I love Holst+Lee necklaces

(Holst+Lee collar with stones, ShopBop.com, £261.74)

Wow, I just found this amazingly beautiful jewellery brand – Holst and Lee and I WANT one of their necklaces! May be some time before I can afford one though..

Holst & Lee are a US jewellery brand founded by New Yorkers Natalie Holst and Rochelle Lee and since bursting onto the fashion scene towards the end of 2011, they have been featured in the likes of Vogue, thanks to their eye-popping colours and sculptural appearance.

(Holst+Lee four-strand necklace, ShopBop.com, £337.94)

Their debut collection is now available to order from ShopBop.com, but I think it’s only a matter of time before the top UK websites will be stocking them – they’re too beautiful not to share with the rest of the world!

(Visit the Holst+Lee website to check out their latest collection or buy from ShopBop.com)

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Lunchtime heaven

Looking for a way to treat yourself this Monday? Head to the incredible Princi on Wardour Street for fine Italian treats at seriously affordable prices.

Princi is an Italian fast-food restaurant, but in typical Italian style, it’s all class – think upmarket deli, rather than greasy chip shop. The fact that half the customers are Italian is a good sign. On entering the shop, you are met with row upon row of mouth-watering cakes. Be sure to try the dark chocolate and bitter lemon slice – decadence epitomized.

For the main event, there are some lovely salads; ricotta and beetroot, caprese (tomato, basil & mozzarella) and a selection of oven-roasted vegetables. You can also grab slices of crispy pizza, pasta, lasagne, canneloni, melanzane parmigiana (baked aubergine) and much much more. Half the problem is deciding what to choose..it’s all beautifully presented and completely delicious!

What’s great about this place is that it opens late (midnight) so you can grab dinner on the go (they serve wine) or go continental and enjoy an espresso and a slice of one of their cakes before heading home. It can be quite frenetic in there around lunchtime, but the turnover is quick so you’ll be sure to get a table. Alternatively, pick up a box of goodies and take them with you – YUM!

(Princi, 135 Wardour Street, London, W1F 0UT)

You need boucle in your life!

(Brocade Uma Jacket by Iro, My-Wardrobe.com, £600)

You what? Yes, you heard me, you need Boucle! Boucle is a French word meaning “to curl.” It describes a type of yarn, usually three-ply, having one thread looser, which produces a fine, bumpy texture. The Boucle jacket is boxy in shape with a variable collar type from nothing to high-neck to biker. So far so good?

The look is traditionally associated with brands such as Chanel or Maxmara. It is classically elegant, but (if done incorrectly) can look really mumsy. However, the boucle jacket is BIG right now and everyone from H&M right up to the big brand names has a version of the jacket.

(Navy boucle biker jacket, Dorothy Perkins, £49)

I think they look great with really casual, simple separates – let the jacket do the talking and you can’t go far wrong. Great items to pair with this would be a neutral-tone vest, blouse or a contrast cami – i.e. match your top to the trim of the jacket and it will bring out the accent nicely. Some well-tailored trousers / jeans and killer heels complete the look.

I was in love with the Lanvin one, but surprisingly enough, I don’t have £2400 to spend so have settled for this Zara alternative – they have loads this season! Also, check out ASOS and John Lewis for some more pocket-friendly solutions.

(Cream zip blazer, Zara, £69.99)

Vodka at Baltic

A well-hidden gem on the Blackfriars Road (opposite Southwark tube) is Baltic. A Polish / Eastern-European delight which is part-restaurant, part cocktail-bar and wholly seductive. The bar area is Moroccan-inspired (a bit weird for Poland, but nevermind – it works!) and the restaurant is all white with exposed beams. This is particularly lovely when dining in the afternoon as the skylights drench the dining area in light!

Having eaten here twice in the past, I can highly recommend the cuisine. They serve simple, elegant food – such as gradvalax (dill & vodka-marinated salmon) and duck confit with red cabbage. You can’t go far wrong here…everything is delicious! Anyway, I finally returned last night to try out their extensive range of vodka. OK, so I wasn’t there exclusively to drink vodka, that would be worrying, but it is certainly a recommendation as they serve over 60 different types!

After first sampling the fabulous ‘Brazilian Mule’ (Cachaca, apple juice, ginger beer, angostura bitters) I went back to the bar for round 2. My choice was ‘A Copenhagen‘, but when I told the barman, he looked at me sternly, but with concern and said he really didn’t think that was the drink for me and was I sure? Well this certainly threw the cat amongst the pigeons, how could I choose so wrong?! What was so offensive about this cocktail?

