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To work in fashion like me

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“You sold your soul to the devil when you put on your first pair of Jimmy Choo’s!” – The Devil Wears Prada

It’s a Monday morning, and in between cups of coffee and a dozen emails, I find myself mapping out my career path. I was a late bloomer, so to speak, meaning I only decided that fashion was my chosen industry approximately two and a half years ago. Designing and modelling (aside from the odd Instagram selfie, of course) had never crossed my mind, and to this day, they still don’t strike any interest with me. Currently, my official title reads: Administrative & Marketing Assistant. It’s as every bit as gruelling and yet glamorous as it sounds.

Approval for an internship is as rare as a smile from Anna Wintour. I met mine with sheer relief, as it meant I wasn’t part of the unemployed 5% of recent graduates. That, and I had been accepted into the very industry I craved to be a part of. I will take the donkey work. The photocopier will be owned. Coffee runs will be my cardio. Being a fashion intern- or an entry level employee in any industry- does not allow for much luxury. So, I suppose the workaholic nature I inherited from my father is somewhat of a godsend. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. I am lucky enough to work with a team who trust me enough to give me authority and responsibility. From running their social media to co-ordinating a project for a high-profile client three times a year, I’m a busy bee. Details can’t be spared seeing as I have signed a non-disclosure agreement, but rest assured, I love my job.

The cold hard truth? The fashion industry is as notoriously hard to break into as it is reputed to be. As Carolina Herrera once said; “to make it in fashion, you must have perseverance, discipline, and talent.” It is a long way to the top, but it’s even longer to get a foot on the ladder itself. The rejections will pile up. How you deal with them is what singles out the real potentials. Sheer passion has to be the driving force, because a qualification will only take you so far. Experience is essential, and as difficult as it is to find, don’t turn down retail. A few stints in Harrods or a New Bond Street boutique will open more doors for you than you think.

Eat fashion. Sleep fashion. Breathe fashion. Immerse yourself in it. This time last year, I expressed myself with the ever repetitive ‘I love fashion’ line and the odd Coco Chanel quote to caption my Instagram posts. In retrospect, this was incredibly naive and rather embarrassing. There are a million girls who love fashion, so what makes me more worthy than them to work in the industry? In a nutshell, I discovered myself in fashion; forging an identity based on creative expression and a deep found knowledge of its icons. Can you tell me what the political significance of the Lady Dior bag is? What inspired the features of a CHANEL Classic Bag? Why are the straps of a Gucci handbag shaped in that specific way?

What about the clothes? Where are the handbags? What size do those shoes come in? These are questions I ask myself when I pass through Harrods or the Dior boutique on New Bond Street (heaven on earth, if you must know). Yet, the businesswoman in me has other questions. What impact does Brexit have on the fashion industry? How has the digital era affected consumer markets? Does social media have any tangible benefits for luxury fashion? What about Stella’s pledge for sustainable fashion? Spotting the Prada amongst the Primark cannot be your sole skill.

Envisaging the dream job, or the ultimate goal, now, that’s the easy part. But, as they say, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Work out what that first step is, and then the others. Map out the path to your dream job, and don’t rule out any detours. Ask an expert to glance over your CV. Accept that internship. The fashion industry isn’t sugarcoated for a reason. It is tough. There are early starts and late nights. You will be challenged mentally and physically, so you had better break in those heels before Monday morning comes around.

Having said that, when it comes to the fashion industry, hard work reaps rewards. There is always something to learn; whether it’s the history behind a brand, or about yourself, I find myself growing and maturing all the time into a more wholesome person. The fashion world is filled with hundreds of thousands of people, all of whom are inspiring in their own way. Their motivation fuels my own. Of course, there are the beautiful clothes and the sample sales, as well as the odd freebie and invitations to events. After all, this wouldn’t be a fashion post without all that jazz.

Don’t assume fashion is the glossy exterior pictured in VOGUE. It has a rich history, rooted deep in society, economics and most importantly, humanity.

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Lip Kit Battle: Huda Beauty Liquid Matte

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The lipstick is make-up royalty. The queen; a true icon; its rank is far superior compared to the humble foundation or nail polish. A jack of all trades; there is a shade for every gift, every treat and every impulse buy. Parisians believe in the power of lipstick, often choosing it instead of a full contour and pencilled eyebrow look. Of course, a classic red is often famed as the colour of Paris, but there is a strong vote for the natural look.

On Wednesday’s we wear pink, and in this honour every mercredi will see a nude liquid lipstick make an appearance. From high street to high end, there’s a little something for everyone.

