My name is Danielle, I'm 30 years old and London based personal style blogger showcasing my love of plus size fashion, accessories and makeup. I want to help inspire you to feel confident about your body and to show you that there are beautiful clothes out there, no matter what size you happen to be.
AD | This post is written in partnership with M&S as part of an on going collaboration.
Bar the fact I like to look stylish, well put together and quite frankly cool as fuck, my number one priority when it comes to how I dress is, to be comfortable.
Having a chronic pain condition, well it sucks. I am always in pain, always trying to best deal with my many symptoms and continually trying to make my life/body as comfortable as possible. Without making this blog post a list of Fibromyalgia side effects, I thought I'd share some of the things that I find keep me as comfy as possible when I am out and about doing my thing.
So, it's January, and I'm going to start with the obvious issue that can make this month/time of year pretty uncomfortable when you have chronic pain... it's cold and wet, and this can play havoc with your joints/muscles! I wrote a tweet last week that basically said I am half in the mindset that I want to smash 2019 and make it the most productive year I've ever had and then I'm half obsessed with staying in, in the warm and staying cosy on my sofa. I feel like this back, and forth is a constant battle that I face due to having Fibromyalgia. Can anyone else relate? There is SO much I want to achieve, and I feel like I am at such a fantastic stage of my career, but it's just sooooo hard to balance everything. I continuously need to pace myself and make sure I rest in between work commitments, but sometimes I am so busy, I need to travel into London every day of the week, and that is especially hard when it's freezing outside, and my pain is heightened.
To make sure I keep myself as warm as possible, I layer up. The starting point to most of my winter looks is a coat, and once I've chosen that, I work backwards and put the rest of the look together. I am currently very into this dusty pink wool coat and the fact that although it's thick, I can wear a few layers underneath it. The single breasted coat is a wardrobe staple, it's got a classic cut, and you'll be able to pull it out year after year. The pink coat, especially those fluffy teddy ones have been on trend for a number of seasons, but I feel like this particular pink coat is really chic and won't ever age. The coat comes up big, so I recommend sizing down! If you struggle with the use of your hands/fingers, you'll know the importance and helpfulness of clothes that are easy to do up/close etc. Big buttons, easy to grip zips, velcro are all great features when your grip is an issue. The huge, singular button on this coat definitely makes it easy to do up!
As I mentioned above, layering up is key to staying warm and cosy, and if I have to get out of my loungewear and go into the big, bad world I am sure as hell going to wear the cosiest things! This knit jumper is an absolute gem, it is softer than a newborn baby and makes me look stylish even though it feels like I am wrapped in my favourite blanky. This particular jumper is sadly out of stock online but M&S have tonnes of gorgeous knit wear pieces, take a look here.
Underneath all the trendy items, I often wear thermal vest tops as well as the comfiest bra's I can find. I used to struggle a lot and always wore an underwired bra until I realised that if you can find a good non- wired bra; you'll look just as good and it might help you comfort wise. A tight bra can make me flare up in 5 minutes. My back and neck are where I get most of my chronic pain, a comfortable bra is crucial. I love crop tops for when I'm at home, and this non-wired bra is fantastic!
Hiding underneath a lot of my clothes is often a heat pack. If you know me, you will have gotten used to me carting a hot water bottle around with me where ever I go. Heat from a hot water bottle is the number one thing that helps me when I am struggling. I even take my hot water bottles with me to warm countries. The searing heat from a bottle is the only thing that distracts me from the actual chronic pain. When I am out and about it isn't very practical to lug a bottle around, so my recent discovery of this electric heat pack has really changed the game for me. You can charge this heat pad in 10 mins, you can strap it, and it has little sleeves you can slip your hands into!
Next up, I need to talk about my IBS. Eurghhhhhhh. This is the biggest bane of my life. It affects me every day and makes me feel so gross on a regular basis. Nothing is sexy about sharing the fact that you always have a bad tummy, a bloated stomach and you just never know when a flare-up will happen. Let's just say; I know all the best toilets to use in central London. With this in mind, if I wear trousers or something with a waistband...it needs to be elasticated, pull on is preferable and if it has a high waist; this is even better. I prefer to wear trousers that sit higher up on me so that they don't dig in lower down. These High Waist Joggers are...absolutely amazing. I tried them on in front of my housemate, and I couldn't stop singing their praises. The waistband of these joggers are so comfy, they are pull on joggers, but they also look kind of smart, don't you think? No zips or buttons = fuss free!
