HOUSES I’VE STALKED LATELY

With Summer being a little lazy this year, I thought we could all use some distraction from what’s happening outside. Let’s instead focus inside, inside other peoples houses to be exact. Here’s a few stunners I’ve stumbled across via my favourite blogs recently…

I love this relaxed family home, with its combination of timber, concrete and pops of colour. I pretty much want to completely copy their exterior courtyard for my home. Click to see more here.
1.0house

It’s no surprise the couple who own this home are an architect and a designer! I love the natural light they have poured into the home through the use of skylights, and how amazing is that tap! To see more click here.
3.0house

Sometimes when I see a home I love on a blog or in a magazine, I then check out the architects website as it’s often a goldmine of equally stunning homes. Jardine Homes is one such pot at the end of a rainbow.
4.0house

You can view this next house tour here, but first let’s just stop for a moment and imagine lying by this pool….
vtibiza3…ahhh wasn’t that nice!

Right back to reality, rain, school holidays and a Christmas list to finish (well start actually).

CHRISTMAS WISH (AS OPPOSED TO REALITY) LIST

Is it just me who buys their own Christmas presents from their kids and then pretends to act surprised on Christmas morning?

My present from my thoughtful children this year is this beautiful Turkish Tribal Coin Necklace from Neon Gypsy. I’ve recently discovered their amazing store in Mount Maunganui, I love its boho rock vibe. They have a great online store too, so no one has to miss out! I couldn’t resist but play dress ups, I swear I’m going to take it off right now and wrap it up. Maybe.

necklace1necklace2necklace 3

If I decide my children want to be super generous this year, here’s a few other things I would love them to get me…

christmas wish list

The Horse Watch from Paperplane Store How stunning is this watch! It would look perfect stacked with my Lindi Kingi bracelets. I love the combination of silver and rose gold, and that nude leather is just beautiful.
Peony & Blush Suede Perfume from Jo Malone I was introduced to Jo Malone by one of my best friends who used to work there. I have several different fragrances from Jo Malone, and Peony & Blush Suede is the latest I’ve fallen in love with.
Hammock Hanging Chair from Citta Design I’m hoping a sunny day and quiet children come in a package with this Hammock Chair from Citta!
Diptyque Candle from Mecca Cosmetics Over 90 hours burning time with this Diptyque Candle, and then when it’s finished I love using the glass holder to house makeup brushes or as a small vase for summer blooms.
Rose Leather Sandals from Chaos & Harmony I have tried on these sandals and fell in love, alas I can’t afford them at the moment with my shopping ban firmly in place, Santa? Anyone?
Market Bag from Paperplane Store There are amazing ‘Little Big Markets’ here that alternate location between the Mount and Papamoa Beach, this bag would be perfect to fill up with all the treats I get each visit.
Polka Dot Journal from Paperplane Store Imagine the amazingly insightful yet witty things I could write in this journal?!

CHAIN STORES: YES THEY ARE CHEAP, BUT ARE THEY WORTH IT?

A few days ago I was checking out local chain stores looking for a cheap pair of sunglasses (I have a talent for both breaking and losing them, so cheap is a necessity). I was struck by how great the clothing looked, but once I took a closer look at the quality, it had me second guessing my initial excitement. Yes the clothes are cheap, but are they worth it?

chainstore collage

Chain stores have fashion buyers who regularly travel internationally to ‘research the latest trends’ aka buy clothing from overseas stores and then completely copy them. The factories they use can produce these knock offs incredibly quickly and have them ready for sale instore in a matter of weeks. At first glance the clothes may look fantastic, just like in designer boutiques or from the pages of your favourite fashion magazine, but look closer and you’ll often see poor quality fabric or questionable workmanship. I mean think logically, if a top is $20 the labour costs, fabric, thread, buttons and company overheads like retail staff, marketing, advertising etc have to equal much less than half that amount. So how is that even possible?

Who made my clothes?
Earlier this year Francis Hooper, designer and co-owner of World, did a really interesting documentary about the horrific conditions often found in the factories used by our most popular chain stores. Workers are paid incredibly low amounts to work extremely long hours in awful and frequently dangerous conditions.

