how to dress for a wedding – men’s guide

What to wear for a wedding is rapidly becoming just as important for guys as it already is for the ladies. I understand there’s limited information out there for men on the latest styles for each season, but that doesn’t mean dressing for a wedding needs to be a fashion nightmare. Do not fear, whichever time of year the wedding is, I’ve got you covered!

what to wear to a spring/summer wedding

For a spring/summer wedding, it’s all about lighter colours to keep you cool. Team a blue suit with a crisp white shirt, and some brown or black brogues for a classic, James Bond-esque look. A smart, cotton suit is ideal, but if expected temperatures are going to reach boiling point, you could even opt for a linen suit for extra comfort. Adding a pair of blue suede shoes will give you the perfect summer get-up, and will mean you’re ready to hit that dancefloor when the time comes.

shop the look

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what to wear to an autumn/winter wedding

For an autumn/winter wedding, the most important thing is keeping warm. After all, the photographer will be snapping away all day, and you want to be smiling, not shivering! A woollen blazer is ideal for battling those autumnal winds, and if you’ve entered the most bitter months of the year, you could even rock a smart overcoat for a suave entrance to the wedding. Earthy and darker tones are the name of the game for weddings at this time of the year, so why not complete the outfit with a pair of taupe ankle boots?

ASOS have a built up a wonderful, extensive wedding boutique for men over the last few years, though they seem to avoid promoting it too heavily. Check it out for a great range, at mostly competitive prices.

shop the look

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what to wear to a beach wedding

If you’re lucky enough to be attending a beach wedding this year, it’s time to focus on casual-chic. This doesn’t mean it’s advisable to turn up in your Speedos and beach towel, but it is perfectly acceptable to keep it caj. Linen will keep you smart, cool and casual, and the whiter the better. Pair your white linen suit with blue leather loafers for that relaxed feel, and to wow the rest of the guests. If you’re not keen on the look of linen, wear a seersucker cotton blazer for a lightweight, breathable alternative.

shop the look

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style it with

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would versus could

Disclaimer: Right! You’ll have to bear with me here, and excuse any pseudoscience/lack of historical accuracy; this is just a bit of a brain dump of some thoughts I’ve had recently on ambition and personal development, inspired by books I’ve been reading. If you dig any of what you read below, I’ve put a list of books with similar ideas in the footer 😉


It’s my belief that we all have the potential to achieve anything.

We all could, but the question is, would we?

Back in the prehistoric day, humans lived in a much tougher environment than modern day Western civilisation. This meant taking persistent action was essential because it was literally the difference between life and death. Everyday Caveman John woke up, he had to fight for his food and shelter, otherwise he was dead. Clearly this isn’t the case for us today – I could wake up tomorrow and decide to do nothing – and there would be zero consequence to my imminent survival.

So, what’s my point?

Should we sack Western civilisation off, and revert to living in a prehistoric manner, just so we have to work harder? Absolutely not, I think the security and free nature of our modern civilisation is absolutely admirable and amazing. However, it does mean, in order to be successful at something we usually have to put evolutionary pressure onto ourselves.

Now I’m not talking Caveman John pressure, where we are acting purely out of survival, but enough pressure so that we get a little out of our comfort zones – something I’ve talked about before in 3 gym classes you should try.  We all could do this,  but would we be willing to push ourselves, and experience some discomfort, in order to achieve?

I’ve had instances of pushing myself to my potential over the years, but also innumerable times when I have taken the path of least resistance. Last year, I landed an interview for a job I really wanted at a fashion retailer in London. After the preliminary stages, I was fully aware I would have to improve my Excel skills quite dramatically, and I had 3 weeks to do it in. I definitely could have learned the Excel skills, but the point is that I wouldn’t commit to doing it.

So in order to develop, I need to take the lessons from this experience, and implement them. For instance, this is something I really want to put into practice with blogging.

I know that I could:

  1. Keep to deadlines to produce regular, scheduled blog posts
  2. Put myself out there to meet and collaborate with other bloggers & photographers
  3. Optimise social media accounts to drive traffic to my blog

But will I?

I’ll have to make sure I put enough pressure on myself everyday, and not let myself off the hook. I believe that if I do commit to these 3 points, a longer term snowball effect might occur, and I’d get to a situation where people are reading the blog regularly, and most importantly gaining value from it.

