Insta – catch up.

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 12.48.55

What better a way to catch up than over Instagram?

I have a deep, love-hate relationship with Instagram. When I first caught the insta-bug I loved how real the photos were, I loved following my favourite bloggers even if it was just what they bought from target, or a good old fashioned fitting room outfit post, those are the posts I think we all love.

The downside however, is once one person has a picture-perfect Instagram its kind of hard to swim against the tide. My own is sketchy at best but its also greatly helpful for us catching up again after so long!

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 12.49.20

Lined up once this site is all polished are plenty of travel posts (I may have finally mastered hot weather packing – from trips to Italy & Malta). Along with that, this summer we’ve been experimenting with our garden – from being black fingered to green there are plenty of vegetables that we have somehow grown!

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 12.48.17

If anything, the last few months have been about living primarily. Without a constant stream of blog content to write I’ve been able to spend more time reflecting and taking the time to actually live in my outfits rather than just recording them!

Its made me think long and hard about content beyond a stereotype flat-lay and about the brands behind the lifestyles we want (brand spotlights) to how clothing has the potential to change how we feel, or create an identity for ourselves! I’ve also read more on closet building, thought more on my spending habits and even how I can be a better consumer in the face of fast fashion.

I think the key to living out of an instagram account is finding what truly matters and giving yourself space to build a true persona, rather than a public face and its this type of content you will get to see on the new, re vamped blog – less contrived and a lot more real!

Screen Shot 2017-10-15 at 12.51.02

Until then there is still plenty to see on Instagram and catch up on the last few months before we dive head first into the new! Now if only I could have a well formulated Instagram, that would be great! Anyone have any tips?

therealjlow is back!

no more hiding trjl header

If I had kept count, this is possibly the hundredth, thousandth time of writing this post. I’d written it over and over, and over again until I finally had the one, all neatly tied up on my IPhone. The only problem? I traded it in this weekend – sans iCloud backup.

So now I have a fancy phone but minus this post.

Starting again, here it is, the final version. (I hope)

Why I’m here after so long is to give you an in-email heads up. therealjlow, its coming back.

Finally!

When I left in May a lot of things changed, but as the months moved I still wanted this space. The only issue was, did I want this space in the same way or did I want to make a change?

I decided that a change, ultimately was the best option.

The site as we know it, is about to change. I’ve somehow coerced Josh into helping me make the switch but fingers crossed in a few weeks time the site will be back ( a little revamped possibly) and with its very own domain!

On the other other side I have no idea how much of the existing site is going to come over and whether the email function will stay or not – so while I can I want to make this super simple.

Heres our new domain: www.therealjlow.com (don’t be alarmed – there is nothing there yet!)

If thats not enough for you this is my Insta (lots of travel pics at the moment!) @therealjlow & my twitter handle, @JessicaAbigailL.

So if its too quiet and you think I should have posted something by now, maybe I have and it just hasn’t made it to your inbox – If that is the case keep an eye on twitter – where as normal I will announce every new post swinging your way! (Perhaps multiple times)

In terms of whats going to be appearing on the new site moving forward, the content is going to be a little different and all at once, the same. In essence the site is growing up, moving away from too many simple outfit posts I want this space to encompass more. What that looks like eventually is uncertain, but be certain of something“therealjlow” is back and its going to be good!

Drop me a line if there is anything you want to see!

Speak soon,

Jess

I cut in bangs, completely forgetting it wasn’t so long ago that I had them before…

_DSC0399

“When you were a kid, did you ever have a flash image of who you would/might be one day? Not quite a plan, but more a premonition? In mine, I had bangs. 2016 sucked but 2017? It might just be the year that everything changes and in the meanwhile, fall right into place.”

Post-wedding hair meant that I had very long, natural brown hair with barely a layer cut in. Too lazy to make a post wedding haircut I left it growing until it was so long and unmanageable that I had taken to wrapping it thousands of times around itself into a bun.

