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Seven summer trends I am loving

30 Jun
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Dress by Zara

  1. Midi dresses
    Summers have always been about dresses, but this year round midi has been the go to length for almost everyone. Whether you are headed to the beach or to a party at your friend’s, this is the piece everyone is opting for and loving. There are so many styles to choose from-print, plain, fitted, embroidered-that its easy to carve a whole summer wardrobe out of them alone. But even if that is not your thing, don’t shy away from buying one and trying the trend yourself! You will love it! The best part is that with every brand trying to cater for the increased demand in midi-dresses, there is something for everyone (and at every price point too) so I am sure you will find a dress that suits your personality perfectly!
    My favorite brands to shop them from are :
    For casual, day-to-day onesZara, H&M, Forever 21,Topshop
    For dressier optionsGal meets glam, No 21, Topshop, Anthropologie, ASTR 
    Pakistani/local favouritesGeneration pk, Roba by Saiqa 
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  2. Matching separates
    We saw them make an entry into the style scene close to the end of last year, and this is a trend that seems to be here to stay for a while! And for good cause! They are versatile, easy to style and even more easy to wear individually. And no one likes anything better than clothes they can style in different ways and re-wear again and again!
    My favourite places to buy them from:
    International options: Zara, H&M, River Island, Topshop
    Pakistani/Local favourite:The Sassy store
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  3. Minimalism
    My own fashion mantra has always been ‘less is more’ and I always try to practice it, but when the whole fashion community turns around and comes back to the basics, embracing minimalism, the said practice becomes even more fun for me! So ditch the over accessorized look and opt for the basic blue jeans, white shirt version this summer. Or go for matching separates and pair them with your favorite bag and flats to complete the look!
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  4. Button front midi skirts
    I love skirts, I love anything midi and I love button front style these days so this trend was easy to fall in love with, but once I tried it on I fell more in love with it for one simple reason-it gave me summer, beach party vibes while it was still freezing outside in Chicago! Honestly though, these are perfect for those weekend summer BBQs that we look forward to all through the winters. But also, they are so light weight, so breezy that you can’t help loving them-and definitely something different from the usual skinny jeans we all end up reaching for!
    My favourite places to buy them:
    Internationally:H&M, Topshop, Mango, Zara
    Pakistani/Local favourite (for midi skirts):- Outfitters 

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    Zara Skirt

  5. Plain slides
    You have seen every fashion blogger wearing these by now, and for good reason. They are comfortable, go as well with your jeans as they do with their skirts and they go with minimalist vibes everyone is in love with these days! Plus, a good pair of flats is always worth investing in, right?
    My favourite ones are the ones below from Steve Madden.

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    Steve madden Greece slides

     

  6. Small sun glasses
    I have a love hate relationship with this trend, I love seeing everyone rock them but I can’t see myself wearing them. Still, I adore the retro vibes they instantly add to any outfit and if you have short hair, these are very easy to pull off!
    My favourite places to buy them:
    InternationallyQuay, Topshop
    Pakistani/Locally:- Mango, Mantra

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    Quay

     

  7. Short hair
    Which of course brings me to my favourite trend so far! Short hair are as in these days as they have ever been and I am loving the return of this trend! I feel like this hairstyle instantly makes you look at least five years younger and like a ten times more stylish version of yourself. Here are a few people rocking this style so effortlessly that it is making it hard for me not to go get this cut myself!

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    Brittany Xavier

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    Olivia Culpo

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    Zara Peerzada

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New York-SoHo/NoLIta

31 May

Honestly, this is my first guide to any city ever written, and I don’t know how to go about it. Should I cover just the highlights? Should I just tell you everything that I did or should I just be an escapist and not write it at all.

While the third is my favorite, I asked some friends and they suggested i break it down into parts. While their idea was to divide it into where to eat, what to do, where to shop-I wanted to do it slightly differently. Mostly because I have spent most of my time in Soho, I wanted to make a guide just for it. The other parts to the NYC guide might be more generic, but here is my guide for you to Soho (and the neighbouring regions including Nolita)-the place I fell in love with and the place that saw me grow more in a month than I had in probably years!

