HOW TO // Dress for a Summer Wedding

Summer weddings – a timeless tradition, a great way to celebrate the union of two people. Also, a complete and utter fashion panic. What do you wear? What will the weather be like? If you’re going abroad, how do you know what is appropriate? Never fear – TIOBA has this one covered.

This summer, my uncle is getting married in Lucca, Italy. A gorgeous walled city, Lucca boasts phenomenal weather, historic surroundings and an all-round perfect venue for the family to come together for my uncle and his wife-to-be.

So what are the questions to consider when picking out a summer wedding outfit? I think there are four key elements.

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This is the easiest qualifier for a wedding outfit. Many couples will, along with their invitations, specify a dress code so that their guests aren’t left completely lost. It could be smart casual, beach smart, formal, white tie, black tie… there are many different ‘dress codes’ and it’s even more tough for women, who have many subsections of dress code within the standard!

If your couple hasn’t specified a dress code, don’t hesitate to contact them about it – they will most likely feel flattered that you care enough to ask. You earn brownie points whilst putting your mind at rest about element number one.


Weather is the most changeable of the factors to consider, but is equally important when choosing an outfit. Where is the wedding going to be held? If you know it’s in a hot country like Italy, you’re going to be swayed by tea dresses and lighter materials such as silk and organza, and staying away from satins and velvets. However, if you know that the weather may be changeable, I would recommend an outfit with layers (I am wearing a silk tea dress this summer with a pashmina), in order to adjust to comfort. Keep an eye on the weather and, if there is a wide margin between the hottest and coldest possible temperatures, plan two outfits with layers. That way, you have all eventualities covered.


This is so important, and is something that many people forget to consider – what is the culture of the location of the wedding?

This, again, is something that has been especially important for us this summer, because Lucca is one of the oldest cities in Italy, an incredibly religious country. It has to be taken into consideration that modesty is a key value of Italian Catholicism, meaning covering up shoulders and not showing too much leg. To ensure the smooth running of the wedding for the bridal party, researching and adhering to the dress code of the local culture is essential.

Saying that, if there is no cultural restriction, or you’re going to a local wedding which doesn’t have any difference in culture, go wild! You know and are comfortable with your own culture, and can experiment within that.


Finally, you have to wear something that makes you feel comfortable. There is no point in considering all of these guidelines if you don’t consider how it makes you feel to wear the outfit you’ve chosen. Are you more comfortable in a maxi dress or an elegant tuxedo suit? Are you more confident in an off the shoulder number? There are ways of working within a dress code to make sure that everyone is comfortable, it just takes time and effort to find them.

Ultimately, everyone is at the wedding to celebrate, and enjoy each other’s company. Most importantly, you’re witnessing an important and beautiful event. As long as some thought is put into an outfit, there is no reason why it can’t be one of the best days of everyone’s lives.



14 Things I Learned in my First Year of University

I’m going into my second year at the University of Exeter this September, so here are a couple of things I learned when I first moved away.

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One.// Independence is bittersweet. When I moved into my university accommodation last year, it was the first time I had moved out of my family home for any period longer than a holiday. It was a very tearful day and I was suddenly alone on the other side of the country. But I was also finally accountable to no one but myself. Although I hated having to do my own washing and I found out I’m really terrible at turning Netflix off and going to sleep, I also loved being able to go for midnight strolls around my campus and not having to explain why I was leaving and where I was going, ever.

Two.// Your roommates can be your best friends. I’ve heard the horror stories about roommates, and I’ll admit that when I went to university I was absolutely dreading having to live with other people. I thought I’d have to suffer through a year of hiding in my room or sitting through conversations which held no interest for me. Instead, I met some of my best friends and we had a hilarious and fantastic year.

Friends at university

Three.// No degree is complete without extra-curricular activities. I was shocked when I found out just how little time was actually spent in the lecture theatre and seminar rooms. By no means does that mean that I don’t enjoy my degree; on the contrary I love it. But participation in more than just your course around the university means that your degree is more fulfilling, more wholesome, and it really does help to prepare for your career. You can tailor your degree experience to gain the most you possibly can, if you join the right clubs and do the right activities, from working closely with the administration as a tour guide or student liaison, to being president of the debate society.

Four.// Haribo and Malteasers are not a meal plan. In any respect. So I might hate food shopping and I definitely hate cooking for myself, but after trying to live off of chocolate and sweets, I came to accept that it’s not the right way to go. Whilst this might be the easy and comforting option, it leaves you feeling sluggish, unhealthy and lazy. If you’re not a huge fan of cooking, try implementing as much of a raw diet as you can.