Shoes. Shoes are my biggest bugbear in life. I need them to be comfy, but I want them to look stylish at the same time. I have always been obsessed with chunky shoes, I've rocked them for many years and me more than anyone is happy that the "Dad Trainer" is still going strong for 2019! M&S have finally come on board with this trend and omg when I tell you they are the most comfortable trainers I've ever worn; I wouldn't be lying. These Chunky Trainers are soft and padded in the inside and so supportive and make me feel so stable when I'm stomping around London. When my muscles are killing me, and my legs feel like they could fall off, I need my trainers light and not weigh a tonne. These are the kind of trainers that are oddly light, and you wonder how they make them so light!
Velcro shoes, electronic laces and slip-on shoes are also so helpful for people with limited mobility/grip problems. I often struggle with bending down to tie up my shoes, so I am a big fan of shoes/trainers that are slip-on. If I have to wear heels, I do love a good mule. Mules are easy to slip on, they tend to have chunky block heels, and they feel really sturdy.
Carrying anything heavy triggers my Fibromyalgia. I have to be very careful when I go out and about as even lugging a handheld handbag around can flare up my pain. Crossbody bags are my go-to style of bag as I find them the most comfortable. When my pain is at its worst, I like to wear mini backpacks. Back Packs spread the weight of what you're carrying, across your back and keep your arms free. Mini backpacks are compact, and the hard case ones look especially great - really chic!
Doing my hair is the number one thing that I struggle with when it comes to getting myself ready. I like to wash, blow-dry, straighten and curl my hair and this is what I do when I want to look/feel my best. Sadly, because of my Fibro I can't always do that full process. If I need to do my hair, I'll wash, blow dry and then roughly straighten it (like I did in these outfit pics). My hair is naturally curly, and I also like to leave it to air dry, especially in the summer when I want to have beachier looking natural curls. If I really can't bring myself to wash my hair, I have found the perfect hairstyle that makes me feel chic and well put together. I do a centre parting and slick my hair back into a very low ponytail at the nape of my neck. I either leave it as a, or I do a chignon (fancy word for a bun). I secure it with Bobby Pins and smooth down stray hairs with hair spray. Doing a low bun, is a chic way to style your hair when you have limited mobility and this winter, it has been my go-to style. My arms and neck have been especially bad recently and this hair style has been a life saver.
It's no secret, I love makeup, and I love to wear a full face of makeup. When I am at home, I obviously go make up free. I never used to go out and about without makeup on but as the years go on and my pain continues to make my life more tricky I have started to go out without makeup on. It saves me energy, time and means I can rest a bit longer before going out. If I am at peak pain levels, but I still want to wear a full face, I use minimal products and just focus on the three things I prefer to have 'done'. I make sure I do my regular base, minus contouring and to give myself some colour I pile on the blush. I usually like to do eyeshadow, winged eyeliner and lots of mascara. When I do my minimal makeup look, I merely slick on lots of mascara. The final thing I always like to do is my eyebrows; I don't feel like myself without them!
Press on/glue on nails are a life saver I swear to god. My nails often look very flakey and weak due to Fibromyalgia and press on nails take under 10 mins to apply. The silver ones I am wearing in these shots took no time at all to put on and really make me feel/look like I have my shit together.
When my pain is terrible, I wear minimal or no accessories. I just can't be bothered if I am quite honest with you. Faffing with buckles, clasps, zips, fiddly earrings does my head in, makes me more aggravated and is more likely to cause a flare-up. If I want to wear earrings, I tend to wear a simple pair of hoops that click shut and be done with it!
So there we have it. I might not have said anything ground breaking and all of this must be quite obvious to the majority, but I just wanted put down in words how I personally cope. When you have a chronic pain condition, you face so many barriers that make *everything* difficult. If even one thing I've mentioned here helps you; I will be happy.
