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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 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.

Australian Pharmacy Buys
Beauty & Health

5 Australian Pharmacy Buys

If you’ve ever read anything even vaguely beauty related you’ll be familiar with the high-esteem in which beauty types worldwide regard the French Pharmacy (yes, a phrase worthy of a proper noun). All this adoration got me thinking… I’m often told I have great skin (‘really quite remarkable’ according to the lady at the beauty counter a few weeks back) but the truth is I don’t. I have expensive skin, and there’s a world of difference.

The way I justify outlaying ridiculous sums of money on skincare is offsetting it by dotting cheaper buys throughout my bathroom cabinet… and none of them are French. Here’s my pick of five great buys from Australian pharmacies (and most are available at the supermarket too).

Left to right…

Thankyou body wash – ethically made and sourced, vegan friendly, no nasties, smells great, every bottle helps to change the world… and just $10.00 AUD.

Sukin moisturiser – again, vegan friendly, carbon neutral, Australian made and owned and I prefer it over all the three-figure creams I’ve tried. $9.95 AUD.

Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot primer – not tested on animals, this one doubles as a primer and a makeup remover to rejuvenate your skin when you’re doing the whole ‘reapply in the office bathroom before dinner’ routine. $59.00 AUD.

Derma Sukin oil balancing wash – from the same family as the Sukin range above and with all the feel-good benefits, this collection is certified by dermatologists, too. 500ml is $12.95 AUD.

Milk light moisturiser – Australian made, not tested on animals and absorbs super fast. I actually use it as a body lotion! $14.95 AUD.


Fashion, Style

January Joys

There you go – just like that we have a full, spectacular and fresh new year stretched out ahead of us. I spent my summer break Instagramming like a mad woman and discovering new goodies to backfill all that space I created in my infamous seasonal wardrobe cull. Here’s what I’m eyeballing this month.

They’ve been around almost 20 years, but if you’ve heard of British label YMC (You Must Create), you’re doing better than me. I’m enjoying their slightly industrial, slightly utilitarian, slightly androgynous style. Clothing is part of their repertoire, for both men and women, but for me it’s their accessories where they really stand out. Prices start at around £12.00.

Speaking of accessories, local (and new) label, Plus Equals is full of minimal, simple and entirely chic totes, satchels and other such functional goodies. With focus on the wearer (and not the label) you won’t find logos emblazoned all over these bad boys, either. Prices kick off at $450.00 AUD.

Wow this post is just a segue sensation… because whilst I’m on the subject of local labels, Assembly Label springs to mind. They’ve only just added womenswear to their dance card, and damn it was worth the wait. Simple, relaxed and unassuming with a price point to match, Assembly Label will undoubtedly become the wardrobe staple go-to for cool girls everywhere. Prices from $29.95 AUD.


Bright silk scarf street style
Fashion, Style

New Year Style Resolution Two: Nail Silk Scarves

I’ve always admired people who can wear printed silk scarves and not look like a nanna or an airline stewardess. Or worse, a retired airline stewardess who just can’t let go of her former profession. Basically it strikes me as something that take a serious command of fashion… and dammit, this is going to be my year.

I actually have a relatively reasonable scarf collection and every now and then I tie one to the handle of my handbag or use it as an impromptu turban when an occasion calls for headwear. For the most part however, they sit neatly rolled in my top dresser drawer.

A careful analysis of the street style library that is Google shows us that there are many more options available however, from knotting into a necklace or wrapping as a bracelet to casual draping as a second layer or wearing as a belt. In fact, when you look closely at many of the outfits demonstrated below, you’ll see that for many of them it’s actually the scarf that makes the outfit, taking it from simple to street style.

Don’t believe me? See it for yourself…

GAME ON I say! And yes, my existing collection is reasonable. But if I’m going to do this thing I should really commit to it with fervour, passion and a few new additions, surely?

Here’s what’s making my wish list…

Kenzo printed scarf

Kenzo Lotus-Eye print scarf – $165.00 AUD

Liberty London Star Scarf

Liberty London red London Star scarf – £165.00

Liberty London Pink Ianthe Silk Scarf

Liberty London pink Ianthe scarf – £110.00

Givenchy Rotweiler Scarf

Givenchy Rotweiler scarf – £220.00

Pleats Please by Issey Miyake Animal Print Scarf

Pleats Please by Issey Miyake Animal Print scarf – $108.89 AUD

Fashion, Style

New Year Style Resolution One: Wear Flats To The Office

I’m not really one for new year’s resolutions (call me a square but I’m more about goals and objectives) although I do love a good closet clean out over the summer holidays. All this culling got me thinking… what style rules have I created that are worth a rethink?

I was speaking to a colleague recently and found myself declaring that I’d never wear flats to see a particular client as  flats would just feel too dressed down. Cue internal sartorial challenge. I’ve since been on the lookout and have come to the conclusion that’s it’s all in the mind. Flats can look polished, just like heels can look sloppy… although whilst what’s happening from your ankles down plays a big role (gumboots, uggboots, flip flops – you’re never looking smart, my vertically challenged friends), what you’ve got going on from the ankles up has a lot to answer for too.

So, my first new year style resolution? Embrace some flattery in an office environ.

Here’s my evidence it’s possible.

And not to abandon you there, here’s what’s on my shopping shortlist… bring on the challenge!

Topshop Swiftheart Flats

Topshop Swiftheart flats – £26.00

ASOS Mozzer Loafers

ASOS Mozzer embellished loafers – $49.00 AUD

Topshop Komo Flats

Topshop KOMO pony-effect slippers – £25.00

Lanvin point toe bow flats

Lanvin point-toe patent leather flats – $600.00ish AUD

Habbot gunmetal Journal pewter

Habbot Studios gunmetal pewter Journal lace-up – $320.00 AUD

Habbot Argyle Blue Tartan lace-up flatas
Habbot Studios argyle blue tartan lace-up – $150.00 AUD

Spencer Wide Boat Brim
Fashion, Style

December Desires

Heck yeah, December! I’m a sucker for this time of year. There’s a sea of soirees to look forward to as the days get longer and the temperature heats up, topped off by a fresh start come January 1. Here’s what I’m wishing for this December.

Shinola Double Strap Birdy

A Shinola watch – made in Detroit and made to last. Shinola has a bunch of classic watches and then a few of the classic-with-a-twist types, like this one called The Birdy, $525.00 USD.

Mara and Mine Jem Skull flats

Mara and Mine loafers – if you think I’m obsessed with loafers, you’re right. These skeletal sisters are undeniably quirky yet somehow office appropriate ($350.00 AUD).

A Borboleta Affair x Patricia Chang bag – speaking of quirky, Borboleta’s new fur friend inspired bags have all the makings of an It Bag (and without the It Tag – $250.00 USD).

Spencer Wide Boat Brim

A gorgeous hat. Stylish or sun smart? This wide-brimmed boater from Lack of Color keeps the mystery up. At $60.00 AUD way cheaper than the laser treatment you’ll need for sun spots in about a decade too.