There's just something about whisky, isn't there? I can't drink it without thinking of hard-boiled detectives and secret agents; glamorous and alluring in that uniquely 'Noir' kind of way. I've wanted to be a whisky drinker ever since I read my first Raymond Chandler novel and to my great delight, my tastebuds are finally co-operating. Whisky sours has been my tipple of choice since I tried it last Christmas eve (in a Frankie & Benny's, if you must know). The citrus juice balances out the perfumed taste of the whisky and makes for very refreshing drink. Perfect for those who like their tipple sweet or bitter (I like mine on the bitter side), because it's very easy to adjust.

I find the ritual of drink making - as well as the drinking, of course - very therapeutic. A weekend treat that I can't help looking forward to. I was lucky enough to receive a little bottle of 'The One' from The Lakes Distillery in a goodie bag recently, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share my recipe for whisky sours. I've made a few alterations here and there - cocktail purists may want to look away now!
I recommend enjoying this drink whilst playing some sort of tactical war game. If I'm ever put in charge of mobilising a team of elite soldiers to save the world against an alien invasion, I can say with complete confidence that I'll be more successful with a glass of whisky in one hand. If computer games aren't your bag, find something on Netflix starring Humphrey Bogart... 

As always, I'm proud and excited to learn about, and support, local brands and businesses. Thank you to The Lakes Distillery and OPR. 

H&M / Dorothy Perkins / Gap / New Look / Gap

I've really rekindled my love for the summer dress recently. It's been uncharacteristically hot and humid here in the North of England; the comfort and ease of an airy dress, paired with simple sandals and a light cotton cardigan is a total delight. I'm going for a sort of "off duty ballerina" look - Kristina very kindly commented so on my recent Instagram shot

I've been surprised at how good the high-street offerings are this year - there's lots of my favourite blue hues to choose from. I purchased the Gap maxi dress (above) last month and (after a bit of a sizing fiasco) it's come to be one of my favourite garments. I really wanted to buy this striped jersey number from Boden, but unfortunately I missed out. I'll be on the hunt for something similar for the rest of the summer... 

Have you seen Sofia Coppola absolutely killing it at this year's Cannes Film Festival? Honestly, she's always perfect, but this particular Cannes capsule wardrobe is a total work of art. I adore the devotion to a simple blue and back colour palette, and the way she looks so completely effortless at all times. The navy maxi t-shirt dress with jewels and sandals? Exquisite.

I've always wanted to go to Cannes, but I kinda want to go as Sofia Coppola, do you know what I mean? 
This past week I've been feeling lousy. My skin is blotchy and dull, my hair is lifeless and dry, I feel slow and sluggish and bloated. Life seems to demand zest from us one moment and serenity the next, and we must flit between the two with grace and ease; it can be exhausting. I'm someone who finds this constant transition difficult (anxieties are hard to leave where they belong), but there are little things which ease stress and make life easier. I made the above list after a particularly tiring day. How comforting it is to know that often the only thing standing between me and calm is a bunch of flowers or a soft boiled egg! 

Please do share any 'pick me ups' of your own, I'd be delighted to hear :-)
#FenwickBeautyWeek, Monday 12 May - Saturday 17 May

Oh Fenwick, you really know how to make a girl feel special! Beauty treats in celebration of #BeautyWeek - there really is no better way to spend a day off than watching endless beauty tutorials on YouTube and digging through a bag of new products... 

First and foremost, can we please talk about how AMAZING the EOS (Evolution of Smooth) lipbalm is!? I just adore it. I don't wear coloured make-up so balms are my lip-weapon of choice and I'm constantly on the lookout for new ones to try. I favour a natural product with a fresh, tasty scent and this one fits the bill completely. It's 95% organic, 100% natural, petroleum free, and packed with lovely ingredients like shea butter, vitamin E and jojoba oil. This pink one I have is the raspberry and pomegranate version and tastes delicious, I can't stop applying it and then licking it back off! I can't not mention the spectacular packaging - a smooth, ergonomic pebble-like design which twists open to reveal an 'egg' of balm. A wonderful product all round. 

I really enjoyed reading this post on A Cup of Jo last week, and - as a result - was delighted to find a can of Rituals foaming gel and a tube of Kiehl's exfoliating body scrub in my Fenwick goodie bag. I'm not usually a big user of body scrubs and lotions, but they feature in Jo's 'smooth legs for summer' tips and I really want to give them a try.

