Serotonin, Style & Sustainability

This happens to me, I wake up and all of a sudden have an urgency to write about something that has been pulling on my heart strings (without having realised it).  The upside is I get so excited I don’t waste timing putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), the downside is, I don’t plan the post, which means you lot could end up reading a lot of babble…

Over my years of styling various people in various careers and walks of life, as well as following my own journey of ups and downs, one thing I have come to realise is that no matter where you are at or what you are doing we all benefit from feeling good.  Ive been through periods of feeling great, possibly because Im fit and healthy, and other times of feeling really miserable about myself, probably because Im going through a slump, not keeping up with exercise and poor diet.  That’s step one, feeling good from within.  Following closely on the heels of step one is looking good, dressing well! Whether I’m fit or not I need to maintain a level of style in my life otherwise I begin to feel even worse.  Ive noticed when I have let myself go a little on the dressing front I really do feel awful.  I totally can see how I’ve let this slide over the last couple of years and I’ve decided this year, whilst I certainly don’t have a new wardrobe to parade, I’m going to try and be clever and think out the box, whilst Ive adapted to a more classical look (for simplicity) I will try to add a (teeny tiny) edge to give it a touch of “me”, and these small efforts, I know will boost my happiness.  I will be trying my best to get fit and eat cleaner (mental note to self – stop eating children’s leftovers).  Ive seen it through so many women, how taking care of appearances boosts confidence and happiness.  Everyone has their own level of standards and they know when they are at their best or worst.  I could feel amazing in myself but to others out there look very average (hopefully nobody would tell me that – haha) and visa versa, but if you’re healthy and fresh faced then you should shine from the inside out and that counts for everything.  Once you’ve started with your body and mind you then move onto wardrobe and dressing well, present yourself well to show you care.  So that rounds up the bit about confidence and serotonin.

Next up is style.  Style is a very personal thing, Im sure everyone knows that.  Everyone has their own style and way of expressing this.  Style is not stepping out in the latest Zara/Topshop/Country Road and H&M haul, very far from it.  It is a slow and progressive collection of pieces that build up a wardrobe of pieces that you should always love.  They should be able to be worn with confidence and ease, if you ever feel uncomfortable in something, it’s not you, take it off and get rid of it.  Sell it, pass it on, alter it. Being trendy is not stylish! Dressing to suit your character is a good start although there are many women and men out there who battle with what works for them and will seek advice which is a great start.  I certainly don’t try and do my accounts, Im hopeless, so somebody else does that bit.  I do the parts I love and feel capable of doing and that is what we should all be doing.  Seek advice or help in the areas where you lack the ability to do it yourself.  My aim this year is to feel like Im trying my best from a wardrobe front (next mental note to self, try ditch all my t-shirt wearing and certainly NO more Havaianas every day)… if I want to wear a t-shirt, Im going to put it with something really striking at the bottom (haha lets see how this unfolds).  A friend popped in yesterday and said, wow look at you, is this just you strolling around in your best.  I have been “trying” a little harder this week, wearing bits that haven’t had a look-in in forever! So Im pleased to to say it never went unnoticed.  I’ve often had compliments on pieces that I’ve worn that are really old, but that’s where choosing a timeless shape helps as it doesn’t look outdated in 3 years.  That’s the bit about Style…

Now onto sustainability.  Like many others that share the same values out there, Ive become extremely conscious of our human footprint on this planet and Im desperate to be less of a consumer and more of a recycler.  We can all do little bits which will add up to a lot.  My goals for this year are to grow as many of my own veg as possible, buy less plastic, not purchase one plastic water bottle, I will continue to recycle all my rubbish as we have done for years and use earth friendly cleaning products (in fact vinegar is best, but Im not quite there yet). Being fully sustainable is quite a task and can be very overwhelming when thinking about absolutely everything we can and cant do, so baby steps makes me feel better and less stressed by it all.  Whilst there’s no way I will never ever buy another item from a high street store again, I am taking the saying “Buy Less.  Choose well. Make it last.” literally. (Thanks Viveinne Westwood).  When buying a dress for a wedding or special occasion, choose something that really suits you and that you absolutely LOVE so you will want to wear it for years to come.  Choose classic tailoring, simple sneakers, coats and jackets that suit your frame as well as being timeless. AND if you can buy from small business’s that are using sustainable practices & fabrics as well as having ethical values.  Choose raffia, straw, cotton or vegan material handbags over leather.

