Fashion

    Finding a New Perspective

    This post is in collaboration with TOBI.

    Some items worn have been gifted by TOBI. 

     

    When I met with Sarah (the incredibly talented babe behind the lens of these photographs and photography business Here's To:), we were walking towards one of Belfast's more popular photo locations at this time of year. In case you hadn't noticed Belfast is a pretty small place and upon first glance, you'd be momentarily forgiven for underestimating its creative opportunities. 

    Originally, we had planned to meet in a different part of this particular area of Belfast and I had a completely different vision for the overall shoot. So as we approached the new location upon a last minute decision to try something new, my only request was that Sarah work her magic and make the shots look totally unique, almost unrecognisable as a location that has been shot hundreds of times over. It wasn't because I wanted to distance myself from the work of other's because I didn't approve or appreciate their work. It was about making the shots our own, putting our own mark on them, accepting and appreciating the different perspectives of the wonderful creatives who had come before us but also experimenting and looking at things a little differently. 

    Shifting and exploring new perspectives is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. It's a pattern in my thinking that usually occurs during blissful summer trips spent soaking up Californian sunshine - something I haven't been able to stop thinking about in recent weeks. There's something about the Californian air that really clears your mind. Morning walks along the boardwalk, earphones in, podcast on, sun shining over the beach and waves washing over the sand. It's these moments as I head towards the pier, dollars in hand ready for an iced coffee, that are truly some of my favourite. I love watching the locals and fellow holidayers going about their days, wandering through the local markets before heading to the end of the pier where the early birds gather with their fishing rods and being given the opportunity to take all of this in as an anonymous passerby. These are the moments I feel most at peace. These moments spark ideas, uncover new thoughts and approaches to everyday life I hadn't previously considered.

    In a part of the world that seems oh so vast in comparison to little old Belfast, California has an amazing ability to make you feel both incredibly small but also entirely welcome. While we're technically tourists and do have the advantage of returning to the same spot summer after summer, I've never been made to feel like an outsider. We're welcomed as locals, almost as though our time spent away from our favourite holiday destination and back in the UK was our holiday and we're only now returning 'home'. 

    Tobi allowed that little touch of 'home' and element of Californian life to crossover in my Belfast life (despite both being world's apart and in more ways than one), filling the void while I count down the days before our next trip (currently 74). 

    It was like receiving a care package like your family used to send when you first moved away from home. Although this time with less cutesy postcards and sentimental items and more clothes - so basically, the best care package I've ever received (sorry, Mum). 

    For those that don't know, Tobi is an online-only women's fashion boutique based in LA. Their impressive social media fan base (we're talking 1.5m on Facebook and 371k on Instagram) makes them no stranger to international shipping, shipping to over 150 countries including the UK and Ireland (told you Californians were welcoming).

    It can be easy to get bogged down with the mundane aspects of everyday life - going to the same coffee shop, ordering the same coffee, walking the same paths and shopping in all the same stores - but when life gets predictable, don't dwell on it. Instead try something new, shake up your perspective and broaden your horizons. 

    Thankfully we live in a world where the evolution of technology gives us access to most corners of the world at the touch of a button. Luckily for me and my love affair with California, it allows me to access and connect to some of the things I truly love about Californian culture, particularly when it comes to fashion, all while I'm still at home in Belfast and counting the days until I'm reunited with Californian culture IRL. 

     

    Look One

    Dress - Tobi

    Look Two

    T-Shirt - Charity Shop
    Wide Leg Trousers - Tobi
    Pointed Heeled Boots - Public Desire (similar here)
    Hat - Photographer's own

     Look Three

    Plaid Crop Top - Tobi
    Vinyl Trousers - Charity Shop
    White Pointed Heels - New Look (similar here)

     

    Photos by Sarah Ellis of Here’s To: Photography
    Check out her full (and fabulous) portfolio here.

    Follow me on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook for my latest blog posts, fashion finds and daily musings

    Niamh ♥

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    Resilience.

    These images got me thinking about strength. 

    Physical strength. 

    Inner strength. 

    Resilience. 

    Protection. 

    Physically, I'm definitely not the strongest of the bunch (yet) but despite that 5ft, petite build, I know I'm capable of so much more than I'm given credit for. Confrontation isn't my strong point but in terms of resilience? Now, that I've got a little more of a handle on. 

    Resilience isn't about being aggressive. It's about picking yourself back up again. It's perseverance when things feel worse than ever. It's a muscle we exercise every day, building it up for when we need it most, surrounding ourselves with the right people, making decisions to protect our happiness and adapting certain beliefs and values to mirror humility. 