He was glad the worlds media took notice in April 2013 when 1133 people were killed and over 2500 injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, but commented:

“Consumers got to see an insight behind the veneer of glamorous fabulous fashion, the underbelly. But that was just one factory disaster. They happen every week. Not to that same extent in terms of numbers, but it’s true there are frequent, deadly episodes in the clothing manufacturing business.” I encourage you to view the 15 minute documentary here, such an eye opener.

I couldn’t ignore the reality of what my need for cheap, instant shopping satisfaction really meant. I tried to find out if my favourite chain stores were involved, it was actually really hard, but this article by Consumer has the most comprehensive list I have found on major brands and where their clothing is made.

To keep the end retail price competitive, even the chain stores that do act ‘ethically’ still have to keep the labour and fabric costs extremely low. This inevitably means hourly rates for labour are shocking and the quality of the fabric is typically poor. Even if you love what you see in the dressing room, after a few washes the quality issues can start to show. This has happened to me so many times!

Chain Store (Glassons) vs Designer (Helen Cherry)
I really loved grey knits over winter and found what I thought was a great boyfriend style knit cardigan from Glassons for $50. Then on a girls trip to Wellington I fell in love with a grey mohair Helen Cherry jumper from Workshop for $240. Yes it’s a major price difference, but the current state of them is also majorly different. The Glassons cardigan has awful pilling all over it, is misshapen and the overall colour is washed out (yes this is possible even with it being grey!). In stark contrast the Helen Cherry jumper looks and feels as stunning as the day I bought it. I will be able to wear it season after season, but the Glassons number is now donated to charity.

Chain Store (ASOS) vs Chain Store (Cotton On)
I bought a plaid shirt online from ASOS for $60, and a similar plaid shirt for my teenage daughter from Cotton On for $30. We have both worn and washed these shirts regularly over the last few months. My ASOS shirt has worn very well, with no pilling or fading, my daughters Cotton On shirt is now badly mis-shapen and has holes the size of my hand in it.
shirt3
shirt 2Exceptions to the rule
Like the ASOS plaid shirt showed, there are those gems that really are easy on the wallet and wear very well. I’ve found a few I can trust like Just Jeans singlets (they are usually 2 for $30 each summer), Witchery shirts, Country Road knits and Cotton On jeans. Unfortunately it does feel a little like a fashion version of russian roulette with it being impossible to tell the difference until it’s in your wardrobe and too late for a refund!

So what’s the answer?
Unless you discover a long lost great aunt has left you a hefty inheritance so you can dress designer head to toe, the reality is you’re going to have to mix high and low fashions, so keep these tips in mind…

1. Designer Threads – Buy the best quality you can afford, yes even though this will mean having less in your wardrobe. I invest in a few designer pieces each season, pieces I LOVE and know I will wear year after year.
2. Trademe – Most of my clothing is bought from Trademe. I’d rather buy a second hand designer piece still in great condition that I know is constructed well with quality fabric, than spend the same amount in a chain store. To make it quick and easy I have saved the searches of each of my favourite New Zealand and Australian designers, and am emailed any new listings each morning. Find out what designers you like, what size you are in their ranges and what styles suit you. I take a quick look each morning over a coffee and will only bid on an item that is in new or near new condition.
3. Opshops – I’m not fantastic at opshopping, I don’t have the patience or the right eye, but I do have a one friend who pretty much buys all her clothes from opshops and she is one of the most stylish woman I know! Think of it like a physical Trademe store.
4. Chainstores – These are still a really good option for items you or your friends know will wear well, for accessories or for trend based items that you are happy will only last a few months.

GET FIT FASHION (EVEN IF YOU’RE JUST GOING FOR COFFEE)

Without a doubt the most comfortable outfit in my wardrobe is my gym gear – leggings, a tee and trainers. If only I could wear this everyday! I guess if I was a daily gym goer I could, but keeping it real, that’s just not going to happen. Luckily, thanks to the current fit inspired fashion taking over the catwalks and style guides around the globe, you can now sport your leggings daily without worrying about judgemental glares when people see your leggings cruising around like they think they are pants.

fit fashion 1

I love this style loop hole, now I can go about my day all casually smug, looking just like a girl who could have just had a damn hard workout, for someone that is equal parts lazy and a procrastinator, faking a gym visit is often as good as it gets. No one needs to know that in reality all the lunging I’ve done was stretching over the tornado of toys my toddler left in the kitchen so I can flick the jug on for a cuppa.