This week, I thought it fitting to start with what I consider to be one of the originals- the Huda Beauty Liquid Matte. An original? Huda Beauty rose to fame with her extravagant false lashes and Lip Contour pencils. A Dubai based brand, plenty of her products are now available in the UK thanks to Harrods. There is only a small selection online, but pop into Knightsbridge to see the full range.

Retailing at £18.00, this is certainly not your purse’s best friend. But, not to sound like an Instagram cliché, it really is worth every penny.

The range of colours is simply extraordinary; from muted nudes to pretty pinks to vivid violets. Having tested Trendsetter myself, the pigmentation is intense. The secret here is to apply little by little and really blend the colour in. I like to dab the product in with my finger to achieve a natural finish.

It does take a minute or two to dry, but the final look does promise results. I personally do recommend keeping your lips well moisturised, especially before you apply this product, because as with any matte lipstick, the fine lines can show! But the product itself won’t dry your lips out.

It wears quite well, even through a full Wagamama’s meal, but apply as and when you need. Your coffee cups will be marked, but not enough to empty your tube. A little goes a long way, so this is a liquid lipstick that lasts and lasts!

I love the fresh, creamy scent of this product. It smells like luxury and this creaminess guarantees your lips stay as smooth as they can. If you aren’t used to wearing a liquid matte lipstick, it might feel unusual at first. Although, there definitely was no tightening feeling! It sits quite naturally, and isn’t uncomfortable in the slightest.

Do I recommend Huda Beauty Liquid Matte ? Absolutely! Time and time again I find myself reaching for this liquid lipstick before any others. The quality is outstanding, and the end result is exactly what you need it to be. I might not be a fan of Huda Beauty’s unorthodox therapies and tutorials, but her Liquid Matte takes home the trophy in this Lip Kit Battle!

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House of Fraser SS17

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“Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking.” – Miranda Priestly

Each season brings the promise of a new wardrobe, and like an investigative reporter poised with my iPhone rather than a notebook, I found myself at the House of Fraser Press Day for Spring Summer 2017.

Displayed like modern art in One Marylebone, House of Fraser’s pieces for SS17 promise swishy skirts, bold prints and athleticism. For the demure among us, there is a wonderful palette awash with nude and ivory, suede and silk. Long pleated skirts are still belle du jour, but play with hemlines and don’t be afraid to the break the rules. Tropical prints and embroidered designs that wouldn’t look out of place in Morocco bring life to London; sunshine yellow to add to the April showers. Luxury sportswear takes centre court, meaning it really can be new year, new you.

What impressed me the most was just how accessible this fashion was. House of Fraser combined their own brand pieces with designer collections, showing that the perfect Instagram outfit-of-the-day doesn’t have to break the bank. Gone are the days of wearing CHANEL from head-to-toe. The modern woman- and man, for that matter- prides themselves on versatility. Label Lab with Tommy Hilfiger? Why ever not! Love Moschino to accompany Linea? Perfect!

The new collection doesn’t hit the streets until February, but here are my favourite pieces that I will definitely be adding to my Spring Summer wardrobe.

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I have always favoured a classic handbag- preferably one large enough to cart my life around in- but I found myself drawn to this kitsch Ted Baker number. Classy enough to show your crazy cat lady in public, no?

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Bomber jackets are here for the long haul, and I absolutely love this embroidered version, especially paired with these jeans. Utility, but with floral flair.

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British Street Style does have a soft spot for the tailored London look, and this Dickins & Jones button down shirt would be a best friend to my cashmere jumpers.

As far as my Sporty Spice look goes, a Tommy Hilfiger sports bra did catch my eye. It was both pretty and practical, but impossible to photograph. Especially as for this Press Day I challenged myself to capture everything on my iPhone and not my camera! I suppose you’ll have to see it for yourself when SS17 launches in February, at House of Fraser!

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Shop online at House of Fraser!

Charlotte Tilbury

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There’s something wonderfully uplifting about purchasing make-up, isn’t there? Lipsticks are my guilty pleasure. Every time I see a pretty lipstick I just can’t help myself, especially if it’s a deep, sexy red or a bright, beautiful nude.

I think it rather explains why I am so drawn to Charlotte Tilbury. She shares the same ethos as myself when it comes to make-up. It’s a source of empowerment for the women (and men) who wear it. I love those precious few minutes in the morning I put aside for my beauty routine. In the midst of breakfast and a tube commute, that time is purely to focus on myself to do something that makes my day just that tiny little bit better. As for nights out, I am unashamed to admit I can spend hours in front of the mirror with an eyeshadow blending brush. Call it vanity or self-preservation, I am a firm believer in taking care of one’s appearance.

