Agency casual

Let’s call this outfit of the day, “agency casual”. I have been working in the digital design field for about 10 years and if I had to choose an office uniform to define how I have dressed over that time, this would be it.

The accessories get updated every now and then but the core of it – the client-facing blazer with a nice top and jeans – always remains the same.

You’d think I would be absolutely sick of this look by now but if ever there were a clothes comfort zone this would be it!

Blazer: Zara (old)
Top: Topshop – Link!
Jeans: Paige – Link!
Shoes: Zara (old)
Sunglasses: Ray-Ban - Link!
Bag: Alexander Wang (similar colour – Link!)

While we are on the work theme, I often get asked whether I am a full time blogger – or whether I would like to be. Although the thought is sometimes very appealing the answer to both questions is a no. 

I think there is something nice about reserving blogging as a creative outlet and a hobby – an adjunct to something else that’s going on in life. It feels good/healthy to have that other dimension.

Much of my point of view probably stems from my age. I am not quite pension-collecting but the older I get the more I worry about sustaining my future. In this respect I always wonder about the full-timers. As cool as their lives seem I can’t imagine the anxiety levels associated with the reality that income is dependent on popularity. I should probably wise up in this regard though - I know that most of them are laughing all the way to the bank while I slave over a poxy PowerPoint presentation for pittance!

What do you think about blogging full-time?  

The Blush Tag

Well here we are again. In the makeup tag territory and spending an agonizing amount of time thinking of the right answer to each question. The focus this time is on blush, a product that I have always had an appalling weakness for as the first picture in this post will tell you.

How many blushes do you own?

I gave up counting at number 70. 

It’s embarrassing. What’s even more embarrassing is that this is my Dubai blush wardrobe – there are a few remaining in the UK. I can’t even pretend all this crap is for “my kit” – not unless a kit is defined as a personal hoarding. No, this is all for my face and my face only.

What is your favourite blush brush?

I am partial to a bit of Real Techniques blush brush action. If you held up a selection of brushes I would choose that one every time. It’s soft. It’s easy to work with. It’s pink. 

Cream vs. Powder

While I don’t discriminate against cream, on a day-to-day basis my reality is powder. It’s less high maintenance and just seems to sit better for longer. I always think that cream looks fresh and glowing but as the day goes on the more the makeup moves and the more “Picasso” my face becomes.

Peach vs. Pink and favourites of each

See the problem with this question lies in the distinction between peach and pink. It’s not that clear cut. What about the peachy-pinks or the pinky-peaches?

I realize that this is a whole other train of thought so I’ll try and keep to the question.

When I am shopping I look at every colour family but in reality I plump for the pinks on a more frequent basis.  My favourite pink would probably be MAC Well Dressed and long-time followers no doubt called that one as soon as they read the question. It’s a little light in pigmentation – not as much as Benefit’s Dandelion – and might look chalky on tanned or darker skin tones but it gives me a gorgeous glow and lift. Plopping this on my cheeks is the blush equivalent of “coming home”.

Now peaches…mmm…this is tricky. Does Benefit Coralista count? What about MAC Springsheen? And Laura Mercier “Lush Nectarine”? They would be my picks from that colour family.

Drugstore vs. High End and favourites of each

There is no makeup law that prescribes paying more equates to getting better and this is especially true for blusher. Sleek and Milani are some of my favourite brands and they are on the lower end of the budget scale. If I am going to go with a high-end option it’s going to be NARS. How predictable. How true.

Most overrated?

Can I replace overrated with disappointing? If we agree to that then there are lots of products I can bitch about.

Number 1 on that would be YSL Baby Doll Kiss and Blush. I bought two of these suckers – in a pink and a peach – and I just don’t think they are worth it. Insipid on the lips and “okay” on the cheeks but the price is just too high for such a median response.

If ever there was something I bought because it looked pretty it would be the limited edition MAC Sunset Beach blush ombre. Beautiful to look at in the packaging and yet almost invisible on the skin.