Finally four months later on a whim I made an appointment with a hairdresser, I was at least getting a trim. Something however, made me think about a fringe.

When I was a lot younger I had a vision of myself as an adult. In it I was striding towards the post box (of all things) in my hometown of Hitchin. That part of the vision is more than likely attributed to my mother. The amount of times I came into town to see my mum on a post office/bank run is unreal. However, when I saw myself I was wearing a dark trouser/pant suit (I don’t see that particular look in my future) but I had long, straight hair and a fringe/bangs.

I don’t know why but after 2016 and the four episodes of Gilmore Girls: A year in the life, I felt almost as if it was time to bring that vision of myself to life. As a kid I kept that vision as a placeholder of who I would eventually become. As you can guess it said nothing about what I would do or who I am in the slightest just that that person would be content and happy and so, if 2017 should achieve just one thing its that we should all be happy.

So I cut a fringe in and so far, I couldn’t be happier that I did.

Marriage | When did my name become somehow attached to my identity?

Marriage | When did my name become somehow attached to my identity?

Wedding 2016 c/o Lauren Dewar  Sung Blue Photography

Photo by Lauren Dewar (Sung Blue Photography)

As a kid I loathed the fact that when presented with more than one Jessica in the room that I would always get stuck with the full name. Cooler girls with my name became Jess’s or Jessie’s and although I’m only gonna let Josh, my parents and grandparents get away with Jessie (it’s almost too personal). I began to associate Jessica with my younger self. The me who had zero confidence, or who would just willingly flatten herself into corners for everyone else.

In fact, it wasn’t until I got into university that I got bulshy with insisting I’m Jess, giving my best mortally offended face to anyone even thinking about uttering Jessica in my general direction. It was then that I began differentiating my first name to different occasions (formal occasions always Jessica, even when mostly I trip over my own tongue trying to say it).

However, when we decided that we wanted to be traditional post marriage I didn’t think twice about my surname.

I don’t view changing your name to not being a feminist because changing my name is not attached to being a woman but to screaming at the world, this man and I? We are a team! We are one!

I also couldn’t imagine our future kids having to suffer with a clunky double barrel or being confused by one is a Hawkins, one a Low. We took vows to be one another’s person and I could scream that from the rooftops everyday and night.

I didn’t blink, I scoffed at the bear idea of it staying, goodbye Low! It’s been a pleasure but when the time came to change it, I stalled.

We made trips in the name Hawkins and Low, two mini moons and I can only equate my stalling with my identity being wrapped up into three little letters. What happens to Jessica Low, when it’s Jessica Hawkins?

I’ve never scrawled it like a teenager over my notebooks however much I wanna hide Josh away from the world just so I can selfishly keep him for myself. I even planned my new signature so it looks basically the same. My world didn’t change at the alter either, my heart had already decided on Josh long before, this was the paperwork, technicality, but changing my name was the last hurdle I never saw coming.

I can only assume that this change was heightened because having grown up in a crazy close family who are almost on top of each other all the time in both space and similarities to now, living hours away from them all had created a divide in my identity somewhere as well.

Maybe in three parts, a scared kid, the one who grew up at university and lived with Josh almost straight from school and this new Jessica.

If I’m honest, I was afraid. My connection to my family has always been my biggest source of pride. I never needed famous idols when they were all real and lived a simple walk away. If I changed my name and cut that cord it was like severing something. Am I less a Low without the title? Will people no longer associate me with my family as much, with my mum? We share a smile but would that be enough for the world to notice I belong somewhere? For as much as I adore Joshes family to absolute bits and would chose them in a heartbeat there was still a worrying, nagging thought, am I no longer a Low?

All these years women have been losing their identities and I wonder now whether actually it is harder to take a partners name. Most men are against it and now women who previously didn’t have a choice are against it to. We view it like being claimed as someone’s property, but I was more afraid of not belonging to my birthright more than I was afraid of being tied to someone else. I’d made my choice, or my heart had, he has me but my family does as well. Who could understand me better than the people who made me… well, me?

