re in the mood for refreshments (I always seem to be), then it’s worth heading to the cafe for a pot of tea (and perhaps a brownie. Unfortunately, some of the cafe cakes tend towards being rather too dry, but I can report the brownie is gooey and tasty). The cafe is light and airy and overlooks the 20th Century period garden, as well as some bee hives.

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

There’s also a Mini Moderns pop up shop presently at the Geffrye, where I stopped to pick up some gifts for upcoming birthdays (I’d been to their press release earlier in the week and had to go back for more!). The main shop is very nice too (they stock a particularly good selection of cards – I can never resist picking up one or two!).

Wardrobe Stories | Avoca Floral Dress

If you’re looking for ways to escape the heat in London at the moment, then I definitely recommend throwing on your favourite cotton floral dress and finding a shady spot in the Geffrye Museum gardens!

What are your wardrobe staples for summer? Do you have a dress you pull out every year?

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P.S. More ‘Wardrobe Stories’: my Anna Sui dress and a classic LBD.

P.P.S. THANK YOU so much to everyone who has filled in the Miranda’s Notebook Reader Survey. I have absolutely loved reading all your comments, and I’ve found all the feedback so helpful. I was really touched by how many people bothered to fill it in, and you’ve got me very excited for some plans I intend to start implementing in the Autumn!

A Chat With: Ella Gregory, Coco’s Tea Party Founder

A Chat With: Ella Gregory (Coco's Tea Party) | Interview via Miranda's NotebookElla Gregory, founder of the hugely popular lifestyle and fashion blog, Coco’s Tea Party

Last Friday, I was delighted to get the chance to sit down and chat with Ella Gregory, founder of the brilliant fashion and lifestyle blog, Coco’s Tea Party. I adore Ella’s blog and always look forward to seeing a new post from her pop up in my Bloglovin’ feed every morning. I think of Coco’s Tea Party as being the British equivalent to Cupcakes and Cashmere (another daily read for me), and I hugely enjoy Ella’s mix of fashion, travel, beauty and even dating advice. I had such a fun time chatting with Ella over a pot of tea at Quo Vadis in Soho and getting so many brilliant tips from her, including how she stays on top of a demanding publishing schedule, what it’s like to transition into full time blogging and so much more! For all of you who are  bloggers, or are interested in hearing a little behind the scenes of what a blogger’s life is like, I’m sure you’ll find this interview just as fascinating as I did!

***

MN: I read that you first started blogging when you were 16! How has your blog evolved over the years?

EG: It has changed so much! I’m embarrassed to look back at the old posts. I recently started a site audit, and I realised some of my first posts didn’t even have titles! The biggest way it has changed I suppose is that I’ve grown up: I was a teenager when I started Coco’s Tea Party, and now I’m 26. When I started the blog it was just a hobby, and I had no idea I’d still be blogging 10 years later, or that it would become my job. I didn’t even start it with the hope of that; I just did it as a creative outlet. I did know when I started that I wanted to study fashion journalism at university, and I wanted to work at a magazine, so there were motivators for me starting it, but I had no idea it would wind up as my career! Over the years, the blog naturally changed and grew, and I started to see the potential for it being something bigger than a side hobby.

MN: What made you decide to pursue blogging as a full-time career?

EG: After I graduated, I interned at Marie Claire magazine, but while I was there I realised I didn’t really want to work for a magazine, and I was having to turn down so many great opportunities that were coming from the blog. I remember one day getting my first ever email from Chanel; they wanted to do a breakfast meeting, but I had to say no because I was working. That same day I had en email from Channel 4 who were doing some research for a TV show, and again I had to turn down a meeting. I remember thinking to myself that maybe I should be pursuing opportunities with the blog, and that I could always try for another internship in the future if it didn’t work out. The team at Marie Claire were really supportive of me and gave me the confidence to take the leap.

MN: What was it like transitioning into full-time blogging?

EG: Before I went full-time, I was already earning money from the blog. At the time, I was working with an agency, and I’d been running display advertising on my site for about 6 months to a year before I went full-time. I was also making money through affiliate links and sponsored posts, so I knew I had a fairly reliable source of income coming from the blog already. I didn’t, then, have as much fear about earning money as I would have done otherwise. Having an agency and being able to dedicate my time fully to the blog meant that opportunities grew and progressed from there.

In terms of the day-to-day work, when I was blogging and still at uni, I would generally write and publish content on the same day. When I decided to go full-time with the blog, I thought I would have so much more time for producing content. In fact, I actually had less time, because I had more meetings and events to attend. It took a while for me to get into a routine, but then I started making sure I was writing content with a 1-2 day lead time before a post would go live. Now I work in a completely different way where I’m usually 2 weeks ahead with posts, and I have an editorial calendar so I have my monthly content planned out in advance.

