Style & Beauty

Humpday hearts 20.01.15

Brie warmed in the oven makes a delicious post-dinner treat
Brie warmed in the oven and topped with cherry jam makes a delicious post-dinner treat

It’s been one of those crazy weeks fortnights that has gone by so quickly. I’ve gone into work four days per week, which means those rare, quiet moments at home with my baby are more precious than ever, and that one elusive day off, which is meant to be reserved for writing, is filled with errands and doctor’s appointments and eyebrow waxes. I’m approaching the one week mark since the relaunch of the blog and already, I’m running out of time to take pictures to accompany my posts. I almost didn’t make the ring one (below) which is why it’s sub-standard: I got a colleague to take it in the awfully-lit office building I now spend my time in. All of the above mean some of my new year’s resolutions are falling by the wayside, but that’s got me determined to keep at them. And despite all the deadlines, I am making an effort to enjoy the little things. There are a backlog of blog posts in my Feedly that I am looking forward to reading (although I have recently managed to catch some great ones by Rachel Hills, Vicki Archer and Rachel Gadiel) and loads of Evernote clippings to catch up on (like this, this and this much needed one on productivity), but there’s also been a lot to savour. I love these last few days before the Australia Day long weekend, when it almost feels like Sydney is still in holiday mode, before school takes off again and we find ourselves chugging along until Easter. Happy Humpday!

Skinceuticals CF
This SkinCeuticals serum has made a major difference to my skin, making it worth the slightly high price tag
Kind of obsessed with fine jewellery at the moment. This is a good mix of high and low end
This book, which was published through the author’s writing group, was so adorable.
I bought this T2 jug as a gift to myself at Christmas time, and I am obsessed with it. It comes with tea bags + recipes perfect for summer. 


The weather’s warmed up and the invites are rolling in. But dressing for events can get a little complicated for such festive times. There’s the matter of finding something stylish, budget-friendly and which doesn’t require strategic planning to wear (think spanx, clever bras, or having someone on hand to zip you up while you inhale). And if you’re a Lebanese girl, you have to strategise (and shop) a million times over. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Black Tie wedding. Considering I’ve been attending at least four weddings a year since I was 16, I am not averse to dress shopping, but I’ve never had to worry about dress codes before (Lebanese wedding dress codes are easy: cocktail length if you’re not a close relative, black tie if you are a sister/best friend/close first cousin to the bride or groom). This time, however, there was a lot of fretting. I’d just returned from a few weeks overseas and I wasn’t prepared to part with a lot of money – and most suitable items came in at around the $400 mark, minimum.

Then I came across a few floor-length dresses at Sheike. Averaging at around $200 each, their mixed bag of maxis proved to be just the ticket for my situation. I went with a fail-safe option – black – and by the time I added a nice belt, statement cuff and a gorgeous clutch purse, I knew I’d hit the nail on the head.

For all the talk of it as boring, classic black with statement accessories always works, and as I have discovered, is the perfect way to set an evening standard in case I’m ever again at a loss for what to wear.

photo 2


| shop the look |

Sheike Amaze Dress ($199 – available in store in black, and online in Lilac + White) |

Sheike Belt | Colette Clutch | Samantha Wills Cuff



It’s so easy to get lost in the thrill of shopping overseas stores from your computer. At any time and from any place you can select an assortment of things that are often cheaper and different to anything you get back home. But sometimes, one item can bring you back to the stores at your local shopping centre, the ones you shopped before you could get the Kate Moss look delivered from Topshop London to your front door. A week ago today, I saw a friend in a fabulous Sportsgirl dress. Stripes and with faux-leather zippered sleeves, I knew that it was going to be a very workable piece in my wardrobe. And as soon as I slipped it on, it was a match made in fashion heaven. A little bit of street, a little bit of punk and a whole lot of classic. The best part? It was so versatile: thick enough to get me through winter, easy to accessorise depending on the occasion, and the perfect piece to toss into my suitcase no matter where I was going and what the weather would be like. A bright necklace, coloured tights, a thick scarf. Or a denim jacket and some sandals. Slipping into Sportsgirl to try it on brought back a little bit of nostalgia for my early twenties, back before I shopped ASOS and J-Crew, and I didn’t walk away with just the dress. The studded leather boots – an essential for any  wardrobe – are an excellent dose of biker chic (and are currently on sale for $59.95), and the nail polish, hair accessories and liquid eye liner, are the little treats that would take any outfit, whether the high-brow or low-brow, the local or the overseas – up a few little notches.