From not understanding why you would keep your name I was posed with a problem, could I now get rid of mine? The real answer is yes I can. For me it was the insecurity of belonging pulling on my name heartstrings. After all, I consider myself a Philpott, a Jones, having plenty of traits from my grandparents than even they may realise but I’ve never carried these names, Low might actually be a state of mind. After all, I will always be logically minded, quiet in unfamiliar surroundings, able to talk to strangers about anything at the drop of a hat like my grandma … Changing my name ultimately doesn’t change me.

It’s just a name, just paper, so this past weekend I changed my name. Here’s to the next chapter, the next page, Jessica Low? Please meet Jess Hawkins. She’s the same chick I promise but here’s the thing, she has a husband now, her own team and she’s not so scared anymore.

Friday Fashion recap & New Years Resolutions?

2016 in review

I’ve always been terrible when it comes to making new years resolutions. There has been the odd year where I have made some but none where I have actually kept them and fulfilled my plan.

This year however, honestly I feel like I have some to make and some to keep, whether I will or not I guess I have to tell you them to keep some accountability.

Educate myself

As the wedding planning ebbed away this came to me almost fully formed, I want to go back to educating myself a little. In particular, I want to finally learn to code. In secondary school I learnt basic coding on terrible programs like Dreamweaver but now I know I really need to get to grasps with HTML and be able to apply that to my graphics for work and this blog.

I also want to touch up my graphics knowledge. Although I don’t use that knowledge on this blog that much (mainly because I don’t have a decent enough computer to cope with Photoshop or even elements.) I have about 12 years experience but I really want to hone it in and learn more about using the newer tools.

Saving

To assist myself with this I am also planning on saving up for a new basic laptop.

Currently I have an eight year old Toshiba laptop which is crazy clunky and needs an external hard drive attached to work faster than a snail and then I have my MacBook pro. This is only 4 years old and I am writing on it right now however, it is almost out of storage and really I can’t delete enough off of it to give myself enough space for Photoshop and everything else I need so my plan is to get a new one which can cope with Photoshop and all the other programs I need.

On the savings front I am also tempted to join bloggers like Jesse Coulter on having a spending freeze on things like clothes and home wears. Something, which really became apparent this Christmas is we really don’t need anymore home wear stuff. At first it was super exciting because we had this big house which looked empty but ultimately we have plenty now and really don’t want to cramp our house anymore.

We have just painted and laid new floors in our living room and after having emptied the room we have ended up putting less than half of the stuff that was in there back in. Since then it’s really opened up the space again and feels like a breath of fresh air with so much less stuff!

With this in mind I am really thinking it would be good to stop spending for a while put that money towards a new laptop and furthering my graphic design/HTML knowledge.

Continuing to get out more and spend more time being active

Planning everything during the last two years kept us stuck inside and our bodies and minds have felt worse for it. In response, at the end of last year I started walking into work in the morning, adding a further 20 minutes exercise into my day and I have really seen the mental and physical benefits.

I think it will also be nice for Josh and me. Two years ago we spent vast amounts of time on cycle rides and walks and just taking in life outside of the TV and the living room and it really defined us as people so being more active again with walking, cycling, yoga and exploring our new village will really bring us back to that place of comfort and health.

That is really it for this years resolutions they are all rather easy and achievable and this year I am determined to follow through! Picture wise, as above I barely shared any outfit posts this past year so hopefully we can also rectify that as well!

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 20.19.48

Friday feelings | growth, stillness and trust

Friday feelings | growth, stillness and trust.

A sentiment came to me recently and that is this, “try, fail, change and try again”

I’ve never been too good at admitting to failure but I’ve been even worse at thinking if this didn’t work it doesn’t mean something else will . 