Tarte’s Exposed. I have whined about this before and the reason it qualifies as disappointing is due to how pink this pulls on my skin. I bought this because I thought it would be one of those neutral sculpting blushes but it just doesn’t translate like that at all on me. I’ll stick to NARS Douceur for that type of look.

Talking of NARS, let’s point the finger at the limited edition Rotonde – or should I just call it lurid orange with gold overspray in a pan? – and the Realm of the Senses Cheek Palette. Both look horrendous on me.

Most Underrated?

There is only one blusher that comes to mind here and it’s Laura Mercier’s Orange Blossom. I hear plenty of chatter about Lush Nectarine but seriously people it’s all about Orange Blossom. You will have to use your imagination when picturing this because mine has disappeared from my drawers but this is NARS Orgasm but better. 

Worth the hype?

How do I answer this exactly? Should I say brand or a particular product? I guess, in the case of the former, I would say NARS. Not everything they do is a success but I would say 8 times out of 10 they get it right.

Top 5 blushes everyone should own

I know top 5 sounds neat and everything but it’s a real pain to have to narrow choices down to such a finite number but okay, I’ll play along. This is what I declare must haves today and as with the lipstick tag that I did, this will change…weekly/daily/hourly J


MAC Well Dressed – it's already been mentioned but I couldn’t leave this one out. As obsessed now as I was when I first discovered it. This will be a companion for life.

MAC Full of Joy – now permanent this is a purple toned pink that manages to lift, highlight and colour your cheeks. There is something really special about this. Well Dressed hints at it in terms of the effect on your cheeks but Full of Joy seals the deal. Don’t be scared by the purple tone but do use a light hand.

Milani Luminous – I am really annoying here because this is a discontinued choice.

I have been using this colour for years and there is a little bit of magic in this peachy/pink number. Milani have a similar baked blusher in their line that is called Luminoso (same, same but different) but apparently it’s a little warmer in tone when compared to the original – thankfully I have a back up of my back up.

Me with Luminous slapped on

NARS Douceur – when I have a bit of a glow this is one of my favourite blushes to use. It’s that neutral tone that magically adds dimension to your face. NARS Madly is similar, if a little more peachy/tan.

Sleek Sahara – this is a scary blush but as with Douceur, if you have a tan then it will be a stunning choice. I wear this extremely lightly on the cheeks and heavy on the eyes. Yep, I use it on my eyes because that burnished terracotta tone brings out green eyeballs like nothing else.  

NB: Even as I write this I am thinking about the blushers I left out. MAC Otherworldy (LE), NARS Love, the By Terry Blush Glace, MAC Nuance, MAC Warm Soul, MAC Dainty….I hope they don’t feel sad about not making my top 5 on this occasion.

EDIT: CRAP! I forgot about Tarte’s Natural Beauty. Okay, that needs to be featured somewhere. It’s amazing. Buy it – you will love it.

What blushes are on your wish list?

It has to be the Charlotte Tilbury Beach Sticks. Now I know I said that I was more of a powder girl but the texture of this has to be tried to be believed. As I mentioned in my wish list post, I want them all.

A few more Tarte blushes also wouldn't go amiss :) 

Final thoughts

I have to say that I quite enjoy these tag posts. I am not sure if you do mind but I like the whole rooting through my collection "thing" that occurs as a result. Maybe I should do an eyeshadow one next....I am sure I have plenty to say :) 

It's all over

The holiday is over. It’s now time to do all the holiday washing, stop my skin from peeling and curse the reality of going back to work.

Still, at least I had a great time. I can’t think of any destination I have ever been that had such a total lack of pretension. Relaxation is the priority and as a result everything follows a leisurely pace. 6 nights here was a great tonic.

For some reason the hotel thought we were on our honeymoon....and ran love themed bubble baths for us every day :) 

I stayed at LUX and I would recommend it for the following reasons:

It sits on a large island – there are about 100 tourist atols (islands) in the Maldives and on each sits a hotel. What I have heard is that it can often feel crowded if occupancy is full and paradise just doesn’t look so great when it’s packed with people. LUX is one of the largest atols, has a good choice of restaurants, a ton of activities and as everything is so spread out, it feels quiet and peaceful. For that reason I think it would be a great option for honeymooners.

