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How To Pick The Perfect Birthday Dress

Ahhhh, birthdays. The day where you ignore the panic of being another year older whilst still thinking that Disney films are the best films around by eating sickening amounts of cake, opening presents and spending time with all of your favourite people. Who doesn’t love their birthday?

Truthfully, I never used to be one for celebrating them much. I was always down for the low key celebrations, the meal with your family, the Costa catch up. My last few birthdays though I have decided to celebrate a little more by getting a group of friends together to go out and do something fun. As you get older, people’s lives tend to fill up with work and relationships and other commitments. Birthdays are a great excuse to gather together all of the people you love and then make memories with them.

This year I chose to do a cocktail making class, see a band and then go out into Leeds. I had a brilliant time, everyone I loved came and I can honestly say it was my best birthday yet.

Rewind to just before the night out though and I faced the biggest dilemma for any birthday girl – the outfit. Arguably this dilemma happens not just for birthdays but for any big event.

You want to look glamorous but not over the top. You want to be comfortable but stylish. You want to be prepared for however the night goes. You want to stand out but for all the right reasons. Birthday (event) outfits are the worst because they have to many boxes to tick but all of which contradict each other.

So I’ve devised a simple checklist to help me plan an outfit that I thought I’d share with all of you lovely readers!

1. Does it hint at your personality? It’s easy to fall into the same pattern with outfits – buy something simple and plain and hope that your smile jazzes it up. Events are not times to blend into the wallpaper and play it safe. If you see something and love it, even if it wouldn’t be something you’d usually wear, then go for it! You might as well. My birthday dress was covered in studs, hinting at the punk side of my personality. I tend to always wear black so my dress was black. Thinking about who you are and what clothes you like makes sure that you buy a dress that is ‘you’ and fits you like a second skin rather than picking something simply because it is on trend.

2. Are you comfortable in it? There is absolutely nothing worse than picking an outfit that you know you will spend half of the night worrying about or pulling up. Events are for fun and socialising, not being paranoid that you look a mess. I never bother about what size I have to buy my dress in as long as it makes me feel comfortable and I know 3 cocktails in I won’t be panicking is too tight.

3. Is it cost effective? We all want to look good for an event, but all also want money to spend at the event. Spending hundreds of pounds on a dress that you will wear once is not value for money. Think about if you will wear it again, if it fits in your budget, if you were to resell it you would make a good return.

4. Is it something everyone else will be wearing? You know the dress – beautiful, expensive looking, so nice that everyone will want it and yes, everyone will buy it. There is nothing worse than being in the same outfit as someone else. You both awkwardly catch each others eye and share a tight smile whilst panicking that you have inadvertently entered a ‘Who Wore It Best?’ competition.

5. Will it go out of style? There’s no point buying something that you will wear once, simple as. It’s a waste of your time and money. If something is an obscure trend for all of 2 weeks, the chances are you will have wasted your money. Think carefully about what cuts and styles and colours you will always like and will always suit your body shape, then go from there.

They are the 5 questions I ask myself every time I buy a ‘special’ dress. This is the dress I ended up wearing for my birthday:

dress

Missguided premium studded black dress

Ignore my slightly award post in the photo but I hope you like the dress! Here are a few other items I have bought for events over the years based on my questions… and yes they are all little black dresses ha!

What questions do you ask yourself when buying a dress for an occasion?

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Reasons to Love Being Newly Single

When I first found myself single after spending four years with my partner, I was absolutely terrified. I simply couldn’t imagine myself without this other person. Sure I had my own friends and career and social life, but we were always ‘Jess and Niall’. Cards were addressed to the both of us, we were both invited places, our names intertwined like vines. I’d tell funny anecdotes about our time together and we would share plans and adventures together. I felt like so much of my identity was wrapped up in his and ours that going back to being just me was terrifying. What if I didn’t like myself? What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I didn’t have anything to offer as a unit of one?

All I can say now is ‘how silly’.

I cannot express how happy I am. Sure there are times I miss being in a relationship and what we had, but I am learning how much I actually like myself. As a unit of one I am still fun, I am still kind, I am still brave and adventurous. I am enough. In fact, I am more than enough.