Hands up who still has Christmas gifts to order? If you do and you're in full-blown panic mode, can I alert you to the gift section from M&S. Marks and Sparks literally has something for everyone, and this year I have pretty much done all my Xmas shopping there.
The homeware section is my fave. I've bought pot plants and side tables, candles and reed diffusers and I have found it so hard to part with them all as I want them for myself hahaha. I must admit, I've done a fair bit of 'to me, love me' shopping this year. Listen, 2018 has been wild, and I've felt the need to treat myself hahaha.
Take a quick look over this post if you're in need of some gift ideas, I've not put them into categories like 'For Her" etc. as I feel like all these gifts I've selected could be for anyone.
ORDER BEFORE 5 PM TODAY FOR NOMINATED DAY DELIVERY or pop into your nearest M&S store.
A lot of people are often shocked when I tell them that something I am wearing is from a well known straight size shop. Now, for those who are unsure of the term 'straight size', what I mean by this is a shop that you can find on the high street, that typically only goes up to a UK16/18 and that generally doesn't typically cater to the plus size person. Think Zara, Topshop, COS.
As a plus size woman, I have always had to be very creative with where I shop and how I dress. When I was a teenager, I wore a lot of items from menswear shops, I wore stuff from brands that were too mature for me such as Wallis and I learnt how to shop with an open mind.
My first tip for shopping straight sizes as a plus size person is to know your measurements. Knowing your measurements makes online shopping a lot easier. Often, pieces are oversize, cut in a boxy way and could easily work for your shape/size. If you know what you're working with, you can often end up coming away with some fab items that you might never have even contemplated rocking.
Look out for oversize items. I think I had subconsciously been doing this for all of my teens/early twenties, but it wasn't until I lived in Stockholm, Sweden that I truly understood the importance of hunting out oversize items in straight size stores. Scandinavian fashion focuses a lot on boxy, minimal, contemporary cuts and with shops like Monki, Weekday and Cheap Monday - it is no wonder my love of oversize pieces grew once I lived there. I used to spend my lunch breaks trawling the rails of these stores and my love of Monki blossomed. Do your research and make a note of brands that you spot on social media that often produce oversize items.
Letting go of expectations is key! We all know that Zara aint for fat people. We all know that Philip Green doesn't like fat people, so Topshop will never have a plus size range. We know all this. What we have to do when shopping as a plus size person, is let go of what we expect and look outside the box. There are gems to be found on the shop floors; we just have to have the patience to hunt and an open mind.
Head to the charity shops. Charity and vintage shops are a haven of mix matched, oversize, exceptionally random garments. You never know what you're going to get and you can more often than not stumble upon a killer piece - don't forget to look through the menswear racks as well.
Don't forget the indie brands. A few years ago, I bought something from a brand called Isolated Hero's. I hadn't seen anyone wearing this sequin obsessed brand before, but they made something for me, and as soon as I posted about them, they became really popular. That might sound arrogant, but it's how it went! This brand then went on to extend their sizes! Woo Hoo! A few of my fave indie finds can be found on ASOS Marketplace.
Go, Designer. Now, this is obviously not for everyone, BUT it is an option to some, so I wanted to make a note of it. I often browse Farfetch. It is one of my fave online stores to browse, and I can get lost on there for hours. I love looking at all the new in, designer pieces but what I often notice is the fact that although most high-end designers do not like fat people or cater to us; they do often make cool, edgy oversize items that would work on our chub bodies.
Pass me a glass, the festive season is once again here, and I'm ready to whizz around the dance floor dressed to the nines.
Christmas is the one time of year; I go all out. I like to wear a pretty cool, minimal wardrobe throughout the rest of the year but come party season... give me all the velvet, all the luxe fabrics, all the sparkles and all the glam makeup. If you can't go all out at Christmas...when can you?
There are lots of different vibes you can go with when dressing up for your Xmas parties. I think I will do a few posts in the coming weeks focusing on the different looks you can do, but for today, I thought I would show you a more simple, fuss-free look which is perfect for those of you who aren't into wearing dresses or being overly feminine.