Other products in my bag were Dior Addict 'Flash' mascara (launching 28 May), Viktor & Rolf 'Bon Bon' perfume, Clarins essential oils bath tonic and Molton Brown orange and bergamot hand lotion. I can't wait to try them!

If you're planning to be in Newcastle this week make sure you head into Fenwick to take advantage of a whole host of offers and events in the Beauty Hall. New product launches (from the likes of Clarins, Bare Minerals, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Dior, Dermatilogia and Shu Uemura) and fragrance sampling will be accompanied by luxury free gifts with purchases, live beauty demonstrations, and make-up and skincare masterclasses by industry professionals:
  • Thursday 15 May: Lancome national make-up artist Marc Sinclair 
  • Friday 16 May: Sisley national make-up artist Paulina Siembor
  • Friday 16 May: Laura Mercier national make-up artist Chris Howells
  • Saturday 17 May: Dior regional make-up artist Martin Aitken 
Products available from the Fenwick Beauty Hall on the ground floor. Follow Fenwick Newcastle on Twitter and Instagram, and like on Facebook, for more information. 
the rest of this collection is: here

I've found a new designer that I love, and I'm currently looking through every past and present collection. This one from Spring 2013 is my favourite; the colour palette is right up my street, the shapes are easy and flowing (whilst maintaining structure) and the shoes, oh the shoes

Red = bought & returnedYellow = replacement, Green = purchased with Uniqlo voucher win!

      MARCH
      APRIL
  • Bra, M&S
  • Cotton crew neck t-shirts x3 (grey, black, navy), M&S
  • Black cashmere tights, M&S
  • Navy denim smock dress, Uniqlo
  • Straight leg jeans (dark wash navy), Uniqlo
  • Black cashmere cardigan, Uniqlo
  • Fossil 'Sydney' satchel in chestnut leather
  • Navy cotton dress, Ines de la Fressange x Uniqlo 
  • White cotton Oxford shirt, Ines de la Fressange x Uniqlo
  • Organic cotton batik print trousers, H&M
  • Ultra-stretch jeans (dark wash navy), Uniqlo
  • Cotton vests x3 (grey, black, navy), Uniqlo
  • Long sleeved t-shirt x2 (grey, blue), Uniqlo
  • Navy cashmere cardigan, Uniqlo
  • Blue linen sleeveless tunic, Uniqlo
  • New Look black leather pumps
  • Black [p]leather sandals (Birks dupe), Office
  • Navy Egyptian cotton socks, John Lewis
  • Navy wool zip cardigan, Woolovers
  • Bra, M&S
  • Seersucker light summer raincoat, Gap (outlet)
BASICS
I've replaced all of my basics - jeans, t-shirts (long and short sleeved), vest tops, underwear, hosiery - over the last four months. It seems extravagant I know, but my main excuse is that we've been poor for the last two years and I couldn't afford very many new clothes. Now that we're not so hard up, I'm replacing my well worn items because they'd gotten tatty. Basics should feel clean, simple and polished; if your basics are making you feel ragged rather than refined, it's time to let them go.

The new jeans from Uniqlo are such a treat. I bought a dark straight legged pair and a slightly lighter pair of the 'ultra stretch' skinny fits. Kristina of Uniformly Dressed kindly offered me some valuable sizing advice which I was so so grateful for - I don't have a Uniqlo anywhere near where I live so I can't try anything on before ordering which is such a pain. The straight legged pair look nice with turn ups but the ultra stretch will need altering because they're quite long.

I've also included the black cashmere cardigan I bought in March as a 'basic'. This may seem ridiculous, as cashmere is obviously expensive and indulgent, but black cardigans are just so versatile and I know it'll get lots and lots of wear. It replaced a black cardigan which I had bought - in desperation, I might add - for my graduation. It was a bad shape and bad quality so I'm glad to have found something more suitable.

INDULGENCES 
I won a £100 Uniqlo voucher at the start of April, and invested it in a third cashmere crew neck cardigan. Navy this time, and now I have a complete set (grey, black and navy). What contented feeling that is!