Where to eat

  1. Balthazar  
    My roommate, the queen of Soho, took me here and I will always owe her for that. The place has very strong Godfather vibes making you feel like you walked right into a spot where all the Mafia lords are coming for a meeting (but like minus the goons and with an extra hint of polished glamour). However, even if you put the interior aside-the food itself there is divine. Their service is immaculate and the desserts are beyond delicious. That, and their bathroom entrance is one of the most rad one I have ever seen (so dungeonesque, if that is even a word).
  2. Rubirosa  
    If the Hadids say they love a particular place’s pizza, you have to check it out. And, oh my god, was I glad that we did. I have never had a better pizza in my life, that too an all-veg one. You better believe it guys, it was even tastier than many non-veg ones I have had. Plus the interior is totally groovy. The vibe is very laid back chic but still cosy (made more so that day because of the crazy rain outside) with a bar that made me want to skip sitting at a table altogether!
  3. Dominique Ansel
    Cronuts. Enough said. (p.s. the other baked goods here are spectacular too, so I will say try as many as you can without going into a food coma, but if you have to pick one, pick the cronuts!)

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    Dominique Ansel Cronut

  4. Georgetown Cupcakes
    The shop itself is gorgeous, but what makes it better is the street it is on. The cobblestone pavement, the cute stores around it and the laid back, quiet vibes of the area-you feel like you are walking in some old English town and not in loud, over crowded New York-loved it. Plus, I swear they have the best cupcakes ever. Ever…..Ever!!! (Just wanted to make a point here.) You can stay there and eat or get your cakes ‘to go’. Either ways, it is a must try!

The Instagram-able spots

  1. Cha cha matcha
    If you are a matcha fan, you have to go here. If you are a fan of cute little cafes being a little extra, you have to go here. If you want cute clicks of your coffee for your insta feed, you have to go here.
    In short, you have to go here, period!

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    Cha Cha Matcha

  2. Once upon a Tart
    Some of the most influential bloggers from NYC still turn to this spot for a picture in front of this picturesque bakery/cafe. Case in point, this picture of Blair from Atlantic pacific! If you are looking to up your insta-feed game, do stop here!

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    Once upon a tart

  3. Shuka 
    This is another NYC blogger favorite for their pictures and correctly so, seeing the blue store front of this cafe makes any outfit (and picture) pop!
  4. Sweet Moment Cafe 
    It is not exactly in Soho/Nolita but it is Little Italy which is right next to the two and, if you have a sweet tooth or crave cute colorful pictures, this place is a must see!

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    Sweet Moment 

  5. Greene street
    And other cobblestone streets, that Soho is famous for, provide the perfect character to any picture. The more towards the south of Soho you go, the more of its historic buildings you will find (i.e., get closer to Canal street if you want both the famous cobblestone streets and the historical cast iron buildings in your picture).

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The places worth experiencing

  1. Laduree Soho
    Getting a bit of the Parisian experience in your travels is always a fun idea, but this particular branch is always fully reserved for a reason. The little patio/open-air seating area that they offer in the back is divine. I preferred it at night when all the garden/fairy lights were on and the atmosphere seemed almost magical, almost Parisian but they are generally more frequented for their brunch. Either ways, don’t forget to get some macaroons to-go, because-why not?

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    Laduree Soho (the outdoor seating area)

  2. Little Cupcake bakeshop
    Again an eatery in this category? Odd? No, because I frequented this shop more for its ’70s diner vibe than their food (which was good but not my prime attraction). Like my friend justly said, it reminds one of the diner from Pulp Fiction. MUST EXPERIENCE!
  3. Jack’s wife Frieda
    Ok, last eatery, promise but although their food is ridiculous (read:ridiculously amazing), it is the festive vibes, the welcoming staff, the feeling as if you are in an Italian backyard with your friends, the cute gold pendants, and (most importantly) the adorable sugar packets that all contribute to the absolute, mind-blowing ridiculous-ness of the place. The green shakshuka has mystified me though. Why is it green and what makes it so good?