Five.// If you can’t cook, you learn to. Or you make a friend who can. Relating to number four, this is a very important one. I’m not a huge cooking fan but at the same time I’m not completely inept. Moving away from the glory of home cooked meals means you learn to cook pretty quickly. Or, if you’re like my flatmate (who will not be named) and can’t cook pasta successfully, make friends with one of the best cooks in the flat.

One of my more successful attempts at cooking

One of my more successful attempts at cooking

Six.// No matter how small your room is, it becomes home. My room was classed as a ‘single standard’, which meant that it was pretty tiny. I had a single bed, small wardrobe, shelves, desk and sink area. It had exposed brick and old carpets, but it became my home within a month. I decorated my noticeboard with brightly coloured wrapping paper and covered it with postcards and other sentimental nonsense, I packed my shelves with books and ornaments, and I made sure there was plenty of my belongings scattered around, in order to never feel like I was staying in a hotel room.

exeter cork board

Seven.// Black coffee is God’s gift to students. If you’re going to a morning lecture, staying up late to finish an essay or just trying to slug it through a dull part of the course, black coffee will become a staple of any student’s existence. Since I don’t really drink dairy milk, soya has been my go to, until I started to experience the unsightly mess of separated soy in my morning/afternoon/anytime coffee. This is due to the reaction of the acids in the milk to the hot coffee, and warming the soya only makes the separation worse, meaning the only thing left to do is let the coffee cool slightly. I just never have time to sit around while my coffee cools in order to put milk in it, so black it was. I do, however, put sugar or a syrup in it to vary the taste. It’s the perfect drink for any time of day, and I can guarantee that it will be one of the cheapest beverages to buy on campus.

Eight.// If you get to know your tutors, you’ll thrive. Thanks to my work on the student staff liaison committee last year, I was fortunate enough to get to know a lot of the higher ups in the History Department, and the College of Humanities, which has afforded me many opportunities I wouldn’t have been considered for otherwise. But on a simpler level, getting to know the people who teach you can really help your learning. University lecturers can be incredibly intimidating with their doctorates and their prestigious publications but they’re there to teach students who share their passions. Once you’ve struck up a relationship of any kind with your tutors and lecturers, they become more accessible to you and will often allow you to pester them more regularly than students who don’t make the effort. They start to get a feel for what you’re passionate about and can even dedicate their time to helping you pursue your goals outside of the course. I’m connected with some of mine on LinkedIn and they’ve given me endorsements as well as aided my networking for journalism, something I’m incredibly grateful for.

Nine.// The local community is amazing. When I got to Exeter, I wasn’t really concerned with integrating myself into the local community, but now that I have it’s something I recommend wholeheartedly, and I don’t mean just the campus. The town your university is based in has a vested interest in the students who learn there, because they want to keep the education and the jobs thriving locally. But more than that; they can be some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. In November, I had a bit of a meltdown about how much I was missing home, about problems I was having at university and general life, and went to watch the sunrise over the Cathedral. It was beautiful and contemplative, but what made that morning special was that I was approached by some of the wardens of the Cathedral and invited inside for morning mass and tea. They were so excited to talk to me about my university experience, and I loved being able to ask them all about their lives. I had even found a woman who had lived near my home town and taught at my secondary school decades ago. I wouldn’t describe myself as overly religious, but this small act of kindness from the elderly men and women at the Cathedral made a difficult time much more bearable.

Ten.// Missing a few lectures isn’t the end of the world. Okay, so I had it easy on this one because all of my lectures were recorded, but even so; you don’t have to go to every single lecture. Some will be things you’ve already studied before university, other lectures you can catch up on with a friend. If you’re ill, busy or even hungover, don’t beat yourself up over not attending a couple. Of course, it is dangerous to make a habit of not going to lectures, as they prepare you for seminars and your summative work.

Eleven.// You can be completely yourself at university, fearlessly. University doesn’t have the same shackles as any other form of education, from dress codes to clubs. Whether you’re a budding musical theatre star or secretly never want to change out of your pyjamas, you can do whatever you like. I, for one, didn’t change too much when I went to university; I still wear hoodies, jeans and converse far too often and I’m too happy to play the devil’s advocate in a classroom setting, but I’ve also realised that I like preppy fashion and that I’m very interested in the way universities are run. These years are the ones which allow you to discover yourself.

