Shoes, Glorious Shoes

Give a girl the right pair of shoes…

Shoes by Shaherazad

The shiny, sparkly Shoes by Shaherazad

Well, the past few months have been a bit of a whirlwind, with birthday celebrations for family and friends, lots of hard work and a rather annoying arthritis flare-up! Rest and relaxation were much needed…

In the time when I have been out and about, I’ve been very excited to wear my new, sparkly and oh-so-shiny shoes from 18 Hour Heels from Shoes by Shaherazad. These beauties are customisable with their sparkly “shoellery” and perfectly at home either in the office or out on the town!

Shoe jewellery

Sparkling jewellery for shoes – “Shoellery”

The heels look fabulous – attracting many a compliment and “oohs and ahhhs” from my colleagues – and these sparklers go with pretty much everything in my wardrobe, so I decided to experiment to see if they really were comfy enough to wear all day and all night, if needed!

Out and About
I’ve worn them in the office during the day and out to work events in the evening, still getting home with comfy and blister free footsies! Top marks so far…

Birthday treats
I wore them for my Grandma’s 86th birthday celebrations up North in February, getting my “dancing shoes” on with my mum and grandma to watch Anton and Erin perform at the Liverpool Philharmonic! I wore them all day and night for my special birthday day out, which involved shopping, afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel, more shopping, cocktails and a delicious dinner at The Ivy.

Silver skirt and black and gold heels

Shining silver and gold celebrations

I also wore my fabulous heels to birthday parties for both my sister in law and a good friend; again, very comfy to wear on the journey into the West End, throughout the evening and on the journey home. Admittedly, suffering from PoTS, I don’t stand up too much, but still do a lot of walking around and still have a 15 minute walk to my train each morning and evening on my way to and from the office and from any train back from Waterloo after being in Central London. Add that to a day in the office and anything after work, or before and after a night out, and you’re on your feet for more than you think!

Shoes by the fire at the Bingham, Richmond

Sparkling shoes and a warm fire

And my conclusions?
These shoes made me feel confident and fabulous, ready to take on anything that is thrown at me (uneven pavements, busy commute, crazy work days, you name it…!) Knowing that these shoes contribute to excellent women’s causes makes them all the more special to me. Being genuinely comfortable and beautifully crafted in the UK, whilst still undeniably stylish, makes them my top choice. But there’s much more to them than that. These are shoes with a conscience, designed to make a difference to the lives of women around the world. With 500 women helped so far and counting, the company aims to empower women globally and support women’s charities with every sale, through their partnership with Global Giving UK. Global Giving UK’s CEO, Eleanor Harrison, recently wore her shoes like mine (the appropriately named style, “Dream then Do”) to receive her OBE – what could be more fabulous or more inspiring than that?!

Please do take the time to check out Shoes by Shaherazad and the great work this company and its hardworking founder, Shaherazad Umbreen, are doing. What a fantastic enterprise!

Shoes and tea

Shoes and tea – a winning combination!

Time for tea?
In between stepping out and a much needed rest, I’ve been very lucky to try a huge number of fantastic teas – more on each and every one soon, but in the meantime, check out your exclusive Tea with Rachael discount of 30% off your first tea subscription box from the lovely people at Tea Tourist – just enter TEAWITHRACHAEL30 at checkout.

More great offers to follow soon, too – enjoy!

Rachael xx

Reuse, Recycle, Relove – Sustainable Fashion

Vintage Gap jumpsuit bought on Vinted

My lovely vintage Gap jumpsuit bought on Vinted. Photo credit: Yi Ling Huang

Vintage dresser for my vintage clothes and accesories

My vintage dresser to house some of my vintage clothing and accessory finds

I have always been a bit of a hoarder, particularly when it comes to fashion. I keep clothes and accessories for years and years, and often wear a mixture of old and new pieces, lovingly matched and coordinated. I do love to be “matchy-matchy” with coordinating colours across all my clothes and accessories! I have luckily not really changed size too much since my late teens, meaning I have been able to keep and continue using old favourites and bring them back to life with some new additions to the wardrobe.

 

I also love vintage fashion and buy a lot of it online, from like-minded ladies on Twitter, where a group of us meet up every wednesday at 8pm for #vintagefindhour, organised by the lovely Sarah-Jane Hosegood (find her on Twitter at @vintagefindhour or @vintagehomeshop), through using handy apps such as Vinted and Etsy, and regularly combing charity shops, vintage and secondhand designer clothes stores for vintage bargains.