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  4. McNally Jackson Books
    So growing up one place I always wanted in my hometown was a book store where one could sit for hours and read but one that also offered coffee and snacks as needed. When I found out that God had blessed me with the exact place I had always day dreamed about right around the corner from my apartment I could not have been happier. A huge book store offering literature from all over the world including books on and from Russia, France, India-I was in my kind of paradise. But what added to the charm was the cute seating area/coffee shop in one of its corners complete with window seats and the nicest staff ever along with small seating arrangements all over the two floors of it. It is needless to add, but I went there almost daily. And if you go there even once, you will know why, especially if you believe paperbacks are better than e-books!
  5. Washington square park
    It is not Central Park, but what it lacks in its size it makes up for in its beauty. And because it is less crowded by tourists pouring in from all directions, it is the perfect spot for a quick picnic or to spend your evening with a book. Plus, it lets you see New Yorkers New Yorking (yes, I just turned it into a verb) and giving you a more wholesome experience of the city.
    Note:- It is not exactly part of the Soho/Nolita region but it was close enough for me to be able to walk here oftenn!
  6. Washington Square arch
    It is a part of the Washington Square Park, and not only an architectural landmark frequented by a large number of tourists but also a spot most first timers deem essential for a quick picture at. And once you see it, you will know why. But, word of caution, it can get pretty crowded.

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  7. Little Italy
    Ideally it is not a part of Soho but it is right next to it and Nolita and a walk away from both, so I am putting it here. It is not just the food you go here for, though, but rather for the whole ‘Italian” experience (which, having never been to Italy, I can’t really attest for but it felt Italian enough to me). Grab a friend, a camera and walk through it with your wallet full and your belly empty. You wont regret it! (Also, there is some really amazing wall art in this area!)
  8. Chinatown
    Mentioning this because of its proximity to Soho/Nolita, I honestly cant gush enough about this place. With buildings mirroring old Chinese architecture it simultaneously gives you a glimpse into Chinese cuisine and maybe some of the lifestyle there too, but for me it also reminded me a bit of the ‘bazaars’ from my home country and made me like it more. Again I found some of the most amazing street art in this area.
    My suggestion would be to take a walking tour of Chinatown and Little Italy that lets you experience both more thoroughly (plus these are usually very cheap)!

The must stay ats-

  1. The Nomo SoHo hotel
    Although it is gorgeous to look at from outside and the walk inside is almost as good, it is the lobby that I fell in love with.  Buzzing with cliché New York hotel moments the space stays true to the grit of the city via its decor. And the rooms with their over-sized windows and welcoming interior are just what vacation dreams are made of! The NoMo Kitchen (sitting off the lobby and along the walkway entrance) is their cherry on top with food as good as it can get!
  2. Sixty SoHo
    Following a (remarkable) renovation, Sixty SoHo is a visual expression of the neighborhood’s most treasured qualities. It’s chic and vibrant and offers all the little things characteristic of any great stay, particularly on the dining front. Dinner at their Sessanta will leave you speechless, and their Gordon Bar is a perfect place to end a night!

Where to Shop

I would love to give a list but if you are visiting New York and want to shop without the craziness of Times Square (which I can never take) or the long lines of the 5th avenue stores, SoHo is your place. The vibe is fun but not obnoxiously loud, the staff has more time for you, the lines are shorter and the architecture is swoon-worthy. Honestly, even basic stores like Forever 21 look like taken right out of a painting. And every store is there, from Sephora to Chanel to Tiffany’s to high street brands to fancy grocery stores!

My favourite thing to do there was to walk along Broadway (literally as far as I could go) and try new stores every day (covered a lot in a month to be honest). Plus that allowed me to discover the small boutiques that offered the latest trends at prices that made me want to dance. And the streets off of Broadway are filled with even more brands and fun little places to eat. So, give shopping there a try for sure.

Note-Dean and DeLuca is a grocery-shopping-lover’s heaven. The fruits so fresh, the bakery items so good and the flowers always with the best fragrance! Shop there at least once if you can, you will love the experience. It is a little pricey but the food is worth it!

Valentine’s day wish list

3 Feb

Every year I devote February to my loved ones.

Is not that what we are taught from grade school? We have whole lectures devoted to writing letters to our parents and then our class fellows and friends, telling them in every one of them as to how much we love them. And then whole evenings spent wrapping little gifts for the same people. Whole days spent making lists for what to get for whom and more days spent in buying them.

So for me, February has always been about expressing my love to everyone around me.

