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30 Dec 2011

The Ash Vibration Trainer + outlet shopping success!

It's been a good couple of days.

First of all my parent's Christmas parcel finally arrived - in tact. I now have all my little Christmas presents and some cards that brought a tear to my eye.

Then this morning I made my way to Dubai Outlet Mall. I had such low expectations - I imagined a half hour lap round the place and a promise to never waste my time again. However, the first few shops I went to offered all sorts of tempting stuff - beautiful Celine shoes, Alexander Wang boots, Chloe belts and...jeans. Jeans are the mainstay of outlets the world over and I got two fantastic pairs for a total of 300 AED (AKA £50) - one pair from Acne and one pair from J Brand. Result!

This is what I wore/am wearing today. Same old, same old but with something just slightly new and different...

Jeans: Cheap Monday
Tee: American Eagle
Blazer: River Island
Sunglasses: Ray Ban
Bag: Celine
Shoes: Ash

Yes the shoes are new. There is a backstory so prepare yourselves.

The story

In getting these shoes I broke a rule.

I am anti Converse-looking-shoes-that-are-not-Converse. It irks me.

But, and I am assuming that you do not follow the mundane minutiae of all I tweet, about 2 months ago I linked to a site called danielfootwear.com and these trainers/sneakers.

Made by Ash, grey leather (grey is one of my favourite shades for footwear as it's so neutral and therefore goes with everything) and STUDDING detail that I could not get out of mind. No joke, I thought about these every couple of days, sometimes checking them out online and seeing if they were still there. I basically stalked the hell out of these shoes but the price was the thing that put me off.

However, yesterday they turned up in my Xmas parcel. I could have/might have cried. They are so incredibly comfortable and a fantastic slouchy/weekend shoe that offers something a little extra.

Here is a close-up...

If you have any spare money (sure - we all have spare money! :p) then I would absolutely recommend them, particularly if you felt that plain old Converse were just too...well plain.

They are now in the sale, so although still priced at what I would think of as expensive, slightly more palatable.


PS. I just realised that might be the last post of 2011 - if it is then a safe and happy New Year to you all.

Thank you so much for making blogging fun this year and I look forward to doing it all again in 2012.

27 Dec 2011

Celine Mini Luggage in Navy Blue

I didn't get any Christmas presents. Well technically I do have some but the parcel from my family is currently lost in transit and is making us all very nervous.

However, I did have one present that I kept aside for Christmas Day but it's more of a "To me, love me" kind of thing. How desperately sad.

Anyway, meet my new handbag and isn't she grown up?

I wanted a structured bag for work - something that would hold my laptop, charger, wallet, mobile phones, notepads, lipsticks and sunglasses case, yet still leave room for more. Because God knows, I love to cram the crap into a handbag.

The criteria was therefore:

1) Structure - strong, classic shape with very little slouch.
2) Size - proportionate to my size and big enough to accommodate everything.
3) Classic colour - a shade that would work with the majority of my wardrobe.

It all sounds very considered doesn't it?

In truth I immediately thought of the Mini Luggage by Celine. I love the history of the brand, it's recent invigoration and the fact that its not as obvious as some.

And yes, I also like the fact that from the front it looks like a sad robot.

It's classic with a slight twist. And it fits the bill exactly.

The leather is gorgeous. Whilst I am petrified of it getting scratched it feels sturdy and strong. The dark navy is perfect, wavering between black and the darkest navy shade. For work, and for smarter days out this is going to be my closest companion. It does make me feel like a big girl :) 

It's first official outing came on Christmas Day. And it was an exciting time...

I just feels so classic and....right.

Of course, such a classic and sensible purchase shall mean that in 2012 there will be a ridiculous bag splurge...I am thinking of white or cream quilting ;) 

Jeans: H&M
Shirt: H&M
Blazer: River Island
Bag: Celine
Sunglasses: Rayban
Watch: Rolex
Shoes: Steve Madden - Stokker

Before I go....the shoes!

