Winter balls mean that December seems to be full of cinderella moments. University keeps throwing balls at me and I am loving it! I mean, who doesn’t say yes to a cheeky glass of mulled wine and a dance with friends?It feels like it’s been a very long time since I encountered a British winter. Quite literally, ‘hello darkness my old friend!’ Despite the cold weather and incredibly short days, it always feels good to style up a winter-ball outfit.
However, with all of this partying and sustainable living, I did find that my wardrobe was severely lacking. I searched high and low for a fairy god mother…
Cinderella, you may not go to the ball.
I didn’t find a single thing in charity shops and was determined not to pay into fast fashion. My only option was to try and find something on the high-street that would at least fill the hole in my wardrobe and become a timeless piece.
As much as I would love to shop sustainably, it’s so difficult to do this all of the time. I haven’t made a first-hand purchase since August and I already know that this timeless piece will stay in my wardrobe for years. That said, I totally justify this winter ball addition.
Besides, doesn’t it just cry out for a ball?
And ballin’ this lilac number went!
Cinderella you shall go to the ball!
Enjoy a few pictures from one of the balls. There’s no doubt that this jumpsuit will be making a reappearance very soon over on Instagram this Christmas period!
Is there a winter piece you’ve been loving this year? Or a little treat you’ve been denying yourself for too long?
P.S. A big thank you to Laura Stewart and Tim Craine for the photographs!
Sustainable struggles are driving me mad! Six months ago I set myself the goal of reducing my environmental impact. This included being more conscious of fashion choices and trying to choose sustainable or ethical brands. However high street fashion makes this almost impossible!
Why the heck do we need sustainable fashion?
I recently found out that fashion is the second biggest polluter in the world – what?! Not that I was aware of this when I decided to change they way I use fashion. Essentially, when I went to Guinea, I had one 24kg bag in which to pack everything I needed. Firstly, all of the mosquito nets, bedding and water treatment equipment took up half of this and secondly, anything I took was bound to come back ruined by orange dust. I had shut down my blog temporarily and essentially put style on hold…
When I came back, yes I was excited to have fun styling clothes again (I do have a fashion blog after all) but something felt different. After living in basics for months, I’d forgotten about so many of my clothes. I had so many that I actually felt overwhelmed!
The “crazy” minimalist?
I decided that I didn’t need half the stuff in my wardrobe so I gave everything that I’d forgotten I had, to charity. Following this I recycled anything that didn’t fit me properly. It felt amazing! Why? I was left with things that I loved and I had room to buy a couple of really good quality items.
Living in a third world country makes you incredibly aware of pollution. There are no waste-processing sites. You either bury your rubbish, burn your rubbish, or leave it at the side of the road. You just can’t ignore the devastating impact that your waste has upon the environment. Inevitably this compelled me to start reducing my impact. With fashion being a big contributor, I had to change some things.
Ever since I’ve seriously been struggling! It’s so hard! Here are a few struggles I am facing…
Sustainable Struggle one: looking ridiculously hippie
When I thought about Eco-friendly fashion, I used to think of ‘hippie’ clothing, ‘gap-yah’ students and anything far from stylish… I mean, I do possess a very jazzy cardigan now but since then, I’ve learnt that it can be a lot more stylish and casual too! But, finding more casual items is a challenge.
Sustainable Struggle two: you just can’t win!
After recycling a lot of old clothes (to charity shops) that I didn’t want, I decided that I would only buy clothes that were made from environmentally friendly materials. Also, I was determined to ensure that they were from ethically fair backgrounds ie, they were made in the UK, or fair-trade – not ‘made in Bangladesh’ for example.
Watch this really useful video to understand what I mean by eco-friendly materials!
Anyway, back to the point.
It’s been six months now and it has been a slow journey. Why? The high street has not caught onto this movement! Almost everything is made from polyester and if you do find a 100% cotton, it’s been made in Vietnam… I’ve struggled to stick to my goals and often had to compromise.
I have however been shopping more frequently in charity shops – I found a brilliant Denim Jacket in Oxfam! Of course you don’t need to worry about labels here because all the clothing has been recycled so you are reusing a material that would otherwise become waste.
Gradually I have been reducing my wardrobe to a more capsule size. I have found that having a few items that I love, along with the important basics, still allows me style things creatively.
Sustainable Struggle three: there’s rarely anything my size in charity shops
With the seasons changing and after having missed Autumn/Winter last year, I’ve been in desperate need of warmer clothing. I have succeeded on the “less is more” front by only purchasing one dress and two knitted tops to go with the two skirts, jeans, jackets and abundance of basics that I have. However, yet again, I HAD TO COMPROMISE! I failed to find anything suitable in charity shops – most shops have very few items in size 8.
The dress and knitted tops were 100% cotton but there was no indication of where they were made!