 

BeFunky Collage

Diptyque Rose delight candle| NARS velvet lip glide duo | Dessert date at Laduree | Cuddle up faux fur heart accent pillow | Valentino Rockstud pumps | Furla bag |

But one very important person our school forgot to tell us to write letters to, a person that maybe should have been close to the top of all our lists, if not that at the very top, a person we should all have been buying gifts for every year too. A person as important as the rest of them.

Who is that person you ask? You!

Growing up, although we were always told to respect ourselves and even love ourselves we were never shown how to practice that, how to reinforce that. And over the time I have realized that to love oneself is not just to say it on a daily basis, but to practice it. To take care of yourself before anything else, to look after your own needs and requirements-it is not selfish, I realized, but essential. And it is almost as important to reward ourselves for little accomplishments as to shower ourselves with love on special occasions.

Hence, I decided that this year I will celebrate my love for myself right along with celebrating that which I had for those around me.

So when people began sharing ideas for what to get for your loved ones, I began to make a list of what I would like to buy for myself this year. A wish list for Valentine’s day that is, and today I want to share it with you to hopefully inspire you to go and get something for yourself. And if not that, you can use this as a guide for valentine’s day gift ideas for your best girlfriends. Or your singular, very much loved, girlfriend! 😉

So, here it is-my wishlist/ a Valentine’s day gift guide for her.

What are you planning to get for yourself? And for your loved ones? Do let me know, I would love to hear your ideas!

Love,
Gull

Stop judging a book by its cover

10 Sep

I was sitting at a community table at a coffee shop today, waiting for my friend to show up, when a woman came and asked if she could sit by me.

I thought the gesture kind and a sign of being brought up right, for of course she could, it was a community table after all!

As she sat down, we started conversing, and the flow of it was so good that we did so for a good thirty minutes at least-the time it took my friend to arrive (seriously, though I need to stop getting to meet-ups on time).

However, although the conversation was fun and it felt like two like-minded individuals were talking, she said something towards the end that left me feeling less than great, and yet I realized it wasn’t something new that I was hearing.

Her exact words were ” I am shocked to find out that you are completely different from what I thought you were when I saw you, I wasn’t expecting this kind of thinking from you nor this type of a conversation with you.”

Let me rewind a bit.

You see when she came to me, I saw only a woman. When we were talking, for me,  I was a medical student and she a practicing doctor.

But here is what she, and I think most of the world, saw when she approached me.

She, a burqa clad woman with a niqab covering her face, saw a girl in three-quarter jeans, a top and, (as she pointed out) a made up face and stylized hair. (For the curious ones-I was wearing eyeliner and lip balm and had walked out right after a shower-it was one of my most laid back looks.)

She saw a woman who was everything Islam represented, going and starting a conversation with a woman that in her head embodied everything Islam resented.

And yet, to her shock, when we started conversing she found out that I didn’t only have enough brain cells to hold up a conversation about politics, the rights of women and the importance of career goals, I also had morals as strong as her, a stronger knowledge of my religion and a better realization of the distance we had developed from our religion.

So let me decode her words for you-what she meant was, when she saw me she thought I was a shallow girl with no moral code and no idea of my religion, and thinking back to the conversation, I could see the points she had already tried to prove that to me.

A tiny example, when she tried to make me agree that the girls from my high school have the worst reputation in Lahore, there must be a reason to that, I wouldn’t agree no matter how much she pushed. I might have spent only two years in LGS Defense, but they were enough to prove that those girls were nothing like the reputation that preceded them-but do you know what they had in common?

They were strong, opinionated, ambitious girls who were-you guessed it-fashion forward. Just like I was. Just like Islam told us not to be (in her head, at least.)

However, while I failed to persuade her that most of what she had heard about the school’s girls wasn’t true, I will give her this much though, that she changed her view on me at least. By the end of our conversation, we exchanged numbers and she urged me to stay in contact because she liked me that much.

A small win? Yes, too small in fact and hence, the bad taste left in my mouth wasn’t done away. And although I can’t blame her, I am tired of this.

This perception that because I dress a certain way, my religion is bound to be worse than yours.