    I'm tremendously proud and consistently impressed by the strength and resiliency that those around me possess and that you, reading this, possess. The things you've all individually gone through and the pain you've suffered and persevered with compares to that of no one else. I know many of you have experienced the unimaginable and I know that it's been harder and still is harder than anyone will ever know but you're one of the bravest, strongest, most incredible people I've ever had the privilege of knowing. Please never forget that. 

    Stay hopeful. 

    Don't lose faith in a society that gives us every reason to. 

    Keep fighting. 

    Remain strong. 

    Your struggles don't define you. 

    Look One

    Top - similar here
    Metallic Bralet - Topshop
    High Waisted Knicker Set - Boohoo 
    Shoes - ASOS

    Look Two

    Silver Parka - Ivy Park at Topshop
    High Waisted Training Shorts - Adidas at ASOS
    Sports Bra - Nike (similar here)
    Shoes - As Before

    Look Three

    Black Hooded Sweatshirt - Ivy Park at Topshop
    High Waited Knicker Set - As Before
    Shoes - As Before

    Photos by Sarah Ellis of Here’s To: Photography
    Check out her full (and fabulous) portfolio here.

    Hair by Matthew Thomas McIlveen
    Make up by Joy Ellis

    Follow me on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook for my latest blog posts, fashion finds and daily musings

    Niamh ♥

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    The Best Resources You Need To Know To Keep Up To Speed With The Fashion World

    The fashion world moves quickly, veeeerrrrry quickly. Never has "blink and you might miss it" been such an accurate phrase. Seasons come and go, collections are shown, campaigns torn to shreds and the reshuffling of creative directors puts musical chairs to shame. Fashion weeks pass us by, season after season, a new location each week all in the space of one month.  It's a lot to take in. Keeping up with all of the news, trends, scandals and street style is next to impossible. Playing catch up with the fashion world is certainly overwhelming.

    Let's take Fashion Week as an example. It's an incredibly overwhelming and hectic time in the industry. It's chaotic but beautiful and the excitement trickling down from the media is undeniably infectious - as is the fast paced, highly stressful environment associated with fashion week. As consumers, we get wrapped up in the Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat culture that's made fashion week so accessible to the rest of the world and suddenly we're consuming ten times the amount of content that we normally would. But less of the pity party. All we have to do is a little double tapping, reposting and if we're feeling generous, skim reading the latest articles all before logging off for the day, checking in again from the comfort of our beds as we lose ourselves in another Instagram hole later that night. But what about those who have to actually create the content we consume so readily? Those that have lost out on sleep while writing up that last minute trend report. Those that skipped meals to attend fittings, shows, presentations and after parties in order to play keeping up appearances on behalf of their publication and to ensure that they don't miss a moment so as they can capture the best possible content for us - their followers and consumers. Not to mention those that work tirelessly behind the scened to bring the various different shows to life in the first place. For the most part, a lot of this is done alongside their full time jobs. Suddenly, our time feels all the more valuable. 

    See, there's a lot more to fashion week and, the fashion industry in general, than meets the eye and it's all the more reason to make an effort to keep up to speed with the best articles and latest news. However, with the mass amount of content to consume it can be difficult to know where to start so I've rounded up a few of my favourite fashion websites and resources that help me to stay in the know with the fashion world. 

    Vogue.co.uk

    Let's start with the most obvious. If you're looking for content you can flick through as quickly as the kettle boils, head straight for their galleries. When it comes to Fashion Week they have all of the shows listed in chronological order, listing which designer showed where, highlights from the presentation, an A-Z list of designers and a full gallery of every look shown. Within their Vogue Daily section you can scan the latest headlines so that next time your oh so fashionable friend asks "Did you hear about what happened at the McQueen show?" you'll at least have a vague (or Vogue) idea of what they're talking about. 

    Fashionista.com

    This is your go-to resource for concise and easy to understand show reports. It's easy for us fashion lovers to get caught up in the pretension surrounding the industry particularly when it comes to using fashion jargon that no one else understands (a lot of the time we don't even understand it ourselves). Fashionista articles keep things real and down to earth. They give the explanation you need surrounding particular trends without the necessary fluff while still keeping the storytelling element of fashion journalism very much alive. Plus, their career profiles of both long-time icons and up and coming figures in the media are great for career advice and providing guidance for those of us that wish to pursue a career within fashion. Listening to how they discuss fashion news and trends via their podcast (4pm at Fashionista) is also a great way to keep up with the fashion industry on the go while their weekly "ICYMI" email helps to highlight the need-to-know articles from the week. 

