A Dose Of Coastal Air

Wow things move at lightning speed around here these days and suddenly tier 3 status doesn't seem like such a bad thing compared to the prospect of this week's lockdown restrictions. It's nigh on impossible to keep up with the ever changing rules and it's even more challenging to keep hopes high especially when you can't help but feel like we've gone three steps back. This last week I've found myself feeling generally exhausted and a little lacklustre as the light at the end of the tunnel moves further and further away. The funny thing is this last month (well at least the start of it) had actually felt the most "normal" in a long time. I was actually excited for Autumn, I had plans! Imagine that, actual dates in my diary which I was able to keep! I went on days out and ate in cafes, things which were so small and trivial this time last year but in 2020 I'd been pining for. Most notably a couple of weeks back I went on a mini break to Cornwall with my boyfriend Joe and Pep the dog, in hindsight we couldn't have been more lucky with our dates as we avoided tier 3 restrictions by the skin of our teeth and my heart truly goes out to all those planning staycations which have now swiftly been cancelled. I guess it's this sense of normality I experienced throughout October which  ultimately made the recent news of lockdown take 2 a hard pill to swallow. I felt progress and I was able to experience little snippets of normality which actually made me realise how much I'd missed them! Now it feels like the slate has been wiped clean and we're back to square one. But here we are all and as hard as the current circumstances may be to comprehend, we have to keep on pushing on. We can't change the situation we're in and I most definitely refuse to let it get the better of me.

Rediscovering Your Happy Places

It feels somewhat overwhelming to think how much has changed since I last wrote on here a mere 3 weeks ago but such is 2020 life. As Manchester finds itself in tier 3 as of last Friday, there is a real sense that nothing is ever really that certain right now and making plans for the future (or simply next week) is stress inducing work. Luckily and completely unintentionally we'd planned quite a lot of "normal"-ish activities into the last two weeks prior to heading into tier 3 including a trip to Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and a very fleeting stay in Cornwall, our only holiday of the year for which I've never felt so grateful (holiday photos and blog post to follow soon). But that's just it with every plan you chance to make this year, it feels almost risky to set your heart on it actually happening! In fact for my own piece of mind I've found it better to look on plans as "yet to be confirmed" until the day before and as pessimistic as this may seem, its probably the most logical way of thinking. If there's one thing we've all learnt from 2020 is that plans don't just change, they can very easily be cancelled all together. Weddings, festivals, holidays, no matter how big the event may be nothing is set in stone and if you let it, this can send you a touch stir crazy. By October on a "normal" year I would have made numerous trips to London, had a few little weekend UK breaks with Joe and Pep, as well as possibly a overseas holiday. I realise in hindsight how much of luxury this was and the idea of a casual staycation away in the UK now seems like dreaming big (Cornwall actually felt like a completely different country)! But as much as I miss the travel and the excitement of somewhere new, it's not all doom and gloom in staying in one spot. One thing I have to thank this year for is it's ability to make me appreciate home much more, whether I wanted to or not. I've found a new lease of enthusiasm for my home town, a much stronger love for my happy places and a whole new understanding of what "home" actually means. 

Snap Happy and Find Joy

Hello me again. You know you've not been posting nearly enough when you feel the need to introduce yourself on your own blog! But in a year when life has thrown us all a case load of lemons, I found it really difficult to read the room and understand what feels relevant to talk about on here for both myself and those reading it (if there's any of you still out there). Uncertainty seems like the hot word to describe most people's feelings towards the current situation and believe me, I'm definitely not the anomaly on that front. Without sounding a touch melodramatic I started to feel like I'd lost my voice for discussing anything on here with true enthusiasm, speaking as candidly as I can I was just sort of coasting by on autopilot. Much like many others out there I feel like I've had a year of extreme low's teamed with a few weeks of nothingness and a couple of not too high, highs thrown in. But that's just it, maybe quite a few of this year's highs aren't exactly what I would deem highlights on any other "normal" year (whatever normal means) but it's important to recognise them all the same. I guess one solid lesson I have taken from the horror show that is 2020 is that you really do have to seek out the little things that bring you joy where you can. Granted "seeking" might on some weeks feel more like “extensively hunting down” but I promise from trying my hardest over the last few weeks, there really is happiness to be found in the smallest of achievements. 

Top Of The Town- The La Di Da Collection

It's been far too long since I last checked in on here and over the next few weeks I'm going to make it my mission to get typing again. When I glance over my last few posts, it would seem that I'm only encouraged to write when discussing either books or Top Of The Town, which funnily enough feels like a pretty accurate summary of my entire year. Truth be told, it's been pretty challenging to think of varied topics to write about when in actual fact reading and collecting vintage have definitely been the two things which have truly kept me occupied! And so I hope you'll excuse me if I break my blog silence with another post on the next Top Of The Town collection. It's my favourite time for style and I think this is potentially my favourite TOTT collection yet, so as you can imagine I'm pretty keen to discuss it!