MN: What would be your top tips for people who want to grow their blog? 

EG: I find this question a little hard to answer because I started in such a different time, so what worked for me then and what I did probably won’t work for anyone now. I think the most important things are having a really clear vision and knowing exactly who you’re writing for. If people come to your site, and it’s really clear and concise, and they know exactly what they’ll get from it, then they’re more likely to return. It’s important to be really insane about quality control and make sure everything you publish is on brand, even if that means letting some good ideas go. Obviously consistency is important too. You don’t have to blog everyday, but it’s important to have regular days that you post.

A Chat With: Ella Gregory (Coco's Tea Party) | Interview via Miranda's Notebook

MN: How do you stay so organised? Do you have any productivity hacks?

EG: I’m naturally a very organised person; both my moon and rising signs are Virgo and Virgo are highly organised people, so I’ve got it double! I find I thrive in the kind of environment where I get to be disciplined and organised. Having an editorial calendar is key for me. I make sure I know what I’m going to be publishing when, and then I’ll mark when content needs to be written, as well as when it will go live. I have a separate colour coding for if I’ve written a post, but I still need to do photography for it.

In the last 6 months or so, I’ve started a system where I keep my to-do lists fairly short each day. Before, I would pile so much on, and then I found I never get through it all, and I would feel really unproductive. Now, I usually have two main things to do a day and then three smaller tasks. I’ll keep another to-do list throughout the day for much smaller jobs, like replying to an email or sending a thank you note, but for the bulk of work I do in a day, I try to keep my list to a maximum of five things.

MN: What does a typical day in your life look like?

EG: I try to have at least 3 days a week where I’ll work solidly from home, and then I tend to spend a couple of days in Central London for appointments and events. If I’m having a home day, I wake up really early. I’m usually at my desk ready to start work by 7.30am. I’m definitely an early bird, so I prefer to use the mornings to get the majority of my written work done, as I get a lot more distracted after lunch. I save lighter work for the afternoon, like creating layouts and image editing, and often have my music playing really loudly! By 5 o’clock I’m definitely done for the day. I’ve got really into going to the gym lately too, so I usually go for a barre or yoga class in the morning or circuit training or power plate in the evening.

MN: You must have seen so many changes since you started blogging! How do you stay on top of current trends and adapt what you do to the ever evolving nature of the blogosphere? 

EG: It is so changing! I think at the beginning, I was much more eager to stay on top of everything, and I still think that that’s really important – you don’t want to get left behind – that’s always a concern as the blogging world moves so quickly. I think now, though, I’ve got to a place where I’m really focused on personal growth and living a happy life (I love listening to the Lively Show podcast). I don’t want to stress myself out trying to be and do everything, because that’s impossible. I try to find the balance between keeping up to date with what’s current (and I read blogs and listen to podcasts so I know what’s happening), but also keeping the focus on what I feel is on brand for me. That means I may not be on every form of social media, but I devote my time to those I feel best fit my brand, like Pinterest and Instagram.

MN: What type of posts are your favourite to create?

EG: I love my 9-5 interview posts. I have a degree in fashion journalism, and I feel with these posts I really get to use a lot of skills. There’s the process of coming up with questions, and even just getting the interviews to begin with, as well as the interview itself and transcribing and forming it into a post after. It’s like putting a lot of pieces of a puzzle together, so I find them very rewarding posts to write. [I completely agree! – MN]

MN: Which are your favourite blogs?

EG: My favourite blog is A Cup of Jo, which may sound odd as it’s a bit of a Mummy blog, but I feel it really has a clear vision and identity, and I feel she’s done a great job at keeping true to that. I also really like Cupcakes and Cashmere; I look to it as another blog that has always stayed true to its vision. I like sites like The Every Girl and The Glitter Guide. Advice From a Twenty Something I really love at the moment as well. Monica (of The Elgin Avenue) introduced me to it, and it’s great. My favourite blog ever is Lainey Gossip, and I always link to it in my Weekend Reading List posts. I’ve always been into celebrity gossip, and I find her analysis is so good.

MN: As you’ve been blogging for so long, how do you keep fresh and inspired?

