Thom Sweeney
Fashion, Style

101 Things To Buy Before You Die: Suits

Some years ago I found myself in possession of a novel book called 101 Things To Buy Before You Die. It’s basically a directory of the best-of-the-best across a range of lifestyle categories – from alarm clocks to wallpaper, this book has it. Much of it has stood the test of time, for example Birkins and Bayswaters are still a damn good place to start for a kick-ass, eyewateringly expensive handbag. Does Revlon still make the best lipsticks however? Probably not. For that matter, I’d argue that you don’t need to spend a fortune to have lovely things.

So I thought I’d take the time to share with you my go-tos (and updates where applicable) for each of the categories laid out in the original book.

Frivolous? Absolutely. But a bit of fun, too. Here’s the first instalment…

The original: bespoke suits. The update: suits.

Sure, you could spend the price of a round-the-world ticket on a bespoke suit, but when an off-the-rack number with a few alterations or made-to-measure has the same effect for a fraction of the price, it seems more silly than splurge.

An impeccable suit is however, worth splashing out on. For men or women, the pieces that make up a suit are as relevant when worn together as they are as separates. Jackets dress up denim for both sexes, but for men the trousers can be worn on their own with a casual shirt and rolled sleeves for a look that sits squarely in the ‘smart casual’ category. Women can pair their trousers with a chambray shirt, heels and a statement necklace for much the same effect.

The point is, they’re worth investing in. Buy yours in black, navy blue or a mid-grey.

My picks for suits? For women, head to Joseph (above, left) and Stella McCartney (above, right) – both images from Net-A-Porter, which stocks both labels.

For men, Thom Sweeney (top) is a very fine place to start – they produce not just bespoke and made-to-measure suits, but have also just released their first ready-to-wear collection. You can’t buy online from them directly though – if you wish to do so, head to Mr Porter.

 

Great Skin Ingredients
Beauty & Health

The ingredients for great skin

I get told often enough that I have great skin. This isn’t a brag, it’s a fact. The other fact however is that I don’t have great skin. I have terrible skin, but I spend a lot of money to make sure it looks as good as it can (and even then it never seems enough).

I’ve written before about some of my bargain beauty buys, but here are the products that are on the higher end of the cash money spectrum which make up my routine…

(Left to right, above…)

ASAP Daily Exfoliating Facial Scrub ($40 AUD) – used twice a week in the mornings.

Cosmedix Define ($100 AUD) – used nightly.

Cosmedix Simply Brilliant ($70 AUD) – used every morning under moisturiser.

ASAP Moisturising Daily Defence ($55 AUD, SPF 30+) – every. single. day. It has UVA and UVB spectrum coverage.

This Works No Wrinkles Eye Repair ($80 AUD) – morning and night.

Of course, over the counter products and a diligent home care routine only gets you so far. On top of this, I’m a big advocate of:

  • Medi-facials – these are the kind you need to see a dermal clinician for and generally aren’t very pleasant (unless you’re a bit like me and feel that pain = gain). They involve things like extractions, microdermabrasion and peels. I used to have them every month but have lightened up to every 2 – 3 months.
  • Laser – not the hair removal kind. The brightening kind. It softens pigmentation, freckles and age spots. For me they have to crank that machine up to within an inch of its capacity and I still don’t get the blackening they tell you to expect, but everyone is different. This, as with the medi-facials are NOT things to skimp on. You get what you pay for and a lot of damage can be done by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Finally, you know that old adage ‘you are what you eat’? It’s true. You’re also what you drink. Focus on getting a lot (and I do mean a lot) of fruit and especially vegetables in your diet, often and with variety. Drink four or five times the amount of water than anything else.

 

The Kettle Black
Travel

A local’s guide to Melbourne in a weekend

We had friends visiting from interstate recently, and whilst Melbourne isn’t my hometown I’ve lived here for some years now, and thought I’d share with you my go-to checklist when I’m trying to show the place off. Minimal tourist traps, maximum real deal.

