Cyran is the founder and editor-in-chief of Corporate Style Story. She loves good pyjamas, good food and good company.
Cyran is the founder and editor-in-chief of Corporate Style Story. She loves good pyjamas, good food and good company.
I was told to read How to Win Friends and Influence People on my first day on the job for one of the world’s largest consumer data agencies.
I wondered why my then-colleague was so insistent that I read it and why he so openly talked about a book that sounded quite manipulative to me.
At the time, “winning friends” and “influencing people” sounded like very underhanded and duplicitous ways to conduct yourself in the workplace. I wasn’t really interested in it. But the longer I worked with this colleague and saw how well liked and happy he seemed and how many people sought his advice, I thought I’d read it on his insistence.
Don’t be fooled by the title. It’s solely to grab your attention (obviously). The book has been in circulation for more than 70 years and with good reason.
It’s effectively a toolkit that will teach you how to effectively work with other people (essential life-skills irrespective of profession) and how to get on with people, which generally makes your job easier.
Author Dale Carnegie provides readers with common-sense strategies to manage relationships more effectively; how to become a better manager; how to get the best out of people; how to really connect with people; build real friendships and, should you need to (and it’s highly likely that you will, at some point, need to) get people to agree with your way of thinking.
I sometimes think that the title does it a disservice. It’s better described as something like “how to be a better human“, “how to make the world a better place”, “how to get along with people and show a genuine interest in their lives, so that good things happen to you“. It’s at the top of my list because the content is pretty much an amalgamation of these titles. You should read this one first if you haven’t already.
I read this later in my career. I don’t think I would have appreciated it should it have been around in my twenties (it wasn’t) and I certainly don’t think I would have paid attention – I certainly was very much “giving all the f*cks”, about what other people thought of me in my teens and early 20s. The process of caring less what people think of me if one that I have certainly started on in my 30s. And I hear your 40s are even better for it.
The title of this book alone is enough to sell it to me.
Sitting on the Tube reading a book that has such a prominently placed “f-word” on the cover is quite strange. I could feel people looking!
It’s probably one that my sister would put her book cover on (like lots of people did whilst reading 50 Shades of Grey)
Essentially, this book will encourage you to embrace your fears, really buy into the “what’s the worst that could happen” scenario and play it out in your mind and help you to realise that ‘the worst that could happen’ isn’t actually that bad.
EitSo if your aim is to let go of fear and do what you what you want so that you can ‘follow your bliss’ as they say, you should read this encouraging book. It’s very motivating and will give you a ‘can do’ and “will do” attitude.
NB – I also read F*ck It, Do What You Love about a year ago and was just finishing it on the Tube,I spotted a guy opposite me reading the cover and write the title down. He laughed and asked if it was good. I said yes and gave it to him. I often wonder if he is doing what he now loves – I really hope so.
Here are the others from the same author that you can also check out:
Yes, that’s right. A book about raising a child has had made the list of books that has the biggest impact on my career. But surely that makes sense? I’m a mother, a have a career. I read a lot. Of course that makes sense.
I read lots of books when I was pregnant and I continue to read parenting books since our darling Poppy entered our lives. Children require different things from us as parents as they grow up so I like to read what learned authors and experienced parents have to say so I can cultivate the skills I need to be the best mother and understand her. That being said, I don’t read parenting books from people without children. It’s just a rule of mine.
Enter quite a conversional parenting book for the time. I can’t remember where I saw it. Perhaps I saw a celeb with it, but whoever it was, I was intrigued with the title so I bought it and read it.
The book is very broad on raising children and I didn’t take on board everything – with parenting books I encourage all new parents to take information that resonates with them and leave anything that doesn’t – but in a nutshell, it’s the opposite of Gina Ford (which I did read and simply decided wasn’t for us).
When it comes to returning to work after having a baby, if you choose to go back, the book encourages parents to make up the time spent away from your young baby when you return to work by continuing to breastfeed, co-sleep and baby-wear and to make appropriate child-care choices to support these aims.
The number one thing I took from this book was to establish priorities about whom I worked for, to ask myself questions like:
Why am I going to back to work?
Do I enjoy where I’m working?
Is this company a place I see myself in 5 years time?
Am I trading time away from my child for a job I feel lukewarm about?
How do I prioritise the needs of my baby and still pursue a career?
What needs to change to raise her as I want to?
If the answers to any of these do not correlate with what I’m trying to achieve and home and at work – I’m out.
The book is a good choice for anyone who wants to take cues from their child, to parent ‘gently’ and is open-minded about how to do it. Give it a read and see if it resonates with you.
Some other gentle parenting books I really like:
Instead of cringe-ing when I read the title of this book, I scoffed! At the time, I was working sooo hard, putting in all the hours at work – I had very little balance, but (weirdly) getting quite a lot of enjoyment from it all. But I knew something had to give – working like that was not sustainable.
Again, this book is very full, but author Tim Ferris (whom I think is just brilliant and I listen to his podcast, The Tim Ferris Show each week) is pragmatic and provides real insight into how to streamline your life and create your dream life and business. At the time that this was written, it was one of the early books of its kind so I didn’t feel bombarded with this kind of information (like I sometimes do now with the info that’s out there).
Some real life takeaways that I love:
No multi-tasking. This has become a rule for me now. I don’t multi-task, well I try not to. I do a much better job of the single thing I’m focussed on when I’m not also trying to squeeze in something else. I never studied and multi-tasked, so why would I do this once in my career?! Nothing gets done properly, so I’m trying my best to stop.
Check email only twice a day. Batching. Ferris is a advocate of batching everything pretty much. It’s very effective. I do this with some email accounts really well and others not so much, but it’s a much better use of my time. I have also turned off notifications for email. Try it.
Ferris encourages working remotely and automating lots of tasks (which I’m still getting to grips with, but it works) but the number one takeaway for me is to define what you’re working for.
What do you want you life/lifestyle to look like? And not just what do I want to do or be.
What car do I want to drive, what house do I want to live in? Where do I want to travel to in the world? What do I want to do with my spare time?
Who out of you asks themselves this question on such a scale?
I read this book a few years ago and it has had a big impact on my decision to work for myself. After nearly 5 years of working remotely for someone else, I took the leap and started my own consultancy. At the time of writing this its hard work, but I’m getting there!
Check out other books by Tim Ferris:
A uni friend introduced me to this book. I borrowed it from her, I’m actually not sure that I gave it back (argh! Sorry!) but it’s one of the best books for navigating your career early on.
I’ll share a few of the ‘rules’ and let you read the book for yourself:
“Enjoy what you are doing.” – you guys should know me well enough by now, if you don’t enjoy your job, take steps to change it. Life is too short to spend 30-40 hours a week somewhere or doing something that you hate or that your nonplussed about.
You don’t want to regret giving an employer too much of your time – go online, get the necessary skills you need to change career, have a friend look over your CV and speak to a recruitment consultant. Get out there and change things if you really aren’t enjoying yourself, the world is your oyster and there are so many opportunities now with advancements in technology. Put your happiness first.
“Be 100% committed” – Do your best. Put the effort in. Be seen as someone that does great things in the workplace, that does work that is consistently good/very good/excellent. It’s so much more fulfilling and in essence don’t we all want to spend our time doing things that light us up and that is fulfilling?
“Develop a style that gets you noticed” – meaning a work wear style. This goes without saying. I will aways encourage anyone who wants to progress their career to invest in their work wardrobe. I learned this early and have got lots of enjoyment from it (who doesn’t like dressing well?) and cultivating a style that gets me noticed has also opened doors for me.