{Sportsgirl Dress, $99.95 // Sportsgirl Boots $59.95 //
Beanie by Erin Louise // Trench Coat by Burberry}




Floral Trousers

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would wear floral pants. For as long as I could remember, all my pants were plain. I’m plain, and floral pants are anything but plain, they scream. And screaming is just not my style. And yet, over the past few seasons, floral pants have started making their way into my favourite magazines and stores. But I never thought I could pull them off, until they seemed to become so du jour that I WANTED to be able to. The key for me was being able to wear them with something so simple, and they had to have a patten that was worth it. So when I found these Zara pants, I didn’t need to think twice. The colours are amazing, the fit is relaxed but still sophisticated and they go from desk to date with the right mix of items. They’ve definitely allowed a different style of myself to bloom, and that’s what fashion is for, right?


{Zara Pants $89.95 //Diva necklace and cuffs//
Asos shirt // Shoes I bought from some random boutique in NYC}



Inside Coco Chanel’s Apartment

Earlier this year, when I travelled to Europe for six weeks, I was not just taking a holiday. My trip had a specific purpose: I was going to tick a few things off my Bucket List and enjoy the experiences I’d been thirsting for for ages, liking walking through the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, visiting Anne Frank’s House and seeing the cities of Krakow and Prague. But there was one thing that I had really really wanted, but that would be a little hard to come by: visiting Coco Chanel’s apartment in Paris.

I’d first heard that you could visit the apartment whilst watching the second season of The Hills, where Whitney Port tells Lauren Conrad of how she got to check it out as part of a project with the Teen Vogue editors when she got to go to Paris at the end of season one. I was already a Chanel fan at that point, having only recently purchased my first ever Chanel bag as a 21st birthday treat. But I’d never thought about it much further than that.

In the years that followed, I became a little more Chanel obsessed. I had read more about Coco’s life at that point, loved that she was a feminist revolutionary who was all class, and became mad about the products that bore her name. I bought books, got birthday cards in the mail with her quotes on them, and learnt the history and origin of some of her most renowned items: the little black jacket, the 2.55, her trademark pearls. I celebrated my quarter century with the purchase of a Chanel 2.55 that told her life story in its intricate, classic style.

It was only as I learnt more about this stuff that I realised there was a massive gap in what we knew about her style. Her sense of fashion we knew inside out, but her sense of decor was another story: her apartment was a hidden secret, something that had been hers and hers alone, now left to the personnel at the helm of her fashion empire. But to her fans, that was outrageous.  I mean, what if you loved Chanel’s style so much but would never be able to afford a 2.55? By the time I had booked my trip to Paris, I had decided that it would be my goal to go behind the scenes and into Mademoiselle’s private quarters, to learn a little more about the fashion icon. After pitches to the prestigious style mags were rejected (perhaps they were only interested in telling us what we can buy, as opposed to teasing us with what we could not experience), I realised there was one magazine devoted to the beautiful homes of beautiful people that I had not tried: House & Garden. A magazine I had loved since it was mentioned on Sex and the City as the mag in which Charlotte’s house was featured (easily my favourite apartment in the show).

Thankfully, the editor, Lisa Green, was as enthusiastic as me about featuring the apartment. And so began a months-long process of being approved by the publicity team of Chanel Paris, scouting for a photographer, and being allowed to actually be photographed in the apartment.

