Just call me Tinderella…

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Photo credit: Thom Weerd

Yep, it happened.

I was swiping away so intensely that I actually strained the muscles in my eyes to the point that the nerve endings decided, “Nope, no more. Here’s some searing pain to put us both out of this dating hell”.

In my defence, the pain was mainly in my left eye due to the multiple guys I ‘noped’ flying off to the left of the screen, but still, I can see that this situation is wholly embarrassing.

It was only a couple of months ago that I deleted the app for good after deciding that 98% of the men on there were half-naked and whole-idiots, but that was before I moved to London and had a whole new pond to fish. Have you seen the men on Tinder here? They’re like friggin’ gods who all work for some indie record label and learn Italian in their spare time. One guy volunteered with young hipsters at the weekends, teaching them how to craft perfect man buns and beards of their own. I mean, you just can’t argue with that kind of heart.

Of course, there’s still the odd selfie-loving lad who offers gems such as:

“Your beautiful babe. Wanna hook up?”
“*You’re”
“So that’s no then?”
*unmatch*

What can I say, basic grammar is a deal-breaker.

But like anything in life, moderation is key. One can’t just sit on Tinder all night talking to strangers about the best independent coffee house in London or waiting for that super-hot guy with tattoos to like you back. That’s how you give yourself blue light induced migraines.

So as I was lying there in a darkened room with a wet flannel slapped across my face and a stash of Ibuprofen to ease the pain, I had one of those life defining moments of clarity. Do I really want to be the girl who spends an evening watching rom coms whilst swiping on a dating app and shoving multiple cubes of Dairy Milk into her mouth? The answer is no, Lauren. You do not want to be that girl.

So that’s it, no more Tinder for me. It’s for the best.

 

Welcome to The Ensemble.

Sometimes change is good.

It’s also kinda inevitable as you get older and wiser. For example, I now know that drop crotch trousers are rarely flattering and I’m too old to do shots without needing to take 3 days off work. See, I’m learning lots of new stuff.

With a hectic work schedule and an even busier social life, The Style Tag slowly became dormant. With most of my time spent with friends or locked away writing articles, my outfits went by each day without being documented. Some of them were really frickin’ good too.

As I’ve crafted a new path this past few years, I found that I’ve got something different to give in my little space of the internet. I write a lot of dating articles which are published on Medium and Thought Catalog and it’s something I love doing. With my musings littered over multiple websites, I thought, what the hell, I might as well put them on a blog where my family can easily access them and then feel horrendously awkward about what they’ve just read.

These short articles (mostly about dating and relationships), are designed to be read when you’re procrastinating at work or you’ve gone through every new post on Buzzfeed and you’re still bored. They won’t always be pretty (a lot of cringeworthy stuff happens to me), but hopefully they’ll always provide a bit of entertainment.

So here it is, The Ensemble.

A place to share a mix of dating articles, outfits, lifestyle bits and bobs, and general observations. I hope you like it.

Leeds Lurking

Living with a photographer means that there’s always something fun going on. Whether it’s our flat being full of clothes for a shoot, exciting photos to look through or our tradition of a stupid lift selfie whenever we leave the flat, there’s never a dull moment.

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See? Fun times.

Every now and then, Tom disappears into the night to take shots of nice things around Leeds with some photographer pals. I usually take advantage of this alone time by watching crap TV and eating a pint of ice cream without being mocked, but last week I decided to give TOWIE a break and join them for the night.

They call it Leeds Lurking – heading out to their favourite spots at dusk and taking cool photos across the city. This particular night they decided to revisit a derelict building to explore the abandoned floors and head up to the roof. Now I was aware that this was a bit of a covert operation, but it didn’t quite cross my mind when I dressed for our adventure. The boys were suitably decked out in black clothing, but I decided light blue jeans and an oversized purple tee was the best attire for optimum stealthiness. You know, nice and subtle.

Excited for our adventure, we were wandering over to the abandoned office tower when Tom casually said, “You can climb and you’re light on your feet, right?”. Hmm, not exactly. I haven’t successfully climbed a tree in my life and the last time I ran it was to catch last orders at the pub, but not wanting to seem like a liability in front of our fellow Lurker, Wiz, I confidently brushed off his comment and confirmed my excellent physical abilities. I was half tempted to throw in a lunge to really prove my athleticism, but I was already struggling to keep up with their fast paced walking and my skinny jeans meant that any overzealous movements would most probably end in a seam-splitting disaster.

As we approached the huge building, Tom informed me that we had to climb the metal gate quickly to avoid detection. Easy, no problem, totally fine. They advised me how to negotiate the spikes at the top and to limit the attention from passing cars – yeah yeah, how hard can it be?

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to climb a gate under pressure before, but it’s REALLY friggin’ hard. I ended up getting stuck at the top, panicked, shrieked a bit and then awkwardly fell/jumped onto Tom with them shouting at me to hurry up and people staring over to see what we were up to. For someone so small, I’m apparently not very nimble!

After entering the grounds, doing a commando style shimmy under scaffolding gates (I was far better at this bit) and negotiating the nailed-shut doors, we were finally in.

And it was epic.

The sprawling floors were eerily quiet, only the obscene graffiti tags highlighting previous visitors’ activity. Feeling slightly spooked and with enough photos clocked up for the boys, we headed up to the roof to take in the city at dusk.

