17 August 2017

I've always been 'into' fashion but never invested in the trends. Turns out quitting your job and having no money is what changed that all for me. Talk about bloody typical. Hopefully, I won't be jobless for much longer though because I have big plans for my Fall wardrobe and all the fashion trends it will encompass! 






This year, one of my personal goals was to be more bold and brave with my fashion choices. Which on a regular year, would have been something really fun to work on. But I don't think I could have picked a more difficult time to try.

I've not been quiet about the fact I went traveling for 4 months earlier this year. And with the expense of traveling, comes the obligation to not shop. At all. For pretty much an entire year total. Say what!

I spent 8 months total saving up to travel over the end part of 2016 and I don't think I've been shopping since. Well, I lie. I've been a near-permanent resident in Primarks across London but apart from that, not a dime has been spent on clothes, jewellery or shoes.

In the time that I've been back, I've near constantly been trawling through Pinterest dreaming about all the different styles I wanted to try before 2017 ends.

Hopefully - and I say hopefully with all my mite - that I'll get a job fairly swiftly, and thus will start my bold, brave and fashion conscious goal for 2017.

This is how I plan to do it...






Mom Jeans, Embroidery and Relaxed Fashion


Let's start by talking about Mom Jeans. I know, I know I'm about 2 years late to the party. But this is the start of my fashion journey after all so I think I deserve just a slither of slack.

I love the relaxed vibe they have and I love how comfortable they look. I live in high waisted skinny jeans, literally, they're the only pre-20 degree bottoms I own and they've been the only style of jean I've worn since I was 15! I think it's fair to say that 9 and a half years is enough and it's time to branch out a little.

Plus, how uncomfortable are high waisted jeans when you've just eaten a meal. A meal of any size. Even that cheeky bite of chocolate you've been hiding in your bedside table. Talk about making you feel guilty! I've been pushing the 'top button undone' vibe for years but so far no-one else seems to be catching on.




V Necked Tops and Cute Little Bralettes


I'm a turtle neck sort of person. I have fairly small breasts so when it comes to dressing in a way that makes me look a little luckier in that department, I will. Low neck tops seem to emphasize the lack there of to my chest. Which is no way is a bad thing, but they can look rather disproportionate to my hips in the wrong items of clothing. But, it's something that I want to learn to not care so much about.

I have been in love with the polka dot blouses with plunging v-necks and wrap around design that seem to be in rotation at the moment. I also love the sweeping tops with dramatic sleeves and billowing cuffs that kind of make your childhood dreams of being a pirate feel like reality. It's all about living those dreams, guys!


Embrace the cold and not be scared to get my legs out


If there's one thing about me, it's that I run about 5 degree's colder than everyone else. Meaning that once Autumn hits, right around until Summer re-appears again the following year, I covet all the big knit jumpers. Whilst that is exciting for the first few months (don't get me wrong, I'm the first to crack out the cinnamon candles, wooly blankets and Christmas DVD's) after a while it does get a bit dull.

Whilst it's not too cold, I want late September and October to still see me in skirts and dresses. A tea dress with a cropped jumper and Chelsea boots is the epitome of Autumn is it not? I am determined to not peak too soon with the jumpers and jeans this year!




So there we have it, nothing crazy. I'm not trading in the striped tee's and skinny jeans for metallic culottes and fluffy mules but it's a start. It's definitely a bolder desire that my 2016 autumn wardrobe ever had. I won't be sending my last season staples to Oxfam in favour of designer handbags and belts with a price tag of a small mortgage but I'm very excited for my fashionista future.

Love always,
Melissa

P.S. Ok, it might be the middle of Summer, so pulling off this "autumnal" look wasn't too courageous. Having my legs out in 20-degree sun on a Tuesday afternoon is quite the treat. But none-the-less, it's bolder than I'm used to.

I picked up this black slip dress from ASOS. I do consider myself of average height but I had to snip a couple inches off the bottom because it was much too long for my liking. Evidentally I went a little too gung-ho with the scissors and I can't bend for fear of flashing my knickers. You live and you learn. Regardless the dress is a staple and I can see myself - carefully - wearing it all throughout Autumn and winter. It's a great transitional piece year round I think!
The shoes and choker were from my favourite shop as a penniless person, Primark! And this western belt was also bargain, from SheInside. However, word of warning, if you do decide to invest be prepared because delivery takes months. I'm not even joking. Such a shame too because there are some real bargains to be had on that website if you're willing to search for them!

8 August 2017

How on earth do you find personal style? I know what I like but that differs to what I wear. What is personal style? I'm so eager this year to experiment with fashion, learn more about what works for me and what doesn't but ultimately, find my own personal style. And I've been doing this the only way that I know how, by keeping an eye on some of my favourite bloggers, their style and how they rock it...


There are fashion trends and then there is personal style. Personal style - I think - is those key pieces, shapes, colours and styles that you keep going back to. The ones that are authentically you. The ones that when you walk out of a changing room to show your friends, they all scream "YES!". Something that has your personality written all over it.

Now, don't get me wrong, don't judge a book by its cover but I'm a huge believer in the idea that fashion is a great expression of someone's personality, their likes and dislikes. Granted this doesn't work quite all the time, take it with a pinch of salt and all that. You can learn a lot from reading a book but you also learn a great deal from the blurb too.



Martha Jane Edwards


I love this girl. I love her blog, I love her Instagram, I love her YouTube videos. Martha is an incredible blogger with incredible skill and style. It still baffles me now that she's averaging around 1K followers on her social media platforms. She is definitely one of my biggest inspirations in this community but also in my trek to find my own personal style.

Martha covets the fashion we're all very aware of. Like loafers and the infamous Gucci belt. But she does it with a twist that just screams her. She follows the trends but turns it into something that is entirely her own at the same time.