A few things I learned in the process:

  • Coco Chanel hated the cold – her chimney burned all year round
  • Her minimalist approach extended to her wardrobe and stores only – the apartment was opulence at its best
  • She hated food with odours, preferring to eat only fruits and vegetables
  • She was a fairly lonely woman, despite being adored and despite having had many lovers
  • Her amazing cat-eye sunglasses are kept where she left them
  • She loved cammelias because they were odourless, and camellias are still delivered to the apartment on a regular basis
  • She was very well-read – books from Voltaire to St Augustin line her bookshelves
  • She was superstitious
  • She had an ecumenical approach to religion, with icons of different spiritual origins
  • She loved items that told a story
  • She was avante-garde, not just in what she designed, but also in how she styled her house
  • That I should never be photographed a day after a 25 hour plane ride, and if I am to be photographed, I should at least wear my hair out.

You’ll have to check out my feature on page 102 of the December issue of House & Garden magazine (Australian edition) to see for yourself what this amazing woman was about in her apartment. The above points are elaborated on, pictures (taken by the lovely Carla Coulson) speak volumes and you literally feel a sneak peek into the life of fashion’s most iconic woman. It was really an experience beyond measure, and one that taught me so much about the brains (and weaknesses) of the woman who liberated us females from uncomfortable, constrictive clothing.

It was definitely a dream come true for this Chanel fan. But now that I have been to where she lives, all I need is a ride in her old Mercedes Benz 600 – does anyone know how I can get in touch with Jay Kay, lead singer of Jamiroquai? Perhaps it would require a pitch to autoworld …I never thought I would see the day.

Inside Coco Chanel's apartment


Inside Coco Chanel's apartment


Inside Coco Chanel's apartment



Inside Coco Chanel's apartment


Inside Coco Chanel's apartment


Inside Coco Chanel's apartment


Inside Coco Chanel's apartment


Inside Coco Chanel's apartment


Inside Coco Chanel's apartment

Life Hacks: An A-z Guide of Wardrobe Must-Haves

Carrie Bradshaw Closet
Carrie was never lost for what to wear

Fashion Fades, Style is eternal. It’s a mantra we should be repating daily. It saves us money, keeps us stylish, and ensures we’re out of the door in a flash, without the what-am-I-going-to-wear anxiety. So if you want a killer wardrobe that cooperates with you on the worst of days, then invest in these necessities. After all, having a killer wardrobe is not necessarily about having Kim Kardashian’s credit card and more about knowing what to wear, when to wear it, and the easiest ways to pull it off.

A) Active Wear – A few pieces to keep you looking stylish when you’re zipping to and from the gym (or anywhere else, I won’t tell anyone). Especially if you’re around those yummy mummies.

Ankle Boots – For those in-between season cold snaps, or minis worn with opaque tights. Go one better and add a pair of laced shoe boots to your collection (the ones that come just under the ankle) for that sexy old-school twist.

B) Blouses – Loose ones over cigarette pants and tighter ones tucked into wide-leg pants. That’s the rule. And whether they’re plain or patterned, they offer so many choices and outfit options.

Blazer – Who could forget Pippa Middleton walking outside the hotel the day after the royal nuptials in her skinny jeans, shirt, tote, flats and a blazer on top. Simple, chic, timeless and stunning.

Breton Shirt – French Chic meets model rock-chick. Is there a better match? Wear it for a no-fuss, effortless look that transcends time and fashion.

Ballet Flats – Dainty and comfy. If they’re good enough for Parisian women, they’re good enough for us.

Belts – Skinny, thick, leather, embellished. Accessorise any outfit with a simple knot (or clip!) of a fabulous belt.

Biker Jacket – Because we can all be a rebel without a cause. Although in this day and age, we can pretty much find a cause anywhere.

C) Cigarette Pants – Worn with flats or stilettos, with a loose blouse or a fitted shirt, cigarette pants go the distance and always look perfect if you know how to pull them off.

Cardigan – A little one works wonders over a dress, but this is a must for the cooler months. Choose a long chunky knit version to layer in winter, and knot a belt over it for a modern look.