I also love a nod to vintage styles, such as historical fabrics and prints from Liberty or the V&A. I was very excited to see that the V&A had recently collaborated with Oasis, one of my favourite high street shops, on a range of stunning clothes and accessories with vintage prints. I bought a number of pretty tops – my favourite is this silky electric blue number, which I have worn and worn!

Lovely blue top from V and A and Oasis collaboration

My favourite top from the beautiful V and A and Oasis collaboration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is something that has been passed down to me through the generations: I have a very glamorous grandmother who always has beautifully matched and coordinated outfits, as well as a very impressive shoe and handbag collection – including a pair of shoes with Wedgewood heels from the 70s – with many items dating back through the years. My mum, also glamorous and youthful, also keeps her good quality items for many years and, like me, matches with new items or vintage treasures that she has a particularly good eye in seeking out.

1980s YSL jacket from a charity shop

Fab charity shop vintage find – a 1980s YSL jacket

While I love shopping and browsing fashion magazines, keeping and reusing my clothes and accessories has always been important to me. I’m a firm believer in reloving and reusing classic items and mixing fashions from different eras. And it’s stood me in good stead – everything comes back into fashion again (I knew I shouldn’t part with my super-flattering 90s flared jeans when skinnies took over – and I was right!)

These days, it is more important than ever to be eco conscious, so by reusing, recycling and reloving your clothing and accessories, this is a a real and easy way to be able to make a difference and contribute to the sustainable fashion movement. Certain high street shops are also now doing their part – H&M gives a £5 voucher for every bag donated to their textile recycling bin, where you can also – very usefully – recycle your unwanted household textiles. Marks & Spencer has a similar donation box and scheme to take your unwanted clothes. Both H&M and Marks & Spencer also offer Earth friendly ranges made from sustainable and organic fabrics.

I was recently interviewed as a case study for a national newspaper about using Vinted and some of the fabulous items I have purchased on there, taking some pictures and sharing some of my fab fashion finds – another post to follow once it’s been published! I also sell a number of items of clothing and accessories on there – adding some items every few weeks. I even managed to pay for our removals last time we moved house with the proceeds of my sales so far. There is a real sense of community among “Vinties”, and I have found it very enjoyable both hunting for bargains and selling a few of my own.

I also love the camaraderie within the vintage community. The lovely people who join #vintagefindhour each week are vintage enthusiasts across the spectrum – they all sell or buy vintage items, from antiques and upcycled furniture, to vintage clothes from the 1920s-1980s, to vintage china, crockery and homewares. I discovered this wonderful group a couple of years ago now – and, as well as finding a number of fabulous vintage bargains, have found some lovely, likeminded friends. We even try to meet together when we can for an in-person meet up, but I have yet to be able to make one of those with a pretty hectic schedule. Definitely next time, though!

Vintage patterns

Lovely vintage inspired patterns from Oasis

Vintage Chanel shoes and Oasis patterned trousers

Vintage Chanel shoes with brightly patterned trousers from Oasis

 

Until next time, why not embrace the joys of reusing and recycling your own wardrobe? It’s really good fun to rummage through your own clothes, bags, shoes, jewellery and scarves, and to rediscover past favourites or items that have come back into style. Even if you’re not interested in collecting or buying vintage clothes and accessories, by making the most of the wardrobe you already have, you may well find some undiscovered treasures, some fab new outfits, and who knows – perhaps the vintage of the future?

Wearing my blue V and A and Oasis top in London

Me wearing my favourite blue top out and about in London

Tea and vintage

Enjoying a nice cup of tea in my vintage Gap jumpsuit, bought on Vinted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have fun!

Rachael xx

Tea at Tiffany’s – a bite of the Big Apple in Surrey

Twinings Tea, Audrey and Cat!

Tea at Tiffany’s – actually the very lovely Warren House!

New York is my all-time favourite city and my ‘happy place’, but I love my home in leafy Surrey, too.