Top Of The Town- Paint Palette Collection

As we come speeding into August, so does Top Of The Town's brand new "Paint Palette" vintage collection and I promise you, there's no chance you can miss it! This summer has been a real rollercoaster of a ride; plans have been cancelled, face masks are the unexpected must have accessory and my fellow Northerners will understand the heartbreak of continuous days of grey, rainy weather. With all of these slight obstacles in our way, it's tough to feel positive about summer and so I wanted to ensure this collection was in high spirits and high colour. As a last hurrah to summer style this is a collection which makes a bold statement with bright colour combinations, vibrant patterns and retro summer shapes to make any vintage lover go weak at the knees and I hope, put a little smile on everyone's face.

Book Club- Books By Black Authors To Read Right Now

Hello and welcome to another instalment of my blog's Book Club which is fast becoming my favourite thing to type about. I was actually aiming to have a new Book Club post up every two or three months and with my last post published not too long ago, this one probably seems a little early. I really wanted to this post up as soon as possible because it looks at a particular topic we should all hopefully be exploring right now. In this instalment I wanted to discuss a number of incredible books specifically by black authors. The last few months have been so educative for many of us on the issue of BLM and as I continue to inform myself on this topic, I wanted to make sure I'm sharing my resources as much as possible with you guys. As an avid reader one of the most effective ways I've found to truly educate myself is to make the extra effort to diversify my reading list. No one is saying you have to exclusively read factual books in order to truly learn, personally I struggle reading outside of fiction and I've found it ends up being a real counterproductive use of my time because what I read doesn't always seem to stick. There are plenty of incredible fiction books available out there for you to grasp of a real understanding of race and allyship. Here is a look at some contemporary books which I personally feel you should read right now...

Top Of The Town- Lisbon Girls Collection

 I've lots and lots of exciting Top Of The Town Vintage news to share this week on my blog! First of all I'd like to FINALLY introduce you guys to a brand new Top Of The Town website! I'm so excited to finally get this online store up and running, as I hope it provides as much improved, easier and all round more efficient shopping experience, which truth be told Top Of The Town had started to really need. Yes, that's right we're moving up in the world, if only slightly. It's one small step for man, one big leap for Top Of The Town Vintage...

Book Club- Books To See You Through Summer

Hello and welcome to my second book club blog post! The last time we discussed some of my favourite books of the year so far was back in March when life was a little different to say the least. Now three months on, all of which were in lockdown, I think it's safe to say I've had the time to get stuck into a whole new pile of incredible books and oh my, have I been a busy reader! As we enter into summer I've been trying to keep up the positivity towards lockdown, especially as it can increasingly feel more and more tedious from day to day. I've been taking full advantage of the last few week's incredible weather, reserving regular  slots of "me time" and enjoying the sunshine accompanied by a whole host of books. Summer generally for me, is a prime time for discovering new books whether that's a good holiday read or a moments peace in the garden. Granted this year there will be no holidaying but that doesn't mean we can't get stuck into an amazing summer time read and I've got a few suggestions to keep you ticking over for the next few months...

Understanding How We Are Part Of The Problem

If you had asked me a month or so ago if I was non-racist I would have indignantly answered without a moments thought, "absolutely, no doubt about it". But had the question been rephrased ever so slightly and I'd been asked what had I DONE to be ANTI racist, well I'm ashamed to say the answer after some hesitation would have been not enough. The recent tragic death of George Floyd AND Breonna Taylor amongst many others at the hands of police brutality in the US has sparked global outrage, anger and cries for justice with protests taking place in major cities across the world. Subsequently these events has had a lot of us privileged white folk asking for the first time "what can I do to be ACTIVELY anti-racist?". 

Top Of The Town- English Garden Collection

When lockdown first began back in March it felt like an abrupt pause on all work projects. It was hard to fathom being able to carry on as normal or being able to have the same creative freedom as before. Back in mid March I had just announced my Top Of The Town spring collection "Sunday Morning" and to be perfectly honestly I had thought this was going to be the last collection in a long while, because logistically I couldn't see how creating vintage collections, shooting pieces and sending them out efficiently was going to work within the terms of lockdown. It was disheartening and throughout the few weeks I promoted Sunday Morning, I was worried that "trying to carry on as normal" would be viewed negatively. I was very wrong! Sunday Morning was such a success and so well received. It was a true testament that what we all need at times like this is content which makes us happy and acts as escapism. As the weeks have rolled by I'd like to think we've learned to adapt to our new way of life. We've been able to sit back and think constructively about how we can carry on with some kind of new normal and from this I was able to look at creating a Top Of The Town summer collection through new, proactive eyes. And so it's with a little bit of compromising, a touch of optimism and a teeny tiny bit of modification that I've finally been able to create the ever so lovely "English Garden" collection.