Clutch purse – For a night on the town. I have amassed quite a collection made of different sizes, materials, and prints. The perfect way to mix up an LBD.

D) Denim Jacket – Thrown over a dress or with white jeans, this is another denim staple that is constant cool.

Day Dress – Wear with flats or wedges on the weekend, or throw a blazer on top and heels on your feet and call it a working outfit. Win.

E) Exotic – Because we all love a little snakeskin or leopard print. It doesn’t have to be the real deal to look good if you keep it simple and reserve it for a statement piece, like a purse or shoes.  Head to toe is not a good look, unless you’re a middle-aged Lebanese singer performing in Beirut.

Evening Wear – An evening dress, beaded capelet, and dazzling accessories are essentials for every girl who’s worth her night on the town.

F) Faux Fur – Because we all need to look a million dollars, darling.

G) Gloves – Sometimes a lady finds her fingers numb and blue from that awful cold, and dried out scaly skin aside, no man wants his cheek caressed by an ice queen. I love Carrie’s pink leather gloves in Season Six of Sex and the City.

H) Handbag – A handbag IS an investment and every girl needs herself a hobo/tote for everyday essentials (and planes); a more casual weekend bag, and, as we’ve already learned, a good clutch. I’m a bit of a handbag addict, but I learned to apply this formula early. Want to go designer but are afraid to splash the cash? Go for a Longchamp bag instead, in pretty much any colour you fancy.

Head wear – A sunhat for sun protection, a fascinator for racing season, hair clips for bad hair days, and maybe a stylish beanie for the cold –  a few different items on hand for weather protection and dress codes ticks all the boxes. No one wants to be the hatless Prime Minister’s wife at a royal wedding that specified hats in the dress code.

J) Jewels – Real or Fake. Think diamond or pearl studs, a simple necklace, a statement ring. Oh and turquoise. This is where Samantha Wills is your friend.

Jeans – No explanation necessary. Here’s hoping anyway, otherwise our mission might be bigger than first thought!

K) Knee-high boots – For going out in the winter, and maintaining some sense of warmth.

L) Loafers – For the ultimate in classy and comfortable footwear. Love this season’s take on old faves with embellishments and colours galore.

Luxe – Even if it’s the $38 Marc Jacobs key ring you found second-hand on malleries. It’s something designer no?

M) Mary-Janes – Need I remind you of the Carrie Bradshaw moment in the Vogue closet? Mary-Janes are not just for little girls.

Man-style – A man style watch, man-style shirt, boyfriend jeans, boyfriend blazer. Sometimes it is a little fun crossing over. Katherine Hepburn, I salute you.

N) Nautical – A striped top or casual shoes, cute shorts and a hat. For those Saint Tropez dreams.

O) One-Piece – Swimsuit/Leotard/Control-Wear, we don’t care. Fuss-free, simple and usually on the money when it comes to hiding the bulge you earned at the hotel buffet.

P) Pumps – Slick, chic and lady-like. Choose a pair in nude and black and you’ll always be right for what to wear. Christian Louboutin Patent is a perennial favourite of mine.

Pencil Skirt – The ultimate in sexy and feminine dressing. And it needn’t be boring, with frills, pleats, and side-ruching making an appearance on some styles.

Peasant Top – Or caftan. To layer over our swimmers or rock the boho look at a festival. Camilla rocks this look, but for a cheaper alternative, check out Dotti or Glassons in the summer.

Polo – For a relaxed weekend look, if you’re partial to the preppy style. This is where Ralph Lauren is king.

Q) Quality, not Quantity – Learn to invest for longevity. Think cashmere and wool for winter, good quality cottons, leather that wears well, and shoes that last those long days and fun nights.

R) Red – For when you want to look a little sexy. Think Olivia Palermo’s nails, or a fab red dress for one of those nights out.

S) Sneakers – Converse, Vans, Volleys, Onistuka tigers. Sometimes our feet need relaxing too.

Scarves – Knotted around the neck, disguising a bad hair day, tied around a bag. Scarves are versatile, classic and FAB.