These are amazing! I have had these since the summer and have only just started wearing them out and about. The height makes me about 5ft 11 BUT they are actually comfortable! Okay they did require some wearing around the flat to break them in first (apologies to the people that live beneath me and probably wondered about the elephant walking above them) but nevertheless, they make me want to run to Steve Madden and get more platform pumps. :)

 Hope you are all well and if you braved the Boxing Day sales, I commend you! :)
25 Dec 2011

Gelish Snow Bunny + The Must-Have Polish List

I had it all worked out. I was going to get a festive-type manicure and rather than opting for an obvious red, I would go with white.

I absolutely love white on the nails and so I was excited. I even decided to go all out and get a layer of glitter polish applied on top. My intentions were good.

It's a shame then that the execution was just "okay".  The white was not tippex/white-out enough and the glitter not opaque enough. So near to what I wanted but so far....

However, I refuse to be one of those odious women that have a tantrum and force the manicurist to remove and reapply the colour because they "don't feel it". I have seen it happen and you just end up looking like a fussy bitch.

And you know what? I like it. It's soft, pretty and sparkles well under artifical and bright sunlight. That will do me for the next two weeks:

Gelish Snow Bunny + Golden Treasure

The Must-Have Polish List

Of course if I get bored I can always paint over the top with a regular polish.

This is something I have yet to try and I was pondering what colour I would go for the other day. By the same token, that thought ended up with a mental list of my all time favourite polishes. These were the ones that I would immediately reach for if I had to paint my nails "something". In no particular order...

* Chanel Particuliere - the ultimate colour so perhaps I lie when I say "no particular order".  Colour family: mud.

* Barry M Lilac - the prettiest lilac polish and one that always gets compliments. All of Barry M's polishes are great to be honest but this one makes me coo every time.

* OPI Mod About You - a flight risk (it will always explode) and a consistency of tar once left for a few months but...nothing comes close to the blue toned pink shade. I am on bottle number 3.

* * OPI Pandamonium Pink - if Mod About You channels "Barbie" a little too hard then this is a softer alternative. It also has a stronger purple tone that underpins it. Was told by another customer in a nail bar in London that it looked "well nice" when I had it applied. So there you go.

* OPI Vodka & Caviar - a true red with a brightness that somehow makes it modern. I also love the name.

* Essie East Hampton Cottage - when applied by a professional this will make your nails look like pearls. Note, when applied by me it looks like crap.

* China Glaze Ruby Pumps - is it possible for a polish to hold memories? Because this does. This was at the start of the YT community boom and it was a good time filled with fantastic recommendations. I remember buying this at Sally's and its the most stunning, glitter-filled red.

* Revlon Cherries in the Snow - a rich raspberry that can be sported with the lipstick of the same name for the ultimate in matchy-matchy.

* Bourjois Rose Lounge - groomed nails a la KMidd. Great consistency and quality. This is the nail polish equivalent of MAC Hue lipstick. Non-offensive and natural.

* Nailstation's Dapple Grey - I have only ever seen this brand in Dubai and sure, this colour is dupe-able but its a fantastic creamy mid-grey. Not too light, not too dark. This brand also has about 30 variations on the taupe....*I die* everytime I walk past it in Debenhams.

* OPI Lincoln's - I say plural as there are two variations on the dark/black/purple/plum and I love them both and consider them equally essential.


I am going to cut myself off here as I have realised, in the process of writing these out, that I could literally go on forever.

Unfortunately what this post has also done is remind me of how much pleasure I used to get from eBay polish haulin'. I might just have a quick look at my favourite store.... :)

What does your must-have polish list look like?
24 Dec 2011

The Cheap Monday Seamed Jumper

I have fully lost touch with reality. The temperature in Dubai has hit a low of 22 degrees celsius and so I am starting to feel....


For realz.

And I am loving it as this makes it the perfect opportunity to wear my Cheap Monday seamed jumper. This has been waiting patiently in my wardrobe for some time - and now the time has finally come.