This blog post is going to be all about the things I have learnt as a newly single twenty-something. In the short space of being single – just shy of two months now – I feel like I have become reacquainted with myself, my passions and my dreams.

So here it is, why being newly single is great!

1. You can be totally and utterly selfish. Now I know some people in relationships are still selfish, but I know that I wasn’t. I always put the relationship first and made decisions based on what would be best for the both of us even if sometimes it wasn’t fully what I wanted. Trust me, I didn’t want to spend money to watch Fast and Furious films at the cinema but I did because I was in love. But now? Now I can do what I want, when I want. I watch what I want, make plans when I want. It’s the simple things like binge watching a TV show or having an extra long bath that I usually wouldn’t have done that are really keep me smiling. I am enjoying having no one to think of but myself.

2. You get time to have a beauty regime. I have always been a girl who wants a beauty regime, but felt rushed off my feet. I’d forget to cleanse and tone, and I couldn’t remember the last time I moisturised my body! Now that’s not to say that Niall didn’t let me do these things, but I always struggled balancing my job, relationship and an array of different friendships. Looking after myself and my skin, going to the gym and eating right always took a back seat to ensuring that the people in my life were happy and satisfied, but now I can actively focus my spare time on those things. I can honestly say I have never felt better and sometimes when I look at photos (dare I say it) I think I even look quite pretty!

3. You learn who and what matters. This one is a blessing and a curse, but ultimately is one that needs to happen. The shock of a sudden breakup when everything felt so settled really shows you who matters and who you matter to. My family have been a rock and I’ve learnt that I need to appreciate them all the time, not just in moments of crisis. There are friends who I would have thought would have been there for me who have been near invisible and ones who I didn’t expect to be there for me who have been stars. I have learnt who matters and who I matter to, and that is a good thing. It has shown me where to spend my time and who to spend my time with in the future.

4. You try new things. Everything around you is all of a sudden so different to how you imagined it would be that you decide that you might as well start trying new things as well. I’ve tried new foods, gone new places, put myself out there and in the process I have felt my confidence soaring. I don’t hesitate when I am asked to do things and even if it means some weekends I end up more tired than I left work on Friday, I am happy.

5. My wardrobe has never looked better. It’s true what people say about wanting to reinvent yourself at the end of a breakup. Everything around you is so different and you have a new start to face/look forward to and a new look just goes hand in hand with that! I’ve saved a lot of money from being single and not spending time doing ‘coupley’ things and I have reinvested that money in my wardrobe. I now choose to dress up more rather than being comfortable in my ‘basics’ and wearing essentially the same outfit again and again. I am really enjoying pushing my styling and trying new looks. A breakup is a chance for a new start and a style evolution and it is one that I am LOVING embracing.

6. You learn the importance of loving and accepting yourself. I am probably one of the most insecure people I know. Having a birthmark on your forehead will do that to you! But a huge part of getting over a break up is healing yourself and in part of healing myself I feel like I have been working on healing my relationship with myself. Of course there are still things about myself I would like to change, but I am learning to accept them and embrace them. There are things I like and they are the things I choose to enhance and the things I don’t like quite so much are things I choose to work on or simply accept. I’ve enjoyed becoming reacquainted with myself and the things about myself that make me proud and feel good, as well as learning how to embrace my flaws.

7. You become more focused on your dreams. The sole reason for my breakup was because we both wanted different things that were not compatible. It would have been easy to back down on my dreams and give up on them to keep what we had, but I knew that if I did that then I would not be true to myself. Those dreams are what I have spent my whole life chasing and I am not a person who can live with ‘What If?’ Ultimately I know now that whatever happens I can always say that I chased my passions and stayed true to myself. Breaking up has made me more determined than ever to chase my dreams and make them a reality.

8. You learn a lot about yourself and that actually you are enough. I was terrified when I first became single. So much of my ‘growing up’ years were spent with another person. I saw so much of myself as a unit and an ‘us’ that seeing myself as just who I am scared me. I was plagued with doubts about not liking myself and not knowing if I was enough, but every day I am seeing more and more of who I am. I know I aren’t perfect but I also know that I am doing all I can to get to a place where I am happy. I am learning that I am creative, hardworking, passionate, daring… I could go on. The important thing is that I am seeing myself as myself, the person, and liking what I see.

