The Cool Girls Summer To-Do List…

The start of June means summer is officially here!  I already feel like my summer has kicked off with a bang after my amazing week spent with vising friends exploring Italy and embracing the sun – blog post to follow soon!

We spent the week reminiscing about our beautiful summers past and catching up on what we have planned for the next few months.  And it confirmed my idea that summer’s are meant to be spent with friends, having fun, embracing all opportunities and creating amazing memories.  Here is my cool girls summer to-do list with ideas to make sure you have the best summer ever…

The Cool Girls Guide to Summer

Take a European City Break with Best Friends.

Taking a trip to a European city with your best friends is such a fun way to kick off your summer season.  Discover cute shops and cafes by walking around the city streets, feel inspired at exhibitions and museums, drink red wine in sunny plaza’s and try delicious foods.  Plus its a great way to bond with your friends and create cool memories together.

Go to a Music Festival.

Get your girl group together and hit up a music festival this summer.  You can go to a day festival in your city, spend a weekend camping at a cool hippie festival like Glastonbury or Bestival, or combine it with a beach holiday and hit up some of the festivals in Croatia, Spain or Portugal.

Go Strawberry Picking.

Strawberry picking in summer is so much fun and there are strawberry farms all over the countryside.  Put on vintage dresses and spend the afternoon with friends picking strawberries and chilling in the sun.  The best part is feasting on strawberries afterwards or having a baking session and making strawberry tarts.

Throw a Garden Party.  

Embrace sunny Sunday’s and throw a girls party in your garden.  Serve prosecco, summer fruits, cupcakes, mini sandwiches, healthy salads and tasty teas and ask everyone to wear cute dresses.  You can have fun getting creative by covering your garden in bunting and decorating the table in a cute vintage theme too.

Read an Inspirational Book.

Long summer days are the perfect time to get reading and feel inspired.  Don’t know what to read… Check out my Reading Guide for ideas.

Have an After-Work Picnic.

Even if you have to spend you days in the office, embrace summer evenings by organizing to meet your friends for an after-work picnic.  Go to a cool park in your city, get everyone to bring some food, pop some prosecco and have dinner together al-fresco.

Hit the Beach.

You have to hit the beach at least once during summer even if you don’t live by the sea.  Plan a girls holiday to a beautiful beach town, go island hopping somewhere exotic or take a road trip and visit a cute seaside town, then spend the days swimming in the sea, eating ice-creams and topping up your tan.

Check Out Some Exhibitions.

If travel isn’t possible for you this summer check out what cool things are going on in your local area.  Visit some exhibitions, check out new museums and see what fun events are happening.  Its a great way to feel inspired and excited about your summer plans without breaking your budget.

Find a Cool Summer Cocktail Spot.

Long summer nights are the perfect opportunity to have a girls night out with friends.  Plan to go somewhere you haven’t been to before like an artsy pub, an underground speedeasy or a cool rooftop bar.

Travel to a Country You’ve Never Seen Before.

Get somewhere ticked off you travel bucket list by organizing a trip to a country you have never seen before.  Traveling is a great way to get inspiration, open your mind and have an adventure and the best way to add some magic to your summer is going somewhere exciting and new!

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My Spring Reading List

Spring is upon us here is Milan! The weather has been amazing recently with sunshine and blue skies nearly everyday.  Its only April and the weather is as good as an English summer! This makes me so happy because it means summer is on its way.  And makes me long for lazy weekends spent chilling in the park and reading lots of books.

So with that in mind I thought I would share with you my Spring reading list.  What are you reading at the moment? I love book recommendations so please share your favorite books in the comments below…

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(photo from pinterest.com)

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff – Set between Copenhagen, Paris & Dresden in the 1920’s ‘The Danish Girl’ explores ideas of love, gender, marriage and discovering true identities.  The story expresses a beautiful insight into the main characters feelings and emotions during his transgender journey and becoming one with himself.  I can’t wait to watch the film too.

Self by Yann Martel – Written by the author of Life of Pi, ‘Self’ explores the differences between women & man, violence & happiness and life & death through his half autobiographical-half fictional novel.  I am intrigued to see what this book will be like, but as I loved Life of Pi I am expecting it to be great!

