Bombshells: finding your own style

This post is going to appeal to the fashion interested among my friends list. Sorry to those who don’t fit that category but I think there’s a lot to be said for just being happy in yourself in here too 🙂

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I’ve always had a fascination with the glamour of the 1950s. The women were groomed to perfection, the photographs were raw but artistic. It took real natural talent and beauty to make it back then.

There are so many gorgeous women that I admire from that era. Of course I’ve spent hours watching every bio and documentary I could (being the history freak I am) and I realise that it definitely wasn’t as glittery and perfect as it appeared. In fact two of my favourite starlets attempted (one succeeded) suicide as the pressure of the it was just too much to bare. That’s pretty incomprehensible.

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The thing I love most about it though was the total confidence the women carried themselves with. They were sure of themselves and looked damn good while at it. Bettie was a perfect example of this.

I had an epiphany one day as I sat moping watching another doco about her; there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from being like these women. They were born in a different time but the way they dress and the decorum they held is very much something you can emulate today. You’re in Brisbane, people here don’t look twice if you walk down the street with bright green hair or forget your pants. You are free to be who you want, and even then, who cares if people judge you?

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A little shopping spree at my favourite local revival store, Trash Monkey, helped me start what is now my beautiful collection of vintage inspired dressed, skirts and neck lines. I feel so comfortable every time I leave the house with my curled hair sprayed in to place and my layers of makeup powdered and blended to perfection. It’s like getting dressed is an art form now; complete and total self expression.

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The waistlines are built to flatter someone with small waist and big hips like mine. I’ve always felt so uncomfortable in most modern trends I’ve tried to follow. You guys know I’ve always loved my fashion, but now I’ve found a look that’s timeless and it just feels me.

Why do I keep wearing shorts when I hate the way they ride up or baggy tops that do nothing for me? Why do we all do this? I think finding a style that suits you is the hardest but best thing you spend your 20s doing. It’s so wonderful when you finally find it.

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Here’s a note to my gorgeous friends who find themselves struggling in to something that they don’t even like that much, purely because Gwyneth wore it the other week: don’t do it. It’s not you.

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My best tip: find a blogger with a build similar to yours. They are out there! I realised Tash Oakley, my favourite blogger, has a similar shape to mine (albeit a hell of a lot more toned) and so I started looking at the types of clothes she wears: lots of beautiful long wrap dresses and skirts. She doesn’t follow trends, she wears things that flatter her.  Guess what? They flatter me too!

Its so important to find things you feel good in. I want everyone to stop caring about trends and just dress for themselves. Honestly who gives a shit if some loser on the street has something to say about it? They obviously just want your attention and they aren’t going to get it, because you feel good in yourself. No one else matters.

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Moral of the story:

Find your own style. You’ll feel so much better about yourself when you start dressing for you. Most of us aren’t built like models, so those clothes are best left for those who are. Find an era or person you want to emulate and find love for fashion again! Shopping is not a chore and looking good is the best feeling in the world. Do it for you, no one else’s opinion matters in the slightest.

lots of love

Harleigh Q

xo

P.S. The bombshells featured from top to bottom are: Brigitte Bardot (QUEEN), Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Grace Kelly, Natasha Oakley and Sofia Loren. I highly recommend looking them up. They all have such incredible stories to tell.

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Markets, beaches and soul – oh my!

What a day yesterday! Jess and I have both had a killer week and we were super excited to rent a car and do some exploring.

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I follow all the local vintage stores on Facebook and when we saw they were hosting markets down in Currumbin, which is a town on the Gold Coast, we knew we had to check it out.

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My outfit of the day. Working the polka dots! Went soft and straight with the locks as the one and only weather alert we had was ‘windy’ – that’s never good. Throwback to Perth really. Hair spray was not going to survive the tornado.

So the adventure began.

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We had a car! Much excite! Freedom at our fingertips! I got completely lost on what is pretty much considered a straight road out to Toowong to pick up Jessie but you know, that’s just me being me.

I did somehow knock it in to semi auto too so that was fun on the hills. Good job I’m so tec savvy and worked out how to fix it. Move it to the left. Magic.

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Trees! Wide open highway! I absolutely love the road to the Goldie. We had a loud discussion about this because Jess for some reason prefers the Sunshine Coast. At least we could agree on blasting Elvis while we debated the merits (Gold Coast because it’s the Gold Coast. They have theme parks, vintage markets, fancy hotels, nightlife, sick live music scene, amazing surf beaches, it’s not stupidly hot and it’s almost New South Wales and yet it’s also so close to Brissie… Need I go on?)