There are so many more things I could write about. I have shocked myself, impressed myself and sometimes scared myself in this time, all of which is incredibly exciting. I can’t wait to see where I am going to go or what will happen next.

To anyone out there who is single or newly single or thinking that their relationship might be over, all I want to say to you is ‘DO NOT BE SCARED’. There will be times of sadness and self doubt, of tears and upset, but there will also be times of laughter, strength and clarity. You will understand yourself more than you ever have in your life. You will learn things you didn’t know, accept things and embrace things. You will continue to grow into who you are and I PROMISE it will be fabulous!

quite

New Season, New Style, New Me

The new changes in my life (see my last blog post for more details) mean that I feel in the place for a bit of reinvention, and I mean that in a good way. With all breakups, I feel like this is a chance to evolve who I am to suit this new lifestyle. I want to reinvent myself not to change who I am but to change who I am to reflect this new confidence.

I sometimes think the word ‘reinvention’ is a little misleading. I aren’t trying to change who I am or become a new person. In reality I am trying to evolve more into the person that deep down I know I am, the person that might not be liked by everyone but is who she wants to be. I feel like as a young woman nowadays, we all spend too long editing ourselves, toning ourselves down and shying away from who we are just in case it offends someone else or we might not seem to be perfect 24/.

Being newly single is a terrifying, but mostly it feels like a breath of fresh air. I can be selfish and impulsive and lazy and high energy and messy and hardworking and it is fine. I don’t have to edit myself or think about how my actions impact on anyone else. As much as I loved my relationship and was happy, I feel like the pressure to be this person that is perfect isn’t there so much anymore, and if it is then I am choosing to ignore it. The only person I want to please nowadays is myself and for me that starts with heading straight to the wardrobe for a bit of remodelling/reinvention.

Luckily for me my breakup coincided with new seasons which means new styles. I have always loved winter fashion as I love being cosy, however I struggle with layers and a worry of looking ‘chubby’. I like to try look a little edgy but struggle to find outfits that aren’t standard knitwear and jeans. However, this season I’ve gone straight for punk inspired skirts to add a kick of life to my wardrobe.

As per usual, I headed straight over to ASOS where I picked up these two skirts:

skirt

I love how edgy they are with the corset and zip detailing. There’s something a little tough about them, a little ‘Don’t Mess With Me’ which is an attitude I want to adopt more. I don’t want to be the meek, little Jess I know I can fall into being. Instead I want to be the Jess that pursues her dreams no matter what the cost, who feels comfortable in her skin and confident enough to wear what she wants, lace up, zips, studs, sparkles and all.

This is just the start of my reinvention and the first few purchases I have made but I already know there will be many more to come – sorry bank balance! However I can’t wait to see where I end up – and what I buy next!

What key items are you adding to your new season wardrobe?

The New New Normal

Apologies for the weird title of this blog post but it was the only way I could think of starting to express what I am going to write next.

I started this blog when I had lost a close friend and then on the day of their funeral I also lost my grandad unexpectedly. At the time I felt lost and a little less certain of who I was and where my life was going. My blog was a space that I escaped to where I could experiment posting all sorts of things that interested me – from fashion to music to opinion posts to travel. My blog documented my ‘new normal’ and all that that meant for me.

Recently, an even bigger change happened in my ‘new normal’ – my partner of 4 years and I decided it was time to end our relationship. Whilst the decision was mutual, it also wasn’t easy but we have grown into two different people who want two different things that were incompatible. We are still friendly (we still live together – moving from a couple to roommates could be a blog series in itself!) but I can honestly say that I am now in a place where I am so optimistic for my new found future. Everything that once seemed scary now seems exciting and after a break from blogging just to take time for myself, I am ready to get back into action!

