Friday, 26 June 2015

Graduation Season: Some Tips and Advice from a 2014'er

So that time of year is upon us again, when the mortarboards fly in the air and the celebrations begin - oh I remember it well.

Some of you may or may not be aware, but I graduated from the University of East London in November last year - after six years studying! I transferred after three years at my first University (Greenwich) to UEL, where I completed a degree in Creative & Professional Writing and Media Studies. So my graduation was approached with gusto, unsurprisingly - I admit, I did turn into a bit of a 'Gradzilla' around this my boyfriend/mother/sister will probably attest. My head was filled with ideas about what I'd wear, how the photographs would come out and fears about tripping up on stage (thankfully I managed not to do that). So, today I'll be giving a few tips on how to have the best graduation you can, and how to make a day filled with emotion, apprehension but mostly joy even better. 

First off...

I cannot emphasise this enough: get your graduation bits ready well in advance! Seriously, you must. Order the gown, book the tickets, make sure everything is ready. You really do not want to leave this kind of thing to the last minute, trust me. I've seen people do it, and it rarely ends well. Most Universities have advice on graduation matters, so make sure you speak to them if you're worried about anything - a quick phone call can really put your mind at rest. Don't wait it out - please get everything sorted as soon as you can. And yes, you really must get your head circumference right - those mortarboards can get tight if you get it wrong.

Now, the fun bit...

Picking an Outfit

Now, for the guys, this bit is usually easy. A suit is generally the preferred option - with your choice of shirt. Now, most graduation robes are black or dark blue - so the best option I'd suggest is a grey suit - gunmetal or light grey is a good choice. And always the smartest shoes you've got! Always.

Suiting Up

Like the guys, suiting up for women is definitely a possibility - as this is a dressy occasion, something like a pencil skirt/shirt combination is perfect. The advice is generally the same as the guys: a grey skirt, and free choice of shirt. Footwear wise, whatever is comfortable, but it has to be smart. Now if you're a pumps type, go right ahead. Heels? Whatever you're happiest in. I would keep away from the skyscrapers however, mainly because there is a lot of walking involved on the day. More about footwear later...

Another alternative is to wear a shift dress/bodycon in grey, which also looks fantastic. 

Best places for suits: M&S (my personal choice), but places like Next are also very worthy of consideration. I would say, don't go too expensive. Graduation is costly enough!

Dressing Up

When I had my graduation, I knew exactly what I wanted - the prettiest, best fitted and most gorgeous dress I could get. I had saved up quite a few pennies for my dress shopping expedition - and I was going to use them well. 

I was incredibly lucky - when I was shopping for my dress, it was August and Phase Eight were having a sale. I picked up my dress for £65, rather than £115. How brilliant is that? Around the time of graduation, places like Monsoon, Phase Eight and Karen Millen usually have sales - so it's always worth checking them out. If not, another idea is to visit their outlet stores, which are found in various places around the country (my local one is in Braintree Freeport). You might be able to find some past season pieces. In addition, TK Maxx also have a good selection of clothing. I recently picked up a jersey dress from there, reduced from £100 to £25. It might take some hunting around, but there really are some brilliant finds if you look. 

Now, as I said, most graduation uniforms are black, so dress choice is quite easy. But not for us UEL grads, we get navy blue, and a rust-coloured sash! So our choice was generally block colour, or a floral pattern. But as a general rule, most dresses will suit. The only thing I would say is don't get anything too low cut, because the sash will not stay in place! Mine was pinned to the front of my dress with safety pins, and that worked incredibly well. The best dress cut I can recommend is body con, skater, or fit and flare. Something formal, but stylish is usually perfect.

My shop recommendations are by no means exhaustive, but include: Phase Eight, Karen Millen, Monsoon, Coast or Oasis. 


Now, as far as I was concerned, I was going to wear heels, and there was no two ways about it. High ones, as well. I found my perfect pair at M&S - leather platforms. Oh they looked good, no doubt, but the idea of walking around in them all day was a bit off putting. 

