Thursday, 17 May 2018

Writing Tools from Old English Company

There are so many ways in which I'm old fashioned, and hand writing is one of those ways. I can see your confused faces now. Surely I don't mean actually taking a pen and applying it to paper?! Well yes, actually. I've always loved writing in notebooks and it's how I started, and continue to write creatively - short stories and my never to be finished novel are all in notebooks and I just love the process.

I love seeing the misspellings, the crossings out, the brainstorms in the margins and plot twists arrowed on a different page; I love seeing my mind working stories out and it's something you just don't get when typing away on a computer/ laptop/ phone, etc.

I feel so much more connected to my work when I'm using a pad and pen, so when I was asked if I wanted to pick some items from Old English Co. I couldn't wait to head over to their site. In the end I decided on half writing tools and half treat yo'self gems:
1. 'Do What You Love' A4 Notebook for new projects
2. 'Beauty in Simplicity' A5 Wiro Notebook for brainstorming
3. Blush Pink and Gold A5 Planner because I'm a huge lists person and love having a cute planner to travel around with me
4. A 'Girl Gang' and an 'Ice Cream' enamel pin because I have an array of tote bags in need of embellishment
5. Spiffing Birthday Card because it's always someone's birthday
6. 'You Look Scrumptious Pocket Mirror' because a girl needs to have one to hand to retouch her lipstick!
I love each item in my gift package and everything is such great quality - almost to the point where it all feels too fancy to use. The clean lines and simple designs make each item extremely versatile, and I can't wait to start using my planner and A5 notebook, in particular, for brunch-date planning and short story musings.
I'm so impressed and will probably purchase a few homeware items and prints I've seen and have fallen in love with. Old English Co. website is filled with great kitchen and homeware accessories, gift ideas, stationary, and greeting cards for every occasion - you'd really struggle not be utterly impressed with what's on offer.

'til next time!


Love and hugs,
Isha xxx

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Confidence Myth

"Fake it 'til you make it!"

I cannot tell you how many times I've seen that phrase, and although I understand the sentiment, it hasn't been one I've ever really embraced. You see, I'm a self reflector and have always tried to be honest with myself about my feelings and emotions, so looking in the mirror and telling myself that I feel amazing when I don't, just doesn't sit right. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should go about our daily lives unloading onto the person unfortunate enough to sit next to us on public transport, and I'm not saying we should wear sandwich boards with our mood of the day (although I secretly think this would be awesome!), but we at least owe ourselves the truth.

We live in a society where, if the cashier in Sainsbury's asks how we are, we are expected to smile and simply say "Good thanks, and you?", and I too fall into what is socially acceptable in this instance, but I refuse to lie to myself in regards to how I'm feeling in the hope that I may convince my brain otherwise. I know, I know, this sounds like a bleak outlook on life, but it really isn't because I do love one thing - affirmations. I enjoy the practice of taking time to re-train the mind and teach the mind to be kinder, to nurture, to love, to be positive, without having to lie to myself. I find that affirmations are much better for my mental health and a healthy mind helps my confidence no end.

There are days, however, when even affirmations don't help. You know what I'm talking about. Those days when you wake up and feel the doom in the pit of your stomach and you know you're going to struggle. Sometimes those feelings last more than a day - sometimes those moments last weeks, months and even years. We all get these moments in varying waves and anyone who tells you different is lying to you and themselves. That's right, I'm talking about the confidence myth.
 Jumpsuit: In The Style 
Pumps: Simply Be*
Sunglasses: Spitalfields Market
Take this amazing In The Style jumpsuit for example. If you follow me on my blog or my Instagram, you'll see that my style is very much a dress and a cardigan situation. As much as my style of dresses may vary, I very rarely stray far from that aesthetic. But here I am, not only not wearing a dress or a skirt, but wearing an all-in-one, without any kind of coverup. While looking in the mirror, I felt at odds with what I was wearing, but the more I looked and the more I rotated and checked myself out from various angles, the more I was feeling it and feeling myself. My brain did a good thing and my confidence clicked into place at the exact right time.

