Fit For A Queen: A Royal Style Guide*

Having recently celebrated her sapphire jubilee marking 65 years HRH the Queen, Elizabeth II is our longest-serving monarch — and what an outstanding job she’s done; leading the country with grace, duty and dignity.

Throughout her reign her impeccable sense of style has gained much attention, always looking polished to perfection at each and every royal engagement. She’s left many of us wondering just how does she do it?

We shall ponder no more as here are some of the style secrets that keep her majesty looking so effortlessly sophisticated.

(image)

The Great British Weather
We all know how temperamental the weather in Great Britain is — what starts as a promisingly sunny day can easily end with pouring rain and gales. During her many royal appointments- often taking place outside it’s important that the Queen’s wardrobe is up to the job.

Before she wears any outfit her team tests their fabric using electric fans which helps to establish how the material would move in a breeze. Small curtain weights are then sewn into the hem to give the fabric more weight where required to save any blushes if caught in a sudden gust of wind.

Of course the chance of a sudden downpour in the UK is high. The Queen’s umbrella of choice is a birdcage-style clear umbrella created by Royal Warrant holders Fulton Umbrellas. A transparent umbrella is essential so that crowds can see her.

Each of the bespoke umbrellas are perfectly matched to the colours of the Queen’s planned outfit. Ahead of an event her majesty’s senior dresser will send a colour swatch which Fulton Umbrellas then use to create an umbrella with a perfectly colour-matched trim.

Colour by occasion
She’s been spotted in a rainbow of colours over the years, but did you know each colour has been carefully picked to match the event it is for? Colours are chosen to reflect the nature of the event- e.g. for her Diamond Jubilee concert she wore gold influenced by the Queen Victoria Memorial statue that the stage was built around.

Likewise, colours will also be selected to avoid blending in. For example if an appointment is taking place in a park the queen will seldom wear green as she won’t be as visible to the crowds. In general bright colours are favoured to make sure all eyes are on her.

The colours that the Queen wears are monitored to ensure the same shades aren’t worn too closely together so, if she was to wear a bright yellow dress early on in the year then it would be avoided again for several months.

Perfectly practical
Staying flawless throughout lengthy royal appointments is no mean feat so practicality is at the core of each of her majesty’s outfits.

With visits that involve car journeys and long periods of sitting it’s vital that each outfit remains pristinely pressed. A stipulation given to each designer is that the Queen’s outfits must be made from wrinkle-proof material designed to withstand any amount of travelling or sitting down.

The Queen’s footwear and accessories are also incredibly practical. Her heel height is kept at 2.25 inches to ensure maximum comfort, often with added insoles. When it comes to handbags the Queen’s favoursLauner’s Royale and Traviata bags. These are designed with a longer handle so that they don’t interfere with handshaking or catch the cuff of her favoured 3/4 length sleeves.

What is inside the handbag is also meticulously planned. Weight is carefully considered and balanced depending on how long she is expected to be holding it for. Although nobody really knows for sure what the Queen carries in her bag it’s rumoured to contain reading glasses, mints, a compact mirror, lipstick and a fountain pen. She also only carries cash on a Sunday — and it’s always either a £5 or £10 note that is carefully folded!

Hats don’t escape the careful planning either. Designed by her milliner of choice- Rachel Trevor-Morgan, each hat is designed to not obscure her face. This means her majesty avoids wide-brimmed hats and height is restricted to ensure her majesty can easily get out of a vehicle.

With so many royal appointments to attend it’s difficult to keep track of the outfits the Queen wears. To help with this all of the Queen’s dressers keep their own handwritten wardrobe diaries which keep notes on what was worn and for what occasion. While the queen will occasionally wear the same outfit again it’s on a strict rotational basis to ensure it isn’t seen too often.