I respect every woman who covers her head, those more who follow the rules of dressing in Islam down to a ‘t’, but to the same women, I want to say this-don’t judge me because I am not practicing my religion the way you think it should be practiced. You don’t know how much I pray for the strength to gain that level too, you have no idea of my struggles on that and most importantly, I believe, you don’t know whose way of practicing religion God prefers.

But, just for the sake of perspective-if your Islam was honestly as good as you deem it to be, you wouldn’t be busy judging me.

Honestly, I have been at this end of the conversation times too many. People see me from far and think of me (and even go as far as to call me) an amoral girl or a slut (excuse the language). Till one of them somehow gets to know me and realizes (admitting said realization to my face) of how wrong they were.
But the ones who don’t get to know me, continue on their tangents-with me, with other girls like me.
They see the jeans and the tops and assume we are sluts, assume that we have no sense of our religion, assume us to be below them hence, and the chain of assumptions goes on. If the girl in jeans goes and talks to a guy, he must be her boyfriend. If she goes out with male friends, she must be sleeping with them.
If she doesn’t talk to you, another man, it must be because she is too proud.

If she does, then she is trying to get you in her bed too.

If she wears make up, she is a slut trying to seduce you.

If she dresses fancy, it is to attract you.

Stop. Stop. Stop.

Stop labeling us and putting us in a box just because you don’t get us. We don’t fit the box you are trying to put us in to.

You know how you lie? That is a sin too-oh, I can almost see you smirking as you think to yourself that showing my skin is a bigger skin. Well staring at it is an even bigger one, isn’t it? Gossiping about it is even worse. Spreading rumors, is probably the worst.

But of course, you get to judge me because we sin differently.

‘Sinners judging sinners for sinning differently.’

I learned a lot from this quote, but mostly this-I can’t judge someone for something I deem religiously or morally wrong because I can’t see the whole picture. And I definitely can’t see who God prefers amongst us.

It taught me the need to focus on my own religion, for how can I judge a thief if I am a liar? How can I judge a sinner if I am not a saint?

In short, I am not saying my religion is perfect-but is yours? And yet do you see me pointing fingers? How are you sure yours is better than mine, stronger?

Just because you cover your head makes you so sure you are better in front of God than me, then please continue to bask in that ignorance and judge me endlessly.

But if you can, consider this-what if my morals are better than yours?? What if I am closer to God? What if I do something on a daily basis that God likes more than you covering your head daily?
Do you have any guarantees? Because I don’t.

Consider this-what if not covering up as Islam instructs is my one sin (or amongst a few), and one that I ask for help on a daily basis, one that I regret the most. Look at your list of sins, how many do you have?
Look at that list and shorten it, and stop looking at mine, because that in my head is the most important thing Islam teaches us-no judgement on anyone’s religion, just attempt to perfect your own.

Learn the basics. Learn to be tolerant. Learn to stop judging a book by its cover.
And remember that Islam isn’t about sitting in groups and bashing others on what they wear and how they live their lives, and using that to make yourself feel good about your religion.

Islam is about practicing good deeds, and that too so well that you force the people around you to be impressed and inspired by you to work on their own personas.
Lead by example, that is the basic teaching of our religion!

Hence, I repeat, learn the basics. And remember, that Islam puts women on a pedestal in every way, in every walk of life, then who are you to try and pull them down based on outward appearances? 

More importantly, Islam taught us repeatedly to to look into the hearts of people, not their actions.

The whole concept of intentions is so clear in our religion-a good intention is almost as good to our Lord as a good deed. That in itself shows how important the goodness of our hearts is.

And if you think you can’t know how good someone’s heart is just by looking at them, then how can you judge their whole religion based solely on what they wear?

I end this post on a heartfelt request.
Stop judging us just because we dress differently from you.
It hurts. Me yes, but your religion even more so.

 

Friday Five

12 Aug

Travelling isn’t easy. 

There. I said it. 

I love travelling, honestly. But like all good things, it has its cons. And for me one of the biggest con is  packing. 

Somehow, every time, no matter how much I try, I end up leaving behind at least one very important thing. And mostly it’s not that I forget to pack it, it’s usually because in the past trips I wouldn’t have needed the item so I skip packing it this time. And by some law, it’s always that one thing I end up needing the most in the particular trip. 

