Lifestyle

    4 Affordable Ways to Update Your Wardrobe For Spring

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    If you take a look back over my last few outfit posts, (here and here) they’ve got one thing in common - finding affordable ways to update my wardrobe as the new season approaches.

    There’s a pressure within the fashion industry, whether thats blogging or working at a fashion magazine or PR company, to always have the newest, most ‘on trend’ clothes. It’s a pressure I feel predominantly within the blogging and social media world (ironic considering I talk so much about the Instagram comparison game.)

    As for working within the fashion industry, the pressure comes more form outsiders rather than within the office. People assume that because you work in fashion, you have access to all of the best clothes and you have no excuse not to be wearing your best outfit at all times. That couldn't be further from the truth.

    At the end of the day, I’m an intern which can be pretty tough on the old financial front. Yes, I have financial support from my Mum which I’m very grateful for but as much as I might like to, I can’t ask my Mum to fund my (now much more tame) shopping addiction. In the last few months shopping has really had to take a backseat which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to keep up with everyone else’s amazing, ever evolving wardrobes but I’ve learnt a few tricks along the way that has helped me to bring old clothes to life and update my wardrobe.

    TRADE OFF

    So I’ve already covered making the most of hand me downs and borrowing from your boyfriend to update your look so it seems only fair that we target the friends list next. This time there’s something in it for you both.

    You’re going on a night out, you’ve got nothing to wear but your best friend is the same size as you and she has that black lace dress that would look amazing with your new lipstick, you know the drill - time to raid their wardrobe. We’ve all been there. What if you could apply the same logic to your day to day wardrobe, landing yourself with three new outfits and not spending a dime? Gather up the girls (or the guys), gather up the clothes your bored of and organise a clothes swap. Everyone leaves with new clothes to get excited about and gets rid of the clothes dragging their wardrobe down. One girl’s trash is another girl’s treasure and all that.

     

    ACCESSORIES ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND 

    Everything within this outfit post has been in my wardrobe for at least six months. This maxi dress? Bought it in September for my Dubai trip and lived in it while interning because it was the only thing I could keep cool in with the Middle Eastern heat. This leather jacket? Got it for Christmas at least two years ago and thanks to the removable collar, I was able to take it from winter warmer to spring staple in 30 seconds. The trainers? If you can’t see in the photo, these babies have been well worn in, worn daily on my recent trip to NYC, worn at least twice a week at work and good luck getting me out of them at the weekend. So far, they’ve stood the test of time and hopefully that’s how they’ll stay for a little longer.

    One thing that is new to my wardrobe is this perfectly pink bag from KOKO Couture available at Topshop. Sometimes when it comes to updating your wardrobe it’s less about buying a whole new outfit and more about making good choices when buying new accessories. Every time I’ve felt the urge to go on a massive shopping spree, I’ve managed to calm the urge by thinking about my accessories. The key is choosing something versatile. It could be a pair of shoes, a new jacket or a new bag.

    Firstly, let’s talk about the colour. Pink is taking over the nation at the moment. Put it down to us Millennials. Put it down to the cherry blossom filling our Instagram feeds but there’s no denying that pink is the ‘It’ colour this spring.

    Now for the function. The beauty of this bag is that it can be worn as a clutch in the evening, a tiny tote during the day or cross body for venturing around the city. The choice is yours, ladies and gents. You’d be surprised how with the change of one item, you can create brand new looks without breaking the bank.

    PAY ATTENTION TO MICRO TRENDS

    While you may feel yourself cracking under the pressure to stay on top of all the big trends, ruffles, pinks, gingham etc, you can easily keep your look on trend by paying attention to the little details. A personal favourite of mine is fishnet tights. Simply by layering fishnet tights underneath jeans or with a pair of heels, you bring a completely new dimension to an otherwise simple outfit. Apparently, I haven’t been able to just leave it at the fishnets. Sparkly socks do the same job as do patterned tights. Get creative and start thinking outside the box.

    HAVE FAITH IN THRIFT SHOPS

    Never underestimate the power of a good charity shop spree. Almost everything comes back in style at some point or another and with current trends paying homage to the 80s and 90s, thrift shopping couldn't be easier. With charity shops, you’re more likely to find unique items so it’s a great solution if you’re someone who is sick of everyone looking the same in that same sellout Missguided dress. If you’re looking in the right places you might even find the designer shoes of your dreams going at a tenth of the price.

    With the right tricks on hand, it's all much easier to fake a new season wardrobe than it seems.

    Photos by Kellie Scott

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    Niamh ♥

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    “Instagram Stalking”: Why I do it and Who I “Stalk”

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    Confession time. 