Emilina Love


If there is one thing about the blogging community, it's that there is a very distinct style when it comes to fashion. Yep, I'm talking mules and cigarette trousers. Yep, I'm talking layered flute sleeves and denim skirts. Emilina is someone who doesn't take notice in Blogger stereotypes. She is the embodiment of the everyday girl who can covet out-there celebrity fashion and completely rock it.

Emilina wears the sorts of items you see in Zara that make you wonder how they made it any further than the runway? The average girl can't pull off these styles. But Emilina has this gothic vogue type style that I don't see anywhere else and that can absolutely rock these boxy dresses and chunky shoes.



Media Marmalade


Melissa's feed is a delicate mix of premium high-street brands which together make a beautiful, always put together style. You know the type, tailored jackets and culottes with not a pair of Topshop Jaime jeans in sight.





Copper Garden


I am envious of Jess in many ways aside from her fashion sense heartwarming personal style. Being able to constantly travel with a Boyfriend who takes seriously bomb photos for her blog. What more could you want?! Whilst I was travelling, finding the time - but more importantly money - to shop and hone my style was not an option. But Jess manages to constantly live the dream and look the bomb doing it.

What I love the most about Jess' style is it's super laid back and organic. With a fairly muted colour palette and a pop of stripes here and there Jess' style is relaxed. But with different cuts and styles, her fashion is much more interesting than your average shorts and t-shirt or dress and jacket.


Phases of Robyn


This girl is absolutely not afraid of colour and injects it into her wardrobe in a really wearable way. I think most of us are guilty of a black and white wardrobe and a fear of colour. I most certainly am. Aside from the occasional muted pink (and this beaut of a skirt), my wardrobe is awfully monotone.

Robyn, however, uses a monochromatic wardrobe and accessories with pops of colour here and there. It's very versatile, very fun and this style is very much accessible to everyone.



What all of these bosses do is not copy the trends, they exude them. They take them into consideration and turn them into something of their own. Something authentically theirs. This is what I think personal style is all about. Yes follow the trends, then break them down and find what you like. Make the trends personable, make them yours!

This is what I'm working on over the last few months of this year, so hopefully, when you see me in 2018 I'm going to have a wardrobe I'm proud of as a sense of personal style.

Do you know what your personal style is? Do you even have one?

Love always,
Melissa


In this outfit:

Embroidered Skirt - SheIn
Flute Sleeved Top - H&M
Watch - Olivia Burton
Bracelet - Pandora
Bag - Warehouse
Sunnies - & Other Stories

3 August 2017

I'm not going to cherry coat this, at the moment I'm not a fan of Instagram. There's a lot of bad press regarding new algorithms, shadow banning and 'fake news'. But amongst the haze of negativity, I've spent the last few months learning how to unearth the good stuff. Another thing I've spent the last few months doing is travelling but I haven't kept that much of a secret (sorry, not sorry!) Which has resulted in my passion for travel bloggers and grammers. Particularly those with honest intentions and real experiences.

Melissa Lou, smiling, using Instagram.


Firstly though, can we just remember the good times... when Instagram was a fun way to connect with your friends? I remember when it was only available in the app store and it was the first app I downloaded when I got my first iPhone. It was the most intriguing thing for a creative hipster-wannabe 16-year-old like myself to share with my friends outside of MySpace.

Then once blogging took off, Instagram turned into a really great, fun way to connect with other bloggers. Granted, my favourite way to reach out to bloggers I admire is on Twitter but Instagram connects you in an innovative, visual way.

Now it just feels like Instagrams knifed you in the back. I told you I wasn't going to cherry coat this issue. Especially given Instagrams naivety to address said issue.

And because of this, I have lost a lot of love for the platform. Heck, I even considered giving it in for a while. If it wasn't for the friends and dreamy grids I follow, I probably would have done the deed a long time ago!


All black outfit with embroidered bag.

But realistically, I am a millennial. And a millennial that also dabbles in blogging. So, there's nothing I like better than scrolling endlessly through Instagram whilst snuggled up in bed. Particularly when it's cold and rainy outside. I follow so many different types of accounts from beauty to fashion, artists to musicians, from home decor to travel grams. I think the broadness of it all is what keeps me coming back, even when I'm so demotivated. I can go from seeing brand new beauty releases to some of the most remote beaches in the world. It keeps me on my toes and continuously thinking about what I want and how to get there.

But before I left, I was non-stop scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest at all of the amazing travellers, taking incredible photographs hoping I can do the same whilst I'm away. (Maybe you could check out my insta too, tell me how I did). Anyway, longest introduction ever!



Melissa-Lou, reaching for her sunglasses wearing. Fashion photo, all black.




























Gypsea_Lust


Lauren is the sole reason I changed my mind and decided I needed to head back to Asia at some point on my trip this year. I've been many times and it's just as good as the first every time but I was convinced that I'd had enough. Then I discovered her feed and the itinerary changed to spending the majority of my time away back in South East Asia.

It is scrolling through Lauren's photographs that give the best sense of what it's like to travel in Asia. The beaches, palm tree's and sand, yes. But the locals, the long boats and the dogs that live on the beach too. All of which encapsulated Lauren's dreamy feed.

Melissa-Lou wearing a rose-gold Olivia Burton watch, reaching for her pink embroidered bag!

Le Backpacker


It's all in the landscape. When you think travelling, you typically think of the white sand beaches in the Maldives, the temples in Thailand and rope swings in Bali. But I can assure you, Lauren's feed is the only one in this post that exhibits the 'typical' traveller vibe you think of when you put Instagram and Travel in the same sentence.

Johan Lolos, the visionary behind 'Le Backpacker' introduces the secondary, less travelled landscapes. We're talking the emerald lakes of western Canada, rocky peaks in Germany and one hundred foot tree's in Belgium. It's a fresh look at travelling and a magical take on landscape photography. The type of travel I want to try more of in the future.

