One question I'm asked regularly is "What items must I have in my wardrobe?" and while I think it completely depends on the individual (lifestyle, taste, budget), I thought it'd be a good idea to round up some staple pieces a winter wardrobe should consist of (IMO).
I have a love/ hate relationship with winter dressing; I love layers and wearing OTT furry coats but I also hate the process of de-layering and sweating come 2pm when the weather warms up. Interchangeable pieces are key when buying a winter wardrobe and being clever with what you spend your money on is crucial. You don't need to spend a heap of cash on things like vests, leggings, hats, scarves etc but spending that extra few bob on some of the staples I've mentioned below should sort you out for the frost and will hopefully last you into springtime.
This is a no-brainer but finding 'the coat' for the cooler months ahead is your No.1 goal here. Whether it be a woollen androgynous coat or a faux fur dream-ball, there's a huge range of winter coats on offer this season for all styles, sizes and climates. I tend to look for heavy coats that are padded or super-fluffy for extra warmth and I make sure to layer wisely underneath.
It's essential to invest in a good coat, as it'll be lasting you for the entirety of winter and will realistically last you for many winters to come if looked after well. I'd recommend spending at least €50 on one or looking for a well-made/ trustworthy brand of coat in a vintage or secondhand store if you don't have the budget.
I love a good sweater; they go with everything and anything, they can be rolled up into your bag and thrown over any outfit. I tend to be an all-black wearer but I do admittedly own various sweaters in a range of colours. I tend to invest in designer sweaters also, as they wash well and last longer.
I recommend owning at least 3 staple sweaters in your wardrobe: one 'good' one and two inexpensive ones that you don't mind scruffing up for lazier days. They're my go-to piece for college, events and everything in between and aren't too bulky to wear under big coats.
Nothing beats a good pair of trousers and when I refer to trousers I'm talking about cute trousers, not "slacks". The trousers I tend to opt for during winter are usually high-waisted (super-flattering and snug), check print or faux leather and slightly cropped. There's incredible selections of styles and cuts out this season on the high street and online.
Alike to sweaters, they can be dressed up and down and a simple change of a coat or shoes can bring you from day to night. Chunky boots, trainers and brogues look amazingly well with cropped styles in particular. They're also way cosier than jeans - trust me.
We all need that show-stopping outfit that'll bring us from party to party over the holidays. The party dress is a winter staple but it's usually hard to sift through what's on offer to find 'the one'. The 70's are still a huge trend this season, along with Victoriana - particularly in the dress department.
Most styles will be floor-length so be wary if you're on the petite or tall side and look to the high street for lengths and cuts made for you and your shape. Try and opt for a dress that can be easily accessorised a handful of ways so you can get away with wearing it more than once or twice.
The loves of my life are black boots. My bedroom is being taken over by them and every winter it's tough trying not to run wild in every shoe shop and buy every. single. pair. of them. Black boots go with anything - they can be worn informally or formally and there is a pair out there for absolutely everyone. Investing in a good pair of leather boots will get you through all kinds of weather, present buying trips and occasions.
Choose a style that you know you'll definitely be able to walk in and style up with your existing wardrobe already. Look at reviews of the boots if possible if you're buying online and see what other customers say (this is particularly great if you're weary about sizes etc).
My most requested video since my return to Youtube this year has been a tutorial based on my 'everyday' grunge-inspired makeup. I'm the first to admit that I'm definitely less adventurous when it comes to trying new looks than I used to be, as I tend to stick to what works for me and my general "aesthetic" - mainly grunge and a modern take on what one would refer to as 'pin-up' makeup.
Grunge makeup of course derives from the 1990's; think messy, think heroin-chic, think "I slept in this". The important thing to remember when replicating a grunge-inspired look is too step back if you feel you're getting to neat with it. It's all about that slap-dash appeal.
My biggest makeup influences for any 90's look would be Brody Dalle, Courtney Love and her offspring, Frances Bean Cobain. Brody and Courtney were both queens of 90's grunge and practically set the tone for all of the replications of both makeup and clothing we see today. Frances is a perfect example of a 2015 adaption of the grunge style. She pulls off pretty much everything!
If you want to see how I achieve my 90's grunge makeup look, check out my new video:
(All products are linked in the video description HERE.)