A dressy jumpsuit is suchhhhhh a good partywear option as it's one item, you don't have to faff with it or worry about matching other things to it (like you do with a skirt or top). It's more unique to wear a jumpsuit to something dressy, and you can take a relatively plain one and dress it up with killer heels, a bag and earrings.
SHOP MY FAVE M&S PARTY WEAR PIECES
I recently took part in a fantastic partywear shoot for M&S, and I chose to wear this beautiful velvet jumpsuit. Originally I styled it with an incredible tux jacket, thrown over the shoulders but because we had to dance and wave our hands around for the photographer, I ditched the jacket. The fit of this jumpsuit is out of this world. The chunky tie around the waist works really well at pulling you in, and I love the leg length works really well for my 5"3 frame. You can't see them from the photo below but the black heels I am wearing are my new faves and I might have bought them in leopard print as well. The heels are wide fit and will see you all the way from home to dance floor to the kebab house aha! They have a very comfy, chunky block heel and the velvet means they're really comfy. To finish off this look and give it a really glitzy vibe, I added these big statement square drop earrings. I am so into them as they are super bling-y but kinda cool as you don't see that many square shaped earrings.
Taking part in a Christmas M&S campaign was a dream come true. If you haven't gathered already, M&S are one of my fave brands and to take part in a shoot like this, makes me feel ever so proud. I am so so happy with how the shots have come out as well. The shoot set up was so cool. We had a DJ actually on set, playing 70s disco music and people firing confetti cannons at us as we danced. The photographer was so nice, he put us all at ease and was so complimentary of all of us. The best part...getting to drink M&S fizz while on set... god I love my job!
If you aren't feeling so festive this year because you are already struggling with what to wear during the party season - have no fear, Danie is here!
Party season is the time to let your hair down, feast on fancy foods, guzzle ALL the fizz (responsibly ;) ) and sparkle your way into the early hours! I absolutely love this time of year as I have my annual besties night out, my work Xmas do, numerous PR dinners and lots of parties to attend. This is all very well if you have a heaving wardrobe full of party wear, but what if you have one go-to dress, that's seen better days and your heels are still covered in mud from that fancy summer barn wedding you attended back in June. It's time to add some on-trend party wear pizzaz into your life, pronto!
If you struggle to know what to wear during the festive season, updating your party wear wardrobe can be quite daunting! To help you tackle some of your party wear hang-ups, the Simply Be community wanted to ask their favourite bloggers what some of their party wear/confidence woes were and I am here to answer one of the most commonly asked questions.
Hang Up #1 - "I am a size 20/22, and I feel like I've lost my confidence. What can I wear to help?"
Right, the first thing I want to say here is: YOU ARE AN ABSOLUTE ROCKET at a size 6, or a 26 and I won't have you think any less of yourself!! We can't just go to bed and wake up with confidence one morning, it is something that takes time and work, BUT it is very, very obtainable. Self-love and appreciation for what's inside goes a long way. Try to focus on how you still have the same beautiful soul as you did, before you gained weight/lost weight. Your weight or dress size is not a reflection of of you or how great you are!! I am a size 22 and my gosh, I prance around a party as if I'm the hottest girl in the room. I do this because I genuinely believe it and I wear things that make me feel happy, comfortable and sexy!
With that being said, I want to introduce you all to THE most comfortable party dress I have ever worn. I am, cross my heart, OBSESSED with this dress. When I tried it on, it did things to me...I tell you hahaha! Teamed with some killer heels...my confidence skyrocketed! I was posing for these photos as if I was the hottest IT girl ever to grace that central London Cafe!
This fine knit dress is honestly so comfortable. It isn't thick, so I don't think you'll get hot in it and it's just like wearing your fave loungewear, but out and about! I love that it is a great length, it isn't too short and it just feel so cool, trendy and relaxed but with a festive edge.
If all else fails, a faux fur coat this time of year will genuinely make you feel like an absolute babe however you are feeling! Flung on over your shoulders, draped over one arm... they take a relatively simple party wear look to new levels of glam!
Simply Be have sooooo many party wear pieces this season, definitely take a peek if you fancy treating yourself!