Other indulgent purchases included the navy cotton lawn dress from the Uniqlo x IDLF collection,  a denim smock dress from Uniqlo, a pair of batik print cotton trousers from H&M, and a seersucker cotton raincoat from the Gap outlet store. All make welcome additions to my wardrobe (especially the patterned items!) - I can't wait 'til the weather is a little warmer and I have more chance to wear them. I'm ever so slightly worried that I may have bought the wrong size in the Gap mac (even with my boyfriend telling me to buy the smaller one) but that remains to be seen.

The ultimate shopping indulgence came in March, when I bought the Fossil 'Sydney' satchel I had been lusting after for a few months. It is a beautiful colour and shape and the most perfect size for work. I love brown leather bags with silver hardware (so Hermés) but I hardly ever see them - high street designers seem to favour brass or a gold/copper colour. I'm a little disappointed with the stitching of the bag (which is a bit wonky), but I'll cover that in a separate review post.

MISTAKES & RETURNS
I was really disappointed when my Birkenstock dupes arrives from Office. They were listed online as genuine leather with a cork sole, but when they arrived it was pretty obvious they were made of PU. I searched inside and yes, sure enough, the stickers depicted a 'synthetic upper'. A few emails back and forth with the Office customer service team promised an 'investigation' but I didn't hear anything. Although they were really comfy, I felt like they weren't as good value as advertised (I can buy a pair of genuine pleather Birkenstocks for only £5 more, for example) so I returned them. Office are still listing these sandals as leather on their website, which I find a bit confusing so I've emailed them to chase it up (which makes me sound like a terrible busy body, but hey ho).

No qualms about the quality or style of the other two items I returned, they were just wrong for me. The Woolovers zipped cardigan was far too big, and the Uniqlo linen tunic was too snug around the hips and too large around the top.

PLANS FOR THE NEXT TWO MONTHS

  • Sneakers: I've been rotating between two pairs of Primark sneakers for about six months. They're canvas hi-tops (Converse dupes, basically) one in black and the other in white, which cost me £5 each. I bought them because I'd never had hi-tops before and I wanted to see if they would work with my wardrobe. I've been pleasantly surprised because, although I've always liked the look of them on other people, I thought they would look weird on me because I have chunky legs. I actually find they look really great with long dresses/skirts or rolled up trousers. I'll be investing in a slightly better pair this month to replace my two - which have done good service for such cheap shoes, but are now falling to pieces.
  • Sandals: I love sandals, and usually live in them all summer long. Since my Birk-a-likes from Office didn't work out, I need to find a replacement. Perhaps real Birkenstocks (although I'll admit that the idea of 'birko flor' leaves me cold), perhaps something else. 
  • Patterns: Now that my plain basics are all in place I feel like I can confidently add pieces into my wardrobe which would be considered more of a 'statement'. I've worn my new batik print H&M trousers a few times now and felt very joyful in them. I want to add some more patterned items soon. 
  • A light summer jacket: I want a light summer jacket which will bridge the gap between smart and casual. A kind of 'wear with everything and anything' item. I'm asking a lot, I know. 
  • Sewing my own: I can't find my perfect summer dress or perfect cotton skirt (but I can see them in my dreams!), so I want to make my own. I'll invest in some simple paper patterns and nice fabric, and we'll see how well my cheap little sewing machine can cope.
p.s. I'm not including cosmetics, skin care items, books or homeware in these posts. I think I included a few miscellaneous bits like that in last month's, but I've come to the conclusion that I have to draw the line somewhere, and it all gets very confusing what with downloaded books/movies etc.
details: set one / set two

I've just bought something that was definitely not on the list. A multicoloured - mainly pink/red, or 'strawberry' according to the product description - cotton kimono style jacket. I've been chewing this over for a while. I fell in love with it as soon as I spied it on the Mango website, but it's not something I'd usually go for; It's highly patterned for a start and it's not blue, grey or black. But, I came to the conclusion that rather than going with nothing in my current wardrobe, it might go with everything. Perhaps this is just desperate justification for aimless money spending, but look how beautiful it looks in my Polyvore sets! Look how it jazzes up a plain tee and jeans combo! Look how it transforms a simple black dress and sandals! Magical.

I feel sort of guilty, because there are definitely other things I need more desperately than yet another jacket (especially a crazy one which might not really assimilate into 'my style') but adoration won out in the end. New sneakers and sandals will have to wait until next month, but so be it. 

What do you think? How would you wear this jacket?