Shoes, shoes, shoes. I love shoes. You love shoes. We all love shoes, right? Something about even the mere MENTION of shoes makes my tummy bubble with excitement. This season is one of the strongest seasons for shoes in years; there's a whole mash of heights, colours and textures on offer all across the high street. I've chosen some of my favourites - a mixture of styles - to show you guys what's on offer online. Happy shopping (and sorry to your bank balance in advance..)!
Ruts are sticky and hard to get out of. They do what it says on the tin. Whether it be work, college, relationships, life en general - they constantly loom before us and we tend to fall face-first into them like a pile of bricks. Getting out a rut can be quite difficult and they can feel never-ending but the sheer feeling of euphoria at the end of the Rut Tunnel can be extraordinary.
Whenever I find myself stuck in a situation wherein I feel low, painfully lazy, unenthusiastic or just downright miserable, I frantically look for some inspiration and encouragement to help me climb out of what can seem like a deep hole of "Ughhhhh".
I find myself in these situations constantly. Suffering from depression means ruts come at you regularly and learning to get over them, through them and past them can be mentally and physically exhausting; there are certain things I've noticed that I do anytime I've felt particularly down and 'not bothered with life' - particularly when it comes to my job and my general work ethic.
Most of the reliefs from ruts for me are creative in some shape or form, usually; they tend to involve my interests - whether it be fashion, literature, history, film and so on. I tend to look at what I love to remind myself what JOY and EXCITEMENT can feel like and by doing that, I slowly but surely build up the strength, positivity and enthusiasm to move on.
When I find that I'm stuck in a slump, I give myself the necessary time I feel I need to dwell in it; I sleep excessively (and saunter off to college, of course), eat junk food, listen to sad boyband songs and moan at reality tv shows. Some days later when I feel somewhat better, I give myself a swift kick up the arse to get back on the swing of things.
(Please note that in certain cases it isn't always possible to get yourself out of a negative place and that further help may be needed. I know this all too well, as depression can leave you in a pool of misery for quite some time. However, I can sometimes shake myself out of what I like to call my "bad weeks" and this is what I'm referring to with the below.)
I tend to watch a lot of documentaries and series based around the working woman, the fashion industry and creatives when I feel like I need encouragement. I watchedBritish Vogue's 'The Future of Fashion' serieswith Alexa Chung on Youtube each week and hearing about experiences, mishaps and advice from an array of names in the industry really boosted my eagerness to hop back on to my happy horse. Watching series based on the industry I am pursuing and want to continue to pursue a career in, can really help me if I struggle with motivation. I also loved watchingInto The Gloss' live panel 'The Top Shelf'featuring one of my all-time favourite "real" bloggers, Leandra from Man Repeller. I genuinely felt refreshingly great, energised and included after watching it.
I'm a sucker for inspirational quotes, books, movies, interviews - you name it. I love words. I love that sudden epiphany you feel when something truly inspirational hits you straight in the heart. I love discovering inspirational vlogs about peoples' experiences dealing with everything from illness to relationships. I love hearing peoples' words of encouragement during a time of doubt, even if the subject of their situation isn't relevant to mine; it still helps.
If you follow me on social media, you'd know that I like to do room clear-outs.. a lot. I seem to do them every week and sometimes that is the case, depending on how I feel. Doing room clear-outs and re-organising my belongings, can really help me to feel like I'm de-cluttering my life and thoughts. I feel a sense of achievement, freshness and space afterwards. I can breathe. It's not only rewarding but it's a brilliant distraction for you to focus on and work at during a low time.
Rummaging through your wardrobe and sorting your clothes into categories (e.g 'Keep', 'Maybe', 'Give Away') may seem like nonsense but my interests and my job rely on items such as clothes and they're always around me; organising them gives me a sense of relief and I always feel super-organised. Giving your room a clean, rearranging your stuff and buying some new bedsheets can help you to feel good again - as my Mother always says: "A tidy room is a tidy mind!" and she's right.
Surround yourself with things you know make you feel HAPPY - I'm not talking about content or "grand" here, I'm talking about 'I-Can't-Stop-Smiling-Ouch-My-Face happy'. If you don't know what those things are or can't think of any, grab a pen and think long and hard. Think about it for a day, a week, a month. Really ponder on what makes you feel 100% amazing.