Taking one colour and wearing it head-to-toe, is a sure fire way of nailing the key autumn/winter trend of tonal dressing. Taking-on this trend is very easy as you simply have to dive into your wardrobe, focus on one hue and mix and match your pieces. It's a great way of using items you already have, re-using old faves and it's ultimately a super chic way of dressing.
The most important factor you need to take into consideration is making sure you wear a variety of fabrics and textures, to break up the monochromatic look. The shades don't need to be identical but in the same 'family'. You can also do this with any colour but testing the waters with your fave shade is probably the best place to start.
For this head to toe tonal look, I started with a trench coat that I was gifted a few months back as part of my on-going collaboration with M&S. A classic trench is one of those everlasting styles that will never date, and it's a wardrobe staple that I think looks fantastic on anyone.
I feel that all the pieces I'm wearing for this look are all very wearable, very easy to mix and match with other items in your wardrobe (I'm already dreaming of wearing that skirt with a black sparkly roll neck, and faux fur stole come party season!)
By mixing the soft camel cashmere knit with the slightly darker tan pleather midi skirt, you keep the look interesting, and the pleats mixed with the crisp cotton of the trench also add a different dimension to the outfit. The check on the lining of the coat is also a nice little addition, and I went all out with the print clashing by adding a sheer leopard print sock. I could have worn a nice brown brogue or even a knee-high boot with this look but we all know, I love a white shoe and these shoe boots as so chic, I've been living in them all autumn. To finish off the look, I added even more brown and even more textures! This faux leather and faux fur bag looks really expensive and holds SO much.
In my opinion, there is something very chic about wearing a tonal look. I feel that it instantly makes a person look very classy, it gives them a very well put together edge, and I know that when I wear a monochromatic look; I feel very confident and like I look like I've got my sh*t together - something I think we all strive for regularly!
*This post is written in partnership with M&S as part of an on going collaboration.
Is it the end of summer yet? Who knows?! I'm seriously lost and seriously struggling to understand what to wear when I wake in the morning! Do you need an umbrella? Is the sun going to burn you alive? Will you melt into a pool of sweat?! I can't be the only one who's a little fed up with our temperamental British weather, who's with me?
For me to feel like a slightly better human, I am trying to get more wear out of my clothes. Now, what I mean by this is that I plan on taking some of my summer fashion faves over into autumn and trying to get as much wear out of them before stashing them away until the sun next appears in 2019. This summer I have been buying pieces I specifically know I'll be able to wear long into the colder months.
A lot of things that you wear during the summer months can be rehashed and reworked for autumn/winter and here are my top 4 hacks!
I have been wearing this beloved floral print dress A LOT these last few weeks. It's worked well when it's been hot and humid, and I have been wearing it with open toe sandals. Come autumn, switch the look up by wearing mules, ankle boots, platform trainers or even knee-high boots and tights. I bet if you had a look through your wardrobe now, you could find tonnes of summery dresses that would work just as well with a more autumny shoe!
Take that little shift dress you have and wear it over a white tee or striped long sleeve top. Grab a roll neck jumper and wear it under a strappy dress. Get creative! I love how a white shirt looks under a v-neck shift dress. There are lots of ways you can re-work a summery look just by building up the layers. Think thin and light - if you wear five thick, chunky layers you'll be a sweltering mess, OK? I LOVE wearing a long shirt dress over jeans and this is definitely something I am going to be doing a lot this autumn! This spotty shirt dress needs to be in my wardrobe immediately!
Come Autumn you'll still need those sunnies, so don't be ditching them any time soon. I go for chunky accessories when it starts to cool down. When it's hot, I like to wear fuss-free outfits, but something about autumn makes me want to pile on the chains, I love a good belt, hat, scarf, hair accessory... you name it! Pile them on!
Now, you might be wondering what this hack might be. Is she going to tell us about faux fur knickers, does she prefer velvet bras in the colder months, does she wear a hot water bottle shoved down her pants?! (No, no, yes are the answers to those questions by the way) but in all seriousness, I have come across a life-changing undergarment and thought it necessary to tell you all about it. It's a Reversible Slip Dress with Cool Comfort Technology which I wear under a lot of my dresses if they are a) a bit see-through b) I'm afraid of showing sweat patches on a dress or b) am feeling a little cold and need an extra layer.