Something else will work, perhaps only when it’s right. 

I’ve spent a lot of time flogging a dead horse but since this recent sentiment came along I’ve found myself more and more focused on trying and changing and with it it’s released an awful lot of guilt and blame.

Choosing to change, choosing to try is in actual fact far more fulfilling than routinely pulling up blame and “you’ve failed, you’ve failed, you’ve failed…”

It’s not failure, it’s just not right. Sometimes you have to try all the porridge’s before you find the right one for you.

The first thing I’m attempting this attitude to is our week in Marrakesh. I’m notorious for feeling strung out and overwhelmed by not filling my time properly. Somewhere along the line, being busy got misconstuded for being productive when most often it’s the least productive use of time.

Myself and Josh have also committed this week to complete and utter, floating rest. No guilt, no productivity, just switch off. 

The ultimate week(end) we never give ourselves.

In this week I also intend to employ the art of stillness. Switching off the do anything/everything attitude and instead taking time to revel in nothingness, in Elizabeth Gilbert sitting on her roman floor eating asparagus, watching the birds and listing to the wind and allowing myself to have inspiration and creativity bloom if it wishes or stay hidden if it rather. 

Instead of insanity we have committed to a week of complete and utter rest.

The ultimate in luxury.

*if you want to know more about the art of stillness I loved this blog post by coach and speaker, Blaire Palmer.

Friday Fashion Feelings | Your emotions v.s getting dressed

_DSC0556 _DSC0590
_DSC0553

When you write about anything long enough you start to see patterns and trends. Heavens even your topics can get a little staid.

In blogs the worst you find is, “I went to Nordstrom last week and fell in love with this little striped…” yeah, sure you did, simple sponsored post. For me I have begun seeing a different type of pattern, a pattern about staring into a wardrobe void and coming up blank.

The reality is on a day where I can barely get off the couch or string a sentence together is the same day I can’t get dressed either. When my head feels messy or my house is messy, when I feel claustrophobic from our tiny office and trains the less inventive I become, the less inspired, the more monotony of my day to day life the harder it can be to be, ‘creative’.

This outfit is the personification of a bad dressing day. See if you give me date night, I’ll give you my khaki suede pencil skirt and burgundy peep hole shirt with orange suede boots and I’m happy. That is easy and fun but for a casual Sunday? A walk for coffee and a trek through a field and I’m stuck. I’m not a casual dresser. I have friends who can just pull on jeans, a t-shirt and cardigan and just look polished, effortless and cool but I’m not one of those people, if I dress casual then I look casual, nothing polished about it.

So what I am finding on repeat is the struggle of getting dressed when I’m emotionally tired and when I feel a little cramped and for a big word, suffocated. Part of that person starts to struggle with the idea of getting dressed.

Another part of that is not seeing the wood from the trees when it comes to endless fabric and little definition. In contrast this lack of space has led myself and Josh to consider switching up my wardrobe and honestly has led me to consider how we can better manage our stuff and our space to give us the most mental space as possible.

I began to realize that often what we our capable of writing and putting on or body is often influenced by other external factors and how we live. In terms of a wardrobe it can be as simple as undertaking the 30 for 30 or a capsule wardrobe and for others it could be re organizing our space, giving ourselves more breathing room and in terms of the blog… maybe that means making time for sharing reality v.s. sponsored, v.s. posed.

26 and The September Reset |Lessons Learnt

IMG_2341

I’m a tad unwilling to let go off the September fresh start. After all Autumn and my birthday mean that this is my favourite season. In response to that for my birthday I wanted to share some off the cuff lessons of being 25 and the horror which has been 2016 so far. (Also new year now? My wedding is safe in the new!)


– Sometimes you have to strike out on your own.

– Not everyone will understand your art or your vision.

– Josh is quickly learning all about pest removal. As proven by the manic five o clock wasp spraying.