Brunch
It’s a very well documented fact that few cities take their brunch as seriously as Melbourne (even our northern siblings aren’t nearly quite so particular). Seldom alcohol fuelled, the Melbourne brunch revolves around the city’s beverage of choice: coffee. Steer clear of those in obvious hotspots and instead do your homework and find something in the ‘burbs (or at least not on a main road). A wait is almost inevitable (20 minutes or more isn’t unusual), but you’ll increase your likelihood of scoring a table fast if you have no more than four people and arrive between 9 and 9.30am. There are literally hundreds of worthy contenders, but I’ve recently enjoyed The Kettle Black (shown above), Cornershop and Ora Specialty Coffee. Mart 130 has stood the test of time for a reason (and not just because of the novelty factor; it’s located in an old tram stop).

Events
I’m not sure any other city in the world is quite so busy as Melbourne. No matter the time of year you visit, there’s a sporting or cultural event to get into. In very rough chronological order, in any given year Melbourne plays host to: The Australian Open (tennis), Laneway Festival (music), Footscray East Meets West Chinese New Year Festival, White Night (arts), St Kilda Festival, Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion WeekMelbourne Food and Wine Festival, Formula One Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne International Comedy FestivalAFL season and grand final, Taste of MelbourneMelbourne Spring Fashion Week, Spring Racing Carnival (horse racing), Boxing Day Test (cricket)… and they’re only the biggest ones which immediately spring to mind. The point is, whatever your persuasion and no matter the time of year you visit, there is undoubtedly a world class event scheduled. On top of these there are also countless major art installations (check out , concerts, shows, open air cinemas and other such joys to discover.

Trenery

Shopping
To be totally fair, with the advent of online shopping, any particular city can hardly lay claim to having the market cornered on this one. If you’re travelling though, it makes sense to me that you’d want to return with something you can’t get at home. Take it from me, Toorak Road (Toorak) and High Street (Armadale) are the new Chapel Street, filled with beautiful multi-label boutiques and flagship stores of Australian designers. The laneways of Melbourne city are also most certainly worth a wander. If you’re visiting from overseas, Australian high street stores Saba, Cue, Sportscraft, MarcsWitchery, Country Road and Trenery are all worthy of a visit.

Lucy Liu

Hit the town
It’s been a seriously long time since I’ve been to a nightclub, so my version of hitting the town now involves cocktail lounges and delectable dinners. It seems every few weeks there’s a hot new restaurant in town, so rather than trying to cover the latest I’ll tell you my current favourites… Maha (Middle Eastern), Ezard (Australian Freestyle), Pastuso (Peruvian), Red Spice Road (South East Asian), Hutong Dumpling Bar (Hong Kong dumplings!), Mamasita (Mexican), Lucy Liu (Multicultural Asian… still not sure exactly what that is, but a delicious sample above) and Woodland House (Modern Australian). As for those cocktails, be sure to check out Eau De Vie (if you can find it), Sweatshop Bar, Madame Brussels (extreme kitsch) and Lui Bar (extreme decadence). Like kick-ass restaurants though, there are many so if cocktails are your thing too, there are many more to choose from.

Get out
Yes, our weather can be crazy unpredictable. It’s not an exaggeration to say we experience all seasons in a day. But in those beautiful moments Melbourne has a lot of outdoors to offer. I’m a big fan of the running tracks around the botanical gardens (The Tan) and Albert Park Lake (also where the Formula One Grand Prix track is located). If you like a good garden, Carlton Gardens are pretty gorgeous too. In the warmer months Melbourne also has a number of outdoor cinemas. Check out Moonlight Cinemas in the botanical gardens, Ben and Jerry’s cinema on St Kilda beach and Rooftop Cinema at the top of Curtin House in the CBD. In the very same months, you’ll also find a bunch of hawker type markets, like the Night Noodle Markets at Birrurung Marr and the Night Market at Queen Victoria Market.

Leave
Finally, if you’re so inclined there’s a rather lot of awesome not far outside Melbourne. Making my list is Daylesford (spa country!), strawberry champagne jam at Domaine ChandonMontalto winery and olive grove for a picnic and viewing of the outdoor sculpture exhibition, the Peninsula Hot Springs and of course… the mighty Brae.

 

Ayu - Fragrance
Everything Else

Friday Finds: Outdoor Voices, Ayu and Suite One Studio

This week I’m all about making the ordinary extraordinary.