I was invited to meetings and events I was probably far too junior to be present at, but as a result I was privy to information and insight from senior executives and Board members that has taught me so much in my career and gave me the ability to build relationships with people at that level.
Essentially, dressing well will never hold you back.
“Make learning a lifelong mission” – I don’t mean going to university or getting a certificate, although these are good options if they’re the right ones for you. The author (who writes under a pseudonym) encourages continual personal development, investing in yourself, always seeing a learning opportunity in any situation; making a conscious decision to learn and grow, and then just do it. This is one of my fav rules in the book because it means you never sit still and get stagnant or bored in your career.
This one changed my career, because I read it right at the beginning of it! I was armed with knowledge and tips that really helped me form the offset. Yes, I still made mistakes career-wise and learned as I went along like all of us, but I felt much more prepared than I would have otherwise had I not read it it. This book is an easy read and I highly recommend it. Plus, it’s a great gift for new grads!
Check out others in the collection:
Are there any books you have read that have really impacted your career that I should read?
If so, comment below with the name of the book, the impact it had on your career (if you want to share) and the author, so that I can check it out!
What does it mean to me, to be a successful woman in 2019? One ting I’ve learned is that firstly, success doesn’t happen overnight, secondly that it’s not a destination, its a journey and it certainly isn’t liner. This is an adaptation of an Instagram post that I typed out on the morning of International Women’s Day, but I got so many comments that I wanted to share it here too.
Here is how I am defining what success looks like to me:
It’s to have children and to be able to craft a career, lifestyle and interests that are fulfilling for me.
A career that is full of choices, whereby if something doesn’t work for me, I either change it or I leave.
Raising a little girl means that my priorities are different. I’m focussed on fulfilling my real purpose and not just climbing the corporate ladder.
Having impactful and encouraging conversations with my daughter and other women – to discuss things that I haven’t before and to listen and learn from those around me; conversations that will change communities.
To be able to educate myself on anything I find interesting and to understand what my passion is and to invest in what makes me happy.
Understanding that education isn’t just a degree or a certificate but a real-world education including learning about myself.
Choosing to live my life with conviction and doing it with a smile on my face.
Being the captain of my own ship and to take responsibility for it all.
I want my own brand and my own business, in an industry that is typically dominated by men and to do it really well and to hold my own.
To invest in my future and my daughter’s future, to figure out what’s important to me at any given point in time and to pursue that.
To being in a constant state of growth, and to foster my own spiritual development too.
Knowing when I need to take time out to let my hair down, to understand when is the best time to get the work done, when is the best time to rest, when to plan for the next step and when is best to execute.
To understand when I need to look after myself and being unapologetic in that.
To find out what I like to spend my time doing and to do more of it.
Not to compare myself to anyone, because my journey is not the same has her journey and appreciating what I have and where I am in my life.
Today, I hope that more women continue their journey and define success on their own terms.
You can read the original Instagram post and everyone’s comments here.
International Women’s Day 2019.
Spring’s catwalk were awash with patterns for the coming Spring/Summer season and, polka dots were quite rightly, front and centre. They’re my favourite go-to pattern due to their simplicity, fun-factor and the general likability of everyone around me. I always get compliments on my outfit when I wear polka dots. Don’t you find? It’s like they put people in a good mood!
One of my most-loved Instagram posts is this one of me living my best life in Paris last year for my birthday. I hadn’t even realised at the time that I was putting my looks together that this shot so closely resembled the Carrie Bradshaw moment in Paris.
Polka dots are so distinctive and so many of you love them that I thought I’d find the best current season polka dot pieces for you, give you some tips on how to wear them for the office and let you guys do the shopping.
They’re so fun and most of all this is a print that is totally wearable to work.
Beware of the size of the polka dots; small dots work well if you’re wearing a dress, whereas large polka dots may be too much in a conservative environment. Take a look at this one from ASOS.
Polka dot blouses can work in most office environments if the blouse/shirt is a typical shape, although this one is fab too from Moschino.
I would suggest you exercise caution if you’re considering a head to two co-ord look for the office, you know if this is appropriate or not. At the moment, I think creative environments will welcome a polka dot co-ord and not many other workplaces unfortunately.
Polka dot heels are also a good option for the office, but they are so rare that they’re not often seen. If you do find a good pair don’t let them get away! If you look after them you will wear them forever, they’re absolutely classic. I will keep my eyes peeled and update the post if I find any.
I’ve rounded up 15 different polka dot pieces that you can add to your wardrobe this Spring, whilst not all of them are office appropriate, they will immediately give you a feel-good injection. I love them!
Click on any of the images below to shop.
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I don’t tend to set New Year’s resolutions really, I like to call them ‘goals’ instead which is just a psychological trick for my mind so that it doesn’t collapse at the first hurdle. Just saying ‘new year’s resolutions’, sounds like a thing designed to be forgotten before the end of January which is no good when you’ve got stuff you want to do, so I’ve settled on ‘goals’ for the moment.
2018 was a big year for me with lots going on and lots of change. I’m very pleased to report that pretty much all of it was great, challenging and quite stressful at times, but all in all it was great I learned a lot. However, towards the end of the year, December in particular, I just wanted to slow down and didn’t do very much blog-related. Poppy turned 5 on the 2nd of December and I felt like we’d all reached a huge milestone, so after that I took a bit of a break from the blog to plan things instead of just churning out content. I closed a big legal deal just before breaking up for Christmas so I certainly couldn’t have done anything else alongside that in any event.
Of course, goals don’t have to be set in the New Year, but it is nice to have a brand new canvas to write on and decide on your direction for the year without starting part-way through the year if something not-so-great that happened. I really love a new year (my birthday is in January, so it’s a nice start to an otherwise dreary month).
Consequently, I have really been looking forward to 2019, not because I wanted a clean slate, but because 2019 feels like it will be a good year.
I have always set goals ever since I was in my teens, (but these tended to be random declarations of “Right, I’m doing x”). Nowadays, I write my goals down which I think is very helpful for focus and staying on track. But recently my list tends to look like a shopping list by the time I’ve finished and I often forget what I’m actually working towards. When I check back over the list, I have achieved things but the process of achieving them feels quite ‘scattergun’ and a bit too much like a tick-box exercise. Kind of “thank-you, next”.
One thing that I will say is that whilst you can achieve a new goal, you may not necessarily develop any lasting new behavioural traits when you achieve your goals.For example, whilst I am good at achieving a goal, I’m also very good at discarding the behaviour and new habits that got me there once I’m there! I think that’s because, again, its the tick-box exercise. I’m ticking things off and moving on to the next thing I”m not taking much time to stop an acknowledge what I’ve done or what I’ve achieved, I’m just looking for the next thing. When I speak to my friends, they’re pretty much the same. They have this “on to the next” mentality, which is quite unfulfilling.
The moral behind the Turtle and Hare story is “slow and steady wins the race”. This lesson is becoming increasingly difficult to learn because society is so used to getting everything so quickly. And usually so easily. We don’t need to study for anything because the information is at our finger tips, if we want to buy something there is usually an extremely affordable version of it we can get right now. We really don’t need to wait. So learning to develop a new behaviour or new habit? Hard work, no thanks just give me the thing.
Which is why, having taken time to acknowledge everything I’ve achieved over the last year, this year my only goal is to develop consistent behaviour in the areas that I want to.
Essentially, I don’t have any plans to learn how to speak Spanish or “insert something equally grandiose here” in 2019. I’m happy with my life, the people in it and we’re all healthy which is more than enough. My only goal for 2019 therefore is to focus on things I’m already doing, but to do them with more consistency:
Exercise – I exercise, I like doing yoga and HIIT but I don’t do wither regularly at all, I’m aiming for 2 – 3 times per week, if I could add a dance class in there I’d be over the moon, but I’m not sure I will be able to do it.
