Posted in: Books

What I’ve Read Lately

how to be parisian

how to be parisian

How To Be Parisian

I read a lot, but I don’t often write about it here, so I thought ‘how strange of me’ and decided to rectify the issue. I’m appalling at writing reviews, so I’ve invented a different way of talking about them and have linked to the Goodreads page where there is a whole trove of reviews for each book instead. This method will hopefully suffice!

A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh

Satirically tragic & frivolous; Waugh has an exceptional way of writing about unique sorts of people, so far away from the common stereotypes we read about today. Having a colourful group of peers in his day helped, I think.

Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read it again? Perhaps not, at least not for many years…
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone who enjoys satire and Waugh in particular.
Any other thoughts? While reading it I felt the characters weren’t particularly memorable, and yet weeks later I still remember them all very clearly…
Find it on: GoodreadsThe Book Depository

How To Be Parisian

Funny, authoritarian in the way that annoys all the right people (but is not actually meant to be taken seriously, which, of course, only makes it funnier when people do take it seriously). It’s cynical, but playful too.

Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read it again? It is one of those books you could flip through whenever you felt like it, however I don’t think I would read it again. Mostly because my copy is from the library, but as interesting as it was, it is world’s away from who I am and who I want to be so I don’t see it as something I would feel the need to refer back to.
Who would I recommend it to? Any woman who idly admires that “Parisian ideal” even though she knows it’s not real. You need to have a playful approach and not take it seriously or regard it is prescriptive.
Any other thoughts? Maybe too much of a focus on romantic/sexual relationships with men for my tastes. Not everyone is deeply heterosexual or interested in the topic. I felt it wouldn’t have been that hard to find someone with an alternate perspective!
Find it on: GoodreadsThe Book Despository

Flotsam by Erich Maria Remarque

An absolutely touching story about love, hope, and the universe’s “good vs. bad” balancing act.

Did I enjoy it? YES
Would I read it again? I think so, I could see myself re-reading it sooner rather than later.
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone interested in the political/social landscape of Europe in the 1930s, anyone who wants to read a touching, human story.
Any other thoughts? It scared me how much it feels like the world is still like this, just in a less insidious way. However the contrasting extremes of finding good people among such bad times is a reassuring message about humanity. I have faith there will always be good, no matter how dark and hopeless things may seem.
Find it on: GoodreadsThe Book Despository

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin

A girl’s coming-of-age tale in a unique setting, dealing with the complications of obligation, expectation, and love.

Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read it again? I’m a bit on the fence. My friend loaned me this copy so I’d need my own, but if I was in the right mood, I think so.
Who would I recommend it to? Those who like LGBT themes, and/or are interested in a perspective of the 1920s that isn’t all New York City glitz and glamour.
Any other thoughts? It’s a sweet, realistic story in an interesting setting. The characters have stuck with me since I finished, and I see a lot of myself in Isabella.
Find it on: GoodreadsThe Book Despository

If you want to keep up with what I’m reading, you can follow me on Goodreads!

Love & what-have-you,

mono2

Posted in: Books, sewing

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie Review

the secrets of sewing lingerie book review

the secrets of sewing lingerie book review

the secrets of sewing lingerie book review

The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie
by Katherine Sheers & Laura Stanford
{ Purchase } { Instagram }

My journey for the perfect lingerie sewing patterns seemed never-ending. Other sewing books were outdated in all the wrong ways, and authentic vintage patterns are elusive little beasts… but none of that matters now. My troubles are over. I have The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie.

I stumbled across it at the library, entirely by accident, and thought “well, it’s worth a try!” Now it feels a little like fate, this book and I were meant to meet and have a grand love affair, of sorts. I have since purchased my own copy so we could live in bliss together, forever. Am I too romantic about inanimate things? Yes probably… but I don’t care! Non!

I remember opening the book for the first time and being swept away by the beautiful photography and styling of the title page alone… and then! The patterns! Briefs, french knickers, tap pants, high-waisted briefs, roll-on suspenders, garter belts, a sleeping mask… and those are just my favourites. With 25 patterns all up, covering soft-cup bras, camisoles, knickers, and suspenders, there is something for everyone: whether you are “modern”, “vintage”, or somewhere in between.

The designs are absolutely stunning, and best of all: they are simple. From beginner sewer to expert seamstress, Katherine and Laura are there to guide you through, starting simple with a darling pair of briefs (of which I want to make absolutely trillions!) and moving on to slightly more involved designs. So far I have only made the french cotton knickers, which I found easy and enjoyable to make. I wanted to have made more by now, but sourcing fabric and finding spare time has been a little more difficult that I anticipated!