One thing though that I no longer compromise on, and hence never leave behind, is my small collection of skin care products. Simply because you need to take extra care of your skin while travelling. Plus, no matter where you are travelling to, the chances of not finding the exact products that work for your skin are always higher than not. 

To avoid the risk of them bursting into my luggage though, I always hand carry my skin care products. Which essentially means I have to get travel sizes for all of them but thanks to shops like Sephora, it is so easy to get my favourite items in mini versions that it seems like no trouble at all!

Since I just got back from travelling abroad, and having packed my must haves again proved to be a great decision (for my skin), I figured I’d share with you the five travel sized skin care products I always have in my carry on and that I wouldn’t risk travelling without, ever!

1. Kate Somerville ExfoliKate® Cleanser Daily Foaming Wash 

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again. This cleanser is the best-especially for acne prone skins. I tend to break out more while travelling, but since I’ve begun travelling with this my breakouts have reduced marginally!

2.  First aid beauty Ultra Repair® Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 40

I’ve combination skin that dries up even more when I’m travelling, so this is an essential travel item for me. If a strong (long lasting) moisturiser isn’t enough of a pro for you, the fact that this one comes with an SPF 40 should have you running for your credit card. 

3. Ouai Morning After Kit

Once you begin using this on your travels, there will be no going back. Trust me!

4. Dr. Jart+ Pore Minimalist Black Charcoal Sheet Mask

I love a good sheet mask. Especially when I’ve been out all day being a tourist. However, this charcoal one by Dr. Jart is probably the best one out there! Easy to use and very effective!

5. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Sunscreen SPF 15

Just like the rest of yoir sun-exposed body parts, your lips deserve a little extra protection too and this sunscreen is here to save your day while keeping your lips moisturised and tinted!

Till next time,

Gull. 

Friday Five

1 Jul

Hi everyone!

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week. I’m currently travelling which makes sitting down with my laptop to write a post really hard!

However, I had been really looking forward to write this week’s Friday Five. Why? Because it marks the start of the 4th of July weekend and (drum rolls please) it also marks the start of some amazing sales. Listing down my favourite five for you right here. Do check them out!


1. 50% off at Ann Taylor. I’m in love with this top. And how cute is this one. Use the code JUSTBEACHY at checkout to avail the offer. 


2. Up to 70% off at ASOS! Look at this top! Perfect for summer, no? And now perfectly priced too. 


3. Anthropologie is offering up to 30% off at select items. This top is perfect for this summer-on trend and just so cute!

4. Upto 60% off at the entire Old Navy online store! Now I can get this whole look at less than half the price! Ten minutes dance party? 


5. An extra 50% off on sale items at Banana Republic. What could be better? Maybe a 40% discount on regular priced items? ‘Omg’ indeed! (Seriously crushing on on this neck-tie top though!)

Happy shopping! Love,

 Gull!

Friday Five 

24 Jun

Happy Friday everyone! This week went by in the blink of an eye and the realisation has left me with mixed emotions. Although I’m excited for what the future holds but I was having so much fun enjoying my vacations that their end is making me sad too!

However, bittersweet or not, I came across a lot many fun things this week which I’m too excited to share with you. Picking my top five was the hardest ever this time around but here they are, just for you!

1. These feminine lace-ups with the cutest details are available at the craziest (read:-ridiculously cheap) price! They are on sale though, so hurry up and get them while stocks last! (P.S. Express has an ‘up to 70% off’ sale going on so do check the whole sale out!)

 

2. This gorgeous H&M one-off-shoulder crop top that is on sale! And on trend too- we covered them in our June Style report in detail. (H&M has an ‘up to 60% off’ flash sale for today so hurry on over before you miss it!)

 

 

Kendra Scott earrings 

3. I’m in love with these Kendra Scott earrings! Honestly, they are cute but crazy, (just like my soul)! Get them here if they speak to you too!

 

 

 

J. Crew skirt

 
4. This ruffled skirt that I’ve seen on all of the best (and my favourite) fashion bloggers finally went on sale. And I couldn’t be happier!

 

Stella Sneakers

 


5. We all know white sneakers are here to stay, then why not add a little heel to them while staying comfortable and stylish? These sneakers by Stella do all that and more, giving any outfit an instant dose of edge. Get yours here!

 

Love,
Gull!

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