In a way it's anti fashion. It's a bit shapeless - essentially a sack with strategic holes for head and arms but it is so damn cosy. I love the chunky knit finish, the soft non-itchy acrylic and the way it just envelops the body. This is a jumper to curl up in and enjoy some steaming mulled wine :)

Jumper: Cheap Monday - Link!
Jeans: Cheap Monday
Boots: ASOS Aggie boots - Link!
Bag: Miu Miu

I also wore my new lipstick today - a new little YSL number. I think this has been out for some time and everytime I have meandered past the counters I have mentally clocked it.

Meet YSL Rouge Pur Couture in 37.

Such a perfect generic pink colour. Okay, it's nothing new and I could have lived without it in my collection but I consider this the season of indulgence and so just allow me this little treat :) I mean, look at it....how can you not deny something this light, glossy and pink! It's also a very similar colour to my handbag therefore making it a "must purchase" ;)


How could I end this post without saying - have a fantastic Christmas!

I have the whole day off! Woo!

Yes, Christmas is more of a commercial, rather than official event in Dubai. That means offices are open as usual but shopping malls are decked out with lights, trees, and Santas.

Enjoy the day and I hope to see you all soon - in fact a quick post will also be waiting for you tomorrow :)

21 Dec 2011

All Black

I will start this post with the following picture...

...because it's all downhill after that. Black skirt. Black body. And after I put on those two items, I called it a day.

This is the epitome of lazy dressing but I don't mind. All black outfits are a God-send on those days when you are too busy and stressed to even think about putting more than one colour on. The best bit of course is that black is one of those shades that will look good - no matter what the price tag may be. This skirt was £7.99 for goodness sake but I think it looks okay! It's lined, fits well and is machine washable. A practical thumbs up!

Skirt: H&M - Link!
Body: Topshop
Shoes: Christian Louboutin (toying/dreaming about another pair of these - despite the odd foot pain pang I will never get over the red sole)
Sunglasses: Rayban

Apologies for such a crap outfit of the day but hey, this is what I wore and we can't always be exciting. I am so busy with work meetings, project work and presentations this week, it's going to be a joyful relief to welcome in the weekend. Bring me Real Housewives, a Tom Ford make up exploration, a gin and tonic and lots of lovely sleep. Oh and Christmas!

A light book wouldn't go amiss either...finished Mindy Kaling's so if you have any recommendations for easy, fun reads do share them below!

I will leave you with a picture of my favourite chocolate bar - possibly ever. I typically like cheap chocolate. Give me Dairy Milk and I will be happy. This is my nod to the posher stuff and whilst it's not as pure as a 70% cocoa variety, I cannot resist the indulgence. This my friends is Lindt Tiramisu.

I try and follow the lead of Audrey Hepburn, who supposedly had a square of chocolate a day, but....hey, it's Christmas! :) 
19 Dec 2011

Illamasqua Skin Base

I am ready to review.

So here it is along with some scary face close-ups where I am wearing the foundation in question...

I got this foundation recently and honestly, had medium-low expectations. I was curious about it but didn't expect to really appreciate or shout loudly about it's virtues. It was the stop-gap.

My beloved/ridiculously overpriced Chantecaille Just Skin had run out and with no stockists in Dubai, I was 1-2 weeks away from a UK order reaching me. I needed a decent performing foundation to tide me over. Quite why I needed to give you this background information, I do not know, but that's the justification. Well that, and the fact that the sales assistant in Harvey Nichols looked happy.

I got it in the shade 10 and as soon as I applied it (with the help of MAC's 181 kabuki) I liked it. It covered, it matched my skintone and it left a soft, satin finish. Then, at the end of the work day, I noticed that my blusher/bronzer, along with my foundation, looked perfect. At that point I loved it.

It lasts well during the day (with just a minimal amount of fading along my T-zone), seems to help products adhere well to your skin, all whilst looking relatively natural.