The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie – This book tells the story of an abandoned kitten rescued from the New Delhi streets and taken to live with a Dalai Lama in Tibet.  The cat spends it days sitting next to the Dalai Lama and listens to his conversations & teachings with Hollywood Stars, Buddhist Masters, Professors, Philanthropists and all who come to visit the Dalai Lama.  Over time the cat gains an insight into finding peace in a busy and challenging world and shares interesting ideas on finding happiness from his own perspective.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg –  Ever since reading Sophia Amoruso’s book I am all about the Girl Boss! So Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In went straight on my reading list.  Her autobiography speaks about building a career, being a powerful women in business and getting to the top of your field.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

If you want some more book recommendations check out my post ‘My Winter Reading Guide’

 

Six Films to Watch if you Love Fashion…

When it comes to finding fashion inspiration, films are one of the first places I turn too.  As much as I love creating fashion photography for my work, for me there is something so special in watching the outfits comes to life on screen and seeing how they help depict the characters.  I love looking at fashion throughout history and watching films is a great way to do that.  Here is a list of six films I love for their fashion and style…

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Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The beautiful Audrey Hepburn plays the character of Holly Golightly, a New York escort and socialite.  The opening scene of the film starts with Audrey strolling past Tiffany’s wearing a chic LBD and pearl necklace and has been a major style influence ever since.

The Duchess

This film tells the story of aristocrat Georgiana Cavandish, Duchess of Devenshire, played by Keira Knightly.  Considered a style icon of her time Georgina was well know for her extravagant parties, beauty and fashion sense however her life was shadowed in sadness and heartbreak.  Her embellished dresses and luxurious jewellery & hats are an inspiration to anyone who loves period costume.

Marie Antoniette

Telling the story of France’s indulgent queen who lived a life of luxury in her palaces full of dresses, shoe and cake (“Let them eat cake”) while her people lived in poverty and starvation in Paris.  This movie is as much about history as it is about the beautiful fashions of the times and shows incredible costume dresses, hats, shoes and jewellery.

Clueless

If you love 90’s inspired fashion then this is the film for you.  There is denim, tartan, knee-high socks and mini backpacks galore.  The young Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash totally rock their roles as rich, air head teenagers loving life in their American high school.

This Is England

Shane Meadow’s independent film is set in 1980’s northern Britain and follows a group of young skinheads finding their place in the world in the aftermath of The Falklands war.  The film has a stylish-retro edge showing the subcultures defining style of shaved heads, Dr. Martins and Fred Perry polo shirts – I love it!

The Great Gatsby

In true Baz Luhrmann style this movie is spectacular, colorful and elaborate.  If you love the beautiful dresses of the roaring twenties then you will love this movie filled with flapper dresses, sequins, feathers and sparkle.  Costumes were designed specially by Miuccia Prada and are amazing.

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The Sartorialist Book Signing…

Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist at his book signing in Milan.  I have long been a fan of his work and so was really excited when I heard he was coming to Milan yesterday.

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For those who are new to the fashion world, ten years ago fashion photographer Scott Schuman started a blog called The Sartorialist after feeling a strong disconnect between clothes he saw on the runway and what real people were wearing.  He travels around the world, mainly in Milan, New York, Paris and London, and searches the streets for people with unique personal style or that special wow-factor that separates them from the rest.  He photographs these people and posts the photos on his blog.  Some people he speaks to and shares their story, others he photographs from afar and captures their personal movements and emotions.  His work started off the now huge trend of Street Style and to appear on his blog is considered an honor in the fashion world.

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Yesterday’s book signing was for the launch of his third book ‘X’ which marks the past ten years of his career.  Alongside photographers of fashionista’s from around the globe, Schuman has also included a collection of photos of real people from India, Bhutan and Peru.  He focuses on their traditional style of clothing, the interesting colour combinations they wear and how people with supposedly nothing are still able to communicate their own scene of style.  Street Style has always been something very inspirational for my work, but I loved to see this more unusual set of photos mixed into the book.