    The Cut

    The Cut is where to go for more "newsy" features. The recent argument about street style photographers lacking diversity in their shots was born out of an opinion piece by a writer from The Cut. As was the follow up piece where they spoke to different photographers and key industry members on the issue in order to share a range of perspectives on the issue. The Cut first started as a blog extension of New York Magazine but around August 2012 it was launched as a stand alone site that moved from simply covering style and gossip to covering a wide range of topics including style, culture, health and wellness, politics, work and money. With its connection to NY Magazine, you can trust the quality of the writing will be that of a high standard, something that takes reading only a few lines of their features to determine.

    The Telegraph Fashion Unzipped Podcast

    This is a podcast I've only just discovered. Within each episode the fashion team at The Telegraph take to the mic to discuss the biggest fashion stories of the week along with trends and products they're lusting after. The great thing about the podcast is how naturally the conversation flows among the podcast hosts. The behind the scenes look at what goes on among the fashion team feels like you're all taking a coffee break together while occasionally being joined by fabulous guests such as Victoria Beckham, Christopher Bailey and Ashley Graham to name a few. AND they're kept short and sweet with episode length reaching an average of about thirty minutes. What's not to love? 

    What are your favourite resources for keeping in the know about the fashion world? 

    Photos by Sarah Ellis of Here's To: Photography
    Check out her full (and fabulous) portfolio here.

    Follow me on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook for my latest blog posts, fashion finds and daily musings

    Niamh ♥

     

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    #1: Niamh Cunningham - How To Survive The Creative Industry After University, Celebrating Individualty and Combatting Imposter Syndrome

    Starting a podcast, ey. Bloody tricky business but it's happening, finally it's happening. 

    WERKIN' ON IT WITH NIAMH SERENA IS FINALLY, 100%, DEFINITELY LIVE.

    But where on earth did it come from? Bet you thought I was just bringing you another outfit post or a pity party about how I haven't been blogging lately. Haha - NOPE. 

    What once started as a slow burning love affair with podcasts has quickly transformed into one that consumes my every thought (hardly surprising when you take into account every technicality involved in starting your own). 

    I played it cool with the podcasting industry for a long time. To be honest, I was never really that interested to begin with mostly due to my own ignorance. I didn't know many podcasters or podcast genres that would actually interest me. When would I even listen to them? It's not really the same thing as plugging in your earphones and listening to a motivational playlist on a Monday morning. Nor can it replace the joy of belting out your favourite tunes any time you're in your car. Right?

    Oh. So. Wrong. 

    It was as I found myself on a new daily commute that involved a 25 minute walk and 5 minute trip on the DART that I learned to fully appreciate a good podcast. I went so far as to subscribe to at least five or six (until iCloud decided enough was enough and played me on the storage front). Every morning, I would leave the house, lock up, stick my earphones in and catch up with the latest episodes. At a very lonely time in my life, living in a new city where I knew next to no one and was getting used to cultural differences I had never expected from somewhere not so far from home, these podcasts, their hosts and their guests kept me company. They kept my thoughts stimulated, geared me up for the work day ahead and sparked masses of content (and general life) ideas. I learned about new people who I may never have discovered before. Fair enough, each podcast played on my interest of fashion and entrepreneurship but it also opened my eyes to new possibilities, new people, stories I never would have learned otherwise and best of all, the power of female friendship (Lady Lovin' hosts Lo Bosworth, Greta Titelman and Jilly Hendrix along with Keeping It Candid girls, Sophie Milner and Millie Cotton - yep,I'm looking at you). 

    During these commutes, the seed was planted that maybe I could do this one day. It wasn't a seed ready to grow just yet though, just a fleeting thought that quickly disappeared when I nearly missed my train and immediately had to switch my focus to legging it down a little Irish country road. 

    It wasn't until my beloved podcasts and me took a romantic stroll along a Californian board walk last summer that I really entertained the idea - romantic in the sense that I let my thoughts on the idea really run away with me not you know, anything weird. By this stage my podcast of choice was The Skinny Confidential Him and Her Podcast by fitness and beauty blogger entrepreneur Lauryn Evarts and her husband (also an entrepreneur). I was religiously working my way through their entire feed during that holiday and by the end of the two weeks I'd decided on a name and format for my podcast. 

    Werkin' On It represents the idea that regardless of which age or stage of our careers we're at we're all constantly "werkin on it". Quickly after I thought of the name, Rihanna's song Work placed itself firmly in my head for the foreseeable future (werk, werk, werk, werk, werk, werk - you know the one), influencing the change in spelling of "werkin".