Katherine & Laura’s Introduction…

“To say we have a love of beautiful lingerie would be an understatement. it never fails to amaze us how these little pieces of fabric, mostly hidden from view, can make us feel. during a busy day, the brief, secret brush of silk or lace against our skin can transform our entire mood.”

 Really, I’m almost fainting from the decadence of it all! (Well, on the inside I am…) If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand and sewing your own lingerie, I have absolutely no hesitations in recommending The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie. Come, let’s live our lives in a haze of silk and lace. Imagine: you in your silk tap pants and camisole, eating chocolate-dipped strawberries and exquisite little cakes. It’s never been easier to pretend you are in a Sofia Coppola film…

You can purchase The Secrets of Sewing Lingerie via Amazon & don’t forget to follow the book on Instagram here!

Love & what-have-you,

mono2

Posted in: style

My New Style Rules

Ah, personal style. Like anyone else’s, mine is continuously evolving and developing with every change in my life, every new experience, and of course, every film or television show with an exquisite costume department to inspire me!

An amazing thing I recently realised is: I’ve finally developed my ‘core style’, those foundation elements that feel like ‘me’. A-line skirts, dark but bold colours, pearls pearls pearls, lipsticks in deep reds and pinks, tweed jackets, collared shirts… the list goes on.

So after many false starts and off-track meanderings in developing my core style (trying the jeans-and-a-tee look, for example… an ill-fated journey – I felt like an impostor!), I believe what I’ve now reached is the ‘next level’. I naively thought carving out my personal aesthetic would be the end. Oh, no no no! I was wrong! There is still so much more beyond looks, such as quality, comfort, and all those little ‘style extras’.

The Rules

These are some basic rules I’ve carved out for myself; they not only make things clear for me, but will hopefully lead to a wardrobe that I can really treasure. So, without further ado:

It has to fit properly

This means trying things on in stores and sewing muslins before the “real thing”, both of which I dislike doing. I’m very impatient! However, style doesn’t come easy, and I’m desperately tired of being irritated by garments that don’t fit me correctly; especially when my style hinges on a sleek, fitted silhouette. I mean, mon Dieu, baggy-waists in “fitted” dresses simply cannot be tolerated!

Natural Fibres Only

As I’ve mentioned before, my sub-tropical Australian climate simply does not allow for the fashion world’s polyester obsession. It gets hot, sweaty, static, and all around uncomfortable. Cotton and cotton-linen blends are my go-to choice, and if I can’t find anything I like made from natural, breathable fibres, I sew something myself using fabric from my local fabric wholesaler. Honestly, I feel it isn’t that much to ask that clothes are made from breathable materials

(And anyway, I find it absolutely, deeply sickening the way so many stores price mass produced 100% polyester items over $100. Everlane sell 100% silk crepe-de-chine shirts for less than I’ve seen stores try to sell 100% polyester shirts in the exact same style!)

Perfume, Always

One of my favourite things about this year is my newfound obsession with parfumerie! Scent is a decadent luxury that always cheers me up and makes me feel very “together”. Previously I usually forgot to put on perfume before I left the house, but I realise now it’s because I’d never found my signature scent. I’d only owned floral fragrances, but I discovered that I’m an oriental girl through and through. Complicated, mysterious, romantic… Now you will most likely find me in Guerlain’s sophisticated classics, such as Shalimar or Mitsuoko. I could never forget to wear perfume with those exquisite darlings on my vanity!

No More Ballet Flats

Ballet flats in general have no arch support, and they make my legs look short and stumpy when in reality they aren’t short at all. They do absolutely nothing for me, no matter how much I try. That said, my current go-to shoes are a pair of flats. I’ll wear them until they are ‘dead’, but then – no more! The real challenge, of course, is finding shoes these days that do have an actual sole and heel that aren’t designer. (As much as I lust after a pair of Ferragamo Vara’s…)

And that’s all! Do you have any style rules you try and stick to? And, the real question is, do you find you are able to stick with them? I’m definitely curious to see how I go…

Love & what-have-you,

mono2

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{ P.S. I just realised this is my 100th post on Miss Black! Bring on the champagne! }

 

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Posted in: beauty

The Best Purchase I Ever Made

clarisonic mia review

My Clarisonic Mia is, without a doubt, the absolute greatest thing I have ever purchased. I would be lost without it, miserable, desolate, wretched… I’m not even being over-dramatic, I’m completely serious.