He’s also great at removing stubborn house spiders. Thank heavens because I’m still petrified.

– Commuting is harder

– “Be careful what you want because you might just get it” What if you only got what you really wanted? Would that finally explain continually not getting what you don’t?”

– As Beyoncé says, only you can make yourself happy. Spend time loving and understanding yourself.

– Say what you mean, ask for what you need.

– Get to the point

– Unselfishly put yourself first

– You’re worth more than this.

– It doesn’t have to be so hard.

– You’ve been braver, learnt to be wiser, now be bold, be brave again.


I don’t think that 2016 has been necessarily easy in any respect. If anything, I feel as though I have been battered and bruised and in more ways than celebrity deaths and brexit. The most interesting part of it all has been the further from easy I’ve been the more I came back to a place of great learning, of unexpected wisdom and a backbone of truth.

It’s not been all highs and success but in finding a place of centred love and respect. It’s been a year of tough growth, of hard lessons all of which have reopened the doors to my own pschy and inner voice. I’ve beaten myself up a couple of times but I’ve also taught myself to consider, to listen beyond the bullshit and others opinions and when I least expected it saw myself as an adult for once. As a decision maker, as someone who is able to be calm and deal with it, get over it, not focus on the me me me. I’m in the right place for getting married as my authentic self, my child self, teenhood, young and adult self all converge into one.

I’m choosing to step backward, to be brave for once. Im tired of holding myself back when there is better, there are achievements which need and will be met.

Speaking recently with my good friend and motivational speaker Adam Tuffnell I mentioned how, “it seems impossible not to have some blinding brilliance come out of a slog of a year like this!” And I wholeheartedly believe that for all of us. I know we are split all over the world and not going through the same things but the community I’ve seen here for me ages 25 has been beyond encouraging and inspiring. I feel like i have met some truly incredible men and women this year who have shifted my mindset, proved me worthy, and supported me in so many, unexpected ways.

I have a lot to be grateful for as I turn 26 and a lot to look forward to. On the top of my list of course is to finally follow my grandmas saying to the full, the time for living is now.

And isn’t it just?

Therealjlow | Life, Career and blogging. Are you being defined incorrectly?

“We know that the blogging rule book says, be niched, be specific and write for a targeted audience but we are torn between the rules and the inner voice reminding us, we are multifaceted individuals who don’t wish to be hemmed in by one idea or profession” 
If you have ever swotted up on the business of blogging or specifically upping readership you’ll read a lot of the same ideas and the same words; consistency, niche, direction, target audiences . . . It’s the same ideas over and over again and ultimately it’s become a machine.
Why do I have an issue with machine mentality? Doesn’t it make it easier to do when you have guidelines? It does, but I’ve also begun looking forward beyond what’s already been done. To the point that I’m questioning therealjlow and the content I share.
If blogging articles are to be believed I need consistency of content, of scheduling. I need to share content on lots of different platforms, perhaps invest in Adwords, go on my own self hosted site, encourage and engage with brands who I’ll alter content to for cash and ultimately I need to both offer unique insight whilst fitting perfectly within the machine. This is where you’ve lost me.
Ever since I left university I stopped being one dimensional. I was no longer just an events student, I was multidimensional. As I’ve aged it’s only gotten more diverse. I changed to be a marketing executive, a freelancer, a writer, a model, a creator … the list goes on and spans professional me and personal me and it gets to a point where no one role fits.
I’m juggling a lot of hats and as I look around at my friends I see the same reflected in our struggles. We are all dabbling in these many roles and ultimately if I know anything about therealjlow it’s that I want it to be reflective of that very statement at the top of this post.
We are more than a role or a box or a set of rules to success. Blogging may have gotten stale but our ideas haven’t. Our voices only add to the conversation and so why shouldn’t we embrace this in every aspect of our lives?
If I have to tie therealjlow down in 2016 it’s only to this, “therealjlow is reflective of real women across the globe. It is here to inspire our passions, develop our souls and to empower one another in our pursuit of the most creative, healthiest and happiest lives that we can imagine.”
I’ve grown to realise that the idea of specific content is irrelevant for now. The name alone allows me this opportunity and my internal refusal to play by the rules lets me take the risk that maybe I won’t pass the entrance to reward style any time soon but maybe I don’t want to be in the cool gang. Maybe like all of you reading this, I’m standing alone and I’m doing it my way and those blogging guidelines worked for some but they won’t hold me. 

