I will be 37 in a few months. It sounds as surreal as 2016, which to me still sounds like a science-fiction date. Being 37 is just as sci-fi. My birthday has always been and stayed a very special day. For the last 36 years I have been waking up excited and happy, wearing a sometimes visible, sometimes invisible crown all day. Will it be like that this year too? I really hope so.
In order to prepare myself with as many happy ingredients as I can, I have been looking for the perfect birthday dress for quite some time. Last year’s I was dancing around all day in the wonderful ‘Anouk‘ dress from Mrs Pomeranz. The print was created by children’s illustrator Genevieve Godbout, who also designed the print of one of my favourite dresses by Nadinoo in collaboration with Anthropologie. So this year I decided to go back to Nadinoo and Genevieve for a new favourite dress: the button-up dress with a lovely apple print.
If you have never heard of British designer Nadia Izruna’s label, then you are in for a treat. Her love of clothing and the desire to sew up cheerful, well-designed womenswear spurred her on to start her own label in 2009, Nadinoo.
Moving to the English countryside has had a huge influence over the mood and colours of her latest collection. ‘The Good Life’ is all about relaxing into a slower pace and appreciate all that is good in life. The 100% cotton cloth is printed by a small English print house.
All dresses (and aprons and pillows) are designed and handmade in our countryside studio in limited runs with a focus on quality and craftsmanship. The collection is seasonless, which means I will be able to wear it for years to come: the perfect birthday dress. Goodbye, disposable clothing. Hello, well loved wardrobe worthy of care and perhaps one day passing it on to my niece.
Nadia is really wonderful and she even changed the fitting slightly so the dress would fit me perfectly. And it did… Just look at how the dress was wrapped: all good things made with love should be wrapped like a gift.
Curious about the birthday dress runners-up? Here they are:
From left to right The Women are Boss dress from BOB, Rose Garden dress from Mrs Pomeranz, Anita Moon Print dress from People Tree, Grid Eyelet Sleeveless dress from Orla Kiely
A table that hides things, a pouf to put my feet up after a long day, a couple of matching pillows and a happy carpet: I am so happy with how a few purchases can make you feel as if you have moved house!
- Turning Table by Theresa Arns for Menu: the easiest way to keep the living room nice and tidy. A word of advice: turning the table is addicting!
- Cardboard lamp shade by Props & Backdrops, made to order by the lovely Viola, sliding installation by Leew and Mimimou
- Sofa The Rits by Bertjan Pot. Pinterest had slightly blinded me for a while, so after saving enough to buy this sofa, it turned out to be slightly uncomfortable to sit on. After a year, we had decided to sell her with pain in my heart but inspired by my love for the fifties we actually took it off the market and asked artist Tije de Jong to shorten its tapered metal legs at the top to recreate a mid-century shape. The super perpendicular shape was transformed in a more natural slope which made the sofa super comfortable and inviting!
- Candle Torch large in coral by Petit Friture. I just fell in love with its quirkiness during a weekend in Brussels in the must-visit shop La Fabrika.
- ‘Landscape‘ pillow by Leah Duncan. It is screen printed with water-based yellow, blue, teal and pink ink on soft 100% off-white linen. I could not find an image of mine but here you see the ‘Morse code‘ design which is on top of my must-buy list too.
- There are things we only buy as a gift for someone else. Like a beautiful screen-printed matchbox. I wouldn’t even dare to put it on a wish list. But when I received this sweet and lovely gift from fashion designer Lisan Groters, I sighed of happiness. This square little box makes the ritual of putting the candles on in the evening something I now cherish. Thank you, dear Lisan. If you want to make someone happy, go and buy one.
- My favourite shop in Amsterdam, Leafde, is no longer open but every time I cuddle on the sofa with this warm and soft wool blanket from Lapuan Kankurit, I think of them. The shop closed because we are shopping more online than visiting the shops in our cities. Because we prefer buying ten cheap things from Zara, H&M or Tiger instead of one beautiful, durable item made from natural materials, with care and love. This blanket reminds me how important it is that we surround ourselves with people AND things that make us and the world happy. Or as Marie Kondo would say ‘things that spark joy’.
- Pouf Sit On Me Off White Round by OYOY: you can sit comfortably on the pouf, put a tray on it , move it around easily through its lovely leather handle and use it to put your feet up. A pouf like this is IDEAL to make a house kids proof and if kids are not on your mind, you should buy it too. OYOY is a very nice company too. Bought from here in Holland but pick’n choose from any of these depending on where you live.