Like I said previously, if you want to wear flats or boots, go right ahead - as long as they are smart. Ballet pumps are a good choice, and if you like the pointed style, they're good too. 

Heels can be anything from kitten to platform - it's entirely up to you. But for those of us who choose the platform route, I have a fantastic tip to lessen the pain. 

M&S do a fantastic range of tights with stitched in foam pads, especially for high heels - these saved me from so much pain when I was charging around the O2 all day, from the indigO2 to the photography studio, to the bar - I don't know how I'd have managed without them, to be honest. So those of you deciding on your best heels, you could do a lot worse than invest in these. 


I tend not to be too prescriptive about what makeup people should wear at graduation, because everyone's style is their own. I tend to prefer lighter makeup for comfort reasons - heavy foundation usually results in a breakout in my case. It's just purely for comfort reasons. But I did have my signature eyeliner on, as always. I decided on a barely-there base, topped up with a small amount of blusher and powder. I didn't wear much lipstick that day, but I did ensure I had lipbalm on hand to deal with any dryness. Again, it's your choice - if you're wanting a bright red lip for example, go for it. Why not?


Right, the straight up truth: you will get hat hair. It's entirely unavoidable. In my case, it was quite extreme. But nothing a mid-evening restyle won't fix. Dry shampoo and hairspray are your friends here. And buns and mortarboards never mix. It's hair down, or a loose pony. If you're able to put your hair in a bun after the ceremony, this is an excellent choice. I restyled my hair once the day was over, and it worked very well. By the time I went out to the evening meal at Jamie's Italian with my family, my hair was still looking pretty good, if I say so myself.

Some other small points about the day, just in general:
  • Get gowned early - you don't want to be waiting in a long queue half an hour before your ceremony begins. 
  • You will get lost. Several times. 
  • Stage nerves are common, especially if your ceremony is being filmed or streamed live (mine was). Don't worry, you're not alone in feeling shaky. 
  • The wait for photographs is insanely long. Use the time to check makeup, teeth for stains/food, hair, everything else. 
  • Even if you do trip up, laugh it off. It's all part of the experience. 
  • Don't get too caught up in the formality of the day - have as much fun as possible. 
  • Always throw the mortarboard, but be careful - that thing doesn't half hurt if it hits you.
And finally...

This is an occasion you will remember for the rest of your life, the conclusion to your academic chapter (even if temporary, if you plan on going onto further study) - it's the transition from undergraduate to Batchelor's status - savour it, celebrate it, but most of all, enjoy it. The best advice I can give, no matter what you're wearing, is to do whatever makes you feel confident - because if you feel confident on the inside, it will show on the outside, no matter what style you opt for. 

Huge, huge congratulations to the Class of 2015, of which my dear sister is also a member - now get celebrating. And remember, always take a selfie with the free wine. Never miss that opportunity. Even if you do look as tired as I do:

Best of luck with your graduations,

Rosie x

Friday, 12 June 2015

What I Wore: 'Oh My, Is Summer Here?' Edition

Sunshine! Warm weather! Things we expect June to be! The whole country's bathing in nature's Instagram filter, my timeline is full of people having BBQs and suddenly Boots is all out of suncream.

Grab your sunglasses (tortoiseshell wayfarers in my case), your gin and tonic and hit the park...or pub garden, because that's close enough right?

Dress: New Look
Jacket: New Look, £24.99
Shoes: Marks and Spencer Collection, £18
Belt: Accessorize
Bag: (just seen) Orla Kiely Etc collection, £119

A day like yesterday always calls for a pretty dress and denim. I teamed my look with pared down makeup (always advisable in this kind of weather). The dress was found in the New Look sale about a year ago, and has been one of my summer favourites ever since. 

