No Fuss Fashion


I have a confession to make.  Most mornings I’m amazed that Brady even lets me leave the house. Between talking Audrey out (she steps ever so slowly out onto the cool morning grass, softly listening for signs of life before inhaling the scents of fresh dew and leisurely moving across the lawn…), waiting for B to get out of the bathroom (Brady! unlock the door! why do you always lock the door?) and throwing a lunch together, I’m never running fewer than ten minutes late. When I do get into the car, the next battle begins.

Balancing a bowl of Greek yogurt in my lap and hoping my coffee in the cup holder doesn’t spill, I apply my mascara, trying to smudge my bad-aim from under my eyes before moving to the lipstick. Now this really needs to be precise, but lo! I’m already at the office. Okay, quick, before someone sees: line the lips, color ’em in, now go! Juggle my overflowing purse, packed lunch, coffee cup, bowl of yogurt and, on yoga days, gym bag. Slam the door, somehow manage to open the office door and, as no small miracle, fall gratefully onto my desk. Rinse and repeat Monday through Friday.

Alright, so something has got to change, right? The most logical solution would be setting my alarm a half-hour earlier or, say, packing my lunch the night before. But this raises other issues. The evenings, you see, are an equally blurred scene of taking Audrey out/going to the gym/making dinner/taking Audrey out/doing last night’s dishes and, if time’s in my favor, reading 15 minutes before falling into a coma. Ah, the blissful pace of life in America!

No, you see, no matter how hard I try, I can’t get up earlier.  But! I can keep my outfits simple. This, I’ve discovered, is the magic formula:

Loose crop trousers + tighter fitting shirt + heels

Voilà! kinda of like this:



What I really like about this combination is that you can mix in prints and mix and match colors, but the overall look is still clean and easy. So! You know now my calm morning routine + office uniform. Now, tell me, what’s yours?

Imagescourtesy of theberry and Asos


Our First Guest Blogger


Tomorrow morning Off the Shelf is very excited to announce the arrival of our first guest-blogger.  Sam Howard will be examining the difficultly of reading post-English degree and reviewing Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.  Stay tuned…

Do you want to guest-blog for us, we’re happy to read and put up anything on any subject; as long as your passionate about what you write.  Get in touch! 

Em & Ash x

Happy First Anniversary, Mr. Johnson!

For B:

One year ago today when you made me your bride, you began a new chapter in my life; one natural to write and just as easy to read over and over. This first chapter of our lives together may not be as exotic as a month in Uganda or Morocco; or as picturesque as my year in England or as sanguine as my unmarried days in the Broadway brownstone with the pink bathroom and postcard-spattered walls, but you are the best part of my story. My very own Mr. Darcy.


Thanks for putting up with me, B. I love you.

Happy Birthday Emily

Happy Birthday

I need to wish the happiest of Happy Birthdays to my dear co-blogger and best friend, who turns 25 today!

Who ever would have thought that running through Clifton village would lead to such friendship and travels together… Here’s to your second half a century on the planet, I hope it’s filled with as many adventures and loves as the last one!



Private Lives – Review

I’m not sure exactly what drew me to beg for tickets to see Noël Coward’s Private Lives this September, maybe it was the excellent BBC4 biopic Burton and Taylor about the infamous actors’ final stage-play together, the inter-war period in which the drama is set, or that from its first night the play and its lead actors had received rave reviews.  Either way, by the time I arrived at the doors to The Gielgud Theater on Tuesday night I was dizzy with excitement.

Anna Chancellor and Toby Stevens as Amanda and Elyot

Anna Chancellor and Toby Stevens as Amanda and Elyot

Noël Coward’s most famous work follows the path of divorcees Elyot and Amanda as they fall in love again over the balcony on their honeymoons.  The only problem – they’ve both married other people.  From the moment their eyes meet the electrifying chemistry between Anna Chancellor (Amanda) and Toby Stevens (Elyot), take a hold of the play and is relentless in its grasp.  Although the cut-glass accents and aging comedy may add to the drama of the play, this can at times detract from the real examination in the play.  That they are a couple who cannot live with, or without one another.

As refined as they both are Amanda and Elyot encapsulate the 1930’s desperation to escape the kind of bourgeois gentility their age and class dictated.  Amid the comic wit, the actors convey a real sense of torment about how they feel for one another.  Chancellor’s flighty Amanda has just the right amount of audacious sass to match the depth of love for her ex-husband, and this is matched by Stevens’ public-school boy charm and pre-war arrogance, all of which his ex-wife can see straight through.

The theatrical canon is full of warring couples and Private Lives has been for many years the twentieth century’s finest expression of this theme, but Jonathan Kent’s production brings it up to date with ease.  The play is choreographed beautifully, the fight scenes between the lead actors allow their chemistry to smoulder.  The perfect final act sees them receive their respective spouses into their Parisian love nest, Chancellor adopts a hilarious diplomacy as she serves coffee to the two people who’s lives she has ruined.

Private Lives more than echoes many similar works of the age, and I think at this point in time, the 1930’s setting pulls on your nostalgic heartstrings, the age of wealth and bohemian sensibility is captured perfectly and with ease.  Much like another favourite of mine, Brideshead, Private Lives is often revisited, and this time it’s spectacular.  GO!

Until 21st September 2013