Sunnies – Because nobody wants early on-set wrinkles, and sometimes, we need something to cover our eyes as we ogle that cute guy or another lady’s Miu Miu shoes.

Swimmers – In Australia, a day at the beach is as part of the culture as the humble pie. Which means so is the gear.

Sandals – To show off our summer pedi, no less! Mix it up and go for something studded or bejewelled.

Stockings – Fishnets for something sexy, and vintage styles (done best by Leona Edmiston) for winter chic.

Sweaters – To keep you warm and comfortable in winter. Uniqlo, J-Crew and Ralph Lauren are always on point.

T) Trench Coat – Hello Breakfast at Tiffanys! A beige trench is the ultimate wardrobe staple. Splurge on a classic burberry if you can afford it. I have, and I have never looked back.

Tailored Shirt – Speaks volumes. Wear with black pants and pearls and channel Marlene Dietrich.

Tee Shirts – A basic everyday piece. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money.

U) Umbrella – Don’t be caught in the rain, grab a stylish one from Oroton for under $100. They’re even cheaper at sale time.

V) Vintage – Because everything old is new again. And probably better quality anyway.

W) Wide-leg trousers – For office chic.

Wrap Dress – The easy working woman’s wardrobe choice. It made DVF an icon.

White Shirts – In all styles. It is the ultimate basis for an awesome outfit.

X) Xpression – Wear your clothes with attitude – don’t let them wear you.

Y) Yoga Pants – For quick trips to the newsagent or walking the dog. Or you know, doing yoga.

Z) Zip-up Hoodie – For home-time on the couch. Mine’s a University of Sydney one, and I love it to bits. What’s yours?

Do you have these things in your wardrobe? What’s on your list? And most importantly, what have I missed that’s an absolute necessity for you? Xx

The beginner’s guide to organic beauty

A guest post by Fiona MacDonald of Cosmos Magazine 

Just when you think the beauty industry has committed herself to a life of botox, doctors and high-tech chemicals, she turns around and surprises you by going on a detox. It could have something to do with goddesses such as Miranda Kerr bounding around and preaching about the power of an organic lifestyle, but a growing number of women are now shifting their focus from chemicals and fillers to organic products and natural ingredients. For the past two years I have also given up the chemicals and turned to the pure side of cosmetics.

But what is the benefit of organic beauty? And how do you know where to start? Here’s a beginner’s guide to organic beauty and how to achieve a complexion that Aphrodite herself would envy.

What does organic mean?

Generally, an organic product has not been treated with pesticides and herbicides and contains mostly non-synthetic materials. There are different organic certifications with varying standards (see more info on these standards here but overall you can expect that a certified organic product will contain mainly natural ingredients and have fewer toxins.

Why use organic?

We spend a lot of time thinking about what we put into our bodies, but many people don’t realise that every day we’re slathering our biggest organ – our skin – in toxins. A large number of beauty products contain chemicals that are known to cause cancer, hormone changes and cell death. And anything you put on your skin can end up straight in your blood stream – which quickly circulates to every other organ in your body.

Using products that are free of these harmful chemicals will help to reduce the amount of toxins in your body and your skin will look amazing as a result. While bleaching, burning or freezing your skin with common products containing harmful chemicals may be a quick fix for blemishes or fine lines, in the long run you are putting toxins into your system and your skin will ultimately suffer.

Are all organic products created equally?

Unfortunately not. Many products claim to be organic, but are still filled with harmful chemicals. And some products that aren’t certified organics may in fact be purer than those that are. This is where things get tricky – it’s up to you to read labels and work out what’s going to nourish your skin in the healthiest way possible. If you want to glow like a goddess, you need to put in a little effort.

Here are some ingredients that you should avoid. In this batch there are chemicals that have been linked to cancer, are known irritants and cause hormone changes and birth defects.

