Friday, 30 September 2016

An Ode to China's Parks


Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Week in Pictures: Shanghai 2


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Sunset in Tarifa

MANGO jumpsuit, ADIDAS slides

It's been a while since I've updated with an outfit post; for some bizarre reason my male housemates in Shanghai are not too obliging with taking outfit photos, let alone the patience to make sure you get that angle (we've all been there). Such are the woes of a fashion blogga (/female).. The photographer for this set needed a little coaxing too, but was eventually happy to take a few snaps as we watched the sun set over the Gibraltar Strait, the piece of water that separates Spain and Morocco, Europe and Africa. 

Tarifa is truly a magical place. The setting for The Alchemist's pinnacle scene, the meeting point between African and European culture and nowadays are very chic place with the benefit of being totally unassuming. I fell totally in love with Tarifa this summer. I will post some photos of Tarifa itself at some point not too far from now. 

The uniform is a simple navy/ red/ white combination... I love glimpses of colour poking through the slouchy polka dot treasure that is this jumpsuit. And what better to stroll around with sand between your toes than adidas classic slides? Ultimate comfort and understated styling in my opinion. 


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Week in Pictures: Shanghai


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Travel: Shanghai in the Summer

Although I spent my third year out of university in Shanghai, I experienced only three seasons in that first visit: autumn, winter and spring. I had given the prospect of a summer in Shanghai limited thought, taking comfort in and relying on my experience of the long dry Spanish summers I have been accustomed to throughout my childhood. 

Shanghai's take on summer was a shock to my unprepared self. The hot air hits you in waves as you walk along the street, the beauty and calm of the tree lined streets providing only the most minimal of respite. Wet hair takes seconds to dry, clothes stick to wet trails on your back and every step is a movement you must consciously coax your body into. It's going to take some adapting. 

On the other hand, Shanghai's ludicrously hot weather has provided a breeding ground for crickets. The cacophony heard at all times round our compound is not in the least bit diminished by our nineteenth floor location. In fact, the sound seems to lift us even higher creating an invisible natural barrier between us above and the world carrying on below. Sometimes if you're particularly attentive to it, you can hear a passer by whistle or a child babbling loudly to its parent despite the crickets’ song. The distance the sounds create between you and the ground below serve only to bring further into focus the image of travelling on a cloud, separated from below by cricket song and the tree canopy around our compound. If you closed your eyes and used a little imagination you might even convince yourself you're in a little farm in the countryside, not in one of the most populous cities on earth. At once comforting and disorientating, it's nevertheless the only season I have felt that nature has any sign of competing with the urban sprawl of Shanghai's skyscrapers. 

Last night, my second night and the end of my first full day, a cricket actually lost its way and flew into the apartment. How the comparatively tiny creature of 10cm in length mustered the strength in its wings to climb to the nineteenth floor is a mystery to me but must also be acknowledged as a testimony to its determination. Having tried peacefully to guide it towards our wide open French doors, it died a somewhat anticlimactic death in the air conditioning vent. Nature is both generous and cruel at times. 

Photos taken on an iPhone 6

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Waiting on Summer: Gingham Culottes

THRIFTED sunglasses, TOPSHOP crop top, ZARA culottes, 
SWATCH watch, H&M necklace, SUPERGA sneaks

I don't know if it's the Andalusian light or my squinty face which screams SUMMER louder in these photos, but my clothes are saying 'care free' as I hope to be in a couple of weeks when I finish full-time work in a restaurant, fly home to Spain and bathe in some (even if I do say so myself) well-deserved rays! 

A (much cooler than me) gal on Twitter said in the deepest, darkest months of winter 'wake me up when it's culotte season' and it resonated with me deeply. That care-free attitude that I mentioned earlier is met with the elated feeling of exposing ankles and not experiencing imminent frostbite. Culotte season, in other words, is synonymous with happy season and summer season which is why, as demonstrated in the images above, they conjure up the hottest of seasons for me. Counting down days until I can reenact this. 