Anyway, he politely informed me that the main spirit (Bols Genever Gin) was a cross between a whisky & gin (which sounds gross) so I reconsidered and asked him to make me something with rhubarb vodka which featured heavily on the menu. What returned to me was a fab vodka and prosecco cocktail with plenty of rhubarb flavours and a few strawberries thrown in for good measure. He was right – this was definitely my cocktail!!

(Baltic Restaurant, 74 Blackfriars Road  Greater London SE1)

The trash-fash look

This week I have mainly been thinking about laid back, grunge-style fashion. This may be because I’ve been to 2 gigs in the space of 4 days which somehow means you can’t escape the look. So, today I’m going to show you how to put the ‘trash-fash’ look together and channel your inner Alice Dellal!

So, first port of call would be a good leather jacket – see blog post dated 17th Feb so presuming you have followed these rules and leather is already a staple in the wardrobe, your next essential items are the casual tshirt and the destroyed denim. The key to pulling this off is downplaying it – I’m not suggesting you go hell-for-leather is a crop top and hotpants like Alice – the idea is to make it work for you.

Roll-sleeve tshirts are a must – top of your shoulder / mid-bicep is what you’re aiming for. This gives a somewhat louche appearance. I like the Alexander Wang or Zoe Karssen versions Net-A-Porter currently have or try Topshop / ASOS for more affordable alternatives.

(Zoe Karssen Adieu tshirt, Net-A-Porter, £53)

Destroyed denim shorts – best place for this is undoubtedly Brick Lane. Head to Rokit for some quality vintage and you’re sorted. The prices are ridiculously reasonable (better than on their website.) When searching for perfect denim shorts, the main rules to follow are; wash – get a good stonewash for authenticity and make sure the fit on the waist is good. Once you’ve solved this, you can go about customising the shorts as you see fit (rolling them up, trimming them or destroying them further with scissors.) Ta dah!

(Recycled Denim Turn Up Shorts, Rokit, £24)

Who is Ayah Marar?

Earlier this week I randomly stumbled across a rather amazing woman with an even more amazing voice – introducing Ayah Marar!

Seeing her perform at The Old Queens Head in Angel was a hugely unexpected joy – pure, powerful vocals with plenty of sass and wit thrown in..the crowd were instantly in raptures. On stage with only a solo guitarist for company, this woman needed nothing more to impress us. Altho I think what I liked most was that she was sipping red wine in between tracks – my kind of woman!

Ayah, originally from Jordan, is set to be huge in 2012. She’s been making waves in the music scene for well over 5 years now, callaborating with Calvin Harris and DJ Marky to name, but a few. Now everyone is clamboring to remix her tracks and she is finally getting the airplay she deserves from Kiss and Radio 1Xtra. She’s currently touring (catch her at Brixton Academy on 6th April) and there’s an album in the pipeline.

Check out her latest track ‘Mind Controller‘ and other gems such as ‘Follow Me‘ and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Trust me, it will not be long before everyone knows her name.

(Check her out at http://ayahmarar.com/ or click on the link below to watch her latest video!)

Ayah Marar – Mind Controller

Love for LCC

Today I’m taking you to my favourite cocktail bar..it’s a Wednesday afterall!

London Cocktail Club (or LCC as the regulars call it) is a rather fantastic, reasonably well-hidden bar, down a metal staircase in the basement of one of the shops on Goodge Street. You’re met by an almost pitch-black speakeasy kinda vibe lit with candles, one long bar and a bit of red velvet thrown in for good measure.

What may appear to be a standard cocktail bar at first is brought to life by the ever-cheerful (and attractive) barmen who make it their business to make you feel like guest of honour (no joke) before winning you over with one of their incredible cocktails.

This excellent service isn’t coincidence for in fact these guys were the competition winners of the BBC’s TV show The Restaurant with Raymond Blanc back in 2009 and their concept has proved to be a complete winner with the public too – so much so they’ve just opened a second on Shaftesbury Avenue! Bravo.

The first time I went, they served me up a daiquiri made with jam, in an actual jam-jar tied over with greaseproof paper, topped with a strawberry and dusted with icing sugar. It looked far too beautiful to drink..but somehow I managed it! Other potent options include absinthe-based cocktails such as Death in the Afternoon, the Earl Grey Mar-tea-ni which is served in a mug with a biscuit and the Brixton Riot (which I like purely because I live nearby!)

Anyway, the drinks aren’t the only great thing about the bar, they have tasty bar snacks too, including the salt and pepper popcorn which arrives in a beer mug and chunky chips which are served in cones. I have whiled away many hours in here working my way through the menu and am sure it won’t be long before I go there again. Heaven!