It’s informal – forget heels and forget formal dress – here you walk barefoot and you don’t dress up for dinner. I really enjoyed this and I have been told that the majority of the islands are the same way.

The rooms are great – we went for a beach villa and it was the perfect choice. Step out onto your terrace and it’s right there – the ocean is your garden. I would recommend the sunrise side of the island if you were choosing between locations – it’s more private and you face a lagoon so there is less wind to deal with than on the sunset side.

There are some negatives that I think are relevant to bring up though.

The cost – my God, this is not cheap. First of all there is the cost of the actual hotel/flights, then add the seaplane ($400 round trip per person from Male airport to the island) and don’t forget your food and drink. LUX like all hotels offers an all inclusive option but $140 per person per day just felt a bit OTT for us. We don’t eat that much (typically having a big breakfast - that was included - and then skipping lunch in favour of a big dinner) and I don’t drink that much. We budgeted about $200 a day between us and that was enough for dinner, drinks, bike hire and coffees.

The lack of culture – you are on an island. There are plenty of watersports and activities to get busy with but culture is not going to feature. All I know about Maldivian society after a week there is that Islam is the predominant religion and fish features heavily on any menu. That’s about it.

Restricted options – because each hotel is on an island there is no “popping” next door to try out a different restaurant or bar. You are stuck with what your hotel offers. I can imagine that anyone staying in one place for longer than a week would soon get very, very bored of the same menus and the same restaurants.

Would I go back? If I craved a complete break with lots of lounging and lots of reading then it would be the perfect choice. This is one place that you can really recharge, although it has to be said that your wallet will be very much depleted by the end of it.

Have you ever been to the Maldives?

I'm in the Maldives!

There are only so many beach photos you can take and there is certainly a limit to how many you can shove in people's noses but I fear that I am going to exceed the acceptable quota over the next few days.

I am currently on an island in the Maldives (LUX) and it's one of the most incredible places I have ever been - picture postcard incredible. I am only here for a few days but I intend to make the most of it in my own way by following an itinerary similar to the one below:

9am - Breakfast. Go down to the buffet barefoot - because nobody seems to really wear shoes on this island (thank God I didn't bring heels).
10am - Get in the sea right outside the villa, spot baby sharks, get slightly unnerved by baby sharks and retreat to the lounger. Repeat the sea/lounger movement for a few hours.
1pm - Go for a walk or bike ride, grab an ice cream at the free ice cream station and take 49454954 pictures of the beach.
3pm - Nanna nap.
5pm - Sundowners and sunset watching. Comment on how "big the sky is here" and marvel at your stupidity.
7pm - Get ready for dinner. Due to the casualness of the island get ready means that you put on some concealer and mascara.
10pm - Have a shower in the bedroom's outdoor bathroom and convince self that creepy crawlies are really okay.

Bed. Repeat next day.

I mean.....just beautiful! I wish I could properly capture the sky at night. I have never seen stars like it in my life.

On a superficial note, my only complaint is that my hair has not understood the memo on salt water. It is meant to transform into gentle waves but my hair has interpreted that as frizz with an extra side of frizz. I didn't bring many products at all so along with the no makeup policy I seem to have adopted this week I'll throw in Monica from Friends Barbados hair as well.

With that point in mind, I wore a big arse hat for my walk and sundowner excursion today. This was an old purchase from Reiss but I always knew it would come in handy. The tunic/cover up is one of my favourite ever purchases from Zara - I really feel like I could go anywhere wearing this.

Hat: Reiss (old)
Tunic: Zara (old)
Shoes: Carvela (now sold out)
Sunglasses: Celine

I am trying to think of other posts that I can write while I am here - I don't want this to become some nauseating beach photo diary - so expect "something" else this week in between the holiday stuff.

Hope you are all well!

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