Ally in Blunderland

UK Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blog

Tuesday, 18 October 2016


Duality : an instance of opposition or contrast between two concepts or two aspects of something; a dualism.
For as long as I can remember I have struggled with a sense of duality; although up until Sunday afternoon I called it many things; 'confusion', 'confliction', 'contradiction'...
I have struggles with decisions, not because I don't feel strongly enough about either option, but because I feel so strongly about both options.
Do I want to be a Paramedic, or a Creator? Do I want the melted cheese or do I want to go for a run? Do I follow my head.. or my heart? Do I want to be an independent woman, or half of a whole? 
I guess the truth is that I want it all and none of it at the same time (of course)
I feel like I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that actually, maybe it's not the situation that I'm in that makes me feel so unsettled.. maybe it's me.
 I guess I've always had a strong sense of purpose it's just quite difficult when that sense of purpose is dragging you in two opposing ways. 
I think that this started at a young age when I didn't understand how I could feel both love and dislike for someone at the same time. It wasn't just that though.. it was choosing between playing football with the boys and trying to make friends with the girls.. investing in spiky belts and baggy jeans whilst also cooing over the newest adidas tracksuit. It was wanting to make art but hating art lessons.. wanting my brother to get in trouble for dropping me on my head but also desperately not wanting him to get in trouble... wanting wholeheartedly for my family to stay together but desperately wanting it to part because surely those struggles would be better than these ones. 
It's not that I feel 'torn' with everything... but it's something that affects my life on a regular enough basis for me to have considered it a problem. 
I guess what I find hard is that there just isn't a right answer. I mean hell... do I just LOVE a right answer. I find myself overthinking every element of my life because I want to do the right thing, the best thing, the most appropriate thing, the most genuine thing, the most honest thing.
And I mean really.. the thing is that actually maybe either option could be fine. Maybe it's fine if I choose to dye my hair brown again.. it's probably equally fine if I keep it pink. Sometimes it can be hard to apply this logic to bigger decisions.. decisions that actually matter and aren't just to do with my hair.. or food. 
It's in my nature to be 'an overthinker' but that's due to my need to understand everything.. to be able to construct an informed opinion.. to make an informed decision. 
I wonder if it's something that a lot of - pardon the phrase - millennials suffer with, because there's just so much more choice than there used to be. We have a lot more freedom to think and speak than generations before us did and the life we live is changing at a much quicker rate. Information is more freely available and 'out of the ordinary' is less used because everything is just so much more accessible. 
We're told to 'Have fun and travel the world' but 'Are you on the property ladder yet?' 
'Follow your dreams' but 'Make sure you have a proper job'
 'Decide on your lifetime career at the age of 17' but 'Don't study the wrong thing at University.. think of the debt!'

Where I'm at with all this is still - surprisingly - some strange mixture of acceptance and panic. There's pro's and con's to being this way.. much like there is with everything I guess ( I say 'I guess ' but lets be honest there's no guessing here.. I've probably already listed all the pro's and con's and found myself falling equally for both sides)  
What I once thought made me 'weak', 'incapable' and 'clueless', I know see can also make me 'open minded', 'capable' and 'aware'. It's not that I don't know things.. it's that I know lots of things and I like to make informed decisions... It's not that I don't care, it's that I care SO much that I want to have all angles worked out...It's not that I'm incapable.. it's that I'm capable of seeing two opposing viewpoints and really feeling both of them.

So here's to being continually stuck in existential crisis, and both loving and hating it - in equal measures - at the same time.

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Sunday, 11 September 2016

Boohoo In Birmingham

A little while ago, one of my lovely friends at Boohoo got in touch to see if I'd be interested in sharing some things about my city with you and I thought ' YES!.. I'm so down for that'.
I realised that since I've moved into my own little place on the other side of the city I haven't really let you know how I'm getting on with things and in short.. I'm loving it.
I've always had 'issues' with living in Birmingham - I think that this can be quite natural when you stay in a city that you were born in.. it's the inner adventurer in us trying to get out, am I right? - but since moving to the other side of the city I've seen a totally different side of it and I've started to feel comfortable and at home here which is basically the best thing.
Obviously Birmingham is a massive city with pockets of energy and creativity scattered all over the place. I guess that the great thing about it is that there's something for everyone depending on what you're looking for. Personally, I'm more than a bit into the independent shops and boutiques in Digbeth and I could spend hours upon hours browsing (and spending) in Cow.. (It's also a pretty instagrammable area if that's what you're into) There's also tonnes of awesome coffee shops and pubs if you follow the canal through the city or ever head further afield into Harborne and they also have a Boston Tea Party which I think we can all agree is a great place for a shake stop. (Is that a phrase or did I just make it one?.. Either way I'm pretty happy with it..)
 Birmingham can also be a great place to get some style inspo. Due to it's diversity, you'll see all sorts of styles and outfit building (some more questionable than others of course) and it's great to just grab a window seat in one of the coffee shops and just people watch for an hour or so. If you head over towards Selly Oak and Edgbaston you'll see that there's a large student population which of course gives way to a whole host of trends and styles and as you head more into the center of the city you'll be met with a whole range of styles, shops, restaurants and bars. It really is the perfect place to have a wander around at 19:30 after a few too many prosecco's. (No judging here)
Aside from the awesome shopping and eating opportunities, I guess that I've started to feel more settled here and I'm gaining more and more reasons to stay as time goes by. Originally I'd planned to leave Birmingham and head to the seaside as soon as I qualified as a Paramedic but this city, and the people in it, have grown on me and entangled my soul for at least a little while longer. 
I'm in a pretty unique place right now and despite being constantly torn between one thing or another - something which I've realised is actually probably just another element of my personality rather than a reflection of my current situation - I'm pretty happy with where I'm at and actually... If given the opportunity, I'm not sure that I'd change it.


