Caribbean Diary
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Hello from me, but a more tanned version than usual (only slightly, I never tan). I have just got back from the most incredible week away in the Dominican Republic with Lindsey. We went for an entire week, stayed in three completely stunning hotels and relaxed loads. It felt like a proper holiday and I am back home feeling so well rested, it's amazing. The only not so amazing thing about all of this is that my beloved film camera broke on our first day there. I was SO gutted about it. It's been a little workhorse for the past six months where I have used it relentlessly without any issue. Typically it had to break while I was away on a dream trip, but I did manage to get about seven photos on it before it gave up (and some really cool effects too on the last few frames as the camera died), and the rest I had to shoot on my phone. I wouldn't normally share phone photos on my blog so I hope you all don't mind, I have done what I can to make them a little more interesting, and it won't be something I make a habit of. I have a new film camera on the way so will be back with 35mm photos very soon, I am just sorry I couldn't capture this amazing trip on film! 

If you want to see some holiday outfits then go check my Instagram, because this is going to be my one and only post from the trip. Partly due to the aforementioned camera issues, but also because we actually went for a little bit of a holiday and nothing too work focused.. and I also didn't want to be the mega annoying person bombarding you all with sandy beaches and blue skies in February. 

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So throughout our week we stayed at three different places. The first, Casa Bonita, was the most low key of the three. We were still completely blown away by the place. The pool was gorgeous with the most amazing views, the staff incredibly tentative and scenery around is was just beautiful. As it isn't peak season there we were lucky to be pretty much alone in every hotel, which is great if you like to get loud and a bit drunk by the pool and not be incredibly annoying. And that is just what we did every single day, sat, read and drank by the pool and had the most amazing massage at the spa that I've ever had. 

From there we went to Casas Del XVI, right in the heart of Santo Dominico it's a completely different vibe. The hotel is set out in a series of different houses, each with a few rooms in each and a private pool - imagine a hotel spread out throughout a number of villas, all of which decorated in the most vibrant way. It's a complete departure from the minimal paired back style of many other luxury hotels I have stayed in, I loved it. We had our own butler (!!!!!) who was incredible and also took a mean Instagram photo so I am not sure what more we could ask for. 

From there we took another drive to Amanera. Both of us were convinced nothing could top Casas Del XVI, without having considered that two places could be so different from one another they are almost incomparable. This was completely the case with Amanera. The views over the sea, 'casitas' (little villas you stay in, some have pools depending on how flush you're feeling) and then the main building where you eat/drink/swim. The architecture and interiors were incredible, concrete walls, rich wooden fixtures and some of the most amazing chairs I have ever laid eyes on. The villas themselves are gorgeous too, we didn't have our own pool but you still get a huge outside area to sunbathe in. They also offer a lot of excursions, one of which was horse riding which was SO much fun. It had make me want to start doing it back home but my bum is still hurting a few days on so I've since scrapped that idea. 

All in all it was the trip of a lifetime. Huge thank you to Mr & Mrs Smith who helped us organise the trip and the hotels. The experience was incredible. We flew with TUI which I would NOT recommend to anyone because the customer service may as well have been in Latin it was that unclear, but even that couldn't put a dampener on paradise! 

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Embracing Sexy
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Recently I have had more and more comments about appearing sexier online, in video and photos. It really got me thinking about the different ways you can present yourself online, and the different factors that come into creating an end result that can be perceived as sexy - sometimes I am totally aware of what that end result may be, and other times I don’t anticipate the response I get from you guys. I want to make it clear that the way you all comment on my content is always amazing, constructive, complimentary and 100% welcome and appreciated. I love the discussions that opened up on my latest video about the sexiness of it, some people feeling it wasn’t too OTT, and even if it was that was totally okay, and others feeling it was too much of a departure from previous content and was constructed too much within the male gaze. It really got me thinking about it all, and these images seemed the perfect set to share alongside this discussion. 

 

I know I have been putting out content that is sexier, and the turning point for that was two fold; being single, and being more aware of my body. I don’t necessarily mean body confident, just an awareness. It’s something I have had since working out regularly, which for obvious reason makes you really aware of any changes in your body and how you want it to be for you to feel your best. It made me dress differently because I became more and more aware of the parts of myself I liked the most, and disliked the most too (e.g shorter hem lines, I know my legs are long. Nothing too tight on my tummy, it’s never flat enough). In terms of being single, I guess that’s pretty self explanatory. That introduces an awareness to how people respond to you that I never really considered before, and generally has marked a new chapter of my life.