She makes looking impeccable easy and as her reign continues we can expect to see more of the looks we love- with the additional understanding of what goes on behind the scenes!

end

A miniature London city guide*

Don’t get me wrong, I love living near Bristol but sometimes the bright lights of a bigger city come calling. London is one of those places that always makes an impression no matter how many times I visit – it really does live up to the hype. Whether you’re planning your own trip to the capital this summer or just want to know what the city has to offer I’ve put together a miniature travel guide to get you started!
Where to stay

London is crammed with amazing hotels and staying in them doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Z Hotels are awesome for those wanting to stay close to the city centre on a budget with branches in Soho, Piccadilly and Shoreditch to name just a few. They may not be the most luxurious accommodation but they’ll definitely do for anyone looking to spend a few nights here.
If you don’t fancy staying in a hotel there’s always the option of an Airbnb. There are some amazing looking rooms and apartments close to the city centre with additional perks such as being able to cook your own food and save money on eating out all the time.

Places to eat

Although pricey dining out has to be one of the biggest perks of London. There’s a little bit of everything here- from traditional British dishes to something more exotic like Lebanese or Mongolian cuisine.

I love to eat healthily as much as possible but visiting the capital is as good an excuse as any to treat yourself. The Breakfast Club is a must-visit, and once again you can find branches all over London, including Canary Wharf and London Bridge. The breakfasts here are legendary with a menu that includes all American pancake options for both veggies and meat-eaters, yum!

In the evening I’d recommend Ping Pong Dim Sum. This is a favourite amongst bloggers for good reason as they serve some of the best Asian dishes that you’ll find in London – with amazing cocktails to boot! Try the Hong Kong Colada served in a bamboo cup for a touch of something special.

Things to do

With so much to do there’s very little opportunity to get bored in London. Whether you’re planning on heading off the beaten track or seeing all the usual sights the entire city is your oyster.

The National Gallery is one of the most spectacular buildings in London and is home to some truly amazing collections. Even if you’re not an art lover it’s great to experience a little of London’s cultural side and free entry is an added bonus too.

For Harry Potter fans like me the Warner Bros Studio Tour is a must-visit. Located just outside of Watford it’s well worth venturing to especially now that the Forbidden Forest has been officially unveiled.

Lastly no London city guide would be complete without mentioning the amazing Madame Tussauds. Fancy rubbing shoulders with Kim Kardashian, David Beckham or Lady Gaga? Madame Tussauds is your chance to do it! There’s even a new Fashion Week experience to explore where you can hang out with the likes of Cara Delevigne and Kendall Jenner behind the runway.

Where are your favourite spots in London? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

end

The Pre-MOT checklist*

Now, I might not be a driver yet (by the end of year, I hope!) but I know a little bit about cars- especially that they can be damn expensive when it comes to things like services, repairs, insurance and MOTs! As such I thought that this infographic created by Motorparks would be a useful and indeed essential read for any one with an MOT test upcoming…

I always find myself apologising for posting motor related content as it’s not “in keeping” with my blog theme but I really do find things like this useful so I share if only for future reference for myself!

Up until reading this it probably wouldn’t have occurred to me to actually make any checks of my car (well, at this point imaginary car) before taking it for it’s MOT. You kind of assume that’s what you pay the garage for- it definitely makes sense though, repairs of problems found my the pros are bound to cost an arm and a leg whereas taking simple measures to make sure things are up to scratch beforehand is 100% going to be the cheaper option!
Hope you found this useful!

end

Learning to Silence my Inner Critic

Initially I wasn’t going to use the set of photos below in a blog post. They aren’t quite right and don’t show the outfit as I wanted it to be shown. But it got me thinking about something that’s been running along in the background of my mind for a while now and so actually, from something imperfect I’m able to write an altogether different to what I planned blog post.

Dress and Tee: Monki | Converse from Schuh

So basically these photos triggered a whole big train of thought about my long-standing battle with perfectionism. I didn’t set any resolutions at the start of 2017 but it was always a goal of mine to try to get more control over my issues with, well, control and making everything “just right”. It’s something that has governed my life for as long as I can remember and has been an undercurrent to my anorexia since the word go. Ever since I started this journey of recovery back in the Summer last year I knew that to get any degree of success I would eventually have to learn to live more in the moment and less in a micro-managed bubble, and now, almost a year on I’ve realised that actually I am less ruled by it than I can ever recall being.