EG: Since I was young, all I’ve wanted to do is create content, and I think that’s my natural skill. Obviously there are times when I may go through periods where I don’t feel as inspired, but for the most part I don’t struggle to come up with content ideas. Some of those ideas may be rubbish, but I still come up with ideas, and I’m still able to publish a post every week day. This is where it helps to write two weeks in advance too, as –  if I do hit a road-block – then I can step away for a bit and take the time to source ideas and not feel pressured. I also keep a notebook where I write ideas down all the time, and so when I get a little stuck, I can look back through it for inspiration.

A Chat With: Ella Gregory (Coco's Tea Party) | Interview via Miranda's Notebook

MN: What have been the most exciting moments in your career so far?

EG: There was the first season of fashion week that I did, when Burberry returned to London, and they invited me to the shows, and that experience was amazing! I’m not going to lie though, I think my biggest highlight was when Sarah Jessica Parker retweeted me and said I was adorable! I did a style post that was inspired by the opening credits of Sex & the City; I was wearing a tutu and did this shoot on Richmond Bridge, and there was even a bus behind me! I tweeted the post mentioning her, and the next morning I woke up and saw she’d retweeted it and replied to me. I was dying with excitement! Sometimes, though, just quite small things can be huge highlights too; like getting an email from someone saying I love your blog. One thing that people ask me about a lot is when I interviewed all three of the Kardashian sisters on Coco’s Tea Party (you can read Ella’s interviews with Kourtney and Kim here and her one with Khloe here). And last September Warner Bros. flew me to New York to interview Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, which was unreal but incredible!

MN: I love your fashion posts! How would you describe your personal style?

EG: I feel my personal style is hindered by living in the UK! I always feel colder than every one else. In my ideal world, I’d live in a really warm climate and just wear a dress and little shoes all the time. I’ve actually thought about moving to LA or even Texas, where it’s even hotter! I prefer style to be as simple as possible: one great piece with nice accessories. I love colour and I love print. I like clothes to be vibrant and lift your mood, and I’ll tone things down with one solid classic piece, like skinny jeans or ballet pumps. My style is quite British, in the sense that I’ll take influence from anywhere, which I feel is a very British thing.

MN: I know you love to read! What books would you recommend for summer?

EG: I actually have a post going up about this [you can now read it here – MN]! But one book I just read is Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, who is one of my favourite authors. If you’ve never read American Wife by her too then you must [noted! – MN]. Eligible is a modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice and it makes a great summer beach read. It’s definitely not her best work, but it’s still a really fun read.

MN: Finally, which women have inspired you the most?

EG: I think this is a really interesting question, because as I get older my inspirations change. When I was younger, I really looked up to Rachel Zoe, but though I still admire her I wouldn’t count her as a huge inspiration now. I still find Anna Wintour very inspiring. I love Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey too for their perspectives and the way they write.

***

Thanks so much again to Ella for such a fabulous interview! I’ve already started acting on her brilliant advice: my aim is blog on regular days from now on, and I’m determined to get more ahead with blog posts (even if it’s just a few days, rather than 2 weeks to start!!). What are your biggest take-aways from Ella’s interview? Will you be putting any of her wise words into practice, or has she inspired you in any other way?

You can keep up-to-date with Ella through her Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

++ You may also enjoy my interviews with Nicola Williams, Alice Stevenson and Sophie Knight ++

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Style Personality Quiz

Visual Quiz: What is Your Style Personality?

I love thinking about fashion, and even more I love thinking about style. Personal style is so interesting, don’t you think? It says so much about a person. It gives a glimpse of their character, interests and lifestyle. Someone who has a truly cohesive style always manages to appear effortlessly chic: a common thread in taste and design runs through their wardrobe, making it easy to pull together a seamless outfit everyday.

Having recently undertaken a major wardrobe overhaul, I’ve been contemplating my own style and have tried to pin-point what types of clothes I particularly enjoy wearing. My goal is to have a wardrobe filled only with items I really love and that are representative of my own particular style. In thinking about style, I came up with 5 different ‘style personalities’ that reflect certain sartorial choices. Below, I’ve created mood boards that reflect each of the five. Which one (or mix of two or more) are you? Simply decide which board(s) you are drawn to most, then scroll to the bottom to find out which ‘style personality’ you fit! I’ll also reveal my own (I’m a mix of two). This quiz is hardly definitive (or scientific), but I hope it’s fun and provides a little insight into your own style preferences.

