Why I Fell Back in Love With Fashion Basics

Because trends only last so long.

I could never describe my fashion style. I love a lot of different influences, from trendy pieces (at the moment it's leopard print and flowy midi skirts) to more... unusual inspirations (Edwardian fashion is my favourite, and I do have a couple tops with high lace necks - but of course I do not dress according to my tastes in historical fashion.) I simply love a bit of everything! Except for UGG boots. Sorry.
My wardrobe is full of items that could be classified in different styles, some girly things, some cute prints, come trendy pieces, but overall over the last year or so I've found myself going more towards basic pieces and styles. I still love my one-off pieces, but those I wear the most when I put outfits together are the basics: jeans, stripes, monochrome shirts and tshirts. In the autumn I loved wearing my trench and my navy blue military jacket, and now that it is winter I swear by my camel Marks & Spencer coat. If you're thinking about refreshing your wardrobe and going back to basics, here are the reasons why I think you can never go wrong!

Starting with the obvious here: basic pieces will stay with you longer than trendy items that you may fall out of love with. Basic pieces such as blue jeans, white or black shirts, trench coats, little black boots, are always in fashion. You can always find them in the shops should you need to replace those that you have, and you will always see other people wear them too - which will also keep renewing your love for them.
With trends, you can of course fall head over heels and keep wearing that trend for years and years, but it is likely that once you don't see them as much, and they are replaced with other, new trends both in the streets and in the shops, and then they will slowly be replaced in your mind too. Remember corset belts from a couple years ago? They must all be hiding under their owners' beds now, in big boxes. (I never liked that trend anyway - though I love a good 18th century corset. Beautiful.)

Neutral items of clothing just go with everything. Although to be fair, I feel like leopard print also goes with a lot of things - but you get my meaning here.
Let's take my stripey dress from the photo above: it's a basic from H&M and can literally be worn with anything, in any season. I typically wear it in the autumn with tights, black or brown boots (ankle boots or even higher boots) and a jacket. But it can also be worn in the summer with little white trainers. You can also wear a grey jumper on top of it. You can turn it into a top by wearing a skirt (midi, pencil, you name it) on top. It's so easy!

Basics go together very well, and it's easy to mix and match them so that you don't get bored. If you pick versatile pieces, you will be able to wear them no matter the season too. It makes you think smarter when you buy, but also you build up a more curated, homogeneous style. And that's always good if you don't like taking hours to put together an outfit for the day.

I feel like this is something we don't think about enough: basics are a lot cheaper than trendy seasonal collections! Most shops now have a basics section where you can stock up on everything for reasonable prices: H&M, Zara, Primark, and many more. Even if you're looking for quality, basics will always be less expensive than the other collections shops bring out every season. You can find good quality jumpers in Zara or H&M for example, if you look at their basics section. Same for jeans - good ol' blue jeans will always be cheaper than ripped and stringy trendy jeans, even in the exact same shop. Basics are more classic, and they will cost you less.

It is exactly the same about shoes, and bags, and to a certain extent jewellery: some come in and out of style, some are always there. Black and brown boots will always be available to buy in the shops, they will always be 'trendy' - and they will go with every single outfit you wear. For accessories I would suggest investing, maybe putting a bit more money, because this is how you save in the long run. I've had my camel M&S coat for three years now, and it is good quality as well as timeless. Instead I could have bought a trendy coat of lesser quality (like a bright pink bomber, let's say) that I would have worn fewer times - because it really doesn't go with everything, and I'd really only wear a coat three months of the year. The rest of the time, said coat would be in my wardrobe feeling sorry for itself.
Invest in good bags, good shoes - quality materials and neutral colours are my go-to for both - and you will: a. feel like it is a treat to wear such a nice item, and b. keep it for years and years. If you keep to basics, you won't even need to put yourself on a shopping ban every January. And you'll always look great. Double win!

What are your wardobe basics?


Easy Ways To Practise Gratitude

There is so much to be grateful for.

I first read about the concept of gratitude on lifestyle and self-care blogs. Of course I understood the idea of feeling happy and grateful for what I have, but turning it into a mantra is something else. I can be very pessimistic at times, mostly when I am anxious or upset, but more and more over the years I have grown optimistic about a lot of things. Little by little, I have incorporated acts of gratitude into my life, without putting that label on them. I don't think one needs to be overly grateful, shout from the rooftops all the things that make them happy, but reminding yourself of all the wonderful things in your life doesn't hurt, right?
There is definitely easy ways to practice gratitude, and all those things can help you build a more positive, happier self. I will never say it enough: you need to work on your mindset to see the changes you wish for.

This may seem like an easy question, but I don't think we do that often enough. Just think about a fun memory that always makes you smile. What is it that make you feel that way? Is it the place? The people you were with? The thing you were doing? If something puts a smile on your faces, chances are it's something you will be grateful for. For me, it is anything from remembering the times spent with my boyfriend, to a funny moment I lived with a friend, or the satisfaction of thinking about the days when I feel really motivated to write my novel or workout. All these experiences are moments which could never fail to make you happy. Think about them and realise how lucky you have been to experience them - how lucky you are to experience them still. We take a lot of things for granted, but whenever you can, maybe when you're in your bed at night trying to fall asleep - think about the stuff that makes you smile. Whether it happened on the same day or months ago, these are still things that have nurtured your life and made an impact, for they still make you smile now. Don't forget them - especially when things are not going so well. There can always be a little smile on your face. 