Outdoor Voices – By all means, walk your dog in your holey tracksuit and old tshirt… but wouldn’t it be that much nicer a start to the day if your outfit were just a little more chic? Outdoor Voices offers simple, stylish and minimal high-end activewear that will make you hope you run into your ex / hot neighbour / boss during your workout. Made in the USA, prices from $55.00 USD.

Ayu – Some years ago I sat next to a girl in a school uniform on a train and was dismayed to discover she was wearing the same fragrance as me. Since then, I’ve considered seeking out less mainstream fragrances an absolute must. Enter Ayu. Australian-made and ethical, this intoxicating find is quickly becoming a favourite. Their first fragrance – Souk – has just been released, and offers rose, jasmine and sandalwood notes in the blend (amongst others). $89.95 AUD.

Suite One Studio – Sure, you could go and buy some Plain-Jane dinner set from your local department store (all in white, because… it’s easy to clean? I don’t know… why do people buy white dinner sets anyway?!). Or you could add some serious style to every meal you have (even if it’s on the couch or sitting on the kitchen bench), with a beautiful set from Suite One Studio. All pieces are limited run though, and tend to sell out so a) treat your collection carefully and b) get in quick. The store is replenished every Tuesday. Prices from $30.00 USD a piece.

 

The Edit
Everything Else

How To: pare-back, declutter and simplify your life

If in doubt, throw it out (or donate or give away or return…). This has long been my mantra. I live for a good cull. And whilst it’s definitely a work-in-progress, based entirely upon casual observation, I’d argue I have a lot less stuff in my life than your average first-worlder (if you’re reading this, that’s probably you).

Whilst generations before us lived in a time of proper economic depression characterised by true austerity, most of us today have never taken measures like drawing a line up the back of our legs to give the illusion we were wearing stockings. The fact is that for the most part, we’ve enjoyed a lifetime of abundance and availability, no matter our financial situation. When else in history have you been able to spend anything from $3.00 to $300.00 on a t-shirt?

But if luxury is simply about having what the masses do not, then it was only a matter of time before more is more became passé, and the ‘less is more’, ‘quality over quantity’ and ‘curated’ type movements had their time in the sun.

Whether it’s an idea that resonates with you for the mental peace, environmental benefit, luxurious, anti-consumerist statement or some other reason, you’ve made it this far so… here’s how I go about making it happen.

Cuyana - Lean Closet

Ask some tough questions

They’re tough because sometimes you want to keep stuff for no good reason. Here’s how to tell when you’re holding onto it out of habit.

  • Does it make me or my family actively happy?
  • Would it pass the burning house test (see below)?
  • Have I used or looked at it in the last year? Do I foresee any reason I’d use or look at it in the next month?
  • Is it still ‘good’? That is, can still perform the purpose for which it was intended?

Come up with a plan

Not quite ready to say goodbye? Work out a farwell plan and make it happen. There are lots of ways to do this, but here are some of my favourites.

  • Put everything you’re not sure about in a box and stash it somewhere out of the way. If after a set amount of time (no more than 6 months) you haven’t fished anything out of the box, proceed directly to your the nearest donation point. Whatever you do, don’t look in the box.
  • If you’ve culled as far as you’re willing to go at this point, implement a 2-in-1-out system. It’s a simple premise: for every item you acquire, you get rid of two of the same calibre. For example, if you want a new juicer, you have to lose the rice cooker and the waffle iron. I find this a great way to work out whether you really want (or need) something or if it’s just a fleeting fancy.
  • Discover how much you really use things with this technique: take all the hangers in your wardrobe and turn the hooks so that they face you. Each time you wear a piece, turn the hook around the other way. After 6 months, donate anything with the hanger still facing forward. This works with almost anything in your house. For books, put a sticky dot on the spine. Put kitchen utensils in a box and return them to their home after use. You get the idea!

Make it last

Once you’ve made the cull, you’ll discover it’s rather easy to gradually end up back where you started. To prevent this, I work with a 1-in-1-out system. As per the above, it’s pretty straightforward – one item in means one item out.

Want more inspiration? Here are some places to start…

1. The Burning House – what would you take with you if your house was burning down and you only had the time to grab a few, precious things? This blog takes photo contributions from folks all over the world.

2. Daily Connossieur – Jennifer L Scott is a living embodiment of the 10 Piece Wardrobe and shares not just the 10 pieces that make her seasonal cut, but living with them day-to-day.