This slip is soooooo good, I swear by it, and it's definitely going to help give some extra longevity to my summer dresses.
One of my greatest pleasures in life is putting looks together. Whether that's for myself, helping a bestie choose a killer date night look or styling other people...like you guys! As a way of saying THANK YOU to all of you lot for following and supporting me; I wanted to give something back.
You might have noticed over the years, I am *slightly* obsessed with M&S and we have come up with a mega exciting competition which I am so excited to finally be able to share with you.
I am offering three followers (no matter your size) the chance to spend the day with me at the M&S PR Showroom in London. I will listen to a particular style query you have, put together a look for you and you'll be able to take that entire M&S outfit home with you. We're putting on a lunch and fizz, there will be tonnes of Percy Pigs to nibble on, selfies galore and a chance to pick my brain about...well anything you fancy really!
**Entry Requirements** - For a chance to win, simply make sure 1) you're following me on Instagram (@Daniellevanier), 2) you're following @marksandspencerfashionpr on Instagram, 3) that you comment below my competition picture, with a style query you would like help with. Do you have an event coming up and you don't know what to wear? Is there an item of clothing you'd love to wear but you don't know how to style? Is there a part of your body you'd love to celebrate more with the help of clothing? Let me know in the comments below the picture and I will pick three winners!
**Competition Details** - Must be able to travel to London on Tuesday 28th August. The event will take place from 12pm - 5pm. I will contact the 3 winners via Instagram DM so please make sure your profiles are not set to private. The competition ends on Friday 24th at 3pm.
*This post is written in partnership with M&S as part of an on going collaboration.
Can we please talk about the abnormally hot weather that the UK has been experiencing for what seems like the last 4,340 days. I went away to Miami last week (wow it's beautiful but humid there?!) and when I came back, I thought the heatwave would have moved on but hell no, London is still a furnace, and the underground is even hotter than the sun.
This heatwave has lead me to wonder why I have ever worn polyester before, why EVERYTHING isn't just made out of natural fabrics and why the central line feels like you're on a non-stop train to the centre of the earth. It is warm here, let me tell you and the only fabrics I can bear to wear at the moment are cotton or linen... silk if I'm feeling fancy.
As a plus size woman, I am sadly not afforded the luxury of being able to wear cotton, silk or linen very often. We are often given synthetic, cheaper options, and if you're anything like me, I'd rather die than wear a synthetic fabric right now. They cling to me, they make me sweaty, and they always end up smelling musty under the armpits...is that just me?!
When I was growing up, I really struggled to know what to wear when it was hot or I had to go abroad on holidays. I do find it a lot easier now that I know I am only comfortable in cotton/linen and there is literally NO point buying other garments as a) I'll never wear them and b) it is a waste of money.
Natural fabrics are your best friend.
Shop my Natural Fabric Edit
I am absolutely LOVING this LWD at the moment. A LWD is a 'Little White Dress', and everyone should own one. I have been wearing this particular style non-stop since seeing my own Mummy rocking it recently. We are both as obsessed with M&S as each other and we definitely inspire each other's wardrobes!
This LWD is so light, comfy and floaty and I have been wearing it a lot recently with either my tan or black sandals or my trusty white trainers. The dress can be styled up or down, and it's pretty much perfect for any summer occasion... except for your best mates wedding, wearing this white dress might be frowned upon then haha!
I have had the pleasure of going on a few trips recently, and when I mentioned online that I was going away, I received some messages about how I pack for trips, how I outfit plan and if I have any tips or tricks. Instead of replying to them all individually in depth, I thought I'd write a post for you all. Fingers crossed you find it helpful!
When you have limited time away, your packing needs to be condensed (sometimes you only have hand luggage space to contend with) and it needs to versatile. I like to pack items that I know will work with each other and that I can wear numerous times throughout the trip. If you are smart with your shoes/ accessories, you can make one item of clothing look different depending on how you style it for instance.
My travel attire
I often get questions about what I wear when travelling and my answer is always this: something comfy, elasticated and long. If the flight is relatively short, I will typically wear a comfy, elasticated maxi dress. I find my legs get quite cold and achy on trips and a maxi dress does the trick of keeping you cool in the airport, yet covered up on the plane.
