Coco's Tea Party | Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Blog
Coco's Tea Party is a British fashion and lifestyle blog dedicated to providing attainable style inspiration for fashionable Women. It is a leading lifestyle blog providing attainable style inspiration for fashion-savvy young professionals. This blog covers fashion, beauty, skincare, makeup, living and more for women.
What’s your packing style? I struggle to travel light, but it comes from a place of worry rather than indecisiveness. I find it incredibly comforting to know that I’m well prepared for any type of weather, activity or unexpected event. However, waiting around at baggage reclaim is such a time-suck! So I would really like to find a way to streamline my approach to packing – especially when it comes to short trips. And that’s why, this season, I’ve teamed up with hush to create a foolproof carry-on packing list for summer.
As you know, hush is one of my favourite fashion brands, and their SS18 collection is absolutely perfect for summer travel. The new season designs are all incredibly versatile, so you can get away with packing just 8-12 items of clothing and creating countless outfits that work for day and night.
I’ve filled my carry-on suitcase with my favourite pieces from hush’s SS18 lineup, and I feel confident that they would last me at least five days. Possibly even a full week. Here’s how I did it…
When following a carry-on packing list for summer holidays, there is one simple hack that will save a lot of space in your suitcase… Choose just one handbag for the entire trip, and carry it on the flight.
I love hush’s woven tassel bag, as the structured shape makes it suitable for shopping trips and cultural activities, as well as beach visits. Also, the tassel detailing elevates the design so you can get away with carrying it in the evening, too.
And, remember to always wear the bulkiest items in your carry-on wardrobe when you travel, as otherwise they’ll just take up valuable space in your suitcase.
Altogether there are a total of 14 items in my hush carry-on packing list for summer (including accessories). They can be mixed-and-matched in a number of different ways, but here are some of my favourite outfit ideas. I’d love to know your favourites…
Want to adopt my carry-on packing approach for your summer vacay? Then screenshot, save or pin the graphic below, so you can consult it the next time you travel. Now I just need to find a way to streamline my cosmetics bag, and I’m ready to board…
Find every item from my carry-on packing list for summer at hush-uk.com
Have you created a carry-on packing list for summer to use on your next trip? And which of these hush outfits is your favourite? Comment below to share your thoughts…
~ This post is sponsored by hush, one of my favourite fashion brands. Thank you for continuing to support the collaborators that make Coco’s Tea Party possible. ~
The weekend of the Royal Wedding has finally arrived. And if you need a quick break from the relentless Prince Harry and Meghan Markle news cycle you’ve come to the right place. Because this week’s link roundup is a wedding-free zone! Instead you’ll find news of Chrissy Teigen and John Legend’s new arrival (a story that might have slipped past you, this week), a science-backed productivity tip and a delicious lemonade recipe perfect for summer. Enjoy…
Throughout 2018 I’m working as an ambassador for Olivia Burton, the British accessories brand founded by two best friends. They’ve just launched a new, Semi Precious collection featuring rose quartz, and the watches and necklaces were all designed to remind us that time is precious.
It’s a message that I’m delighted to get behind. And I find that because I work from home my downtime is something I treasure more than ever, as it’s so hard to define where work ends and my personal life begins.
Rose quartz is the stone of love, forgiveness and healing. And it’s the crystal to turn to when you need to focus on self-care. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d celebrate the Olivia Burton Semi Precious collection by sharing my tips for carving out “me time” when you work from home…
1. Set clear work hours
This step sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s really important (and often gets forgotten). Working from home makes it very easy for your job to become all-consuming. After all, you live in the office, so it’s hard to determine exactly when work ends and play begins. And that’s why I think it’s so important to set some clear boundaries.
From Monday to Friday I try to stick to a 9am to 5pm schedule. However, I’ll allow myself some flexibility. For example: if I want to take a yoga class one morning I’ll balance things out by working until 7pm, for a change.
But, for the most part, once 5 o’clock rolls around I know that it’s time to start winding down and focus on “me time”. And if I’m tempted to start firing off emails at 11.17pm I’ll remind myself I’m not in “work hours” and save it for the morning.
2. Separate your work and living spaces
Just as the lines between work and relaxation get blurred, when you work from home, it also becomes difficult to separate your work space from your living space. But it’s absolutely vital that there’s a clear difference between the two.
It might seem tempting to work from the comfort of your bed, all day. But, given time, your bedroom will no longer feel like a relaxing haven, and instead will become the space that houses all of your work stress.