I remember the first Charlotte Tilbury lipstick I ever bought. It was from the K.I.S.S.I.N.G collection, wrapped in a rose gold tube that oozes glamour. A delightful nude shade as smooth as cashmere and aptly named Bitch Perfect. I think the name was the winning factor! I then moved on to the Magic Foundation, which is undoubtedly a miracle in a bottle. It washes over my oily complexion perfectly, lasting all day and erasing any blemishes. It’s light but allows for coverage; a little burst of freshness on the skin.

By this point, I was head-over-heels for Charlotte Tilbury, that chance would have it that I would get to meet Madame herself!

In the heart of Westfield London nestles a Beauty Wonderland awash with all the glamour and glitz of decades gone by. Plush velvet, dazzling lights and the most wonderful make-up artists one could ever hope to be assisted by. They wove their way through the queue, dusting us with Filmstar Bronze & Glow; leaving trails of A Scent of a Dream and lavishing us with Goddess Skin Clay Mask. Treats of candy canes and cookies were passed around, as we were serenaded by music. What better way to prepare for the makeover of a lifetime?

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Where do I begin to describe Charlotte Tilbury? This incredible woman; who seems to glide through life on platform heels. Artist to the stars, she shared her vision of bringing the looks she creates for Hollywood to the everyday woman. She has made Kate Moss’ rock-chic look accessible for the single mum. Penelope Cruz’s smokey eye can be mastered by the law student. Kim Kardashian West’s flawless skin is a possibility for the London commuter. She went on to reveal the story behind her Magic Cream and why skin care is so important. Her passion for what she does really shone through, and whilst she has successfully commercialised her creations, she is far from the pushy sales company. It’s like chatting to an old friend, the way words like ‘fabulous’ and ‘darling’ ebb and flow in the conversation. And the truth is, while she certainly promotes herself and her products, you know that she really is an expert in her field.

As a woman who is on demand on the red carpet just as much as she is during Fashion Week, she understands the magic of make-up and the insecurities women may have. She knows how to make women beautiful, and we can scream and shout about how women shouldn’t have to wear make-up to feel beautiful, there’s no denying its power. It’s outrageously feminine, and certainly has a feel-good factor to it. When a woman feels good about herself, she displays her confidence and every task is done with just a little more jazz.

To her credit, not that she needs it, Charlotte is remarkable at what she does. The day she took one look at me and told me I was a sophisticated Dolce Vita is forever seared into my memory. I almost felt like a giggly schoolgirl when she told me I was gorgeous! (Sorry, bae!). A few minutes was all it took for her to prescribe me the Charlotte Tilbury treatment, and walking away with a personalised gift box and photograph really was the red lipstick to finish the look.

I ended up purchasing the Dolce Vita eyeshadow quad. After the artist showed me how to use it, I decided I really loved the look. Normally, I’m not one for glittery looks but there was something about the look I fell in love with. The Dolce Vita is versatile palette as it turns out- there’s a wonderful tutorial on YouTube where Charlotte creates a subtle day look and then a darker party look with the same shades. Having brown eyes can be a little dull sometimes, as I’m never sure if I’ve actually made them ‘pop’, but Dolce Vita is the perfect palette for exactly that.

Having sung Charlotte’s praises now, I think all that is left for me to do is go scope out my next purchase. I’m thinking a Matte Revolution lipstick…

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The secret life of a graduate

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People say the best years of your life lie at university. Three, perhaps four, maybe more for the medics, years of education, self-discovery and all round shenanigans. Of course, those hours in the library are important, but there is so much more to university than just the certificate you frame at the very end. Be careful, because the person you went to university as may not be the person who graduates.

There is a certain sense of emotional and mental maturity that accompanies a degree. A rite of passage. The surprise on your parents’ face when you somehow manage to navigate a sticky situation (even if it just the laundry) without running to them for help. Now that is the hardest part of being a graduate.

Some are fortunate enough to have a job lined up as soon as they tossed their mortarboard into the air. For others, like yours truly, it’s somewhat trickier to get your foot in the door.

Ah yes, the job application. Or rather, the endless job applications. The ones that make you question if you really did proofread your CV, and if your cover letter is actually as persuasive as you initially thought. The first rejection is both the hardest and the easiest. Hard to accept, but easy to bounce back from. They eventually became commonplace to me. Although, rejections were easier to handle than cold, hard silence.

