Tried and Tested: Over-The-Knee Boots with Selfridges (Ad)

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I must admit, rightly or wrongly, I have always associated wearing over-the-knee boots with being overtly sexual and Cabaret’esq, so have steered away from them, given ‘sexy’ is not really my go-to style.  In fact, I’d always rather a compliment over some eclectic ensemble I was wearing from a stylish woman than a wolf whistle or a manly leer, any day.  An ex (clearly!) boyfriend once told me my look was ‘moooore demure than sexy,’ and despite the intentions of his remark, I was incredibly appreciative!!  Give me Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Portman or even bloomin’Jane Austen over a Kardashian any day!  HOWEVER, my head was turned last Winter when I saw a few bloggers I know, and supermodels I don’t, wearing over-the-knee boots with dark jeans and it looked… well, kinda chic!  SO… Never one to not try something new, I decided to grab a pair from Selfridges and give them a wee whirl, making sure to adapt them to my own style, and not the other way around.  I, yes I, was going to wear these boots, they were not going wear me!

Let’s do this...

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Firstly, I decided to pair some suede Carvela Sammy over-the-knee boots with some skinny, dark Diesel jeans and an oversize woolly jumper from Alexa by Alexa Chung (a beloved ambassador of the all things anti-sexy, in her ruffles and glittery flats!) and a Manu Atelier suede bag.  By pairing the boots with these winter textures, they instantly became softened and far more appropriate for daytime.  In fact, with the addition of my sharp Jess Collett Milliner fedora, the overall look felt pretty kick ass!  Yup, I definitely could hear some Beyonce playing in my head with each step (*finger snap, hair swish…)

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For my second outfit, I paired the Carvela over-the-knee boots with a zippered Kitri shirt dress and the dinkiest of current It Bags, a Simon Miller Bonsai Bag.  I definitely think this is the kind of a look I would wear to Fashion Week, and although with certain wider strides, there were some good old fashioned thighs on display, the long sleeves, and length of dress counteracted any unwarranted incitement on the streets!

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In summation, I still think these over-the-knee boots are pretty sexy, but not in the original, possibly negative way I had first imagined.  With the right, balanced outfit, these boots actually make you feel pretty damn empowered too.  Demurely sexy, some might say...! 

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In collaboration with Selfridges

Photography: Francis Davison

Hair:  Taylor Taylor London

Nails:  Sophie Gass

Tried and Tested: You Need A PA

Although Doris is currently making it slightly hard for us to believe, Spring IS actually on its way. This annual, most welcomed thaw instantly encourages me to feel lighter; lighter in my clothes (enough with the eight layers already, London…), lighter with my meals (I'm beginning to feel more like five pieces of fruit’n’veg a day, rather than five Fruit'n'Nut Chocolate bars a day…), and finally, lighter in CLUTTER!

I don’t know about you, but during the Winter months, the clutter in my flat seems to just procreate and multiply.  Although these eclectic masses and artefacts can sometimes act as great insulation during the big freeze, by the time the sun is readying his hat, their weight makes both me and my flat groan.  Living and working in the same space doesn’t help.  My sitting room at times can be filled with piles of samples, bags of returns, cupboards bursting with unattended admin... If I’m not careful my work/life balance can teeter far too much towards the work side , so my flat kind of needs to be pretty meticulously managed! 

I know I am not alone.  4.6 million Brits are now self-employed (17.3% of which are Londoners) but most of theses ‘One Women Orchestras’ and ‘One Man Bands’ cannot afford full time assistants. I have had several intern requests, but given that I never know where I will be or what I will be doing, being responsible for mentoring someone seems unrealistic and unfair.  Whilst daily zooming from one end of London to the next, having writing deadlines, evening events and conservation projects on the go, I really recently started feeling overwhelmed and in need of someone to help… That someone was Polly.

Polly Hadden-Paton (above), and her partner Vicky Silverthorn, set up ‘You Need A PA,’ a wonderful ‘Pay As You Go’ PA service, which provides you with a fully qualified, brilliantly connected and efficient PA to help you get all your tasks completed in record time.  This team is used to working with footballers, pop stars and hedge funders, but Polly has seen a recent increase in her ‘normal’ clients (working mums, the self employed, etc), who may not have the funds to employ a full time assistant, but are in dire need of some extra hands on board to make their lives easier.  

Whether you are in need of just a morning, a full day, or someone on a more regular basis, Polly and her team will work through the harrowing To-Do List you simply don’t have the time or contacts to complete yourself, either in person or remotely.  Need to move house? Need last minute, hard-to-get reservations or sold-out tickets? Need your holiday or party organised? Need some personal shopping or research done? Some property management or maintenance? Literally, WHATEVER you need, these girls have got yo'back! 