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Yet, as I’ve said, this will only happen if I stick to small DAILY habits that then compound into long term progress. For example, regularly planning and writing blog posts,  and shooting and editing imagery, as well as indirect (but critical) habits such as getting 8 hours sleep per night and hitting the gym. I’ll also, in the short term at least, have to be willing to give more than I will necessarily receive.

Finally, it’s important to say that I have friends, colleagues and mentors who are much further along their journey than I am. So I write this post from a place of humility, a place of noticing that there is at least one thing all these people have in common, and that’s their persistence in taking action. They put enough pressure onto themselves to make sure they’re habitually taking action and, as a result, developing themselves. This is why I strive to be around people like this as frequently as possible. They make it a matter of course to step out of their comfort zones with a willingness to learn,  which is something I’m trying to do every single day.

Thanks so much for checking this post out – follow me on Insta for updates on all new blog material 🙂


Source material and self-development books I’d 100% recommend:

my first audiobook

If you’re anything like me, you LOVE the idea of reading.

Like…

  1. One of your New Year’s resolutions was to read more often because of the obvious benefits to your mind, body & spirit
  2. You bought a lorry full of books from Amazon (with an Xmas gift card from ya fave Aunty)
  3. You proudly stacked them somewhere in the house (with that smug #winning feeling)

However…

The road to hell is paved with good intentions”

For some reason there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to begin this literary odyssey of the mind. To pick up that book and read from cover-to-cover seems a daunting challenge at best, a crippling one at worst. I mean, after commuting to and from work; hitting the gym; cooking; and doing whatever else may fill your day, little time is left to #read.

But wait! They said,

What about that period of time between jumping into bed and falling asleep..?

Fair point. I thought.

But, to be honest, I tend to read four and a half pages before beginning to nod off (the way you do on a flight or long car journey, where you snap awake in panicked, embarrassed confusion). Either that, or I have every intention of reaching for my paperback, I instead opt for the adrenaline fuelled, passive satisfaction of scrolling through Instagram, Facebook or whichever social platform we’re all currently addicted to.

But then… I had a brainwave… Wait for it…

I spend at least an hour every weekday on my commute; so why not take advantage of this time?

Whether, like me, you walk and get the train to work, or if you drive, audiobooks are the perfect way to get those pages (figuratively) turning. I’d considered listening to audiobooks before, however, this wasn’t as practical when CDs were the order of the day. Now, it’s as simple as downloading an app to your smartphone, and you’re good to go.

I decided to try the Kobo Books app (there are tonnes to choose from) because of the ease of signing up for the free trial, where you get one free credit which you can exchange for one audiobook. Nice if you want to give it a go without commitment (something I’m def NOT afraid of…😳). It’s also a fair price thereafter, £6.99 per month for one credit. If you’re a data-saving-warrior like I am – it’s great – you can download the audiobooks so you don’t have to burn through data every time you fancy dipping into your latest listen.

The app, too, seems awesome across different genres of audiobook. My first download was Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, which I’d highly recommend if you’re interested in evolution and how we’ve got to where we are as a species… Obviously some pretty heavy content at points, but the book is clearly read, and funnily enough, I probably maintained more focus than when actually reading it. The second book I listened to, in contrast, was Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, a fantastic fiction detective novel, which was read aloud in an equally gripping manner.

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Overall I’d def recommend at least giving audiobooks a try as it’s a great way, with the busy modern lives we lead, to read without needing to find the time to actually read. Ideally, I’d like to get to a position where I am both reading and listening to amazing books that will enhance my mind and life outlook, but for now, I’m ‘appy with my little app 😉

As always, thanks for listening reading 🙂

Peace.

A

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Feature image taken by Charlotte L. Owen

holidaying at home

I’m not gonna lie, the term “staycation” makes me cringe a little bit. Reminds me of Sam Smith, or something… The staycation concept, on the other hand, I’m starting to love.

Over the years, my appreciation for what’s on my doorstep has def increased. Having grown up in West Yorkshire, England, the Yorkshire Dales are a perfect example of this. Like a lot of kids, I always took the Dales stunning countryside for granted, and to be honest, believed it to be bang average 😮 Now, though, when I’m out there breathing easy, smelling the fruitful fresh air, with an array of kaleidoscopic colours bouncing into my eyes from the luscious landscape, I have a slightly alternate view. I now have gratitude and appreciation. And so, as often as I can try to take trips to the different country villages, such as Malham, and their surrounding countrysides.