O P T I O N    O N E

Style Personality Visual Quiz: The Boho Wanderer Mood Board

O P T I O N    T W O

Style Personality Visual Quiz: The English Rose Mood Board

O P T I O N    T H R E E

Style Personality Visual Quiz: The Bloomsbury Babe Mood Board

O P T I O N    F O U R

Style Personality Visual Quiz: The Minimalist Mood Board

O P T I O N    F I V E

Style Personality Visual Quiz: The Parisian Mood Board

Ok, have you decided which is your favourite option? Here are the results!

bohowanderer

Happiest when exploring the world, you are drawn to comfortable, easy-to-wear clothing that you can throw in a suitcase, but that also has a touch of the exotic. Think brightly patterned maxi skirts and dresses, fringed bags, embroidered t-shirts, a floppy hat and suede boots. You accessorise with pieces of jewellery you’ve picked up from your many travels.

englishrose

An eternal romantic, The English Rose is drawn to all things feminine. Florals, lace and bows all find their way into your wardrobe. You swoon over the latest Kate Spade and Needle & Thread collections every time, but as well as heels, you also own a pair of wellies and enjoy taking long tramps through the countryside. The English Rose loves pastel hues and generally keeps makeup fairly light: you like a soft, natural look over a bold red lip.

bloomsburybabe

Drawn towards everything vintage, the Bloomsbury Babe’s go-to look is a floral tea dress and cardi, or trousers, a tweedy blazer and a big scarf. Mary Janes and loafers make up almost your entire shoe collection, and you think a book is often the best accessory. You enjoy pops of colour, often veering towards the unusual (mustard yellows, emerald greens and burgundy reds). Bloomsbury Babes love scouring charity shops for great retro pieces, but also keep their noses pressed against Orla Kiely‘s shop window. You love a bright pop of lip colour and a winged eye-liner to complete your vintage-inspired look.

theminimalist

As a Minimalist, you can struggle the most with fashion, sometimes feeling you’re not particularly fashionable, or that you’re more of a ‘tomboy.’ In fact, you have a very defined sense of what you like; it’s just not always well reflected in the fashion industry! Minimalists prefer calm, muted colour palettes and are often drawn towards monochrome looks. You delight in fuss-free dressing and are most inclined to a ‘uniform’ style, generally made up of of white / black / grey t-shirts, jumpers and denim shirts paired with jeans. For formal occasions, you opt for a simply cut, elegant dress, or pair a silk tank or blouse with your jeans and heels. Besides the odd striped shirt, you are rarely drawn to pattern and opt instead for solid colours. Minimalists prefer few pieces of (non-glitzy) jewellery and the very basics in make-up.

theparisian

The Parisian loves classic items with a twist. You have a taste for the luxurious, and your idea of a perfect outfit generally involves a tuxedo blazer and a Chanel bag. Audrey Hepburn is your idol, and you’re always on the lookout for a really great pair of capri trousers to pair with your ballet flats. Although you love classic, timeless pieces, you also enjoy having fun with fashion and delight in little details that complete an outfit:  a silk scarf tied around the neck, a perfectly angled beret and shoes with a fun print. Your go-to makeup look is either a dramatic smokey eye or a bold red lip.

***

Which style personality do you identify with the most? My dominant choice is definitely ‘The Parisian,’ with ‘The English Rose’ coming in second place. This realisation has helped me clear out even more from my wardrobe (no more suede, fringed bags for me!).

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Wardrobe Stories | The Little Black Dress

Wardrobe Stories | A Little Black Dress

Here’s a scenario I find myself repeating far too often. Please tell me I’m not alone. I call it my going-out-on-a-weeknight-meltdown. It generally plays out like this:

OVER THE WEEKEND (when the daily grind of the work week has been momentarily forgotten): I decide it would be fun to get together for dinner / drinks with a friend during the week. I forget all previous experiences to the contrary and picture myself leaving work with boundless energy, hurrying home for a quick shower and a change into a cute little outfit. I’ll manage make-up that gives me a dewy, refreshed looking glow in a matter of minutes, then I’ll hop on the tube to a trendy new wine bar, have a great conversation with my friend about all topics frivolous and meaningful and feel I’m essentially the London, brunette equivalent of Carrie Bradshaw.

ON THE DAY:  I’m feeling a little weary by lunch and am rather disheartened by the amount of pen, glue, glitter and paint I’ve managed to get on my hands, face and clothes (the realities of working in primary schools). I console myself with my Carrie Bradshaw fantasy and tell myself I’ll get a second wind in the evening.

LATER: I’ve finally managed to get out of work, later than I’d anticipated, and now I’m rushing to catch the tube home.

ON THE TUBE (RUSH HOUR): whoever said ‘hell is other people’ must surely have been thinking of the Jubilee line at 5pm. And now I’ll have to get right back on it in an hour? Suddenly remember Carrie Bradshaw always used taxis.