Sustainable Struggle four: their branding sucks!
Why is this so hard? I feel like a suffragette sometimes just trying to search through clothes labels! Why can’t brands just add the information the the price tag?
Recently I have discovered that both M&S and Monki have sustainable ranges including 100% organic cotton denim and recycled cotton basics. But again they don’t openly advertise this – I merely just happened to stumble upon them.
Other brands (often found on ASOS or Etsy) that focus on environmentally friendly fashion can’t be found on the highstreet and are just way too expensive! If it’s going to break the bank, it’s just not going to take off.
It’s going to take a while!
So here I am, still trying to love fashion and love the environment. I have come so far in six months but definitely have further to go! I have even resorted to making my own clothes (check out the fair-trade outfits I designed and had a tailor make for me in Guinea), but honestly, it’s stressful and not everybody’s solution.
Does anyone have any tips? Although I shall not be buying anything for a few months now!
Welcome back to Distinctivemode! Today I’m sharing my newfound love for West African Wax fabric. Whilst living in Guinea, I came across so many bright and colourful fabrics that were sold at market stalls, to then be taken to a local tailor and made into all sorts of things. Whilst I did have some more culturally appropriate outfits made to wear in country, I visited my tailor just before I left with some of my own western designs.
One of the most popular fabrics is this blue material with motifs. In fact, it comes in all different colours and most Guineans own something in this fabric. Blue is my favourite so I purchased a fair bit of it! The first thing I designed? A scalloped pencil skirt with buttons. Originally I’d hoped for it to be made in the locally dyed indigo fabric however the tailor got a little muddled so I was surprised to say the least… But once I’d styled it with a white v-neck t-shirt, I fell in love with it!
Speaking of locally dyed indigo, you can’t step foot in the market without spotting hundreds of uniquely printed or tie-dyed sheets of indigo! There are so many patterns all hand crafted. I had a shirt made in one of the tie-dye designs and have hauled piles of different patterns home with plans to create even more – I’ve already made a skirt and am working on a little top to go with it!
The best thing about wearing African fabrics? You can inject a little bit of colour into an outfit and the indigo gives you the opportunity to be more subtle, pairing with denim. I am definitely a convert! Wearing these fabrics is like a home comfort to me now after wearing traditional clothing in Guinea for so long. It’s also completely ethical since you not only pay those who have crafted the indigo, or locals selling imported wax but you have the opportunity to employ a local tailor and support their business.
I also had a dress made and it feels incredible to wear something made to fit! Whenever people comment on it I have the opportunity to share the story of my local tailor friend, relive an experience and inject a bit of culture into someone’s life. It’s a truly distinctive dress – one I designed myself!
Head to Pinterest and browse West African Wax fabrics – it’s an awesome new craze!
When travelling, packing light is necessary and so a capsule wardrobe becomes your best friend! Today I’m sharing my Baltic look book to show you just how simple it is! Essentially you need to pick out a good pair of jeans, a lighter pair of trousers, your favourite comfortable shoes and a good sized bag. Make the rest up with thin tops, dresses and skirts. Choose a pattern or theme and throw in a jumper for cooler days. It really is as easy as that!
In light of May-Day, how could I not share this skirt? Late April is one of my favourite times of year. The evenings are coated with golden light, the weather can be promising and we start to think about Summer!
This H&M maxi skirt is lightweight, a bold statement and extremely comfortable! I actually picked this up in a charity shop for £5 however it was brand new with the tag still on it. At first sight I wasn’t fully convinced but since I’m going to Africa soon, it would have been silly to disregard something so useful, light-weight and modest at a good price…
I decided to pair the skirt with a plain black tee and this helped to add contrast whilst toning down the colour. A white or coloured tee would have been too much for my liking! In terms of the pattern, the stripes have once again claimed a victory – they are diagonal so it’s a contrast against the rest of my wardrobe, right? One thing I have noticed is that the pattern doesn’t match at the seams but I’m not too caught up over this. This skirt is a size 6 and fits perfectly. Due to my height I’m usually a 8/10 but this is just the right length, if not a tad long – if buying from H&M, always try things on since I often find that their sizing varies.
Browse the H&M skirt collection here
If there’s one essential to my wardrobe, it’s a good handbag! A well-matched, stylish looking bag can transform and complete any basic outfit. Besides it’s always handy to take with you. Weekends are extremely busy for me and involve driving round completing errands, meeting friends and collecting photographs for art projects and blog posts. When I came across this steal of a bag, I just had to purchase it!
This large stripy tote bag is from Primark and at £9 I couldn’t go wrong. I don’t own a lot of bags despite my love for them simply because I am so particular: a bag must be a good size, fit my camera, be strong enough to hold weight, and look nice. If there is one thing I cannot stand, it’s a boring, plain black or tan bag! I have a couple of good, unique bags that I’ve picked up on my travels and I also ensure that I have a patterned back pack in my wardrobe for college use – I tend to purchase these from Accessorize every two years since they get daily wear during term.