Meditation – I do 10 mins of meditation in the mornings on most days and I want to make it every day and gradually increase the amount of time spent
Cooking – As I’ve said on my Instagram Stories, I can cook, I just don’t like cooking, but I am aiming to cook once a week from scratch and that’s all I will commit to right now
Content creation – I’ve got Instagram Stories down because I love it so much, but want consistency across all my channels, including my newsletter
Reading paper books – so I can encourage Poppy with her reading, she needs to see me reading (I listen to audiobooks at the moment).
Invoicing my clients – I mean, this goes without saying! Scheduled invoicing, that I am actually thinking of outsourcing
Time unplugged – to help me to concentrate so that I can focus on the things in this list! Multitasking is no good for me.
See what I get up to on Instagram Stories @CorporateStyleStory
Essentially, I will do more of what I am already doing in less of a sporadic fashion in the hopes of creating a more organised and relaxed lifestyle. I don’t want to be so lastminute.com anymore because I spot an opportunity to quickly fit something in. I’m using 2019 to form some new habits and I’m pleased to say that I’ve already started.
I totally understand that people don’t want to be hard on themselves at this time of year, and I would recommend that before you set any goals that you acknowledge your journey from last year to where you are now. Every little thing, because it feels good to give yourself a pat on the back instead of berating yourself for not necessarily doing anything ‘huge’.
Working on being consistent is my biggest challenge at the moment. I honestly haven’t been ready to change anything up until now, but I think with a new year and another birthday I’ll focus on consistency because it feels like what I should be doing. I’m not adding in anything new.
All the best with your goals (or just life) in 2019, wishing you every success.
I’ve always loved celebrating the 12 days of Christmas, but it appears that nowadays the build-up to Christmas is getting longer and Christmas itself is getting much shorter.
Our family tradition since we were young has always been to shop the sales on Oxford Street on Boxing Day (my Dad would usually take us, while mum recovered from all the cooking on Christmas Day) and my sisters and I have managed variations on this annual shopping trip as we’ve got older.
This year, I shopped online, but the approach to the sales has always been the same.
Essentially, I try not to shop for clothes in the week running up to Christmas – they’ll just go in the sale a few days later and then I’ll be rather annoyed. So I avoid.
I try to stick to investment pieces in the Boxing Day sale. If I’m buying high street, I ask myself, ‘if I didn’t buy it full priced, do I really want it in the sale or do I want it just because its 50% off???’. This way I hopefully won’t end up with a wardrobe full of nonsense.
Lastly, I think about whether or not I will wear the things I’m about to buy next season. If it’s a yes, in the shopping basket it goes 😉
Happy shopping Guys.
John Lewis up to 50% off in their Clearance
Next 50% off from Boxing Day
Harrods up to 50% off across clothing, shoes and beauty
Aspinal of London up to 50% off
Amazon reductions across the site
Debenhams up to 60% off across the site
Sooooo…January is around the corner. Get ready to be inundated with different workout DVDs, downloadable weight-loss plans, meal-prep plans, you will be encouraged to signing up to gym memberships and lycra clad individuals will be springing up everywhere on your Instagram feed (I’ll probably be one of them, apologies in advance).
Either way, if you’re about to start working out, or just want to treat yourself to some new stuff to carry on working out, you can grab yourself some lovely things in the Boxing Day sales:
I don’t suppose you need reminding that a girl can never have too many pairs of shoes. And sticking with my rules of buying investment pieces, the Boxing Day Sales is a great time to be snapping up designer shoes at a reduced price.
If you’re like me and want to wear what you’ve bought now, then go for boots and strappy sandals – for New Year’s Eve celebrations of course!
The shoes to look out for:
shoes with PVC panels;
Boots (knee-high, slouchy, cowboy, block heel and in different print/colours);
Kitten heels (trust me);
mules (perfect for Spring/Summer ’19); and
anything embellished (bows, bejewelled, pom-poms, all of the above)
Handbags need no introduction. Et voila:
Shopping for things like luggage, sunglasses are a given, we tend to do this just as the weather gets warmer or before we go on holiday. But if you know you’re going, you should keep your eyes open for thins you know you will wear or take on holiday later in the year.
My beloved Travel wallet from Aspinal of London, is also on sale in certain colour ways and this is such a fantastic investment piece, you’ll use it forever and its such grown up piece.
You may need to hunt around for these on Boxing Day and they may also go in the sale later on in January, but the sales is the perfect time to purchase pyjamas because they are typically Winter stock that will disappear like coats and knitwear come February.
You may or may not have seen on my Instagram Stories that I received a pair of Olivia von Halle pyjamas as one of my Christmas gifts from the Hubs and I am over the moon with them – I’ve wanted a pair for such a long time.
These are likely to sell out before they go in the sale (my size is already sold out, I wear a size 2 fyi as I like them loose fitting). But you can check out The Outnet for reduced OvH and other designer pyjamas, but most will be added to the sale later on in January and this is the best time to buy them.
Enjoy the rest of the festive period!
If you’re like me and you have been working so much that you don’t have the majority of your gifts yet, this doesn’t mean that you have to give unthoughtful gifts on Christmas Day. I’ve sorted the best I have found that you can still order online, or take the ideas and go into the shops.
You can order before 8pm on Saturday 22 December to still receive all of your Christmas gifts in time for the big day.
Shop all candles on John Lewis here.
Mine and Poppy’s slippers that we often wear at home on Instagram Stories are from Just Sheepskin. She LOVES that our slippers are the same, they are also such a lovely Christmas gift, check out the collection here.
Here are the best picks from John Lewis this Christmas:
Forgotten your Christmas Day outfit? Skincare and beauty for the well-groomed amongst your friends? A nice pair of socks for Dad??
Check out the online retailers that are still helping us look good for Christmas, the dates and links are below:
ASOS are offering same-day delivery up until Midday Christmas Eve with Amazon Instant.
Matches are offering same-day delivery within the M25 if you order before 4pm on Christmas Eve, but this is subject to availability so get in there early.
Net-a-Porter same-day delivery order before 10am on Christmas Eve, they’re great for gifts, beauty, skincare and of course all the designer loveliness you’d expect. (P.S. They have an amazing sale in January too!)
I’ve been loving a new beauty brand from the Nordics called Kjaer Weiss, especially their eyeshadows, the packaging is exquisite and its nice to get something different than your usual make-up brands, check them out here.
Ahhh where would I be without Amazon Prime?! It has saved me from many a disaster with its Next Day and sometimes SAME DAY delivery service. It’s where I turn to for last minute gift options.
Amazon is great for electrical items and I have been using the Clarisonic Mia Smart which I absolutely love and there are different versions for different budgets.
More and more people are converting to listening to audiobooks and so an Audible Membership is a great option and you can literally just buy it online, no delivery required. I get the 2 books per month membership because I aim to read 24 books a year.
Do not underestimate the value of a fully charged power bank ready to give your loved ones’ phones a much needed boost when they are out and about Storying over Christmas. Check out Amazon’s collection here.
I have seen Youtubers make their hair look amazing creating big beachy waves using the Dyson Airwrap.
And of course, Christmas is the perfect time to gift an electric toothbrush! I got mine for Christmas last year and use the Sonicare Healthy White+ toothbrush.
Best picks of electrical stuff from Amazon:
If I didn’t include pyjamas in this, I would be tossing and turning night. I’ve pulled out some of my favs that will be available in time for Christmas this year.
