Sunday, 1 March 2015

Featured: Not Dressed As Lamb in Today's Sunday Times Style Magazine

Hobbs SS15 black and white gingham dress
I'm so proud to have been featured in the Sunday Times Style magazine today! The photo they used was absolutely gorgeous (thank you to photographer Billie Scheepers for such a great shot) and I thought I'd share it in its full length glory on the blog. For the feature we were asked to wear our favourite SS15 pieces from the high street, so I went with Hobbs after falling head over heels in love with their fit-and-flare blue eyelet dress last year.

[I must just say that in contrast to Friday's post about how being a full time fashion blogger is totally unglamorous, this was in fact one of those rare - and special - times when it's quite the opposite. If only I could be doing this more often...!]

I'm wearing the Mono Twitchill Dress, a black and white gingham fit-and-flare midi dress, with the yellow Alderley bag and the black Skye courts. In case you missed it I documented the shoot (back in December) on my Instagram feed, and one of the best parts of the day was getting to meet ex Clothes Show presenter Caryn Franklin. I am so pleased to say she was beyond lovely, and didn't get creeped out when I got all fan-girly on her and gushed about how I used to love watching the show. And asked her about her beautiful silver hair. While she was trying to get changed. (God this sounds awful now I'm writing it down...!) If she was scared she was very nice and didn't show it :)

The feature is really great, but it did make me long for so many new things that I saw online whilst researching my SS15 picks (be warned, bank balance). Apart from the Hobbs dress and bag, I picked out some fabulous block heeled, embellished silver shoes by Asos and a pair of abstract-print trousers from new brand Finery London (see below).

Any favourite SS15 high street picks you've seen? What are you hankering after for the new season - do share in the comments!

The Sunday Times Style magazine

The Sunday Times Style magazine

Sunday Times Style magazine shoot
Main outfit: Dress: Hobbs Mono Twitchill Dress | Bag: Hobbs Alderley Bag | Heels: Hobbs | Second outfit: Coat: Hobbs Viera coat (not available till May) | Trousers: Jaeger Animal Print Cropped trousers | Flats: Hobbs Ardie Derbies

Shop the look:

Catherine x
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Main photo: Billie Scheepers | Linking up to: Visible Monday, Let It Shine, Share in Style, Monday Mingle, Style Sessions, Trend Spin Link-Up, What I Wore Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Passion for Fashion Friday, Fashion Friday, Friday's Fab Favourites

Friday, 27 February 2015

What It's REALLY Like Being a Full Time Fashion Blogger (Who's Not a Super Blogger)

What it's really like being a full time fashion blogger (who's not a super blogger)
Being a full-time fashion blogger, to those who are either hobby or non-bloggers, may appear (on the surface) to be an endless round of attending fashion events and receiving free designer clothes. However, nothing could be further from the truth for me.

It wasn't until I received a comment on my Bloopers and Outtakes post a few weeks back that I was inspired to explain what it's really like being a full time fashion blogger (who's not a super blogger). I'm pretty certain my life is nothing like Chiara Ferragni's or Nicole Warne's so I was taken aback a little when I read this comment:
"...I hesitate to click through to your blog sometimes when I see your posts popping up in Bloglovin, as I class it under one of my "uuurrrrggghhhh life is so perfect there, I can't be bothered to look at that perfect version of life now" blogs. I think you may just have gained a loyal reader in me with this post. You are normal... your body is not stick thin (you do have curves)! You obviously do laugh at yourself! Wonderful post. Loved it."
What struck me was that a reader had actually thought (before seeing the bloopers) that my life was "perfect" and that I had a "stick thin body". I was taken aback by the comment because I have never, ever thought either of those two things about myself, neither before nor after becoming a full time fashion blogger.

I gave a lengthy reply explaining what my life is really like - and this post is basically an extension of what I said there.

The thing to remember is that my outfit photos aren't an actual representation of my life - they're staged photos showing off what I'm wearing only. Photo shoots done on holiday are different - as are those done when we've gone out somewhere for the day - but 80% of the time they're just taken outside my parents' or sister's house, or along the country lane just down the road from where we live, or on the path along the river down to to the local supermarket. Nothing at all glamorous about any of those places!
The thing to remember is that my outfit photos aren't an actual representation of my life - they're staged photos showing off what I'm wearing
Secondly, I am quite, quite normal - but this of course depends on your definition of the word. We all come in all shapes and sizes, and truthfully we all know there isn't a right or wrong size. I also don't have a 'perfect' life at all (but then what does that mean anyway)? I might think that Living in LA = Perfect Life, simply because the weather is so great all year round... I'm sitting in cold and rainy England writing this. To me, that's not in the slightest bit perfect or ideal. Yet I'm sure my humdrum tales of travelling up to The Big Smoke will make many a non-Brit go all misty-eyed and long for the adventure of a few days in London; it's all relative.