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So green and fresh and lovely. You’d think we didn’t live across the road from the botanic gardens the way we go on.

An hour later, something amazing happened. We entered the 1970s, and I fell in love.

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Vintage cars and old surf boards lined the streets. There were tinnies and SUPs littering the river mouth. It was like a little Margaret River all the way on my side of Australia. I felt the most excited and at home I’ve been in a long time. I will live here one day! There’s clearly a big retro scene and I just loved the fact that amongst the busiest and most touristy beaches in Australia we found this little piece of perfectly preserved old town charm.

Didn’t help that when we glanced in the real estate window we saw we could rent a 4 bedroom mansion for less than we are paying for our apartment!!! Hmmm…

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The markets were wonderful! The rain held out too. My personal highlight was the old school caravan filled with Bettie Page. Yum. My accountant gave me permission to buy a dress too. I was on my best behaviour after that.

It didn’t take us as long as expected to get around so we decided to check out Coolangatta and Burleigh Heads too. These are the beaches at either side of Currumbin and it was a gorgeous coastal drive. We accidentally crossed the state border in to New South Wales too.

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Had to stop for photo ops! I swear I did try to get Jess in some of these but she was having a no photo day. I don’t know what those are.

Our lunch stop ended up being a cutie cafe in Burleigh. My food photos left much to be desired but I had my first milk shake in three years.

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We also checked out Carrara markets on the way home which are huge permanent ones. They had some brilliant modern vintage stalls. I was loving life but I’m very proud of my self restraint.

Home time ready for soul night!

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Every second month Watch Your Step is hosted at Black Bear Lodge, one of my favourite little venues in the Valley. They play rare vinyls straight out of the 60s. So much funk and soul, it’s lush.

I donned my Ben Sherman polo and black circle skirt, wrapped my feet securely in my new brogues (hate the wearing-in period) and off we went. It felt so amazing to spin and slide with all the other Soul Kids. There’s some brilliant dancers and everyone just lets the music take them.

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Everyone looked amazing in their shift dresses and Jam shoes. I just love that there are so many events and venues like this in Brissie that bring us all together.

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Today the feet and head are sore but we still made it to the Suitcase Rummage. Its such a cool idea and there were so many beautiful people selling their things. It was hard not to grab too much stuff but I got lucky with one new dress and belt. This no buying until America thing is going really well as you can clearly see.

I also scored a preloved copy of The Outsiders, one of my favourites from school. Thanks Ronnie! Just need the movie too so I can enjoy Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze in their prime.

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This is my new favourite shirt from a little shop in Burleigh; hand made vintage. Such a sucker for floral.

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Top weekend. I feel so happy. Next week is fitness business time…

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Let’s just savour Sunday and the red curry in my fridge first though. I knew while we had the car we had better get out to St Lucia for the best Thai in Brissie, Thai at Home, only for it to still be closed for Christmas break. So random Thai across the road it is!

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Stay young wild and free peeps.

lots of love

Harleigh Q

xo

 

 

The greatest trip of my life, so far!

Hey everyone!

For post number three I’ve decided to tell you all about my favourite adventure so far.

There are a lot of reasons why my second trip with Topdeck holds the fondest memories. Firstly, it was the first future decision I made after my breakup with Tom. That was a very challenging time for me (and those around me who had to mop up the mess I was at the time!). It was March 2015 and I thought I was heading in one direction, which ironically I still did, but it certainly wasn’t in its original form.

I really wasn’t sure what my path was anymore. All plans I had made were now up in the air. So what does Leigh Leigh do when she’s going through trauma? Book a trip of course! But why did I choose this one?

I’d always had it in my head since starting Flight Centre that I would one day work at Infinity Domestic. I love talking to agents, I love our company, industry, and most of all – I love Australia! At that point I had only done most of Queensland and the coast from Brisbane all the way down to Melbourne.

Midway through my 567th viewing of Priscilla Queen of the Desert I had an epiphany: I needed to climb Kings Canyon.

I have always loved the red dirt. We all know I’m a girly girl but the idea of wearing my big boots and staring out in to the vast outback with the sun on my face was absolutely intoxicating. Australia is amazing. We literally have every landscape imaginable all in one country. I had to see it!

So I did my usual research, compared itineraries and came across the Down South and Outback.

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I had travelled with Topdeck the year before, after my first break up (Hmmm…) and did the Surfari from Brisbane to Sydney. I fell in love with the company; this had a lot to do with my beautiful tour leader Lauren who I’m still good friends with now.

