Monday, May 1, 2017

Late bloomer

A belated Easter post? So unlike me. I usually am all over that chocolate coated holiday of dreams with my floral ensembles. But this Easter was different, and my weekend escaped into a blur of things that didn't go to plan. I won't go into it, but needless to say, getting a blog post up hasn't been priority one these past few weeks.

Autumn is starting to creep into Sydney finally, after all, it's now May, and I admit I'm not thrilled. I have some great winter clothing, but as I work mostly from home or in private residences, my excess of silk velvet and fur tipped jackets is overkill (though will be greatly appreciated in a few weeks for MBFWA). This dress was lucky to get an outing really!

I teamed it with a hair scarf and gloves for a traditional look you guys know I can never resist, but like to deviate from. My taste in clothes is so all over the place in the best kind of way - I feel so free these days to wear whatever I like when I take the fancy, after all, clothes are just fabric that express an attitude. And who knows, tomorrow I may wear a sequin mini skirt if it takes my fancy!

The Vintage Drawer 1950s dress, Zomp heels, Vintage 50s suede gloves, Daisy Jean Floral hot pink scarf

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Halcyon hair tutorial: Emma Garland 1940

So, who has seen The Halcyon? I'm feeling ripped off that not only did Home Fires get canned after two amazing seasons, but also that The Halcyon has only had one. So much for being the 'new' Downton Abbey. I've only seen episode one (aired on ABC on Saturday, Australian peeps if you want to play catch up) and spent most of my time drooling over Emma Garland's up do.

This 'do is so appropriate for a polished working girl in 1940, and I know later into the season we'll see some pretty 40s waves in her hair, but I like the tidy feel of this one - you definitely don't need to get the curlers out! It's also a great alternative to Victory Rolls and Gibson roll, which I'm making an educated guess that they weren't widely, if at all, worn in the way we are used to associating with the war yet. The hair on this series still screams 1930s.

So, here's my take on Emma's do!

You'll need:
Three clear hair ties
Bobby pins
A teasing brush
A regular hair brush
Hair spray
Hair extension piece (optional)

Start with well brushed hair, then part your hair to one side. You can of course do this hair do with a centre part as well if that suits you better.
Section from the crown of the head to behind your ear off on both side and pin out of the way.

Take the back loose hair and put into a pony tail using a clear tie to secure.
Divide the ponytail into two sections and plait them, securing with a clear band at the end. If you have short hair, or very fine hair, this do can be hard to achieve, so this is where a plaited piece of hair extension could come in very handy to either weave in with your own hair, or use your own hair as one plait and it as the other.
With one plait, wind it in a spiral on one side and pin securely, making sure to tuck the loose end under and hide the clear band.
Repeat on the other side. This is the basis of the do.

Let one side at the front out and give it a good solid teasing (be gentle though). This will give you height through the twist at the front.
Twist your hair back, careful not to pull too tight, then work it across the top of the two plaits and wrapping it around the spiral on the opposite side and pinning in to secure.

Repeat by teasing the opposite side for height, twisting, bringing across the top of the two plaits and twisting it into the updo. Pin to secure it into place. Then, hair spray the lot and you're done!

A very simple, elegant do that looks a lot more complicated than it is! Let me know if you try it, and if you have any requests let me know!

Love WTP x

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wild Tea Party in South Africa

Hello everyone! Now that you know how I packed, let's see what I did in South Africa. What a whirl wind three weeks it was! I travelled with Astin and her family, and I admit South Africa had never been on my 'to travel to' list before, but they invited me to join them so I figured I would go along with them to see what it was like.

Not long after that decision, my mind went into full freak out anxiety mode. Thanks Brain, for the months of distress before the trip. I will admit, that with OCD surrounding safety (home break ins, fires, health etc) that travelling to a country that has high crime rates wasn't exactly soothing to my brain.

I flew into Johannesburg directly from Sydney - the flight was about 12.5 hours, which given the time zones you cross seems a lot more friendly than flying to London!

