for I have previously mentioned my long-standing difficulties with problematic skin; I have suffered from severe psoriasis for the past six years. At least I can happily say that now, even when it is at its worst, it never escalates to the same extent as it once did. That being said, I must still attend regular dermatology appointments in an attempt to find the most suitable treatment for me, and unfortunately, I recently had to discontinue one that had proven to be quite successful. For those of you that have encountered similar skin woes, I can truly empathise. It is a matter of trial and error, and what works for one person might do more harm than good for another. However, ever the optimist (ahem), I prefer to use my plight with psoriasis as an excuse to experiment with new skincare products and to give me further reason to don some of my favourite accessories to boost my mood and detract from my unsightly skin!
Favourite Products for Dryness
For what its worth, here a just some of my favourite products to help with redness, itchiness and very severe dryness:
I discovered the Eau Thermale Avene skincare range a few years ago and I really like their products. Not only is their packaging attractive and their range very diverse, but most importantly, the products actually work in the manner described. Even if you don't suffer from a skin condition per se, but just have dry skin, I would highly recommend their Trixera Emollient Balm - it is deeply moisturising, reduces redness and irritation and is fragrance-free. If that wasn't enough, like all of the Avene range, it is perfect for sensitive skin and is very reasonably priced. For those of you with combination, normal or oily skin, the brand also has numerous options for these skin types.
Akin to psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis are very sensitive and irritable skin conditions that require careful attention and plenty of commitment. I recently read about a fantastic, non-steroidal cream that has significantly reduced the rate at which my psoriasis worsens and spreads - Salcura Bioskin Dermaspray. One of the best features of this product is that it comes in a spray form, meaning that it is ideal for covering a large surface area in very little time, and with little rubbing in. Although it can be hard to find, I discovered it in Sam McCauley Chemists and online at LookFantastic.com. If you have a very troublesome or aggressive dry skin condition, this is definitely worth a try.
Whilst not specifically designed for problem skin, Clarins Blue Orchid Facial Oil is one of my favourite products for when my complexion is feeling a little dehydrated or psoriatic dryness becomes obvious. I love to apply it after cleansing before bed as it feels luxurious to put on and the divine scent helps me to drift off . A great dual-purpose skin treat. Although the bottle is small, a little goes a very long way given that it's only used about 1-2 times a week and only two drops at a time. A top recommendation if your skin is tiring of our unusually humid weather, or simply if you feel like pampering yourself.
The most important piece of advice that I can impart is to not let your skin woes get you down, whatever they may be. Having severe acne, eczema, rosacea or psoriasis is not an easy thing to come to terms with sometimes, and it can be particularly difficult to handle the effect that they can have on your self-esteem. One thing that I never allowed my symptoms to change was my love of fashion or my desire to wear dresses that revealed my lesion-clad arms and legs. Therefore, when I am feeling low, I put on a favourite outfit and some of the best accessories I own - it never fails to lift my mood, no matter how bad the psoriasis might be. I have always had a penchant for good shoes and handbags, so when I don't feel very body confident on a certain day, I choose a neutral, basic outfit and lift it with a favourite pair of heels or beloved brogues and throw a beautifully-made bag on my shoulder. Never underestimate the power of sharp accessorising to counter-balance (in as much as possible) a bad skin day.
I chose to delay this latest addition to the blog as I wished to wait for the right idea to come to mind, rather than sharing a worthless opinion piece or dissection of an ordinary outfit I wore on a certain occasion. I must apologise (and not for the first time, I admit) for being seemingly non-committal where this blog is concerned, but I am trying desperately to break the fashion-blog mould and to provide a more in-depth look at how individuals and society are influenced by style and fashion, and how we can utilise our interest in this industry to our advantage. There is perhaps an unfortunate irony in my decision to upload this post, in that I will be sharing the update on Instagram and Facebook. That being said, the purpose of this piece is not too denigrate such social media sites, but rather to proffer the question as to whether they encourage vanity, and therefore, intrinsically, low self-esteem. In my humble opinion it appears that the majority of users of social media networks fall into one of two categories -they either post endless photographs of their beautified faces or toned physiques, or they follow those who frequently post such images, comparing their "inadequate" selves to seemingly perfect individuals who in fact have their own insecurities too.