If I am flying further abroad, I usually opt for leggings, a long line vest or tee and a zipped up hoody. I am not one of these people that looks chic as hell in the airport... I am ALL about the comfort! I tend to wear everyday white trainers, no matter what I'm wearing to the airport. I can't walk far in flat sandals, and I need support on my feet, so trainers are perfect. I will generally wear these same trainers throughout the whole weekend, saving space in my bag for other shoes.
My handbag is always the same when I go away. I like to take a large shopper, with a detachable clutch bag inside. This clutch doubles up as a bag when you go out for dinner in the evenings!
How many days?
If you're packing for a long weekend away, you'll need your Friday travel outfit, and an evening look. Your Saturday day and night look and your Sunday daytime look (which is potentially your travel outfit as well)
I like to break the days down into day and night looks and I also see if I can use any of my staple wardrobe pieces, more than once. Basics such as Breton stripe tops, jeans and white shirts can be styled in SO many different ways; it is worth thinking about wearing items more than once.
I also pack a pair of undies for each day and night look and one extra pair for good luck.
What's the weather like?
When you're going away, if you're anything like me, you'll check the weather every hour. I need to see how hot and sweaty it's going to be and if I need to pack a brolly or not. The key to packing for a short break is to pack thin layers that you can build up, instead of chunky knits that take up half your suitcase. Brollies are tiny these days, and sunnies are obviously easy enough to slide into your handbag or even wear on your head to/from the airport as I do.
Travel size toiletries
One of my fave places to buy travel size toiletries from is actually M&S. They have great branded products like Pixi, Ren and Nuxe and I always do a last min, next day delivery shop for items before I go away.
I am pretty lax when it comes to taking my entire skincare range with me when I go away. I would instead take minimal bottles to save weight, and I just like to make sure I have all the basics covered. I take face wipes for ease, and they're great in your handbag for freshening up on the flight. I take a little cleanser, a moisturiser with SPF in it and toner/make up remover. Controversially I don't take my eye cream when I go away as the air con in the hotel always makes my eyes puff up and its even worse if I've applied eye cream the night before.
I take my It Cosmetics Mascara, CC Cream, Concealer and I also take travel shower gels and shampoos/conditioners that I have pinched from the last hotel I stayed at.
Until last year, I never rolled my clothes; I just laid them out on top of each other. I am now an avid roller, and the difference it makes in my packing/space saving is huge. I also find my clothes are less creased and look a lot better when it comes to unpacking at the other end.
Packing cubes have changed my life. It's not just the cubes that I love, but its all the little zip-up bags and cases that these packing cube sets involve. I love them! I buy mine from Amazon and especially love the 8-piece sets. I keep my dirty laundry separate from everything else, I pack my toiletries in the larger ones, and I pack my jewellery and sunglasses in the makeup bag style ones. They are SO handy, and they honestly make packing so much easier. I even put my hand luggage things like lip balms, face wipes, earphones, chewing gum etc. into one and it saves scrambling around my big shopper bag trying to find all my things.
Mix and Match
When going away for a short break, it is important to pack clothes that you can mix and match and build various looks from. Take items that you can dress up or down by switching from trainers to heels. A cross body bag is great for the day, and if it has detachable straps, you can whip them off and use the bag as a clutch at night time.
The striped dress I am wearing is an excellent example of how you can wear something with flats for the day and then glam it up with a woven bag and white, red or navy heels for the night time.
Long maxi skirts are a great city break essential. You can wear them to the beach, while exploring in the day or glam them up with heels and a beautiful top for a perfect dinner/dancing outfit.
Classic shirts can be worn casually with trainers and tucked into midi skirts but then dressed up with heels in the evening.
Bardot style dresses are the perfect city break dress! They can be dressed down with flats for a more boho vibe and then glammed up with chunky heels when you're ready for dinner.
When I go abroad, I try to take items made of natural fabrics as I can get very hot and sweaty when walking around a city. Polyester is NOT my friend. I hate it and hate wearing it abroad when it's hot. Linen, cotton and silk are my go to's, and thankfully they have a lot more items made out of these fabrics for us plus size women.
