Belfast Fashion Week

With the likes of New York Fashion Week and its counterparts in London and Paris etched for quite some time on my bucket list, I was quite excited to get the opportunity to head to Belfast recently as part of Belfast Fashion Week.

Since its already in its 16th season and will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2014, Belfast Fashion Week is well established and I was delighted to attend the second night of the event. It was high street heaven, quite literally, with all my favourite stores taking over the catwalk for the evening.

I travelled up by train to Belfast from Dublin with my friend Ashley, and stayed at a hotel near to the Ulster Museum, the carefully chosen venue for all the main fashion week events. Sipping on West Coast Cooler (the sponsors of the event) it was the perfect excuse to indulge in my people-watching habits, endure some serious wardrobe envy and make a must-buy list for when payday comes around.

To say I wanted everything may be a slight understatement but I wanted everything. Bold prints and tartan featured heavily on the catwalk, but red was the colour that really stood out as being in for the autumn/winter season. Also making a big statement were the new season’s coats, which were majorly oversized, and absolutely everywhere.

I’d a little gleeful moment when one of the models took to the catwalk wearing the same dress that I had on – a floral tube dress (a new favourite of mine!) from Oasis. It’s clearly a girl’s worst nightmare when another lady turns up in the same dress, but when it’s a model, it’s one awkward wardrobe blunder that you don’t really mind…

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Oasis

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Who wore it best? (Heehee)

But on a more serious note, here are some of the looks I loved on the night…

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Mexx

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Oasis

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The Outlet, Banbridge

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The Outlet, Banbridge

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Castlecourt Shopping Centre, Belfast

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Heatons

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imPress Nails by Broadway – Review

I used to be a huge fan of gel nails and – when the era allowed for it, acrylics – but it has taken years for my own natural nails to regain their strength after using them. Nowadays, I do like a bit of shellac and the less damage they cause our lovely talons, but even with the occasional shellac treat, it’s having long, healthy, natural nails that I really strive for.

So when I got my hands (and nails, I guess!) on one of the latest imPress Nails collections, I was looking forward to seeing just how practical they would be. My nails were never the best at holding on to gels, never mind press-on nails, and the idea of wearing fake nails had never really appealed to me. It was a combination of the awkward application, the unnatural feeling and their unrealistic appearance that had me slightly uncurious.

But these press-on manicure sets from Broadway are already a massive hit stateside, with Nicole Scherzinger being a self-proclaimed fan, so they were obviously doing something right – enough for me to give them a try anyway.

A healthier alternative to fake nails, these nails are quick and easy to apply – with clear instructions and no mess. You just peel off the backing, stick to your nails and you’re done! While it might seem like a lengthy procedure before you start, once you’ve found the right size for each corresponding nail, it’s really quite simple.

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Heading on an evening out recently, I didn’t have time to base coat, polish and top coat my own nails – especially factoring in the essential smudge-avoidance time – so I used the opportunity to try one of the limited edition collections from imPress instead. Not only could I pop the nails right on, I also had a bit of fun decorating the nails with nail art stickers too!

Once on, they did last a couple of days and didn’t come off as easy as I expected them to, despite my heavy-handed nature. For more light-handed ladies, they can last up to a week.

They retail at €7.99 for the block colours and €9.99 for the patterned themes and they are widely available in chemists across Ireland, as well as trusty Penneys and Dunnes Stores.

While they aren’t a permanent solution for gorgeous nails, they’re a fun, fast fashion fix and definitely worth picking up!

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Tip: Don’t place too close to your cuticles and don’t be afraid of spending a few minutes finding the perfect size for your own nail. It will pay off to have that sorted before you start!

PS. With Halloween arriving mid-working week this year, not many of us can celebrate by dressing up like a naughty witch and hitting the local in fancy dress. But it’s always nice to get into the spirit and imPress nails have a range of Halloween themed nails to vamp up our claws!

September Shenanigans

September has come and gone and it was only today, with the lashings of rain and the odd mention of pumpkins, which had me realising that it is in fact October already. Jeez! There’s no catching up with time. I’ve been busy – a good complaint some might say – reacquainting myself with tricycles, advising young freshman on their college dreams and adding more material to my book-et list this past month. It’s tiring! 🙂

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Fitness Faze I set off on an adventure to the Wild West last month when I was invited to Westport for a taster of what was in store for this year’s Sea2Summit. The adventure race takes place annually in November and consists of road running, cycling and a mountain hike and this year was being promoted by Bressie. Keeping in mind the fact that it was the first time in about seven years that I had climbed onto a bike, I think it’s fair to say I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. But alas, after pedaling through the first sleet of autumn, suffering the disruption of my other half’s flat tyre, and crawling breathlessly up Croagh Patrick, I still had a lot of fun! Plus the post-race recovery massage at the Castlecourt Hotel’s Spa Sula easily made it worthwhile…

#amwriting While last month was all about new beginnings, turning over new leaves etc, I have to admit I wasn’t too envious of those starting their first year of college. Of course being a freshman is fun and college comes with less of life’s pressures, but if I had the chance to go back I’m not sure I’d take it. So instead I spilled the beans on what I learned (and what I wished I’d learned) from college life in my freshman feature for U Magazine. From college etiquette to third-level lingo, it was a fun one to write!

Must Reads I’ve an app on my phone to help keep track of all the books I want to read, with at least one new one being added on a weekly basis. The app even has a little section for the ones I finally read, which makes me sound deceivingly organised! But what I really want to get lost in next is The Vogue Factor, a biography by former Australian Vogue editor, Kirstie Clements. Real life devil wears prada? Yes please. #booketlist

Lunching Ladies I popped along to Patrick Guilbaud’s restaurant for a promotional lunch for Visit Belfast. The tourism company were promoting all the events and festivals happening in Belfast over the next few months. These lunches are always fun and while it’s good to meet new people, I was particularly excited about eating in Ireland’s only two star Michelin restaurant. And yes, it was totally up to scratch. It was contemporary and classy and each course was definitely instagram-worthy. I was a particular fan of the restaurant’s own brand glassware. I’m working on getting one of their red wine glasses for myself.

Soundwaves If you watched RTE’s The Hit, you’ll know that it is a brand new TV show aimed at celebrating Irish talent and the best of our country’s songwriters. You might also remember that on the first episode, there was a guy and a girl (Gary Burke and Katie Carpenter) who were extremely talented and were finalists in Julie Feeney’s group. Funnily enough, Gary is actually my big bro and Katie his beautiful girlfriend. They’re also known as Jezzebelle. While they weren’t the reigning champions this time round, their song ‘Dimension Me’ is playing on repeat in my car this month. Have a listen here or download their newly released single here!

@burkenatalie xxx

PS. The Guinness was just a nod towards Arthur’s Day. It goes hand in hand with September these days!