This tip really applies to everyone who sits at a desk all day – whether you work from home or not. To quote The Intern movie, “sitting is the new smoking“, and sitting for prolonged periods actually increases your risk of developing multiple illnesses. (Side note: why is everything a health risk?!)
So, for this reason alone, it’s really important to break up your day with some movement. That could be going for a walk during your lunch hour, taking phone calls while pacing around the office, setting an alarm to go off at two-hour intervals and then doing 60 seconds of jumping jacks (admittedly more acceptable if you work from home), or investing in a standing desk.
Yoga is one of my favourite ways to relax, and I try to practise at home a few times a week – even if it’s just for 10 minutes at a time. This helps me switch off from work, and also gives my body a much-needed opportunity to move.
View and shop the Olivia Burton Semi Precious collection here
4. Escape into another world
I love working from home, but sometimes it can become a bit repetitive. You’re looking at the same four walls every day, and there aren’t any crazy co-workers around to spice things up and change the pace of the week. So I always like to have a good book or TV series on the go, which allows me to dip into another world at the end of the day.
This provides a healthy escape from the mundane elements of my 9-5. And I also find that the more I read the more creative I feel. So it actually helps me perform better at work. It’s a win-win!
When you work from home it’s really easy to become a hermit. Because there will be days when you don’t have a single reason to leave the house. And, let’s be honest, that’s really unhealthy. So it’s up to you to make reasons.
Getting out of your bubble, breathing some fresh air (or not-so-fresh air, if you live in a city) and being around other people – even if they’re complete strangers – will help reset your brain and recharge your energy.
If I don’t have any meetings, photoshoots or social plans lined up on a specific date I’ll allocate a few errands to that day instead. Or I’ll go and work from a coffee shop for a few hours. I find that if I’m inside all day, with no other humans in sight, I become quite lethargic. And by the time 5pm rolls around my energy levels are low and I struggle to unwind. So, unless I’m unwell, I force myself to get outside every single day.
We’ve all had those moments where you leave the house in scorching, summer weather, dressed in a spaghetti-strap maxi dress or denim cut-offs and a tank top. And it’s great while the sun is out, but once early evening sets in you find yourself desperate for a cover-up. So that’s why a statement summer jacket should be at the top of your shopping list. I love this embroidered, tassel style from River Island. It’s dressy enough for smart, evening occasions but will look equally brilliant with jersey dresses and denim shorts.
Also topping my Wish List, this week, is New Look’s cold-shoulder dress, which comes in a range of colours. It’s the perfect throw-on-and-go number! I also love the circular, straw handbag from John Lewis. And H&M Home’s simple, stripe bedspread has raced to the top of my interior Wish List.
Which style buys have caught your eye, this week? And do you think your wardrobe is in need of a statement summer jacket? Leave a comment below to have your say…
The life of a writer is somewhat unusual. You spend hours upon hours working away in solitary confinement, battle crippling self-doubt, and never really know how your work will be received. Natasha Ngan knows this all to well, as she’s currently working on her fourth young adult fiction novel (she had her first book published straight after graduating from university).
I’ve known Natasha Ngan for a couple of years, and have always admired her work ethic and creativity. So I’m really excited to delve deeper into her career story in this month’s #My9to5 interview. Natasha and I caught up over FaceTime (she now lives in Paris), to talk about her journey so far and her new book, Girls of Paper and Fire…
Hi Natasha. So, let’s start right at the beginning… When did your love of fiction begin, and how did you get into writing?
I’m the classic case: the writer who always wanted to write. My dad brought me up surrounded by books. Every night he would read to me. And as soon as I knew what stories were I began creating them. It was like a compulsion. Throughout my teens I would write on anything I could get my hands on: receipts, paper napkins, the back of envelopes… I’d just scrawl ideas everywhere.
I wanted to study English at university, but my typical Chinese mum was like, “That’s not going to happen.” Although, she probably said it in a nicer way. I think the idea was scary for her, because the majority of Asian families favour science-based educations.
So I ended up studying Geography at university, instead. And I think it worked out for the best, anyway, because I was always writing for pleasure. I actually got the idea for my first novel (The Elites) whilst I was at university.
The Elites was the first novel you wrote, and the first book you had published. What did the writing process look like for you? And how did you find land that publishing deal?
I began developing the story during my second year of university. I kept a Word Document saved with all of my ideas, and I also collected a lot of images for inspiration too. I did a lot of research because it’s a sci-fi book, and I’ve noticed that when I’m writing I really need to understand the world that I’m creating.