Believe me, Leeds has never looked so good. The 360° view allowed for us to see our city in all it’s glory. It was so calm high above the bustling ring road and busy streets, I could’ve stayed there all night watching everyone come and go with no idea that we were spectating.  

After playing around for an hour – the boys taking photos and me climbing rickety structures whilst Tom shouted at me to get off before I killed myself – we decided it was time to call it a night and head back home.

If this is what lurking is all about, sign me up.

 

You can check out their Instagram here: Leeds Lurking

And see Tom and Wiz’s blogs here and here.

That Time I Went To New York

So it’s official, I’m in love with New York City.

I know, it’s a predictable outcome after visiting the Big Apple, but I’m fully jumping on the ‘I want to live there someday’ bandwagon.

Keen to experience the less touristy side to the city, we found a cosy Air BnB apartment in the trendy Greenpoint area of Brooklyn and prepared ourselves for 4 days of exploring…

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On our first night we wandered down to the river to take in the New York skyline and came across a film crew shooting at dusk. Sadly they didn’t require any extras, so we set upon finding somewhere to eat, drink and be merry.

Just a short walk from our apartment was an amazing pizzeria called Fornino’s. Our waiter, Brooks (a struggling actor, of course), proceeded to ply us with wine and pizza and asked where in Australia we were from. Upon informing him that we were in fact British, he put his acting skills to work and gave us his best English accent which went something along the lines of “Awwwright, I’m Brit-ish and III just laaanded”.

Fair to say, his wine recommendations were stronger than his accent abilities!

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With jet-lagged (and slightly fuzzy) heads, we set upon our first day of exploring.

It’s only right to start the trip with waffles, right?

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Grand Central was, of course, breathtaking. The intricate detailing and incredible architecture had us snapping away for a good 40 minutes. We couldn’t believe that to New Yorkers this is just a place to come when you want to go somewhere else. I swear if I lived there I would never leave this beautiful building.

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Satisfied that we’d photographed every single detail, we moved onto Times Square and boy, was it busy! The buzz hits you as soon as you turn the corner. Touts were hollering at us trying to sell bus rides, boat rides, bike rides – you name it, they sell tickets for it!

We eased our way through the crowds and climbed the infamous red steps to take it all in.

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Being my 26th birthday, it seemed only right to mark the occasion with a Fame-style jump, captured perfectly by Jen!

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Satisfied that I’d successfully been one of those tourists, we set off to buy coffee when a Scottish ticket tout managed to relieve us of a few dollars for a comedy show on our final night. His friend even kindly offered to marry me so I could live in New York permanently which was, you know, tempting. After weighing it up, I decided I’ll probably just hold out for that true love thing and refused his proposal.

Oh, what could have been…

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Ready to get out of the carnage, we navigated our way to Chelsea for lunch…

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..and found a shop named after us!

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If you find yourself in Chelsea, be sure to visit Cookshop. With delicious brunch options and moreish cocktails, it was a popular choice with locals and tourists, alike.

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Re-energised, we stepped back into the sunshine and headed for the High Line.

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A one mile public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side, the High Line runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, and is truly the most amazing way to see the sights of the city.

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With tired legs and plans to see Matilda that evening, we caught the Subway back to Brooklyn ready for more adventures…

 

The Touch by Cloud 9

It makes me shudder to look back at my pre-straightener days.

As if being a teenager wasn’t hard enough, my crazy hair caused many an hour of anguish. No amount of crimping, hairspray, Croydon-facelift ponytails or steam-straightening would sort out the frizz and I developed a serious hatred against those with naturally straight hair.

Then GHDs came onto the scene and everything changed! Like every girl in the early 00s, I took this hair revelation to the extreme and rocked poker-straight-hair-plastered-to-your-head for several years, until realising that it probably wasn’t the best look.

With 12 years of ceramic-plated love under my belt, I’ve stuck to the brand which became synonymous with anti-frizz and never really shopped around for alternatives. Until I found Cloud 9…

Cloud 9 straighteners - The Style Tag

Cloud 9 straighteners - The Style Tag

As a huge fan of their Waving Wand, I jumped at the chance to try out their new straighteners, The C9 Touch, to see if they could convert me from my fail-safe tool.

These clever little things don’t have on/off or temperature buttons, you just touch the plates together to turn them on and they swiftly reach 195°C. You can then lower the temperature to 165°C by touching the plates together twice – a setting which is perfect for finer hair. 

Cloud 9 straighteners - The Style Tag

Cloud 9 straighteners - The Style Tag

When you’ve finished preening your locks, simply put them down for 30 seconds and they turn themselves off. Genius!

The C9 Touch, c/o Cloud 9

So how did they fare against my trusty GHDs?

Overall, the results were much better. The plates are smoother and glide through my hair easier than their competition. I’m certain that my current pair of GHDs are not as good as the first set I owned – in fact, I found from using friends’ pairs that each set have varying results. I only have to run these down each section once to achieved smoother hair and with a quick twist at the end, they gave me a relaxed ‘do in less than 20 minutes – not bad going for hair as long and thick as mine. If you’re an avid straightener and due a new set, I fully recommend giving these guys a whirl.

Which brand of straighteners are your favourite?