Winser London’s new silk pyjamas are absolutely exquisite and are easily the most luxurious set I own, you can check them out here.
Debenhams do a fantastic collection of pyjamas and you can do a Click and Collect order before 9pm on Saturday 22nd December.
My pick of the pyjamas that I’d actually like for myself (of course):
Champagne is special enough to be a great gift and you can bet your bottom dollar it will be very appreciated and will most certainly be drunk over Christmas and New Year.
You can pick these up in the supermarket, do a click and collect or you can even buy them in the garage on the way over to the in-laws on Christmas Day if you must!
To make it extra special, opt for a personalised bottle of Veuve Clicquot, which you can order up until Sunday 24th December from Selfridges in London, Manchester or Birmingham to collect on Christmas Eve.
This is such a thoughtful gift, and another one you can quickly get access to if you’ve left it to the last minute. The links are below to purchase the following memberships for the coming year:
National Gallery – for the discerning art lover, the National Gallery membership includes private views of exhibitions before they open to the public and exclusive Members’ events including concerts, cinema screenings, talks, and more.
British Library – Free entry for you and a guest to British Library exhibitions. Exclusive access for you and a guest to the daytime Members’ Room, overlooking the King’s Library. Entry for you and three guests to the Knowledge Centre Bar, and priority booking on events and up to 4 free event tickets per year. This is a lovely membership for the history lover out there.
Sea Life Centre – with centres all over the UK, the Sealife Centre is a really fun place to visit if you have children, so a family membership is a good choice to include everyone. Included is a free theme park ticket per pass (choose from Alton Towers Resort, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort or Thorpe Park Resort) and additional discounts.
ZSL London Zoo – we have this membership as a family and it is worth its weight in gold. It includes membership to both London and Whipsnade Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo is a great place to take their scooter as its so big. You get fast-track entry and other discounts and free parking at London midweek.
Who doesn’t love a luxe gift with more than one use? A beautiful coffee table book is a great decorative item for the home and they are always well recieved if you choose the right topic, and there are plenty of coffee table books to choose from out there. I have colated the most up to date collection of beautiful coffee table books for you below.
There is a coffee table book for every stylish woman and they range in price from £20 to about £60 so they fit most budgets too.
Check out our coffee table book list curated with men in mind.
There are coffee table books dedicated to curating your perfect coffee table.
The stuff on your coffee table says a lot about you and your coffee table books are a huge part of that. I see them more as decorative pieces that lets guests to your home learn about what kind of person you are with a quick glance at the titles.
Coffee table books are as decorative as they are practical and make great gifts. Ideally, coffee table books should be hardback, with large titles, great photography and be stacked from big to small and piled 3 – 5 books high.
Rules for curating the best coffee table books, guys:
I have been shopping Black Friday since before it arrived in the UK back in 2009 and has been going since the 1940s in the US. Amazon introduced us to Black Friday deals back in 2010 and since then the UK market has been gathering momentum offering us deals on so many things that it’s hard to resist.
I have been shopping Black Friday since one of my best friends, who runs The Candy Company, told me that she was flying to New York for the weekend to shop Black Friday sales. I soon copied her by flying the following year myself and the rest is history.
However, in an age where consumerism is considered to be getting somewhat out of hand (have you watched the Stacey Dooley documentary?!) and the more responsible among us is society making a real push for sustainability in both fashion and retail and food industries, I have compiled a list of things that you should AVOID buying on Black Friday, so that:
New style furniture is typically released in January and February as people redo their homes in the New Year with renewed enthusiasm (we all have bucketloads of enthusiasm in January, right?!). So it’s advisable to wait until then. Typically in the UK, Boxing Day sales were the time to buy furniture as furniture shops were the only stores open (remember that?!) However, you will still be buying old stock even if you buy on Boxing Day.
If you want to shop new trends and new pieces and hopefully keep that furniture for longer, then you’re advised to wait until January and February when new style are released and you can be one of the first with it for a great price.
Suggested buys on Black Friday with great deals, home furnishings:
I mean. Fitness Equipment on Black Friday. Whilst of course there are more enticing things to spend your money on during Black Friday, I can totally see the appeal. Not wanting to subscribe to the cliche that is ‘getting fit in January’, you may be encouraged to get a head start or even buy something as a gift for Christmas, but again, January is the time to buy fitness equipment for obvious reasons. Sales of workout gear and fitness equipment and fitness DVDs increases exponentially, you’ll only need to look out for advertising and online content immediately after Christmas to get the idea.
The best deals are to be had in January for fitness equipment, unless of course you’re buying it as a Christmas gift for the health conscious person in your life!
This goes without saying. I know plenty of people who buy Christmas decorations after Christmas because they go on massive sale. It’s the best time to buy decorations of course. So it’s best to wait until then. However, if you need Christmas decorations then you can find some good deals on Black Friday, the deals just won’t be as good as after Christmas.
Yes you will get good deals, but the best time to wait for children’s toys is the first couple of weeks in December. Also remember that toy retailers deliberately do not release enough stock of popular toys in the run up to Christmas so that they create a shortage and delay some of their sales for January. So if you’re after a cult-toy this Christmas then go for it on Black Friday.
If you’d rather not have a disappointed child instead of saving money, then throw caution to the wind and just buy it now. But if you’re after the best deal, do wait if you can. Also children will get so many things, that you can include a note from Santa to say that the toy its on its way and get it in January.
Some people probably can’t believe I’m saying this as a fashion blogger, but I would suggest you avoid buying Winter clothes on Black Friday. Yes, there are great deals to be had on clothes, and if you are going to shop the Black Friday sales I’d suggest that you buy Christmas outfits and sparkly party outfits and things you’ve wanted for a while that are on sale on Black Friday.
If you’re just looking for something that takes your eye, then you’re advised to wait until January when the real sales start on clothes. Retailers will get their new clothing collections in in February (yes, Spring/Summer ’19 will start in February. Ugh!) so they will be getting rid of everything Autumn/Winter in January. So wait if you can. But get good deals on party dresses and investment pieces for your wardrobe on Black Friday.
The jury is out on this one. The reason why experts advise avoiding Jewellery on Black Friday is that typically deals on jewellery deals have usually be reserved for Valentines Day (of course) and Mothers Day (yessssssssss!). However, more and more jewellery brands are giving us Black Friday discounts, so I don’t think you necessarily need to avoid spending on jewellery on Black Friday if there isn’t a more appropriate gift for someone, or yourself of course!
The best deals to be had on beauty is on gift boxes. Hands down. Usually Black Friday deals exclude gift sets. That being said if you can find Black Friday deals that allow you to spend on beauty then you’re good to spend. Another great deal is if you can find a ‘gift card with purchase’ deal which means you can buy gifts on Black Friday and treat yourself in the January Sales. Stick to gift sets and you’re golden.
I personally think that anytime past mid-November is holiday season. I know some stores have had Christmas decorations up since July (no names, Selfridges naughty!) and if you’re in the fashion or press industry then you will know that “Christms in July” is a real thing but for those among us who didn’t have to explain the Christmas tree to a child in the middle of Summer and doesn’t work in fashion, I think mid-November is the time when you have to start getting yourself into gear for the holidays.
So this is my list of all the beauty advent calendars that I have come across and that are available to buy now, I will add others as they are made available. One thing I will say is that they sell out very quickly so have to be quick. They’re usually such great value that you really can get such great products quite economically, plus when the children are all eating chocolate before 9am with theirs, you have a gorgeous new product to add to your bathroom shelfie.