I let the ideas come together quite naturally, because this was back in the day when I didn’t have deadlines.
After I graduated I went straight into a social media internship. And at some point I must have sat down and said to myself, “I’m going to write every evening.” Because I would come home from the office at 8pm and work on The Elites every night. I literally just got words down on paper, and didn’t think about it too much.
Within a few months I’d finished the book, and I started contacting agents, because that’s the first step to get a book published. I found an agent, they submitted The Elites to a publisher and two days later I had a publishing deal. It happened really quickly, which was quite surprising.
You’ve now had two YA novels published (The Elites and The Memory Keepers) and your third novel, Girls of Paper and Fire, is due for release later this year. What first attracted you to young adult fiction?
I get asked this a lot. And it’s funny because I think there’s sometimes a bit of an attitude about YA. As if young adult and children’s books are somehow lesser. But, if you think about it, adults are far more patient. Especially when it comes to reading. I’ll plod through half a book until I start to enjoy it, but kids will put something down immediately if they don’t think it’s interesting.
But, aside from that, I just love the amount of hope in YA fiction. Young adult novels are very idealistic. They can be as dark, and carry as many complex themes as adult fiction – for example, Girls of Paper and Fire is about concubines, so there are elements of sexual abuse, rape and trauma. However, with those dark concepts a feeling of hope always remains in YA fiction.
It’s that idealistic notion that if you want something enough, and you work hard and are a nice person, good things will eventually happen for you. And I think that is something I cling to, because the real world is so hard.
“I love the amount of hope in YA fiction. Young adult novels are very idealistic.”
What does your typical workday look like, if such a thing even exists for you?
Well I’m currently in the first drafting stage for the sequel to Girls of Paper and Fire, so I spend most of my time crying into a cup of tea, hoping the words come to me!
I’m really bad with routine, and I also tend to be one of those people that takes a while to get into their day. I usually wake up between 8am and 10am, and I love to laze in bed for a while, answering emails and checking Twitter. And every morning I have a lemon and honey tea, because it’s good for your digestion.
As well as writing, I also teach yoga. And I always do a bit of yoga every day – even if it’s just to breathe and move around a little bit. Then I park myself down at my laptop and try to write. I aim for a specific amount of words every day, depending on my deadline. Sometimes it flows really nicely, and other days it will take me until 11pm.
If I’m teaching a yoga class that helps to break up the day, because I get to go out and talk to real people. Not just the characters rolling around in my head. And I tend to write until about 9.30pm, so I usually don’t start cooking dinner until 10pm. I think it’s the Paris lifestyle. I’ll chat to my boyfriend over a glass of wine, and we usually go to bed late. Anywhere between 1am and 3am. I’m definitely a night person. I feel more creative and relaxed when there isn’t the pressure of an entire day ahead of me.
How do you like to unwind after a busy week or a stressful day of writers block?
I’m really into cooking! Maybe that’s why I cook so late, because I love the process and if I’ve still got work to do it’s hard for me to enjoy it as much. My boyfriend and I cook these big, fancy meals every day with fresh fish from the market, and we usually have some music going will chat about our days. So it’s really relaxed.
And I also love going out for Aperol with friends. That’s such a French thing. And it’s one of the many things I love about living in Paris – your friends are always nearby and everyone’s very social. Writing is incredibly solitary, so I prefer to relax with company.
What is the biggest challenge that you currently face in your 9 to 5?
The hardest things about writing are the fact that it’s so isolating, and it also all comes down to you. So it’s that pressure of not only being alone, but also being the only person who can finish the job. I can talk to people and say, “This is where I’m stuck with my book”, but no one can give me answers. Not even my editor or my agent.
I used to be able to get out of my flat and write in cafes, so at least I could be around other people. But at the time I couldn’t understand French properly, and now my language is so much better. So if I sit in a cafe to write I can understand what everyone around me is saying, and it’s distracting. I can edit with background noise, but if I’m writing I need complete silence.
How do you stay motivated and focused when you’re working on a novel? And what are your tricks for dealing with writers block?
I think the most important thing is knowing that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s something that you have to be able to tell yourself when self-doubt is sitting on your shoulder. When that voice in your head is saying, “This is shit, why are you even bothering?”
You can’t edit no words. But you can edit shitty words and turn them into good words. So the key thing to remember, when you’re struggling, is to keep going. But it’s also okay to take a pause and step away for a while. There’s nothing wrong with that.