    For now the podcast will be released on a fortnightly basis. I would love nothing more than to make this a weekly release but if I've learned anything in the last few months of preparation it's that these things take time, especially when outsourcing production isn't an option. Every other week I'll sit down with a fellow female creative and grill her on her career story, the good, the bad and the ugly served alongside the reminder that everything works out in the end and despite the lives we lead or interpret on social media, nobody has it easy in life particularly in pursuit of a career that truly fulfils them. 

    In this first episode I met with Niamh Cunningham - blogger, model and an unstoppable creative entrepreneur. I asked Niamh about her creative career to date as well as her hopes for that same creative career in the future. Niamh's individuality is something that really caught my eye on social media a few years ago but in recent months her honest and genuinely creative approach to producing valuable content has really shined through. We talk a lot about her Instagram stories in particular, the process of creating this kind of content and how it felt posting that first Instagram story vlog on to her profile for all of the social media world to see. Adding value through her content is clearly something very important to Niamh and in essence of this she was willing to share some of her tips on taking the plunge in producing the kind of content YOU want to create, using this content to deliver a message to the masses and maintaining uniqueness in an industry that's increasingly saturated. If you've ever felt lost along the way of chasing your creative dreams, Niamh's advice will certainly help see you through. She's been there and at times, still feels she is but she's clear in her vision and incredibly decisive when it comes to her own happiness. Oh, and rumour has it she's up to something and launching a business all of us creatives can seriously benefit from. Watch this space. After you've listened to the interview obvs. 

    So here we are. My first episode. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. It's a long one but Niamh's wisdom is worth every minute. Grab a cup of tea. Listen while tidying your room or recovering from your Sunday food coma and please, come back for my next episode with local artist and beautiful human being, Aly Harte - I'm very excited about releasing it. 

    Follow me on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook for my latest blog posts, fashion finds and daily musings AND podcast episodes (eeeeeek!)

    Massive thank you to the very talented, incredibly helpful and creative genius Sophie Rose Brampton for the cover art. Check out her fabulous portfolio on her website / Instagram.

    Niamh ♥

     

    LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE

    Werkin' On It with Niamh Serena

    #1: Niamh Cunningham - How To Survive The Creative Industry After University, Celebrating Individualty and Combatting Imposter Syndrome

     

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    Eight Trends To Shop Now To Cure January Blues

    On the 1st of January 2018, I embarked on a shopping ban. Yep, me, a shopping ban. Pre-shopping ban I spent a lot of time browsing online ASOS. To the point where I recognised the newest of the new in items and could tell you exactly when they had in fact been added to the new in section.

    Is the word "new" starting to sound weird to you?

    I checked ASOS at least three times a week. My saved items were overflowing and the panic that set in when an item only had 1 day out of 60 left within the saved items, felt like losing a limb. Bit dramatic, Niamh but what can I say, I had have a shopping problem.

    ANYWAY, said shopping problem has been dissected and discussed here so let's get back to the point.

    One of the perks and the biggest tests of this shopping ban has been that I have an extensive wishlist of items ready to be reconsidered as purchases come February 1st. In a twisted attempt to soothe the pain of the shopping ban, I've spent some time scrolling through and just checking in looking at all of my ASOS saved items. It was during one of these scrolling sessions that I noticed trends and patterns forming in the kind of clothes I was picking, trends that, previously, I hadn't been fully aware of my subscription to. So, at a time when we're all overhauling our lives from fitness routines, diets and friendships to our hair, wardrobe and overall aesthetic, I've put together a list of all of the trends that are easing the pain of January blues. 

    KNITWEAR

    If I'm really going to have to brave the big, bad world and brutal weather of January, I'm going to bundle myself up in the cosiest materials I can get my hands on in other words - ALLLLLL of the knitwear. It's the first thing I reach for when getting dressed on these f-f-freezing winter mornings and the first filter I apply when browsing new in sections online (pre-shopping ban obvs). Bright, bold, classic or chic, whatever your style, knitwear makes the perfect foundation for a soon to be fabulous outfit. 

     

     

    FLARES

    No, no not the kind you send soaring into the sky in desperate need of help. The kind you thought had disappeared with the 70s. Hard luck, kid. I'm declaring 2018 the year of the flare. Yep, you heard it here first - give it a few months and they'll be everywhere, heavily cemented into the key trends of 2018 and written about by every fashion publication. There's a high chance I'm exaggerating but they definitely have potential.

    A few months ago I (thankfully) rediscovered a pair of ribbed, jersey flares I bough during the Topshop January sales last year. I remember they cost about £10 and at the time were maybe, probably, definitely an impulse buy and a classic example of sales euphoria getting the better of me - one of the many reasons I've gone on a shopping ban for the month. The thing is, every so often in life the fashion Gods, in their mysterious way, throw a killer item your way, directly put in your path to challenge, confuse and delight you. Said item is the reason we take the risk on impulse buys. You never know when they're going to pay off. 