I’ve also noticed that this year there are more “12 day countdown” advent calendars which look amazing. They are cheaper than the usual 25 day beauty advent calendars and still allow you to get involved in the festivities, so take a look at those too.
On the pricing, some of the calendars included are in excess of £300 (we’re looking a you Diptique and Fortnums) whilst there are others that are £45, and some of the 12 days calendars are around £25 so take a look and see what works for you and your budget.
Some tips for choosing your beauty advent calendar:
Also check out the ASOS 12 Day Countdown Calendar (£25.00)
The 2018 Amazon Beauty Advent Calendar contains a mix of 24 products from some of our most-loved beauty brands such as Elemis, Pai, Percy and Reid and Real techniques. Includes lots of full-sized products as well! One our favourites.
You can only get your hands on M&S’s advent calendar when you spend £35 or more on clothing, home or beauty in store. This was my advent calendar of choice last year, fantastic value for money, same goes for this year, check your stores availability online.
This is the first year of MAC’s beauty advent calendar, so we’re very excited. From perfect skin prep to dressed-up lips and statement smoky eyes, get ready to indulge in our treasure trove of shiny pretty things.
A 12-day calendar of full sized hand wrapped products, uncover a selection of classic products and new beauty must-haves, ranging from skincare and bodycare to makeup. Brands include Molton Brown, Elemis and Illamasqua.
At the more expensive end of the beauty advent calendars out there this year, but the Huda Beauty, NARS and Acqua di Parma goodies inside Harrods‘ beauty box are worth £680.
A limited edition collection of NYX products that include the soft matte lip cream and butter gloss, as well as eyeshadows, highlighters, powders and blush. Available at Boots and Inside you’ll find fan-fave formulas in 24 new shades, a limited edition collection of NYX products that include the soft matte lip cream and butter gloss, as well as velvety eyeshadows, highlighters, powders and blush, available at ASOS and Boots.
Sleek Make-up, Can’t Wait Another Day Advent Calendar, £35.00
This one is worth it including full sized products from favourite Sleek Make-up, great value at £35.
Decleor reminds me of leisurely spa days pure pampering, this calendar has been going for some time and each year the calendar is filled with customer favourites all of which are under 100ml so they’re perfect for travelling with.
I’ll admit, I’m that person that often offers up weird and wonderful software and apps to colleagues and friends that I’ve heard of if they’re asking. As far as I’m concerned, more often than not there will be technology that can help us manage day-to-day life better if we just know what’s out there and try it.
As I work in the technology industry, I really enjoy checking out new software to see how I can improve what I’m doing, be more organised or more creative, so here is a list of the apps I can’t live without and those which I use on pretty much a daily basis. Some you’ll have heard of an others you may not have. Enjoy!
P.S. I haven’t included social media apps, because that’s just a given!
As the saying goes, “an elephant never forgets” and Evernote is top of the list of 7 apps that I can’t live without. Think of this app as your external brain. I’m a huge list-making fan so I really like how customisable the list-making functionality is in this app, although it’s not solely used for making lists.
You can copy and paste parts of websites to go alongside your text, add photos, squiggle in a list or project – anything you want to make your notes come to life for you.
I have the Evernote app on my phone, I use the web version on my Mac and I have the Evernote shortcut on my bookmark bar and they are all synced which I love. I use Evernote throughout the day, its the default app I use to take notes on anything, I love how customisable it is without being our complicated. My external brain indeed.
I started binge-listening to audio content about 5 years ago now, which rather unsurprisingly corresponds with when Poppy was born. Like most mothers, being a new mum means that:
i. its like you don’t have any spare hands available to hold a book and to hold your baby and,
ii. plus, as a new mum who has the time to sit down and read?!
But being a new mum didn’t mean that I stopped reading, I have been avid reader my entire life and since having Poppy, it just meant that I needed to find a different way to consume books. Audible is it.
Nowadays, I usually read about 20 books a year and the majority of them are non-fiction – you can take a look at my top 10 books here: Books I Love.
Audible is my favourite way of consuming books that otherwise you wouldn’t have time to read. I listen whilst on the tube, driving, cooking dinner, tidying up and when exercising. Audible works with Alexa too so you can play through the Echo devices too – which is GREAT – “Alexa, play my book on Audible”, and it will pick up where you left off on your phone, I love it.
Audiobooks are a brilliant way to use otherwise ‘dead’ time and everyone from Tim Ferris to Holly Willoughby use Audible. If you’ve haven’t tried it yet, you can choose a book of your choice for free, below and the membership options start from £7.99 per month. I get the 2 books per month plan (which is £14.99) and you can roll over any unused credits.
Who really likes having a purse full of receipts?? I definitely do not. It doesn’t help that I can’t ever find the receipt I need because there are usually so many to keep track of, and if you don’t have a system you’re bound to lose them if they’re just scrunched up at the bottom of your bag.
Expensify means that I can take a photo of the receipt and store it in the app so that I can attach it to an email and send it to whomever needs a copy of it – the finance department, my accountant, or even HMRC (hopefully not!). You can also create reports and the Expensify app also has other expense management tools. The basic plan is free and does exactly what I need it to and I’m confident that my documents are all stored in it safely, but to be on the safe side, I download the PDF each month with the information and send it to my accountant. Its clearly another app I can’t live without.
Spritzlet is a speed reading app that helps you to ‘spritz’ the internet. This is how I read long-form blog posts, usually think pieces without many photos – Sprizlet really will change how you consume information online, especially is you read a lot of blogs or long-form content on the screen.
Download Spritzlet to your bookmarks bar and when you go to an article or a piece of content you want to read, click the Spritzlet app. The Spritz widget will pop up with the full text and you can read it however fast you choose, between 250 – 1000wpm. The red letter is intended to help your brain to actually ‘comprehend’ what its reading instead of just consuming individual words. I’m not sure of the science, but it works.
Time recording. Possibly the bane of most lawyers’ lives or anyone else that works on a time-basis for that matter. I haven’t had to record my time for a long time, and in all honesty recording time was one of the many reasons I moved away from working in private practice so early on in my career. However, now as a freelancer I think its good-practice to understand where the bulk of my time is spent and to record my time for my clients’ peace of mind.
An unexpected benefit of using Toggl is that, funnily enough it makes me more productive. I’m aware of the clock and what I do and don’t want to charge my clients for. I want to spend my time doing valuable work and toggle makes me more aware of that.
Toggl has free and paid-for options, I currently use the free version which works well enough for me and it’s definitely one of the apps I can’t live without.
Now when I tell you that an app has got me out of more situations than I care to remember, it’s Waze. I hate traffic, can’t stand traffic and would rather drive around the ‘back-doubles’ than sit in traffic.
Was works by tracking other drivers’ journeys once they’re logged into the app and presents to you a journey planner that takes into consideration what is happening on the road, including how fast other road users are travelling and therefore detecting traffic, if there has been an accident etc – its fabulous. Users can also report what is happening on the roads, such as car accidents, road works, even police sightings and speed cameras. It’s the Facebook of sat-nav! Super easy to use too and you can store home, work and favourite journeys.
Last but by no means least, love it or hate it the last app on this list has got to be Uber. Uber is available across Europe and of course the US. It has got me to the airport on time when other transfers have let me down. Uber has got me across the City when there are no black cabs to be found and its pouring down with rain or my shoes are killing me (come on we’ve all been there, right?!) and Uber has got me safely home after a rather late night out on the town with friends.
It even helped us on the school run when the car had a flat tyre one morning. Poppy now considers Uber a normal method of transport – “I think that’s our Uber Mama”, *points to random Prius in the road*. She does make me laugh.
Knowing how much your journey is going to cost you before you get in your cab is a bonus, as is sharing your ETA and location with someone you know if you’re travelling on your own. I haven’t used the ‘Uber Pool’ feature and I’m not sure if I would.
Find out how to share your location in an Uber here.
It’s not without its issues sometimes, but in terms of contingency planning and for ease of not needing to travel with cash or even a card – Uber is perfect, it’s definitely an app I can’t live without. Even if you prefer getting a black cab, public transport, for contingency purposes Uber is a must-have app on your phone. It also helps that I can use it in most countries when I travel too, oh and lots of Uber drivers use Waze – win:win.
Before I started CorporateStyleStory.com I had some variation of this conversation with myself a number of times…
There are so many fashion bloggers out there, who wants to see another one? If I can even call myself a fashion blogger….
Why am I going so niche, who really cares about what they wear to work?
Ok, say there are a handful of people that do care about work wear, they are probably already following the super established work wear bloggers, why would they follow me?
I’m not a writer, my blog posts will be awful.
Ok… so imagine a handful of people read my blog, what if they don’t like what I have to say?
Do I really want to put pictures of myself on the INTERNET?!
I don’t know how to ‘do’ social media…
I have a demanding job, a young child and a husband, do I have time to blog?
Ok…. let’s say I put some photos out there, I manage to find some people who care about what they wear to work, they decide to follow me and read the blog; I enjoy writing and I’m happy with my style; I create content people may actually like….after all of that – blogging is really hard work, will I just throw the towel in after a while? Which probably means that I shouldn’t even start….
1. You need GOOD photos (that neither me nor Hubs knew how to take).
2. Presuming your fashion blog features you (as opposed to other people), you’ll need to put those photos online – ON THE INTERNET. FOR ALL TO SEE. (Scaryyyyy.)
3. People may or may not like those photos and yet THOSE PHOTOS WILL DETERMINE YOUR BLOGS’ SUCCESS. (Even scarier.)
So anyway, with all of these scary, self-imposed obstacles, I have managed to build and start my blog, grow my readership to tens of thousands of people, gain a social media following of about 20k, work with some great brands, meet amazing people and also be a Finalist in the Brilliance in Blogging Awards by Britmums twice in two years. I have continued to work full time and spend quality time with my family.
So if that wasn’t enough, here are the 5 reasons why I blog:
How to wear a jumpsuit to work? That is the question.
If you’re a fan of trousers, then wearing black or navy trousers to the office can quickly feel like Groundhog Day – there’s only so many times you can put a different spin on this outfit without it getting boring, really quickly.
This is where the jumpsuit comes in. Infinitely versatile, you literally just throw it on, pick up your bag and go. Perfect for the office and then after work drinks, the jumpsuit can be a real life-saver in the navigating-the-workwear-dress-code-restrictions.
With so many varying jumpsuit styles, there’s something for everyone and every work environment, but there are some rules:
When it comes to knowing how to wear a jumpsuit to work, in formal environments it makes sense to go for solid colours in either black, navy or white. Summer may allow seasonal colours and possibly prints (which I’ll come on to later), but the safer choice in a formal environment would be to keep your jumpsuit to these colours for work.
When deciding how to wear a jumpsuit to work, I have a few suggestions for wearing one to a formal office:
If you’ve followed me on social media for any length of time, you’ll know that I love polka dots – they’re so fun, and can be very flattering so a polka dot jumpsuit if a definite yes from me.
The trick with wearing a patterned jumpsuit to the office is to jeep the pattern small or dainty as opposed to bold or bright floral and still within the colour palette.
As much as I love them, these jumpsuits are definitely for creative environments where anything goes, nights out or on the weekends:
The office environment is changing and fashion is moving on and is allowing for women to have more freedom with what they wear to work. A smart jumpsuit with a blazer is enough in a smart casual office and is also perfect for a business lunch. Plan your accessories well and you have the perfect day to evening look too.
For those of you that follow me on social media (especially Instagram Stories) you will see that we take Poppy pretty much everywhere with us – that includes trips into central London, travelling and the occasional date night (when childcare is problematic, you know #parentlife).
So you may or may not be surprised to hear that this year we’re taking her along to our first proper music festival! And not just any music festival, but the biggest and best family festival out there – Camp Bestival.
I’ve wanted to go to Camp Bestival for such a long time and I each year I have seen people at Camp Bestival on social media having a blast, trust me its so well attended and everyone looks like they have an amazing time! So this year, that will be us and I’ll bring you all the behind the scenes content, including festival looks, music acts and all the other kids activities that I know Poppy will love. We are officially Camp Bestival Influencers for 2018 and we can’t wait to go this July!
Just check out this line up of music, activities, food and drinks, comedy and talks taking place at Camp Bestival from Thursday 26th July to Sunday 29th July 2018.
Why yes, there is a theme, this year its “Sets Sail” so expect nautical themed activities, acts and of course fancy dress. I love fancy dress and can’t wait to figure out our costumes. I’ll definitely be consulting Pinterest!
Are you on Pinterest? Follow me @CorporateStyleStory
Over the next few weeks, I’ll bring you posts and content related to Camp Bestival and how to make the most of the Summer Festival season, including where to stay, what to wear and what to do and check out at the festival.
I’m really excited, and I want to do our first music festival properly. If anyone has any suggestions or tips – please let me know, I want to make it amazing.
All tickets are subject to the Camp Bestival Ticket Terms & Conditions
Check out all the Camp Bestival information over on the website www.campbestival.net
Image credit: InthisLoop.com
Topshop has some of the best Summer tops out there at the moment, they’re so versatile and can be worn dressed up or down.
I love wearing a long sleeve top with short shorts (as you may know) or a cropped top with high waisted jeans or even white denim culottes and some flat sandals and a basket bag.
Here’s to hoping that the sunshine stays where it is in London – high in the cloudless sky!
I like to think that I take really good care of my skin after living my teens and early 20s not really paying much attention to it at all about it. Back then I’d just happily put on allllll the make-up and barely take it off!
Nowadays my skincare routine is my self-care thing and I actually really enjoy it, I take my time with it, it feels indulgent and I can make my skincare routine as long or as short as I want to.
My routine changes depending on what my skin needs at that particular time, so I sometimes add products in or swap products for others.
My Spring skincare routine adds in lighter products because the harsh Winter has gone and my make-up is lighter too, but that’s for another post. In Spring, I also need UV protection but more hydration because of the heat.
Skintype: My skin is probably referred to as combination as I experience the odd hormonal break out now and then but can get dry in places.
Avene Cleanance Cleansing Gel £11.00- For gentle but effective cleaning this cleansing gel from Avene has long been in my bathroom cabinet. It helps to balance my skin brilliantly. When the weather starts getting warmer I need to really clean my face in the morning, I’ve probably had a small person
stealing sharing most of my bed from the early hours of the morning, which has made me hot. Make-up looks much better when you’ve done a good skin prep and that for me starts with really clean skin. (It’s also available at Boots and is on 3 for 2 at the moment and also comes in 100ml which I take with me when I travel here) or
Elemis Gentle Cleanser £28.00 – which is a foaming cleanser which I prefer when my skin isn’t necessarily on the oily/blemish prone side this is a very gentle foaming cleanser and doesn’t leave my skin feeling stripped. This removes make-up really well.
Garnier Micellar Water £1.99- I use Garnier Micellar Water for sensitive skin water in my Spring skincare routine twice a day. I like this one one as it’s one of the first micellar waters I’d heard of. I love that I can buy it anywhere (in with the weekly shop) but annoyingly, the bottle is usually 125ml which means it can’t go in carry-on. So I use other brands when I travel. I use micellar water after I’ve used the Avene or Elemis foaming cleansers to remove any last bit of eye make-up and to remove actual cleanser residue from my jawline and hairline.
Side note: If you have blemish prone skin I recommend
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% £5.90 – My skin has a tendency to be on the dehydrated side so in my Spring skincare routine, I like to keep it hydrated by using a hyaluronic acid under my moisturiser. It helps my skin look and feel plump. The prices of these products from The Ordinary are amazing plus they’re actually really effective – this product is about £5.90 direct from ASOS (be quick, because it sells out fast on there) or otherwise you can get it from Deciem directly or Amazon for about £11.00 on Prime (I have no idea what I’d do without Prime in my life).
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Rescue* £40.00 – This is one of my favourite eye creams, I like my skincare to feel like it’s actually doing something and this eye cream helps reduce puffiness, smoothes, refreshes, reduces dark circles, improves wrinkles and gives skin energy. I look forward to putting it on, I really like the consistency.
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream £70.00 – I have been using this moisturiser for at least a year and I think it’s such an effective moisturiser that really keeps my skin moisturised all day. It’s also not full of perfume which is really important to me. I love the smell of certain products but I’d much rather the smell comes from the ingredients than added perfume. This is a great all-round moisturiser regardless of your skin type it also has SPF 15 my skin looks dewy and plumped up after using this.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50 £16.50 – (not pictured) This is one of my favourite SPF products, its super light and is really good if you have skin that is sensitive to the sun or products in general. You definitely need a moisturiser over the top of this as (see below). Poppy and I both suffer with eczema occasionally which we manage well and we have found that La Roche-Posay products are particularly good for us.
Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil – £10.00 for 100ml (not pictured) this is a great first step for melting away make-up including eye make-up. This isn’t effective to remove make-up on it’s own but it does give a good head start. This one from Bobbi Brown is nice and gentle. or I also like to use
Foreo Night Cleanser – £30.00 this is an oil-based night cleanser melts from a gel into a milk. This cleanser removes impurities, makeup and pollutants for a clean and supple skin afterwards. It removes everything but the oil means your skin isn’t stripped.
Clarisonic Cleansing Brush £130.00 or the Foreo Play Cleansing Brush £39.00 – I use either of these according to where I am. I don’t tend to travel with the Clarisonic as it’s quite bulky. My Foreo Play is much more portable (it’s about the size of a golf ball). Using a face brush is so much more effective at cleansing your face than just using your hands. I will alternate using a brush and using an exfoliating product, I never both in the same day.
Lancome Gel Eclat £23.00 – The Elemis Foaming Cleanser I’ve mentioned is really gentle. this one from Lancome is not necessarily ‘gentle’ but it is probably the best cleanser I’ve listed here. If you wear lots of make-up this will literally leave your face feeling squeaky clean.
The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution – This is one of my favourite exfoliators, it’s another sell-out product that removes the top layer of the skin to give brighter appearance, decalog pores and give skin a more even appearance. What’s not to love.
— after exfoliating — The product you put on the skin after exfoliating really matters, your skin will really absorb the product, so at least once a week I use a sheet mask after exfoliating. Some of my favourites are the Charlotte Tilbury Instant Magic Facial Dry Sheet Mask £18.00 – helps my skin looks healthy, glowing and refreshed. If my skin is congested I’ll use Dr Jart Clear Skin Lover Rubber Mask – it really calms my skin down and gets rid of breakouts.
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Eye Rescue – Same as above, the Charlotte Tilbury Magic eye Rescue, I use a bit more at night so it can sink in.
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Night Rescue – I rave about this on my Instagram Stories, I love the consistency as this is actually a balm. My skin feels really hydrated and firm in the morning. Because I put The Ordinary Retinoid on over the top this prevents my skin getting dry.
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% – (not pictured) Another great product from Deciem, adding a retinoid has duel effect for me. Retinoids are amazing for preventing ageing and they’re also great for blemishes and hormonal acne. Win:win.
Trilogy Organic Rose Hip Oil – I alternate this with the Retinoid. Rose Hip Oil is loved by celebrities, models and Royals (David Gandy and Kate Middleton are both fans of Rose Hip Oil). It hydrates, plumps and firms skin. I have just started using the light blend* of this oil which is a swap of the original blend for Spring and I this one is great. Evens skin tone and prevents ageing, and it helps that it totally organic and natural – its a great treatment oil.
As much as we’ve been moaning about the weather recently,
I pray it will get warmer soon so you need to be prepared.
As with managing eczema, some creams and emollients will work and others won’t, it’s a matter of trial and error.
There are two types of sunscreen:
Many people with eczema find mineral-based sunscreens to be less irritating to their skin but this won’t be the case for everybody. Some people with eczema fair better with sensitive, fragrance-free sun scream instead. You need to find out what works for you and your child.
You’re advised to test on a patch of skin 5-days before you go out in the sun or on holiday and see how the skin reacts. It could sting or irritate the skin and you don’t want to be stuck abroad without a suitable alternative.
At the bottom of this post I’ve included some tips for managing eczema whilst in the warm weather or on holiday, that you should consider in addition to a suitable sunscreen for babies and children with eczema.
Here are a few sun creams I’ve found online that are fragrance-free, intended for sensitive or eczema prone skin or are mineral-based. From experience, I’ve found that some of these products aren’t available in stores, so my advice is to shop online.
We have personally used this*, the one above is the baby formulation. It’s slightly thicker than the kids version and goes on white as a guide as most baby sun care products do. This worked well for Poppy without irritation.
We have also used this formulation, less thick than the baby formulation and is one of our favourites. Definitely needed 2 of these for a 10 day holiday last year.
Also comes in SPF 30+ here
Also comes in a version for Toddlers, here
I will be adding more sun cream for babies and children with eczema as I find them. If you have any reviews of these creams, please do share.
For more details about the National Eczema Society you can call them on 0800 089 1122, email firstname.lastname@example.org. or visit
The above post is not to be considered medical advice, and nor are you to use the information contained in this post instead of seeking medical advice from a qualified medical practitioner. Please contact your GP or the National Eczema Society if you have concerns regarding your skin or the effective management of eczema.
The trench coat is one of the most versatile pieces in your work wardrobe. It’s a wardrobe staple that you can wear forever.
My first ever trench coat was the Burberry Gabardine trench, I have literally had it forever. We all know Burberry and Aquascutum are well known veterans when it comes to trench coats. Here are some from the high street and beyond for you to consider for this season.
With life the busiest it’s ever been and with so many ways to get distracted, spending time planning your day and preparing yourself up to be productive is one of the best ways to spend your limited time.
Lots of us are trying to squeeze lots of things in to our already busy day. Things we’re trying to organise, fit in, balance and figure out, so there needs to be some kinda method to the madness if you’re going to be productive instead of feeling like you spent your day doing nothing significant to speak of.
The truth is that I was a terrible procrastinator. I knew exactly what I had to do, but I used to put things off and leave things ’till the last minute. Procrastinating isn’t going to help you achieve anything you want to. So I have spent a lot of time learning about why people procrastinate, how to beat procrastination and as a result, I learned how to be more efficient with my time.
I read books, I listened to podcasts, I spoke to people that I considered to be one of those ‘super efficient’ types, I read blogs and most importantly, I then put what I had learned into practice.
Taking action instead of procrastinating and repeating this a few times over finally meant that I have learned a new habit and I although I still procrastinate from time to time, I feel like I know what I am doing.
I recently wrote one of my most shared blog posts, 6 Scientifically Proven Ways to Beat Procrastination – I wanted to share with others what had worked for me, how I’d really learned how to stop procrastinating and get sh*t done.
When you become an adult and you set out in the world on your own, unless you have paid for a life coach or enlisted the hope of an accountability partner, there is nobody breathing down your neck or cheering from the side lines, encouraging you to get things done. This can be a blessing and a curse. We all want freedom, but sometimes without some pressure we can all just coast and not get on with what we know we should.
When you’re trying to make it in your chosen career, working to create a successful side hustle, or learn a new skill, or achieve a goal – it’s all down to you to take action.
If you don’t get what you want done then guess what, nothing happens. Nobody is asking you where that piece of work is, nobody is emailing asking where you have got to with x, y or z and there are no KPIs to to report against. Nothing. If you don’t work, it doesn’t get done and then it’s just you – with no outcome and the thing you want still sitting on your “someday” list.
So seeing as I have goals I want to achieve, my beloved Poppy and husband that I want to spend time with, I had to figure out how to spin lots of plates.
Think about a successful person you know. Now think about what makes that person successful and you’ll likely discover that actually, they do not have super powers or anything necessarily remarkable about them (unless of course you are Beyonce?!). But the things that’ makes them special is that they have clearly defined their goals, have used their time efficiently and have created a habit out of managing their time well to move closer what they want, and have continued to take that action consistently.
“use their time efficiently”
“create a habit out of it”
“do this consistently”
But nothing happens overnight or without effort. We live in a world where everyone wants things instantly. It doesn’t happen like that. One of my favourite quotes is:
“If you look really closely, every overnight success took a really long time”.
I’ve found that learning to use my time efficiently was achievable when I decided to put my mind to it. Creating a new habit after years of procrastinating was tough. Managing my time efficiently and taking small steps towards what I want over and over again is challenging, but I’m doing it gradually (inbetween spinning all of the plates).
Another one of my popular posts, How I Set New Years Resolutions I Actually Achieve is a good read if you want to get started with goal-setting.
You also don’t have to do this on a grandiose scale, this planning can be for the day. Decide what you want to achieve that day and get on with doing it. The act of planning on it’s own will have a huge impact n what you actually get done, trust me.
How many times have you said or heard someone say “I can’t do A, B and C because I’m doing X, Y and Z”? I’ve heard this so many times and I’ve definitely said it myself a few times. The truth of the matter is that we all make times for the things that we want to do.
Do the maths. Calculate how you spend your time that doesn’t help you to achieve your goals:
– Watching Telly/Netflix/YouTube
– Scrolling through Instagram/Facebook/Twitter
– Chatting with friends about nothing in particular on WhatsApp/Phone/Facetime
I was definitely spending at least 2 hours a day on WhatsApp(!), a couple of hours watching the telly and the rest of the time on social media, doing not very much. This was in-between parenting or trying to keep on top of the household laundry/cleaning.
Review where you are spending your time and decide what’s really important to you and prioritise those things.
Turn the commute or driving time into a useful time when you can either get something done or learn something.
I’ve been “reading” books and courses using Audible and have been listening to podcasts for years. They’re a great way to use otherwise ‘dead’ time when I’m driving, walking or at the gym. Just think, the radio plays the same music and lengthy adverts over and over again, so switch it off and learn something or catch-up with what’s going on in a specific niche related to your goals and really use that time the best way you can.
This is my podcast co-host Mel’s favourite tip on how to be more productive and I’m inclined to agree. She doesn’t go grocery shopping and she doesn’t cook. I’m not quite there, but here are the things I have outsourced:
The idea is to spend your time doing the things you WANT to do and will bring you closer to your goals and not the things you HAVE to do. Also, it’s ok that some things just don’t get done. If things aren’t outsourced and still don’t get done, it’s fair to say that those things aren’t a priority to me and that’s ok.
Steven Covey the author of ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, has a great method to help you categorise the tasks that are on your to do list and determine the priority in which you do those things.
The age-old to do list is a good productivity tool, but not on its own. Without a proper system behind it, a to-do list is a never ending, out-of-control reminder that you’re not ticking things off quickly enough before a whole bunch of new things just get added to it.
Prioritise those things on this list and have more control of the never-ending to-do.
Before you organise your day, it’s definitely a better use of your time to find out how best you work before setting yourself up for some sort of unworkable structure. Instead of dragging yourself out of bed at 5am if you’re going to be miserable for the rest of the day because you’re not a morning person, figure out if you’re more likely to be productive at different times of days than others.
I’m a morning person, but because Poppy wakes up early if I do, it doesn’t really work for us logistically. So I have to be a night owl and get stuff done when she’s in bed.
Lots of people say ‘start before the sun comes up’, but that also means going to bed at a reasonable hour, you can’t burn the candle at both ends (trust me I’ve tried, don’t).
It sounds so simple, but it’s been so beneficial for me to create a routine with the effect of eliminating some of the morning stress and start the day off on the best foot possible:
– I get all of Poppy’s uniform ready the evening before (I’m pretty sure all parents of school-age children do this?);
– I plan my own ‘uniform’ in my head for the next day (and
pray make sure it doesn’t need ironing!);
– I write out a list of the things I want to get done work-wise the next day;
– I also write out a list of personal to-do’s that I want to get done the next day; and
– I sort out what I’m doing for lunchtime next day (Do I have time to go out for lunch and catch-up with someone? Or will it be working lunch?)
I have actually used this system on and off since my exams and it works incredibly well and builds discipline.
If you haven’t already heard of it, the Pomodoro technique was created in the 1980s by Frances Cirillo and gets its name from the old style tomato timers (Pomodoro means ‘tomato’ in Italian) and this is the process:
The breaks are like a carrot and you feel like you’ve earned those moments of doing nothing during the day (for checking Instagram).
Let’s face it, there are so many things to be distracted by, not getting distracted should actually be rewarded with more than just a break to scroll through Instagram. Sometimes I feel like it deserves a bottle of champagne!
I worked at a large corporate where I had a colleague there who always stayed late. She was the first one in the door and the last one to leave. Everyone thought that she was super keen and really committed to her job. One evening when we both happened to be staying late, I recall her saying “just because I’m here late, doesn’t mean anything, I may I may not be very efficient or I may take longer to get my head around things…”.
This always stuck with me. Although I didn’t know exactly why she stayed (it really didn’t matter to me) her reason for staying later than the rest of us could have been for a number of reasons and not all of them were positive. She said so herself.
Don’t subscribe to presenteeism. Aim to be more productive not more busy. Forget what people around you may or may not be saying. Work smarter and not harder by having proper systems in place that help you get more done in less time by figuring out what works best for you.
There are people are there that are a hell of a lot more busy than you or I and they figure it all out somehow. Find out what you need to improve on and get on with learning how to improve it. We all need to start somewhere.
These are some of the books I’ve read and recommend reading some of these for more detail on how to be productive:
This is where I am at the moment, I was thinking of posting my daily schedule and actually listing how I fit in the blog and a work day, Poppy, making dinner, spending time with my husband and self care – if you guys would be interested in that, leave me a comment below or drop me message somewhere on socials.
Trousers – Zara, here
Jumper – Zara, sold out, on eBay here
The freedom to work from home is one of the perks of working in the 21st century. Regardless of how you’ve come to be working from home, having a home office beats working from your bed any day.
I’m in the process of designing my home office; when you move into a new home, the living spaces and bedrooms take precedence, but now the home office I need has to come next.
I want to create somewhere the inspires creativity and helps me to focus. I can’t yet decide between the lovely dark blues that are so on trend at the moment and something light and airy that will reflect light.
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