The process is also different with each book. And, if anything, I find that writing gets harder and harder the more that I do it. I think it’s because there’s more pressure now. For example, I’m on deadlines and I’m writing my first sequel, so that’s completely different to anything I’ve ever done before.
And, finally, what’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given, and who gave it to you?
I think the biggest thing is something I learnt from my parents. I don’t remember exactly when they said it, or even how they said it, but I know that it came from them. And it is not to be afraid of failure.
The only way you can achieve anything in life is by trying, and mistakes are how we learn. So I always think it’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. If you’re brave enough to forge your own path and try your hardest I don’t think it can be classed as a failure, no matter what the outcome is. Because if you tried then that in itself isn’t failing. A lot of people aren’t even brave enough to try, and will go through life taking the easy options instead.
Follow Natasha Ngan on Twitter at @girlinthelens and Instagram at @girlinthelens. Girls of Paper and Fire is published November 2018 from Jimmy Patterson Books; pre-order now on Amazon (UK and USA). All photos courtesy of Natasha Ngan.
Earlier in the year I sat down with the team from Tropic Skincare to discover more about natural beauty, and I was surprised to learn that sunscreens are currently causing major environmental issues. The vast majority of drugstore SPFs contain UV-blocking chemicals (like octinoxate and oxybenzone) which are killing coral reefs around the world.
I’m now trying to educate myself more on the issue, and found Fashionista’s article on chemical sunscreens really interesting. Personally, I’ll continue to use my favourite SPFs day-to-day, but have decided to switch to Tropic’s mineral sunscreen whenever I’m at the beach.
Find Fashionista’s article below, along with more of the week’s top life and style stories. And, as always, have a great weekend…
A few months ago I shared my first home tour, which was shot 10 weeks after I moved into my West London apartment. By that point I was fully settled in, and had almost finished decorating the space. Only one sticking point remained… There was a dramatic lack of artwork – specifically in one corner of my bedroom and on the expansive wall in my open-plan kitchen and living area.
I love the white walls, which fill the apartment with light and make the rooms look much larger than they are. But I definitely needed a few bursts of colour to bring some vibrance and personality to the space.
If you listen to the Let’s Discuss podcast, or follow me on Instagram, you will know that I absolutely adore Desenio. The online poster boutique offers a wide variety of prints and illustrations, which all play nicely in rooms that have a Scandinavian or Nordic design vibe. So, as soon as I had my furniture in place and was ready to shop for artwork, I headed straight to Desenio…
Get 25% off your Desenio order between May 10th and May 14th, 2018, with the promotion code “cocosteaparty”. This code is valid on all posters, but excludes frames and handpicked/collaboration posters. Happy shopping!
There was a vast amount of empty wall space in one corner of my bedroom, and it took me a while to decide what to do with it. At one point I considered designing a bold gallery wall, but ultimately decided that might look a little overwhelming.
So instead I opted to go down a more sophisticated and classic route, and searched for a trio of calming prints that could run in unison.
Desenio makes it really easy to shop, as they categorise their prints by theme. So I had a look through their “nature” and “illustration” collections, and quickly settled on the monstera and banana leaf posters, pictured above.
I’m so happy with the result, and think they really pop against my rose-pink bed frame and leaf print cushions.
In my living space I decided to go for something more graphic, and paid homage to my favourite city with a map of Manhattan. And, sticking to the travel theme, I hung it alongside a Prada Marfa poster. Yes, it’s a little bit of a fashion girl cliché, but I’ve long held a fascination with Texas, and am desperate to visit the small desert city of Marfa. So it has personal significance to me.
I also purchased frames for all of the posters at Desenio, as that way I could guarantee they’d be the right size and come with the correct fixtures fitted on the back. They’re so easy to hang – you just need a hammer and a pin!
The walls of my apartment definitely feel less sparse now, and it’s begun to feel like a real home that truly reflects my personality. If your walls could also do with some new artwork, be sure to check out Desenio’s amazing collection of posters. Especially as Coco’s Tea Party readers can enjoy a 25% discount over the next four days. Let me know which designs you order…
Get 25% off your Desenio order between May 10th and May 14th, 2018, with the promotion code “cocosteaparty”. This code is valid on all posters, but excludes frames and handpicked/collaboration posters. Happy shopping!
Will you be putting this Desenio discount code to good use? Which posters have caught your eye? Leave a comment below to have your say…
~ This post was sponsored by Desenio. Thank you for continuing to support the collaborators that make Coco’s Tea Party possible. ~
When was the last time you got excited about a tiered maxi skirt? I’m guessing somewhere around 2003, when the world was obsessed with Sienna Miller’s boho style. Few have dared to go near a full-length, ruffled skirt since then. But I think it’s finally time to revisit the look. And it’s all because I’ve fallen head-over-heels for WtR’s silk maxi skirts, which come in a range of jewel tones.
