Currently coveting

27 Nov 2018

Fancy From The Ankle Down

Party season is nigh, and with that comes fancy dressing. Yes, it's long been drilled into us that the right shoes "make" an outfit, but when it comes to this time of year, shoes tend to actually become "the outfit". Really it's the only time you can go OTT on sequins soles, velvet and all-round sparkly-ness in shoes without feeling overdressed. When you've got Christmas occasions in the plural, New Years festivities and mid-week parties just because 'tis the season mean that our wardrobes much harder in December than any other month. The emergency 'nothing-to-wear' LBD that you've been pulling out since 2005 is timeless in it's nature but to make it look like a new outfit altogether can be achieved with just the ankle down. 

If your vibe is more casual than all the above (mine certainly is), and sky-scraping heels don't do it for you (frankly because you fear you will incur an injury within the first five minutes of wearing), look no further than the equally as festive-feeling flats that are gracing the high-street right now. This pair of emerald green ones (kindly gifted by Ted Baker) are all kinds of party-friendly without being ankle-threatening and will take you from day to night effortlessly. Green brings a bit of colour to an all-black ensemble; paired with an anklet (mine is Missoma and currently sold out; similar here) and your festive get-up, you are party-season ready without even slightly resembling a Christmas decoration. 

SHOP the WRENA shoes here + find this post on my Instagram (@aestheticalblog) to be in with a chance of winning £150 worth of Ted Baker. 

All photos taken by myself.



21 Oct 2018

Postcards from Gdańsk

There's nothing like an Autumn getaway to while away the inevitable blues that come hand-in-hand with the summer months ending, especially if it's to a place that's known for it's cobbled streets, cafes and October sunshine. Poland has been lingering on my radar for a few years now, credited for it's unexpected charm and being less than a two-hour flight from London, a great place to escape to for a city break-- pair that with cheap flights and a birthday celebration and it's a no-brainer. 

We stayed in a small apartment just outside of the city centre (link here) which was incredible value and had everything you needed for an extended weekend break including a balcony. For our first breakfast, we went to a very out of the way, stripped-back cafe for scrambled eggs and coffee (called Rzecz Jasna-- and open on Sundays!), followed by exploring the Old Town. We walked the 4o5 steps up the St. Marys Church (not recommended if you're not a heights person or not a fan of confined spaces...); slightly exhausting but so worth it for the 360 degree views of the city. The Old Town is one that you can wander aimlessly without getting lost, lined with stalls of amber jewellery and slender, multi-coloured buildings. The next couple of days consisted of a lot of beer-drinking, impromptu bowling and occasionally a cultural escapade. We went to the Museum of the Second World War on our last day (free entry on Tuesdays) which was incredibly insightful and more than worth a visit and then to a vegetarian restaurant called Manna 68 for one of the best burritos I've ever had. There's a lot to say about this history-rich and beautifully formed city, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone looking to go somewhere new on a low-budget with a relaxed atmosphere. The photos speak for themselves...

Silk skirt (similar, Topshop in-store)
Boots (in navy)
Tortoiseshell sunglasses (sold out, similar linked)

All photos taken on iPhone 8 Plus. 

10 Sep 2018

Paros, Greece.

My second time visiting Greece (I spent a week in Corfu last year), this summer I flew out to Athens on the August bank holiday to meet friends out there, explore some of the islands that none of us had been to, and essentially eat, drink and laugh our way through to the end of the summer (it quite literally felt like the heatwave ended the moment we landed). First up, Paros. About a four-a hour ferry from Piraeus (port of Athens), Paros is a hidden gem in the Cyclades islands, often and as you'd expect, overlooked in the midst of the popularity of Santorini and Mykonos. Though perhaps not as well known, it's still got the checklist of Grecian trademarks: the blue-domed churches; white-washed villages with cobbled streets and the bluest, clearest of waters, but being a lesser-sung hero, it's calmer, quieter and in turn, much more intimate than islands I've been to before. Below is a round-up of our favourite places we visited, sunbathed and, most importantly, what we ate. 

Where to sunbathe?
We lucked out when it came to stumbling across the most idyllic place to spend a day soaking up the sun; round the bay from where we were staying (about a ten minute walk) was Cabana Paros. Sunbeds on the sand so close to the sea that the water washed up by your feet, fresh seafood on the menu, the views while the sun goes down all make me think this place wasn't even real. My most relaxing day of the trip was spent here- reading, wandering and the photos speak for themselves (but of course, don't do the place justice).