I had Polly come to my flat one morning a week for three weeks. The fourth week I was feeling utterly bereft, and missing her madly.  I had become completely reliant on this wonderful girl and far too used to her sorting out my life for me!  However embarrassed you may seem at the state of your home (mine resembled a bomb site), or lack of organisation skills, Polly has seen it all before which makes you feel instantly relaxed.  Each morning we made a list of what tasks I would be relieved to get off my shoulders, and Polly confidently ploughed her way through each and every one with total ease.  Standing orders were set up, bills were paid, tax receipts were sorted, a new printer was set up, my television tuned (I thought it was broken, my bad), bulbs replaced, files bought and then organised, plane tickets were booked, piles clothes for charities were organised and delivered, my dry cleaning was sorted and collected… All jobs which sound pretty benign for the girl who’s used to creating parties for 200 guests at a moments notice or arranging last minute transportation for clients when flight connections are missed!  You see, no job is seemingly too big or too small for Polly or her equally efficient team to tackle.

The best result from Polly’s three mornings at the illustrious TLC HQ, was that she set up the most useful office filing system in some cupboards under my television, housing all my admin, cables, stationary and printer.  The results have been game changing.  I can now happily shut away my work life in one big swoop, making my sitting room feel far more relaxing and fit for purpose.  Also, Polly’s love of admin rubbed off and inspired me to maintain these levels of efficiency (or at least attempt to!) and it feels much easier to do that now I have a cleaner slate to work with.  

These levels of acute help obviously come at a fair price, and even though I realistically can’t afford to have Polly regularly visit (*weeeeping as I write...) treating myself occasionally to one of her beyond helpful visits will be something to look forward to.

www.YouNeedAPa.com

Below:  I got these gorgeous grey canvas files and boxes (which Polly labelled with her own LABEL MAKER!) and some rose gold stationary (yes, I’m such a blogger) from Kiki K. As well as being practical, their simple, Scandi designs have made my work cupboard look so chic – another incentive to keep organised.  

TLC STAYCATION: Ham Yard Hotel with Sisley Paris

I recently was utterly spoilt, spending two glorious nights at Soho' s Ham Yard Hotel as a tourist in my own town, courtesy of Sisley Paris. The entire experience had my eyes on stalks (and my fingers on my Instagram!) as it was certainly the most colourful, chic and fun few days I’ve spent in a long time...

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When I told my sister and friends I was to be working with Sisley Paris they were all incredibly jealous, as the brand is a much loved staple on their bathroom shelves and in their make up bags. Founded in 1976 by Hubert d’Ornano, Sisley Paris is known far and wide for its innovative cosmetic and skincare products, using a combination of phytotherapy and aromatherapy. The plant extracts and essential oils are perfect for sensitive skin, such as my own, and I was really excited to try the amazing samples left for me in my hotel room (alongside their accompanying Biscuiteer replicas!) upon my arrival at Ham Yard Hotel.

Above:  Checking into the Ham Yard Hotel, with my two of my most favourite and trusted travel companions; My Bric Bellagio Suitcase and my personalised Tephi Garment Bag.

I fell crazy in love with Ham Yard Hotel.  I’m sure you could see on my Instagram account, Kit Kemp’s magnificently vibrant, British interiors are a social media dream.  You feel like you in a Wes Anderson film and everywhere you look there is something unpredictable and eclectic which catches your eye.  From the butterfly and drift wood crocodile decorated dance floor, the bowling alleys, the neon signs, quirky art and the television IN MY BATHTUB (below right), it was a total joy to refer to this hotel as ‘home’ for two nights… As a consequence, my once fabulous flat down the road from this hotel, now seems just a wee bit ‘Meh!’ 

Above:  Wes Anderson, much?! Just call me Margot...

Above:  Wes Anderson, much?! Just call me Margot...

Above:  Driftwood crocodiles and 3D butterflies on the dance floor, next to the bowling alleys (below). Just amazingly fun. 

Over the course of the two days we got to dine at THREE of my favourite restaurants in London; the suntrap that is Petersham Nurseries, the celebrity trap that is Chiltern Firehouse and the delicious taco haven that is La Bodega Negra. I know… My job does NOT suck (#SorryNotSorry) and despite being just a few days late to spot pre-Oscar Leo at Chiltern, it was great to chat with the other bloggers and the Sisley Paris girls in such fun locations over one (or three) cocktails. London at it’s very best! 

The beautiful  Petersham Nurseries  (Petersham Rd, Richmond TW10)

Above/Below:  Too soon for rosé  ? Not when at the Petersham Nurseries (Petersham Rd, Richmond TW10).

Below:  The obligatory shot taken in the ladies at Chiltern Firehouse (1 Chiltern St, London W1U).