I've started to buy plain, handheld fans from Amazon for when I need to cool myself down and no matter where I go, people always ask where they're from. They look really chic and save me from melting! Pick one up here.
City life can be exhausting. Heck, life, in general, can be exhausting. It can be stressful, hectic and the weeks can speed past. Before you know it, you're worn out, feeling frazzled, and the only thing you seem to do is work, commute, sleep, repeat.
Now, that's not how life should be. Life is for living and obviously work is a vital part of existing, BUT it's so important to get a balance, so we don't burn out. As I have gotten older and I've learnt how to pace myself (because of my chronic pain condition), I've mastered the art of taking time out to just 'be'.
Taking time out for yourself is so important. You need time to recharge, reset and relax!
When was the last time you did something for yourself? More importantly, when was the last time you did something for yourself and felt no guilt? If you're a busy Mum or Dad or carer for someone, for example, you might find it hard to take time out for yourself.
If you can - I highly recommend booking in some 'me time' asap! Everyone deserves to check in with themselves, top up their physical and mental strength and look after their well being.
Here are a few things that I like to do when I feel like everything is getting on top of me, and I need some r and r time.
Spending time with my friends
I am fortunate in the fact that I live and work in London. Thankfully, most of my friends also live in this city which makes meeting up with pals, all the easier. I tend to bottle things up, which can then resurface in anxiety and worry. I know that if I meet up with a friend or my group of besties, I can share my fears, they can advise me on how to cope and also they do a bloody good job at distracting me from those worries.
I feel SO blessed with the friends that I have. I've been in London for approx 12 years now, and I've managed to collect the most AMAZING selection of friends. Uni friends, old work friends, blogging friends and even friends who I've met via social media platforms like Instagram.
My most favourite things to do with my friends are, chilling in a beer garden sipping on Aperol Spritz', grabbing brunch in one of London's fab food spots, dancing the night away at a gig or devouring a roast in my local pub.
Spending time with loved ones doesn't mean you need to spend any money. Some of my favourite 'friend time' is when they come over to mine, we snuggle up on my sofa, we order a takeaway, and we watch trash tv. It's the little things. I tend to gravitate towards this type of social time when my Fibromyalgia pain is terrible, my mental health isn't so great, and I don't feel like being out in the "real world".
One of my most favourite things to do, is exploring London on my own. I can go at my own pace, I can travel how ever I like and I can do what ever I like. Whilst I'm out and about, I like to stop off for food and drink in cute cafes, scout out places to shoot my blog outfits in, sit outside coffee shops and people watch and find undescovered places to add to my 'places I must go' list.
I like to have a go-to list of well loved places but my fave thing is finding a hidden gem and then recommending it to a friend. I love taking someone to a place they've not been to... I feel well smug ahaha!
Summer in this city is just so so amazing. It is hot and hard work when you have to commute every day and work in the city but when you can, taking time out to just lay in a park, have a bbq by a canal or sip drinks on The Southbank makes it all worth while!
My most favourite place is my house. I love being out and about in London, attending events, getting up to mischief with friends BUT I am at my most happy when I am at home, in my lovely little safe place. When I'm at home, I don't need to be "on", I can look like trash, and no one will judge me. I can look after myself, try to contain my chronic pain and totally relax.
Spending time on my own at home, in my garden, in a park...where ever it may be, is SO important to me. Having Fibromyalgia means that I am ALWAYS in pain and for anyone who knows what that's like, it's tiring... really tiring. When I am on my own, I can zone out and focus on myself and re-charge. There's no expectation from anyone, you feel like you don't have to have your 'best face' on and you can take things at your own pace.
My favourite relaxing things to do for self care are binging an entire Netflix series from the comfort of my sofa, reading or listening to music outside, pampering myself either at home or in a local salon.
You have to remember, it isn't selfish to look after your well being. If you're feeling overwhelmed with life, it's so imperative that you learn to say 'no' once in a while and take time out for yourself. If you carry on pushing and pushing, you'll wear yourself out, and then you'll be no use to anyone!