It doesn't always go that way though, and social media can be the worse place when we're not feeling great. We scroll and see other people smiling, laughing and loving through their lives, and we're made to feel like there is something wrong with us because we're not constantly "on". We look at these perfect lives and feel like failures because we don't leap out of bed, throw on clothes and strut though our day with a never ending supply of confidence. But we fail to remember something. We fail to remember that those tweets, pictures or Instastories are snippets of a moment in time. We fail to remember that, for the other 23 or 22 hours of their day, it may not have been so great. We fail to remember we only see what people want us to see and social media is just that - social, like the very same social encounters we have with the cashier in Sainsbury's when we tell then we're "Good thanks".
Having a wobble doesn't make us failures. We need to stop beating ourselves up for not "living our best lives" (oh how I hate that phrase!) all day everyday. It just isn't realistic. We're all human and we all have ups and downs. Some will have more ups than others but we all have to work through our shit. I for one have been struggling at the start of the year. I haven't felt like myself and my mind is often swirling with doubts about how I look, friends, family, work, and everything in between. It would be so easy for me fall into the abyss and write this year off before it's even really started. However, I've really taken comfort in fellow bloggers acknowledging that they too have had a hard start to the year. It isn't about enjoying someone else's misery, but about taking comfort in the fact that I'm not alone.

And those are kind of people and personalities I gravitate to more than anyone else - not the perfect lives, but the honest ones. To that end, you should check out an article I contributed a quote from this post for. Simply Be US have shared some inspiring advice from my fellow bloggers all about how to deal with the summer period. You can read it here.

'til next time!


Love and hugs,
Isha xxx


KEY: Symbol * denotes an item no longer available.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Comfort

A much as I love my style aesthetic, I have always wanted to, at times, step outside my comfort zone. It's not about wanting to move away from how I identify myself, nor the fear of falling into a rut, but more about mixing things up and maybe adding elements to my existing style. Fashion is like make-up: versatile with no restrictions other than those we put on ourselves.

I'd been meaning to try trousers and jeans for a little while; particularly jeans as they can be worn with almost anything and they're so easy to style, it felt like a no brainer to look for jeans first. However, as much as you may plan, sometimes you see something you'd never thought of trying and your pupils go all heart-shaped - enter these trousers, designed by Bethany (of Arched Eyebrow) for Navabi. 
Rose Print Blouse: Gozzip for Navabi*
Paperbag Trousers: Arched Eyebrow for Navabi*
Ballerina Flats: New Look^
I'm really not one for trousers but, when Bethany launched her debut collection for Navabi, these trousers were the stand-out piece for me. I loved the colour, I loved the shape, and suddenly I was thinking of ways I could wear them while still feeling good and comfortable. During the launch, Navabi were kind enough to gift us all a piece from the line and I could have so easily gone for one of the many dreamy dresses also in the collection, but I just had to take a punt and get the trousers. 

I was really excited to get them and tried them on as soon as they came. However, as much as I loved them I couldn't get the negative nancy out of my head; I couldn't help but think they looked all wrong on me. Not tall enough, thighs too big, tummy too protruding, and all the other negative thoughts that rear their ugly head from time to time (a post on this coming soon), and I couldn't shake them. I couldn't find a top that made me feel good in the trousers, and it was increasingly frustrating knowing how much I wanted to wear them, but also knowing that I wouldn't be happy if I didn't feel comfortable in them. Luckily, Navabi offered me chance to pick an item from their new collections and I went for this blouse from Gozzip. 
Finally I had a full outfit I felt good in, and I couldn't wait to get pictures to capture this pretty big step for me. I love this outfit and the two pieces go so well together it's almost like they were made for each other. 

So next year is looming and I have plans to continue on this route. As much as I want to push myself out of my comfort zone, it's also important to remember that I can take my time and take each step at my own pace. I encourage you to do the same!

You can shop Bethany's collection here


'til next time!

Love and hugs,
Isha xxx



KEY:
Symbol * denotes a gifted item
Symbol ^ denotes an item no longer available

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Mute and Unfollow Buttons: Why They Can Be Your Best Friends

The internet is a wonderful thing. We are one google search away from knowing the worlds secrets, organising a wedding, or a birthday party, without having to leave our beds. We can connect with people from all over the world and from all walks of life, and I have no doubt it has helped us all with personal growth, to understand each other and see beyond our own little bubble. I'm even old enough to remember having to, *gasp*, pick up the phone and talk to someone if I wanted to do something like order a pizza!

It's a life changing tool, particularly if you do something as a career or a hobby, where connecting with people is the ultimately goal. It can sometimes feel like there are no limitations or bad points about being connected to people all the time.
Dress: V by Very (no longer available)
Sandals: Dorothy Perkins (no longer available)
Sunglasses: Spitalfields Market

The thing is, there is always a downside to anything. No matter how good something can be, there will always be moments that make you feel less than joyful. There are so many facets to social media and we tend to find ourselves on Twitter and Instagram more than any other, and again, they are great for meeting virtual people and making virtual friends, or just admiring from afar (which is what I tend to do. Hello introvert with anxiety issues!). I remember a time without these apps but I genuinely feel like I know more about myself and have gained a lot from my interactions with people with these apps, so why would I be talking about using the mute/ unfollow buttons?

Sanity.