So I've broken down what - for me - life is really like. I may be a full time fashion blogger but unlike the Chiaras and Nicoles of the blogging world I don't constantly jet around the world and design collections with top brands. Here it is: The good, the bad, and the ugly (but in reverse)...!

The Ugly
If you're thinking it's all glamour - nothing could be further from the truth. For example...
  • I work from home. Some days what I'm wearing is so utterly uncoordinated that I'm ashamed to answer the door.
  • I have as many bad hair days, bad skin days, feeling-fat-because-my-skinny-jeans-are-so-tight days as the next girl.
  • Much of the time I'm in my onesie all morning and then finally get dressed at 1pm - just jeans and a sweatshirt - because I'm not leaving the house. Or I'll put my workout gear on in the morning even though I'm not exercising till the evening, but I can't be arsed to change later (or I want to save on washing). So not glamorous.
  • My bedroom is nearly always a tip because I'm trying on everything to wear and don't have time to put it all away immediately because I have to get out the door and catch the last light to get a photo shoot in. My dressing table is a bombsite.
  • I work past midnight most evenings to "try and get it all done" before the next day then wake up feeling absolutely shattered. I never feel like a glamorous fashion blogger in the mornings. Or the afternoon. Maybe a little when I've done my hair and make up and I'm off out in the evening.
  • I can easily put on 7lbs in a week (it's happened before) if I eat too much and stop exercising - having a sedentary job means I have to be really careful about my diet and fitness routine.
  • Most Instagrams of bloggers' work areas would have you believe we all have beautiful white gloss desks with only peonies in a vase and a laptop (completely wireless) on it. I have a dusty desk with a PC and huge widescreen monitor, leads coming out out of everywhere and piles of notebooks and nail files/nail polishes all over the place. I'm not going to Instagram that.
  • Standing outside in the winter in a party dress is no fun when it's only a few degrees above freezing. I long for the summer months when the days are longer and the temperatures are higher and I'm not biting off my husband's head while he fiddles with the camera's settings and prolongs my freezing agony.
  • Keeping accounts, creating invoices, doing your tax return and chasing payment is no-one's idea of glamour. I don't have an accountant or an assistant, much as I'd like both.
  • Trying to budget for anything is hard when you don't have a regular income. If clients delay their payments you may receive hardly any money at all coming into your account one month, and then a mini windfall the next.

The Bad
Then there are the things that seem bad, or annoying, or a chore, but they're actually pretty great if I stop and think about it because they wouldn't happen if it wasn't for the blogging. Moaning about it to other people makes it sound like you're ungrateful. For example...
  • Some days I can receive up to five deliveries: 1. Things I've ordered because I keep seeing great-stuff-I-can't-stop-myself-buying on other blogs; 2. Things my husband has ordered because he now has a blog too; 3. Freebies from brands (yay). Constantly jumping up to answer the doorbell does get a little testing when you're trying to work from home, however.
  • As a result of all the deliveries and parcels we get, there is almost always a mountain of packaging that needs to be sorted in the middle of the living room floor and I never seem to be able to keep on top of it.
  • If I'm doing something for a brand or magazine and I need to go to London (95% of things are in London), I often have to catch the stupid-o'clock train to get there (the 06:51). Over two hours on the train getting a cricked neck and bemoaning my lack of sleep and dark circles under my eyes is not fun - then I have to do it all again in reverse to come home the same day.
  • I get a constant stream of emails offering me "the best deal ever": Pick something from a brand that sells $15 dresses and write all about in a blog post and follow up on social media. If $15 dresses were edible I'd never have to buy food again. Or I could burn them and save on heating bills....?
  • Haggling over fees with brands and PRs isn't exactly ideal and sometimes I wish for a fixed salary again - then I remember that I am in control of my earning power, and no one else.
  • I had a look at the posts I published in December and January and counted how many outfit posts I published: it was 16 in total. So out of 62 days, I only featured what I wore on 16 of them. That's roughly 1 in 4 days. But it's nice to look back and see that I did make an effort on some days at least.

The Good
Now these things do sound more glamorous, though these opportunities take up a very small percentage of my time. Working for myself is also a huge benefit. For example...
  • I won a competition last year with Fever London last year to model their SS14 collection with four other bloggers. We all had a vintage makeover and there were about six outfit changes - we were shooting in the street in central London. But it was February and it was really, really cold.
  • I've done photo shoots for three magazines now: with Rachel the Hat for Woman & Home, for Good Housekeeping (April 2015, to come out 1st March), and for the Sunday Times Style (coming out 1st March as well). Getting your hair and make up done and trying on fabulous clothes never gets tiring.
  • I won a competition to become a brand ambassador for La Redoute for a year and got to go to Paris for three days. Need I explain more...?!
  • As a freelancer I have complete freedom to do with my time whatever I feel like doing and when. In the summer I can spend the day outside relaxing and then work in the evening when it's cooler. In the winter I can snuggle up in my home office wearing three pairs of socks, a blanket over my legs and keep a hot water bottle on standby without looking unprofessional or like a bag lady (to my colleagues, if I had them).
  • No two days are ever the same, and you never know what you may be offered next. I'm totally addicted to checking my emails because I am so excited about what the day could bring in terms of brands to work with or a "fan letter" (for want of a better expression) from a reader. Those days are the absolute best.