The Good, The Bad and The Uncertain

Due to last week's incredible weather I may have spent most of my time in the garden basking and subsequently I may have gotten a little side tracked from writing last week's post. Unsurprisingly the weather has taken a turn for the worse and so I return to sitting at my dining table in my front room with my laptop in tow. I've decided that this week's post will be more of a catch up on both what I've been up to and also how exactly I'm feeling because truth be told it's been a funny old two weeks inside my head. I don't know if it's just me but I've been completely taken aback by just how drastically my thoughts and feelings fluctuate from day to day. 

Out With The Old, In With The Old

As we enter our third week in lockdown I've now managed to tick off quite an impressive amount of "things to do around the house". Jobs which have been lingering at the back of my mind and continually pushed back for months have now become a great way to to stay motivated, pass the time and most importantly stay mindful. Along with keeping up with my blog, social media and taking up hobbies I'd had on the back burner, organising my house and clearing out have had the amazing ability at keeping my head clutter free too. Kitchen cabinets have been methodically emptied, cleaned and neatly ordered. The dresser in our dinning room which was unofficially used as a dumping ground for forgotten receipts, discarded letters and the obligatory batteries, nails and miscellaneous wires (which no odd job drawer would be complete without) has been gutted and put to better use as my Top Of The Town workstation. And last but by no means least, I finally got round to clearing out (begrudgingly so) and reordering the black hole which is my wardrobe. A job which I'm ashamed to say to an entire day and then some.

Top Of The Town- Sunday Morning Collection

Back in November of last year (when times were arguably more simple) I proudly launched my very own Instagram vintage store, Top Of The TownVintage style is something I've loved since I was a teen and if you follow me on Instagram there's no doubt you've heard me harp on about it a million and one times. The sixties and seventies most notably have played such a huge role on my personal style and in turn my wardrobe, with hunting down great vintage pieces being one of my biggest hobbies (or vices on my purse strings). Vintage shopping as a whole is amazing, it's environmentally friendly and it means you're finding unique, one of a kind pieces. The only problem I've found is that when I'm sharing my outfits on Instagram and I'm being asked about one off vintage pieces, without giving people the clothes of my own back it's impossible for my looks to be 100% shoppable. Granted I've posted plenty of vintage inspired shopping guides in the past but still, I appreciate that not everyone has the time to trawl around vintage fairs, charity stores and flea markets, so this is where the Top Of The Town seed was first planted.

Super Size My Collar

I'm currently sat on my bed, typing this post out and feeling a little unsettled as we all brace ourselves for three weeks in lock down. Despite the current circumstances or possibly in spite of them, posting on my blog will resume as normal because I think a little normality is exactly what we all need for peace of mind (see my last post for further details on this), I hope you guys agree? So let's keep on keeping on and forget about lock down for a few minutes at least. One wonderful thing I have noticed over the past few days is how much Spring has sprung especially when you take into account how bv non-existant this season has been over the last couple of years (who can forget our long lost pal, the beast from the east?). The mornings have a golden glow, the temperature is mild and sunshine is sticking around well into the early evenings, let's try and be thankful for as much of spring as we possibly can this year. With this in mind I'm eager to celebrate the most joyful of seasons to dress for and have a little chat with you guys about some delightful spring style. 

Don't Bring Me Down

This post is inspired by the week's current (ever unfolding) events, pesky Mercury in retrograde, trolls and possibly a little dose of hormones for good measure. To summarise, the last few months have been an absolute abysmal corker in the bad luck department. I can say with 100% confidence that I've experienced my fair share of of mishaps, set backs and the odd bust up. Individually, each occurrence has- in the grand scheme of things- been minuscule and collectively, you're classic case of "first world problems". I'm acutely aware that at large my life is perfectly fine and when these problems are put into context, they really just don't matter that much at all but credit where credits due, my luck just really has played a massive number on me. Then when you add the increasingly frightening and completely inescapable news into the mix, I'd say I'm all but ready to graciously take a step back from 2020 and admit that maybe, just maybe 2019 wasn't that bad after all...