For example, here's what makes me feel on top of the world: Spending time with my family, my little sisters, dogs, getting lost in a book, my Nana's cups of tea, sloth videos, having a productive "work day", food in general but especially Mac and Cheese, historical documentaries, Glendalough, going to the cinema, long bus journeys listening to music, dancing, Halloween, looking up at the stars, my fashion elective in college, good hugs, swimming, music festivals, travelling, a cheeky cocktail (or three), buying new stationary, re-watching a favourite movie or tv show, art, and last but not least, having an interesting and lengthy conversation with a friend or family member.
When I feel crap, I make sure I'm drowning in the above. I tick at least 3-4 things off of the list during a week when I'm particularly struggling. It's nothing major, nothing too impossible and it is the little things that always succeed at cheering me up.
Exploring, going outside and feeling a sense of adventure are vital to me when I'm determined to get out of a rut. There's nothing I adore more than strolling around outside with my headphones on, wrapped in a cosy scarf, listening to my favourite music and feeling fully immersed in my own world and the one around me. Simply getting out of a bed and leaving your house can be a gigantic task when you're depressed and by getting out of bed, getting dressed and exiting your front door, you feel an automatic sense of achievement already.
I personally enjoy going to local parks, hopping on a bus and visiting somewhere or even heading to a museum or gallery that I've been putting off going to for months. I enjoy my own company (probably a little too much) but it is great to bring company along too, as a chat always helps. Being outside in the fresh air and seeing and appreciating the world around you can work wonders for the mind, body and soul. I'm starting to sound like a drunk Aunty at a wedding but being surrounded by nature and appreciating the air going into your lungs can make you feel awake.
My final tip is not having a pamper night, nor is it to exercise daily, get a new haircut or to read X and Y self-help books; you've all heard those tips by now and there's no point in me reiterating them. My last tip for you is to simply REMIND YOURSELF of your purpose in life and how amazing the life you lead is. It may sound slightly ridiculous but telling yourself how great life has been and could be for yourself is crucial when trying to leave a nasty rut.
When I'm feeling down, I tend to re-read comments and emails sent to me by you guys. Whenever I doubt myself, my career and where I'm going in life, I like to read over all of the positivity, feedback and support that has been sent my way from people all over the world. It makes me feel like I have purpose, it makes me realise that yes, I have helped people and it gives me strength.
I flick through old blog posts, my surgery videos and even old tweets, to remind myself WHY I do what I do and what I've achieved since I began this journey: it's important to observe all of your achievements and simply know that you are worthy of so much love and you have potential. It can help shift your mind on to the right path. Trust me when I say that we are all capable of so much in the short lives we lead and unfortunately bumps along the road can make it difficult for us to realise this. I believe it's important to know what makes you feel genuinely happy.
Your rut isn't quicksand or super glue; you will not sink into it for eternity. You can and will get out of it but you need to take note of HOW and remember it for next time. If you know someone who is going through a tough time, invite them out with you somewhere, include them, talk to them and let them know you're there. Ruts can develop into much bigger things and can escalate rapidly. We need to reach out to each other and make people aware of the help that's on offer.
If you've any advice or experiences you'd like to share, please do leave them below as I'd love to read them, as would others. I hope this post has helped some of you. Keep your head up!
I love Autumn; Halloween, the colours of the leaves, the (semi) neutral weather and of course, the fashion. I do adore prancing around in cut-off Levi's and skimpy crop tops during the warmer months but nothing makes me feel as chic as an oversized fuzzy coat and chunky biker boots.
Faux fur gets better by the year, with an array of different textures, colours and prints available all across the high-street. This season sees a load of 70's-style faux fur coats - think Almost Famous and Bianca Jagger. There's a coat out there for everyone. Below are my ultimate high-street favourites available at the moment; all bang-on-trend and super-versatile. Happy shopping!
This month marks my blog's 6 year anniversary - can you believe it! It seems like only yesterday 16 year old me was sitting down at her desk, swamped in fashion mags, trying to think of a cool name for her very own platform. I always joke to people saying I'm a "blogging veteran" now, as I've seen the industry grow and boom since my beginnings in 2009 and I feel like I've learned many things about not only the media and blogging but also myself as a businesswoman over the years.
When I began blogging, I was like every other naive teenager. I started to dislike school and became frustrated at the lack of resources I could delve into when it came to my interest into fashion. Blogs became my holy grail, alongside magazines. I started blogging as a hobby after reading an article about it in ELLE; if you had said to me then that it would become my full-time career at the age of 20, I wouldn't have believed you! Who would have thought blogging would explode as it did and take the reigns of the fashion and media world within a handful of years?