It is unfortunate that social media cannot remain a medium for what it is actually intended to be - a means of social connection and communication with others. Instead, it acts as a platform for encouraging an obsessive reliance on looks and an unrealistic desire to mimic the lifestyle, body, skin, diet, or fitness regime of another. Everyday we are bombarded with images of the foods we should be eating for better health, the cream we ought to dry for better skin, the fitness regimen that will give you your "dream" body. Whether directly or subliminally, messages are constantly circulated that you have another goal to reach or another benchmark to reach. It is saddening to think that something designed to promote closeness and interaction between people can in fact create barriers between them by establishing different standards and thresholds - dividing those who create them and those who try in desperation to reach them. Needless to say, there is no way of preventing social media networks from being used for personal, ostentatious displays. However, we can as individuals choose to remove ourselves from this sphere of preoccupation with the human aesthetic, and to thus decline to constantly "compare and despair"; hopefully leading to the discovery of contentment in our own selves - be that in our looks or our lifestyles.
After quite a lengthy absence from the blog, I have decided to place aside my intention to add to my last post about Racing style. This decision emanates from the fact that, first and foremost, my intention when I established advocateofstyle was to provide a forum for doing small, day-to-day things to better your mental health. To this end, I think it fitting to discuss an issue that has long plagued me. The notion of 'clean' eating. How I hate reading, hearing and speaking those two words in succession. I have once or twice before expressed my ardent interest in eating healthy, nutritious foods and in limiting processed and sugary food in my diet. I would even admit to having previously gone to far in a bid to eat virtuously all the time. That being said, I never have been, and vow never to be, a promoter of 'eating clean'. Yes, some may argue that my commitment to the way of eating I have described is exactly what this popular dietary lifestyle is about, but I beg to differ.
It is implicit in this term 'clean' that any edibles which fall outside this category are what, dirty? Whether or not we chose to pay any heed to it, or act as though we care, each and every one of us is aware that there are certain foods which are designed to be eaten in moderation and are not particularly good for us. I will save you the trauma of enumerating them for this very reason. However, I firmly believe that labelling a way of eating, whether salubrious or not, can potentially be very dangerous. No foods, nutritious or not, should not be excluded as untouchable or worthy of absolute exclusion from your diet. This ingrains in society the idea that food should be used as a gauge for determining your self-worth - whether you are virtuous and eat 'clean' or whether you are malevolent for eating... dirty? Nobody speaks about eating foods equated to dirt, and yet that is what is constantly being implied when you fail to live on kale and quinoa (I'm not judging their moderate consumption; quinoa is an adored staple in my larder and I have no contention with leafy greens).
A part of these healthy eating rules -that is in effect what they have become - appears to be the notion that it is a good idea to use food as a reward or something which has to be justified. Carbohydrates have returned from exile (phew) but unfortunately still remain a food group which seems to necessitate an intense workout before you can eat them. These ideas of 'perfect' eating and 'work=reward' encapsulate one of the greatest issues surrounding societal relationships with food - imbalance. Eating purely 'good' foods will not make you healthy, and eating only 'bad' foods certainly won't. Making the distinction between a health-giving, beneficial diet, which includes the occasional unhealthy indulgence, and an obsession with a 'perfect' way of eating is the only way to truly healthy diet.
I must give credit where credit is due; this post is inspired by the clever witticisms in Kathy Sheridan's piece for the Irish Times, of the 30th April. The writer depicts a comical scene at Punchestown Racing Festival- best-dressed hopefuls battling stormy gusts of wind, teetering uncomfortably in spindly heels. There is a time and a place for every kind of outfit. That ankle-grazing, coral chiffon maxi you spent last month's rent on might look great if your lounging by a pool in Cyprus, but it loses it's 'stylish' status when worn on Grafton Street on a barely warm day in June.
The same principle applies when it comes to social outings, race meetings included. We are often too preoccupied with giving that feathered/be-jewelled/customised confection of a dress an airing to take into account the occasion; company; purpose for the gathering g and (all importantly) - the weather. This post, and the one to follow, shall propose a few suggestions as to how you can cast aside the stereotypes attached to racing attire, break the mould, and express yourself with one carefully compiled outfit.