As you can see from the photographs, the bag is a faux leather navy tote with red and white accents. I’ve wanted something with a red accent for a while because it’s a great way to add colour to your outfit and the royal colour just makes the piece look a little more “luxury.” The bag also comes with a detachable tag that can be used to write your name and an emergency contact number – this will be really useful for when I’m travelling or running errands alone.
I honestly love this bag and have used it so much already! I only bought it last weekend so it will still be in stock across Primark stores. Again, for £9 you can’t go wrong! If you’re on a budget like me, it’s definitely a great bag – I spotted it at the right time since my old camera bag broke the other week!
Who will be purchasing? Thanks for reading!
As trivial as it may seem, something I’ve never talked about online is my glasses. As a fashion blogger you may think that I’d have shared them with you from day one. I have been relying on frames for almost three years now and although they may have featured in a few photos, I have always been one to hide them…
I can’t imagine life without glasses now! It’s sounds so strange to me to write these words but it’s the truth! However for some reason I have always felt as though frames expose me. It’s as if when you wear glasses, people categorise you as a “glasses wearer.” Not to mention, there are even some people who view your glasses as a part of you – what?! Wearing glasses does not define who I am. Perhaps the frames that I chose may reflect my personality, but merely they are nothing more than clothes.
Wearing glasses should feel beautiful. It’s funny how some days I’ll wear contact lenses and notice how people look at me differently. Other days I won’t even do my make up knowing that my glasses will hide any efforts. Why am I doing this?! It’s time I make eye contact with people and fearlessly wear my frames. Perhaps I can’t see things too well anymore, but I have at least learnt to look beyond a frame.
Glasses are starting to become more popular and I cannot express how great that is for fellow glasses-wearers. The variety of frames these days gives so many people an opportunity to feel bolder! I currently wear converse frames and definitely recommend them! Recently I’ve fallen in love with wearing glasses again and it truly is beautiful. Although I still cannot deny that there are days when I wish I didn’t need to. Some days I feel as though my frames are too bold – as if they attract stares. I know this sounds ludicrous but if you wear glasses 24/7 like I do, you probably understand.
I guess what I am trying to say is this: wearing glasses is beautiful. But it’s time we redefined the subject of this beauty – the eye. It’s time we looked beyond frames and made genuine eye contact. It’s time we made an effort to compliment people’s eyes – it really would make such a difference!
To all glasses wearers: I challenge you to be bolder this week!
To those who don’t wear glasses: I challenge you to start complimenting people’s eyes and refuse to stare at frames.
This week we are joining with Kelly from Velvet and Vibranium! Together we are creating a style edit focusing on “stripes.” Whilst over in South Africa they are in the midst of Summer, here in the UK we are hanging onto winter days. However this does not mean that we haven’t yet seen the sun – spring is on it’s way!
I honestly love all things stripy! It’s my go to wardrobe choice and I probably have too many striped items. But what do we choose for risky, early spring afternoons? Long sleeves are key and a turtle neck adds both warmth and definition. Looking for a little striped magic yourself? H&M will have you suited and booted in it all! I also love contrasting a spring/summer denim skirt with my winter biker boots (boohoo) for a bold late February look!
Head over to Kelly’s blog to see what she’s styling up for a hot South African Summer – you’ll be sure to find something stripy!
I hope you like this outfit – what will you be wearing this late February?
Top – H&M; Skirt – New Look; Boots – Truffle by Boohoo.
On Tuesday 20th December I turned 18. As part of the celebrations, my family and I went out for a meal. We dined at Pizza Express – one of our favourite restaurants. The vegetarian choices there are brilliant and others enjoyed tucking into their festive favourites menu!
For the occasion, I picked out this beautiful powder pink satin dress from H&M. I fell in love with the back – I have a thing about cut out backs and the frills on this are just heavenly! Powder pink is definitely this season’s must have colour and provides a really classic look. Hair wise, I wore it up and curled the ends to add a little more definition.
Following the meal we headed out for a few (I lost both…) games of bowling and a quick trip round the shops afterwards. I had such a wonderful time – there’s something beautiful about spending time with family!
Over the birthday period I received some lovely gifts – I want to say a big thank you to everyone who send cards, gave gifts or took time to celebrate with me!
Purchase the satin dress here.
4 days to go! Over this Christmas period, I’ve found myself shopping, shopping and shopping. Last week I was in London and hit Oxford Circus. I tried on so many things and am secretly wishing I’d bought it all! I thought I’d put together a little wishlist of things I’m both loving and wanting this month!