Twelve.// Home is a beautiful place which takes on a new meaning. The first time I visited home from university, I could have cried over my dinner. Real home cooked food! Unlimited wifi! A real sofa! The dogs! These are all things that, until that September, I had taken for granted. Now they’re all things I can’t get enough of. Of course, there’s that whole family aspect which I suppose I should mention… I’m kidding, it’s great to be able to go home and see the family, and spend time with them. You become much more aware of your family dynamics and gain a new, unique position in the family. There’s no doubt that this will always be my home, but the chance to gradually move out whilst having this safety blanket is one that should never be passed up.


Thirteen.// Confidence will come to you. I know a lot of people are naturally extroverted and confident, but for the rest of us it’s a hard thing to come by. Throughout secondary school I wasn’t the most sociable of students, and it’s pretty evident due to my disposition that I’m not a huge fan of most forms of interaction. But by the end of the first year, I was participating in all my extra-curricular societies and activities, speaking up in seminars and, with a fair amount of anxiety, presenting an award to one of the best lecturers at the university. Confidence will come to you; how long depends on the individual. If you feel like you need the day to hide away and read, or sleep, or ignore the world, then take it. But if you’re given opportunities, seize them with both hands. You will never regret it.

Presenting at the Teaching Awards

Presenting at the Teaching Awards

Fourteen.// I’m finally an adult. This is the scariest thing I’ve learned at university. I had finally become an adult when my parents drove off in our empty car, leaving me in Exeter. At that point I could make a mean cuppa soup or rice and cheese, and I didn’t want to make friends.

But when they came to pick me up in June, I had become close to all of my flatmates, completed my first year at university with grades I was proud of, and although I wasn’t going to win Masterchef, I at least had a more varied meal plan. (Sweet potato fries all day er’day!)

My point is, I didn’t think I’d become an adult at university. I thought it would be moving out after my degree which would propel me into adulthood but actually, just having that complete control over what I did and when I did it changed the way that I lived, worked and perceived myself.


What did you learn in your first year at university? If you’re heading off this year, what are your hopes?



Micellar water is taking the international beauty world by storm. It’s been a staple of the French skincare regime for many years, but is only recently making waves in the international community.

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The name ‘Micellar Water’ refers to the way in which this product cleans the skin – the micelles found in the water attach themselves to the oil and dirt on your skin, clearing them away. Whilst gentle and soothing, this method provides a powerful and effective cleanse, good enough to even remove eye makeup.

The nature of micellar water means there is no need for toner, and it never contains alcohol meaning it’s not harsh and can be applied around the eye area. It’s perfect for travel, when you aren’t able to access your full makeup bag, and I use it as part of my daily skincare routine.

Before I bought Bioderma’s Créaline TS H2O micellar water, I had researched a lot of different micellar waters including La Roche Posay, Vichy and Dior. There are a lot of top-brand, expensive products, but makeup artists and celebrities, but most importantly the women of Paris all swear by Bioderma. I bought two 500ml bottles in March 2014, as well as a 100ml travel size bottle, and I’m only on the second bottle now!

bioderma ts

Bioderma does a wide variety of micellar waters for all skin types. I use the Sensibio range for sensitive skin, but they also target dry, oily or combination skin. The price varies, depending on whether you buy normal or sensitive, large or small, the usual variety.

I’ve been using it as part of my skincare routine since I bought it in Paris in March, and it’s done wonders for my skin. It doesn’t irritate like most cleansers do, so I use two cotton pads to take off old makeup and make sure there’s no residual dirt, then moisturise and put my makeup on. It’s the same at night; two cotton pads, night cream and sleep. It’s such an effective and simple product that it makes life so easy, especially as I’m usually in a rush to get to lectures or to work!

As a comparison, I tried Garnier’s Micellar for a month, and although it was still an effective cleanser it was still an irritant and wasn’t as good as Bioderma. I suppose that, by virtue of it being French, Bioderma is going to be a very tough product to beat! The only temptation to switch to Garnier was that 400ml only costs £3, whereas Bioderma’s 500ml costs nearly £9.

On my holiday, I took the opportunity to widen my Bioderma experience by purchasing the travel skincare pack pictured below. It includes the travel size micellar water as well as three new products which I shall review as I test them.

bioderma set

Overall, I gave Bioderma’s Micellar Water 4/5. It cleanses, soothes and hydrates the skin in a gentle and effective fashion, and works perfectly in my skincare regime as an alternative to the harsher, soap-based makeup removers. However it takes multiple uses to completely remove makeup and clean the skin, proving that to me it cannot be used as a standalone cleanser. It is undoubtedly invaluable as a travel piece and as part of my routine!

verdict 4 of 5

Do you have a favourite micellar water? Do you use it or another form of cleanser?