So how do these three topics all roll into one another? Well its simple.  Feel good, care about yourself, increase your serotonin levels by starting with the your health and fitness.  Style in turn makes you feel better, care about your appearance and I can promise you, the amount of people that I have seen transform in front of my eyes has been extremely gratifying.  Do good for your planet where you can and feel better about making a difference.  Transform yourself but be sustainable at the same time, choose carefully and don’t get sucked into consumerism, chasing the next trend.  Sure, from year to year you may want to update your wardrobe from the chunky knit to the twin set but generally trends like that last at least two seasons (so two years) before feeling the need to switch things around. Small updates can make all the difference and if you choose the classic version of a trend it’s likely to go the distance.  Keep it Simple! But hey, this is nothing you haven’t heard before, right 😉

I leave you with some of my favourite classic looks (most have been on my Pinterest boards for years, at least 3-4, and I still love them), so it shows, choose well, it lasts.

Have a fabulous week ahead everyone.

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LINEN: All you need to know!

Like everything when you start reading up about a topic there’s always so much more to it than you think.  I’m going to explain the benefits of linen over other fabrics and why its such a great choice of fabric (especially in warm climates).

Linen has been around for a VERY long time.  There is evidence to suggest that a linen manufacturing industry was in operation in Egypt over 4,000 years ago.  Linen is a natural fibre made from the stalks of the flax plant Linum usitatissimum.

Bed Linen was coveted by the upper classes for its cool and soft feeling against the skin, becoming a mark of wealth and social standing.  These days, textiles account for the majority of linen grown, with clothing forming only a very small percentage, making a well-sourced and cared for linen shirt an all the more valuable addition to your wardrobe.

Linen vs Cotton

Linen is highly breathable, much more so than cotton due to its lower thread counts.  For example, a fine Egyptian cotton bed sheet will start at about 200 thread count, while a similar quality linen sheet will have a thread count of between 80 and 150, meaning fewer fibres and more breathability when the temp rises.  Although Linen can feel rough at first, with time and washing it becomes incredibly soft, unlike cotton, which can get coarser over time.  When cotton is new its incredibly soft to touch, linen really starts coming into its own after about 3 to 5 years of wear, accounting for its longevity too.

Because of Linens very high absorbency rate, it is the ideal summer fabric.  Its also hypoallergenic, which means sweat is less likely to break down its fibres.  Combined with its lack of elasticity, this ability to quickly absorb and wick away moisture from the body accounts for the ease with which linen can crease.

Whilst linen to most is thought of as a more informal fabric (probably due to it’s ability to crease so easily) I think that wearing a linen garment can enhance the quality of the outfit making it appear not as informal and rather classy.  Perhaps more than any other fabric, you truly get what you pay for with linen and linen-blends.  The best harvests and the most expert milling practices will be reflected in the price, so try not to skimp.  I always advise my clients to invest in linen t-shirts over cotton.  The longevity of the t-shirt will be quite remarkable especially if a more premium linen is bought.  A T-shirt from even a mid priced brand such as J.Crew over a pinch priced T-shirt from H&M or Zara.  Whilst buying linen from the high street wont be a complete waste, it wont last quite as long as it would from a better quality store.

Caring for Linen

A lukewarm hand or machine wash is best.  Air dry and a quick iron when damp is a better option than waiting until the fabric is bone dry.  Avoid over-ironing the crease of the collar as this can damage the fibres.

So that was the text book stuff for those out there that like the detail.

Having always been a big fan of linen (even though I have never owned heaps of it myself) other than t-shirts and the odd shirt or trousers which have been a linen blend, its always been a fabric that I love the ruffled look it gives and the way linen clothes hang.  Woven Green are excited to be launching a range of Linen clothing in the next month.  Here are a couple of pics and style tips on wearing linen.