I headed out to Fulham yesterday, and spent a little time wandering the gardens and palace. I've only recently got to know the West London area. I tend to be more familiar with Central/East/South London, and a small part of the North.

It's tucked in a small corner of West London, but definitely worth a visit - when I went, it was getting towards late evening so there was no chance to see round the Palace itself, but at least there's an excuse to visit again...especially when the weather's this gorgeous.

And I love a good excuse to throw on my summer clothes, of course. There's really nothing like beautiful grounds, a floaty dress and a bit of sunshine to make a pretty good day.

Fulham Palace is located in SW London, nearest Tube is Putney Bridge (District Line, Wimbledon branch). I'm hoping to visit again, perhaps check out the Palace itself. The gardens are usually open until 7:15pm daily.

So who enjoyed the sun? Any pub garden recommendations? Let me know...


Saturday, 11 April 2015

Tech: The Joy of CSC

The joy of what? 

CSC - or, to give them their full name, compact system cameras. Basically, one of these:

Panasonic Lumix GM1

I've recently started to take considerable enjoyment in photography again (on a very amateur basis). I've always loved taking pictures ever since getting my hands on my first point and shoot camera. And now that iPhone cameras are decent enough (for basic shots of pets/food/places), I'm constantly stopping in the middle of the street/cafe/wherever to visually record what I'm up to. 

Quite recently, I'd been talking about getting a decent quality DSLR to start expanding on my interests. My boyfriend, who had spent a little while researching cameras, pointed me in the direction of CSCs - initially I was a little sceptical, as I'd already planned to get myself a DSLR.  But with a mind open to alternatives, I decided to have a further look at these little devices. 

The idea with CSCs is that they offer exceptional quality (near DSLR) in a small package, making them incredibly portable and versatile. In addition, they also have some of the features of the traditional DSLR, such as interchangeable lenses and manual controls (focus, aperture etc). The main difference is the lack of mirrors, and on most models, a lack of a viewfinder. The Lumix is one of these - the LCD screen at the back is used for composing a shot. Some higher-end models offer digital viewfinders. More explanation of the CSC is available here - my review is based on it's usability.

I've had the Lumix GM1 for five days, and I have to say - I absolutely adore it. And I'm currently driving everyone I know mad with my constant picture taking. I may well be addicted...

The camera's quality is exceptional for it's range - the detail on the pictures is beautiful, crisp and sharp - I wouldn't say they're better than a top range DSLR, but for a camera designed for portability, they really are fantastic. I've included some samples of my photography in at the end of this post.

In terms of usability, I can only really comment on the automatic aspects of the camera, as I haven't used the manual settings as yet (mostly because I'm getting used to it). The Lumix several 'point-and-shoot' style settings, such as Freeze Animal mode (which captures fast-moving pets), Night Cityscape and others. In addition, filters are also included - they have no real purpose, but are pretty fun. Most of the pictures I've taken are with the auto modes, but hopefully as I develop my skills further, I'll use the Lumix to it's full potential. It's early days.

But so far, I am absolutely loving my new camera. I'd recommend it highly to those looking to get into photography, or amateurs looking for an upgrade.

And here's a few samples of the pictures I've taken:

And this last one was taken by my boyfriend, who isn't too bad with the camera himself...

Most of my shots end up on my Instagram, or my VSCOCam grid - feel free to follow. 

Rosie x

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Instalife: 2015 so far

So this is basically the first in a series of posts detailing the things I post on Instagram, from the mundane to the pretty to the selfies and everything in between.

This one covers January through to now, basically all the things I've been doing in 2015 so far. 

In January, the boy and I went to Sheffield - mainly to visit family in the city but also as a little weekend getaway. I've been in love with the North of the country for many years, and always look for an opportunity to visit. I have family living there (hey Eleanor!), but I also have roots in the area - especially Newcastle, where half of my family is from. 

We found the most fantastic burrito place - Benito's Hat, Kings Cross Station. If you're passing through here, I insist you try it. The food is a bargain by London standards, especially for what you get. It's now our eatery of choice when we're travelling North. 