My lucky break came to me in the form of a job as an Administrative and Marketing Assistant at International Profile. Getting to work with the big guns in the fashion industry is something of a dream; even if it’s not directly the line of work I one day want to end up in. From working on a Hackney market, to interning with Lulu Guinness; if I’ve learnt one thing, it’s that sometimes your dream isn’t down a straight path. Right now, I’m happy co-ordinating projects for one of the fashion powerhouses out there and exploring creativity in my hometown. This job isn’t set in stone, but it’s a blessing I am grateful for.

Be willing to work your ass off. Start every morning with a coffee and your own company. Eat your vegetables. Call your mum every Sunday. And remember, you aren’t the only one struggling with your post-student status. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed in one go. Keep plugging away, you’ll get that job one day. Then you’ll have bills and taxes to pay, and you’ll realise that being a graduate really isn’t all that.

Warwick Castle

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“Far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, a prince in disguise!”

She always wanted to be a princess. Jasmine was her favourite, but Cinderella gave her hope that a pair of shoes could change her life. Belle made her proud to be a bookworm and Snow White, well, perhaps she was more like one of her shorter counterparts.

There’s something about castles that is inherently fascinating. Looking out over the turrets and wondering what it must have been like to do that in a billowing ball gown. A now sunny courtyard that must have been muddy and strewn with knights practicing their swordsmanship. The dungeons that made you scream in horror as they played a practical joke. You walked out hiding in embarrassment behind a big strong man after that.

You find yourself lost in time. Exploring your way through history, on a Viking boat and in between barrels of gunpowder. A trench to pay respects to fallen soldiers and a sour look on your face when you are the heaviest on the witch scales.

And when you needed a good old fashioned tea break, you are British after all, you share a lunch in the most beautiful garden with peacocks strutting their stuff around you. There are moments of silence when not a word passes between you. But that’s not because you don’t have anything to say, but because you didn’t need to say anything.

Instead you listen to the tales of what’s happened between these walls. The many men and women who have passed through the gates. Those who have left their mark and those who threw extravagant parties- that family sounds the most fun for sure. You know you will never remember half the history, yet you’re with the biggest history geek of them all. Their memory will pick up your slack.

Of course, being a princess was only part of it. The biggest part of it. All you needed was a Prince Charming.

After all, dreams do come true. If they didn’t, then why would we have them?

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The Oh Shit Kit

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Here’s to the nights that turned into mornings with the friends that turned into family. The full-time friends that became part-time lovers. The philosophical conversations about political standings and the meaning of religion. The childhood memories amidst the endless exams. And then of course, the early mornings with empty bottles of wine and dancing shoes in hands.

It’s no secret that the start of summer signals parties a plenty, especially as a student. Whether it’s celebrating an essay deadline or the poor unfortunate souls still pulling all-nighters in the library, late nights and cocktails start to take their toll and there’s only so much that coffee can fix.

This is my Oh Shit Kit. For when the bags under your eyes are heavy as the ones you carry to the library. For when you stayed up a little too late last night waiting for him to text you back. For when you couldn’t sleep because you were stressed about finding a job. This is all you need.

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When you feel hydrated it will most certainly show on your face. Of course you can chug a litre of water before work, but your skin needs a little something extra. This will brighten you up a tad and the zing perks you right up for that early morning lecture after a night on the town. Apply generously to a freshly washed face for some day long hydration without the grease factor.

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The eyes give it all away, so a pair of sunglasses can lend a helping hand. But sometimes they don’t work for some godforsaken reason like your boss telling you it’s not work appropriate. This is the next best thing. Blend in under your eyes twice daily to soothe the delicate area. It won’t rub away your bags, but it will provide both moisture relief and a good base for any concealer.

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Miles better than boing, which explains the almost empty pot. Truly one of the best concealers on the market, it’s heavy duty, but feels lightweight. And it even works under the eyes as well as on blemishes, making it perfect for some emergency handiwork. The trick is to dab it on rather then furiously blend in. Use your fingers or a small brush, and it will be as if last night never happened.

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Eyes that venture between dry, sleepy and watery result in panda rings- the last thing you need when you already look like a mess. This is the perfect mascara for an everyday look; it will open your eyes just enough and will not budge, not even in an apocalypse. Good luck getting it off. Don’t forget the eyelash curler!

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Your skin is a mess, so don’t you dare smother it in foundation. Sweep a powder over your face to give it a healthy flush and some space to breathe. (Although this was limited edition, there are plenty of others out there who’ll do the trick too).