    I sat in on Friday night feeling a little restless, a little bored and apparently ever so slightly self-destructive.

    I sat there thinking to myself, who can I stalk on social media that will wind me up the most? An ex? An ex's new girlfriend? The “successful” influencer who blatantly pays for their followers? The girl I've always hated for no reason? But I couldn't think of anyone I cared enough about to intentionally seek out.

    I was looking for someone who would really strike a nerve just to see their apparently undeserving happiness, how ‘ugly’ they had become or how they'd suddenly gained a lot of weight.

    I thought and I thought and nope, there was no one who would bring the social media stalking satisfaction that was I was looking for. Then I thought, hang on, Niamh, what the f**k are you doing? What would stalking someone’s Instagram - seeing their beautiful or not so beautiful Instagram feeds - how would that be doing any good for you?

    I'm not a nasty girl. I never have been and I never intend on being one. I wasn’t brought up to bring others down. I wasn’t brought up to laugh and mock others. I was brought up to celebrate others success, to celebrate my own success and definitely not to sabotage mine or others happiness. So why was I going out of my way to be nasty and negative not only to myself but to others whether or not they had done so to me?

    Confession time, again. This time, we’re in it together.

    We all bitch every so often. It's kind of, almost (possibly not politically correct to say) but it’s human and if you claim you don't, you're lying. This bitching, nine times out of ten is accidental. “Accidental bitching? There’s no such thing.” I hear you, I hear you but stay with me for a second. Maybe you're wound up and ranting, maybe they really hurt you and a sly dig comes out of your mouth without realising, maybe you’re jealous or insecure and don’t mean to be nasty. Though I may not have much authority on the topic, I’m granting you a hall pass on this one occasion but for going out of your way to be nasty? Not ok. Consider that hall pass well and truly revoked.

    Back to the story for a sec. 

    All in all, it was safe to say I was feeling pretty ashamed of myself. In a way, it was a positive experience because while there are people in my life I may feel uncomfortable around or intimidated by, there's no one I actively hold a grudge against, certainly not enough to ruin my own Friday night.

    Realistically, it’s none of our business how many ‘likes’ others are getting, how many ‘followers’ they have or how many amazing opportunities they’ve had that are yet to come our way. It’s none of our business if two separate friend groups in our lives are liking each others photos. How many likes or followers someone has on social media isn’t a reflection of a) how successful they are in life or b) how successful you are.

    We’re a generation crying out to be liked, even if it is mostly on a virtual basis. But what about how much we like ourselves? What about how much our family and loved ones like us? Are you healthy? Are you happy? Have you got a roof over your head and a bed to crawl into at night? These are the things that matter. Define your own success and move on from depending on the approval of others to see you through. God knows, I’m trying to.

    Today when I got home from work, I went through the list of people I follow and have started to remove those that provoke these comparative and negative thoughts. Let’s see how much of a difference it makes. Will I just seek them out again or is ignorance truly bliss? Here’s hoping for the latter.

    Photos by Kellie Scott

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    Niamh ♥

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    Friday Favourites: 14th April 2017

    It seems like a lifetime ago when I was in the thralls of a blogging routine, blogging twice daily at one stage. In reality it was only a few weeks ago. I don’t know exactly what to put it down to - work getting busier, freelance projects taking off or a lack of inspiration - whatever it was, it’s time to make a change, get things back into gear and get going with Niamh Serena again starting today with a Friday Favourites post. It’s hard to believe that the last one I did was the 3rd of March! While I may not have been publishing them on this little corner of the internet, there has still been plenty making me smile these last few weeks. So with that in mind, this post will include every little and large thing that’s got me smiling since my last post.

    NEW YORK, BABY!

    If you’ve managed to avoid the New York spam that is my Instagram account right now, nicely done. I’ve been dreaming about going to New York for the longest time - I think since around the age of 14 so to say that my New York trip was a dream come true would not only be a massive cliche but also a huge understatement. In the lead up to my trip people kept asking me was I excited and don’t get me wrong, the excitement levels were sky high but there was also a huge part of it that just felt so surreal. I genuinely felt like someone was going to turn around and say “ha ha, got you, you’re not really going to New York,” and I think it wasn’t until the second day of the top as I stood outside my beloved Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment and wandered around the West Village that it felt truly real.

    The trip was one of the most magical, surreal trips I’ve ever been on and I’m still in denial that it’s over by keeping a constant flow of tea going in my I heart New York mug, rewatching footage on my camera and continuing to spam Instagram with photos of the trip - I’m not sorry about any of this.

    Stay tuned for New York blog posts and plenty more chit chat about the trip (good luck trying to get any other kind of content out of me.)