We hope to see you over on WG soon for a sneak peak of what’s to come! To keep updated follow us on Instagram @woven_green

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The Drinks Trolley Re-invented

The revival of the drinks trolley happened somewhere in the last couple of years and whilst I always imagined it as a bit of a fussy piece of tacky furniture gathering dust living in a badly lit room in the 50’s, I now love the way in which it has been reinvented.  A stat just to show how popular it has become:   The number of bar cart ideas (if you don’t mind an Americanism) saved on Pinterest in the UK jumped 40 per cent in six months. Sales of bar carts were up 173 per cent from January to June 2016.

Some Drinks Trolley Trivia

(taken from http://www.thebarcartist.com/bar-cart-history/)

The bar cart actually got its start during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). However, at that time it was not associated with alcoholic beverages. The bar carts of the Victorian Era were actually tea trolleys!  It seems we have the Interbellum and Greatest Generations to thank for taking us from Tea Time to Party Time when they started using bar carts for cocktail parties during the end of Prohibition (1933). Though bar carts started being associated with cocktails after the repeal of prohibition, they did not become well known cocktail entertaining items until the 1950’s.

If your’e thinking of including a drinks cart/trolley as part of your decor at home here are a few do’s and don’ts.

Cart Style

Retro-style carts are particularly popular – think gold and glitzy with glass or marble shelving.  Marble with a very dark brassy metal would be my choice.  But look for contemporary details, such as oversized wheels and sleek lines, to stop things feeling too fussy. Two shelves is way better than one and three shelves is probably too many.  Purchasing the cart is probably the easiest part however.

Alcohol 

Its not about a purchase and then stocking it with a couple bottles of hardtack and some crystal glasses.  Of course not, in 2017 everything has to be styled!  The styling also includes the brand of alcohol you have on display.  I would personally pick two or three bottles of spirits, I think an over stocked trolley will look messy and cluttered.  Perhaps add a soft drink like an Elderflower cordial, a bottle of bitters and lots of sparkling water (San Pelligrino).  This is for the everyday display and then when you have guests you can add your wines, champagne etc. When you are picking your display bottles of spirits I can’t speak for Bourbon’s or Whiskey’s but a bottle of Gordins isn’t going to cut it on the Gin front, Hendricks, Bombay Sapphire or something on that level.  If residing in SA you may be up to speed with the gin re-awakening (well that’s a whole other topic altogether). Cape Town is one of the leaders of this world wide trend.  Talented and passionate locals are distilling gin using indigenous flora such as fynbos and rooibos to create gin that you’ll find nowhere else in the world. A few of the local names to look out for that would sit very prettily (and go down very happily) are Inverroche http://www.inverroche.co.za Hope on Hopkins http://hopeonhopkins.co.za Musgrave http://www.musgravegin.co.za Woodstock Gin Company http://www.woodstockginco.co.za to name a few.

Styling

Bringing in some artwork, plants, a lamp, jugs, candles, good crystal pieces or books are a few of the many different objects to look for.  Fruit is also a great idea, I would go with a bowl of lemons, limes or both and a pineapple or three.  Recently we have been drinking our gin with slices of pineapple and I can honestly say that Pineapple in gin should be part of the gin revolution.  Basically any of the above objects would add interest, texture, colour and style to your cart.  Again for me personally I would choose a few items and not make it too busy, ensuring every item has the ability to shine and be seen.

Inspiration

I have picked out what I believe to be beautifully styled trolleys.

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I’m still looking for my perfect drinks trolley, I imagine its living in an antiques market somewhere.  I look forward to sharing it with you here when its found.

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Le Pink

If you thought Pink was having a moment last year and the year before, it’s biggest moment is still to come, I feel it hasn’t peaked yet. It started off subtly in blush and nude tones and has evolved onto the scene in all shades from fuschia and cerise to dusty pink and cherry.  What I love about it, is that the variety of the shades are endless ensuring theres one if not three out there for everyone.  When worn with black or military green it can easily be ‘de-girlified’ and worn with white or pale denim gives such a great summery cool vibe, especially against a gorgeous tan.

