How to: Measure your Insole

Dieppa Restrepo
If you have ever agonised about buying shoes online, let me save you some inconvenience.

After deliberating which size you are, but before you hit purchase, email the website and see if they can provide you with a measurement for the insole of the sizes in question.

Using an accurate insole measurement is the only way to make sure that a pair of shoes will absolutely fit.

I have tried several times to buy shoes online. The results were usually pretty disastrous, until I learned this simple trick. Would you believe that my foot is 22cm, but I wear a 24cm insole? I wouldn’t have thought this was right, but it turns out your feet need that much wriggle room.

Here’s how to measure your insole:

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5 Piece French Wardrobe Update

My quest for both a 333 and a 5 piece french wardrobe this year was complicated by the fact that my work required me to start wearing only black, white and grey.

This led to a little bit of scrambling to find enough everyday basics in this monochrome palette to see me through the winter, but I did also manage to score myself a beautiful Navy Cashmere pullover from Christensen Copenhagen that is both casual and luxurious. It has buttons down the back, and I love that I can wear it as either as a pullover or back to front as a slouchy but tidy cardigan.

My pieces this year were:

Grey Skinny Jeans from Citizens of Humanity (similar)
Grey Cotton Cashmere Maxi Dress from Majestic Filatures (similar)
Black Cotton Cashmere Pencil Skirt from Majestic Filatures
Grey Cotton Pencil Skirt from Majestic Filatures
Black Silk Kaftan Top from Morrison
Black Silk Kaftan Dress from Morrison
Navy Cashmere Pullover from Not Shy
Black Alberto Fasciani Booties (similar)
Homespun Cabled Pullover from Muji
White Silk Blouse from Oxford

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Best Masks for Oily Skin

Masks are a great treat, but are also an important part of your weekly skincare routine.  I have oily skin that sometimes leads to excess sebum and enlarged pores.  When the skin on my face is feeling particularly dull or congested, I often turn to a mask to help me get my glow on.  I’m a little obsessed with masks, and receive a lot of samples, so have trialled quite a few at this point.  Below are the ones that I find really do work wonders.

Sisley Radiant Glow Express Mask
The only mask I have ever used which has noticeably refined my pores and instantly improved the texture of my skin.  Dries slightly opalescent and almost clear.

Eslor Botanical Peeling Gel
Exfoliates as well as clarifying and tightening.  Dries clear, and you then use dry fingertips to exfoliate the mask on the skin before washing off.

Sisley Flower Express Gel
A good hydrating mask for oily skin.  Leave on overnight for soft glowing skin with improved texture.  Is also a great mask for travel, especially flights, as it dries clear and is not messy to remove.

Dr Hauschka Revitalising Mask
A perfect mask for picking up the skin and instantly giving it glow, but also my secret weapon against recent acne scars and dark spots.  Right after you have had a blemish, leave a little of this mask on the spot and let it soak into the skin. It softens the skin and reduces scarring, evening out skin texture and tone.

Dr Hauschka Clay Mask
Definitely a messy mask, as it starts as a dry powder that you mix with water before applying to the skin.  Refines and tightens and definitely helps clear all that gunk out of your pores.  Use an old cloth to wash off, as the mask will stain the cloth.

Nine Sewing Projects for 2016

Kimono Sleeved Washed Silk Top
Self Drafted.  This is a pattern I played with a lot in the final months of 2015, based on a very simple vintage cotton sailor shirt I have worn to death, and I think I am ready to try my simple version with a fancy fabric like a dark washed silk.

Kimono Sleeved Simple Dress
Self Drafted.  I hope I will be able to extend my kimono sleeved top pattern and turn it into a dress with a straight skirt with a simple gathered elastic casing.

Colette Beignet Mini Skirt
I sewed my first Beignet, a buttonless mini version, over the New Year and it was such a great fitting pattern and so easy to make, that now I would like to make it in all the colours and all the fabrics.

Mod Mini Dress
This is the year I am finally going to turn my mother’s beautiful soft cotton purple and blue paisley wedding dress into a striking modern mini dress with a simple silhouette that I can wear on it’s own in summer or with tights and a cardigan in winter.  I just need to find the perfect pattern with the perfect fit before I cut into this precious one of a kind fabric.  Possibly Colette’s Laurel or Lynn from Seamwork.

Colette Iris Shorts
I made a wearable muslin version of Colette’s Iris shorts over the summer in a remnant of pinstriped blue linen and they are such a great fit and such a comfy wear that I would like to make some now in a black cotton linen blend, and maybe in some polka dot denim.

Cigarette Trousers
Options: Ultimate Trousers by Sew Over It, Clover Trousers by Colette Patterns, Cigarette Trousers from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, or self drafted copied from an old favourite pair of Gorman Peggy Pants. Back welt pockets may adorn my second pair, after I get the fit right and am confident about the construction.

Megan Nielsen Darling Ranges Dress
I have tried the bodice of this dress before, and couldn’t get the fit right.  But my sister made a beautiful soft Darling Ranges dress, barely changing a thing about the pattern.  So I will give it another shot.  Maybe my muslin just needs to be made with a fabric with more drape.

Mesa Dress from Seamwork Magazine
Looks like the perfect simple work dress, and a chance for me to recreate a favourite grey tshirt dress that I have worn to death.

Watson Bra and Ohh Lulu High Waisted Undies Lingerie Set/Bikini
What better way to test a bra and undies than by making a swimwear version, right?

Savannah Camisole from Seamwork Magazine
I have been tossing up which to sew, Savannah or the Tessuti Camilla Camisole.  Sarai’s Merlot Red Silk Camisole convinced me Savannah is the way to go, sans lace and with a baby hem to finish the neckline.


Favourite Nail Colours

I’m one of those no fuss girls who doesn’t get round to doing her nails very often.  When I do, choosing a colour always stresses me out because I don’t know how I will coordinate one colour with a week’s worth of outfits.

These are the colours that I have found through trial and error to be the most flattering and versatile.

White nails are very fresh, and look especially great in summer when my skin tends to be a bit more tanned than usual.  White looks good with almost anything, but especially with blues, which I wear a lot.  Funny Bunny by OPI is my favourite white, because it’s not too opaque.

Pale Yellow
I got a pale yellow manicure on a whim one time on holiday in Chicago, and it was the perfect colour for my travel wardrobe of black, neutrals, red, white and blues.  I was really surprised by how good the yellow looked against my skin and how easy it was to match to outfits.  The yellow I really love is Jasper from Butter London‘s SS13 collection, but I’m not sure it’s still available.

Classic and girly, but not too girly.  Works well year round. My favourite is Privacy Please by OPI.

Definitely a summer colour, and one that can match with a lot of neutral outfits easily. Coral is a nice way to add a touch of colour to a simple outfit.  I’m also a fan of those bright red orange nail colours, but find they can be harder to get right.  Coral is great for the beach.  Essie has an amazing range from peachy to neon red.

I normally steer clear of dark nail colours, because I find they tend to make my hands look older and are generally less forgiving than most pastel colours.  That said, there are some rainy weeks in spring or autumn in Sydney where navy is a great choice and cheers me up no end.  My favourite navy is Urban from Revlon.

A classic work-appropriate alternative to fire engine red nails.  I wear a lot of deep aubergine purple and charcoal grey, and find this colour can go really nicely with these outfits.

I see women rocking neutral nails all the time and figure this is a grown up alternative to pastel nails that would definitely last the distance.  I have a bottle of Essie’s Sand Tropez that I got in a beauty box and am going to give it a go and see how it looks.


5 Piece French Wardrobe

As I have got more into sewing my own clothes, I find I buy less pieces from stores.  This, combined with an overflowing wardrobe that still needs rationalising, has inspired me to plan to purchase only a few quality items in 2016.

The rules for the 5 Piece French Wardrobe are that you limit yourself to buying 5 pieces per season (two seasons in a year), basics don’t count and accessories don’t count. I am counting shoes, as I don’t really consider them an accessory. And I am counting basics, unless I am simply replacing a basic item like a favourite tshirt or one of my two pairs of jeans (if they wear out). Following this philosophy, if I am replacing plain black work flats that have worn out, I would probably consider them a basic item and not count them towards my 5. Other shoes, though… yes.

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