Now, I don’t have a secret to my success. It’s been a long battle and a lot of it is still very much trial and error. There are a couple of things that I have found really helpful though- the first of that being a course of CBT which saw me learn how to break my self-imposed rules (like actually being on time for things instead of constantly ten minutes early, or to accept a spontaneous invitation). I’m awaiting a start date for a more intense course which will delve more in to the root causes but even the basics gave me the tools I needed to start to break free.

The second thing that made a massive difference was learning the art of mindfulness. It’s always been something I was wary and dismissive of, but having been persuaded to give it a go by various people I decided I had nothing to lose and started to dedicate 5-10 minutes a day to it. I initially went with the Headspace and Calm apps but also made the purchase of “A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled” by Ruby Wax which proved to be a witty, relatable account of her own struggles as well as containing a six week guided programme which has helped me no end.

Of course it’s not for everyone but I thought it worth sharing these thoughts as they spill out of my mind. As ever with me partly so my blog can serve as a “record of achievement”, but also in the hope that even one person might read this and find something that could help against their own demons.

And the result of all this? Well, it’s only recently that the rewards have become evident. From challenging my social anxieties and attending a Blog Club Brunch in Bristol to attending the Grandaddy gig the other week. Spontaneous plans with friends have been followed through instead of a “yes, I’ll do it” followed shortly by a swift “no, actually I can’t today”. I’ve also found myself in the early days of a new relationship, in which I could not be happier (and that was a true case of spontaneous actions paying off) and I’m now able to relax, read, listen to music or watch a film without a constant state of panic and dread that I might have forgotten to do something vital.

I’ve literally just sat here and banged out this post in the last 45 minutes without any real intention of doing so- that’s definitely something I couldn’t have done six months ago! But with that comes the risk that it’s a whole lot of nonsense, utter drivel and full of poor grammar and punctuation mistakes…but you know what? That’s ok. Real life isn’t perfect and it doesn’t need to be perfect to be wonderful, and for me, that is the greatest lesson of them all.

end

Bristol Life: Grandaddy at The Colston Hall

It feels like ages since I last went to a gig- it’s something I fell out of love with as I found it more stressful than pleasurable. Social anxiety means crowds can be a nightmare so often it’s easier to just miss out, however when I was given the opportunity to go and see one of my favourite bands at The Colston Hall last Friday I knew I needed to push myself and go.

The band in question was Grandaddy, an indie rock band from Modesto, California who formed way back in 1992. I was introduced to them four years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since my first listen- fronted by Jason Lytle (who has also released some excellent solo work) I find the combination of clever lyrics and eclectic beats strangely soothing/ an. They push boundaries which lifts their sound to the next level- I’d love to be inside the mind of the band, creative genius in my opinion. They split as a group in 2006 but re-formed in 2012 and it’s their later releases that have impressed me the most, their new album “Last Place” especially.

I’d heard they were good live and had high hopes for the gig. I find can be a double edged sword- going in to something unknown with high expectations can often be a set up for disappointment but I’m delighted to report that this wasn’t the case and the band (despite a last minute crisis) exceeded expectations.

Their set lasted just over an hour and was a mix of their latest work and some old favourites. Lytle has a somewhat aloof stage presence and yet still manages to work the room. His voice, live, somehow manages to sound exactly like it does on the records (and this is often where I find live performances fall short) and the band clearly have good chemistry as the banter flowed between songs. They have an almost mesmerising manner about them and the set passed by in the blink of an eye leaving me wanting more and more- I could have watched them perform for hours on end.

If you’re a fan of the band and have yet to see them live then please, do, I can promise you’ll love it. I really hope that Grandaddy continue as a band and bring us albums for years to come. Like good wine they really do get better with age and I would jump at the chance to see them again.
A big thank you to The Colston Hall for making this possible, Bristol may not have any big music arenas but when you have a venue like this you really don’t mind that much! I’ll leave you with one of my favourite tracks from the band- let me know if you’re a fan and what your favourite track is.

end