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Take a read of  Charlotte’s poem, inspired by one December afternoon in cold, wet, wonderful Malham

So, inspired by our outings to the Dales, last week my proverbial wifey and I headed even further up North, for a couple of nights in the beautiful county of Northumberland.

After looking over different accommodation options, we decided to use Airbnb to hire a place for ourselves, and ended up staying just outside Alnwick, at Sue’s cottage. If you haven’t tried Airbnb, I’d highly recommend it; you can always find a gem that suits your needs, and at such reasonable prices. Our place had views of rolling hills for miles, fresh coffee, and a log burning stove. Perfect.

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The view from Sue’s (excuse the rhyme) kitchen window

When you’re in Northumberland, you have to take the opportunity to experience its stunning walking routes. We did a supposedly simple walk along the coast from Warkworth to Alnmouth, and still managed to get lost! But the sights were 1000% worth it, and that’s not to mention the Red Lion pub waiting for us at the end of the route where we piled the calories back on with pints of Guinness, and steak & ale pie with chips. Yum.

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Some sights during our walk from Warkworth to Alnmouth

So, if you’re thinking about a summer holiday, or even just a long weekend away, I’d urge you to consider exploring somewhere in your own country! There’s bound to be lots of  extraordinary places to go, and you shouldn’t have to break the bank getting there.

As always, thanks for reading 🙂

Peace.

A

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3 gym classes you should try

Disclaimer: I am by no means a fitness guru. I have worked out for a number of years, but have no qualifications in this field; I’d just like to show you some things I’ve personally found to be of benefit to my body & mind.

Year on year, I try to take my fitness to the next level. I’ve been working out at the gym for around 5 years now, yet recently my routine became a little mundane. Don’t get me wrong, I would still hit the gym up at least three times a week, and go relatively hard when there, however it felt as though my body was getting used to the workouts I was doing. You see, working out is a bit like your sex life with a long-term partner, it needs to be kept interesting by trying new things.

So, one of my 2018 resolutions was to try some new gym classes, and having never done a class before, I was a little apprehensive. But, I thought, “F*CK IT – what’s the worst that can happen?”…

1. BODYPUMP

With a little help from my colleagues friends, I hit my first class. Bodypump was an apt class to start with as the gym, Kent’s, is close to my office, and you can pay on a class-by-class basis. This is ideal as I already have a monthly subscription at a different gym. I’d recommend checking out options near where you work; you need to make it as convenient as possible, so it’s difficult to find excuses for missing the class. And, believe me, you’ll do your utmost to find the excuses 😉

Growth tip:- Every time you don’t give in to these excuses, you build your prefrontal cortex (PFC). I’d suggest reading up on the science behind it, but I like to think of it as my ‘willpower muscle’ which is strengthened by resisting, and pushing through, my excuses. For instance, it’s pissing it down outside, so you could easily decide against walking to the gym and getting wet. Making the DECISION to walk anyway builds your willpower, even if it’s by 0.0001%, so the next time you make a decision it’s easier to ignore your own excuses. 

Bodypump is a barbell workout, led by an (in my case, hilarious) instructor, which involves lots of squatting and lifting, to music. As it’s based on high repetitions, it’s more likely to get you toned and lean, rather than helping you to build huge muscle mass (if you are looking to get ‘bigger’ the general consensus is to lift heavier weights for fewer rep’s). Bodypump is a great way to get into gym classes in general because you can use as light or as heavy weight as you like, depending on your ability at that point. Also, there is an element of rhythm involved, which seems to be the case in many classes, and so it gets you used to this. Alternatively, if you are looking to focus more on your rhythm as well as get fit, Zumba could be a great shout.

2. METAFIT

After a few weeks my body began to adapt to the strains of Bodypump, and so I decided to join the class before it as a kind of ‘warm-up’. Little did I know what I had signed myself up for… Metafit is a form of high-intensity interval training, which basically means quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short recovery periods. You’ll find yourself doing exercises like burpees, sit-ups and squats… and sometimes all three at once! This is a shorter class than Bodypump, normally half an hour, but you really get put through your paces. The first time I did it I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. Although there is no barbell, your body-weight is enough to get you seriously panting. I see Metafit as more of an intermediate class, and before beginning it, I’d recommend getting a base level of fitness. If you don’t feel you have this, you could try jogging around the block, just to get your body used to recovery after exercise, because re-paying that oxygen debt is what Metafit’s all about.