ARRIVE HOME: starving but no time to eat. Feel if I sit down I’ll never get up again, so the trick is to keep moving. Put on Taylor Swift music to try to get me in the zone, make a quick cup of tea and leap in shower.

1/2 AN HOUR BEFORE I HAVE TO LEAVE: realise my nails are chipped, but have no time to paint them. Also discouraged by the orange pen marks that are still visible on my fingers, despite the shower. Slightly panicked by time and start on make-up. Realise Serious Work needed to get myself looking vaguely human, let alone ‘dewy.’

15 MINUTES TO GO: Spent so long trying to cover up my dark under-eye circles that I rushed the eye-liner and am now having to rescue it with q-tips. Eyes still look slightly wonky, but I’m hoping the wine bar will have ‘atmospheric’ lighting. Wonder what I’m going to wear.

10 MINUTES TO GO: Clothing is strewn over the bed and chairs of my no-longer tidy bedroom, and I’m standing in my underwear staring desperately into my wardrobe. Nothing looks good, everything needs ironing and I have nothing to wear!!!! Wonder if I should simply give up, get into my pjs and watch The Black List.

5 MINUTES TO GO: I remember the answer to all wardrobes crises: the little black dress + the little black blazer. Pull them on, dash out the door and feel, if not Carrie Bradshaw, a lot more like myself again.

Wardrobe Stories | A Little Black Dress Ely Place | LondonAnne Fontaine clutch Wardrobe Stories | A Little Black Dress Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings | London Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings | London Wardrobe Stories | A Little Black Dress

A LBD is so often the answer to any sartorial drama. It’s a timeless, elegant piece that is suitable for practically any occasion. I would add a black blazer as an absolute wardrobe staple too, and the two paired together always work well.  I admit, I’ve got a few black dresses, but I think my number one favourite is the one pictured above, which I picked up in Agnes B a few years ago. I love the simplicity of this dress: it’s a simple black number, with wide ‘bat-wing’ sleeves and a thin belt at the waist. What makes the dress special is how well the fabric drapes, and that, for all its simplicity, it still manages to pack a punch in terms of style. Also, its slightly loose fit means it’s perfect for disguising any fluctuating weight. Having a dress that you know will look good, even if you’re not feeling at your best, is definitely important for those moments when you’re panicked and feeling like you’ve got nothing to wear.

I’ve come to learn that sticking to tried-and-tested, classic pieces is the best decision when I’m pressed for time or my brain is fried at the end of a long day. In that situation, the simplest solution is always the best. Another advantage to a Little Black Dress is that it provides the perfect blank canvas for statement accessories. Different jewellery, tights, belts and bags can make it look like an entirely different outfit. For a recent outing to Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings for cocktails, I opted for a statement gold necklace, sparkly black cuff, floral tights and a small, elegant Anne Fontaine clutch (that I got for an absolute steal in the sales – I was so thrilled!).

Wardrobe Stories | A Little Black DressWardrobe Stories | A Little Black DressWardrobe Stories | A Little Black DressWardrobe Stories | A Little Black Dress

Do you suffer from a wardrobe meltdown from time-to-time yourself? What are your solutions for when you feel you have nothing to wear? 

Some easy to wear LBD options: 

Wardrobe Stories | A Little Black Dress1/ Raquel Allegra Dress 2/ Sportmax dress 3/  Agnes B dress 

Statement Accessories:

Wardrobe Stories | A Little Black DressBracelet / Clutch / Tights

++ Read my other Wardrobe Story, The Anna Sui Dress. ++

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Style Profile: The Hemsley Sisters

Hemsley & Hemsley | Melissa & Jasmine Hemsley Style Profile

Part of my Style Profile series

I adore the Hemsley & Hemsley sisters, Melissa (left) and Jasmine (right). They first introduced me to the concept of spiralised butternut squash and courgette (which I’ve been using more and more lately in replacement of pasta and am loving). The two sisters, originally from Surbiton in greater London, have forged a remarkable career for themselves in the food industry, and I’m sure their sparkling personality and brilliant sense of style – along with their cooking skills! – have something to do with that. I’ve admired the sisters’ impeccable style ever since first discovering them, and I had so much fun pulling together this Style Profile.

++ The Hemsley Sisters Style Profile ++

*Who: Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley.

*What: Home cooks specialising in nutrition-packed, tasty food. Authors of the cookbooks The Art of Eating Well and the hotly anticipated Good + Simple (realised 25th Feb in the UK).

*Style: Although both sisters have a different individual style, they both share a love for bold prints and bright colours.