I wanted to post this to explain my long silence on my blog as well as to hint about what some of my future posts may be about. My life this year has changed and evolved in so many ways that I would not have imagined on New Years Eve, but I am in a head space where not only am I happy with these changes but I am more positive than ever for the future.

So I can only apologise for my silence – I have missed blogging and reading your posts so much – but I can also only promise a much better online presence as well as a insights into my new life, new outlook and how I got to this place.

So here is the New New Normal and the new Jess – pleased to meet you.

rainbow

I took this photo when leaving work yesterday and feel like it sums up a lot of my new outlook and the changes in my life.

My Most Treasured Possession

I am the girl who forgets to accessorise. I have an abundance of necklaces and earrings that people have bought me over the years, yet I always forget to put them on. It’s not because I don’t like jewellery or that I hate it to wear it, I just simply forget to wear those last pieces.

I envy those girls who remember. They look so cool, letting their statement pieces do the talking, their rose gold and sparkly embellishments glinting at me and making me realise I am accessory naked.

There is one piece, however, that I never forget to put on. It’s my most favourite possession and I thought I’d share it with you.

hands
My partner Niall bought me this Alexander McQueen skull ring for my birthday, the first birthday we spent together. I’d been utterly obsessed with it for a while, as I am with all things McQueen. I love the red gems in the eyes of the skull, I love the publish style to it, I love how heavy it weighs on my hand. It always makes me feel a little tougher, a little edgier, a little bolder. I love the memory of going into Selfridges and picking it out, rosy cheeked and wide eyed. It’s without a doubt my favourite possession and probably the one thing I’d rescue from a burning building.
What is your favourite possession?

Imminent Overhaul

There comes a time, roughly around every year for me, where I feel the need for a style overhaul. I get tired of wearing the same clothes and feeling like I always look the same. Last night I went to see the goddess that is Lana Del Rey in Liverpool, and realised how much I simply adore her and her style. She is feminine yet edgy, stunning but cool about it. She performed last night in jeans, a black jumper, heels and had a slick of eyeliner on yet somehow looked out of this world.

 

That’s the kind of look I want to be able to recreate. I want to look casual, classy, carefree but also feminine, beautiful and timeless with a little edge. I want to look minimalist at first glance, but then interesting upon a second look. With Lana Del Rey as my inspiration, I have maimed my wardrobe and am ready for some new purchases.

 

So I did what any person wanting an overhaul would do – I had a little browse online. I thought I’d share with you my River Island wishlist from today:river island

River Island currently offer 25% off their womenswear collection if you buy this month’s ELLE magazine (I’m an avid subscriber). I’m currently waiting on payday, but when it finally arrives (roll on Friday), all of these goodies will be in my shopping basket.

 

I’ve tried to stick to a colour base of black, white, red, cream and a little blue, that way I can mix and match my new pieces. I hate it when I buy something that goes with nothing that I already own so have to keep purchasing. Plus, autumn is coming and I love nothing more than to stick to wearing darker colours and have pops of brighter shades like red to make my outfit a little less ‘blend into the background’. I’ve picked classic cuts like the blazer, but ‘punk’ patterns to toughen the look up a bit. I’ve chosen relaxed silhouettes for the day, but outfits that will emphasise my waist and hourglass figure for the night. I’m an avid embroidery fan, as you may already know, and stick a few studs or embellishments next to that embroidery and I am sold!

 

I’ll keep you up to date with my style overhaul and any other purchases I may make. Hopefully pretty soon I will start to feel excited by my wardrobe again.

Who is your style crush? What’s on your autumn wishlist?

Croatia 

I have spent the last week traveling in Croatia, spending the majority of my time in Split and Hvar. This post will be a bit different to a travel blog because I’d rather tell you about the bits you want to know about than recounting my entire trip away. Therefore, I will share some of my favourite photos from the trip, a list of the few activities that we did there and will leave the comments box for you to ask any questions you may have. That way my travel post is what you want to hear, not just a list of what I did – hope you like the pictures!



 Some of the things we did:

* walked to a fort

* went off-road biking

* boat rides to islands

* saw sunset at different spots

* went to the national park in Split

* yacht spotted

* went on a night out

* shopped at the markets