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The signing was perfectly timed to coincide with Milan’s men’s week and took place inside beautiful men’s wear shop Larusmiani on Via Montenapoleone.  I was lucky enough to be one of the first in the que and it was really amazing to meet a photographer who has inspired my work for such a long time.  Scott Schuman was really nice and enthusiastic to meet each person and so interesting to talk to.  It was such an incredible experience to meet him and I am in love with my new signed book.

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Postive Vibes – 17 Things I am Thankful For This Christmas…

Yesterday I flew to England for ten days of Christmas celebrations and fun! I still have some work to catch up on, but all my important projects and big deadlines have finished for the year and I am really looking forward to taking some time out and seeing my family and friends.  As the year winds down and the celebrations begin I always like to take this time to think about the things I am happy about which happened during the year and what cool stuff I want to do in the year to come.  Here is my what I am thankful for this Christmas…

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1. Being at home with my family.  Living in Italy means I don’t get to see my family very much so when I do see them it is always really special.

2. Catching up with friends.  I miss my friends so much when I am not at home and I cannot wait to have a big Christmas meal together, catch up, drink wine and have fun.  They are the best people I know and whenever I am with them I never stop laughing and loving life.

3. Special time with my boyfriend.  Before I left for England me and my boyfriend celebrated an early Christmas dinner together.  We cooked amazing food, drank champagne and opened our presents to each other.  In the run up to Christmas we have both been super busy so it was so nice to have a night all about us.

4. Taking some time out to chill.  I have been working really hard recently and for the next two weeks I am all about chilling, relaxing and making time for me.

5. Christmas food! As much as I love Italian food you can’t beat traditional turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes and mince pies.  My Dad is a chef and he makes the BEST food over Christmas.  I love it!

6. Presents! I know that sounds shallow but presents are one of my favourite thing about Christmas.  Not because I love getting new stuff but because I love buying presents for my friends and family and I love seeing their reactions when they open them.

7. Having a week off in Milan when I get back from England.  For the last two years I have spent the whole of Christmas and New Years in England.  But this year we decided to give ourselves a break from all the visiting and moving around and spend the last week of the holidays at home in Milan.  I am actually really excited to have a whole week at home with nothing planned and I want to do some major sale shopping, try new yummy restaurants and do some sight-seeing in Milan.

8. Cuddles with our new Labrador puppy – she is so cute!

9. Chilling on the sofa watching Christmas films and reading lots of books.

10. Having time to recap and review. 2015 has been amazing for me. I set up my own business as a Stylist, I did some amazing photo shoots and I worked for some really cool magazines. I feel so happy about how everything has started off and I am excited about my plans for 2016.

11. The travel I have done.  This year I visited Amsterdam and Sri Lanka and did a lot of traveling around Italy.  I had so much fun and I am super grateful for the amazing experiences.

12. The cool magazines I have worked for.  Since setting up as a freelance stylist in July I have worked with some really cool international fashion magazines.  I have loved every project I have worked on and I can’t wait to start shooting again after Christmas.

13. The amazing photographers, brands, models and MUA’s I have collaborated with.  I find working with new people really inspirational and this year I have been so lucky to have worked with lots of really cool and talented people.

14. Our home restyling project.  When we moved into the house two years ago we decided we needed to restyle everything.  This year we redecorated the living room and started on the kitchen and it feels amazing coming home to a beautiful house I love.  I am a home interior addict so I can’t wait to start doing more stuff.

15. My girly weekends away.  This year I had a girly weekend at the beach and a weekend away with my friends in a country cottage.  I don’t get to see my friends as much as I would like to so both these holidays were so much fun and super special to me.

16. For finding the most amazing yoga class near my house and discovering how much I LOVE yoga. My teacher is amazing and this year I have learnt so much about meditation, chakras, yoga posing and strength. I never thought of myself as a sporty person before but I go to classes two or three times a week and I love it. My goal for this Christmas is to do yoga every morning to stay healthy and fit.

17. To all you lovely people who follow and read my blog.  Your comments and support is amazing and really motivating and I appreciate you guys coming along for the ride.

And there we have it guys.  I wish you all an amazing week of fun in the run up to Christmas and a magical Christmas Day!