*Shop: J Crew for classic pieces and fun coloured shoes to inject a little of the Hemsley girls’ style into your own wardrobe.

*Eat: Get your spiraliser out and whip up some courgetti and sauce.

*Do: Embrace your inner Green Goddess and grab a juice in colourful Neal’s Yard, before heading to a market to pick up some fresh fruit and veg.

++ Get The Hemsley Look ++ 

Below, I’ve summed up some aspects of the sisters’ style that I love and can be used to inspire your own wardrobe in time for spring!

Hemsley & Hemsley | Melissa & Jasmine Hemsley Style Profile 1/ sunglasses 2/ red lip kit 3/ coral lipstick

Melissa in particular tends to rock a bright lip, but it looks great on Jasmine too. A bold lipstick choice is perfect for when you’re keeping the rest of your look fairly minimal.

Hemsley & Hemsley | Melissa & Jasmine Hemsley Style Profile 1/ plaid pumps 2/ floral skirt 3/ Liberty print bag

The Hemsley girls love a bright pattern, and I fully applaud the element of fun they inject into their style by reaching for unusual colour choices and pretty patterns.

Hemsley & Hemsley | Melissa & Jasmine Hemsley Style Profile 1/ Shirt 2/ Bucket Bag 3/ Cuff 

Much as they enjoy making bold choices in fashion, Melissa and Jasmine also know how to pull off effortless casual style, sporting crisp shirts and neutral colours.

Do you like the Hemsley sisters’ style? Who are your own style icons?

++ See my Style Profiles on Rachel Khoo and Ines de La Fressange ++ 

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Wardrobe Stories | Anna Sui Dress

Wardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress | Chanel Handbag

I’m starting a new series today that celebrates my personal attitude to fashion. I adore clothes, no question. I’ve always had strong opinions about what I wanted to wear, even when my choices were…questionable (my 3 year old self insisted that an outfit of swimsuit, dungarees and wellington boots clearly outdid a princess dress for Halloween.). In high-school, when H&M was considered the shop to buy from, I was saving all my birthday money to purchase Anne Fontaine blouses in the sale. It never bothered me that I wanted to wear different things from my peers; or that, far from owning dozens of tops from Zara, I was happy with one lime green jumper with a bow at the collar from Tara Jarmon.

Wardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress

Gradually, piece-by-piece, I’ve created a wardrobe that consists largely of items that I have worn and loved for years. Without even being particularly conscious of it at first, I have always been drawn to classic, quality garments that never go out of style and showcase beautiful materials, patterns and fine attention to detail. I have never been a lover of fast-fashion, and I am so pleased that the slow-fashion movement is increasingly gaining momentum. Now, don’t get me wrong: I don’t only shop designer items, and I’ve got plenty of Zara and Uniqlo pieces that are in my closet too, but I will say that my shopping criteria never changes. I still look for quality, good design flair and timeless style, whether I’m choosing clothes from Anthropologie or Lindex. I have a black Zara blazer that I’ve owned for years, whereas my favourite LBD is from MaxMara. In general, though, it has to be said: you get what you pay for.

Wardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress

For this new ‘Wardrobe Stories’ series, I’ve decided to share with you the sartorial loves of my life: the clothes that have seen me through many important events, that I turn to time and time again and that escape every wardrobe purge I make. These are the pieces that I consider to be my best all-time buys and are the pillars of my style. First up, my favourite statement dress by Anna Sui.

Wardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress Wardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress Wardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress

I bought this dress for my 22nd birthday party (I’m now 29, so you can do the math!) at a boutique in Hampstead that stocked a delightful mixture of Anna Sui, Acne, Cacharel, Repetto and others (sadly, it has since closed). I can still remember when I first tried on the dress and falling completely head-over-heels in love with it. At the time, it was the most expensive dress I’d ever purchased (and I had to give up other indulgences – like coffees, meals out, or any other unnecessary purchases – for a long time in order to buy it), but since then I can’t count the number of times I’ve worn it, and I still get a thrill every time I reach for it.

I’ve always loved Anna Sui’s boho, but feminine designs. Her dresses are perfect for more petite ladies (I barely make 5Ft 3″), as generally they are cut quite short, and I always appreciate the gorgeous materials and decorative touches that are used in Anna Sui clothes. This dress combines patterned satin and velvet with hand-embroidered stitches at the cuffs and bodice. It is perfect for so many different occasions: weddings, dates, parties, or simply for when you want to feel glamourous. A statement dress is just as important an addition to your closet as a little black number: it adds interest and depth to your style and oozes confidence with a hint of fun.