There is a wrongfully-held belief that in order for an outfit to be outstanding, it has to be outlandish. This is not so. I am firmly of the belief that the most demurely elegant and unstated of pieces are the ones that truly stand out. Imagine a graceful swan amongst a congregation of peacocks - whilst beautiful, the more ostentatious plumage of the peacock appears dull alongside that single, humbly-clad swan.
Pretty and Practical
If the weather is the less than desirable on the day, it makes sense to incorporate stylish accessories which are appropriate for the day. A silk wrap or embroidered cape are perfect for covering your shoulders on breezier occasions, and a short cashmere or fine wool/silk mix cardigan is always a welcome cover up, even on fine days. For wet weather, a large umbrella is a must. It is no harm to try to co-ordinate it to some extent with your outfit, but don't go for too many frills and embellishments, or you will detract from your outfit.
There is nothing attractive about having to repeatedly extract your stilettos from the grassy soil; Manolos and mud are not a good pairing. Whilst the races are a time for dressing up, this does not (or at least, should not) restrict us to feeling that our own footwear option is heels. You will be doing both yourself and them a favour if you can find the confidence to throw on a pair of beautiful flats instead. With myriad options now available - satin; suede; bows; be-jewelled; ribbons; studs - there is a pair to suit any and every outfit. Not only will you be more comfortable (and therefore more confident), but you will stand out from the crowd for being that little bit different.
I had to wait a little while before doing this post, and ironically, I am now a day late. We can now finally rejoice and celebrate the arrival of summer, and with it the opportunity to replace the darker colours of winter with sunnier hues of pale blue, baby pink, elephant grey and pebble beige. My pure wool camel coat is carefully tucked away for next winter; wedged between a heavy navy blazer and a black velvet dress. Though these are three of my favourite pieces, I am more than content to banish them to the back of the wardrobe, for now is the time for feather-light cotton; crisp linen; sumptuously fine lace and diaphanous chiffon. Yes, I know I use the word 'diaphanous' quite regularly on the blog, but for good reason; the mere sound of the word makes me think warm, sunny thoughts....
All that being said, I wish to clarify that I am under no illusions as to the reliability of Irish weather. I have resided in this country all of my life, and unfortunately, for my nigh-on twenty-four years, can only recall a handful of hot, sun-filled summers. Therefore, introduction aside, the main idea behind this post is to provide some inspiration as to how summer fabrics and colours can be adapted for our, ahem, more tepid climate.
Who doesn't love cashmere? Even though we are now hoping for warmer weather, there is always a place in a woman's wardrobe for a fine cardigan in cashmere, merino or lambs' wool. One of the best ways to transition from heavier clothing into lighter, summery pieces is to pair cooler fabrics with the comforting cosiness of a soft cardigan. In the above photograph, I paired a 100% wool cardigan from Cos with a sleeveless floral-print chiffon top from Zara. I love these kind of combinations because they are so ideal for the Irish climate. The top's colourful print and flowing material celebrates summer, but the softness and warmth provided by the cardigan means that you needn't sacrifice warmth in the name of fashion. After all, there is nothing stylish about shivering with the cold!
Although an obvious suggestion for this time of year, flower-filled prints are a fantastic way to tap into summer-led clothing trends, in that they can still be worn with ease in cooler weather. As many women seem to dislike their upper arms, long-sleeved dresses continue to make regular appearances both on the catwalk and the high-street. The additional coverage provided by these pieces also has the benefit of insulating us from the less-than-warm breezes which tend to accompany the arrival of summer in this country. The brighter colours which are typically synonymous with floral prints allow you to embrace your sunnier side, but are featured on such an array of fabrics that you can still stay warm if the sun fails to shine.
Scarves (Preferably Electronic Sheep!)
I have previously proclaimed my love of scarves on the blog on more than one occasion, and therefore do not see the need to elaborate much further on the subject. However, I would offer a reminder that a soft silk or fine wool scarf is not only a wonderful accessory, but can also act as a valuable ally in protecting you from cooler winds when you are enjoying wearing the finer fabrics of summer. Electronic Sheep's colourful pieces are fantastic in this regard; being both warm and bright, they are ideal for an Irish summer. You may be surprised to find that even your favourite silk wrap or neck tie can provide additional warmth, if we are so fortunate as to require little by way of layering.