PS. It’s the only place where you’ll hear Ace of Base back to back with some awesome hip hop and it sounds cool, rather than a throw-back to your studo days. GO!

(London Cocktail Club, 61 Goodge Street, W1T 1TL)

The return of Jaeger

Jaeger – some of us may be more familiar with the potent alcoholic connotations this word conjures up, while others of us simply know it as the classic clothing brand which is back with a vengeance and some rather fantastic clothes!

Growing up, Jaeger was the go-to brand for my mum and aunt when there was a special occasion to attend. I remember each season, a particular trip would be made down to House of Fraser to meet with Gilly – the ever-present sales assistant who would send the family home kitted out head to toe in their latest.

(Edie silk skater dress, Jaeger, £199)

The late 90s however saw Jaeger go completely out of fashion and out of our wardrobes. I wore cast-off jumpers from my mum’s closet when I was at uni – not really appreciating this was a bit of a cult-classic about to make a return…anyway, return it did. Now Jaeger has reinstated itself as the leader of classic british style. It has a particular appeal to those of us in our 20s, not only because our mums were all wearing it once upon a time, but because it’s now serving up cutting-edge style!

If you’re not already a Jaeger officionado, here’s what you need to know. The first store started trading in 1884. Set up by Dr Gustav Jaeger, it was based loosely on his theories that humans were happiest dressed in animal hair only. (I know, weird!) Anyway, this paid off as the brand was soon attributed with the introduction of new wools such as camel hair and cashmere. Celebrities then followed suit – take Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe in the 50s. The rest – as they say, is history.

Anyway, since the brand returned with its flagship store on Regents Street, it’s gone from strength to strength. Now stocked by the likes of ASOS.com and regularly featured in trendy fashion magazines such as Grazia you cannot help, but be wooed by the quality items. What I like are the quirks such as interesting prints, buttons and cuts which set them apart from the rest.

(Washed silk shirt, Jaeger, £140)

Note to the discerning shopper – sign up for the newsletter – there is almost always a 20% off deal on something or other of their range. Also, check the sales – the prices are insanely affordable – i.e. great time to pick up a winter coat. It makes similarly priced brands such as Whistles and Reiss seem over-priced. Jaegers all round please!!

Who’s the daddy?

Mexican food – everybody loves a bit!

Fajitas, burritos, tacquitos, tacos..you’re bound to have tried them. But finding a burrito in a hurry isn’t always easy. Step up Daddy Donkey, the ultimate lunchtime burrito van which has a bit of a cult following in the city of London.

I first stumbled accross Daddy Donkey when working in my previous job in Waterloo. My colleagues were so obsessed they would take taxis up there and back, just for a bite of the ultimate burrito – serious dedication to the lunch time cause!

Joel & Sergio – the Daddy Donkey team, first started trading on Leather Lane in 2006 and basically the word got out. They offer 3 types of burrito, 6 filling options, 4 strengths of salsa and a range of extras inc. fresh guacamole (my weakness!) Ask around – you’re bound to know someone who’s tried it and wants to tell you how great it is!

So, don’t just listen to me – get down there and try for yourself. The return taxi may cost more than your meal, but some people say it’s worth it!

(Daddy Donkey, Pitch 100-101, Leather Lane Market, EC1N 7TE)

Do the mono

Confusing seasonal weather? Check. Frizzy hair and skitzophrenic wardrobe choices? Check. It can only mean one thing – March is here. I still can’t wear the delightful ice-cream shades which are in the shops as it’s raining outside, but going full-on Winter seems wrong.

(Tyler jumpsuit [available in black or white], Reiss, £245)

So, what to do? Go mono. By which I mean colour combos such as black and white or navy and cream. These great, interchangeable options will lift your look considerably and work as an excellent trans-seasonal choice.

Check out my thrifty find – the tipped cardigan. This is the easiest look to pull off. Throw this over a cream cami and slip on some navy/black skinny jeans and you are good to go! A classic and timeless look. To avoid looking frumpy, pair with statement jewellery and kick-ass boots. Done!

(Cream Long Sleeve Textured Tipped Cardigan, Awear, £35)

The highstreet is awash with fabulous mono dresses. I have chosen this French Connection jersey version below as I love the stripe detailing and the mid-length will be great with biker boots or sandals come summer. Try Oasis or Principles by Ben de Lisi @ Debenhams for more glamorous alternatives. Sorted.

(Matelot stripe vest dress, French Connection, £47)