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My Winter Reading Guide…

I don’t know about you guys but as winter comes in I love chilling on my sofa under a big blanket, drinking tea and reading books.  Right now we are having a four day weekend in Milan (yay!) and as I have been so busy with photo shoots, I am taking the whole weekend to relax and take it easy.  That means baking mince pies, decorating the house for Christmas and reading lots of books.  Here is my reading list in the run up to Christmas…

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(photo taken from pinterest.com)

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt.  I just finished this book and it is amazing.  Written in a strange biographical way, full of personal accounts, interviews and journal extracts, The Blazing World tells the story of female artist Harriet Burden who conducts an experiment by presenting her work behind male fronts to see if women are treated differently in the art world.  The story is really interesting.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.  I love reading and I am slightly embarrassed to say I have never read any of the classics, the reason being I always imagine them to be long and wordy and slightly boring!  But I decided this winter I should at least give one a go and I decided to start with this one.  It’s actually amazing!  I started it on Friday and I am already half way through!

Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso.  I haven’t read this one yet but it is written by owner of amazing online store Nasty Gal.  It’s all about the growth of Sophia’s career through Fashion, how she set up Nasty Gal and is full of advise for other girls wanted to build a successful career too.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.  I read To Kill a Mocking Bird at school and I loved it.  The story is so sad and real and I found it really touching.  So I have been waiting to read to stories sequel, set two decades later, since it came out this summer.

I love being recommended new books, so let me know what you are reading in the comments below or check out my summer reading list for more book ideas…

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Beating September Blues

As I sit writing this post I am snuggled up on my sofa with a hot cup of tea because it is TORRENTIALLY raining outside.  Its looking really cold and really grey and really wet.  Living in Italy means I have not seen weather like this for a while and I am taking its presence as a sign autumn is definitely on its way.

I actually really like the start of Autumn because I think it brings with it a sense of renewing and restarting after a long summer break – I still get that ‘back to school’ feeling – and I love seeing the autumn colours in the trees. (See my Ciao Milano post for 20 reasons I am happy for autumn in milan.)  But I admit, as the evenings start to creep in earlier and the weather starts to turn bad I do sometimes get a pang for summer to return.

If you feel the same then here is my list of fun ways to beat September Blues…

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1) Have a hot bubble bath… 

Light candles, bring a good book and turn off your phone for some relax-time.  I love using bath bombs and bubbles bars from Lush.  They smell amazing and always make me feel really pampered.

2) Start shopping for new Winter clothes…

Nothing makes me more excited for a changing season than shopping for new clothes to wear.  Autumn time is great for fashion because it brings so many options; think soft layering, chunky scarves, cosy knits… Plus winter always calls for new shoes, coats, boots and sweaters.  Have fun and experiment with some new looks.

3) Go for a long walk and see the autumn leaves…

Wrap up warm, meet some girlfriends and go for a long walk to see the pretty colours of the autumn leaves.  I admit I am still a child at heart and I love walking through big piles of crunchy leaves – I’m sure you still do too…

4) Go back to school…

Use the dark evenings as a change to sign up for evening classes.  You could learn a language, do a beauty course, start crafting or try yoga… Learning new stuff is energizing and fun and its also a really great way to make new friends.

5) Get reading…

When it is cold and grey outside nothing is better than snuggling up on the sofa with a cup of tea and a good book.

6) Plan something exciting to look forward to…

Christmas feels like a really long time away so plan something fun to do in October or November so you have something to look forward to. I have a weekend staying in a county cottage booked with my girlfriends in October and I cannot wait! Other ideas could be a mini-city break, a spa weekend, a shopping trip or even a fun dinner party at home.

7) Have a girls sleepover…

Fill your living room with blankets and pillows, put on your favorite films and eat a ton of chocolate.  It doesn’t matter what the weather looks like outside when you are spending time with your best friends.

Have any suggestions of your own, please share them in the comment below…

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Ciao Milano – 20 Reasons I Am Happy to be Back

Well friends, summer holidays have officially ended and it is time to get back to work.  In the past I sometimes found this time of the year a little flat.  I would have had an amazing summer full of adventures and fun and then suddenly it would end and I would be returning home, back to my part time waitressing job or university classes.  But not this year.