I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, as I have already, in the past, propounded my love of vintage. Folkster in Kilkenny and Dublin are now go-to haunts for those looking for something a little bit different; particularly when it comes to shopping for evening wear and dressier pieces. The above photographs are of a top and slip dress that I picked up in Folkster Kilkenny on a recent visit. I imagine that the former will look great with jeans, flats and oversized tortoiseshell sunglasses, whilst my intention in respect of the slip is to add some further embroidery or lace to make it more day-wear appropriate, but retain its delicate, almost ethereal nature.
Part of the reason that I chose to discuss vintage pieces is because I find that they sometimes require a little more creativity and thought to become part of an outfit. I love the fact that each genuinely vintage piece has a story behind it - it somehow makes wearing the piece more enjoyable. The nice thing about these unique finds is that you can incorporate them into your own style; using your creativity to bring new life to an old piece. As I have noted in previous posts, fashion has an important role in my life in helping to maintain my sense of self, and therefore plays an intrinsic part in keeping me happy! I do not mean this in a materialistic sense - far from it - but style and creativity strongly contributed to my decision to establish this blog, as I know from experience the positive impact that expressing yourself in this way can have on your mental health. If you are feeling a bit creative and are looking for a few new pieces to add to your wardrobe, seeking out a few vintage pieces can be an inexpensive and enjoyable way to satisfy both of these requirements in one fell swoop.
If you are wondering where you might eek out a few vintage pieces, here are a few of my favourite little treasure troves:
- Jenny Vander, 50 Drury St, Dublin
- Folkster (Basement), Provincial House, Patrick St, Kilkenny
- The Loft Market, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, Williams St, Dublin
- Rhinestones (for amazing vintage jewellery), 18 Andrews St, Dublin
As you might have guessed from the title, the idea behind this post is to focus on the importance of seeking out something in life which brings you happiness; in its simplest and most understated form. I chose to open this discussion with a photograph of my beautiful puppy, Finn. He has appeared on the blog only once before, given that the majority of posts are dedicated to more fashion-related matters. However, as you know, advocateofstyle is about more than merely a celebration of fashion and style. My intention is to share ideas about how you can channel your creativity in order to make yourself feel more confident and self-assured. Finn is my greatest joy. Everyday - come rain, hail or shine -he manages to put a smile on my face. He welcomes me to the kitchen each morning; frolicking and gambolling like an excited child. He reminds me of the importance of celebrating the small pleasures in life and focusing on the things which really make you happy.
I am the most devoted dog lover you could ever imagine. I won't claim to understand how one could feel otherwise, but nevertheless, I acknowledge that not everyone feels as emphatic about animals as I do. The essence of this post is not about pets, whether you love them or hate (eek!) them; it is about seeking about a simple pleasure that lifts your spirits each day. For me, Finn is undoubtedly the best source of such joy, but for another, it may be something like enjoying a brisk walk in the fresh air, baking a loaf of bread, reading a favourite magazine or chatting with a friend over a cup of tea. I am a firm believer in the idea that we need more positivity in our lives; we are constantly bombarded with news of disasters and tragedies, adding to the emotional strain of handling life's trials and tribulations. I therefore urge you to discover an ordinary, everyday pleasure to help you to take life as it comes.
I know. At this point you probably expect nothing less of me than to be extremely late in creating a post. Well, better late than never. Hopefully my commitment to studying will be reflected in my FE1 results... blame the Law Society of Ireland for my lack of a social life and my noticeable absence from the blog.