PS The lovely elephant jar was given to me as a gift by the bubbly and inspiring Lottaland, the ceramic coasters are made by me, the mug is one my favourites made by Höganäs Keramik, the yellow plant pot is an old pudding form and the rug is from Anthropologie!
Put your favourite red on, pour yourself a cosy drink and turn off your phone: I promise you will not want to put Pretty Honest down. All my best friends, beloved family and as soon as my niece enters her teen, she too, they will ALL get a copy of Sali Hughes’s book, my beloved beauty journalist from The Guardian, The Pool, Sali Hughes Beauty and Soho radio.
In Pretty Honest, Sali Hughes draws on over 20 years of wisdom, advice and expertise to show real women how to make the most of makeup’s physically and emotionally transformative powers.
It’s part instruction manual (foundation and concealer, what on earth should I be using you for? Do I put my serum underneath or on top of my moisturizer? What should be in my essential beauty kit and what is just nice to have?) and part a love letter to make-up and being proud of who you are, which makes it so wonderful to read.
It covers everything: from teenage skin to mature beauty, botox to bridal make-up, sickness to good health.
Things Sali taught me and products she inspired me to try:
- She just turned 40 and is remarkably beautiful. It is a good thing to have inspiring, strong and beautiful women to look up to. Just read her reaction to this moron on twitter. It’s a brilliant lesson for me.
- There is a red lipstick for everyone and wearing one is can transform you from Clark Kent into Superwoman. I love mine from Guerlain, Chanel and Kiko.
- ASTALIFT JELLY AQUARISTA is a wonderful and strange red serum from Fuji (!!!), using patented camera film technology that results in the tiniest microparticles of collagen ever used in skincare.
The texture is strange, like putting gelatine on your face and you really have to use the tiny spatula it comes with. My skin looks really, really good. Everything looks plumper, smoother and even my skin tone is much more healthy than it usually is in winter.
- DOUBLE WEAR ZERO SMUDGE LENGTHENING MASCARA by Estee Lauder: I have written about this mascara before and it is still my absolute favourite. Thanks to its tubing formula it does not smudge or stream
- LONG-WEAR CREAM SHADOW STICK by Bobbi Brown’s A long-lasting, do-it-all eye shadow that’s a stroke of genius—just swipe and go. This budge-proof formula stays put for at least 8 hours. My favourite colour is Golden Bronze. PS Italian budget make-up brand Kiko always has a very similar long-wear shadow stick for a fraction of Bobbi’s. I tend to go back to BB but it’s nice for a crazy colour you will not wear much.
- MASON PEARSON HAIRBRUSH A hand-crafted Mason Pearson leaves hair gleaming, without snag, drag or discomfort.
- ULTRABLAND FACIAL CLEANSER by Lush. A thick cream made from honey, rosewater, iris and almond oil. for a rich, gentle cleanse. It’s thorough, rich and gentle. Just massage it in your skin, also on your eye make-up, and take it off with a too with a hot flannel. Leaves my skin super soft.
- PRO LONGWEAR PAINT POT by MAC. A long-wearing blendable cream shadow that can be worn alone or with other products. I use camel which really evens my eye lid skin after which I have a blank palette for cat eye flicks or a ’natural’ make-up face.
- BLUSH by NARS: a sheer powder blush in a range of natural shades. Yes, I agree with everyone on the planet, Nars’ blush is unbelievably good.
- LIGHT-EXPERT CLICK BRUSH by Terry. Founded by Terry de Gunzburg, the French cosmetic guru behind Touche Éclat. it gives you a near-perfect base that stays put all day and doesn’t make you shiny. It successfully covers spots and blemishes, contains hyaluronic acid, which helps plump up fine lines, and silicone to give you a super-smooth and dewy finish. How to use this? Watch
The thing I love about the internet (one of many things) is that it builds bridges. It connects people who otherwise would have probably never heard of each other. It also connects creators with an audience they would have probably never reached. Mrs.Pomeranz is a sewing studio based in Moscow. Dasha Pomeranz, Masha Kopieva, Tatiana Tokareva and Marina Vasilieva are the talented seamstresses who create beautiful dresses and skirts based on a classical 50’s silhouette.
Oh, and the dresses… the dresses…
Karenina dress by Mrs. Pomeranz :: Angela woven sandals by Chie Mihara
“It all started back in 1993, when kate brosnahan spade, a former accessories editor at mademoiselle, set out to design the perfect handbag. debuting with just six silhouettes. She combined sleek, utilitarian shapes and colorful palettes in an entirely new way: and so kate spade new york was born.”
If you like crisp color, graphic prints and playful sophistication, then you will fall in love with Kate Spade too. I own a lovely watch with a mirror on the inside (super useful when applying lipstick or checking make-up) and the happy phrase ‘live colourfully’. All my dresses have something happy and playful written on their label. Most of her bags have a sopisticated exterior with a polka dot lining. Have I made myself clear? Kate Spade is fun fashion. It’s waking up in the morning and wearing a dress in which you will not only conquer the world but conquer it with a smile.
Bow Tie Marylin dress by Kate Spade :: shoes by Kate Spade but pick’n choose your favourite ones :: envelope clutch inspired by Lee Coren :: white sunglasses by Jil Sander
It’s inevitable. We all cry sometimes. Especially the crying we do when losing someone we love, can affect our daily routine a lot. I am not an advocate of painting yourself a mask of happiness but there are a few things you can do if you really have to literally face others.
1 Apply a tinted moisturizer to even out your skin and get rid of some of the redness (Laura Mercier) 2 dab on a few drops of a liquid blusher, in my experience it doesn’t show ‘streams’ of tears which is good plus it takes 5 seconds to apply and no fuss (Benefit) 3 Extremely important: use a smudge-free mascara. You can remove this with warm water but it will never leave black marks on your skin, it simply dissolves in small black crumbs which are almost invisible after a good cry (Estée Lauder) 4 Lipstick needs too much care and maintenance so I would always opt for a gloss. This one smells good, looks natural and stays on for a long time after which it simply dissolves little by little (MAC)
Our bodies are all shaped differently. That is why it’s important to know what looks good on you, and not what is in fashion. Style is something personal and is all about having fun with a good-fitting wardrobe. Sometimes there is a clash between things you like and things that make you look like the most beautiful version of you. My clothes clash: cute, doll-like sixties a-shaped dresses. If possible with large buttons and a humongous collar. Yeah. I love those. But these dresses only look great on O-shaped girls (‘apples’) with skinny legs. They should never be worn by girls with a petit upper body and ‘strong’ (let’s call them that, it sounds nice) legs.
But at least I can still draw them. In coral. With dark tights and matching booties. Mmm…
Dress inspired by Orla Kiely (yes, I own this one…) :: shoes by Pierre Darre’
Did you ever play with Barbie? I loved her. The stories my sister and I made up were all very similar but Barbie’s wardrobe changed by the minute. It would take us an hour to dress her up, one minute to let her do her Barbie life things and then we went back to changing her wardrobe for the next minute of her life.
Ruth Handler was right when she noticed children love playing ‘adults’ with their toys. At the time, most children’s toy dolls were either babies or toddlers. Her husband, co-founder of the Mattel toy company, disliked the idea of an adult doll, as did the rest of Mattel’s directors. During a trip to Europe in 1956 with her children Barbara and Kenneth, Ruth Handler came across a German toy doll called Bild Lilli. The adult-figured doll was exactly what Mrs Handler had in mind and once back in the US, Ruth had won over Mattel’s Important Men. She redesigned the doll and gave her a new name, Barbie, after Mrs Handler’s daughter Barbara.
The first Barbie doll wore an amazing black and white zebra striped swimsuit and signature topknot ponytail with a fringe. She was available as either a blonde or brunette and her clothes were created by Mattel fashion designer Charlotte Johnson. The first Barbie dolls were manufactured in Japan, with their clothes hand-stitched by Japanese homeworkers.
What do we learn from this story: your curiosity is sacred, travel is important and you can only wear a coat with short sleeves if you have long gloves.
Inspired by this image :: Dresses with a similar feel by Boden in red or bright yellow
The Breton stripe was introduced in 1858 as the uniform for the French navy. Inspiration is everywhere, that is probably why most (good) designers love traveling and collecting things.
After a trip to the French coast Coco Chanel was so inspired by the sailors’ uniform that she used the Breton stripe in her Nautical collection in 1917 and it has found its way to the wardrobe of everyone since: from Audrey Hepburn to James Dean, from my studio mate Valesca to my fashion girl, everyone own a version of the Breton stripe.
High waisted jeans and Breton striped shirt inspired by this image :: shoes by Bloch :: red beret vintage :: small red handkerchief
There is no color capable of catapulting you in the spotlight like a nice red. I found myself buying a bright red Guerlain lipstick after a stylist announced in horror ‘You don’t own a red lipstick? Every woman needs a red!’. Stay away from red on a day you feel like a squashed banana but embrace it on any day you feel like the world is your stage.
Dress inspired by this image :: shoes by Christian Louboutin :: lipstick Guerlain Rouge Automatique 121