This September marks the two year anniversary of my moving to Milan! And as our Sri Lanka adventures drew to a close I felt genuinely excited to be returning here.  Living in a foreign city does feel a bit like living on a extended holiday because there are always new things for me to experience and enjoy.  I love Milan because there are so many cool things happening in the city and the longer I live here the more it is starting to feel like a home away from home.

Here are the reasons I love being back…

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1. Even though its the start of autumn its still warm and sunny here in Milan.

2. Being reunited with my favourite cake shop California Bakery – those chocolate chip cookies are just so good.

3. Shopping at the monthly Vintage Market on the Navigli Grande the last Sunday of every month. Its great to spend the day wondering through the stalls and picking up cheaply priced vintage goodies.

4.  Starting new Italian lessons at the Passepartout School on chic Viale Monte Nero. I signed up for evening classes and am really excited to start at the school tonight.

5. Only three more weeks and Fashion Week starts in Milan. That means the city will be buzzing with exciting events and fashion shows and I will be busy buzzing around the city and having lots of fun. I will be covering my fashion week activities on here so be sure to check in.

6. Planning my looks for Fashion Week.  I brought lots of unique pieces over in Sri Lanka and am excited to style some cute looks throughout fashion week.

7. Strolling around pretty Parco Sempione and relaxing by the lake reading books.

8. Having evening apertivo (cocktails and yummy nibbles for only ten euros) in one of the cute bars in the Brera district.

9. Restarting my yoga classes and feeling zen three times a week.  

10. Seeing the new window displays of the designer shops in the super-chic Montenapoleone neighbourhood.  I especially love to see the visual merchandising at Marni, Dolce & Gabbana, Margiela and Valentino.

11. Vogue’s Fashion Night Out! A really fun event where the shops stay open late and you can pick up limited edition lines, goodie bags and attend cool events all over the city.

12. Shopping for the new AW season. Ok I have been Styling photo shoots for this season since back in March but it is great to finally start shopping the trends I fell in love with all that time ago.

13. Visiting the new Armani Silos – a four floor museum covering the forty years of Armani and housing the previous collections.

14.  Going for prosecco in a waterside bar in the newly renovated Darsena Habour.  Grab drinks on one of the boats which have be transformed into floating bars and watch the colourful lights reflect off the water.  It feels just like being on holiday!

15.  Eating slow food at the new Mercato Metropolitano – a food market built in the old train station.  There are stalls from a huge range of local food sellers and even an open air cinema – so cool!

16. Seeing my recent shoots start to be published in magazine. Working a season ahead means once I Style a shoot I have to wait months till I see it published. As we are entering the AW season my stories will start to be published and I cannot wait to see my hard work in print.

17. Getting some arty culture and checking out the new exhibitions at the recently opened Prada Foundazione. 

18.  Finding eccentric young fashion designers to fall in love with at the unique concept store 10 Corso Como.  Browsing the upstairs book shop and taking a juice in the sunny courtyard cafe.

19. Styling for new photo shoots and writing features for new blogs.  I feel so motivated after my holiday and am ready to create some amazing work.

20. Continuing with our home renovation and getting a dose of inspiration at the beautiful interior design shop Rossana Olandi.  Walking around the shop is like entering a treasure chest and every room is filled with something strange and unique.

And here we are, my reasons for loving Milan this September.  Why are you happy to be home? Let me know in the comments below…

 

My Summer Holiday Reading List…

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I LOVE to read. I generally read about one book every ten days so when I am on holiday I get through books pretty quickly. This holiday I have packed four books because we are spending two weeks in the beach town of Arugam Bay, and then another week traveling around the countryside of Sri Lanka. As I am already making a start on book number three I think this was a good shout! See my holiday reading list below…

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. I love Lena’s amazing TV series Girls and I have been wanting to read her book since its publication last year. She is so smart, funny, strong and independent and a great role model for girls and young women.

Secrets of Stylists by Sasha Charnin Morrison. An insiders guide and how to handbook all about working in Styling – obviously the perfect book for me.

The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi. About a half English, half Nigerian girl who feels trapped between two cultures. She travels to Nigeria to meet her family and discovers dark secrets about herself and her identity.

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro. This year I have read two other books written by this author and they were beautiful. I am excited to read this one too.

What are you reading this summer? I love books so recommendations are always welcome.