SEE ALSO: WHAT'S NEXT NOW I'M HOME FROM TRAVELLING?

Murad Osmann


I'm sure if you're into travel, then you've heard of Murad Osman and his Instagram series 'Follow Me To'. And if you haven't heard of it, I'm absolutely positive you'll have seen his work. He practically invented this style of photography.

His series features his girlfriend leading him, first person perspective through their travels. His photos have a sense of realism that other #tbloggers miss out on. That ability to make you feel a part of the photo. But it's just a sense of realism, Murad has the most vibrant editing and some great parodies on his feed too. So it's not the most realistic grid you'll lay your eyes on.



Ming_Nomchong_Photo


I like to follow a variety of different travellers and Ming doesn't exclude from that. Not a traveller as you'd first have thought. Ming is a fashion photographer who travels for work but her feed is nothing short of a fashion lovers wanderlust dream!

Her subject matter not only exudes some of the most beautiful scenery but some of the most beautiful models from all around the world too. Her work is typical Vogue editorial, exhibited in a much less traditional format.

Hello Emilie


You know how 'Pinterest' is a style, well there isn't a travel blogger out there with a more Pinterest worthy feed than Emilie's! It's beautiful, feminine and soft. Makes you wonder how so many truly beautiful landscapes exist. But they do and Emilie has captured them in a way that excites a younger audience to Instagrammers I've featured so far! Emilie's feed is one to make any blogger's heart flutter.


Mo


George introduced Mo's feed to me whilst we were away, and not because of the landscapes or the photography but because of his gorgeous Australian Shepherd that he travels with. I can tell you with all of my heart that you have never seen a dog this beautiful. And what's more, this dog has probably seen more of the world than you too. Gutted? I am. And they have a camper van. If you read my latest post about what's next for me now I'm back from travelling, then you'll know how much I want a camper van now! (Hint, if you haven't I linked it up top, but because I care, here's another 😉).

Wanna know what I'm wearing? Oh, girl, do I wish I could get my shop on and show you some sick outfits but alas, all I have is this cami-top from the ASOS Basics range. Which actually has a super low back to add a bit of pizazz to an otherwise boring top. These jeans are from Primark which I chopped the ends off because I was bored. Guess that's what happens when you get desperate with fashion!

My shoes are a diamond find, also from Primark. Super comfy look great, kind of similar to those Chanel espadrilles that everyone went bonkers for a while ago!

My bag was another diamond find, from one of the Night Markets in Chiang Mai. How beautiful is it? And it was only about £3! The belt, also Primark, of course. My watch is Olivia Burton and my those sunnies are & Other Stories.

And finally, this beaut leather jacket is from All Saints which I stole from Rhaea because that's what sisters are for! 

I seriously love these feeds, and it makes Instagram much more worthwhile now that it only shows me the posts with the most engagement. And these feeds have that engagement for a real good reason! Do you follow travel Instagrammers at all? If so, who are your favourites? Are there any travel grams you think I need to know about, (because I do need more travel in my life. Always need more travel).

Love always,
Melissa

1 August 2017

Do you know what sucks? Coming home from a holiday and thinking that's how I should be spending my life. Making childhood dreams of becoming a great explorer, discovering new and far destinations. From the bottom of my heart, that is the life. But do you know what sucks more? Getting the chance to explore and travel but having to come home at the end of it all...


That sounds incredibly selfish of me, after all, I did get the chance to travel. I wholeheartedly understand that in that sense I am one of the lucky ones. But even so, I reckon, even the biggest of home-bodies would struggle to give up a life of wander for something more structured. Or maybe they wouldn't. Maybe that's just me.

At the end of the day, though, coming home sucked. And being at home sucks too. I love more than anything my friends that make me laugh so much I cry and I missed them tenfold whilst I was away.  I also love the puppy and without her, I don't think getting out of bed to battle the pile of job applications I have facing me would be worth it. But I'm not going to lie and say I had a fantastic time but it's great to be home eating healthier food and working a better sleep pattern. I mean, those things are great but it I've learnt a lot about myself these last 4 months. The main thing being, I love to be outside, exploring new places.




But what's next?


First thing's first, I've got to find a job. Travelling was beyond amazing (I know I keep saying that, sorry!) but I am officially broke. Like, actually officially, signed onto benefits and everything. So if you know anyone who's hiring, I'm an incredibly hard-working Arts Graduate with a passion for photography and design. Haha. You've got to tell everyone and anyone you're looking for work, that's what the lady at the job centre told me! So tell your friends, your parents and your parent's friends that this talented gal over here is on the hunt for some £££. 😜

Next up, I want to get a camper. That's right, you heard it. This 'never once been camping, can I bring my straighteners' girl wants to purchase a campervan! I know, I know there's a difference to camping in a tent to in a van with heating and electricity, but I bloody loved it whilst in Iceland.

So, once I have a salary and a few £K in savings, I want to get a camper van. I want to travel more, but I think I want to do lots of little vacay's and long road-trips rather than round the world adventures. I've seen a lot of Asia and only very little of Europe. Even less of the U.K., percentile I want to spend the next year or two adventuring my home ground with staycations-a-plenty.



Light the fire to my own business. As you get older, dreams fade and change into new ones. But there's one that I've had since school, that still shines as bright on my bucket-list as it did when I was 15. I've always wanted to be my own boss. Whilst the ways I was going to make that happen have changed the underlining dream stayed the same.

If you frequented my corner of the internet in the earlier months of this year, you'll know I'd been talking a lot about opening an online shop. I'm one of the percentiles of people who make the most out of the right side of my brain. I love letting my idea's and fingertips run wild with some scissors and glue or with a mouse and Photoshop on the go.

But Finally...