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Raiding Mum's Closet: Mango Wrap Around Skirt

STRADIVARIUS tee, VINTAGE MANGO wrap skirt, TOPMAN sunglasses
SPANISH BOUTIQUE sneaks (similar), MANGO bag

I wore this last week while in Spain on a short mini break (and posted it on Instagram), and really enjoyed it... A mixture of the subdued colours, the sneaks and this awesome skirt I dug out of my Mum's closet. Absolutely love that detail which you can wear either at the front or the back. Turns out, she bought it before I was born! Another point towards investing and looking after your clothes. 

It's dissertation and exam time this May, so Instagram and Facebook are deleted for now. I've got to tell you, Mums are right; I've noticed such a difference in my concentration levels and general time wasting behaviour. I will re-download them once my dissertation is in next week, but I will be assessing whether I slip into my old procrastination patterns and may have to delete for the whole of the exam period. Social media is really such a time thief. 

These Topman sunglasses have become one of my favourite items of late, solving the issue of lusting after the Raybans ones but not enough to actually invest in the real deal!

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Saturday, 16 April 2016

How To Dress For A Food Baby

Vintage Whistles pants (similar), Zara top (similar), Topshop sandals, Olivia Burton watch

This post is for anyone who dreads that self-conscious feeling that comes from wearing something tight to a meal; you were feeling the reflection in the mirror before you left the house, yet once past the bread course you're adjusting, breathing in and generally not enjoying yourself. Worse yet: your outfit actually affects your meal choice. I bring you solutions. 

Going out to eat in Spain - I would argue especially Southern Spain - is a joy. Not only is it usually warm enough to sit outside at any hour, but it's relaxed, varied, delicious and tapas come in at 1€. These kind of prices mean that it's extremely common for people my age to eat out with their friends relatively regularly, something that is not always possible in the UK. Chatting with friends until whatever hour, ordering rounds of 1€ serranitos, that waistline has the potential of becoming a tad tight. 

So here is my answer: wide leg pants to keep it smart and up-to-date, a smart top (wear white at your own risk... I'm so clumsy) and some matching jewellery and lips. I've been enjoying wide leg pants for a while, I love the way they're a) comfy as it comes, b) a fast-track to longer legs and c) that smart-smasual I'm always looking for. You may be able to tell that these are some old photos from the summer, but with a few alterations I don't see why this is not a year-round winner combination. This combination can be covered with a long heavy coat until you arrive at the restaurant if it's a less than balmy night (Manchester speciality) and the sandals for some smart flats. You're ready to enjoy the evening and, crucially, order those carbs. 

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Photos by Roo Chapell Elkin

Monday, 11 April 2016

Feature: #withOxfam

Hubert and his family fled their home 
Hubert mending clothes at the Kibati camp in the DRC
Marceline making a dress
Photo credit in order: Marie Cacace (Oxfam), Marie Cacace (Oxfam), Skye Wheeler, Skye Wheeler 

My head is always caught between immaculate Instagram feeds, Asian students turning my head with flawless taste at my University and Zara window displays 
the knowledge that deep down clothes are insignificant, appearances are a tiny speckle in what makes up a person and the absurdity of the speed at which fashion trends come and go

The latter feelings are why I made a conscious decision to put any fashion-related career aspirations to the side and concentrate on my other, arguably greater, passion: Chinese. I've found my intellectual, visual, gastronomical and sartorial needs fulfilled in this physical and conceptual place. 
My blog, although currently a bit neglected due to 8 weeks until my last exam at university, is still one of my favourite things to do and a source of creativity that I appreciate. I've been considering expanding it a little with maybe longer articles and more of an emphasis on sustainable fashion. 

Which is why I was so excited to be contact by Oxfam to write on a sustainable fashion post. Oxfam are currently running a program of Bloggers Against Poverty, especially with a case study of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 

As you may or may not know, the DRC is recovering from decades of war-torn conflict. Many of the DRC population fled the violence in search of safety. There are more than 55,000 people in the Kibati camp. Oxfam provides water for the camp but, due to the nature of their flee, many people arrived at the camp with nothing, least of all ways to provide for their families. 