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Sunday, 28 August 2016

An Illusion Of Confidence

I've lost count of the amount of times that I've been told that I must be 100% confident with my body and my thoughts because how else would I put 'everything' online.
 It's not something that bothers me intently.. but as social media and the online world can often present an entirely false image of our lives.. our best bits, best angles, and best days.. I thought I'd just pop by to say 'Hey.. it's not always like that.' 

I started to think about how it is possible for me to put myself 'out there' online when I've had such crippling issues with my body image in the past and then it hit me.. that's precisely the reason I do it.
I think that within the blogging community I have found acceptance and there's no doubt that it's given me confidence. I've realised that subconsciously I seek approval from others and even a 'Girl, you styled that shirt so well' can do wonders in clarifying what I might have already thought myself. 
Whereas some can look in the mirror and be comfortable with the image they're putting out to the world and not question it.. I guess I'm still seeking something. I'm not sure whether that's a self confidence issue or an openness to different ideas, and to change.

I know that it's nothing new here but with the digital age pumping out 'perfection' on a regular basis, it's hard not to get caught up and I think that there's more focus on 'beauty' now more than ever. Societies standard of 'beautiful' women are used to sell cars to men and quick fix diets to women and although we all probably have an achievable body that is tighter, fitter and more 'instagrammable' than our current one.. there's definitely something to be said for being comfortable in our own skin too.

People seem to think that because I can post full length shots of myself on this little space in the internet that I must be head over heels in love with myself and the truth is, most of the time, I'm not even comfortable. I can't even tell you how many photo's I used to take to find one that I was comfortable with sharing. 

As my blogging life has continued, I've learned which angles work best for my body and hide the bits I'm more conscious of which makes the editing and selection process a lot easier to deal with as I'm not confronted with my worst angles as often as I used to be. 

I think that part of the beauty of blogging is that we're all so different and doing things in our own way, yet we can all share these things in common at the same time. I'm not really one for the term 'real women' as let's be honest.. we're all real... but it's nice to have some differentiation in the women that inspire us, and I think that the blogging platform really is an awesome environment for that.

For those of you that also dabble in sharing yourselves in this wonderful little online world, you might agree that it's a strange situation we find ourselves in.. wanting to balance portraying 'real life' whilst also keeping up a certain level of aesthetic that is not only appealing to your readers/viewers/pals, but perhaps also to brands too..

I guess I've just been in a bit of a 'funk' with my appearance lately and I wanted to share that with you.. not for sympathy or reassurance but as a way of saying 'Hey, behind that Instagram filter and occasionally hilarious hashtag, I feel exactly the same as you might do sometimes and for some reason.. at the moment I'm finding it more difficult than usual to snap myself out of it. Essentially, I guess it's about accepting that you can't please everyone and actually.. why would you want to? Strangely though, I don't think it would really matter if everyone in the entire world was like 'DAMN GURL YOU FINE' because actually, I'd still be obsessed with how my hips jiggle after a little too much (is that even a thing?) pasta.

As a teenager I had an incredibly unhealthy relationship with my body but as I've gotten older, I've managed to level it out a little and no longer go to the extremes that I used to in order to make myself 'pretty'. I think my job helps a little with that too.. sometimes we can become so incredibly focused on the way that we look that we forget how amazing our bodies really are and how hard they work every second to keep us alive. Seeing people in less fortunate positions sometimes helps to give me a little perspective. 

I guess that's the thing isn't it... it's so easy to become disillusioned into thinking that people really put everything out there to be judged but I for one, have a very carefully curated amount of myself that I'm willing to share with the online world. Now don't get me wrong.. this is a transient thing and sometimes I feel more like sharing certain things than others.. Sometimes I'll get a bit personal and sometimes all I want to talk about is shoes but I like to think that I've got a good balance going on. 

I try to share enough with you so that you can get to know me... so that we can become friends and we can all relate on some level.. but I also like to keep parts of myself private because essentially, I guess I'm still that person who's scared of being judged or being called out on something that I'm insecure about.