I love blogging. Aside from the puppy (and Taylor Swift) it's one of those things that can help me escape into the world of fearless where anxiety and world troubles don't exist. And, whilst I was away, I had a lot of time think over the future of my blog. What I wanted, where it could go, why I was doing it and where did I fit in to all the masses of incredible bloggers around me (that was a major one!)

Being home sucks and it took a while for me to get over the post-travel blues and find motivation again. But I think I've found it and I'm so excited to share this new book with you. Quite literally. Well maybe not literally, but you get the idea.

I'm going to talk a little less about beauty on here (not never, but just a little less) and more about life. I want to tell you all about my amazing adventures which is something you told me you want to hear about too. I also want to explain more about where I decided I fit in in this insane, crazy, fun community of bloggers, vloggers and online bosses. And where you do too... But more on that in a week or so...

I guess that's that. So much has changed in 4 months. I feel like I talk about my goals and dreams a lot on here but I think it's important to keep you in the loop. I love reading fashion posts and wanderlust infused content but I love it more when I know the individual behind the words. So that's what this is.

But tell me, what's next for you? Summer has just started (that's crazy because I feel like mines just ended!) what's your plan for the next 2 months? What changes are you making? What plans are on the horizon for you? I'd love to know.

Love always,
Melissa


P.S. Fancy knowing what's I'm wearing...

I spent so much time watching endless Primark Haul's on YouTube whilst I was away. It was torture but pure joy at the same time. Not being able to shop for four months was possibly the biggest downside to travelling. But living my shopping desires vicariously through the people of YouTube made 10x better. Anyway, this striped Bardot top was from Primark, I forget the price but all you have to remember is I'm broke and it's Primark, so let's be honest, it wasn't expensive!

My jeans are crazy old, but they're the ripped Joni's from Topshop. My belt, also primark. My shoes, which are the cutest white espadrills with a black overlay on the toes (you can't see them so you'll have to take my word for it!) are also from Primark. And my sunnies are from a knock-off market place in Bali. You'll probably find some similar in Primark too!

And the accessories. My watch is one of the many beauties by Olivia Burton and my choker is from Urban Outfitters.

27 July 2017

When was the last time (if ever) you met someone who loved fashion from a distance? Sounds ridiculous right, but meet me. I love watching fashion, new trends, recurring trends and I am addicted to pinning the latest trends on Pinterest. However, I have a fear of fashion. I can't seem to find the confidence to execute the trends I love in real life. But, I'm getting over my fear of fashion and this is how...


Expression, freedom and personality in Fashion


I've always been interested in fashion, particularly the way other people share their personality and character through the things they choose to wear. It's intriguing. Don't judge a book by its cover, I'd never base my opinion on someone by the way they dress. But, I do think it's a great representation of personality and something so exciting to discover. I'm not talking "oh that person's a slob because they're wearing trackies to the grocery store" because I totally do that. And I ain't no slob. However, personality can really shine through fashion, and that fascinates me!

There are some really amazing Bloggers, with stellar fashion that represent their personalities perfectly (online personalities because I'm an introvert and creep from the sidelines.). Jaide Poppy, Zoe London and Pint Sized Blog are all Bloggers who I admire for their relentless love and passion for fashion. Yeah, they're for the trends, but they don't lose their personality either.


Fighting expectations and 


I, however, get overwhelmed with finding style and exhuming style on my own back. I think it's a confidence thing. Take the choker and pinafore trends. I love how they look on other's but I've been terrified to try them myself. It's not as though those trends are something that's ground breaking now. Not like how it was this time last year but it takes a lot for me to work up to trying something new.

Previously, I've run with the idea that if I don't feel 'me' when I'm wearing something, then it's not for me. So trends that I like, such as the chiffon top and bralette, I've not tried because it's too 'out there'. But I'm totally working on it!

But there's the Blogger stigma associated with it too. 87% of my returning readers are bloggers, so I'm guessing that you're one of them. Even if you're not, I'm pretty sure you'll still be aware of the stigma that comes with being a Beauty/Fashion/Lifestyle blogger. That put-together 100% of the time, on top of the latest beauty releases and fashion trends, the latest drama and an Instagram grid to make your biggest competitor jealous - stigma. It's been a battlefield in the blogosphere lately. And I want to be better than that. No more I have to be doing this or looking like that. It's just not healthy.




It will never feel like 'me' if I don't try to make it 'me'


I follow fashion a lot, ya'know like most fashion/beauty/lifestyle bloggers. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest (again, like most bloggers) and reading online magazines looking at the latest fashion trends (yep, you guessed it, I'm your typical blogger). I know what I like; bell sleeves and embroidery are a trend I'm very much on top of. But I know what I don't like too, bell-like flared jeans and fluffy sliders are a big no-no from me.

But no matter how much I do like a trend, if it doesn't fit into my striped crops and Chelsea boot style, then I'm probably not going to try it out for myself. I'm have been a big believer of the, if it doesn't feel like 'me' then it's not for 'me'!

Which unsurprisingly, has quite clearly been holding me back.

When you have a whole wardrobe full of various styles of striped tops and skinny jeans, I think it's time to branch out.

I've been really pushing myself to try out new trends that I've been loving. That means flute sleeves galore, mom jeans, fishnets and slip dresses. Because it will never feel like 'me' if I don't try to make it 'me'!





Investing in key pieces that will last a lifetime


Before I left to travel, I threw away my third leather jacket in 4 years. I know that sounds more dramatic than it is, but it got me thinking. I've always been about saving money and purchasing budget pieces. But spending £30 on a faux leather jacket from Primark or Miss Selfridge, in the long term has cost me almost £100 in losses.

I could have spent that money in one lump sum when I bought my first leather jacket on something of better quality and still have it hanging in my wardrobe today.

I still stand by the idea of spending little on new trends, things that you might only wear for one season and never again. But for timeless pieces like leather jackets and Chelsea boots, I want to start investing more. If I know I'm going to be wearing an item of clothing in 4 years time, then a higher price tag is very much worth the money!