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Generally, sexiness is something I want to see in my style more and more. I have always loved the androgynous and oversized style on women, and I still do, but to incorporate an element of sexiness into that introduces another dimension into things. I think that it also can be really subtle, perhaps more of an attitude than just flashing skin, and perhaps that attitude is what you guys have been picking up on recently. That attitude of course comes and goes. These photos, and the video I keep referring too, were all created on the same day when I was feeling good. Lots of small things contributed to that; I was excited to be shooting in a location, the last time I did that was the first time I really saw myself differently (and more sexy). I got Dean to trim my fringe, anyone with a fringe will know the huge difference a fringe trim can make when you actually can see again and don’t see your hair as an annoyance. I was using a new foundation (It Cosmetic's CC Cream) and my skin looked really good. And I fake tanned the night before, it always makes me feel better. So many small factors that just meant I felt good on that day, and it comes across in a confidence which translates to a sexiness. Believe me, I have days where I am shooting and I am in a stinker of a mood, and you would never get content with this vibe from me then, even if I put on the sexiest outfit I could think of. 

Small things like not wearing a bra are something I want to address too. It’s a super simple thing for me; the look of a white t-shirt where you can see your nipples is something I like. It’s that simple. It’s not for everyone, and there is every chance I will look back in a year and think ‘Jesus women, can you put on a bra’ - but I know I will also remember that it was what I liked at the time and you should always just wear whatever makes you feel good at any given time. I have said before that I look at photos of 17 year old me out in Leeds with a skirt so short no dignity was left and the most intense push up bra I could find. I wouldn’t wear it now, but i felt amazing at the time and so I don’t cringe at it one bit. 

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What I want to make clear is that I don’t ever want to create content for, or dictated by, the male gaze. Whether a man is behind the camera or not, my content is always a reflection of how I am feeling at the time, and how I want to present to you guys (90% of you are women too, but hello to that 10% of men here). I always have women in mind when I create content, I guess that’s obvious as this is about my style as a women. But more than that, how I am navigating my 20s as a woman, and how I am using fashion to express how I am feeling at any given point. At this point in my life, sexiness is something I want to portray in my style from time to time, especially on the days I am feeling confident. I will write about the days I feel less confident soon, because they come frequently and just like everyone else, I can spend time on Instagram looking at girls with a face and body I will never have. But we all have to embrace the days we feel confident, and take a million photos to commemorate them if you can. 

Let me end on a big thank you to you all for opening up these discussions. I love it so much, am never offended by it and always welcome it! Let’s all hang tight for the blog post in a years time saying ‘Why Did I Never Wear A Bra?’, or maybe ‘Boobs By My Knees, Let’s Remember The Good Old Days.’ 

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PHOTOS BY DEAN MARTINDALE

Shot From The Jungle
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Anyone who reads blogs regularly will have come across many posts where we claim our inspiration is drying up. It happens to me all the time - sometimes just for a frustrating afternoon, other times for infuriating weeks on end. It can be so incredibly annoying, but is part and parcel of any creative job. I think it's partly due to constantly creating content - I never take time away from it, because I love to do it and just don't want to, but it means I never step back from it. So sometimes you have to find ways to refresh things without actually taking that step back. A big one for me is shooting in new places. Whether that be through travelling to new cities, exploring a new part of London (something I never do and need to do more) or, as is the case here, hiring out a studio. 

I did this for the first time last Autumn and got some of my favourite ever photos from it. Since living in London and being rather obsessed with my own flat, I have really come to love shooting indoors, so working from a studio has been the perfect way to take things a little further. Also, as a little side note, my favourite place to find locations is on Shoot Factory and it doubles up really nicely as an amazing website to stalk for interiors inspiration - I have spent more time than I care to admit feeling fascinated at the houses some people live in!

So this is the third post I am sharing what we shot in the studio, and I have a couple more to come too. It has certainly worked for making me feel inspired because it has made me think more and more about Spring/Summer content and everything I want to create once the weather permits. As I mentioned the other day I have been in the Dominican Republic for the past week (We leave tomorrow, nooooo!!!) so the outdoors and jungle vibes have been continuing in a big way for me too. 

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TROUSERS: c/o URBAN OUTFITTERS | KNIT: KHAITE | SHOES: SAINT LAURENT 

PHOTOS BY DEAN MARTINDALE.