     

     Intern Life

    Very sadly, I’m over half way through my current internship. I can’t believe how quickly it’s going and can only hope that time slows down a little for the remainder. I’ve been given such great opportunities while I’ve been there and met some truly great people and just being in a magazine publishing environment on a daily basis has been amazing. While I don’t want to say too much (and I’m not sure what I can or can’t say), be sure to pick up this month’s issue of IMAGE magazine out later next week to see what I consider a pretty cool, exciting contribution from yours truly (mainly cool because I get to see my name in print).

    Embracing life as a bookworm

    I used to be the biggest bookworm, obsessing over books and being that kid who brings her book to the dinner table while on holiday. Over the last few years, that’s slipped away and as social media and addiction to my phone crept in, reading was sadly replaced. Since the start of this year, the bookworm inside me has returned with a vengeance and I’ve fallen in love with reading again. I forgot how good it feels to truly get lost in the story line of a good book and switch off from the world.

    A few books I’ve been enjoying this year include:-

    Currently reading:

    Spring is on its way

    There’s been a definite change in the air lately with Spring just around the corner. While technically it is spring already, the weather hasn’t quite made it’s mind up about it yet. Throughout winter, as everyone kept saying how they couldn't wait for longer days and warmer weather, I sat here cosy-ed up in my dressing gown, enjoying a hot cup of tea under a blanket wondering what all of the fuss about spring was. It’s safe to say, now that it’s nearly here, I understand the hype and cannot comprehend what on earth I was thinking longing for winter to stick around a little longer. With a change of season it feels like a new start, a chance to get things going again and a fresh burst of motivation and energy. Suddenly, I don’t feel like wearing black anymore. I find myself sub-consciously dressing in pink, reaching for the blue jeans instead of the black and creating a wishlist the length of my arm of sunglasses and spring accessories I apparently need in my wardrobe. Spring has sprung and I’m all for it.

    Falling in love with my Olympus Pen E-PL8

    For a long time one of my goals with this blog has been to work on the visual content and improve the photography quality. Thanks to some very talented photographers (shout out to Kellie Scott and Alex of This Beautiful Moment Photography) I’ve been able to improve my instagram feed and outfit posts here on my website. While I wanted to work on the photography side of Niamh Serena for professional reasons, it was also a personal goal.

    When it comes to blogging or creating content, my strengths lie in writing the content and putting the words together to create a somewhat comprehensible article. When it comes to the visual aspect of blogging, that’s where I get stuck in the rut of comparison. This side of creativity isn’t something that I feel comes naturally to me but everyone has to start somewhere, I guess. During my trip to New York and on a previous trip this year to London, I started playing around with my camera more and exploring the video features. I’m still getting to grips with it all and hoping that enough experimenting will help me to learn and improve my photography skills. As I was unpacking my hand luggage last night, I lifted out my camera and realised that I had genuinely enjoyed using it and having it with me on the trip. At times it did feel like a burden having to photograph everything and try and create some blog content but most of the time I enjoyed it and to me, that’s progress in itself. There are so many cool tricks and fancy gadgets out there that someday I hope to have the skills to manage!

    I hope you all enjoy your long Easter weekend, eat plenty of chocolate and immerse yourself in some quality time with family and friends. I’m off to shoot some outfit pictures for future content, have a picnic in the park with school friends and a long overdue catch up with one of my best friends while dog sitting and making the most of time at home.

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    Niamh ♥

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    There's No Place Like Home

    Until recently I had never really considered myself to be a home bird. I never had any plans to stay in Northern Ireland and by the time I was about 16, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. When it came to applying for university, staying at home wasn’t even an option and not one of my university choices were Northern Irish based.

    When I went to university, although I dropped out at the start of my second year, it was nothing to do with being homesick. Once I’d dropped out and even though in my initially anxious ridden state I didn’t want to be anywhere but home for at least a few months while I found my feet again, I still had no plans that involved staying for too long.

    I interned in London throughout the summer and didn't think twice before booking a flight thousands of miles away to intern for a month in Dubai - that was until I got there and reality hit in that I was a very long way from home. Even at that stage, when I had every right to feel home sick, it caught me completely off guard that that’s how I was feeling.

    I can’t tell what’s going on in my head at the moment, whether I’m homesick or whether the older I get the more I appreciate those around me, but I’ve found myself craving the comforts of home more and more lately. It’s not to do with the job - I love the job and with only 3 more months to go, I dread the day when my internship comes to an end. But sometimes, there really is no place like home.