Stunning Sheffield. 

I bought a beautiful new coat - baby blue, from Oasis. And I'm completely in love with it. 

A helpful map on the entrance to King's Cross Underground station, detailing the local area. 

Harry and I, as slight Sherlock fans (books, film and TV show) just had to go to the Sherlock exhibition at the Museum of London. We stopped off for coffee/hot chocolate and a Sherlock shortbread. 

I say, old chap. 

For some unknown reason (UK weather can be a little bit strange), there was a really sunny day. So we thought "break out the bikes, let's hit the bridleways". Also, may I introduce my lovely boyfriend, Harry. This guy, always :)

My sister turned 21 last weekend (not like the picture makes it obvious eh...), and we visited Chatsworth House in Derbyshire to celebrate. The grounds are currently closed to the public, but the restaurant is open. It was stunningly beautiful, and the food was lovely too. 

Can't beat a decent Victoria sponge and a latte. 

The gorgeous Chatsworth grounds, with the view of the Peak District. 

Mother's Day in Colchester, Essex with Harry's Mum. I spent the morning/afternoon with my Mum, and the evening with Harry's and his family. All nine of us! Huge table booked at Middleton's, Colchester. And, as you can see, a very nice looking burger. Pricey, but very, very worth it. 

Family times. 

Formal floral - (dress, Oasis, £75. Jacket, also Oasis, £65). 

Up at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich for a little solar eclipse spotting...

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be - London's fog thickened up too much!

Cutty Sark visit = selfie! Can't not, let's be honest. Also, strong eyeliner game.

So there's my life through a lens (and a filter). 

You can follow me on Instagram here.

Until next time, 

Accidental Essex Girl

Sunday, 1 March 2015


Hello and a very warm welcome to British Bohemia!

First off, let me introduce myself as the actual girl in question. I'm Rosie and I live in Essex. I mostly divide my time between my small area of the county and London, where I work as an Imaging Technician. My biggest loves in life are my boyfriend of five years, my family, my pet Lhasa Apso and 2 cats, tiramisu, Havana Club & Cola, anything with birds printed on it and photography.

I'd broadly call this a 'lifestyle blog', so basically anything from fashion to beauty to galleries to theatre, film TV and anything in between. Please feel free to leave constructive criticism, because I'd love to know your thoughts on my content.

So that's a basic introduction, I thought I'd round this up with a few little facts about me...because icebreaker, right?
  1. Gogglebox is my religion. Friday night, I'm parked on the sofa with my wine at 9pm for my session on Channel 4. 
  2. I am completely obsessed with liquid eyeliner and don't feel 'ready' without it. You'll see what I mean in later posts...
  3. I am a fruit addict. Fresh or frozen. Every time I go shopping (any kind of shopping), I'm bound to end up with at least one punnet. Or maybe even two. 
  4. I love bold prints and colours - the brighter, the better. Sometimes I might even end up wearing too much print at once (example: purple tartan dress with grey bird-and-floral print scarf). 
  5. I am a real sucker for anything Orla Kiely. 
  6. I struggle to resist my dog's Disney eyes when he wants something. 
  7. I once dyed my hair red and blonde at college. I was 17, and Hayley Williams was my idol - that's the only real explanation for it.
  8. Tiramisu will be my downfall. 
  9. I'm a UEL graduate (Class of 2014 represent!)
  10. I have a passion for cycling and a huge love for vintage Raleighs. Mine's a 1990s Pioneer Classic. 
  11. I prefer concerts to nightclubs, but I enjoy a good bar or pub. 
  12. I used to do quite a fair bit of jewellery design and would love to take it up again. 
  13. I tend to be a bit loud on occasion. 
  14. I own too many notebooks. 
So that just about wraps it up. I'll be back with a first post of sorts as soon as possible, in the meantime, enjoy the blog!