It's been some journey, I can tell you that. I've had extreme highs and extreme lows. I've been given the incredible opportunity to travel but I've been exposed to cruel cyber bullying. I've made amazing friends but I've learned to not trust everybody that crosses my path. I've built up amazing contacts and had life-changing experiences but I've been knocked down and excluded many times too. It's all part of the parcel and I believe all of my experiences - good and bad - have helped me to stay focused and grounded in the blogging world today.
The blogging industry has only started to be taken seriously over the last few years and I thought it'd be encouraging to share 6 of the biggest lessons I've learned through my blogging journey so far.
CLIMBING UP THE LADDER IS SLOW - BUT WORTH IT
It took me YEARS, and I mean years, to build up a respectable reputation in the fashion industry here in Ireland. When I started going to events as a teen, I was so petrified, my Nana would have to come with me to physically encourage me to step in the door and talk to people. Trying to network in a room full of people who've established themselves already, who are new to the concept of blogging and are confused as to why a 16 year old is pottering alongside them, is bloody scary.
I was adamant to prove myself to people nonetheless and through various internships and forcing my anxious and shy self to network, I built up my reputation gradually and can now say I've made some truly brilliant friends and contacts who work in all areas of the industry here, and abroad.
I realised early on that there's no easy way to get to the 'top' and starting from the bottom of the ladder (making cups of tea, running errands, taping shoes on photoshoots) will benefit you hugely in the long run. Show people your interest in whatever it is you're doing and don't be afraid to step outside of the box now and again. Stand out because it'll stand to you.
BLOGGING FOR GENUINE REASONS IS KEY
People start blogging for many reasons but knowing they're genuine reasons is crucial in becoming successful. I've touched on this subject before in my huge poston'how to become a successful blogger in 2015'but it's so important to delve into something because you LOVE it. I've seen so many bloggers flop over the years because event invites and "free stuff" became their priority, not their content. Readers and brands are clever; not only can they see through someone pretty quickly but fellow bloggers and industry people can notice it immediately too.
I always say to people who ask me for advice when it comes to blogging, that staying true to yourself is incredibly important. I've built up a niche, a niche people and brands can recognise instantly. I cannot stress enough how vital it is to make something about you and your blog stand out amongst the others. Your dedication to your blog, genuine content and a healthy relationship with readers, brands and fellow bloggers is far more important than any "free" lipstick. Trust me.
SAYING "NO" IS OKAY
I'm extremely strict on what sponsored jobs I work on because I know staying true to myself and my readers is more imperative than any amount of money to me. I've been offered great deals to advertise and promote things such as fake tan and waist trainers but because they have no relevance to my blog and I hold no interest in them, I decline the offers - regardless of the offered fee.
It took me years to learn how to and build up the courage to say no. Declining things is perfectly okay. Initially, I accepted everything and anything and was scared of pissing off PR's and companies. Only in 2013-14, did I realise that brands genuinely don't mind if you don't take an offer on board because they'd rather you had an interest in it - plus, they can find another blogger within minutes. Knowing what works for you and your blog will build up a great trust between you and your readers.
You need to know your worth in this industry and unfortunately people can try and walk over you to benefit themselves or the brand they're working for. If an offer doesn't sit well with you or you feel like it just isn't "you", decline politely. You're only going to be stuck writing about or featuring something that you've little interest in and that your readers will probably question. It isn't worth it.
BREAKS ARE HEALTHY FOR THE MIND AND BODY
This is also a lesson that took me ages to learn and embrace. Taking breaks from blogging is allowed. Whether it be because you're ill, inundated with college work or you're just feeling a tad uninspired and want a week or two off, taking a break from your blog work and stepping away from it all is perfectly fine. I've taken many breaks over the years and they always benefit me in the long run.
Nobody is going to come to your door with pitchforks for not having a blog post up one week. Yes, some readers may be a tad confused but if you address that you're taking some time off (for whatever reason) most people will understand and leave you be. I've been quite ill this month and I took a break from blogging and social media for a week to re-cooperate and I woke up feeling like a new woman this morning and ready to jump back into everything. It's necessary to give yourself time off if you're ever feeling run-down or uninspired; your physical and mental health are a priority and remember, people in other types of jobs can take sick days and holiday time off, so so can you. If you have deadlines coming up, get them out of the way and plan when you're going to have your "me time" in advance so you don't end up in a mountain of angry emails.