Mistakes teach you lessons


I think the biggest thing that puts me off trying new trends is the gut feeling of wasting money if I decide it's not for me. Money is a finite resource, particularly right now whilst I'm jobless. But where there's money put aside to spend frivolously then it shouldn't be considered wasted. Not every trend will work on me. In the Frow doesn't covet every single trend (though I'm sure she probably could) so why should they all work on me. I shouldn't feel guilty for trying.


I'll say it again, I really love fashion and there are many people in my life to thank for that. Individual fashion is incredible. Personal style is amazing and I'm so excited to work on my fear of fashion now that I've identified my issues. I feel like I can truly learn to love new things and grow my own personal style. Isn't that the most exciting thing?

What I'd really like to know, however, is your views on fashion? What do you define as fashionable? What's your personal style and have you ever had to go on a mini-mission like this to teach you to love/be better at something that it seemed every other person rocked at?


P.S. What I'm Wearing


I guess it would have been silly of me to end this post without sharing my look from these photos. It's not the most ground-breaking of fashion stylings but it's very much different and 'out there' to me.

This patchwork playsuit that I love I picked up in the Topshop sale for a bargain £12. I paired a Primark ribbed top underneath which has subtle but super beautiful frills around the neckline.

I have my staple Chelsea boots on which are the Ghillie Tie Up Boots from Boohoo and a pair of simple Primark tights. 

19 April 2017

So, I've quit my job and left home to travel the world. I've left behind my friends, all my worldly belogingings and (much to my dismay) the puppy. But not my makeup. A rather full, makeup bag most definitely made it into my teeny tiny carry on bag that I've been living out of whilst I travel. So I though today, I'd run you through all the details of why and what I packed in my makeup bag for my 4 month long adventure around the world. How does that sound?


When I go on holiday, it's normally to somewhere hot. You know the drill; palm tree's, long stretches of beach and Piña Colada's. Normally, that somewhere I'm going tends to be somewhere I won't be wearing makeup. And if I am, I won't be wearing an awful lot of it, that's for sure! Where makeup is concerned, I'm a fairly light packer (unlike other area's of packing, but we won't talk about that here). I tend to go for products that are multifunctional, so as though to save room in my bag for more necessary things. Ya'know an outfit for every occaision. A good cheek palette like the Urban Decay 'Naked Blushed' palette is my go to for the cheeks but looks absolutely beautiful on my eyes too.

On this occaision however, I'm hitting two completely different climates! It was in the minus temperatures whilst I was in Iceland a couple weeks ago, and the weather man says it's going to be highs of 30 in the Phillipines next week. And, if the climates weren't enough, I'll be hitting a variety of places too. I've seen Volcano's and Emerald lakes already, but currently I'm enjoying city life in Japan.

I literally have to pack for every scenario. Sounds crazy right. But I wasn't going to be hitting this adventure bare faced. I'll be reliving my memoried from this trip, forever through photo's and as silly as it sounds, I always feel more confident and like 'myself' with a bit of concealer and my winged eyeliner.

So, I bit the bullet and packed a full makeup bag of products for this trip. I have tried to be a little more frugal than my generic day-to-day makeup bag. I mentioned in a post earlier this year that I wanted my travel wardrobe (including my makeup) to be as minamalist and versatile as possible. So that's what I've tried. It was quite the treacherous task. Packing for all weathers was a tough one. But I think I've done it, and it's working for me well, so far. I'll definitely keep you updated on that one though!



ON THE FACE




So you know 30 seconds ago I was talking about being minamalist and frugal, yada yada. Well, that went straight out the window when I packed my foundations. Yep, plural. Well, sort of.

A couple weeks before I left, Kat Von D sent over their 'Lock It Tattoo' foundation which I fell in love with. Emphasis on the fell in love! The coverage is fantastic, the stay power is incredible and well, there was just no way I was leaving home without it. However, I was very aware that once I got to the Phillipines, it would be going back in my suitcase and not coming out again until I returned home. Because let's be realistic, no one wants high coverage foundation when it's 30 degree's outside. To replace it however, I packed my go-to travel staple; The Body Shop 'All-in-One' BB Cream. I always travel with this. In fact, if you were to go back and find some of my older 'What's in my Travel Makeup Bag' posts, you'll see it.

It's super light weight so you don't feel cakey and heavy, but it's got just enough coverage to make me feel comfortable and happy with my skin. AND, it adapts to your skin tone, so no matter how much you tan whilst your away, this is always the shade for you. It's magical.

For concealer I went with my favourite, Urban Decay 'Naked Skin' Concealer. It works an absolute treat on days when I can't be fussed for a full face. It brightens my under eyes and covers those pesky spots. And with the terrible diet I have at the moment because money is tight (we're literally living on packet noodles and soup!), there's been a few of those!

I don't tend to use powder an awful lot anymore because my skin in too dry. In it's place, is the NYX 'Matte Setting Spray' which is just delightful to just spritz on your face when you're hot and sticky! It's a necessity for places where it's humid as otherwise my makeup will disappear in T-Minus 5 seconds. However, it was super helpful in Iceland too when the rain and wind decided to batter us blind.

I am an absolute sucker for good highlight and I am addicted to the Becca 'Shimmering Skin Perfector' in Opal. I have a cute, travel sized version with a handy dauffer applicator so it's super small and I didn't have to pack a brush to go with it! Perfect for the minamalist traveller.



IT'S ALL ABOUT THE EYES




For eyes, I packed not one, not two but three liquid liners. I am a liquid liner addict, it's very rare for me to leave the house without my precious wings. Whilst that won't be the case once I get to the Phillipines and onwards, it's been most certainly been the case so far! The 'Supercat Liner' by Soap and Glory is my highstreet favourite, but it doesn't last consdierably long! Hence why it was necessary to pack three!