This time, I wore the dress for an outing with my Mum on Valentine’s Day (she’s always my favourite person to spend time with). First, we stopped by Laduree to select some of their daintiest and most delectable macarons. I always love visiting this tiny shop in the Burlington Arcade; it makes me feel happy every time I step inside Laduree’s gold and pastel world. And then there’s the best of decisions to make: rose petal or cherry almond macarons? How about 2 of each!

Laduree MacaronsWardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress | Laduree MacaronsLaduree Macarons Wardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress | Laduree MacaronsWardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress | Laduree Macarons

After umming and ahhing over french patisserie, we strolled along some of the blissfully quiet backstreets of Mayfair, peering into the windows of rare book and art shops, before going on to the Royal Academy to see the Monet to Matisse exhibition (it was fantastic, by the way – I’ll be writing it up properly another time, but do go if you get a chance. I was in heaven surrounded by so many Monets!).

Backstreets of Mayfair, London Wardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement DressWardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress | Chanel Handbag Wardrode Stories | Anna Sui Statement Dress

After touring the exhibition (this time I was sensible and brought my ballet flats to change into – my feet were much happier!), we headed down to the fantastic Shenkman Bar in the Keeper’s House (the entrance to which is just to the right of the gallery – you can see the door behind me in the above photo). We decided a glass of something pink and sparkling was appropriate for the day, and we sipped happily as we chatted about our favourite paintings from the exhibition.

Although my dress is 7 years old – so no longer available! – below I’ve chosen some similar options for statement dresses to give you inspiration:

champagne taste on lemonade budget options:

statement dresses

1/ ASOS  2/  Anthropologie  3/ Needle & Thread (sale)

millionaire or living on beans on toast indefinitely options:

statement dresses

1/ Isabel Marant  2/ Needle & Thread  3/ Anna Sui

***

I’d love to hear – what clothing pieces do you treasure that you’ve held onto for years? Which items make up the foundation of your style and wardrobe? Let me know in the comments below!

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Stop What You’re Doing And See This

Kate Moss| Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryKate Moss by Corinne Day, 1993

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I hope you’ve woken up to the prospect of pancakes and flowers this morning, whether single or not. Anyway, even if you hate Valentine’s Day, I’ve got some news to cheer you up. The Vogue 100 exhibition (on until May 22nd) at the National Portrait Gallery is INCREDIBLE. Honestly, you should just stop reading this post right now and go to the exhibition to see for yourself (you’ll thank me later).

Twiggy | Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryTwiggy by Ronald Trager, 1967

Remember the other day I gave you suggestions for things to do on Valentine’s Day? Well, you can pretty much scrap those  – file them away for a rainy day instead – and head to the National Portrait Gallery. The show will likely be sold out, but it’s worth buying membership so you can skip all the queues (and you’ll probably want to go back several times anyway). I went yesterday and am half-seriously contemplating going back today (this time with comfy shoes – I made the mistake of wearing heels yesterday and suffered accordingly. But then I felt it was very Vogue-worthy to suffer for fashion, and the killer heels certainly made me more at home with all the Anya Hindmarch bag-toting fashionistas who are currently flocking to the exhibition.).

Gwyneth Paltrow | Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryGwyneth Paltrow by Mario Testino, 2002

Vogue 100 is bold, exciting and sexy. It’s a must see for anyone who loves fashion, photography or super models. It’s the exhibition I’ve enjoyed the most since the Alexander McQueen one last year, and it has the same electric buzz to the air that made the McQueen show so special. The connection between Vogue and McQueen is highlighted in the exhibition too: this famous photograph of McQueen dominates one end of the show.

Alexander McQueen | Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryAlexander McQueen by Tim Walker, 2009

I’d been looking forward to Vogue 100 ever since attending the exhibition’s shop launch at the NPG last week. The exhibition itself was very much kept under wraps, and I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Also, even though I was excited to see it, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much (I’m still recovering from the rather disappointing Hepburn exhibit last year). All the more pleasurable, then, was my shock of surprise yesterday as I walked into the first room and was instantly blown away by collection of so many incredible, iconic images. Here are a few more highlights for you to scroll:

Lara Stone| Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryLara Stone by Alasdair McLellan, 2010Naomi Campbell | Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryNaomi Campbell by Patrick Demarchelier, 1987Kate Moss | Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryKate, 1998 by Nick Knight, 199870s Fashion | Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryLouise Despointes and Donna Jordan by Sacha (von Dorssen), 1972Claudia Schiffer | Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryClaudia Schiffer by Herb Ritts, 1989Christy Turlington | Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryChristy Turlington by Patrick Demarchelier, 1987

Unlike the Hepburn exhibition, Vogue 100 is huge, comprising several rooms and a couple hallways, and there’s been fantastic attention to detail. The rooms are in chronological order, tracking the history of fashion and Vogue, with the decor often matching the period (the 20-30s rooms have lovely Art Deco finishes). Many of the images have been blown up to be plus size, which adds real drama to the exhibition and means you can truly appreciate the details.