3. Cuyana – a brand who’s ethos is ‘fewer, better things’ (and their price point makes it very achievable). Their blog provides a how-to plan for achieving your version of a ‘lean closet’.

4. Project 333 – experiments in living with less.

The Beach People - Ahoy Trader
Eat & Drink, Everything Else, Fashion

Friday Finds: The Upside, 12 Health, The Beach People and Coffee Not Coffee

It must be a new year thing, but this week the finds are all about healthy living. I’m feeling for a February full to the brim with successes and stories.

The Upside – Is it the Lululemon effect or something? It seems that the world is suddenly awash with gorgeous boutique activewear labels. And even in that sea of lovely, The Upside stands out. I’m making eyes at the printed yoga tights… not boring but also not too outlandish (there’s only so much you want to attract admiring glances when you’re in lycra after all).

12 Health Muffin Mix

12 Health – The real problem with the whole clean eating thing is that it’s thoroughly time consuming. By the time I’ve been at work for 9+ hours, walked the dog, been to the gym, meditated and handled whatever else the day throws at me, it’s honestly a miracle that I remember to eat at all. And this is why I’m newly enamoured with 12 Health. Low carb, protein-rich, sugar, dairy, wheat and mostly (except one product) gluten free, I can knock out a week’s worth of delicious breakfast muffins in under an hour. Prices from $9.99 AUD for a packet that makes 6 muffins.

The Beach People – Because Turkish towels have had their time in the sun (see what I did there?) and now it’s about round, printed towels that have a little magic carpet ride flair about them and double as sandy-side picnic rugs. Towels, $99.00 AUD.

Coffee Not Coffee - Hot Cacao

Coffee Not Coffee – At the heart of this brand is coffee packed with a nutritional punch, but to be totally honest I bypassed all of that and made a beeline for the hot cacao. It’s sugar free, so not sweet in the way you’d expect of hot chocolate but still somehow hits the same spot. 14 sachets for $24.00 AUD.

High-Performance Ethical Beauty
Beauty & Health

High Performance Ethical Beauty Buys

Once upon a time, ethical (that is, cruelty free) beauty was a rather hippyish concept… today however, it’s frankly archaic if your favourite lippy, cleanser or body balm is tested on animals or contains ingredients which are. Happily, finding great high-performance beauty products isn’t the arduous mission it once was (except fragrance, that one is still a bit of a task).

For me, no beauty product is worth horrific living conditions for anyone – human or otherwise, so I put a lot of hours into researching brands to know if they’re truly ethical or whether they’re hiding behind terms like ‘product not tested on animals’ (well, duh… I didn’t actually think you were giving bunnies wash and blow-dries).

Here are a handful of my ethical beauty go-tos (left to right).

Batiste Dry Shampoo. I’m a fan of the original scent – it makes your hair smell clean and fresh, not like you’re trying to cover up the fact you were smoking behind the bike shed at lunch as some others do. $7.95 AUD / 200ml from your nearest pharmacy.

This Works No Wrinkles Tired Eyes serum. I looked long and hard for one I could wear both day and night which was hydrating enough yet didn’t make my eye makeup fall into creases or slide off. This is, and it’s sibling (No Wrinkles Eye Repair) are it. £42.00 / $84.00 AUD at Mecca Cosmetica.

Frank body scrub. I’ve tried every flavour and I haven’t found one I don’t like. Frank is no-nonsense and it really does help with cellulite and stretch marks. Amazing. $14.95 AUD / 200g.

Butter London nail polish. Every shade is gorgeous and just two coats is enough to make it look like the bottle. $22.00 AUD at Skincare Store.

Mecca Cosmetica To Save Hands hand cream. Absorbs fast, contains SPF 30. Smells nice without being overpowering or competing with your fragrance. Love it! $38.00 AUD / 100ml at Mecca Cosmetica.

Hourglass 1.5mm mechanical gel liner. A solid gel liner that applies like a superfine pencil, yet stays like a gel. The future is here and it comes in packs of three. $22.00 AUD each or $45.00 AUD / pack of three at Mecca Cosmetica.

Now in case you’ve been wondering, there are a few grey areas when it comes to ethical beauty.