ASKING FOR HELP DOESN'T MEAN YOU'RE WEAK
I left my retail job back in 2013 to start blogging full-time and while it was quite a big leap to take, it was the best thing I could have done to boost my career. However, over the years it's become tough managing everything on my own. Earlier this year, I became overly-stressed about managing my blog and my finances. I have dyscalculia so anything number-related sets me into a frenzy immediately and makes me feel sick to my stomach with confusion. I found doing things like tax and budgeting by myself, extremely stressful and overwhelming.
I decided I needed a manager once and for all to help me out when it came to everything; career advice, tax, fees and being the middle-man when it came to negotiations. I finally found a fantastic manager during the summer and it has been the biggest weight taken off of my shoulders. I expressed my worries to her and why I felt I needed a helping hand and she was more than understanding. I instantly felt relieved that I had someone there to support me and offer guidance.
I asked for help and I wish I had've sooner. Being self-employed in such a new industry at 22 can be really quite frightening at times but I felt it was time to admit that I just couldn't do it alone anymore. Asking for help, whether it be professional help or from a fellow blogger, is totally okay and it doesn't mean you're weak. It took me a while to realise that I'm human, not a machine.
TRYING SOMETHING NEW KEEPS THINGS FRESH
Over the years, I've started many a different blog series and ventured into topics that didn't necessarily "fit" into a fashion blog, as such. Most were welcomed; I've learned that it's important to try new things and I know it's fine if certain projects don't work out for me. Keeping thing fresh for both you and your readers is key to keeping a blog alive, especially if you've been doing it for years.
It's important to keep things exciting in blogging generally, as it's become an over-saturated industry and people can become bored of the same thing, day in and day out. I'm lucky that my readers enjoy the likes of my outfit posts but they also love reading posts like this or pieces on everything from body image to my surgery. I've built up a very loyal readership over the years and they've been great in allowing me to try out new things here and there.
I feel that mixing it up on your blog keeps things interesting and as a blogger and blog reader myself, I know I prefer reading blogs that cover an array of different topics. If you feel like your fashion or beauty blog is becoming a bit dull, why not introduce a new topic? People love newness and generally enjoy seeing people dipping their toes into unusual and interesting subjects. I've said this a million times before but you can blog about anything and everything. Whatever your interests are, you can make a blog out of it. Don't be afraid to try something out for a while and if you feel like it hasn't taken off, it's okay to pull back from it - at least you gave it a go!
I've been stuck in ruts over the years and I can get quite paranoid thinking that people are bored of me because quite frankly, I can become bored of myself. I'm never afraid to post a tweet or two asking my readers what they'd like to see more of or if writing a post on X and Y would be useful to them. I know now it's important to introduce interesting content, new social media platforms and ideas to people to keep them engaged in what I do.
I do hope this post was useful to some of you. It was really quite tough trying to whittle it down to only 6 points, as I feel like I could write a book on blogging at this stage! I want to say a gigantic THANK YOU to all of my readers for being the most loyal, engaging, friendly, interesting and kind people to me since 2009. Here's to many more blogging years!
Liffey Valley shopping centrerecently invited me to take part in a blogger challenge*, wherein I had to style a new outfit that revolved around a staple denim piece of clothing for Autumn/ Winter. Liffey Valley is renowned for its selection of high street shops so I was naturally spoilt for choice when I went along last week to have a look-see. I decided to pick up a pair of dark grey jeans with gorgeous zip detailing on the pockets and ripped knees from River Island first to start off.
I've been really inspired by bloggers' style lately that incorporates sportswear into everyday looks. Most of the time I dress pretty grungy and feel most at ease doing so, however, I love nothing more than an oversized hoodie, comfy pair of runners (trainers for UK folk/ sneakers for US) and some casual sweaters to layer up in the cooler months for college.
I fell in love with this sequin sweaterfrom H&M immediately - it screams MERMAID. I'm a longtime leopard-print advocate and I thought the clashing print/ texture of the bag and sweater was really interesting and something I wouldn't usually go for. I like how it turned out! To complete the look, I snapped up a black pair of Adidas Superstarsthat I've been stalking for months and months.
Liffey Valley is a haven for all high-street fiends; they've everything there from a H&M, New Look, Topshop, Bershka, River Island, Miss Selfridge and even American-chain Aeropostale is opening soon (their first European store). I had a blast shopping there and can't wait until my next trip back!