A classic representation of New York, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is also one of my all-time favourite films. When I was last in New York, back in June last year, I bought a number of books inspired by both this iconic Audrey Hepburn film and the mythical status of Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue – “Fifth Avenue, 3AM” and “Summer at Tiffany’s”. It’s making me long to go back to the amazing NYC again! More on my amazing trip to the Big Apple soon…

My Holly Golightly looks

My Holly Golightly-inspired outfit – and Cat!

 

My lovely friends at The Secret Tea Society, also huge fans of both Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Audrey Hepburn, recreated the magic of the film and paid homage to the wonderful Audrey in a Breakfast at Tiffany’s-themed afternoon tea, right here in lovely Surrey!

Lovely, peaceful garden

The stunning secret grotto garden!

I was so excited to put on my little black dress (a cute little number from Anna Sui, bought especially for the occasion and based on the outfit that Holly Golightly wears when she visits Sing Sing); my black patent kitten heel Jimmy Choos (appropriately purchased in Saks Fifth Avenue during my visit last June) and some fabulous jewellery (a very sparkly choker-style necklace bought for me by one of my lovely Sisters-in-Law a few years ago) for this most elegant of teas! I even put my hair up in a bouffant bun!

Taking with me Cat (not my real cat, but a very lifelike soft toy!) and raincoat in reference to the iconic final scene of the movie, I headed over to the stunning Warren House, the venue for our special event. Greeted warmly by the lovely lady at reception and our tea sommelier for the afternoon, I headed into the stylish sitting room reserved just for the ladies of the Secret Tea Society. The sun beamed through the windows and the French doors were open onto a secret grotto – an adorable cobbled garden and fountain, which led to the statuesque grounds, where other happy guests were enjoying sumptuous afternoon teas.

Choosing our Twinings loose leaf tea

Choosing our Twinings loose leaf tea at Warren House – spoiled for choice!

After a glass of Champagne and catching up with the fabulous Secret Tea ladies, we sat down to play a few games – a prize for the best representation of Audrey Hepburn/Holly Golightly (my lovely table-mate, Clare, won with her striking Holly Golightly party look!) and a quiz to see who knew the most fun facts about the film (my table won, naturally!) Our prize was a copy of the film and, of course, some delicious tea, from Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.

Lovely afternoon tea at Warren House

Delicious teatime treats at Warren House

Next, we chose our Twinings loose-leaf tea – I decided to try both the Darjeeling and Assam – two of my favourites and full of flavour!

 

Then we were delighted to see the fantastic spread appear before our eyes – delicate, flavourful sandwiches, dainty, melt-in-the-mouth scones, the most amazing mini cinnamon loaves, tempting cakes and sweet treats. After stuffing ourselves happily with as much as we could manage, there was stll plenty left to take doggy bags home!

The Tiffany's-inspired decorations I took home

Some of the lovely Tiffany’s-inspired decorations

We also each took home some of the beautiful decorations that our “Hostess With the Mostest”, Founder of the Secret Tea Society, Claire Worrell, had lovingly made: Tiffany-blue-green pom-poms, ladylike table flowers adorned with Tiffany-style ribbon and pearl decorations, matching feathers and shiny butterflies! I have mine proudly on display next to my Tiffany-coloured heart chalkboard in the kitchen.

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! I had such a good time, and it was tremendous fun not only seeing all my lovely Secret Tea friends again, but seeing everyone in their fabulous outfits. I also cannot recommend Warren House and the incredible team there highly enough.

Both an afternoon and an Afternoon Tea to remember! X

#AngelCandy – Fragrant memories

My Angel gift boxThe lovely people at Thierry Mugler recently invited me to participate in #AngelCandy – a real treat and an experience for the senses!

I excitedly opened my beautifully wrapped gift box to find a sparkling miniature star of Angel Eau de Parfum, shining silver star confetti, and two delicate blue meringues, which were truly scrumptious!

Shiny Angel meringuesAngel has always been an evocative scent for me. I remember the first time I tried it, working in a designer boutique that sold both Mugler clothing and perfumes before and during university. It was so different, so unusual, and something about it was so memorable. I used to have an occasional spritz during the day, as a comforting scent to keep me going during long working days.

#AngelCandyOne of my best friends took a shine to the fragrance and wore it as her signature scent for many years. It will always make me think of her; of spending fun times out on the town or wandering the sunny riverbank of our hometown together.

I filled in my card of how it makes me feel, and it conjured up many different senses and emotions, all of them happy and contented.