I'm not kidding. We want to consume everything we see, comment on everything people say, argue with everyone with a difference of opinion, and want to vehemently agree with a tweet or picture that resonates with us; but the problem that arises with that is we can often feel like our brains are so full they're fit to burst.

We can't engage with everything we see. It's just not feasible, nor is it healthy. If you're like me and like to be culturally and politically aware, the world is an ever evolving shit-storm with very little to ease the anger and frustration, so because of this, sometimes a mute or even an unfollow can do the world of good for our mental health. Filtering depending on how we're feeling is so important because there is so much triggering material all over our feeds and we're not machines; we can't choose what to be affected by and when, so filtering people out is a great way to maintain ones sanity without fulling deleting every virtual person from our lives.
From my world, the blogger world, it's so easy to get sucked into someones online life. Comparison is easy and feeling inadequate even easier, so it's totally OK to mute someone who triggers something negative in you - you may even be a fan of theirs or like a lot of what they say, but if you feel like their output is doing you more harm than good please look after yourself and hit the mute or unfollow button. I personally did this recently with someone whom in theory, I actually liked a lot of what they were saying, but the deliverance and frequency of it just became too much - the mute button was hit and I have genuinely felt so much better since then. My mind actually feels clearer and I'm able to look at my Twitter feed without fearing what the next 'big issue' will be. It's cathartic and doesn't make you a bad person. It simply makes you someone who puts your own mental health above reading a 30-tweet rant.

So the next time you feel exasperated by someones feed, don't be shy, hit that mute button at the very least. You'll feel so much better.

 'til next time!


Love and hugs,
Isha xxx

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Living My Best 'Boring' Life

I was talking to a work colleague the other day about what I did last New Years Eve. I ordered a pizza, watched The Revenant, drank a entire bottle of Prosecco all to myself, and was in bed by the time the last chime struck at midnight. Now to most people, this would seem like the lamest thing in the world. Didn't I want to be out? Didn't I want company? Didn't I feel like I was wasting what should have been a social extravaganza of an evening? Well, the answer to all was no.
Pinafore Denim Dress: Lost Ink for Very (limited sizes available)
Cardigan: Marks and Spencer 
Sandals: Dorothy Perkins (no longer available)
Sunglasses: Spitalfields Market
You see, I've never been a sufferer of F.O.M.O (fear of missing out). I've never felt the pressure to be doing something my counterparts were doing merely so I could "relate". I don't know if it's because I've always been in my own head and have always enjoyed my own company, but I have often looked on in bemusement seeing people scramble for plans of any kind just so they could say they had something to do. Maybe I'm just too independent and refuse to conform, because I clearly don't 'get it', this need to have an exciting life, because to me, my life is exciting. Last week was a super busy one for me where I was out every night, including Saturday. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends more than anything and had the best time hanging out, eating dinners, drinking cocktails and wine, and talking into the early hours, but I cannot tell you how happy I was to throw on some lounge wear and bum around my flat all of Sunday. I literally didn't leave the flat. It was glorious!

People have made reference to me having an old soul and I think there's something in that. I'm definitely a home-body who loves to sit on the sofa and binge watch a show on Netflix, and as much as I enjoy having company when I choose to, being on my own is just as blissful. Not having plans and having a potter around a market or park is one of my favourite things to do, but in this day and age we are so programmed to have a pretense of busy. We need others to feel like they need to make an appointment well in advance in order to see us because heaven forbid, we agree to meet someone on the same day they text or call for a hangout. We need to refer to our calendars and stroke our chins as we determine when we might have a free slot for someone we hold dear, and if we don't have anything in our calendar we feel like we are wasting our best years. The pressure to compete is so rife in this digital age; IG, Snapchat, Facebook and the like, have made us seek out more for ourselves even if we don't want it.
It's important to remember that the world and our lives are so fast paced, that we need to log out and actually enjoy a free afternoon or evening. If that means sitting in a coffee shop and watching the world go by, so be it; if it means sitting on our bums watching yet another episode of Friends, great; if it means reading for half an hour, enjoy getting lost in another world. We need to take a step back and allow ourselves to breathe. The world isn't going to stop turning if we don't spend an obscene amount of money in a wine bar on a Saturday night.

So no, I have no idea what I'll be doing this weekend, but I can guarantee you it'll be exactly what I want to do.

'til next time!


Love and hugs,
Isha xxx

Friday, 22 September 2017

Saying Goodbye To Summer

It's no secret to those who know me that summer isn't exactly a friend of mine. I get so hot, which makes my days extremely uncomfortable, and therefore, unpleasant. I'm only half joking when I tell people I feel murderous during the summer months, but I have to confess something.....this summer actually wasn't so bad! I don't know if it was because there were only a few spells of really hot weather this time round, or if I'm slowly but surely coming to terms with the season, but I've had a good ol' summer.