    A few weekends ago over the St. Patrick’s weekend, while most people my age were out partying, I couldn’t wait to hop on that train home, sleep in my own bed and wake up on Saturday morning, hangover free, ready to do absolutely nothing all weekend. And that’s exactly what I did. It was a miracle that I even got dressed on Saturday and had I not been on taxi duty for my little sister, I really wouldn't have.

    The thing is though, there was absolutely no moping involved. I was loving life doing absolutely nothing but sitting in my favourite comfortable clothes, sat in my favourite corner of the sofa, refilling my favourite mugs with copious amounts of tea with my favourite little pup sat curled up on my lap.

    While I still don’t see myself settling in Northern Ireland in the long term, I’m definitely much less opposed to the idea than I once was and I’m willing to listen to my own thoughts and stick around a little while longer. I’ve been so busy trying to get out of Northern Ireland that I forgot to take the time to sit back and enjoy the glorious home that I have right in front of me. So much of that love for home comes from the people rather than the surroundings and while I’m not trying to wish away my time in Dublin, at my internship or just in general, I’ve just been taking some time this month to enjoy the company of those that mean the most to me and at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about - surrounding yourself with the best kind of people. The kindest, smartest, funniest, most caring people that fill me with joy, keep me entertained and sometimes, drive me nuts. These are the people that have been reminding me lately that there really is no place like home.

    Photos by Callum Crawford-Walker

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    How To Make The Most Of Your Monday

    You’re going to read a lot of books, articles, interviews etc that will tell you that provided you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. While I totally understand this and strive to reach level of career satisfaction in my life, I can’t envision a day when Sunday night fear doesn't creep in and Monday mornings get any easier to face.

    Morning person or no morning person, most people struggle with Monday’s even if it’s just briefly for the first half an hour as you process the fact that the weekend is gone again for another 5 days.

    Mondays are for making life as easy and as painless as possible, seeking as much joy as we can as we ease ourselves back into routine. Try incorporating a few of the below suggestions to make the most of your Monday.

    1.Dress to impress

    While I try to take pride in what I wear every day (or as many days as possible) I apply this mantra to Mondays and Fridays in particular. Mondays for entering the week the best version of ourselvess (we all know our mood is much better when we like our outfits) and Fridays for dancing our way into a glamorous weekend.

    Wear something new. Wear something dressier than normal. Wear something that you always feel confident in or an outfit that always reaps in the compliments. Just make sure you take the time to plan the outfit the night before in order to enjoy additional precious moments in bed first thing Monday morning. Unnecessary stress is the last thing you need on a Monday morning. Trust me.

    2. Organise a treat for yourself

    Again this is something I apply to my Fridays too although I try to alternate which day I choose in an attempt to save some money. Factor in some me time and treat yourself to a nice lunch or call your best friend to meet you on your break. Organise a date with your boyfriend after work. A trip to the cinema or a table at that restaurant you’ve been dying to try will give you something to look forward to throughout the day, help you justify your “dress to impress” approach and make Monday feel much less Monday. Having something to look forward to should lessen your Sunday blues.

    3. Get stuck in

    Use everybody else’s Monday lull in the office to your advantage and get stuck into your workload. Start your day with a to do list of all of the tasks you need to complete this week, prioritise and get going. It becomes a bit of a vicious cycle once you start getting through the list. The satisfaction you get from crossing something off your list gets a little addictive and before you know it you’ve got yourself into a productive Monday groove.

    4. Make the most of your commute

    I’m a serious creature of habit and work much better when I have a routine in order. Every morning I catch up on my favourite YouTube channels while getting ready, I then walk to work with my flask of tea listening to a good podcast usually about entrepreneurs or interviews with strong businesswomen. Upon arrival to the train station I squeeze in some reading time, something I’ve really been enjoying lately. By the time I’ve reached the office I’ve already taken the time to do the things that I enjoy, adding as much joy to my mornings as possible. Seek out the little things you enjoy most and see how you can incorporate them into your morning routine or commute.

    5. Use your Sundays to their full advantage

    Sunday is a day for organising and prepping for the week ahead so use the day wisely to do all of the mundane chores. I use my Sundays for shooting outfits for my blog, prepping posts and scheduling social media. Spend your Sunday wisely and you’ll really thank yourself later. Do your food shop and prep for as much of the week as you can and pack your lunch the night before. Do all of your washing and tidy your room. Starting the week on a clean and organised note is much easier than dealing with mess hanging over you for the day.

    Hopefully these few tips will help lighten the load this Monday and in due course we’ll all start enjoying Mondays much more. What are your tips for making the most of a Monday?

    Photos by Alex of This Beautiful Moment Photography

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    Niamh ♥

     

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