J. Crew x New Balance in Bicester

J. Crew x New Balance sweater* & workout leggings* | New Balance sports bra* & trainers* | Ray Ban sunglasses* | Calvin Klein rucksack (similar here)

Gone are the days where I make a big song and dance about going to the gym; working out is habitual and now, rather than long, leisurely sessions with a friend, I slot it in when and wherever I can - be that in-between meetings or post-cocktail event during which I've stuck to water. I've even gone to an 8pm class before quickly showering and heading to DJ a set in Shoreditch.

Like so many of you, exercising is a vital part of my existence; it helps me looks after my mental wellbeing, it keeps my eating in check, it gives me an hour to myself and, more importantly, an hour offline almost every day.

I'm sure you've heard the term athleisure wear by now. Fashion brands have dipped their toes into sportswear and activewear for a long time. Sportswear brands have lapped up designers to collab with them and some, such as Stella McCartney for adidas, have even gone onto seasonal offerings.

Highstreet fashion have all slowly but surely dived in to grab a piece of the athleisurewear pie too; Topshop got Beyonce on board to create Ivy Park and everyone from H&M to Missguided to Primark now have regular activewear drops enabling everyone access to exercise gear, whatever their budget.

I've often found that style has trumped performance with these pieces. I've long been searching for kit that lives up to the performance level I need from my kit in the gym but also wouldn't be embarrassed to head to a meeting in first. I'm sick and tired of lugging two pairs of trainers around everyday because sportswear designers don't design for the gym and activewear designers don't design for the street.

And that's where J. Crew x New Balance comes in. It's got high-tech performance, as tried as tested yesterday in my hiit class, and I'd be more than obliged to wear it pretty much everywhere. The colours are perfectly muted, the fit is impeccable (i.e. they do not budge while mid burpee) and I even found trainers to match.

What's more mind blowing is that I picked up all of the pieces, which are still available to buy full price online, with up to half price off in New Balance's Bicester Village store, which opened recently.

Last Thursday, New Balance took a few of us out of London for a day to explore Bicester Village, which has been on my hundred-ways-to-blow-my-bank-balance bucket list for sometime. Luckily, the NB team kindly gave us some ££ to spend and promised that the store was full of their most premium pieces but at a friendlier budget.

I can't pretend to understand how I picked up the J. Crew x New Balance cut out sweater for only £27.50 but I'm 100% happy to go with it, no questions asked.

Alongside the heavily discounted J. Crew pieces, I also added a couple more pairs of trainers to my collection. I could hear a sigh of disapproval from my flatmates at the idea of more trainers kicking about the house all the way from from Bicester but honestly, who could pass up a pair of navy Fresh Foams for £36? And in all honesty, I don't think I've worn anything but since.

shop my New Balance trainer wish list:

How do you describe your *style*?

Photographs by Lydia Collins

How do you describe your personal style?

As someone who writes a blog that often lends itself to my personal *style*, this simple question is one I get asked a lot.

In the five years I've been blogging, my reply is yet to change and goes something along the lines of, "It's pretty minimal. I wear a lot of neutral/muted colours but to completely contradict myself, I'm also obsessed with brash branding and glitter."

They say less is more and tbh, if sophistication is what you're after, they're probably right. There's a certain something about being understated.

I, however, am not one of those people. As much as I long to be able to drop a couple of hundred quid on a plain Acne t-shirt, if I had to pick between a plain white Acne t-shirt or one that carried a very large 'ACNE', branded for all to see across the front, I'm programmed to choose the latter.

It only makes sense that I got sucked into the Gucci t-shirt trend and I'm not even a tiny bit ashamed.

Could I afford it? Probably not.

Did I still buy it anyway? Absolutely.

The first night I wore it out, I bumped into someone in a corridor.  The other person involved chuckled and said, "Outta the way, Gucci' and I LOVED it.

Digging a little deeper, because everyone knows personal style is a reflection of one's personality etc, spending £280 on a t-shirt is both tragic and utterly wonderful. Tragic because validating yourself with an expensive slogan is nothing but that and it's also wonderful because who cares if that's what makes you feel good and gives you more confidence.

When Topshop first introduced their Unique and Boutique ranges, which are significantly more expensive than their main high street line, I remember laughing at the idea of paying just under a grand for a coat from Topshop. Seven seasons on and Topshop have created an independent high-end line that is at least desirable, if not accessible, to their customer and, I imagine, that sort of rebrand of Topshop, as a store where someone would be willing to spend more for the same name, takes a significant amount of bloody hard work.

Brand identity and everything that comes with it is why Gucci, and any other hyped brand, can get away with charging such an absurd amount of money for a t-shirt.

With the t-shirt photographed, I bought the men's XS, firstly because the women's had sold out everywhere and secondly, because I saved myself a solid £60.

If someone could reach out to Gucci to get the DL on why women are asked to spend more on the EXACT SAME t-shirt, that'd be great, cheers.


A Gucci wishlist because one can dream:

LDN Eats: Tang

The entrance to Tang on Great Russell Street is so discreet, you'd be forgiven for walking past and overlooking it entirely. There are no windows to give away what lies behind the wooden door either.

Once inside, there's an overwhelming charm about the place. It's simple but stylish; the attention is in the small details. Tables overlook the kitchen, above which hangs photographs of dishes on offer. The menu is limited, quality over quantity certainly applies.

We decided on two of the five starters on offer and within minutes, we were tucking in to freshly fried, gluten-free chicken and tofu. The batter on the chicken was light and crispy and the sauce that accompanied packed a very spicy punch.

For mains, I went for the chicken ramen and Cal went for the beef. Two beers down and an absolute light-weight, his only reaction to his dish was, "I just don't understand how they make it so tasty." To which I laughed out loud, covering myself in ramen. The ramen was equally as 'tasty' too. The broth was piping hot and came with a generous amount of chicken and vegetables, rather than the dish being overpowered by noodles.

To finish, and fit to burst, we settled on a scoop of sorbet that added a light and sweet touch to the meal.

All in all, Tang is a tucked away gem that offers a fast and peaceful sanctuary from the bustle of Tottenham Court Road outside it. lot less fussy than Bone Daddies, and a fresher offering than your standard Wagamama's. Win.

Tang can be found at 111 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NQ. Main dishes cost between £6.50 - £10.


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