–   parabens (anything listed in the ingredients with ‘paraben’ at the end)

–   anything from the phthalate family (often listed as DBP and DEHP)

–   lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate (sometimes listed as SLS or SLES)

–   formaldehyde (or methyl aldehyde and any urea products)

–   the amine family (DEA, TEA and MEA)

–   mineral oil (listed as mineral oil, petroleum or liquid paraffin)

–   propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol (PEG)

–   synthetic fragrances and colours

Do organic products work?

When changing over to organic products, my biggest concern was whether they were too ‘gentle’ to make a difference. It’s fine for girls with poreless skin to rave about natural beauty, but what about those of us who have acne, rosacea or patchy skin? Luckily there are plenty of intensive and specialised treatments out there. To name just a few: Burt’s Bees anti-blemish range, Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel, Anitpodes Avocado Oil & Rosehip Divine Face Oil and the trusty Trilogy Rosehip Oil. The majority of the products I have tried have worked visibly within the first two weeks.

Is it more expensive?

Surprisingly, I haven’t found buying organic products to be any more expensive than regular ones. Up front the cost may be more (depending on which brand you use) but I have found that as most of the products aren’t padded out with water and other harmful fillers, they last a lot longer.

Where do I start?

The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to overhaul your beauty cabinet all at once – just swapping one regular product for an organic or natural one will reduce the toxic strain on your body.

There are some amazing brands out there, here are some of my favourites. Not all of these are certified organic products but are all almost 100% natural and don’t contain harmful chemicals and toxins.


Juice Beauty – the Green Apple Peel is amazing for dull or damaged skin.

Burt’s Bees – these beautiful, natural products are based on the healing power of beeswax and I can’t go past the anti-blemish range for my skin type. I also love the lip balms and the Garden Tomato toner.

Kora – formulated by the goddess Miranda Kerr, all of these products are beautiful. I particularly love the exfoliating cream.

Trilogy – the certified organic rose hip oil is great on scars and they have an all natural self tanner that I’m dying to try.

Antipodes – this is a beautiful brand that has all the luxury of a designer range. The Divine Face Oil melts into your skin and has been shown to stimulate collagen growth by 51%.

La Mav – I particularly love the skin-brightening Vit-C Advanced Nightly Repair Nectar (and my boyfriend loves the smell).

Argital – new in Australia, this Italian brand has some amazing products – including a 100% natural anti-cellulite oil. It’s imported by Haberfield Naturopathic Centre.

Sukin – perhaps the cheapest natural/organic brand out there, Sukin is my go-to company. Their body lotion leaves me feeling soft for days and I love the new night moisturiser from the Purely  Ageless range.

Yes to… – including Yes to Carrots, Tomatoes, Blueberries and Cucumbers, these products are affordable and all natural. I love all the products I’ve tried – especially the Yes to Tomatoes skin clearing facial mask with mud from the Dead Sea.


Ere perez – my absolute favourite. The Beetroot Lip and Cheek stain has changed my life – and those of all the friends I’ve recommended it to. If you are a fan of wearing red lipstick that NEVER runs or bleeds and lasts for hours, (I’m not exaggerating here people, it’s that good) then you MUST buy this product. The rice powders are also gorgeous.

Inika – organic and mineral products in great, contemporary shades. I find these mineral make up colours look the most natural on my skin.

RMS – I haven’t yet tried the make up of Rose-Marie Swift but have heard and read such great things – particularly from her biggest fan, Miranda Kerr –  this is the next on my list of brands to try.

NVEY eco – I love their range of fluid foundations and the volumising mascara is amazing – although isn’t waterproof so be careful not to touch your eyes too much.

Hair and body:

Organic Care – I love these shampoos and conditioners and you can get them from Woolworths!

Dr Bronner’s Magic Pure Organic Castille Soap – this miracle products can be used 18 ways – I just wouldn’t recommend using it as toothpaste, which they suggest. It feels like you’re watching your mouth out with soap.

Butter London – beautiful carcinogen-free nailpolishes in a range of amazing colours.

One Seed – a natural perfume brand with some lovely, elegant scents.