The most helpful way to describe this foundation would be to comparatively assess it:

* It has more of a gel-like consistency when compared with NARS Sheer Glow - and seems to last a little longer.
* It settles into the skin better than Chanel Mat Lumiere or YSL Teint Radiance.
* It's not as hard work as MAC's Face and Body - and packs a lot more punch coverage wise.
* It smells a lot better than MAC Studio Fix Fluid and doesn't look as heavy - apply a bit under the eyes and it's not going to cake on you.
* It doesn't provide the glow of Chantecaille but does last a lot longer.
* It is easier to blend and somehow doesn't make your face look at flat as MUFE HD.

It's good and I would recommend it. The only bitchy asides would be that:

* The promotional copy describes it as being "inspired" by the BB cream genre and if by inspired they mean nothing like it at all, then yep, it's "inspired".
* I have heard that some people's skin couldn't tolerate it - I got one spot (travesty!) but that didn't have anything to do with this.
* It's meant to be BAD on dry skin.
* The packaging is a bit....meh. I really have to commit to squeeze a drop out and I cannot always measure how much I am going to get. If we get too much well, then it's a heavy makeup day with layers of slap! Wa-hey!

What I would applaud though is the Illamasqua shade chart which references other brands' shades. This is such a useful resource if you are picking out the foundation online. Really good stuff and reflective of an organization that has really tried to understand it's customers.

It costs £25 for 30ml which puts it in the higher end category but still half the price of Chantecaille's Just Skin.

The latter remains my holy grail but Skin Base rates high on my scale - and I am a picky little madam.

I would give it 7 out of 10. It's not perfect (few things are!) - I like a more dewy finish - but it's a good performer. Medium coverage, long-lasting and almost undetectable, particularly on camera.

So tell us, what has your experience been of Skin Base?

For reference: I am normal/combination skin. I normally wear NC35 in MAC, Barcelona/Pubjab in Sheer Glow and Wheat in Chantecaille Just Skin.
17 Dec 2011

The Zara TRF Tuxedo Blazer

It would be fair to say that I am absolutely in love with this jacket.

It's the last item to share with you from my Zara binge and without question, I would recommend it. It works in summer and I think would work for winter evenings too.

Let me give you some reasons why I rate it: 

* The base colour - a bright white - makes me feel fresh and bright.
* The contrasting lapels hint at the tuxedo trend without making me feel like a game show host.
* The quality of the fabric is excellent - thick and sturdy enough to hold it's fitted shape.
* The tailoring is flattering and instantly smartens. Okay it does have little shoulder pads - which I typically hate - but they are small and don't give you man shoulders so they can stay.
* It costs £50. This is the sort of item that Reiss et al would charge £200 for. I love a bargain but I love a great quality one even more.

The only downer - and there's always a downer - would be that The White Factor makes me nervous. How easy it would be to get little grubby marks on it? I will have to try very hard to avoid my mitts ruining the look.

I wore it today with jeans, a Peter Pan collar top and my trusty New Look boots.

As you can see, this my attempt to channel winter in Dubai :)

Jacket: Zara TRF - Link!
Top: Zara - Link!
Jeans: Cheap Monday
Boots: New Look
Bag: Miu Miu

PS.  I finished reading Born to Run and whilst I did enjoy it, I would only recommend it to those interested in running and the science behind it. If you are not, forget it! Some of the revelations revealed in the book really hit home. Namely, the fact that bulky running shoes marketed by the likes of Nike etc inhibit our actual ability to run properly and with good form.

Overall, it's an inspirational book and one that will most probably compel you to get outdoors and hit the running track. I suppose that, above anything else, justifies the cover price.

I have now lightened up a bit and moved onto Mindy Kaling's book - Is everyone hanging out without me? It is LOL-worthy and absolutely love it. I think I will probably finish it today. If you are into entertaining quips about modern life from the perspective of a pithy girl, you need to buy/download it!

Hope you are all enjoying your Saturday. This time next week it will be Christmas Eve - my favourite part of Xmas....can't wait! :)
14 Dec 2011

MORE sunglasses?