Where to spend the day? 
If you're looking to spend the day wandering round a traditional Grecian hotspot, the picturesque fishing village Naoussa is more than worthy of your time. A maze of white-washed, narrow streets lined with jewellery shops and stylish cafes, restaurants and bars even in the hours before lunchtime are charming and put you straight into holiday-mode if you weren't there before. The vibrant azure blues and turquoises that Greece is known for are everywhere and make this place so eye-friendly, and it's even lined with beaches so you can unwind by the sea post-lunch. We were recommended Marmitta to eat but it wasn't open while we were there (sigh, the interiors are everything and I'm sure the menu follows suit), so we ate by the harbour overlooking the water. There are regular(ish) buses that get slightly more infrequent as we go out of season, but it's easy enough to get to from Paros harbour. 

Where to eat?
One of the best meals we had, weirdly, wasn't in a restaurant or a bar, but a Souvlaki on the beach, watching the sunset; essentially Greek fast-food that is kebab-style meat or falafel in a pitta with chips, onions, tomatoes etc (an absolute carb-overload and insanely cheap). Of course, the seafood is out of this world and I had as many salmon pasta dishes as possible. We walked past a vegetarian restaurant a couple of times called Nemobar which had an incredible menu. 

Where to watch the sunset?
Pretty much everywhere. Where we were staying had a rooftop with amazing views of the sunset, as I'm sure most hotels do, but so many restaurants along the harbour are set-up to do just this. After an early dinner one evening, we headed to Bebop bar, known for it's sundowner cocktails (and it didn't disappoint). Try a gin and pink grapefruit soda - bittersweet unrealness. My favourite place, though, to watch the sun go down was on the beach; no better place to watch golden hour in all it's glory and swimming in the sea as the temperature cools and light starts to dim is relaxation like no other.

White cat-eye sunglasses - ASOS
Gold bracelet - Missoma
Brown button-up dress - Zara

All photos taken by myself on iPhone 8 plus.

29 Jul 2018

Summer Reads

The Water Cure - Sophie Mackintosh. 
Think The Light Between Two Oceans, And Then There Were None and The Handmaid's Tale all in one. Three girls live on an isolated island with their mother and father, brought up to believe that the rest of the world is toxic; men are dangerous and women are weak. They live separately to the 'real' world, but to prepare them for inevitable danger that could come if they are found by others, the girls undergo sufferings put in place by their parents, all sorts of dark things including 'the drowning game' which has become almost comforting to some of them.  When their father is found dead on the beach at the beginning of the book, secrets start to unravel and the family begin to lose control they once had. Given it's narrated predominantly by a young girl who's never left the island, you wonder whether you're believing the lies that she's been told, too, and it's a constant battle of second-guessing what you're reading as the truth. It's dark, gripping and leaves you in a haze. If you're comfortable with having the room to roam free in the gaps that the narrative leaves for you to fill yourself, then you'll get on with this and you probably won't put it down. 

Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng.
The novel starts with a fire; the Richardson household is set alight and blame is instantly put upon the youngest daughter, Isabelle. Just before, Mrs Richardson sees her tenants unexpectedly leaving the city. Reminiscent of The Stepford Wives (if you haven't seen it, watch it), Little Fires Everywhere takes place in a suburb called Shaker Heights; an ordered community that abides by a strict planning system and everything is regimented, from planned-out roads to schooling that takes the pupils to inevitable success. The story goes back to when an artist and her daughter turn up as new residents in Shaker, outsiders to the rest, and become woven into the lives of the Richardsons, posing a threat to the order that was once so heavily in place. Just like Everything I Never Told, Little Fires Everywhere has the same underlying tone of dark family secrets and wills you to want to get deeper beneath the surface of these characters as each chapter goes by. If you read Jessie Burtons' The Muse after her first novel The Miniaturist and thought it was just as good (I actually preferred it), I think that's a similar transition to these. This is just the kind of summer read that absorbs you on holiday and makes you want to read on at every opportunity. 