3. SPIN

So, at this point, I was doing two classes a week at the gym near work and thought I’d mix it up a little by doing one at Energy Mill where I work out a few nights a week. I was slightly spoilt for choice by the number of classes available, but a friend recommended trying a Spinning class. In on respect, I’m grateful to this friend… In another, I’m questioning their friendship. SPIN IS DIFFICULT. It will really test you, both physically and mentally. Essentially, it’s a high intensity cycling workout (on a stationary bike, may I add) where you follow the instructor, pedaling against varying degrees of resistance. To alter the resistance you turn a knob on the bike, so you really do have to mentally tough in order to keep the resistance at a point where you are giving your all. There’s been many times, sat on that bike, where I’ve been SO tempted to turn the resistance down when climbing that figurative hill. But no pain, no gain. You must resist that temptation with all of your will. It is an amazing workout and I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much. I really like the feeling of being part of a ‘team’ during Spin; fighting against that resistance together, compared to my other two classes which feel a little more individualistic. To me, Spin honestly can feel as much like a spiritual practice as it can fitness.

So, there you are, 3 gym classes you should try. At the moment, I’m really enjoying these 3, and I think they complement each other nicely. I’ll be sure to update you with any new classes I undertake 😉 Comment below with any classes I should try 🙂

As always, thanks so much for reading.

Peace.

A

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my dad, the artist

and lover of beanie hats…

To my knowledge, my Dad expressed himself through the medium of art from an early age. Upon finishing school, he went on to study a Fine Art degree at the University of Reading, and afterwards became a college art teacher. He then, as many artists do, got a “proper job“.

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This was when he entered the world of housing, full time, and project managed numerous housing developments over the North of England. At some point during this 30 year period, he stopped producing art. The reasons for this will have been absolutely valid; having to raise 3 boys, whilst holding down a full time job, with a bugger of a commute doesn’t leave much time to “sketch”.

However over the last couple of years, and especially in recent months, the creative fire within him has definitely been relit… He can now spend hours sketching, and this seems to be purely for the love of doing it.

This, for me, is extremely inspiring because my Dad does not sit down for hours-on-end for ego gratification, nor to be lauded by his peers, nor to be super “successful” in the monetary sense, but for passion of the doing itself. The process rather than the result.

Process oriented instead of Result oriented

This is so important and transfers, in my opinion, to loads of areas of life. For instance, at work, you may have to complete a report or a presentation. You will enjoy doing the work, and the result/outcome will be better, if you focus on the process of it. IF you enjoy every little word that you write or speak, ironically the result will be much better, than if you focus on “OMG, how will this look when I’ve finished?!” Instead it is one-word-after-the-other, which allows you to get out of your own way.

Another example that’s very relevant to my current life situation is process orientation at the gym. I’ve been working out for years now, however, it’s only recently that I’ve started going to gym classes. One of those classes is spin. I’d highly recommend it for physical and mental fitness – every time I do it I feel as though I enter another realm –  almost like an outer body experience because of the amount of energetic exertion it requires. Therefore, the ONLY reason I keep on returning to the class is because of process orientation. During the class, if I keep on thinking “F*ck, when the f*ck is this going to end?!” (other spinners WILL relate to this thought) it actually increases my fatigue. So, instead, I have to focus on the process. One-pedal-after-the-other.

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The reigniting of my Dad’s creative fire could have happened for a plethora of reasons; maybe it is he simply now has more free time; maybe it has come with age or wisdom; but overall I feel as though now there is no concern about having to make a living through his art by selling it (i.e. result oriented), he seems to be enjoying it more than ever.

I’m not entirely sure whether he ever wanted to become a professional artist. But then, that doesn’t matter. Art is his passion, whether he is making money from it or not, does not define its success. The success, enjoyment & fulfillment come in the process and act of doing the thing itself.

More of a personal post this time, so thanks for sticking with me through it 🙂

Peace.

A

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All images taken on an iPhone by Alex Pegg

 

coconut oil helps my eczema

Since being a baby, I’ve suffered with eczema. Over the years it’s flared up all over my body for a number of different reasons, including stress; excessive drinking; poor diet in general and cold weather.