For Mascara I packed the Rimmel London 'Scandaleyes XX-treme'. It's been the only one I've used in the past 12 months and has impressed me far more than any designer brand has. It thickens and lengthens my lashes and I always get so many compliments when I use it.

In the last year, I've really fallen in love with shaping and filling in my brows. My go to always is the Anstasia Beverley Hills 'Dip Brow Pomade' but alas in my fight to be frugal, it didn't make it on this trip. I needed something that was simple and easy to apply, something that would be quick to put on whilst on the go. Which the ABH gel brow was not.

However, I picked up my next best favourite, the 'Archery' pencil by Soap and Glory. It has a super fine nib, so is really precise and looks beautifully natural. Again though, (this might be a theme with Soap and Glory products) the pencil doesn't last particuarly long, so 3 pencils were very necessary on this trip! Minamalist, no probably not. But I've already finished my first!


And that's that. One month into my four month travel stint and I think I've packed a really flexible, fairly frugal makeup bag. I'm very proud that I didn't cave last minute and add more. In fact I actually took a couple of items out. Like a bronzer and my Daniel Sandler 'Watercolour Blush'. I remembered I had a limit on liquids travelling with hand-luggage only. What do you think? Would you have packed your makeup bag any differently for a trip similar to this? I'm intrigued to know if anyone out there would pack any makeup at all! My attempt at being minimalist might be laughable but I'm always keen to learn from someone who can do it.

Before I leave you, I just wanted to pop a shameless plug in here. I've been taking a tonne of photo's from my trip and if you're interested, I've been posting them almost daily on my Instagram. My partner in crime and travel guide extrodinaire, George, has been posting some really sweet photo's too! If you head over there, leave him a little comment and tell him I sent you. I'll be swimming in Girlfriend points if you do!

Love always,
Melissa

12 April 2017

Iceland seems to be at the top of everyone's bucketlists at the moment and for very, very good reasons. The country is unlike any other but being cut off from mainland suppliers of almost everything, things get expensive and pretty fast. However, I have some tips that will help you to tick of Iceland from your wanderlust list and travel without breaking the bank. How to travel Iceland on a budget...


I did an awful lot of research before leaving for Iceland on how to make the most of my trip. Whilst blog posts on travelling the magical land of Iceland seem to be popping up a little more than they were a few years ago, the information within them seems to be more of the same. You can spend hours reading about the tourist hotspots on the Golden Circle and how to explore the eclectic city of Reykjavik. If you look hard enough, there's even a few posts on the alien landscapes once you leave the Golden Circle. However, the one thing all these posts have in common, is that they spend most of the post reiterating how expensive Iceland is and how much it's going to leave a gaping hole in your bank balance.

Now, I'm not going to tell you any different, Iceland is not cheap. But it's totally affordable if you're really dedicated to make it that way.

I got so fed up of hearing about how expensive Iceland is when I was researching my trip, that it kind of became my goal to make something else. Which I think I smashed. There are always ways to save money and Iceland is no different from that. Being frugal and budgeting isn't for the weak hearted when you're exploring somewhere new. The desire to eat at every restaurant and shop in every shop almost killed me. When you've been living off of dry cereal and packet noodles even for just a few days the withdrawel of 'real food' can almost be a game changer. George and I really went cold turkey, be all end all on this trip. But you can do anything you put your mind to, right!

What do you want from your trip to Iceland?


Depending on what you're coming to Iceland for, will completely depict how much money you're looking at spedning whilst you there. Most of the time, tourists come to Iceland for it's natural beauty; like the volcano's, waterfalls and geysirs. But Iceland has so much more to offer than just what you can find on the Golden Circle.

The trick to saving the most money, is to know what you need/want to see/do. Chances are you're going to leave Iceland after your first visit knowing that you want to go back many, many times after. Even with a reasonable budget, you'll never see and experience everything Iceland has to offer in one visit. So go into planning your first trip with the mindset that you're going to come back. If you're on a budget, and I'll put money on the fact that because you're reading this post you are, then figuring out a list on un-missables is you're best plan.


If your dream is to eat your way through Iceland's best restaurants, then you're not going to need to venture much further than the Golden Circle. Arguable I know, but if you're on a budget, then going all the way to Akureyri for the countries best hot dog is a little ridiculous. Scrap that, it's very ridiculous. If you're here for the food then there are some incredible eateries in the city which will satisfy your senses completely. No need to venture to the other side of the country. What's more, is when you're not eating you can spend your time on one or two of the guided tours to the Golden Circle, because you can't go all that way and not leave Reykjavik.

On the other hand however, if you're all about the sightseeing and the roads less travelled, then I'd get out of the city as fast as you can. Like I mentioned, Reykjavik is filled with so many incredible, deliciously smelling restaurants that compared to British prices, are so expensive. But they smell so good, you'll want to spend the money. Which is a big no, no when on a budget. If you're there for the sights then you'll want to hire a car, guided tours are great but there's nothing better than travelling at your own pace. But more on that later...


How to save money when you know what you want to do


I'm going to keep going back to those two scenario's, you either A) want to visit Iceland for the city life and food or B) want to see the sights. Because let's face it, Iceland has nothing on Scandenavia and you're most certainly not visiting for the weather.

But, once you figure out what category you're in, and honestly I can't say this enough, if you're on a budget it's not going to be easy if you're in both. Pick the one that you want the most, there's always room for comprimise later.

Anyway, scenario A), you're all about the food. Reykjavik has a plethora of restaurants on offer (I recommend Svarta Kaffid, seriously, check it out) and chances are, you'll be enticed by them all. Which also lends a good chance that you're going to be spending a bit of $$$. Realistically, a single course dinner with tap water and a tip is going to set you back at least 2300KR (£17) for just one person. So, if you're there for 4 days and eat out for every meal, which you can, you're looking at spending a minimum £200 on food.