It was an easy decision once I spotted this itinerary. Then the question became: How can I do this trip, get my dream job and start fresh in a new place all in one year?

Just do it. That’s how.

So I contacted my resources: the amazing Kate who I had boozed with recently in Tropical North Queensland, my wonderful bossman at the time, Mark, and my area leader, and essentially begged them to help me make it happen. They sure did deliver. I’ll never be able to thank them enough.

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Moving swiftly on so this doesn’t end up being the longest post of all time, the count down began and four months later I was sat on a Qantas plane on my way to the outback.

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Alice was everything I hoped it would be and more: hot, dry and wild. After infiltrating the group the night before I was due to join them, the adventure began. First, we headed out to the most spectacularly spiritual place I have ever been.

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I shared bubbles and canapes with some of the best ladies I have ever met: Lea 2, Anita and Lisa. This is one of the billion reasons I love travel. You find soul sisters all over the place!

We did the full 10km base walk. The first of many hikes on this trip.

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I miss being this fitness level. Anyway….!

Next was my version of heaven. King Canyon.

I got to live my dream.

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Honestly, look at that. How can anybody not find this country beautiful?

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The outback is a wondrous place. I felt instantly at home. The locals were brash and funny, the hotels were basic and cosy, the sights were breathtaking.

I truly hope that every single person gets to experience what it’s like to truly be in the middle of nowhere. I feel like I found myself out there. I was alone with a bunch of other alone people and never felt lonely for a second. We bonded over our mutual love for Australia and the funny scenarios we found ourselves in.

My personal favourite was the time, right before the end of the tour, when Lisa, Anita, Emily and I walked in to a little tavern in Princetown on the Great Ocean Road for dinner. A group of long haired yahoos sat hovering around the fire and all looked our way as we sat down.

Oiled up after a few wines we invited them to play pool with us and a bunch of jokes about what they must do for a living ensued. Lisa insisted they must be tradies; most likely carpenters. They agreed we had guessed it and we felt rather proud.

It wasn’t until I sent Anita back in to grab one of their numbers (what are we, 12?) until we found out the one whose hair I had just finished plaiting happened to be the one and only Craig Anderson. Pro Surfer.

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Good job Leigh. Well done.

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There were honestly so many highlights to this trip it would take me hours to write about it, but there’s one place in particular that really captured my heart. The Great Ocean Road.

 

From start to finish this segment of our trip took my breath away. My relief to hit the water again after ten days of bush outweighed the heavy shivering I would be doing for the next few days.

Yes English family. It gets really cold here! We were dealing with 8 degree days and strong arctic winds which is very fresh for a West Aussie like myself.

I think the scenery speaks for itself:

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In my humble opinion, it topped the Amalfi coast. Just.

So this, my loves, is my plea to you. Please see Australia. At some point in your life, designate a few weeks and instead of that annual Bali or Thailand trip, drive the coast from Brisbane to Sydney. Spend four nights in Ayres. Detour from that shopping trip in Melbourne and drive the Great Ocean Road.

Australia is not as expensive as you think it is. This tour costs about $2000 for two weeks, and my flights were $600. We had lots of meals and almost all activities included. I literally only spent money on snow globes and food (the usual).

Our country is the best in the world. I’m from overseas so I can say that without the mandatory Southern Cross tattoo.

I get excited every single day in my current job. It doesn’t matter how many I have put together that day, I still get excited every time an agent asks for Tropical North Queensland, Ayres rock or Great Ocean. I feel myself transport right back there. I literally relive my trips and share that passion with people who want to know all day. How lucky is that?

Moral of the story: Book a trip, find yourself, live your passion, see Australia.

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Love you all

Harleigh Q

xo

For the love of music

Tonight our hearts are hurting. Loss may be a part of life but that doesn’t make it any easier. My timeline has been flooded with the most gorgeous tributes from my amazing friends and we are all connected in our sadness.

My best way of dealing with grief is trying to express it. As I lay here in my Ziggy singlet watching YouTube videos of one of my favourite artists of all time, I want to take a few minutes to thank every incredible musical talent who has touched our lives and left us too soon. I’m sure we’d never be ready to say goodbye, though.

They don’t ever really die. Their art is a part of their soul that we are left to cherish. Here’s my little tribute to my greats.

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For the longest time I lost my love of music. Now I can’t imagine a day without it.

I use music to pick me up, relax me, get me excited, work through things that are bothering me… It literally soothes my soul! I’m sure most of us feel the same.