Now how do I justify this?


I just can't.

I am clearly aspiring to be the Timmy Mallett of sunglasses, with a pair for every day of the week/year.

I think I have always been like this. It came on in my early twenties when I was a terrible snob and became fixated on the tragically expensive Oliver Peoples. I bought one pair, then another etc.

These days I am more-or-less Ray-Ban loyal.

Mmm. Okay, that's a total lie. I would LOVE a pair of Dita's but I need a spare £300 so....Ray-Ban it is.

...and that's okay for now. I do love the nostalgia associated with them as a brand and I like the fact that their models come with non-ridiculous price tags. I don't think you can go wrong.

Today I wore these beauties.

I have no idea what they are actually called - the Ray-Ban site doesn't answer the question either - but they are essentially part-visor, part-Wayfarer. I love the ombre lens and the fact that they cover my face.

Sometimes it feels very nice to hide behind sunglasses :)

 Sunglasses: Link!

I should also give a little shoutout to the top I am wearing in the picture above. It's from New Look's Premium range and is a gorgeous piece. Geometric beading and a sheer corn yellow shade.

I have to admit corn yellow doesn't sound like my cup of tea but when I saw it in New Look a few weeks ago it made me feel happy and bright. It's just one of those colours and a nice way to pep up a plain outfit.

There are just two downsides to be aware of:

1) It's completely sheer - I wore a flesh bra which you can quite clearly see and which therefore meant that I wore my blazer done up when I popped out to lunch. Wear a flesh-coloured body/vest which is admittedly the most disgusting thing known to man but it will be worth it.

2) The beading is only present on the front panel. The problem with that is that it drags the light fabric down so your bra/boobs will be constantly threatened with exposure. I suppose a higher end piece would rectify this by applying the same amount of beading on the back panel of fabric but for around £30 you can't have it all!

Of course both of these things I realised once outside. *sigh*

Top: New Look - Link! (currently in the sale)
Jeans: H&M
Blazer: ASOS - Link!
Shoes: Tory Burch
Bag: Miu Miu in pale grey

A closing ramble...

A few things to note:

1) I am still obsessed with Drake's new album. I think I must have played it about 50 times so far. And repeat.

2) I have decided that I do not like Bioderma's make-up remover. I feel like I should be ashamed.  It's so damn popular. Although I think it's handy for on-the-go makeup removal (which I never do) I just prefer full-on oil-based removers. Okay, sometimes they get my fringe greasy but they truly remove every last scrap and the texture of them just feels "right".

3) I have a spot on my chin. I know. Tragedy. You no doubt saw this is my "smug bitch" photo depicting the sunglasses. I don't want to point any fingers but I am a bit scared that it might be Illamasqua Skin Bases' fault. I am going to continue to use it and see if I get any more. By the weekend we will know!

3) I got a Facebook page for this blog. I am not sure why I suddenly decided to do this but it's quite fun so far. I plan to upload little preview photos for blog posts and the like. That makes it sound all very exciting and dynamic but the reality will probably be anything but. Ah well, if you want to give it a whirl....link!

Hope you are having a good week!
12 Dec 2011

The Topshop Tee

Okay, not the most scintillating nor inspiring topic, but tank tops are important! They are our layering foundation, look fantastic on their own with jeans, skirts etc. You cannot live without them.

And when I say "you" I of course mean me, me, me...

...because when I find a tank top I like, I wear it until it falls apart. I have done this with tops from Splendid, Petit Bateau, Forever 21, American Apparel and now it seems, Topshop.

I bought the one below last year. It cost just over £5. I love the spaghetti straps that lend a slightly elegant feel and the mid-hip length. The material doesn't blow me away and the colour obviously isn't anything to write home about but it felt - and continues to feel...right.

Every time I put it on I mentally kick myself for not buying more. Topshop is in Dubai but this top never seems to be.

So I will do what I do best in such situations - wear it until it falls apart and then whore-ishly move on to find a new favourite.