Do your research, figure out what eateries you can't miss, like the Icelandic Hot Dog which they cover in cheese, garlic mayo and Dorito's. Yes, Dorito's. If you're staying in a Hostel or AirBnB then you'll have access to a kitchen. As far as I'm aware, there aren't any stand-out Icelandic breakfasts, so picking up some cereal or toast and eating in will save you money. If you can, maybe try cooking for yourselves at lunch time too. There's always a lot of 'different' foods sold in any 'new' grocery store than what you might find in your local at home. So taking the time out to experience home-foods from the Icelandic grocery stores will still be working towards your 'experiencing Icelandic food'goal, just not spending as much money!

TOP TIP: Only shop at Bonus when you're grocery shopping. And when you can pick the products with the EuroSave logo on them.

Scenario B); you want to walk the roads less travelled. As long as you don't go too far, for example staying on the ring road and not venturing too far North, then you've got quite a good chance at doing this on a budget.

George and I travelled the southern coastline in a Camper Van, which meant what we paid for the van, covered our transport and accomodation expenses in one. It also meant that we could be really flexible about where we were going in the daytime and where we could end up each night. We had no hostel reservations to abide by like you would if you hire a car. And no pre-booked tours to attend even if there was a torrential downpoor. We were truly free birds, going where we wanted and when we wanted. Which I'd thoroughly recommend, considering your itinerary will be 100% depicted by the weather when you visit.

When do you want to go? 


Summer is peak season in Iceland because the weather is slightly more predictable (although only by a fraction) and the days are long. Seriously long. I'm talking, the sun doesn't set in August. So you can expect to be spending more than premium prices to travel Iceland in Summer. It's the most popular time of year to camp and there are lots of celebrations, festivals and activities to keep you occupied all 24hours of daylight.

In winter, the prices are more affordable. Still quite steep, this is Iceland remember, but it's more accessible on a smaller budget at this time. The weather however is more unpredictable and the temperatures can be below freezing in winter too. However, if you're dreaming of seeing the Northern lights whilst you're there, you've got a good chance in the colder seasons. Particularly in March. George and I travelled in the last week of March and only paid to park our camper and stay overnight once. Wild camping in Iceland is illegal all year round however the campsights which are open 365days of the year seemed fairly flexible about charging in low season. We wern't trying to specifically elude the charges either, on our first night we asked the guy how much and he just shrugged us off.


I'm not going to pretend that Iceland was a breeze and super cheap, because it wasn't. We spent roughly £1100 on our 6 day trip, including flights, tours and camper hire (George and I went with Camp Easy for our Van which were phenominal by the way, I would 100% recommend). Not to mention insurance and all that nonsense you need when you travel. But it was 100% worth it and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. But to recap on how to save money when travelling Iceland:
  • Know what you want to get out of your trip, and remember that you can always come back if you don't get everything done first try.
  • The weather will define what you do, have an itinerary to make the most out of your time but be flexible about when you do your activities. Don't trust the weather report more that 3 hours in advance because it's seriously unpredicatable. You'll also save money on tours by not booking in advance due to weather too. A freak storm before your Ice Cave adventure would mean losing out on a lot of $$$ as you couldn't make it to the meeting site because of unsafe road conditions.
  • But, do do tours. Some of the most spectacular things in Iceland isn't accessible without a guide. And don't think it is. A four wheel drive is great but you will get stuck in the snow trying to get to the Ice Caves. There's a reason the tour guides drive monster trucks. No joke. Just remember to shop around, there are lots of tour operators offering the same thing for different prices. 
  • Go to fancy restaurants but eat from the kitchen in your hotel room too. You can eat in for three nights for the same price as eating at a restaurant for one! Experiencing the local delicacies requires you to experience the grocery shops too. When was the last time you ate vacuum packed shrimp?
  • When grocery shopping, stick to Bonus. All the other supermarkets stock imported food which is two thirds more expensive than the stuff you find in Bonus (look for a giant pig for the logo). Remember to look for items with the 'EuroSave' logo, that's Icelands equivilant of Sainsbury's 'Basic' range or Morrison's 'Value' products.
  • Why are you staying in a hotel? Tourism in Iceland is only just starting to make a break, meaning the hotels that there are sell out fast and are super pricey. There are a few hostels but if you're not up for camping, I'd recommend Air BnB. The Icelandic people are super friendly and accomodating and it'll definitely save you a lot.
  • Winter is the cheapest time to visit, think about the shoulder seasons when the temperatures aren't too extreme (October/November & March/April) but prices are still discounted.

If you're interested, I've been Instagramming like crazy throughout my trip so if you need some Iceland inspo or generally just fancy getting some wanderlust jealousy. I mean, who doesn't spend half their day scrolling through insane travel accounts? Because I most certainly.

Love always,
Melissa

5 April 2017

If you've been following me on social media, then it'll be no surprise to know about my dreams to travel the world. And how in 2017, they finally came true. Planning my circle the globe trip has been one of the most bumpy and uncofortable roads. So I thought I'd talk to you about all the things I wish I knew when planning my round-the-world trip!


It's no word of a lie that the planning process for this trip was the most stressful trip I have ever planned. Ever.

I read all the travel blogs you could think of. Nomadic Matt. Expert Vagabond. Hand Luggage Only. I read them all (Which I 100% recommend, they tell you about some really invaluable information!) I took notes. Prepared calendars and spreadsheets, and it was something I felt really prepared for! Yet, it was still something I lost a lot of hair over. Why? Beacause it's just impossible to know everything, and a first person account of what they did before you, is only as good as their honesty to the mistakes they made. I read a lot about what you should do, but nothing about what not to do and why they wish they hadn't.