How much do you share online? And do you think that it's good to keep certain things private, or are those the things that you want to read more?
Do you find it refreshing to read the occasional 'honest thoughts' posts.. or does it drag you down?
I think that in some cases, we almost enjoy the intrigue of a perfect life that is totally not achievable because it gives us hope and a distraction from our own lives.. would you agree?

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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Styling A Shirt Dress

Hey Pals! 
How're we all diddling?
I just thought I'd drop by with another outfit post....Yes I've been spending and no I'm not even a little bit sorry. ( Well I might be come 'bill paying day' but for now I'm all good)
Anyway, onto the good stuff (Clothes. Always clothes)
I picked up this dress on yet another one of my Asos scrolling days and basically decided to buy yet another hat to complete the outfit despite already owning a wall full.. still.. a gal can never have too many hats amiright?
The dress is a thick chord material so it tends to hold its shape and has a bit of structure to it, as well as a little bit of warmth to help us English dwellers out with our so called 'Summer'.
Having said that.. not to go all British on you but have you FELT how warm it's been lately? I've for sure melted off many facefulls of makeup and despite being ever so slightly more tanned than I was perhaps a week ago, I'm also significantly more sleep deprived because: too warm.
I was about to tell you about how I collected a fan from my Mom's house to have over at my place to help me actually breathe during the warm nights but then I decided that nobody cares and you really didn't start reading this to hear about the weather that you already know about because you've probably been living through it yourself - but oh look.. I just happened to keep it in anyway.
Asos Hat & Dress, Dr Martens Boots, Daniel Wellington Watch

Really what I wanted to get at - which I still haven't even touched upon - is that sometimes it's nice to just have an item that you can just throw on and it looks like you've actually put some thought into your outfit rather than just jeans and a t-shirt.... again.... which I'm becoming more than a little bit guilty of. It was nice to wear a dress again as I've been pretty much living in trousers for what feels like 6 months and sometimes - even if you're pale AF - it's nice to get your legs out and actually be a girl. 
And of course.. when I say be a girl, I mean wear all black and toughen your dress up with a pair of Docs. Sorry.. I couldn't help myself.

What do you think of this take on a shirt dress?
Would you wear it any differently?
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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Benefit : Doing Brows Right

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know that Benefit recently launched a whole new range of brow products to help us ladies out in that oh so important department.
SO.. that being said, I headed down to my local John Lewis at Grand Central in Birmingham to find out a bit more about the products and in true Ally In Blunderland style.. came home with the whole lot.
 I wouldn't normally post about a whole heap of brow products like this but I'm genuinely so impressed that I basically just had to and so here we are! If you've got #browprobs then girl, I've got you sorted:

You WANT Defined, Textured Brows with Easy Product Control // 
Prep your brows with Browvo! conditioning brow primer as this will help everything stay in place as well as condition those hairs so that they're more likely to grow and you'll have thicker & more substantial brows in no time. Then, using the Ka Brow! cream/gel colour, start to work in hair like strokes to fill in your brows from the base upwards. Something I love about the Ka Brow colour is that its buildable.. so you can have as much or as little product as you like. Alternatively, you could pick up the Brow Zings kit and use the awesome 12 hour powder to build and sculpt your brows. Then, to make the brows a little less flat and a little more natural looking, just sweep through the 3D Brow Tones, highlight your brow bone using the High Brow pencil (personally I love the pink toned one) and you're good to go.

You WANT Textured, Styled but Natural looking Brows that Don't Budge //
As always, prep with Browvo! conditioning primer, and then start to fill in your brows with the Goof Proof Pencil. This pencil legitimately makes it so easy to get a great shaped brow as the pencil tip is the perfect brow shape and as daft as it sounds to have a favourite spooly? This pencil has mine. If you want a more precisely filled brow then Precisely My Brow will be your gal. This will allow you to draw on the individual hairs for a way more natural look. Then... my absolute favourite product of the whole bunch (I know.. who'dve thunk it) you're going to want to use your Ready Set Brow to set these mothers in place. And guys... let me just make one thing clear.. after using this gel your brows will not. budge. They just won't. This means that when you push your brow hairs upwards to create that desirable textured look a la Cara Delevingne... those hairs will actually stay up.. all day. Don't forget to highlight your brow bone with the High Brow pencil and you're done. You slay Cara, you slay.

You WANT Fuss Free Brows with a Hint of Texture & Colour //
5 Minutes to leave the house and looking like Shrek? Story of my life. That's just enough time to sort your brows and add a little mascara to help you feel a little more human going into the day. So, simply use the Gimme Brow in your shade to instantly transform your brows into those with texture, shape and colour and then finish off with the 3D Brow Tones to add a few subtle highlights and girl, you've still got 4 minutes to give some love to those lashes.

 If you head into John Lewis yourself to check out the Benefit stand.. make sure you take along your current brow product as they'll give you a brow makeover, teach you about all of the products, and then give you a free mini from the new collection when you say goodbye to your current product (believe me.. you'll end up putting yours in the brow bin just as I did)

Let me know if you give any of these products a go! 
I'm pretty much in love with all of them and couldn't be happier with the options I've now got for my brows!

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