The obligatory shot taken at  Chiltern Firehouse  (1 Chiltern St, London W1U)

Above/Below:  With the formidable Juliet Longuet and the rest of the lovely GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS at La Bodega Negra (9 Old Compton St, London W1D).

We spent our second day all together at Christine d’Ornano’s S.T.U.N.N.I.N.G West London home.  It turns out I’m actually neighbours with the glamorous Global Vice President of Sisley International, and let me tell you, there isn’t a house nearby I’d prefer to turn up at to borrow some sugar!  After a presentation introducing us to the brand, revealing it’s family-run history, and demonstrations showing us the latest Sisley Paris skincare and cosmetic additions to the brand, Christine hosted a delicious lunch for us.  

After lunch, behind velvet doors (when I grow up I'm having these in my house!) we were all given a make over, using Sisley Paris products, by the fabulously talented British make up artist, Tania Grier

 I was very impressed by all the naturally active products I tried, and by their chic aesthetic (obviously being from Africa the zebra print had an obvious appeal!) but there were obviously always gong to be some favourites which I thought I would share with you...

1.  Black Rose Cream Mask (RRP. £95.50):  My sister had already warned me this would become a ‘must have’ after I’d used it once, and she was right.  Known as a cult product in France for it’s nourishing, rich anti-aging benefits, you apply a generous layer for up to fifteen minutes before blotting away any residue (of which I had none of because my greedy face ate it all – yum!)

2.  Phyto-Lip Twists (RRP £29.00) I am well known for loving a bright lip, day and night, so these were always going to be a real winner for me.  Appearing like a tinted balm, but with the strong pigment of a lipstick, and the shine factor of a lip gloss these fun, chubby Lip Twists are as hydrating as they are long lasting. Ideal and in my handbag at all times. 

3.  Phyto-Eye Twists (RRP. £29.00):  I love how easy these are to apply, and they are perfect to use either as a thick eye-liner or a smudgy smokey eye. Enriched with plant-based active ingredients, so your delicate eyelids are protected, the Eye Twists are waterproof and available in multiple colours which all compliment each other so well (you’ll end up purchasing quite a few…) but Lagoon and Topaze were my faves. 


4.  All Day All Year Moisturiser (RRP. £236.00): Jam packed full of antioxidants like Apple Skin Extract and White Willow Extract, this heavenly product shields your face pollution, sun, and every day environmental toxins. Swoooon… My hero! 

TLC ON TOUR... SOHO SUITCASE:


(Click on the items below for their direct links)

Thank you Sisley Paris! Bisous xx

Tried and Tested: Molton Brown's Rhubarb and Rose Collection

To celebrate the launch of the latest, deeeeelicious, good-enough-to-eat Rhubarb & Rose Collection, Molton Brown has enlisted the help of Tommy, Britain's youngest Michelin starred chef Tommy Banks, raised near West Yorkshire’s famous ‘Rhubarb Triangle,’ the area where Molton Brown sourced their new, luxurious bath and body products' rhubarb from.  Tommy has created two amazing recipes, both featuring rhubarb and rose, to help bring the new fragrance to life.  Creating two amazing and wonderfully sweet recipes, Tommy’s delicious Frangipane Summer Tart and a refreshing Rhubarb and Rose Cocktail would be perfect for any summer lunch (as long as I didn’t ruin them by making either myself…!)

Frangipane Summer Tart

INGREDIENTS

For the Shortcrust Pastry
750g plain flour
375g unsalted butter
300g icing sugar
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks 

For the Frangipane
200g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
200g ground almonds
4 eggs, beaten
40g plain flour
1 tsp almond oil 
For the rhubarb jam
850g rhubarb, chopped
300g sugar
15g pectin  
For the rose glaze
100g caster sugar
100g water
20g dried rose petals  

1. To make the pastry, rub together the dry ingredients until they resemble the texture of breadcrumbs. Slowly add the egg and yolk to form a smooth paste.
2. To make the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar. Slowly add the eggs while stirring. Fold in the almonds and then the flour. Add the almond oil.
3. To make the rhubarb jam, slowly bring the ingredients to the boil. Simmer gently for half an hour on low heat. Test the jam on a cold plate - if it sets when cold it is ready. If still runny return to a simmer for 5 minutes then test again.
4. To make the rose glaze, dissolve the sugar in the water. Add the rose petals and bring to the boil. Strain through a fine sieve. 
5. Now assemble the tart. Thinly roll the pastry over a 10 inch tart case. Blind bake the pastry case for 15 minutes at 170°C. Smooth the rhubarb jam over the base of the tart case and add the frangipane batter. Cut 1 cm chunks of the extra rhubarb and push into the batter for a decorative finish. Return to the oven for 45 minutes at 165°C.
6. For the finishing touch, remove from the oven brush with the rose petal glaze.