If in doubt, buy a copy of Vogue and just hide behind it for the rest of your hangover. You’ll look chic at the very least.

Gas Street Social

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One of the most wonderful things in the world is to find someone you can be yourself with. That is, someone who can withstand your obsession of finding burger joints, independent coffee shops and exploring cities. Someone you can laugh with over a glass of wine, even in public with your ugly laugh that only your television screen should ever witness. Someone whose plate you can eat off and someone who will tell you when you have ketchup smeared over your face.

When the wind is blowing at one hundred miles an hour and Birmingham speeds through another day, it’s nice to take a break from the rest of the world. To hide away in a booth and pick your favourite words on the menu. A canal to look over as you share stories of your childhood holidays. Big film star bulbs that make you feel like you are somewhere special. While your umbrella dries off what can you do but cosy together and raise a toast to the basis of your friendship?

“Thank you for opening me up to new things, food and coffee that I wouldn’t normally try.” A compliment of the highest order. There’s something exciting about stepping into the unknown. In a new restaurant or café is where a foodie feels like a child in a toy shop. There’s something equally lovely about someone who accepts that wherever there is food, your camera will be close by.

Good thing too, as the food tastes just as good as it looks, even the vegetarian options. Luckily you both ordered sweet potato fries, but you share them all the same. Food, now that is how to truly bond with someone.

Of course it would be nice to ride off together into the sunset, but to share a plate of food just seems so much better.

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Gas Street Social can be found at:
166-168 Wharfside Street

The Mailbox
Birmingham
B1 1RL

Coffee Architects

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“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

Endless hours between the same old bookshelves; the same pose of hunched shoulders over a laptop; and one essay after another populates the days that seem to just blur into each other. Routines can get boring quickly and it’s no secret that the life of a final year student is one of the toughest experiences. When the going gets tough the tough go out for breakfast.

Flat whites; avocados; and hipster coffee shops are the men of the moment and Leamington Spa’s very own Coffee Architects somehow give all of these a new breath of life. When the sun is streaming in and there’s the smell of coffee beans mixed with freshly baked cake in the air, life doesn’t seem so dull all of a sudden. When there’s a mountainous pile of avocado and a neat little coffee on your table, the little things seem important again. When there is good company in front of you and the morning is relaxed, there’s hope that a life outside of the mundane library exists.

Of course, dissertations should not be neglected; and those revision notes won’t write themselves. But you shouldn’t forget yourself in the process. Take a little walk in the park and Instagram those red flowers. Surround yourself with friends and remember that you are loved. Talk about why you love your hometown and remind yourself of who you are.

It really is the mark of a Humanities student when you can sit and have all these epiphanies under the duress of essays while sitting in a tiny little coffee shop. And when in doubt, order that slice of cake you’ve had your eye on for the last hour.

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Coffee Architects can be found at:
39 Warwick Street
Leamington Spa
Warwickshire
CV32 5JX

I’m feeling 22

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22. So naturally, here are 22 things I learnt by my 22nd birthday.

1. It gets better. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but one day.

2. No guy is worth your tears. And the one who is, won’t make you cry.

3. Being alone does not mean you are lonely. Sometimes it’s important to have a little time for yourself. Learn to keep your own company.

4. Stop living your life through Facebook.

5. It costs nothing to be a good person, even to those who hurt you. Do the right thing for the sake of it being the right thing.

6. The smallest gestures often mean the most.

7. Be selfish once in a while too. No-one will look out for you the way you do.

8. If there is one thing you maintain in life, let it be your eyebrows.

9. You were beautiful long before he told you.

10. Do not forget to live. When you are old and grey, you want to look back at memories of a full and glorious life.

11. Eat well and exercise. It seems very trivial, but the power a healthy lifestyle wields is unparalleled.

12. Fuck it and have that cupcake at the end of the week. You deserve it.

13. A white shirt and smart black trousers will get you through every occasion.

14. Find a shade of lipstick that puts the fear of God in a man’s heart and lust in his veins. Hint: it’s red.

15. It is not your job to mediate your parents’ problems.

16. Friendship is a two way street; one person should not be making all the effort.

17. Gentlemen are rare. If you find one, don’t let him go.

18. If you keep saving things for a special occasion, they will never see the light of day.

19. Lectures are not for napping in.

20. It is not acceptable to put your boyfriend’s urges before your friendship.

21. Secrets don’t always stay secrets, so stop putting them online.

22. It’s okay to not know who you are or what you want right this minute. You’ll figure it out.