I was asked to create a mood board of how it makes me feel, something I love doing and find really inspiring! So I created a few different mood boards, each showing the different paths that a memorable scent can lead you down, and expressing the feelings I associate with Angel and my favourite scents from life and nature.

Friendship moodboardOne mood board reflects the friendship, fun and memories that a waft of Angel brings to my mind. Another reflects the comforts of home and the contented, reassuring feeling I get when wearing certain fragrances, or when I smell certain scents, at home or away.

Home inspiration moodboardThe other mood board reflects the unique, otherworldly nature of this enduring fragrance – some of the elements that make it exciting and different and remind me of my good friend who I feel embodies the Angel Candy girl.

Ethereal moodboardHow does scent make you feel? There are always different associations, memories, and thoughts evoked by different fragrances, all there waiting to be explored.

I encourage you to explore your own, preferably when relaxing with a comforting cup of tea and sweet treat – that’s the time I find my inspiration! X

An inspiring evening with Ilene Steele, jewellery designer

Last week, I was privileged to be invited to a “Meet the Maker” evening with the jewellery designer, Ilene Steele, organised by the fab people at Thinkers PR. The evening was an intimate gathering of bloggers and writers, offering a unique opportunity to introduce the fabulous new collection and to meet the lady herself in her studios and workshop in London’s jewellery capital of Hatton Garden. I was excited to attend, having seen pictures of some stunning jewellery and some really different designs on Ilene’s website, so was thrilled to travel across London with my fellow blogger friend to see where it all happens, to meet Ilene and her delightful daughter, the Thinkers team and a group of lovely like-minded bloggers.

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IMG_2150On muggy, sunny, evening, it was a little too hot to sit down and chat over a cup of tea (or coffee, being Ilene’s hot drink of choice!) but I did get the chance to try on and view Ilene’s beautiful latest jewellery collections and to natter with her and other guests over an ice-cold drink and some amazing home-made Guacamole (made by the designer herself, naturally)!

Originally hailing from New York, (one of my favourite cities – more on that later!) Ilene lives in East London and loves the creative, vibrant atmosphere of Dalston and the surrounding areas, which remind her of parts of the Big Apple! Ilene told us that the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the key inspirations for Ilene’s work, reflecting the ‘sea of life’ that is experienced in a busy metropolis, “I draw inspiration from the urban environment: the architecture, the swarms of people, the pace of life…” I can completely identify with that as a source of energy and inspiration, particularly the buzz that you get from New York, and I’m not even a native New Yorker (though often wish I was)! I am also always inspired by water and the sea in particular, so this collection certainly struck a chord with me.

My favourite piece from Ilene’s Wave Collection is this blue ring, in 18-Carat White Gold with an emerald-cut stone and strikingly different band. The ‘wave’ effect is created using a cuttlefish, bringing togetheIMG_2155r inspiration from the sea and modern life in one stunning piece of jewellery. It reminds me of waves on the sand, and Ilene mentioned that it is one of her favourite pieces, too!

Ilene’s work is genuinely different in that the sparkling precious stones in the jewellery actually face the wearer – implying special meaning or significance for the wearer themselves. It’s also a cheering sight to see a little bit of sparkle on a gloomy day! This makes it so much more appealing than mass-produced items, and means you can have a piece of jewellery that is really unique to you, and you alone. This also particularly appealed to me, as each and every piece of jewellery I own or have owned has always held special meaning for me in some way, and reminds me of specific life events, people, or thoughts.

IMG_2163Bringing together all this creativity into such high-quality pieces of jewellery is clearly no mean feat – it’s very hard to believe that Ilene has only been designing jewellery for four years! “I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly practical or creative person,” laughed Ilene, “I come from a very academic background. But I find designing and shaping the pieces therapeutic – always learning as I go, and in turn learning from each mistake! I discover new techniques, styles and inspiration along the way.”

IMG_2165I found it a truly inspiring evening, and was delighted to meet Ilene and find out more about her work and what makes her tick in an informal and intimate setting.

Ilene will feature again in my New York/London piece soon, but in the meantime, I am jotting down a few of her styles on my wish list! There’s still my wedding anniversary and Christmas left for not-so-subtle hints this year, so who knows?! 😉

Keep sparkling! X