Now although I’m not into following trends for the sake of being trendy, the fact fit fashion is so ‘in’, means that sports brands are really stepping up their game and providing more variety and style within their ranges than ever.

With the likes of Lululemon now gracing our shores and Stella McCartney lending her design prowess to Adidas, it’s easier than ever to look stylish when working up a sweat (or not in my case). For a cheaper option, and my usual go-to, Cotton On Body is definitely worth checking out, in fact I just saw they have 40% off everything online today only (just enter the code PRECHRISTMAS40 at checkout). If quality and support are important to you, I’d advise waiting for the big Boxing Day / New Year sales that Rebel Sport etc have each year.

work out

Here’s a few styling tips…
* This is not an excuse to wear your baggy-kneed trackies and holy tees people!
* Don’t go too bright with your clothing options, neutral tops and bottoms work best. Save the colour and pattern for your trainers and sports bras. Think of them as your ‘accessories’.
*If you’re not used to wearing this type of clothing, choose a silhouette that mirrors your wardrobe. E.G I usually wear skinny jeans and a tee most days, so leggings and a loose tee/singlet work for me.

HOME RENO: MASTER BEDROOM

bed aaI have always dreamed of an epic walk-in-wardrobe, I actually squealed when I saw what Big built Carrie in Sex & the City, now that’s love. You can imagine my heartbreak when the scaled back version of our extension meant no walk-in-wardrobe and to twist the knife further, no ensuite. I admit I moped around like a deeply heart broken woman for days.

Once I got over my perfect example of a first world problem, I really enjoyed making the most out of the space we had. First we built a ‘headboard’ that ran the width of the room behind the bed. With such a basic square bedroom, we wanted to add some architectural interest and it’s the perfect spot to add art work and other special things.
bed2We placed a large mirror opposite sliding doors, that will eventually go out to a private tropical inspired courtyard (check back on me in a few years to see if we have completed that yet!), to make the most of the abundance of natural light. The mirror is one of my very favourite possessions, I bought it for a clothing boutique I owned many many years ago, from an amazing store called Haunt in Lyttelton (anyone know if it’s still around?). Incredibly it has made it through five house moves following me as I gypsied around the country. I just love the look of the festoon lights around it!
bed4bed16bed11bed5bed23bed3The room is quite small, so creating a feeling of spaciousness was paramount. Luckily the high raked ceilings give the illusion of the room being a lot bigger than what it really is. We managed to steal some space out of the dining room to give us a very generous wardrobe the full length and height of the room, allowing all our clothing and storage to be housed behind three huge 2.4 metre stacking sliding doors. This meant no need for extra furniture taking up valuable space within the bedroom itself. We also took our king size bed off the ‘feet’, so it sat lower to the ground, you would surprised what a big difference that made to the overall sense of space.bed40I love the bedroom we have created, it has a very relaxed vibe, my little escape from the world. I almost don’t even care about the walk-in-wardrobe and ensuite anymore (almost).bed21Linen Duvet: Nest
Cushions: Pony Rider
Bedside Tables: Citta Design via Paperplane
Festoon Lights: Flux Boutique
Leather Pouf: Let Liv
Hanging Basket: Ponsonby Plant Store
Light: Lighting Plus

NEW HAIR, NEW ME?

Apart from an ill advised Posh Spice inspired pixie cut in the late 90’s, I’ve always had really, really long hair. It’s kind of been my thing. But more and more recently I’ve been feeling like I’m a bit too old for it. Does that make sense? I’ve got a daughter who is 15 this month, and I don’t want to look like I’m trying to be ‘one of the girls’ with her (the fact we both wear skinny jeans and converse everywhere already has me at high risk of that).