The primary one is brands that have historically, not tested final products nor ingredients on animals, yet selling in China requires them to do so by law. Personally, I choose to not support these brands, as I feel they have the opportunity to take a stand and lobby for a change in law. With a growing Chinese market, this is a tough one to keep a handle on.

The second area is brands which do not test on animals, yet have been purchased by businesses which do. For example, the Body Shop never has and to this day does not test on animals. It is however, now owned by the L’Oreal group which is arguably one of the largest supporters of animal testing. In this case I have chosen to adopt PETAs line and support the brands within the group which do not conduct animal testing (or hire anyone to do so on their behalf – loophole alert). Other than being PETAs approach, this strikes me as good economics; businesses which are suffering financially due to a downturn in sales will likely seek to cut costs in their supply chain and the alternatives to animals testing, whilst extremely viable are also expensive.

At any rate, regular readers can know that any beauty I feature here has passed an investigation beyond a cursory glance at the back of the packaging.

 

 

Marianna Senchina Lipstick
Fashion, Style

Friday Finds: Taylor Says, Worst Behavior, Marianna Senchina and Still Products

It’s Friday and it’s now my favourite day of the week, not just because we have a whole delicious weekend ahead of us, but because I get to share some finds with you. Get your clicking finger ready!

Taylor Says – if you thought Louboutin’s signature red sole was lustworthy, feast your eyes on these babies. With a work of art on every sole, they’re almost too beautiful to wear. Almost. Take it from me though, if you see a pair you love, don’t think, just buy. They’re all limited edition so once they’re gone, they’re gone. Prices start at a crazy reasonable $149.95 USD.

Worst Behavior – I’m not huge on slogan tees, but everyone need a little (bad) attitude in their wardrobe, right? Prices start at €29.00

Marianna Senchina – you get but a handful of truly iconic designers in your lifetime. If you’re into trading futures, I’d say Marianna Senchina is a smart investment.

 

Still Products – simple, minimal and modern-yet-classic. Some of these pieces are even made to order. Prices from a measly $12.00 SGD.

The Roger
Boutique Budget, Travel

8 Gorgeous Hotels Under a Hundred Bucks a Night

It’s easy to tell yourself you aren’t travelling to spend time in your hotel room, but really… who wants to spend their nights somewhere that isn’t as nice as home? The good news is whilst a decadent splurge is lovely, it’s not essential to ensure you get your shut-eye somewhere worthy of your Instagram account. Here’s my pick of 8 gorgeous hotels around the world that will set you back under $100.00 USD a night (OK, I’ve cheated on one by $19).

Ace Hotel, New York City
From $95.20 USD / night

The Roger, New York City
From $119.00 USD / night

Hotel Mayet, Paris
From €68.00 / night

Hotel Vondel, Amersterdam
From €65.00 / night

Metropolitian by Como, Bangkok
From ฿3,200 / night

The Stiles Hotel (formerly Hotel Nash), Miami
From $92.65 USD / night

Usha Kiran Palace, India
From ₹4,500 / night

This last one is a shoutout to my husband… he’s got a significant birthday this year and, well… Firenze is always a good idea.

Hotel Home, Florence
From €63.20 / night

 

TheEnvyEdit Two
Everything Else

9 Great Instagrammers To Follow

Perhaps it’s just me, but some days it feels like all the best Instagram accounts have a squillion followers and there aren’t any more up-and-comers to discover. So I’ve done the legwork and found 9 great Instagrammers with fewer than 5,000 followers you may not have heard of yet (their descriptions of accounts, not mine…) Double tap!

annalazdina – 2,660+ followers. InstaBlogger. Fashion. Food. Beauty. Owner of @annajewelry. 

Simply.Monochrome – 3,700+ followers. Mixing men & womenswear Currently in HONG KONG. 

chloekermeci – 1,850+ followers. Based on fashion.

100thgallery – 80+ followers. For everyone new to art 200 normanby road south melbourne.

matthew_sim – 880+ followers. Creative strategist in NYC. 

thedeninteriors – 120+ followers. Interior design, decoration, styling. Hunter of all things beautiful for the home.

t_creed – 150+ followers.

annahecek - 4,875+ followers. Sydney. Serial wanderluster. Mostly photos of my clothes, apartment & sunsets.

theenvyedit – 2,390+ followers. Daily drawings of all sorts of must haves!