Recently eczema became prevalent on my scalp. Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to moisturising after showering every day in order to stop it flaring up, but scalp eczema is much more difficult to treat. It is a different beast. Applying creams, lotions & potions to a full head of hair is at best hilarious, and at worst, extremely problematic. So, I experimented with lots of methods (stopped washing my hair for a bit :/) to treat my scalp, but to no avail!

Then I stumbled upon coconut oil… I’d been hearing lots of things about this super-power-ful oil and all its benefits (think Popeye and spinach) over the past few years, and couldn’t help but think it was yet another marketing (says me, I know) ploy to create a trend and charge 10x the price for it. Nonetheless, I was at my wits end. My scalp had become extremely dry, and the dandruff was creating a lovely Christmassy look on my shoulders.

So I quietened the cynic in me, stopped splitting hairs, and went for it.

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John Travolta as Danny Zuko in Grease, 1978

Unless you’re going for a Greased lightening look (he looks cool AF tbf), I might not recommend leaving the house after applying this bad boy to your scalp. Plus, always wear a towel around your shoulders as not to ruin your favourite carpet… This stuff will begin dripping all over the place.

To my ecstatic surprise, coconut oil worked wonders for my scalp.  It felt so hydrating, and within a few uses the eczema had fully cleared up. This was a great confidence booster – I was really appreciative of the recommendation – so I thought I’d share with you guys, just in case I could help anybody else in need. And on that note, for any scalp eczema sufferers out there, I’d also recommend trying T/Gel shampoo in conjunction with coconut oil for maximum effect.

The amazing thing about coconut oil is how multi-purpose it is. It can help with your health, hair and skin, and you can also cook with it. Find some proper coconut oil uses and benefits here. In terms of picking a bottle up for yourself, you can find it for under a tenner at most major drug stores including Holland & Barrett, or I’d suggest heading to an independent health food shop which should stock it.

Disclaimer: I’d like to reiterate there are many different types of eczema and different types of sufferer; what works for me, may not for you. However I would, nonetheless, encourage you to try as many alternative treatments as possible until you find what helps you most 🙂

Thanks for checking this post out, slightly different from the norm, so I appreciate you sticking with me through it.

Peace.

A

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Feature image taken on an iPhone by Alex Pegg

 

me & my guitar, the anxiety cure

I started playing guitar around ten years ago, when I had lessons for a brief period of time, and ever since I’ve dipped in and out of it.

Having never been in a band, I didn’t have the motivational leverage (I’m aware many don’t need it) to practice eight hours a day. So, as a result, it didn’t become an ingrained habit of mine. This is, even though, I thoroughly enjoy playing the guitar when I take the time to do it, I listen to all sorts of music all the time, and more than any of that it is an amazing practice in presence.

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By that I mean, presence to the moment, with no thoughts about what he/she thinks of me, or how last weekend wasn’t as fun as I’d hoped, or when that elusive next promotion is going to come at work… Nothing but presence to this very moment.

There are countless other practices in presence, such as meditation and exercise, which I partake in, but with guitar beginning to come back into my life I have had a burning desire to post about it.

I believe the reason for the presence experienced when I’m strumming away is that I enter what Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I know) refers to as a flow state – make sure to check out his book on this topic. It occurs when a task is not too easy, not too difficult, but just right,  so you enter a present state in order to keep focussed and perform to the best of your ability. As I’ve said, this removes excessive thought from other events that normally have only built up in the mind and have little (or no) basis in reality – often things that you have built up through repetition, meaning you have developed strong synaptic pathways to that particular memory/premonition and therefore triggers a strong emotional response.

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The amazing thing about presence is that the more you practice it, the more you experience it in all areas of life. So, me finger picking my guitar for an hour a night, isn’t just enjoyable and creatively fulfilling, it also means when I’m in a heated business meeting about hitting this week’s demand target, I’m more likely (though not certain) to keep calm and be able think well under pressure as I tap into present energy – what Csikszentmihalyi refers to as source energy, rather than my mind darting around, worried about how I’m being perceived by my boss and others in the meeting. Don’t get me wrong – I still feel the rising burn of anxiety – but I am much more likely to let it dissipate than to resonate with it.

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SO, yes, playing guitar is an extremely enjoyable creative pursuit, but the hidden pay-off, and why so many people love playing any instrument so much, is the enabled entry into the present moment, and the present moment only.

Thank you for reading, I’m eternally grateful.

Peace.

A

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All images taken on an iPhone by Angela Pegg