The Inspiration
I’m really love the ‘lob’ (long bob) style a lot of people are wearing, they look chic yet edgy and I like still having a bit of length so you can wear your hair up. This is vital as I’m pretty sure like all busy women, my go to hair style is a two second top knot. Two of my favourite fashion bloggers have hair styles I’ve been coveting – Julie Sarinana of Sincerely Jules and Sara Donaldson of Harper and Harley. Both have the length and style I love, and Julia’s colour is just stunning.

hair inspo collage

The Hair Stylist
Armed with these pics I went to visit my hairdresser of a few years, Fiona Clare. Fiona moved to Auckland last year, where she is working as a hair stylist and makeup artist, as well as blogging and filming hair and makeup tutorials for her youtube channel (all links at bottom of post). I nearly had an anxiety attack when I heard she was leaving, but thankfully she still visits the Bay every few weeks to keep her clients happy. This girl is incredible, her talent is matched only by her gorgeous personality.

fiona quote 3

The Result
beforeafter collage

Fiona has described the methods used…
Colour – I used the back combing technique applying lightener to the hair that’s not brushed upwards and once combed out you get a gorgeous soft gradual lightness to the hair with no visible lines, this is where the term ballayage comes from. I focussed the placement of colour mainly underneath and higher up around the face to enhance the length in the front and give that sun kissed look.

Cut – I kept the length very blunt to achieve a real fullness about the style which is also what gives it an edge. I ever so slightly gave the front pieces more length to draw your eye down, showing off the lighter pieces more. To add a little texture and lift to the top layer only (so the hair doesn’t fall too flat) I textured the top layer on the ends to create lift and body.

Now what do I really think?
I love it! It’s the shortest I’ve had my hair since that awful Posh Spice moment, it has given so much health, volume and movement to my hair. I felt instantly mature and classy, it got me thinking, can a change of style give you a change of personality? Or perhaps it’s just when you’re ready for a change, it inspires you to alter your hair style to match the new you?

Regardless, I’m off now to check the stock markets while sipping on herbal tea, because, you know, I’m all mature now.

hair collage

To see more of Fiona’s incredible work you can find her blog at
http://fiona-wright.blogspot.co.nz and her youtube channel full of inspiring tutorials here.

THE LITTLE MOMENTS

Every now and then I decide I’m going to really get my priorities straight, appreciate the little moments in life and value what’s most important. Stop stressing about other peoples opinions, the future, my lack of fabulous new sandals for summer and the ability to buy them TODAY. I usually last a few days and then I’m back to my not so positive ways. Does anyone else feel that way?

It’s December 1st, the first day of summer, seems like the perfect time to start something new and awesome. And have I got something awesome for you! Let me introduce you to Photo a Day by Chantelle AKA Fat Mum Slim. Chantelle is kind of a big deal, her blog Fat Mum Slim is one of Australia’s most popular blogs year after year (definitely one of my personal favourites) and her Photo a Day challenge has tens of thousands of members! What I love about it is it’s a really practical way to make sure I’m searching out those beautiful little moments every day that are just waiting to be noticed.

Photo A Day gives you a prompt each day of the month to take a photo of, some prompts are easy, like today’s is ‘fruit’, other’s are more open ended like ‘joy is’, ‘sign’, and ‘this is interesting’ . For my fruit pic, I took these in a few minutes during lunch with my daughter Ava.
fruit

Here’s the complete Photo A Day List for December
december-photoaday-2-1024x1024

Following these daily cues gets you thinking creatively and seeking out beauty in your everyday life, whether your working 50 hours a week in the corporate world, or 100 hours a week as a stay at home mum, we could all use more of that!

To make it even easier Chantelle has created an fantastic app Little Moments. Not only is it a fantastic photo editor, it also sends you a message each morning with your photo prompt for that day. Then you can share your photos through a Photo a Day Facebook group, on instagram or twitter – how involved you get is really up to you. For me the focus really is just on ensuring I get inspired by the beauty that’s around me everyday, that often I’m to busy to notice. By enjoying these little moments, it can help balance out the not so great things that happen in life.

For those of you that would like more details on The Photo a Day challenge, Chantelle goes into more detail here.