WtR’s tiered skirts were inspired by “the culture and vibrancy of Barcelona”, and all feature lifted hemlines to show off your statement heels. I think they’re absolutely perfect for evenings out (wear with a full-sleeved blouse in a contrasting colour, or a slinky spaghetti-strap top), and can’t wait to give one a whirl…
Also topping my wish list, this week, is River Island’s stripe crop top (I love the washed-out tones and frayed sleeves. And I also can’t take my eye off Cult Gaia’s round straw bag. What it lacks in practicality it makes up for in pretty!
Which style buys are topping your wish lists, this week? And are you also a fan of WtR’s tiered maxi skirt? Leave a comment below to have your say…
I have a question for you… Does toner factor into your skincare routine? Because, for the vast majority of my adult life I have not used a toner. They always felt quite old-fashioned to me (that classic “cleanse, tone, moisturise” routine, which in 2018 reads more like, “double cleanse, acid exfoliate, serum, moisturise”). And, to be perfectly honest, I never really understood what toners were supposed to do.
Allure’s article WTF Is Toner, Anyway? is a riveting read – especially if you’ve also spent most of your adult life throughly perplexed by toners. And, truthfully, I think the piece could completely transform your approach to skincare!
Allure spoke to Charlotte Cho, co-founder of Soko Glam, who provided a brilliant answer to the million dollar question: “what does toner do?”
WHAT DOES TONER DO?
“Think of toner as prep for your pores,” Charlotte Cho told Allure. “It brings your skin back to its natural acidic state, sweeping impurities away and helping your skin absorb your skincare products. Your skin is like a dried-up sponge. If you put a thick cream on a brittle dry sponge, it won’t accept it and it isn’t ‘prepped’ for moisture. But if you wet the sponge, the cream will sink in more easily.”
So, essentially, toner is like a primer for your moisturiser. It helps your skin accept and absorb products, therefore making your go-to moisturiser 10x more effective. Why did it take me 28 years to learn this?!
Throughout the winter I was struggling to settle on a moisturiser, and I didn’t feel like anything was giving me the hit of hydration I really needed. Even my favourite formulas failed to do the trick. And in mid-March a shocking thought suddenly occurred to me… Maybe the problem wasn’t the moisturisers, but the way I was applying them. So I did some research and decided to start using a toner.
LEARNING TO LOVE FACE TONER
Over the past four to six weeks I’ve been alternating between two toners: Shiseido’s WASO Fresh Jelly Lotion and Caudalie’s Moisturising Toner. Both formulas are alcohol-free (so they won’t dry out your skin), and should be used after cleansing. I apply Caudalie’s toner with a cotton pad, but pat Shiseido’s toner directly onto the skin with my fingers.
Shiseido’s WASO Fresh Jelly Lotion is perfect if your skin is feeling particularly parched. It contains White Jelly Mushroom Extract, which helps deliver moisture to the skin’s deepest layers. And it makes my skin feel so dewey and plump that sometimes I don’t even need to follow it up with a moisturiser. It’s honestly amazing.
Caudalie’s Moisturising Toner has become my go-to for days when I’ve been wearing a lot of makeup, because it’s great at removing any residual impurities that my cleanser missed. It’s super refreshing, and I definitely feel like my moisturiser is more effective if I’ve toned my skin first.
So, yes, there is a reason why “cleanse, tone, moisturise” are the three magic words in the beauty industry. And I now see the error of my ways, and will be using toners from here on out. Better late than never, right?
Have you always been confused about the need for face toner? Were you always too embarrassed to ask, “what does toner do?” And, if so, will you be adding it to your skincare routine now? Leave a comment below to have your say…
My mum works at a secondary school (that’s high school for anyone in America), and she recently told me that the students have just started getting into Friends. I grew up watching the sitcom, and it’s crazy to think that an entirely new generation are now watching the show for the very first time.
And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the rails at H&M, Forever21 and Topshop soon start to look like they’ve been pulled directly from Rachel Green’s closet. I bet every teen is now obsessed with her ’90s wardrobe!
This week The Every Girl published a great piece about Rachel Green’s best outfits, and I must say I found the denim styling particularly inspiring. Find the link below, along with more of the week’s top life and style stories…