Delicious Rhubarb and Rose Cocktail

INGREDIENTS 

For The Cocktail
50ml vodka
50ml rhubarb juice
50ml egg white
20ml lemon juice
25ml rose syrup
8 ice cubes for shaking 

For The Rose Sherbet
50g rose sugar
5g citric acid 
Makes one 6oz/17.5cl
martini glass

1. To make the rose sherbet, combine the ingredients in a blender and blitz to a fine powder.
2. To make the cocktail add the vodka, juices, egg white and rose syrup to a cocktail shaker and vigorously shake for ten seconds.
3. Open the shaker, add the ice cubes and shake again until the shaker tin has frosted on the outside.
4. Strain the cocktail in to a martini glass and dust the top with rose sherbet.


Tried and Tested: Duck & Dry

I used to consider having a blow dry in London justifiable before a friend’s wedding, a little ritual to make up for my lack of feathery hair apparel (I’m a renown facihater).  However, more and more so, I am enjoying a blow dry, well, just ‘cos!  Like a quick pick-me-up mani/pedi, that now you can enjoy on most street corners, a blow dry in London can now be deemed a mere pre-night out, pre-meeting, pre-nothing-really treat, with several, affordable blow dry bars popping up around London – so very New York of us!

My favourite of aforementioned, more affordable blow dry bars is, without doubt, the newly opened Duck & Dry.  Duck & Dry, a light and bright, distinctly cool yet accessible, salon on the King’s Road in Chelsea, allows you to choose from a menu (above) of 8 signature styles of blow dry and 8 signature updo’s, the subsequent creations twisted and tousled to your desired preference, all whilst flicking through the latest and mags enjoying a glass or two of bubbly or a coffee.  This could become worryingly habitual... 

I was invited by the founders, former management consultant Yulia Rorstrom and celebrated hair stylish Snowden Hill, to Duck & Dry and sweetly treated to a (purposefully) disheveled braided style (below) before a night out with friends, which I LOVED.  I can, from this experience, definitely recommend you all visit the amazing Duck & Dry stylists; in 30 minutes they (in their Emilia Wickstead designed uniforms no less!) will send you glossily on your way for an unusually reasonable fixed price of £25.00 for a blow dry, and £35.00 for an updo, regardless of your length or hair type.  Blown away. 

Duck & Dry:  333-337 King's Road, Chelsea, London SW3 5ES (0203 4899370)
(Open: Mon to Fri 7.30am-7.30pm, Sat 8.30am-7.30pm, Sun 10am-5pm)

Tried and Tested: Elemental Herbology

As I have incredibly (and super annoyingly) sensitive skin, I am always looking out for natural, yet effective, products - not as easy as you may think!  I was recently sent some Elemental Herbology products to try out (available at ASOS and Space NK).  I fell immediately in love with the British brand’s sleek packaging, but also their mighty fine ethics; the communities who provide their ingredients are supported, alongside their environment, by the company and their partners.  I was looking forward to giving them a whirl.  

The brand’s founder, Kirsty Cimesa, is a qualified acupuncturist, with a background in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Kirsty aimed to find a way of rebalancing skin that is taxed daily by the environment, hormone levels and lifestyle.  Jam-packed with nutrients, essential oils, vitamins, antioxidants and bioactive ingredients, this high-performance, luxurious skincare range really does deliver.

My skin really began to look radiant and clear after sticking to a routine of cleansing twice a day with the ultra-nourishing Purify and Sooth Cleansing Balm, using the light, hydrating Calendula Damask Facial Moisturiser in the morning and the deeply hydrating Facial Soufflé at night.  Twice a week I also applied the Cell Food serum at night which helps your skin repair by boosting the production of collagen and elastin (and Laaawd knows, we all be needing as much of that sweet goodness as possible these days!)

“We believe in looking after your skin both inside and out. I am proud of everything that we put into our products, and proud of what we leave out. Made in England, we support the responsible harvesting and production of all raw materials and ensure our products are 100% free from synthetic fragrance, artificial colour, mineral oils, sulphates, parabens and preservatives. Live life, live Elemental Herbology!"  Kirsty Cimesa.

 

When the products eventually ran out (they wonderfully last rather a long time) I begun to test out some other products; ones with unpronounceable names I’d been sent, some I found sitting in my bathroom cabinet that I can’t even remember buying…  I regret to say, and as the children and horses I currently frighten on the street daily will testify, I have a red rash across my chin from using a very drying cleanser and a far too rich day cream.  It’s penitently obvious I must immediately return to my Elemental Herbology routine pronto, anything else would be just Kelemental! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist…) 

 

TLC LOVES... ELEMENTAL HERBOLOGY: