How to get the Instagram Lifestyle, and is it Worth it?

Instagram LifestyleHow to get the Instagram Lifestyle, and is it Worth it?

Instagram is hardly instant anymore, so it comes as no surprise that people’s feeds are heavily curated. I think it’s fair to say that most of the people dedicating their time to it have distanced themselves from the original ‘meaning’ behind the platform. And why not? It’s almost become a portfolio of sorts for budding photographers, influencers and socialites alike. My own Instagram is littered with photos from my travels, right down to my daily activities. My friends look at my Instagram and the reactions range from positives such as ‘wow your apartment is so stylish’ to the more negative ‘you only care about trendy, pretty things’. Neither could be further from the truth, but who better than a friend to keep you grounded, am I right?

Is the Instagram lifestyle worth it?

Curating an instagram feed isn’t easy. There are so many things to consider, from colour palettes to posting times, using the correct hashtags…the list goes on. For some it’s their job, which in some ways can make things a little bit easier. However when you’re working a full-time job and just do blogging on the side, well that’s when things begin to get a bit more stressful. I’m lucky enough that my career is in marketing, so I get to read articles on the latest algorithms (yay) for a living. That said, after a long day curating someone else’s Instagram feed, I don’t necessarily feel like coming home and working on my own. In fact most evenings I turn my phone off entirely, purely to avoid stress.

How to get the Instagram lifestyle

My advice for people who want to start an instagram, or take their own more seriously, is to relax and take it easy. Don’t look at it as a full-time job (unless it is your job), and take it step-by-step. You’ll enjoy the whole experience a lot more if you don’t associate it with numbers and anxiety. That doesn’t mean you can’t be ambitious though. It’s about finding a happy medium where you can put some time aside to do your research, and work on it. In a world overflowing with social media content, genuine TLC is more noticeable than ever.

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Choosing a Wedding Dress: The Stress of Buying ‘The Dress’

Choosing a Wedding DressThe Stress of Buying ‘The Dress’ – Choosing a Wedding Dress

The time had come for the most memorable, and supposedly fun, part of wedding planning. It was time to buy my wedding dress. I had already decided that I didn’t want a “conventional” wedding dress. That meant no bridalwear shops, and definitely no sticking to tradition. I thought this would make things a lot less stressful, boy was I wrong.

Where do you even begin looking for a wedding dress, if not in a wedding dress store?! Well I had some ideas, but I also had one big hurdle to get over before I would be able to put them into action.

The Stress of Buying ‘The Dress’

When I told my mum that I didn’t want a big, white ‘traditional’ dress, and that I’d probably just go out and buy it by myself, she was visibly upset. Although she reassured me that she just wanted me to be happy, I knew how much being a part of the decision meant to her. The fact that she wanted me to have a dress that was for me, and me alone, meant a lot to me. So I booked in for one bridalwear shop, and invited her – and my soon-to-be mother-in-law – to come along. And what did I do? I paraded around in some fancy dresses (see below) that cost way too much money, and made ‘the mums’ (their collective name) well up.

I’m honestly glad I did it, because everyone was so happy, and I had a lot of fun. It also brought some clarity; as I was trying the dresses on, I knew I’d made the right decision. They were beautiful gowns, and I looked damn good in all of them, but they just weren’t me.

Choosing a Wedding Dress

In the end I went to Liberty with ‘the mums’, VA, and my sister-in-law. I was worried I’d end up walking around for hours and not find anything. Again I proved myself wrong. I made a beeline for one of my favourite designers, and there it was. The dress. That’s all I’m going to say for now, but I truly can’t wait to wear it and show everyone later this year.

I think ‘the dress’ should be a reflection of you. Weddings are stressful enough without being stuck in an outfit that you’re not comfortable in. I don’t think you should be held to a social construct that says it has to be big and grand, or that you can’t wear anything other than white. Unless of course that’s what you want, in which case, you do you! After all it is supposed to be the happiest day of your life.

Need more advice than just choosing a wedding dress? Check out my Wedding Series.
Header image: Charisse KenionChoosing a Wedding Dress

Why I Buy Expensive Clothing and You Should Too

Buy Expensive ClothingWhy I Buy Expensive Clothing and You Should Too

A few years ago I had an epiphany. I was doing fashion all wrong. I was spending a ton of money on cheap clothing that I didn’t really care about. It would fall apart after a few wears, and if it didn’t I would throw it out (read: give to charity) after only a few months. I decided it was time to change the way I viewed clothing. I decided it was time to start buying expensive clothing.

Before we get into things, I’d just like to say that this is in no way me boasting, let me make that clear. I save for all of my clothing, and I don’t buy anything when I don’t have the money to do so. I also realise that not everyone can save, and sometimes you just need or want to buy something inexpensive and trendy. At the end of the day this is just a simple guide for those who want to try and be a bit more conscious with their wardrobes.

Why I Buy Expensive Clothing

When I say expensive clothing I’m not talking about £500 t-shirts. I mean spending £30+ on a t-shirt or £100 on a pair of jeans etc. All of which are much cheaper than their designer counterparts, but relatively expensive compared to the fast fashion you find on the high street.

But why should you be spending more on clothing?

  • Fast fashion is…fast
    • It is not made to last. It’s trend based, which means that it has to be created quickly and cheaply (for the brand). This often means the wages and working conditions of the labourers creating the pieces is low too. I’m not saying more expensive brands are immune to this, but it’s certainly more prevalent in fast fashion brands.
  • Don’t buy trends, buy timeless
    • Trends can be cute & fun, but they’re also stressful to keep up with, as well as being heavy on the pocket. Consider buying pieces you can see yourself wearing over and over, for years to come. Example: a pair of quality jeans, or a fitted blouse.
  • Invest in quality over quantity
    • Honestly this should be my life motto because I throw it about so often. Quality pieces last, which means you don’t have to buy a new item of clothing every other month, year etc. Example: I try to only buy natural fabrics as they last longer and are much more comfortable. 
  • It actually saves money
    • Be considerate of how much you’re spending and what you’re spending it on. A few years ago I was buying countless amounts of clothing from high street brands, and I was actually spending more money (on a monthly basis) on clothing than I do now.
  • It helps you appreciate what you have
    • It’s quite easy to not put any value on fast fashion. It comes and goes with our tastes and trends. When you save for something it has meaning and sentiment. You’ll also be more likely to think twice before throwing out something expensive. I know I do!

Would you be willing to buy expensive clothing? Let me know in the comments!
Read more of my articles on wellbeing and style.

Buy Expensive Clothing Buy Expensive Clothing Buy Expensive Clothing

Stop Stealing Photos: A Polite Request to Brands

Stop Stealing PhotosStop Stealing Photos: A Polite Request to Brands

It seems that I can’t go a month without someone using my photos without my consent. “Wait, what? No that can’t be the case, surely everyone has the moral integrity not to steal content” I hear you say. Well you would be wrong. Both brands and bloggers have used my photos for promotional posts, to populate their social channels, and even on posts that feature sponsored content. Yes you heard me correctly, people have outright taken my images, without my knowledge, for content they are being paid for. Crazy, right?

Stop stealing photos

This week I was reminded of my disdain when a blogger I highly respect, noticed a brand she previously worked with had taken it upon themselves to use every single photo (that featured their product) she had taken since. This in turn reminded me of a friend who was sent a product and kindly featured the product in a few photos on her Instagram page. The brand then used these photos, and then a whole bunch of random photos from her page to populate theirs. I’ve been thinking about both of these cases for a few days now, and it’s kinda bugging me.

Is it really too much to ask brands to stop stealing photos? There’s a fine line here, and it’s smack bang in the middle of a very grey area. So how do we combat it, as bloggers, and as people who occasionally need to feature others content?

What can we do about it?

  • Just ask!
    • Most bloggers would be happy for their work to be featured on your Instagram etc. if you just ask first. Contacting the blogger leaves space for a healthy conversation about crediting and payment.
  • What do you say to the brand?
    • I have a template – yes that’s how bad it’s become – that I copy-paste into a comment/email whenever I spot someone using my photos. I politely ask them to either remove the photo or give the appropriate credit. 9 times out of 10 brands will remove the photo or give me the credit I ask for once I hit them with it.
  • Ask to be paid 
    • This is a tough one as most brands/people will either ignore you, or get annoyed when you bring money into the mix. Of course you will need to tread lightly, but why shouldn’t you request payment? Especially if you’re a freelancer and your content is being used in marketing campaigns.
  • It takes time and hard work to take photos
    • Think before you take a photo. Not only are there copyright laws to consider, but morally it’s just not cool.
  • Where can you go for decent, royalty free photos?
    • Try unsplash – the talented photographers who contribute to this site are happy for their photos to be used on blogs, social etc. Remember to share the love and credit the photographer where possible.

I know this is happening to photographers and content creators of all kinds alike. And I’m certainly not the be all and end all of knowledge on this. This is just my personal take on something that has affected me. I hope we can all work together to promote each others work, and stop this from happening.

Read more of my articles on blogging and social media.
Image source: Mia Domenico

5 Ways to Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding

Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding5 Ways to Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding

There aren’t many big events in life that are more stressful than planning a wedding. You have to write up guest lists, arrange menus, find a dress…etc etc. And amongst other things you have to spend a ton of money. A few of my friends are also planning weddings this year, and they’ve commented on how calm I’m remaining about the whole thing. So I thought I’d share my secret on how to keep calm while planning a wedding.

5 Ways to Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding

  • Tackle the tough stuff first
    • Getting all the time sensitive things (venue, catering, photographer etc) out of the way first; it will take some of the weight off your shoulders. Of course there’s still plenty to do, but it won’t feel as big a burden.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
    • This is one of the most important things to remember. You can’t always do everything by yourself. So whether it’s a family member who makes great cakes, or a friend who’s DIY savvy, don’t be afraid to ask for their help. You’d be surprised at how many people will feel honoured to be a part of your big day.
  • Be selfish…kinda
    • This is yours, and your partners, wedding day. Don’t let your family and friends take over or try to butt in. Most of it comes from a good place, but it can be overwhelming and stressful. Tell them when it becomes too much, and let them know that you appreciate their help, but sometimes you’ve got to do things for yourself.
  • Get wedding insurance
    • It might sound boring, but this is one important task you shouldn’t forget. Companies such as John Lewis and Debenhams offer cover on everything from your caterers, right down to the cake.
  • Take some time away
    • Wedding planning can be extremely stressful, so it’s important to remember that sometimes it’s ok to take a break. In fact it can often help to leave a task and come back to it at another time. Try setting specific dates for planning, but remember to balance them out with free days too.

If you enjoyed my ‘5 ways to keep calm while planning a wedding’ check out the rest of my Wedding Series.

Keep Calm While Planning a Wedding

5 Tips for Slow Living in London | Wellbeing

Tips for Slow Living5 Tips for Slow Living in London

Last year I wrote an article discussing the art of slow living and whether it was possible to do whilst living in a busy city such as London. I talked about the difficulties involved, but also the importance of wellbeing. I simultaneously ran a poll on my Instagram, asking my followers whether they thought it was possible. Most people believed it wasn’t, and as optimistic as I am, I can understand why. So I decided to update my slow living series, and bring you all some tips for slow living in London, because I do honestly believe there is the possibility for us all to bring a little bit of calm and wellbeing to our everyday lives.

5 Tips for Slow Living in London

  • Make time for your mental wellbeing
    • Living in London, a city full of opportunities, it can be easy to just say yes to everything. And before you know it your calendar is heaving with social activities. But it’s important to realise when you can, and should, say no.
  • Turn your phone off/say goodbye to social
    • Social media and messaging apps can cause a lot of stress, whether it’s intentional or not. Try putting aside a few hours everyday, where you switch your phone off, and put your laptop down.
  • Less is more
    • Visiting new restaurant openings, or buying the latest on-trend items can be tempting in a city like London. But it’s not always rewarding. Try doing/buying less, and focusing more on the quality of the experience or item. It will help you appreciate it more, and it will save you some money along the way too.
  • Make more of your evenings 
    • Working 9-5 can be draining, and a lot of people cherish their free time in the evening, so why not make more of it? Light some candles, put your favourite music on, have a bath, make a meal from scratch. All little things that when put together can be incredibly satisfying and relaxing.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
    • One big underlying problem in most people’s lives is the fear of missing out, or the idea that someone else has a better life than you do. It’s important not to compare yourself to others. After all, the grass isn’t always greener, and the world isn’t going to end if you don’t attend a social event.

If you have any tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments.
If you enjoyed my tips for slow living in London, check out more of my wellbeing articles here.

 

Sexual harassment: how it has changed me

sexual harassmentSexual harassment: How it has changed me

From a young age I’ve had ‘large breasts’; they were there, they were big and they got noticed. My high school years were plagued with comments about them, and how I should show them off more. This kind of attention was mainly from my peers, but it also came from older men. Men in a position of authority. Men who were preying on a young girl. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but looking back on it now, it was clearly sexual harassment. It’s even more infuriating when I think about how it has changed me as a person.

Sexual harassment has changed me

I rarely wear low cut or tight fitting tops, instead I cover up with oversized clothing. And when I do wear them, I feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. Friends, family and even random men have told me that I should ‘be happy that [I] have big breasts’. Because apparently having smaller breasts would make me somehow less satisfied with my life?

A few years ago I was openly groped in a public area. A man came up to me in the middle of the street, grabbed my breasts and squeezed them. When I shouted at him, he laughed in my face and walked off. The people around me who saw the incident did nothing. They said nothing. Last year I was sexually assaulted, again in a public place, but this time it was much worse. And again, no one helped me. Not even the authority figure I went to in my time of need. I felt helpless.

Where do we go from here?

I want some good to come from what has happened. I don’t want to change how I dress or act because of what has happened to me. I want to fight for what is right, and stand beside those who need our support.

I don’t care if someone wants to wear a low cut top and a mini skirt, or chooses to cover up entirely – wear whatever makes you happy and comfortable. Women should be able to dress and act how they like without the fear of sexual harassment. I’m tired of women being objectified. I’m tired of how society deals with sexual harassment. It’s time for change!

There is so much more I could say on this topic alone, but maybe that is better left for another time and another place.
Please do feel free to share your personal stories and views on the topic in the comments though.