There are so many lovely colour combo’s for pink.  If you aren’t scared of colour wear bright pink with bright red or plum.

Shop some Pink below:

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Wide Leg Culottes here

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Earrings here

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Pleated Neck Cami here

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Frilled Merino Wool Sweater here

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Velvet Skirt here

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Side Tie Dress here

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Chinos here

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Sweatshirt with frills here

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Velvet Dress here

Ways to wear pink

It’s a great Saturday colour 😉 Have a lovely weekend

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New Year, New Goals

I am sure we hear ourselves say this at the start of every year.  If I think back about the start of last year, I wasn’t thinking goals, challenges, resolutions etc.  I was focused on one massive continent move.  We celebrated Christmas, went away to the Countryside with friends for a couple of days over New Years, had a whale of a time and kept everything as normal as possible until that little trip was over…. and then, the big pack up begun.  Everything after that was a bit of a blur and I certainly was not focused on the year ahead, other than surviving the next couple of months.  Last year for me was about getting through lots of “news”.  New town, new home, new schools, new people, new absolutely everything.  So whilst I did a bit of a spring clean when we packed up in London, I also held onto a lot in case I needed it.  After having been back in SA for 11 months now I am starting to realise what is needed and what is going to stay and what is going to go.  I have worn about 5% of my wardrobe in the past year, which for me is really sad but the new climate and much more casual style here means I simply cannot wear closed shoes, high heels or coats and wooly jumpers for many days of the year.   On the interior front, our rooms now are a lot more spacious than we had before so things like rugs and tables and decorative stuff all feel rather puny in the larger space and rugs are not filling the areas as they should.

Having said all of the above my goals for this year are about slowly fixing everything to suit our new lifestyle.  We have survived the past year, now we need to thrive! Im quite an impulsive person and sometimes a little hasty, so when I get a bee in my bonnet or the slightest inkling of a “go ahead” from my husband, Im on to it.  I currently have the flooring guys in, ripping up carpets and sanding parquet and wooden flooring (we’ve only been home for 3 days after a month away).  Once that is done, I will move onto the next phase of this project.  Slowly but surely we will start to renovate and redecorate our home, but first we need to have a proper plan in place (which we are still working on).  The other goal this year is to not buy a thing! Other than the necessities of course. There are always those: “this is the best lamp I have ever seen and there will never be another one like it” (how many times have we heard ourselves say that and a couple of months down the line…!?!).  I want to utilise as much of my current bit and bobs as possible and make my wardrobe really work for me, discover new outfits and clear out what is not being worn.  Same goes for the boys.  The toys, and any home decor. This year is all about de-cluttering and then figuring out what exactly we want to replace and what we need once we are back to a minimal of everything.  I want a blank canvas to work with for the next phase.

Here are a couple of inspirational pics of those perfect spaces I would like to create, from bathroom to living to utility.

Bathroom Organisation – order and colour co-ordination

Make- Up, Accessories & Sunglasses. I seem to get a lot more of it all every year (clearly the older I get the more I need although the less I actually seem to use)

Books and Clothing – you need to see them both to appreciate and use them, tucked away and unseen, they become useless and forgotten about.

Kids play – I have this exact kiddies kitchen and I promise it is impossible to keep this tidy but I guess that is a sign it’s actually loved and is used regularly.  As do we have this many, if not more animals but I love the way they are displayed on the shelf (that wouldn’t last either).

The perfectly set up Utility room.  My lovely cleaner would kiss me if we set this up for her.  She is a laundry fanatic, loves it and takes great care in washing and retaining clothing colour and shape (we have a lot in common).

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I will share any developments of the house and wardrobe with you here.  I will also promise to disclose anything bought that is not on the necessity list on my instagram page here, you have my word (basically a name and shame of myself, hopefully this will help to refrain from purchases).

I would like to wish you all a very happy and healthy 2017 filled with so much love and adventure!  And thank you so much for reading my blog.

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