Hubert (name changed) and Marceline, however, brought one vital possession with them: their sewing machine. In the few moments Hubert had to flee his house, he made the tough decision to bring his heavy Singer sewing machine hoping that it might help him make a living to feed his family on arrival at Kibati camp. In his own words, "I knew I had to take it with me. I was here back in 2009 without any means to survive and I did not want to put my family in this situation again". He charges 100 Congolese francs (approx. 8 pence) for his services but at least it is enough to feed his wife, mother and two children once a day. 
Marceline Habyarimana is a tailor. Like Hubert, she also fled the fighting with her sewing machine, carrying it to the camp the whole way on her head. Her husband carried the table with the foot pedal that operates the machine. Whereas Hubert mends clothes, Marceline makes dresses for about 1500 Congolese Francs (under £1.50). Clients come from nearby Goma town with the cloth that she then tailors. The people in Kibati camp rarely have enough money to pay for a new dress so she relies on the people from Goma. 

Oxfam helps people across the world by providing safe water, sanitation equipment and hygiene 
essentials in an emergency. The award-winning ‘Oxfam bucket’ includes essentials from soap to sanitary towels, to help people who may have lost everything to stay clean and healthy. They also run training sessions to teach people new skills such as sewing, tailoring and, basket making.
Most importantly, Oxfam encourages national initiatives and increased regional and international 
political engagement which has led to important advances and new agreements to resolve conflict 
and insecurity in places like the DRC.

What a Regular Donation Can Do
- £2.50 can provide 25 water treatment sachets to a family in an emergency. This is enough to make around 500 litres of water safe: enough to last a family of four for a month. 
- £5 can provide 20 Award winning ‘Oxfam buckets’ which allow people to access clean water without risk of contamination by dirt and disease, as it has a closable lid and a tap.
A regular gift to Oxfam changes lives around the world. By giving a monthly donation you can help 
transform whole communities, for good. To donate, please follow this link:


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Thursday, 17 March 2016

What To Wear To Uni: The Oversized Jumper

PRIMARK jumper, MANGO coat (similar), ADIDAS superstars
ZARA two strap bag, H&M men's beanie, ASOS earrings

The second in my What to Wear To Uni series (catch the number one here). Recently I've been more and more influenced by the simplistic visual style of bloggers such as Vanessa Hong, Natalie Liao and Jeanne Grey. By this I mean sparse colours, strong dominant shapes and, crucially, pieces that stand alone and could individually make any outfit on their own; those not so basic basics.

However, I'm swapping Prada for Primark in this instance because - let's face it - no normal student has that kind of money sitting around. I've also never been someone to pick up something just because it's 'On Sale' or on a whim; there's usually thought or planning behind each purchase. To some this may seem too deliberate but actually I have found that through time I'm developing a wardrobe that can be paired in countless combinations and still work. This is because each item is already strong on its own. 

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Thursday, 3 March 2016

What To Wear To Uni Series: All In One

STRADIVARIUS jumpsuit, MANGO leather jacket (similar), 
STRADIVARIUS roll neck, ADIDAS sneaks

We're kicking off the 'What to Wear to Uni' series, ironically, with a piece that had my mum burst out laughing when I picked it off the rack in store. She couldn't believe my first thought to this jumpsuit was library but all I saw was day-long comfort with no compromise style-wise. Ya feel? 

The University themed series came about as, let's face it, I spend 80% of my waking hours there during the week. From that we can infer I've had some practise, plus a few of my classmates have been asking for advice as to how to dress for a day of study. Apparently this isn't your usual library wear but I insist that it's got all the components for a heavy day in front of the books: fuss-free, comfortable, a beautiful shade of grey and eye-catching. Perhaps for some readers 'eye-catching' wouldn't come as a library essential, but you're reading a fashion blog... what do you expect?!

Some days I feel the clothes I choose to wear are my only time to play around and create some self-expression. Forever an advocate of finding every combination a piece can be styled into, I love categorising outfits according to occasion. Naturally, being my final semester of university, the occasion tends to be the library. More of these outfits to come.

I am into day 8 of not having a phone, which is inevitably taking its emotional and practical toll - but stand by Instagram and all the other media channels as the reunion is going to be so so sweet!

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