I purchased this slice of skincare heaven around five months ago. After a major skin breakout and other ongoing frustrations I was completely and utterly fed up. I’d tried everything under the sun to get my skin to behave, and while I’d sorted out the diet and hormone end of things, I still felt my skin needed something more. I’d heard a lot about the Clarisonic Mia – rave reviews, actually – and I felt it was perhaps my last hope.  

I have not regretted the purchase for a single second. In fact, when I think about my beloved Mia, I worry about what I would do without it. The thing to remember about the Clarisonic Mia is that it’s not a miracle worker, but it does work miracles. You still need to realise that break outs are usually caused by “external” factors that not even the greatest skincare routine can stop. These external factors can include diet, lifestyle, hormones, & genetics. If you are stuffing your face with sugary/fatty foods & never exercising, don’t be surprised when your skin is a nightmare!

That said, even if your external factors are hard to control (I myself have a penchant sugary chocolate), the Clarisonic Mia is still going to help the state of your skin. Personally, my main skin problems are break outs and flaky skin on my nose. So for me:

Break outs are stopped in their tracks

As I mentioned before, external factors mean I still get spots cropping up, but instead of the situation descending into an inflated, painful nightmare, the spots stay small and unobtrusive, and are on their way out in under a week. Previously, my spots were very big, very cystic, and would often take weeks to leave. No more panic and dread when I realise I have a spot is arriving, because I know I’ll be waving it goodbye in no time.

It buffs away my flaky patches

I have oily skin, but my nose skin likes to flake. I don’t know why, but while I figure out the cause (if any), my Mia buffs it all away without damaging the skin or creating more irritation. My skin also doesn’t seem to get as flaky anymore either, so I think it may have been down to my skin not getting a good enough clean. Which leads me to…

Excess make up is removed

I had such a shock the first time I used the Clarisonic after I’d already “removed” my make up. I looked at the brush head when I was done cleansing, and there was a bunch more make up! I remove my make up really well but I guess what the Mia gets out is what really settles in, deeper than any surface remover can get to. As a result, my skin is clearer, brighter, smoother, softer… it’s made my skin everything it’s meant to be.

I am currently using it once a day with a ‘normal’ brush head. If I feel it needs a little extra, I use it twice a day. Some people use it only once or twice a week, and there is a whole range of different brush heads to suit your skin’s needs. Whatever works for you!

As you can see, I am completely head-over-heels for the Clarisonic Mia. You should know my recommendations don’t come lightly – I have a bit of a “Swanson guarantee” policy about things I endorse – I don’t talk about it if I don’t completely and utterly adore it and can’t imagine myself becoming a life partner with it. For example, I can see myself using Yves Saint Laurent lipstick until I die (as long as they don’t change the formula), and I certainly cannot see my life without the Mia! I recommend this to anyone who feels unsatisfied with their skin, it’s a truly worthy investment.

You can get your Mia from the Clarisonic website or from David Jones, like me! You could even upgrade to the Mia 2, which comes in pretty limited edition colours.

I hope your future has many happy skin days!

Love & what-have-you,

mono2

{PS – This post wasn’t sponsored in any way, I’m just really deeply in love!}

Posted in: lifestyle

Thoughts & Goals

Christmas is the best time to bring out the nostalgia, isn’t it? If you’ve followed me over the past few years, you may remember The Stardust Chronicles, and how it was filled with little photographs like these. I began blogging to bring calm into my life, giving me something story-like and not-completely-real to focus on through the really dreadful time I was having. I’ve come a long way since then.

It is still imagination and escapism, the voice you often read here is a more dramatic version of me, one who lives in a world untainted by quite so much sorrow and hardship. She is partially satirical, like someone from a Nancy Mitford novel, because that’s how I have fun. The world has always been too much for me, so I decided to create my own new one instead. That said, she is definitely a part of me, I never make anything up entirely or pretend to like things I don’t. She’s an alter-ego I hope to grow into. I just thought I’d mention that.

Naturally, as the year draws to a close I am reflecting and making goals for the year to come. One my goals is to include more “personal” content here; photographs of my life that are perhaps a little more in-depth and involved than what you see on my Instagram. My life has been a bit dry this past year, my health really took a lot of the life out of me, and while I can’t honestly say I physically feel any better or worse, my life has started to pick up a bit more again. Hopefully this will translate to more and better content for Miss Black!

More pictures of myself that include my face will hopefully bring a more personal, identifiable touch to the blog. I hope to introduce more content on books, beauty (especially perfume), my own outfits and style (including sewing), and I definitely want to experiment more with comedy and satire to see what I can create. I hope this sounds like something that will appeal to you all!

Thanks for reading my darlings! Love & what-have-you,

mono2

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