Next on the list:
The Last Mrs Parrish - Liv Constantine
Nutshell - Ian McEwan 
Home Fire - Kamila Shamsie


23 May 2018

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Book chat has been long overdue on here, but coming back with one hell of a thought-provoker. Given it's coming up to conventional holiday season, if you haven't already got Lena Zumas' Red Clocks on your to-read-whilst-horizontal-in-the-sun list, I'd recommend it goes on there, asap (although it's only in hardback until March 2019, so perhaps more kindle-friendly). If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know it took me a couple of months to get through, but by no means does that do the book justice; it's purely a result of overtiredness and not wanting to carry a hardback book back and forth on the central line. 

 In light of the popularity of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (season two of which, I am loving and seriously recommend watching if you haven't already), and Naomi Alderman's The Power, Red Clocks came to my attention in Stylist magazine a few months back when referenced as a novel that keeps within the topical genre of dystopian gender exploration; it's point of difference being that it hones in on the rules and regulations put in place around fertility in particular, but woven into a society incredibly similar to our own. Following the lives of four women, all notably referenced at first by their roles vs. their actual names (the daughter, the wife...), we learn about their lives in the town of fictional Newville; a small fishing town in Oregon that is undergoing new legislations around pregnancy. 

In short, abortion is illegal, and those that pursue abortion are held accountable for murder, or conspiracy to commit murder (if they get caught before). In fact, between America and Canada, a 'pink wall' is put in place to stop those who are travelling to escape these laws.  IVF is similarly against the law, the reason being that an embryo cannot consent to being transferred from a lab sample to a uterus. Lastly, the Every Child Needs Two act comes into activation throughout the novel, meaning that adoption is only an option for married couples. We learn that this idea was conceived in the hope that this restriction will reduce criminals, poverty and so on in future generations... 

If you're planning on reading this soon, there are lots of spoilers nigh on this page, so come back after to compare your thoughts to mine...

Abortion, law, pro-choice... sounds familiar, right? The book plays out some of the potential consequences and repercussions of what we're on the cusp of today, and you can't help but put yourself in the shoes of these women, and realise that you'd be going through basically the same thing if these were our laws. This must be why the novel is particularly resonating, because what these women face is so real (for lack of a better word), given the laws that are still in place in some countries are echoing of the ones that Zumas orchestrates as 'fiction' and the premise of a fictional book. Debates on legalising abortion that we see today are not miles away from the one that threatens to condemn Mattie to lifelong imprisonment for terminating her pregnancy; in both scenarios, it is still a crime punishable by law. Zumas has said herself, some of the details of Red Clocks have been taken from propositions that are being made by politicians even today, and you can't help but think that these propositions are suggestions made by men who have little awareness of the consequences this would incur. 

I've read reviews that question Susan's place in the novel, The Wife, seemingly unaffected by Newville's new laws, having conceived her children naturally within a seemingly 'happy' marriage. However, the laws seem secondary to the bigger question of the novel that is - what is a woman for? Susan is fulfilled in all the ways that society would expect her to be, and yet she's constantly battling with the voice in her head that's telling her to get out, leave her family, including her children. She's the subject of Ro's envy for having children in the first place; and it's interesting how these laws further instil yet another reason for women to feel in competition with eachother, highlighting how we go straight to jealously over happiness when something happens to a friend. Be it a new job or an engagement, it's the impending sense of, when will this happen to me, that isn't good for anyone involved. It's the way in which we hear the thoughts of these characters - like this - that's refreshingly real; especially envy and lust in particular. 

I think Ro, The Biographer, is the most developed character, most memorable and relatable. Her story is desperately sad, she begins to resent the women around her who can have what she can't, and the one for who the term 'clock' is most apt with the countdown to the Every Child Needs Two law, and her own biological clock. The irony is the woman she most admires is an explorer, who she says herself would not have made the discoveries she did had she been at home, looking after children. I can't say I completely got all the extracts from the explorers biography that were woven in between the chapters; the exerts about lamb slaughter and ice blocks... I'm sure have a poignant reason to be there, but I was much more invested in the main character development and what's going on inside their heads. The 'story' eeks into our 'yep, this could happen' conscience and I think it's this feeling that makes it more sinister than other fictional reads that are potentially more shocking or scary like THT; the notion of 'dystopia' is coming eerily close to our reality - and that is a scary thought to have!  