Most of the blogs and books I read about travelling, whether it one country or many, mentioned that it's ideal to have a vague idea of what you want to do but go with open possibilties. No time constraints. You don't need to book every hostel, boat and tour. It's great to have an idea about what you want from each of your destinations but open dates and times make your travelling more flexible.

When I started the planning process, that's what my intentions were. I was going to book my outbound flights and my first few nights accomodation in Reykjavik, Iceland and the rest would be an open road. I'd go where the wind took me. Sounds dreamy right. Well it was, until I realised that there are restrictions to travelling the world as a free bird. And it's most certainly not as 'easy' as everyone makes it sound. Running with the wind is only as good as the wind blows. Ironically, the wind blows very strong in Iceland but accomodation and transport are limited. Plus, Iceland is a hot commodity on a wanderers bucketlist at the moment! It's not somewhere you can go and just 'see what happens.' 


Why are you going travelling? What you want to achieve? What is most important to you?


Knowing what you want to get out of your trip. If you want to go swimming with Whale sharks in the Phillipines, write that down. If you want to climb active Volcano's in Bali, right that down too. Figure out where in the world your dreams are taking you. Would you rather explore mountain tops in the snow or walk bare foot on the beaches in Asia? If you're on a strict budget, it'd be best to try to narrow your destinations down. East or West? Know that the further East you go, the cheaper things get. So if your mission is to be gone as long as possible, Asia is your best bet. However it's not impossible to do Europe and the America's on a budget either. If your dream is to tackle lots of cultures and multiple climates, then larger budgets and shorter time scales are ideal (but again it's not impossible).

Try to be as realistic as possible and as knowlegeable about what you want to do whilst you're away. Having a bucketlist of idea's will help you to filter down to the things most important to you, this will help you decide on a budget. Or if you already have a budget, whether there's enough money to realistically achieve what you want.

Whilst you don't need to plan every detail, it's great to have a list of hightlights. Or 'not to miss'. Things you know you must do and is part of the reason you're travelling in the first place.

Set a realistic budget and stick to it


The most important bit here is the word 'realistic'! I went into this whole planning process thinking that my money would go much, much further than it does here in England. Which is possible, but not with the countries I was travelling to. Anywhere in the west, bar maybe south America is notoriously expensive and you can look at spending anywhere up to triple what you'd be spending in Asia.

In Scandinavia prices are extortionate on an all around basis, North America is cheaper but transport and accomodation is where you'll spend the most money! Japan (I'm told), is a sort of middle ground. Accomodation and food can be super affordable, just as long as you look in the right places but if you want to ride the bullet train, you're looking at about £200 for a 7 day ticket.

My best advice would be to figure your budget out first, then decide where you want to go after. Research will tell you if your plans are feasible. And don't get misty eyed when you look at you bank balance. It's easy to look and see £1,000's and think the entire balance is spending money. It'll be a big shock when flights are booked, accomodation is reserved and you only have half left! It was for me!





"Sorry Sir. No Visa, no entry!"


The idea of buying a one way ticket and just flying free is dreamy, but not practical or realistic. Once you get out of Europe, you're pretty much restricted to where you can go next without the proper paperwork and permission. Most countries require you to obtain a Visa before entry, which can take up to 6 weeks to get. Definitely not ideal.

In Asia, the Visa situation is a little more relaxed and you're allowed to travel to and from without permission for up to 6 months in some countries. However, most Asian countries, including the Phillipines and Japan only offer 30 days travel without a Visa.

Once you have an idea about where you want to go and how long for, do a little research into Visa's and travel permits. If you're on a strict budget, this could change how long you plan to stay or whether you go to a place altoegther. I recommend your local Embassy website but the Lonely Planet were also great sources of information. Whilst I didn't have too much of an issue obtaining my Visa's where they were necessary, it definitely put a holt in the 'one way ticket' plan!

Ask a travel agent about a Round-The-World airfare!


If you're planning to circle the globe or visiting mutliple far set destinations, then round the world air tickets are a must. They're not something often advertised on online travel websites but they can help you save a lot of dosh.

They work by purchasing flights with airlines who are affiliated with one another, such as the Star Alliance. You can buy up to 15 flights and will get considerable discounts, so long as you're travelling in one direction. George and I managed to pick up our RTW flights for just £1,200. Which seems like alot. However, if you consider a flight from Iceland to Vancouver alone works out at almost half of that, and then factor in the 4 extra long-haul flights we have included in our deal. It's quite the bargain.

STA Travel were absolute rockstars at helping us to book our flights and getting us the best deal possible. They even offer flexi passes which allow you to change your flights for free if you decide you want to stay somewhere longer! Meaning the 'free bird' plan isn't as far from the horizon as it was measuring up to be!



When is the best time to go?


Now this really depends on where you go. George and I decided we wanted to visit Iceland in March because it's the best time of year to spot the Northern Lights. Plus, there's more daylight than in the winter at this time of year, but it isn't as busy as during the summer. This does mean however, that by the time we arrive in Asia we're going to be battleing the monsoon.

You're not going to get the best weather and the best time of year in every destination unless you're zigzagging back and forth across the globe. If you can, then by all means, but I'm willing to bet you don't quite have the budget for that! Decide what you to see, do or experience the most. What is the most important thing for you to return home with. For us, the Northern Lights was just that. We've been to Asia before, it's just a little bonus at the end of our trip. Plus the monsoon isn't always so bad.


How many times did I say the word 'realistic'? I think it's important for me to tell you the negatives of planning to travel the world. I read so, so many blog posts and travel guides and not one of them told me how easy it is to get carried away and forget to be realistic. I hope, I was insightful and helpful and not too much of a negative nancy!

I'm currently in Japan, but if you're planning to travel, whether it be round the world or just on a quick-nip-vacation, and have any questions let me know. I've got all the time in the world now I'm unemployed to help you out!

Love always,
Melissa