To get on with more important matters, as you may have guessed from the title, this post intends to encourage you to indulge your feminine side and embrace pink. I needn't tell you that it is a perennial shade in spring/summer clothing collections, from both top designers and the high street. Ranging from the demurest of baby pinks to raspberry and fuschia hues, there are so many options to chose from. If you typically favour neutrals such as beige or black, be assured that a delicate shade of pink can also act as a great base colour for an outfit, which can be brightened up with accessories in more eye-catching colours. For example, a favourite black dress which you usually pair with camel or cream can easily be replaced with a plain dress in a light to mid shade of pink. The broad range of options available between the high street and higher end include numerous fabrics to chose from; everything from silk, satin, cotton, linen and chiffon (and mixes with synthetic fabrics) are very accessible. I don't know about you, but the choices of shades and materials just make me love this colour even more. One of my favourite colours, never mind shades of pink, has to be dusty pink; it embodies so much about my personality - feminine; antique lover (it has that "dusty" depth to it); introverted. Perhaps this is why I love wearing it so much; I really feel I'm expressing myself in it, which is what fashion is all about.
If you are not as much of a lover of pink as I am, you may still care to have fun with a piece which features puce or hot-pink hues, in the form of a top, skirt or dress in a neutral shade with a floral or geometric print. As I have said before, the mission statement attached to advocateofstyle is to encourage you, the reader, to use your interest in clothes and style to make yourself feel better and to increase your confidence (if you so require). I find that enjoying the arrival of warmer weather should be celebrated by wearing lighter, more carefree shades like pink. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you give it a try, even if it is just a simple accessory or a small print on a plain background. Below are a few pictures of two of my favourite dresses; both pink! As you can see, I have accessorised one with a rose-gold chain and small pendant. For some this little touch might be enough pink for one outfit, but I think that even a small addition of this uplifting colour to an outfit can really boost your mood whilst awaiting the arrival of (a hopefully warm) summer.
Its lovely to be back; thank you for reading. x
It's hard to believe that there are only three days until Christmas; Winter is flying by, and before we know it, we will be casting off our cosy wool knits in favour of diaphanous silks and flowing chiffons; even if the Irish weather remains as unpredictable as ever. For this post I thought I would share a little about my love of vintage and antique jewellery, and how to add a subtle, but nonetheless beautiful, lift to a simple and elegant outfit.
Whilst I am devoted to antique pieces and prefer to follow old-worldly pieces, on a practical level, it is certainly necessary to broaden my interests to more accessible and every-day appropriate vintage costume pieces. I personally prefer to let a really magnificent piece of jewellery stand out and to make it the centre of an outfit. I would recommend that if you have a favourite bracelet, ring, necklace or brooch, that you pair it with demure pieces and block colours. A treasured trinket of mine is a sapphire and diamond ring on a narrow gold band that I received as a present for my twenty-first birthday; it's very special for a number of reasons. Thence, I think it deserves to have centre stage when I wear it, so I generally avoid wearing any other jewellery and opt for a neutral colour such as black, navy or perhaps baby pink.
If you are interested in vintage and vintage-inspired pieces, I would highly recommend two fabulous treasure troves - Rhinestones on Andrew's St in Dublin, and Butterslip on Rose-Inn St in Kilkenny. I know I have written of the former before, but as Christmas is fast approaching, now seems like appropriate time to remind you of its greatness! Both of these shops are wonderful places to find beautiful accessories at extremely reasonable prices - they quite literally have something to suit everyone's budget. One of the best things about the gems that they sell is that they look so unique and special and yet don't require you to avoid eating for a month or re-mortgage your house in order to afford them...
As for Christmas dressing, why not defy the norm and ditch the sparkly dress in favour of a sleek black, navy or mulberry coloured ensemble adorned with a favourite antique of vintage piece of jewellery? Peter O'Brien is one of my favourite Irish designers, and I love him all the more for the appreciation he has for demure and elegant dressing. As he so wisely points out, it is so much more worthwhile being that "head-turner" because the simplicity and chic sophistication of your understated outfit makes you stand out. Bring back the demure wool-crepe and jersey pieces - I say - and limit the sparkling adornments to a single vintage gem.
Welcome to my blog. My name is Isabel and I am an advocate of style in more than one sense. A former law student and aspiring lawyer with an undying passion for fashion. I'm a strong believer in all things being equal, and think everyone deserves to look and feel fabulous; so I set up this blog. I know from experience how it feels to lack confidence, but also know the transformative powers fashion has to change that. I am not professing to be an expert, but I want to share my experiences and small bit of knowledge in the hope that I can empower others to embrace and love their look.