I've seen friends, and visited a few exhibitions. I've done some writing, gone back to my blog (hello) and have had some alone time - all have been great for me and I feel so much more like myself with my favourite season, Autumn, coming up. But before that, I wanted to share a look from a recent trip to Canterbury. I've had this Lovedrobe, for Navabi, dress for a little while now and when it was so kindly gifted I wanted somewhere fancy to wear it. I always fall into the trap of needing an occasion to wear a certain piece of clothing and it's just so silly, so I decided I was going to take the dress on the trip and wear it come rain or shine. Thankfully for me it was a gorgeous day when we visited the beach before driving back home, and although incredibly windy, it felt good to mix the rough of the beach with the smooth of the dress.
Dress: Lovedrobe for Navabi (limited sizes available)
Slingbacks: South via Very (no longer available)
Sunglasses: Spitalfields Market, Shoreditch
I'm not usually one for pink but the colour looks great against my skin tone. I didn't feel like I was dressed as a wanna-be Barbie doll (although how awesome would I be as fat Barbie?!), and I love, love, love the spiral rose detail at the bottom. Although the skirt was lined, it didn't feel restrictive like some lined garments can feel. The dress zips up at the back but there was enough stretch in there for me to wiggle into it without any problems. It was comfy to wear and I felt like a total beach babe in it.

So although I'm very much looking forward to boots, leaf crunching, hot chocolate, walks in the park, rainy days sat on the sofa writing, and the colder temperature, I'm saying a fond farewell to summer.

'til next time!


Love and hugs,
Isha xxx

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Diversity: Does It Really Mean Anything Anymore?


Diversity. Are you as tired of seeing and hearing that word as much as I am?! It's in literally every plus size campaign at the moment and, for the most part, it feels diluted. It feels so watered down that, just like the body positivity movement, I don't think it really means anything anymore.

Before branding and money came into it, diversity was a legit thing. In the good ol' days of Live Journal and the like, we saw every size, every race and ethnicity, with varying physical abilities. It was like this because it was about a community coming together, to give the middle finger to an industry that didn't want to acknowledge anyone who didn't fall into the Eurocentric beauty standards. Don't get me wrong, we're still there to a large degree, but we are seeing brands making attempts to show diversity. This is a good thing....I say good rather than great because we're still seeing such a shortage of real diversity. Seeing a campaign make a baby step is becoming the norm now, with the optimistic "It's a step in the right direction"comments, but shouldn't we, with 2017 drawing to a close, be seeing more than just a step?! Shouldn't we be seeing grand and purposeful strides?! Slightly thicker thighs and a little wobble in the tummy just isn't going to cut it anymore.

I believe in calling for more and demanding to be at least heard, but we also need to give brands an opportunity to grow, particularly with smaller brands. It really can be a partnership but if a brand doesn't listen and doesn't want to or care to understand why there is frustration, we'll continue to go around in circles, never getting anywhere. An open dialogue is what's required, and when I say open, I mean in a sense of honesty in whatever capacity that might be. Brands need to reach out more to the bloggers who feel excluded, not just the high profile bloggers who are mainly white. I think they'll be surprised that there isn't as much animosity as perceived and that all we want is to be involved in a discussion that affects us but ironically doesn't include us.


Brands aside, another major problem with the discussion of diversity, is there only seems to be discussion of white and black. Hardly anyone mentions other ethnicities like Indian, Pakistani, Japanese, Bengali, Chinese, Egyptian, Thai, to name just a tiny few. Also, diversity isn't just about race or ethnicity; we also need to talk about the visually disabled, the LGBTQ community, and non-gendered as these groups always seem to be missing in the diversity discussion.

If we're only interested on our own intersections, we're part of the problem. At this stage of the game we can't have the "Well I'm represented so I'm cool" attitude because isn't that what got us into this mess in the first place?! The fashion industry is predominately white, particularly the higher up roles. It's only recently where we've seen a marked change, most notably with Elaine Welteroth as Editor-in-Chief for Teen Vogue and Edward Enninful as Editor-inChief for British Vogue (who shortly after taking over appointed Pat McGrath as beauty editor-in-charge), and their presence was felt immediately. Suddenly we were seeing people of colour being featured and thrust into a spotlight that was so white-washed before. These appointments are so important because fashion needs to represent our society and high street fashion needs to take the lead on this. If they do, people at the top of the industry might take notice and do something about the current lack in representation.

So lets hope diversity goes back to what it used to be, because if brands are declaring it and if we're asking for it, we need to include everyone.

'til next time!


Love and hugs,
Isha xxx