My money's on Alexander Wang :)

Top: Topshop - Link!

A sneak preview? 

I know you are all on the edge of your seats (I jest) to know about my recent Illamasqua haul. In short I got lipsticks and I got Skin Base.

I want to review Skin Base NOW but really, it's ill-advised to review so early in the game.

I have only worn it for a few days and it's hardly newsworthy - it's been out for months - but I am pleasantly surprised and pleased with it. I may post about that tomorrow so if you see a big picture of my face in your blog reader, you know what I will be talking about :)

Hope you are all well!
11 Dec 2011

On my nails....Gelish Elegant Wish

A tragedy occurred last week. Yes, I broke a nail.

Whilst Gelish definitely strengthens it doesn't make your talons invincible and as if to prove that point my right thumb nail basically halved in size.

The only thing to do in such difficult circumstances is to make an appointment, get them filed down and re-Gelished.

...and here they are.

Apart from the fact that the manicurist got over-zealous with cuticle removal and caused bleeding on one nail - I am happy because:

a) I quite like the colour - Elegant Wish - a rich raspberry stuffed with red glitter that feels appropriate for December; and
b) I think short nails are chic nails. This is what I tell myself.

I have to admit, part of me does miss applying and playing with regular nail polish. Case in point - I was visually seduced by the stand at Illamasqua and felt a real craving to buy. But as much as I love polish hoarding I am not sure I will be able to deviate from Gelish any time soon. The way it lasts and looks is far better than any of my dog's dinner attempts at self-applied manicures.

Long live Gelish, that's what I say!

What are you wearing on your nails RIGHT NOW? :)
10 Dec 2011

Lounging at The Jetty

I think I had a perfect day yesterday and it was one of those moments when I thought "I really like living in Dubai".

A lot of it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I was sitting beach-side, enjoying the sun rays in December. During the week, when I am working, I don't fully appreciate where I am currently living. It's nice to see sun every day but you get wrapped up in the responsibilities of report deadlines and the like. I got a little reminder yesterday that with a little effort and by heading to the right destination you can really feel like you have taken a mini-holiday.

So yesterday I "wasted" a lot of the day at The Jetty at The One & Only Royal Mirage hotel. It's tucked away, near the Palm and the Marina and is the perfect beach bar - and therefore my new home on Fridays.

White and purple decor, refreshing cocktails and chilled out tooooons. I fell in love with the place a little more when they played All I Need by Air - one of my favourite tracks of all time. Oh yes.

I wore my old shirt dress by Cheap Monday. It ended up being the perfect piece. Light enough to avoid me feeling sweaty but "dressed" enough so I didn't feel out of place. Add sunglasses and Bob's your Uncle.

Here are some pictures of the place, a few of an impromptu air show that appeared out of nowhere and some obligatory shots of me me me! ;)

Such a fantastic place! If you are in Dubai or planning to visit, definitely head here for a few hours. Nasimi Beach at Atlantis is similar but can get ridiculously busy - The Jetty is far more relaxed.

And there's more...

The only way to end a day like this is with a little mall action and Pinkberry.

For that I added my Cheap Monday jeans. Whilst I don't mind wearing something as short as the shirt dress at the beach, where you are surrounded by flesh, it doesn't translate so well in an indoor mall. I wouldn't walk around Westfield in Shepherd's Bush in something this short - let alone the Mall of the Emirates.

It was a good call and honestly, I love the two pieces paired together.

There was some serious spending done at Illamasqua in Harvey Nichols (excited!) and consuming of Pinkberry....

Okay, so the chocolate looks a little "number two" but...it's so good.

Jeans: Cheap Monday - Link!
Shirt dress: Cheap Monday - Link!
Shoes: Tory Burch
Bag: Balenciaga

I am quite interested to know this as I am quite nosey...do you have a little oasis of your own where you live - somewhere that makes you feel rested and new even after a few hours?

In London it used to be the cafe/bar at the Charlotte Street Hotel during summertime (such good memories!)

Look forward to reading your comments :)