PRODUCT REVIEW // American Eagle Outfitter Jeans

When we went to Florida in 2013, I found the perfect pair of jeans, and any woman will know just how difficult a feat that is.

We had gone into American Eagle Outfitters because, thanks to my love of all things U-S-A, I knew that it was a great shop for summer clothes. They had a sale on and I walked out with a t-shirt and a new pair of jeans which, no word of a lie, changed my life.

The jeans I bought were ‘jegging fit’, high-waisted – ‘high-rise’, and acid-washed. They were incredibly comfortable and fit like a glove. They didn’t sit too high that I felt uncomfortable, but I didn’t have to worry for a second if I was kneeling down to tie my laces or anything like that. They were the dream pair.

Naturally, I wore them to death. Seriously, I wore that one pair of jeans so much they eventually wore through and became unsalvageable. They lasted a year.

AEO recently came across the Atlantic to grace us with their presence – there are now 3 stores in the UK, in the London and Kent areas. At Easter, we visited one of the stores and I purchased two pairs of the jeans, high rise and sky high, and a further high rise pair on a trip to London last month.

I decided to originally buy light and dark wash denim – who doesn’t need one of each? – and on my last visit, treated myself to some long-desired white jeans. I thought that, at twenty years old, I would finally be able to wear white jeans without instantly ruining them!

Though each wash has slight variance in sizing, the jeans are wonderfully made. The sky high jeans, due to increased elasticity in the denim, comes up slightly larger than the thicker denim of the high rise jeans, so I sized down in order to get more wear out of them.

Wash Jeans

The Worn Out Blue High Rise Jeans, priced at £24.87 ($38.83). These were the original jeans, the ones that started it all! High Rise sits just below the naval, with real front and back pockets – definitely noteworthy. Though they are not as tight on the shins as other jeans, for example the Sky High jeans, they are slim enough to flatter the figure and give a slight drainpipe effect to the jeans. I bought these again at Easter, knowing how well they fit and how durable they were.

Sky High Waist Jeans

These are the Indigo Acid Wash Sky High Jeans, priced at £28 ($43.70). They come up to the belly button and, due to the jegging fit of the denim, hug your legs right the way to your ankles. I love wearing these if I’m daring to wear a crop top, or any top that doesn’t come down really low. I also love that they are very dark denim but not black, so I can wear them with anything and dress them up or down.

White Jeans

The final pair of jeans I bought were the Frosted Indigo High Rise Jeans, priced at £32.12 ($48.59). These, like the Worn Out jeans, aren’t too figure-hugging, something that could signal problems in white jeans. The denim itself is thick and durable, with styled tears in the fabric to reveal blue denim underneath. I’ve already worn these so many times, even on holiday! Even though the denim is thick and I thought I might be too hot, they kept me cool in the heat out here in France. They are the perfect white denim!

Overall, I know that these jeans are the ones I’ll be buying for the foreseeable future. They’re comfortable, well-made and fit like a glove. They can be dressed up, dressed down, worn with hoodies and Chuck Taylors or paired with a blouse and ankle boots. They’re the item to build a wardrobe around.

verdict 4 of 5

I’ve given these 4/5 for the simple reason that I need more pairs and AEO isn’t accessible enough in the UK!

Have you ever bought these jeans? Do you have denim you can’t live without?

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This next BOTW is undoubtedly something I couldn’t live without. I don’t know what I did before Christmas without it, but this bag is my key wardrobe piece.


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Bought from Monsoon shortly after Christmas, this stylish structured tote incorporates everything a busy university student, or young fashionista at work, could possibly need. The front pocket with metal detailing provides a convenient place for phone and keys. Inside there are three sections – two spacious compartments and a laptop sleeve in the middle fitting a 13 inch laptop, which makes it absolutely ideal for going to lectures, studying or going to work.

I fell in love with it when I saw it, especially when I saw that it had a detachable shoulder strap, and I’ve rarely used another bag since! It’s been my saving grace when I’ve been going to lectures, seminars and meetings all in one day and needed to keep everything organised and separate, and has enough space in it to keep my portfolio, laptop and planner.

Do you have that one bag which you can’t put down? What kind of style do you prefer – tote, messenger, satchel or rucksack?