Donna Mitchell | Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryDonna Mitchell by Bob Richardson, 1966 Vogue 100 Exhibition at the National Portrait GalleryLily, 2008 by Nick Knight, 2008

I loved this exhibition because I felt it truly celebrated style over fashion: it was as much about the personalities and iconic looks of the figures that have dominated the fashion world for the past 100 years, rather than simply the clothes they wore.

I found it too hard to decide which room was my favourite: I have to go back and see them all again! Have any of you been to the exhibition yet? What did you think of it? Did you have a favourite room?

If you haven’t seen it yet, my advice is to dress up in your most Vogue worthy clothes and head on over!

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My Spring Wardrobe Essentials

My Spring Wardrobe Essentials for Laura AshleyOutfit Details for a Similar Look
Trench Coat | Top | Trousers | Similar Necklace | Similar Bracelet | Nail Polish

Have you started to notice a slight shift towards spring? Perhaps it’s because I’m so eagerly anticipating it, but I find myself noticing the slightest of signs of the approaching season. Days are getting incrementally longer, some early buds are blossoming and there is considerably less bite to the air.

With spring happily on the horizon, I’ve been reviewing my wardrobe with fresh eyes. Although I’m on a mission to clear out as much as possible so my clothes fit more easily into my new smaller cupboard, I still think it’s a good idea to choose some new pieces to refresh my style. Luckily for me, I just collaborated on another blog post for Laura Ashley, and I decided to choose three items as my ‘essentials’ for transitioning from winter to spring: a navy trench coat, a striped top and straight-cut trousers. Do pop over to the Laura Ashley Blog to read my post in full, but here are some photos that offer a sneak peek:

My Spring Wardrobe Essentials for Laura Ashley My Spring Wardrobe Essentials for Laura Ashley My Spring Wardrobe Essentials for Laura Ashley My Spring Wardrobe Essentials for Laura Ashley My Spring Wardrobe Essentials for Laura Ashley My Spring Wardrobe Essentials for Laura AshleyMy Spring Wardrobe Essentials for Laura AshleyMy Spring Wardrobe Essentials for Laura Ashley

What are your essentials for a spring wardrobe?

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Laura Ashley Collaboration

Laura Ashley Collaboration | Colour Pop

I am so excited to share my collaboration with the fabulous Laura Ashley! The brand has been a favourite in my family for years, so it was a real honour to be asked to style some of their new season pieces. I had no trouble picking out a stylish faux leather jacket, easy-to-wear floral dress and a bright red bag to add a pop of colour to my monochrome look.

It was the perfect outfit for lunch at my favourite West Hampstead bistro, followed by a walk around Hampstead village (the red hat is from the wonderful Judy Green’s Garden Store on Flask Walk). You can read my full post on the Laura Ashley blog, but here’s a sneak peek!

Laura Ashley Collaboration | Colour Pop Laura Ashley Collaboration | Colour Pop Laura Ashley Collaboration | Colour Pop Laura Ashley Collaboration | Colour Pop Laura Ashley Collaboration | Colour Pop Laura Ashley Collaboration | Colour Pop

Do you like adding a pop of colour to a winter ensemble too? 

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My December List

My December List  - all the best things! | Miranda's Notebook

As I’ve got a few Gift Guides scheduled this month, I thought I’d shake things up a bit, and instead of doing my usual ‘Top Ten Must Haves‘ post, I’m sharing a list of the top 10 things that mean Christmas to me.

1/ Christmas Carols playing all day long.

2/ Admiring the lights and shop window displays in London.

3/ Bright red berries in vases around the house.

4/ Mince pies and mulled wine.

5/ Scandi-style sweaters. 

6/ Rereading the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.

7/  Hot chocolate (every night).

8/ The smell of pine.

9/ Christmas cards on the mantelpiece.

10/ Roaring fires and flickering candlelight. 

My December List  - all the best things! | Miranda's Notebook My December List  - all the best things! | Miranda's Notebook My December List  - all the best things! | Miranda's Notebook My December List  - all the best things! | Miranda's Notebook

I’d love to know – what would be on your list?

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