Aside from perfume, make up and an array of lotions and potions that I can’t resist while in London, I bought a few accessories while traipsing through the UK. Why accessories and not clothing? Well for starters, I always eat more on vacation and somehow it doesn’t feel the same to spend hours in dressing rooms trying to concoct looks that may or may not translate when I get home and resume my daily life. Hats, sunglasses, scarves, however, can go into instant use. I buy accessories to “stretch” my packed wardrobe, to bring interest and local flair to the things I thought would work when I packed back home. And frankly, you don’t need to clumsily remove four layers of clothing on a chilly January day to buy a purse my lovelies. And so, the 6 new favorite things I brought in from the rain:
1. Handmade pearl and rhinestone collar (street vendor, Portobello Road, London)
I detest online shopping. I’m old school, and I love the process of touching things and admittedly, the instant gratification of brick and mortar shopping. Waiting for things in the mail? Not so much. So I have been wanting a sweet, attachable collar and have seen a few on ETSY and kind of decided that the Louis Vuitton option wouldn’t be the kind of “classic” purchase I’d be happy about 12 months and $1,380.00 later. Hot chocolate in hand after scoring an vintage (1875) print of Cleopatra that is to die for (below), I spied a table with a few handmade collars and was in love.
2. 1875 Cleopatra print (Antique Shop, Portobello Road, London)
Mr. TGFRL and I collect vintage prints of all sorts. This particular one will grace the wall beside my vanity as it depicts one of the world’s most storied women, Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra VII. Believing herself divine (as monarchs of this era did), this political strategist with a love of pageantry and costume, is believed to have published treatises that reflected her vast knowledge health, delving into topics of wellness, beauty and self-care. Portrayed by Plutarch and Shakespeare as endlessly charismatic, charming and dynamic, there is everything to adore about this real and oft mythologized woman. While I cannot wear it, this print qualifies as an “accessory” in that it will make my vanity area more attractive and inspired! The sandals and arm bands, however, will totally work as a “boho-chic look” for a California summer day.
3. Faux Fur Headband (shop on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland)
Edinburgh was glorious, drizzly and COLD! The last stop on our UK trip, I knew upon arrival that I had to step it up in the “keeping warm” department if I didn’t want to be on a British Airline’s flight to Coldtown in a few days. I saw a woman rocking one of these headbands at afternoon tea on the first day in Edinburgh and was unexpectedly struck by the sheer regality of this kind of headdress. The on point scarlet pout and cozy, warm tranquility this woman exuded inspired a mission. By sundown (a common phrase in our house) I had my own Faux Fur Headband and I was, in a word, ELATED. Toasty ears make for a warm, content, body and soul. The whole aesthetic recalls Cold War espionage meets off-duty model in Moscow. And yes, as my friends who got exposed to this on my return to freakishly chilly Los Angeles pointed out-especially when paired with my beloved wig Nadya(below)-this look is “really bringing it” which is unabashedly my thing. If I can bring IT and stay warm. I win. The end. Well not the end but…
4. Blue Handbag (Byzantium, Ballater, Scotland)
Ok, so you find your self in northern Scotland in a small burgh in Aberdeenshire called Ballater. It’s claim to fame, aside from the ridiculously quaint riverside charm, is that it is beside Balmoral Castle, the beloved Scottish vacation home of the Queen of England. It’s not what you would imagine as a shopping mecca, the whole two blocks of it, BUT, The TGFRL clan can find something fetching anywhere and Ballater was no exception. A lovely small shop called Byzantium stocked with lovely finds from Paris and London wooed us with its endlessly chic offerings. It was actually named in the Sunday Times Style Magazine as one of the 10 top “most interesting” shops in Britain! The shop is chock full of colorful clothing and accessories from labels I’ve never heard of as well as sections of Chanel samples and some magnificent vintage Dior. I left with this cobalt blue-esque handbag that happens to match my “go-to” J Crew Tuscan Grape flats (also below). More often than they should be, these flats and this purse are my “pop of color” to bring life to otherwise simple, neutral outfits. And I’ve grown fond of the red lip, blue shoe, blue bag combo as my current relaxed chic recipe.
5. Faux fur fingerless gloves: (Byzantium, Ballater, Scotland)
Ok. Sounds totally crazy, I know. But these gloves are warm and have great texture and just add a je ne sais quoi that makes an outfit more winter chic. Also, they work perfectly for showing off a little glossy bold manicure when the rest of your body is hiding under layers of fabric. These let my fingers shine while my wrists and palms stay warm. And yes, they kinda go with the Sexy Soviet Spy aesthetic..it’s a thing.
6. Bright Red Sunnies: (Byzantium, Ballater, Scotland)
Ok, so I got a little crazy at the little shop in Ballater. I cannot resist a unique boutique, plus, there were a couple of sunny days (sad me) and in Britain and I’m used to my Los Angeles inspired “never leave with out sunnies in my purse” program. Sunnies are like an LA fashion rule, you just don’t seem with it without them. In Great Britain you can go days without seeing a single person wearing sunnies. It’s very strange and not just noticed by me and Mr. TGFRL. Two of my favorite, hilarious football podcasters who call themselves Men in Blazers once had a comic chat about the very thing: how you see a whole bunch of squinting, sunburned Brits at a game and wonder if they know sunglasses or sunscreen have been invented. So the posh curator of Byzantium who also lives in France part of the year and has a shop there, was apparently hip to the idea of a statement pair of sunglasses and when I saw some in the exact same shade as my new red lipstick from MUA (read my review here), I had to get them.
Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.