Blogger photo shoot
Above left: Getting my hair done for the Francesco Group photo shoot; Above right: Good Housekeeping photo shoot. If only this were a "normal" day for me...!

So when I say I'm just as 'normal' as the next person hopefully you see what I mean. The outfits I publish are the slightly more dressed up times, but that's because I want to give inspiration to those who may not dress up ever, or to those who want to change things up a bit, or to those who are afraid of wearing bright colours and in their forties and are looking for 'permission' to do so. As Amber wrote in her post Are Fashion Bloggers Fake?:
"...Most bloggers (myself included) carefully select which aspects of their lives they want to share with the internet."
Me, too. In order to make women feel positive about themselves I feel a responsibility to be as positive as I can be, whilst retaining a sense of normality and a touch of honesty about the whole thing.
In order to make women feel positive about themselves I feel a responsibility to be as positive as I can be, whilst retaining a sense of normality and a touch of honesty
I hope that I do that... I have enough loyal (and brutally honest!) readers who would definitely tell me if I was losing my touch on reality.

I'm basically very lucky to be doing something that I love, and to love what I'm doing (which isn't too much to ask from a job, is it). I never, ever thought I'd be one of those people who does a job that they absolute adore doing - it can just be a bit crazy sometimes and not really make sense. Take photos of yourself and put them on the internet? As a job?! That's just bonkers.

The thing that tickles me most about being a full time fashion blogger is that as I don't have a 9-5 any more I work from home rather than going to an office every day (like I used to). So that means I have more excuses to stay in my onesie all day. And in turn that means I have to make much more of an effort now to dress up in order to have non-pyjama outfits to feature on the blog.

How ironic is that...??
Catherine x
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P.S. Like this post? You might enjoy reading how I created my own at-home glamour: How To Star In Your Very Own Luxury Brand Advertising Campaign

Linking up to: Let It ShineBrilliant Blog PostsFriday's Fab FavouritesSunday Funday

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

What to Wear on a Luxury Yacht for Summer 2015 | Grace Kelly Inspired

Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
I am so excited to be publishing these pictures - I've got sea, sky, the most beautiful light imaginable and full-on nautical style. Every so often a magical photo shoot happens, and this was one of those times. So why am I down at the coast (the wonderfully named fishing village of Beer in Devon) I hear you ask?

We photographed these pictures down by the sea because I've entered the OCEAN Exclusive Blogger Challenge to create my perfect yacht outfit for summer 2015 - what I would like to wear on one of their yachts, in other words. I thought it would be impolite to wear anything other than nautical style - so it's white and navy all the way. As the prize involves a day trip to Monaco (how amazing would that be), I also thought it fitting to be inspired by Monaco's most famous princess, Grace Kelly. I gave a 50s-style outfit a modern twist with a bold navy and white tunic dress over navy slacks, striped pointed espadrilles and that essential accessory for any aspiring Princess Grace: the wide-brimmed sun hat.

The photos show me down at the harbour waiting for my dream yacht to come and pick me up - the yacht of my dreams would be a navy and white yacht called "Belle Isle" which I chose because it coordinates perfectly with my outfit. Of course, I'd only travel on yachts that don't clash with my outfit choice, darling. And the interior and the deck are to-die-for. A girl can dream, right...?!!

So who knows, maybe I'll get to go to Monaco for the day. Fingers crossed for me in the competition :)

It may still be freezing in many parts of the world but I am SO looking forward to some warmth coming our way very soon - it was nice to "think summer" putting this outfit together. Are you into nautical looks? What would YOU wear on a luxury yacht (and have you been on one?), I'd love to know!

Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat
Nautical style: Navy blue and white stripes, floppy hat, espadrilles
Nautical style: Navy blue and white floppy hat, cat eye sunglasses
Tunic dress: Asos Trousers: Asos Shoes: Asos / Hat: Asos / Sunglasses: c/o Lulus (similar sunglasses) / Watch: Fossil / Nails: Models Own Chrome Blue

Shop the look (and the yacht ;)


Catherine x
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P.S. Like this outfit? You might also enjoy two other nautical-inspired posts from the archives: Tribal Maxi Dress At The Quay and All I Need Now is a Yacht!

Photos: Silver Londoner | Linking up to: Visible Monday, Let It Shine, Share in Style, Monday Mingle, Style Sessions, Trend Spin Link-Up, What I Wore Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Passion for Fashion Friday, Fashion FridayFriday's Fab Favourites

This is a competition entry for the OCEAN Exclusive Blogger Challenge. I have not been compensated by Ocean.