Joanie Clothing Tees- Take Two

So here we are! Another year and my second Joanie Clothing t-shirt collaboration consisting of eight brand spanking new designs for you to feast your eyes on! The success of collection numero uno absolutely blew me away and to say the amazing reaction we got came as a surprise would be a complete understatement. Truth be told in hindsight I don’t know what I was expecting from the first collection- it very much felt like stepping into unknown territory and was a huge learning curve; from working with the team and communicating my ideas clearly, to actually finding out which ones you all liked and which ones didn't work. It was a big step out of my comfort zone and one I'm so glad I took. So when Joanie Clothing approached me to create a second collection, I’d have been crazy to say no and this time I was armed with lessons learnt, fresh ideas and a boost in confidence. 

Book Club- Page Turning Leading Ladies

You may or not remember but last year I started hosting my very own bookclub on IGTV. I absolutely loved creating those videos, they were a great way to connect fellow avid readers, start a conversation and truth be told on a slightly selfish note, they simply encouraged me to read much more regularly. The only drawback was I just didn't feel like I was getting enough of a discussion going on each video and it kind of started to feel like I was just talking at myself so I decided to quit whilst I was ahead. Everything is a learning curve and one of the best things I took from the IGTV book club was that you guys want simple, quick recommendations. If you really like the book or you agree with me or want to make your own recommendation than of course you will, but all in all- very much like myself- you want less of the chit chat and more material to add to your ever growing reading list. I feel you and it's been noted. That said I still wanted to talk about books in some way on my platform because its one of my favourite pastimes, so this year I will be doing quarterly book recommendation over on here (and let's be honest, that way I'm encouraged to keep up the regular reading).

Zip It Good!

Another day in February, another day of grey skies and lots of rain. Not the most positive of ways to start a post off I'll admit but after a week spent with a steaming cold, avoiding going outside whenever I can and living in outfits which consist of three layers minimum, it's hard to see the bright side... Literally! Maybe it's the three consecutive storms we've just had or the lack of vitamin D but I just can't seem to pull myself out the funk I'm in at the moment and I think I'm possibly experiencing January blues a month late? With the weather still so cold and when dressing for comfort is still our main priority, it can often feel hard to feel inspired by our wardrobes, I know. But all is not lost, this week I'm sharing with you one of my favourite- most definitely comfy- pieces we see coming in stronger than Storm Dennis this season. The oh so leisurely zip up sweater!

Old Fashion, New Fashion

Over the past few months I've been spotting a real array of heritage style accessories, outwear and shoes cropping up and for me this is a sight for sore eyes because vintage inspired heritage is one of my all year round, fail-safe looks to opt for. So I realise "heritage" as a trend sounds a touch vague and possibly a tiny bit pretentious but it's the only word which really, truly does the aesthetic it's full justice. Basically this is a trend built up of quintessential classics. It's a little British and a little "college grad" all mixed into one and it's made up of staple pieces which have stood the test of time. It's definitely in the same ball park as preppy but think more sophisticated professor than fun and carefree student... As I type this, I realise what I'm trying to say is heritage is kind of a grown up version of preppy. Does that make sense?

It's Easy Being Green, Yellow and Lilac

This year I really wanted to put the effort in and get writing blog posts more regularly again but I already feel like I've fallen at the first hurdle, with only one post in January. General life admin and trying to be a grown up has meant that often my blog falls by the wayside, something I feel really disheartened about as it's a part of my job I've always wanted to maintain and something I feel passionately about. I've come to the conclusion that little and often is the best way to over come this niggle and instead of pushing myself to continually offer up mammoth posts, I will instead try and write more regularly giving a brief run up. Of course if there's a meaty topic I'm just itching to discuss with you guys than I promise I won't hold back. One of the main reasons I started my blog was because I felt constrained sharing my latests thoughts, feelings and inspirations on Instagram and  felt a blog let me branch out, I'm starting to think that's got lost along the way. I've started to feel like there's no point in writing on my blog unless I've got a lot to say and as bad as this might sound, not everything I want to share requires a wordy monologue accompanying it! Sometimes I might just want to share a trend I love, a time, place or moment which is inspiring or simply a book I've adored reading and with this in mind I'm going to push myself to create posts no matter how little or small the words within it may be...

2020 Vision

First blog post of the new year! Hooray! I always love writing this because not only does it feel like an official fresh start but it's a little benchmark to another year my blog is still ticking along and this makes me all kinds of happy especially as we now enter it's FIFTH year going strong. So amazing, if not a little daunting how quickly the time has gone by. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and an even more wonderful New Year Eve... Let's hope the Twenties are as roaring as they were hundred years ago. Flapper skirts, beaded head-dresses and jaw length bobs at the ready, I'm not at all opposed to bringing back a little 1920s fashion! Charleston and Gatsby inspiration aside I just wanted to very quickly check in with you guys because I don't know if it's just me but it seems reaching both the end of 2019 as well as the end of a decade has meant that the "new year/new me" talk flying round on social media has been ten fold! And as lovely as these posts are to read, I wanted to share my thoughts...