I fully credit David Bowie and INXS for getting me through the bad times last year. I’d sing ‘Baby Don’t Cry’ and ‘Modern Love’ at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my cheeks. Let it out! Live it, get it over with, then take a deep breath and leave it behind. That’s what good music taught me; how to be completely 100% in the moment.

Thank you, beautiful geniuses, for giving us all an outlet in our time of need. Thank you for sharing all the good times too. You’ll live on in those who love you. We may never have known you, but we feel like we did.

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Rock on and we’ll be seeing you. It’s only forever. Not long at all.

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Sorry if this is a little bit mishmash. As Gotye sang, my heart’s a mess.

Harleigh Q

xo

It’s beginning to look a lot like… Adventure debt

Today Jess and I officially announced our 2016 USA trip.

Three months and counting until we’ll be roaming the desert in her cowboy boots and my circle skirts, searching for a cowboy or two to love; or maybe just a really good burger.

Now I am no stranger to the concept of saving money, nor am I a stranger to the concept of spending it it. I am what some may call a shopaholic. I’m not proud of the label, I prefer the term fashion enthusiast, however I recognise the reason I’ve gained it and understand that perhaps my actual NYR should be to simply stop buying clothes.

Hah.

In all seriousness it is my full intention to not spend a single dollar on clothes for the next three months. Mainly because I spent up in the Boxing Day sales. Sh.

Returning to what I intended to discuss in this post… Money vs travel.

I’ve got a lot of beautiful friends all over the world and we have all made very different choices in the directions of our lives. I know some who are incredibly well set up with their gorgeous homes and partners, babies or engagement rings. I really couldn’t be happier for them. If things had turned out differently I may have been one of them (perish the thought).

I, on the other hand, realised at the ripe old age of 20 that the only thing that I want to do with my life, with absolute certainty, is travel.

It all started while planning my first time venturing out of Western Australia after we had emigrated there six years previously. I nanny’d damn hard that summer and between the dirty nappies and spit sandwiches (let’s not go there) I felt the fire in my belly. I read and reread the Europe travel guide gifted to us by our lovely friends Shaniel, and created what was soon to be known as ‘the Bible’. Coined by my brilliant travel agent Tom, the Bible was my day by day, hostel by hostel, activity by activity, dollar by dollar folder that documented every last inch of our two month European galavant.

There was no going back after we sat excitedly in that Flight Centre store and he uttered the words ‘have you ever thought about being a travel agent?’ – thanks for recognising my calling old mate!

We saved desperately for six months, which honestly wasn’t too hard for a couple of video game loving hermits, and come April 2012 we were on our way.

Ever since that first trip, my entire life has revolved around travel. When I’m not spending my days planning it for other people I’m documenting and researching the places on my own bucket list.

I realise I must sound like a bit of an organisation freak at this point, but I think we’d all have a good laugh if you saw the state of my bedroom.

I have made decisions along the way that have enabled me to literally live my passion without too much financial hardship. I didn’t move out until last year, I didn’t get a credit card until last year (what was necessary at the time is now the devil’s temptation living in my purse), I don’t own a car nor have I ever, I don’t have a house deposit or any animals either (unless we count Jess).

I know I’ve been ridiculously lucky in that my family really are my best friends, and moving away from them was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I’m definitely not saying that this is a lifestyle anyone could afford with the right priorities. Some of us don’t have the option. We all have to make choices. We all have our own path. I thought I was on one and got very abruptly thrown off it, but that’s what I love about life. Just when you start to get off track, she’ll pull you right back again.

I just have lots of lovely people ask me regularly how I do it, and my honest answer is:

  • I’m very single
  • I’m very financial commitment free
  • I have access to cheap deals and the knowledge of the best time to book (which I’ll gladly pass on to anyone interested!)
  • I spend every penny of the savings I manage to accumulate on my next trip

My long term goal is to see as much of this planet as possible, and meet loads of amazing people.  I’m not worried about a house deposit or buying a car because future Leigh will take care of the grown up stuff when she is ready, provided I don’t get her in to too much debt.

You only live once, and who knows how long for? If you’re as passionate as me and you’ve got that rainy day money just sitting there… What the hell are you waiting for? Trust me, like a work out, travel is one thing you will never regret. You do not need someone to go with. Grow a vagina and find a tour itinerary you like and just be yourself for a while with a bunch of strangers. You’ll love each other by the end of it.

Well that’s it for my very first blog post! Sorry for the tangents, you’ll get used to it.

Lots of love

Harleigh Q

xo