If you've read Red Clocks, please let me know what you thought! You can buy Red Clocks here

15 Apr 2018

Upgrade Your Dry Shampoo

To me (and I'm sure for most others), Spring and Summer equates to a considerable hike in social calendar. Gone are the succession of cosy nights in, and instead come birthdays, trips away and once the sun is out, alfresco drinking in pub gardens takes priority over sitting inside at any given opportunity (it's just rude not to, right?). That said, the chance to make time to make sure my hair is in atleast a somewhat acceptable condition at all times becomes a challenge in itself. Sometimes I think I spend more time with not-so-fresh, second day (onwards) hair, than I do with freshly washed. Whether that's because my hairs getting oilier as I get older (likely), or because I'm using the wrong products to suit my hair (even more likely), it's gone through serious stages of neglect in previous years. The reality is that just tieing it back and hoping for the best isn't cutting it anymore. Dry shampoo has become the on-the-go answer to all my (first-world) hair problems, and Klorane (one of my favourite French Pharmacy brands) has just stepped up their game to tick even more boxes in helping me go worry-free when it comes to styling.

Klorane's cult Oat Milk Dry Shampoo has been a longstanding feature on my beauty shelf and the only brand I look to when I'm needing a freshen-up, hair-wise. Their latest launch is a 2.0 version of the classic; an aerosol-free version infused with all the goodness of it's predecessor. I recently went to explore more about the brand at the very cool Mandrake Hotel, to learn about the brand's history, latest launches and experience them with an effortlessly chic, French-girl blowdry. Probably not known to many, the brand started in 1971 (!) with their dry shampoo and have since gone from strength to strength in haircare innovation. French pharmacy brands are taking strides in beauty, not only being chic but also seriously efficacious in their products. It's no wonder the French have a reputation for being so beautiful.The aerosol packaging makes it a lot more travel-friendly; ideal for a flight, post-gym or pre-work drinks. 

The best thing about it, which I hadn't really thought about before now, was how eco-friendly it is to opt for a dry shampoo over a wash, once in a while. The product was conceived with a environmentally conscious foresight in mind, given that replacing one liquid shampoo per week with a dry shampoo can save 500 litres of water each year. Suddenly opting out of washing your hair before going out isn't pure laziness; it's for the environment. At the event, we also got prescribed with a bespoke haircare quota from the botanical dispensory, depending on hair concerns. Given mine has been dyed within an inch of it's life, so dry at the ends but oily at the roots, I was pointed towards a duo to address both. It doesn't just stop with hair. Klorane are soon to launch a (much-loved pump dispenser) make-up removing micellar water which I'm trying out right now. Infused with soothing cornflower, it's sensitive-skin-friendly formula is already proving to be a good one. 

You can find out more about Klorane's Aerosol-Free Dry Shampoo here



21 Mar 2018

More Than Just A Scent


Like jewellery, fragrance isn't something I take lightly and I'm seriously particular about the scents I wear, and a repeat offender when it comes to repurchasing the same ones over and over again. From a brand I'm already into, I've been trying out the cult scent Warm Cotton. And seriously, it's no wonder it's Clean Reserve's best-selling fragrance. Without claiming to be a scent-connoisseur by any means, it takes a lot for me to connect with a fragrance on a deeper level than just thinking it smells nice. Essentially the epitome of a clean scent, Warm Cotton* is just that. Bottling the cliche that is the comforting scent of clean sheets, it's loved for it's top notes of ozonic and ginger, whilst being subtly floral and musky. This isn't a date-night or night out perfume, this is day-time freshness that's equivalent to wearing a fresh, cotton t-shirt on a Spring day (when you know, you know). It's quickly become the only day-time scent I want to wear.

If you needed any more reason to love them, the brand are committed when it comes to being eco-concious both inside and out when it comes to their products. Every fragrance formula has it's sustainable story, and for this one, Benzoin is the ingredient used (vanilla-tinged resin) harvested in South-East Asia using sustainable farming methods and without damage to trees in the process. The wooden oak cap is even sourced from sustainably-managed forests in Spain and the cellophane around the box from bio-degradable corn. It's things like this that make the brand stand out to me, and now it's becoming more of a necessity that we make good choices when it comes to things with environmental impact, it's comforting to know that brands I'm using are active in this kind of thing. Oh, and on a purely superficial level, the minimalist-yet-rustic bottle is everything I want on my dressing table. Having recently had a succession of fragrance-related Christmas gifts and such that aren't my cup of tea aesthetically (but don't get me wrong, smell incredible and were appreciated nevertheless), this is a breath of fresh air in a very materialistic respect, too. 



You can find out more on Warm Cotton here. 



© A E S T H E T I C A L | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig