Standing Still

When was the last time you stood still for the sake of nothing other than being still in that moment?

I don’t mean standing whilst you wait for your City Mapper to load or for your friend to arrive, just being still for that reason and nothing else. I did this for the first time in adult memory just this week, I was walking along the river with nowhere to go, no where to be and only using my Imagephone for music, not checking Whatsapp, refreshing Instagram, reading my Facebook newsfeed or checking emails. As a 20 something, we are living some of the best years we will ever live but we also have the added pressures of anything from getting on the property ladder to (dare I say it) having children at a ‘suitable’ age. So we can often get lost in the hustle and bustle, I think it is only as we get older we can start to stop and look around at what is right in front of us and not what may or may not come.

I stood there looking at the water; the ripples as they glided through and seemingly moved in time with the particular song I was listening to (End of the Affair by Ben Howard if you were curious) and just thought about what I was seeing and didn’t think about whether my hair was doing what it should, what time it was, what I should have for dinner.

Since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a career woman, high flying, sharp suits, (crippling) heels and this is still my goal, even with bumps in the road that come along, and for any of you who know what I normally talk about here this post is a little bit of a different direction, a bit deeper shall we say, but it was one of those moments in time when you just think this is nice. Any stress you’re feeling, worries you may have, anger bellowing inside you, I recommend just taking that one moment, it could be a minute or ten and think about what makes up that moment, the colour of the sky, wind in the trees, whatever, but just take in that moment.

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Hot Feminist By Polly Vernon – Review

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Available from Amazon £10.49

So I’m back and bronzed from my Summer olibob in Hvar, Croatia, copious amounts of wine, great food and good times. I’d just like to note it is baltic, I am longing to dig out my black tights and jumpers now that Autumn has officially reared its ugly head. During my ten days of bliss I was accompanied by 7 friends and of course one of my Summer reads, this being Hot Feminist by Polly Vernon.

Polly Vernon is a columnist and style writer with a sharp tongue and sharp wit who rose to infamy with a controversial article on being thin….. and yes I am a curvy girl and no I don’t hate her. The book covers serious issues surrounding women’s rights but it’s an easy read in a sense that I felt I was sat in a living room with PV having a conversation about all the topics within the book.

Do I agree with every single thing she believes? No. For example, I don’t really appreciate cat calling or being called a chick, however one brilliant point PV makes is to pick your battles. As a feminist, your opinions and beliefs will always be questioned and argued by both women and men alike, I think the thing to remember is to know your argument and be prepared to debate when necessary and to not get riled up by the unnecessary.

I found myself regularly chuckling to the greatly described anecdotes (personal favourite is a 3 page description of the process of the leg shave), getting very involved in the various debates which take place between PV and her friends and inspired by her attitude. Don’t get me wrong, within the comical stories and remarks, there are also facts which will shock as well as a chapter on PV’s own experience of an attempted sexual assault which is deeply disturbing but empowering at the same time.

It is perfect for anyone who finds themself to be a feminist but doesn’t necessarily want to pick up a Virginia Woolf or Germaine Greer book, it’s well written, accessible and by the end had me feeling pretty good, pretty much like I would be pretty happy to share a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with Polly Vernon, well worth the read.

 

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Spring is in the air and there is a Spring in my step, cliché or not there is nothing better than waking up in the morning to a tree covered in full bloom flowers and the sky a wonderful shade of blue, but what lies ahead for the year for me. I think the phrase ‘time flies’ is simply all to real, I now go onto my Timehop and see reminders of a bungee jump in New Zealand three years ago or a fancy dress night 6 years ago with numerous photos taken in a less than presentable student flat. Now I like to think of putting some of my time into different things, although the next bungee jump is already planned for the end of this year, in none other than South Africa.

Of course on the cards are the numerous festivals coming up in the Summer, unfortunately no Glastonbury for me however I do think I will be partaking in an old favourite South West Four, just a stones throw from my humble abode, taking place on Clapham Common. The line up is unmistakably good, Faithless headlining Saturday, their first major London performance in four years I believe, not to be missed. Within my girl group of friends we have also been looking into Croatia, a place I’ve never been before but have only ever heard amazing things.

One thing thatapril 24 is special about London is that you’re never short of things to do that extend outward from the classic pub session (not denying however these will still be a common occurance). I remember last year having lunch and a prosecco cocktail, in the height of Summer, with my Mom before visiting the fantastic Glamour of Italian Fashion Exhibition at one of my favourite museums The Victoria and Albert, London. We spent a little too much money in the gift shop stocking up on books and beautiful prints as well as a miniature vintage Fiat 500 for my Dad to match his actual vintage Fiat 500. Previous to this I attended a lecture on Italian Fashion with a special focus on Salvatore Ferragamo, Shoemaker to the stars and if only all lectures in life had been like this one, so informative and fascinating. Next on the list is of course Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, also at the V&A, I’m hoping to fit in time to go to one of the 2 talks accompanying the exhibition too! (Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, 14th March – 2nd August, for tickets click here)

The other event I would love to attend which is slightly out of my reach is the Trust Women conference, a 2 day long event covering topics like Human Trafficking and Slavery as well as Women’s Empowerment and Special Focus talks. In light of some of the recent events including the tragic lost of over 800 lives in the Mediterranean Sea, these topics are more relevant than ever. With an advisory board that includes Cathy Russell (U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues), Cherie Blair (wife to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, lawyer and founder of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women) and Christie Turlington Burns (Founder, Every Mother Counts, filmmaker, author, super model) the event is sure to be a success once again. (Trust Women Conference, 17th – 18th November).

Funny how when you’ve finished education you eventually start to look back fort it, however this time I’m looking for more fashion trends and empowering women seminars rather than geometry and physics calculations.

Armed with Style

Khaki, camouflage and anything army style were usually things that I either associated with my younger tomboy self and my favourite camouflage khaki trousers, worn with a baby pink hoodie of course or with a student fancy dress night, always a firm favourite during my university days, however it is now fast becoming one of my style staples. Ever since the Khaki army jackets made a comeback the colour and style has gone from strength to strength and can now be applied to anything from shoes to nail art designs. I was looking for something to wear for a friends engagement party this past weekend and wanted something quite classy for the occasion but at the same time not overdressed and I decided on Khaki tapered trousers (as seen below) and a boxy white leather cropped T shirt; there is something about khaki that can make an outfit that little bit more interesting. There is also an element of fun with this genre of style, camo can always be played with and moved away from different shades of green and instead pulled together with pop colours, have a look at my multi-coloured camo nails below, so easy to do, it’s just all about Y shapes and joining your top 2 colours in my case pink and blue! If you’re looking for true army style then I always recommend a vintage renewal, Check out Urban Outfitters, ASOS Marketplace or an army surplus store, you’ll get the best deals and undoubtedly the best quality.

Happy shopping cadets!

Khaki

Straight to the Matte

Autumn is here and yes indeed the heating is on. I am still clinging on however and dare to brave the cold whenever I go to the gym by not taking a hoodie for the short walk to and from the car. Ouch. I plan on celebrating Bonfire Night for first time since I can remember in the splendor of Battersea Park this Saturday including my first mulled wine of the season which needless to say, I am clucking for and as the cold rolls in, it’s time to shift the nails. I’ve gone straight into the Winter style of matte nails today, with a dark grey colour and have completed the look with simple black glossy tips as a contrast.

Matte nails can sometimes feel unnatural, especially when I am an ambassador of the clear top coat, it’s always worth it and makes such a difference. The matte look can look effortless and in some ways more professional than a shiny hot pink. My picks for the season are dark blue, grey and burgundy, classic colours. Feel free to mix them up also with a statement nail on each hand.

Follow me on Instagram @sarahjaynepen for more nail designs done by myself with a free hand and a bit of patience.

Nail Colour Credits –

Rimmel I Love Lasting Finish – Black Cab

Topshop Matte Nails – Light Brizzlephoto (6)

Different

As I spent part of my weekend watching the splendor and genius of the one and only Pharrell Williams killing it at the O2 my love for him and all he stands for only grew. I organically found N*E*R*D at the tender age of about 13 or 14 and by organically I stumbled across them on MTV and from then on I was hooked. For any music lover you can often remember one piece of music, band or artist that turns you from a chart listener to a music enthusiast. From then on their albums were on repeat, their merchandise was on order and I was a complete fan, including being at the front row of one of their concerts in Brixton as a teenager and as you know I am short now, so you can imagine the size of me then and skill it took to be and stay at the front row!

Pharrell has always been in different whether it was through his Neptunes productions with his musical partner Chad or through N*E*R*D (with Chad and final third member Shay), however he now promotes this idea and aims it towards women. His incredible album Girl exudes this and no better than one of the hits from the album Marilyn Monroe in which he quotes ‘Different’ at the start of the track. Whilst at his concert he put so much emphasis on the strong female dancers he calls the Bae’s who are impressive in every way and continually said to the crowd ‘I want all the different girls to put their hands in the air’.

My gushing over Pharrell does have a point I assure you, being a feminist, slight tomboy and a subtle activist for racial equality and women’s and animal rights it’s important to hear such an influential person and not just a person but a man encouraging women to be different. If all your friends are listening to Rihanna and getting excited for the new series of Made In Chelsea (or worse TOWIE) and you would rather be listening to the new Defected Records podcast and watching documentaries about serial killers, well there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s different people that have made our world what it is today and it is those people who are making the word a better place day after day, take Malala Yousafzai, having been shot in the head by the Taliban in Pakistan for being an activist for female education, she has now won the Nobel Peace Prize and is going on to do simply incredible things. She is an exceptional case but even a simple thing like going out your way to sign a petition against angora fur is making a difference and being different. I only hope there are more albums, books, films and people which help the younger generations see the beauty in being that little bit different.