Now, forgive me for saying this Joberg residents, but Johannesburg is the worst city I've ever visited.  It was so strange to me to be in a place with giant, architecturally impressive shopping malls, crazy road works, traffic lights that don't work because people steal the cables for the copper, intense poverty and the wealthy, suburbs full of walls and electric fences and barbed wire, and knowing I couldn't even leave my hotel and cross the road to walk to the shopping mall on my own. It didn't help that the city decided to put on a spectacular display of cold rain while we were there. The hotel we stayed in was hilarious. Clean, functional, great buffet breakfast (what were they putting in their hot chocolates?!) but with the service lifts out of order, and rather than repairing them, they instead put a box around them and had people paint the box, with a sign saying that if you didn't like the colour to contact management quickly haha. Then the hot water ran out one morning. We quickly adopted a humorous response to these sorts of things: Only in Africa.

I spent five days initially in Johannesburg, seeing family members and friends, being dazzled by how cheap food and alcohol was for us on our Aussie dollar, exploring Monte Casino, Sandton Mall and Mall of Africa (look, it's big, but it was, at the end of the day, an oddly laid out shopping centre), touring around Soweto (that breaks your heart!), and going for a drive out to a Lion Park, Lesedi Village and the Elephant Sanctuary. I admit, the Lion Park was... a mistake I wouldn't recommend. For all it painted itself as a conservation effort, keeping groups of lions in small fenced areas where they can't hunt was simply depressing, and I felt like I was experiencing 'canned lion'. These lions are bred in such a way they could never be introduced into the wild. These majestic creatures deserve a life free to hunt and roam, and I promise seeing them on a game lodge is a far more valuable experience all round. The elephant sanctuary was a different experience for me, and I was thrilled to pat an elephant. Elephants are one of my favourite animals, and I was amazed to feel their hide and tail hair, and walk with them.

Soweto was an eye-opening experience, and we were lucky enough to have a local guide. He was a great guy, and answered our questions as comprehensively as he could. I was impressed that he spoke six of the 11 official languages of South Africa! I can't even begin to express how sad it is to see shanty towns, and know how rife poverty is, and hear about the struggles during apartheid. For all this is a new nation, it is one still scarred by the past. It was a place I didn't feel comfortable taking photos either, like I was looking at the way people lived for entertainment, so I left my phone in my bag and took it in instead.

We then travelled onto Cape Town, and what a beautiful place Cape Town is! Table Mountain rising above the city bowl - one particular day we saw the fog rolling in from the ocean over the city from the heights of Table Mountain, and the cloud table cloth, whisping off the sides of this flat topped mountain. I went to the top on the cableway and had to laugh at the Dussies stealing food at the top and even trying to eat cigarette butts. I walked around Lion's head, the smaller peak near the mountain, and spent a few minutes in the gorgeous Bo-Kaap, originally known as the Malay Quarter in Cape Town at the bottom of Signal Hill. It's brightly coloured houses and multicultural feel I absolutely loved, and wished I could have spent longer there.

We took a drive out to Cape Point too, and what a spectacular national park space. We were delighted to see a tortoise on the road, and then a family of baboons crossing. So sweet to visit this time of year and see all the baby animals, especially the baby baboons. They're so small. The alpha male waited for everyone to cross safely before he did. What a good dad! We also stopped at Boulders Beach to swim with the penguins, what posers they are!

We travelled a lot out to the wine region of Stellenbosch, for the wedding we attended, as well as lunches with friends of the family. Boschendal was the location of the wedding, and this beautiful old wine farm was the perfect location, what with the rolling green lawns bordered by mountains, and a beautiful function hall where we dined under fairy lights. They also make a good Shiraz and Merlot *coughs* (Brought some back duty free!) It was lovely to take a dip in the pool, eating passionfruit fallen on the ground, consuming pizza under the oak trees of an evening, see the sun dip behind the mountains of a sunset and chat with such different and interesting people. We had brunch on the lawn of Rhone Homestead, the oldest remaining building on the property (1795!) and a beautiful example of Cape Dutch architecture.

We also had a delightful lunch and enjoyable afternoon with the owners of Rozendal Vinegar and Guest Farm. We sampled their delightful vinegar range, and I loved patting Truffle the pig and playing with the dogs and feeding the greedy alpacas haha. I couldn't resist taking some vinegar home in my luggage.

Lunch at DeMorgenzon in Stellenbosch was quite an experience as we dined with owners in their gorgeous home. I was in love with their two Jack Russells (who reminded me of my own little pup who I was desperately missing) and enjoyed the behind the scene tour of their wine production. The smell of all those grapes being pressed was insane!

We also spent a few nights in Hout Bay, and what a glorious spot it is! Shame the Atlantic Ocean is pretty much unswimmable, but we dipped our toes in for a frozen, numb effect that worked for pictures haha. Drinks down by the beach at Dunes though was so pleasant thanks to sushi platters and cheap cocktails. 

The highlight of this trip for me was definitely the game lodge. I stayed at a smaller lodge which meant the likelihood of seeing the animals was higher, and boy did we hit the jackpot! I was thrilled to see giraffes, zebra (with their babies!), a tonne of different buck, hippos, elephants (including some that pulled down a tree in front of us to eat), rhinos, cheetahs and lions. The lions are so magnificent, but slightly terrifying as you're in an open vehicle! We drove right past the male sitting by the road with the kill and it gave me quite a shock... Before you ask, I will explain the open vehicle. In the Lion Park, the lions associate vehicles with food because they don't hunt and food is brought by humans, where at the game park where these lions hunt for themselves they don't see vehicles as food bringers, just one large car-fume-smelling noisy animal, so they're unlikely to try you out if you're sensible and keep your distance and don't get out of the car or stand up! We also visited a nearby park for a cheetah interaction, and had the hilarity of seeing meerkat antics too. A stray cat had placed her babies in their enclosure and the rangers had to rescue the kittens before the female meerkat killed them. The cheetahs were amazing, purring from pats and very sweet, but it did make me sad to see them in an enclosure too, and raced for exercise (what they mean is entertainment).

I also indulged in a massage at the game lodge spa which was bliss. So nice to get to rest and relax, which I also did by the pool, drinking cocktails and dozing. The 4.50am wake up calls for the drives were a challenge after all! Unfortunately I picked up a stomach bug on the second last day so I did have to spend a ridiculous amount of time in the bathroom after that and felt pretty rotten from it, as you can see in the pic with the cheetah.

So, was it safe? Well, I will admit I rarely felt safe. Some places we avoided stopping in while driving, or travelled as a big group so were a less likely target for crime. I certainly didn't feel a stroll around the suburbs was an option, nor that I could go off on my own and just explore, something about travel I really enjoy. It was insane to sleep in places with iron gates across the bedroom section of the house so no one could get in, and all the gates and walls and electric fences, and it's just confronting to be somewhere you need that. The term gilded cage was mentioned to me, and I felt that. While nothing happened to us, thank heavens, while there a family member was attacked. The reality is, Cape Town and Johannesburg aren't that safe, no matter how you want to paint it and how many walls and security guards you have.

All in all, I tell people it was an interesting trip, and I am very thankful to have seen all of the wonderful things I did, and meet so many fabulous people. But, I'm also glad to be home again, and to appreciate the benefits of living so comfortably and safely as I do.

Love WTP x

Friday, March 24, 2017

What to pack for a holiday while staying true to yourself

Before my trip I was chatting with some friends who remarked to me that I looked good when I travelled. I did a double take - they too looked great on holidays. Of course, then it came out that they only took photos in select outfits and the rest was some kind of watered down comfort-over-style wardrobe. And I won't judge them for it; I've done that plenty of times myself before I had that packing for travel sensibly and stylishly thing down pat.

My personal philosophy on holiday dressing is "Wear what you always would wear". I've learned that on previous trips and now swear by it. Even my last Europe trip I pulled a crazy brain and bought a pair of chinos for the trip and hated wearing them the whole time, for all they were practical. ICK! I would've been better off in stockings and a wool skirt for the exact same activities. So now, I simply pack my 'home wardrobe' with a few sensible tweaks. After all, shouldn't holidays be the opposite of a downplayed you? I want to look and feel nice every day on my trip. I want to look nice in every single photo. In fact, I want to be a little more outrageous because whoever will see you literally doesn't know you, so go for it! (BUT PLEASE BE CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE FOR HEAVENS SAKE).  I also find on holiday that I actually had MORE time to put into my appearance but less clothing choices to make of a morning so that balanced out nicely! 

Each time I travel I get better at the suitcase thing. My last Europe trip I only packed two things I didn't wear (a summer top and skirt because it wasn't quite hot enough - a mix of optimism and having encountered the same city years before in a heat wave which it definitely wasn't that time). And for South Africa I wore everything I packed in various combinations, more than once - apart from two dresses that were cocktail level and I didn't end up needing as we didn't do quite as many dressy events as initially thought. It was the ultimate mix and match, practical and pretty, suitcase. I came up with wearable, stylish combinations that still looked and felt so like me.  So, let me run you through my process for packing these days... This applies to trips overseas for a few weeks, just tailor accordingly. 

Step 1: Check out the weather

Kind of important, right? I was monitoring the weather on my phone app and knew that Cape Town has weather very close to that of Sydney, Australia, so I knew my summer wardrobe was going to be highly appropriate to pack. But, as always, I take something a little warmer/cooler whenever I travel as you never know when you'll get a sudden random heat wave or chillier days. And boy was I glad I did as we got a few days of unexpected cold rain in Johannesburg!

Step 2: Where and time

Ok, length of time, where you're going and what you'll be doing dictates what to pack. Accept this fact and you will pack a better bag.

I was off to South Africa so I knew fashionwise I'm fine, as long as I don't take any showy jewels or items as that can make you a target for theft. If you aren't certain of what's appropriate for where you are travelling, I recommend research. Check your countries' travel advice for your destination, research blogs and forums, and ask people who have travelled there before. Once you know what you're dealing with you can spin your own style to the locale.

I knew I would be away three weeks, and have access to laundry as I would be staying in homes rather than hotels for most of the trip. This also helps to pack. For instance, I always make a trip to a laundromat when I'm in Europe for a few weeks so I know I can refresh and recycle pieces while I'm away, or use sunlight soap to wash tops in the sink of the hotel and hang on the heated towel rack. Factor this in too as you can pack less and re-wear things.

Next, I sat down and worked out what I would be doing on this trip before I packed anything.

- a formal wedding on a vineyard property
- a few cocktail/dinners/luncheons/generally formal kind of events
- four days at a safari park
- touristing/exploring of Cape Town
- casual social outings

So we can see then from this I need:
A formal gown and accessories appropriate to a summer afternoon, several formal/cocktail dresses, some cool, sunsafe outfits and practical shoes, and casual frocks or skirts for relaxing.

Step 3: Pick a colour scheme. 

This is important.
I bolded that. That's how important it is. Last Europe trip you will see I packed red, black and white items. (If you're interested in my wardrobe for any trip I've been on, you can always looks at #wildteapartytravels on Instagram).

As you can see this palette was for that trip really quite wearable for the beginning of summer *coughcough* in Stockholm and London. When it comes to packing a cohesive easy to get dressed no temper tantrums kind of suitcase, choose colours that are common to your wardrobe and work with it. 

For South Africa I knew I'd essentially be taking my regular summer clothes, so I just had to select pieces that mixed and matched well. I decided that I have a lot of red, blue and green in my summer wardrobe,  so they'd be the basis of my day-to-day wardrobe.

I decided for more casual/touristy days I would wear some of my favourite frocks and easy skirts... Hence I went for trusted choices, pieces you see me wear again and again anyway - think Bernie Dexter dresses, reliable retro cotton frocks and fabulous vintage style skirts and simple tees. I don't pack much vintage when I travel as I would be devastated to lose it, so for that reason I mostly travel with reproduction, in case you're wondering! For days when I had to be a bit more polished for seeing family and friends and gatherings, I changed up my pieces a bit with different accessories.

I had many formal events to attend this trip: family dinners, cocktail party, a wedding, a brunch, etc. I ended up packing four dressy options, and my wedding outfit - this took up more of my suitcase than my day wear in the end! I put my beloved 40s dress in my hand luggage though in case it got lost!

Now as for the rest of my styling... I like to take a few simple accessories like earrings, and scarves to mix and match. In the case of this holiday because I wanted to avoid wearing my usual fancy gems, I stuck to lots of fun plastic earrings. And of course a few hair flowers. For formal events I took costume jewels which sparkle just as bright ;)

For shoes I packed quite a few pairs. I know, you think I'm mental, but shoes are key to comfort on holidays and I have learned this the hard way, so I took some tan sandals and red strappy sandals for day wear. For safari and long walking days I packed my converse which after several overseas holidays and general wear and tear sadly had to go in the bin at the end of it (and fair enough, they did well to stand over 5 years abuse!). And then my shoes for formal events - so another three pairs of heels. Is that a lot of shoes? Sure. Do I regret it? Not a chance. I had my bases covered and all got used.  

Step 5: The extras

Items I always pack without fail:

A robe - I always pack a light one unless I know I will be staying somewhere freezing. In reality I find European hotels overheated so this is all I need. I throw it on over pjs at the end of the day for a nightcap in the room, while I'm hanging about in the room before breakfast, or straight out of the shower.
Silk slips - for lounging, for warmth, as a frock you wear to breakfast. I love them.
Hats - I packed two for South Africa. I am a vampire. Get off my skin, sun.

At this point it's now just the usual sundries - toiletries, appropriate amounts of underwear and overwear you might need (for me some cropped cardigans), swim wear and sarong, and pjs.

And voila, a well thought out bag. Let me know if you have alternative ways of packing, I'd love to hear your hints and tips for packing!

Keep an eye out for my next post too - it's all about my experiences in South Africa!

Love WTP x

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tickled pink

Harbour breezes, soft pink silk, feathers, lace, tassels, rhinestones... just a typical Sunday for me really...haha! Oh well, a girl can wish! It's been such a busy month already; I can't believe how time is flashing past, so taking time for a little luxury is definitely something I am prioritizing - whether it's getting my nails done, giving myself a face mask, or wearing decadently beautiful things.

Self love is literally one of the most important lessons I've had to learn this past year, and it's still a challenge. Be kind to yourself, be compassionate, be aware of what you enjoy and allow yourself to do it. Forgive yourself for not living up to your own unreasonable standards. Remember you're doing the best you can at any given moment. But it also comes from treating your body nicely! Exercising because it feels good for the body. If you need a day to stay in bed, do it. Wear the things that make you happy, be aware of how things feel on the skin and make you feel when you wear them.

And that's why I am so excited to share these gorgeous pieces from Evette Dubois! Not only are the pieces delightful to wear, there is literally nothing I love more than supporting small creative business, especially those in Australia, and especially with a fabulous woman behind the brand. Evette Dubois is Melissa's lingerie boutique, and represents her life-long love of vintage and dressmaking - and represents her passion for vintage lingerie from 1910-1950!

In this post I'm wearing the Elsie May Bralette, the Georgia tap pants and the swoonworthy Lillian dressing gown. The bralette in a size small is a comfortable piece for my 10DD bust, though I wouldn't personally wear this piece day to day, but rather as a lounge wear piece due to the lack of underwire, but adjustable back clasp. The Georgia pants are sweet straight cut tap shorts designed to sit just above the hipbones and fit true to the size guide - though if you're in between you may find it better to size down. I love the little detail on these: lace trim and pearl buttons on both sides. The silk used in all of these pieces is pink, though definitely on the peach side of pink, but are available in blue, black and nude too. I'm sure if you ask nicely Melissa will be happy to make your wishes reality! She also has some other gorgeous things on offer, so make sure to have a look.

And because Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and it's wonderful to treat yourself (or be treated!) Evette Dubois is offering all of my readers 20% off with the code VDAY20, valid until Valentine's Day 2017! Just make sure to add the code during check out on Etsy! You can shop here or check out @evette_dubois on Instagram.

How do you like to treat yourself when life is crazy? Leave me a comment!

Love WTP x

Photography: Lila Jean Vintage or Instagram: @lilajeanvintage
All other items from A Wild Tea Party wardrobe
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