There are a lot of ways to make gratitude lists, and I have to say that I don't make them terribly often myself, but it is something that is quick, easy and uplifting. What I usually do is that when I have had a good day, if I find myself smiling in contentment in the evening, I will get out a pen and write in a journal "five great things that happened today." I started this little habit over two years ago, on my birthday in 2016, because one of my friends gifted me a beautiful journal. I don't write every day, only for days that I want to remember. There are some days that are more significant than others, but I do have quite a few days in the journal where I've only spent my day at home, but found five little things that make me happy and grateful. Whenever I look back in the journal, it gives me a beautiful feeling of happiness and it never fails to brighten my mood.
I feel like I could not stick to a gratitude list per day, but whether you decide to try it out is another story! To give you an example, my gratitude list today, as I am writing this post, would be:
- I am grateful for calling my boyfriend and spending time with him.
- I am grateful for finding the strength to do a tough workout and push myself to improve.
- I am grateful for having a comforting coffee after my workout.
You can make the list as long as you like, but remember the smallest things and look at them with gratitude, because even a simple thing like a cup of coffee may not seem like much to you, but isn't it wonderful to be able to make yourself a warm coffee whenever you want, just because you want it? I think it is.

Many things that you will find yourself grateful for will include other people. Your family, friends, partners, colleagues, even strangers in the street sometimes. So what if you shared your feeling of gratitude with them? Tell a friend you're grateful for the coffee date you spent with them. Tell your partner you are grateful for their support. Smile to the stranger who held the door for you. For me, it is often thanking my children at school when we've had a good lesson. They make me smile, even laugh out loud, and in these moments I feel very grateful for the job that I do and for teaching them. So I always make sure to have a kind word, so that this may be something they look back on too later in the day and smile about. Show others how grateful you are even for the smallest things, and chances are, it will all come back to you. Makes the world kinder and more positive, don't you think?

Gratitude is all about being thankful for the little things, the "boring" things. Like the post-workout coffee on my list. It is more difficult to feel happy about the ordinary, what we take for granted, than to be grateful about going on a trip, getting a new job, and all those things that don't happen every day and we feel so lucky for. What happens every day is of course less special in our eyes. But really, think about what all you have is amazing! Being healthy enough to do the workout, being able to afford coffee and cake on a weekend afternoon, having books to read and the Internet to express yourself and connect with others. Not every one has the security of having a "boring" life, of coming home after work and cooking a meal. 
I know this sounds like I am trying to get melodramatic here, but really, think about all these little things you do every day, maybe even those that seem like a chore (for me, that's the cooking... urgh!) and remind yourself that all these ordinary things make up that wonderful life of yours. Take a step back and you'll see things from a different angle - a more positive, thankful one.

What are you grateful for?


LIFESTYLE | Why the End of the Year is NOT your Deadline

Let's not start the new year stressed, shall we?

2018 is coming to an end. As we all expect, this is the time where magazines and sometimes blogs ask you to stop and think about the goals you've managed to achieve. What you have checked off your list. Have you had a promotion at work? Have you reached 50k on Instagram? Have you bought a house? All these expectations can be overwhelming, especially when you see others succeed. Don't get me wrong, we should always celebrate each other's successes, but often we expect people to achieve so much in the space of one year, that if you haven't quite reached your big goals yet, it can make you feel a bit down or overwhelmed.
But hear this: the end of the year doesn't mean it's too late. No matter whether you've reached the end line or not, what you should remember is the progress you have made in the interval. Things take time, and your goals don't really care about whether you achieve them on December 31, 2018 or on May 2, 2019. Really, they don't. The pressure comes from seeing the end of a year being used as a deadline to end everything and start off again. How about we let go of that pressure, of the temptation to compare our successes to those of others, and just carry on as we were going?

Give yourself the time to reach those long-term goals you have at the back of your mind. Don't make yourself start it all again - unless you want to of course. But you shouldn't feel like you have to make these resolutions to change your life around if they are going to make you stressed. Some things take longer than we expect sometimes, and it's not because you haven't achieved them before the end of the year that you are a failure. Take me, for example: I am writing a novel, and have been on it on-and-off for roughly two years. In early 2018 I started working on it consistently again, and the February 2018 me thought 'by December, I want to be all done and ready to edit!'. Turns out, it's late December now and I'm not there at all. I haven't met my deadline yet. Should I feel like I failed? Or like maybe I didn't put enough time and effort in? It's so easy to put yourself down for not quite reaching what you've been aiming for. But don't let this negativity overshadow all the things you have done, and keep doing every day of every year. Don't let deadlines dictate your successes. And if something needs more time, then just carry on. It's not about how long it takes, it's about how great you feel while working on it. 

I pick Instagram here because it's the perfect platfom to get those types of feelings. You see people through a sparkly lens of lucky moments, engagements, you see them publish books, buy a house, and especially at this time of year, you see the 2018 recaps full of unimaginable goals. This is also true about blogs, about your Facebook friends (like that one person you knew in high school and would never talk to again, but still have as a Facebook friend for some reason) and also the people around you - your friends, your co-workers. Some people have had a fantastic year full of life changing things, and maybe yours was quieter - but success comes in all shapes and sizes and your successes are the best, because they are your own. We all fall into the trap of comparison sometimes, even though I have never tackled this issue on my blog, and now is my time to remind you that comparing yourself to others should not be something you do, whether it's 2018 or 2019. Focus on you and think back on all the awesome things that happened to you this year. 

To me, there is one big goal that should never have a deadline, and it is your happiness. This of course encompasses a lot of things, and you will define your own happiness in your terms. Whenever you think of your goals, make sure they all drive you towards feeling happy and fulfilled. Whether it is related to your job, your relationships, or your hobbies, do your best to make yourself happy. This is how you create the memories that you will remember at the end of the calendar year - and for all the other years to come.

What is your best memory from 2018?