    To keep the tradition alive, I bought a second pair of flares in this year's January sales (again, bought on Boxing Day pre-shopping ban), this time opting for a black crushed velvet pair. Elegant some might say while to others, ridiculous.

    The curvy proportions of flared trousers help to make the slimmest part of your trouser leg look even smaller. You know what they don't make look smaller? Your height. What a bloody bonus that is. A pair of trousers that are incredibly flattering for those of us more vertically challenged than others. Well I never. Inevitably they'll be far too long for you but that's nothing a quick alteration job can't fix and let's be real, at this point you're probably on a first name basis with your local seamstress #PetiteProblems. 

    KIMONOS

    You may think kimonos are limited to spring fashion. You're wrong. This quilted kimono has duvet day in style written all over it. Keeping in line with the "Do I really have to get out of bed?" vibe that seems to be dictating all of my wardrobe choices right now, kimonos done right make for the perfect (read: socially acceptable) substitute for your beloved dressing gown. As for this oriental inspired wrap dress - paired with Over The Knee Boots, a faux fur jacket and baker boy cap - what was that you were saying about Kimonos being reserved for spring?

     

    DARK FLORAL DRESSES

    This one caught me off guard and it was only when my latest ASOS arrival (I repeat, pre-shopping ban) made it's way to my doorstep that I realised just how far the obsession with florals had progressed. Previously I had never considered myself a dress kind of girl, nor would I have made many associations with florals until recently. Black, however, now that's something I can get on board with.  Similarly to the "Spring only" misconceptions made with kimonos, florals are no longer for synonymous with the ditsy fabrics of summer fashion nor with your granny's old curtains. Gucci got on board with this one so naturally I'll be following suit. 

    FOR LOVE AND LEMONS

    One of my favourite things about ASOS is its vast selection of brands and it's impressive ability to recognise a good thing - For Love and Lemons being one that's really caught my eye recently. Having unfairly dismissed the brands as being "too girly" for my style - the further on I get with writing this post the more apparent it becomes that my perception of my own style is a little off kilter - I've finally seen sense and learned to appreciate the brand's principles of confidence, femininity and individuality. While their designs may be out of my budget currently, by the end of 2018, I'm determined to make one of these beauties mine. 

    TAILORING 

    Working from home 85% of the time means that most of my workwear consists of well, whatever the hell I want. Obviously this has it perks but when fashion consumes most of your thoughts, living life in loungewear can only last so long. A girl's gotta get dressed up sometime and this season I'm ready to up my game with smarter, more tailored pieces. Not only is good tailoring the easiest way to smarten up an outfit but it can also make an otherwise very standard high street look ten times more expensive. 

    RED, PINK AND ALL OF THE PRINTS

    Thank the fashion gods that pink is here to stay. Pink has some sort of power over me. Honestly, I can't stop. You'll find me wrapping up in the pretty hues of springs gone by and of those on the horizon. For those of you worried about looking a little too sugary sweet, toughen up the look with trainers or chunky biker boots.

    As for red - prep your SS18 palette with a move away from festive burgundy and towards bright, tomato reds.

    And about those January blues - it's time to brave the bold prints and patterns. The goal here is to have parents, grandparents and best of all, siblings feeling too embarrassed to walk down the street with you for fear of being spotted a mile off. 

    ACCESSORIES: BERETS, BELTS AND HAIR PINS

    An all too crucial and frequently overlooked element of nailing a new season wardrobe is of course, nailing the accessories that bring the whole look to life. Plus when you run out of cute selfies for the 'gram, what else are you going to post to your heavily fashion focused feed?

    You'd be surprised how much one accessory can overhaul an entire look - I know I have been over the last few months. For the most parts, accessories can be relatively affordable meaning that by parting with less than £10 you could bag yourself five new outfits. Time to channel your inner magpie and gather the finest shiny things you can get your hands on. 

    Overall, one my (self-imposed) shopping ban has been lifted, my 2018 shopping motto will be "anything but average." If you're not excited about its arrival, it's not worth it. If you aren't bursting with excitement to show it off to the world, you guessed it, it's not worth it. 

    Have you decided to have a wardrobe overhaul for 2018? Comment below with the trends you're welcoming into your life in the new year. 

     

    Photos by Lucy Curran
    Check out her fabulous photography on her Facebook and Instagram

    Follow me on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook for my latest blog posts, fashion finds and daily musings

    Niamh ♥

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