Until next time . . .

Fashion | The end of Winter

_DSC0443 _DSC0415

Jacket: George, ASDA, Plaid Dress: George ASDA, Leggings: H&M, Boots: Clarks, Scarf: Zara

Almost as bad and difficult as changing from warmer months to cooler is the other way around when spring starts creeping in and you find yourself confused by your wardrobe.

Like many, I thoroughly rely on my weather apps to see whether I need full on winter gear or just light layering. This dress was something I longed for in early Autumn as it feels really great for transitioning.

Here on a colder day it can be paired with a thick jacket, scarf, leggings and boots whilst as it gets warmer I can quickly ditch the leggings and jacket and move into spring effortlessly.

I am also a huge fan of plaids and this pretty pink and blue is a nice twist on a classic!
_DSC0397 _DSC0434

Personal | Tea for the Soul

_DSC0484

Tea for the Soul

I have always been funny about hot drinks. On the whole I rarely drink them however recently I have been drawn to tea.

As a child when I was ill my dad would often make me these uber milky (another thing I rarely drink), sugary tea and it would instantly make me feel better.

From this I have begun relating tea to being comfortable and protected at home. In order to not lose that connection and feeling I no longer either drink tea unless I am in a comfortable home environment or if I have time to drink it as a pleasurable experience. All of this so that I can pay attention to the action of drinking it.

See, I have begun apply the idea of pleasurable experiences into my day-to-day life. Now I give myself a morning before work where I buy a tea at Victoria (station) and take my time to either read a magazine on the train with the tea or listen to an inspirational podcast while I take the longer walk from Clapham Junction to my office.

Our industry is such that we often don’t have time for lunch breaks so to take back my very early mornings has been incredibly pleasurable.

Another change I have started making is how I make use of my four hours on trains a day. Where previously I would immerse myself in books I now take the time to listen to podcasts and to also write for myself. In the last week I have written blog posts, book ideas and even developed Linked In articles. My topics are increasingly varied from Fashion to business and branding but I am reveling in these opportunities to explore my own self expression rather than focusing solely on work or others ideas.

It’s funny now that I think of it. This revelation ultimately stemmed from having tea one day in our home office where I realised that something so small could feel transformative. Its been as if I have taken a bit more of my time back for pleasure and that feels like a real break for the soul.

Perhaps we can’t all be ladies of leisure but in the time it takes to travel to London and back and the time it takes from Clapham to the office I get a little bit of me back and in the end isn’t that what we all want and need?

A little Tea for the soul.

The Weekend | Gone Walking

_DSC0478

 

Hat: Accessorize, Puffa Jacket: Fat Face, Grey wool blend sweater: Gap, Leggings: H&M, Socks: Fat Face, Walking Boots: Millets 

The Weekend | Gone Walking Even pre wedding we have been big fans of a good walk. Last Sunday we took a last minute trip to Knole in Sevenoaks. Now upon leaving our house we were unaware of the large amount of snow that we were about to encounter. Thankfully Knole is just as beautiful in the snow as any time in the year and we enjoyed a wonder through the park with a cup of tea (and maybe a shared shortbread) seeing the deer and enjoying the biting, fresh air. Therefore if you need a good plan for the weekend, may I suggest a good country walk? Oh and not forgetting a bobble hat and lilac socks of course . . . _DSC0480
_DSC0433 _DSC0484
_DSC0466