Bilbao Blues

My holiday from blogging and creating content has gradually extended to a longer period than expected, but since taking a real break for the first time in four years I have come crashing back down to reality and refreshed my entire perspective on the realm of social media and online sharing.

The freedom I have allowed myself from the strict schedule I built and disciplined myself to follow has enlightened me to see the world through curious and excited eyes again, rather than a dull screen. And the more time I have spent away from the blog, the more connected I feel to who I really am, to my friends and family, and to life.

I am the only person responsible for my participation on social media. Sharing outfits on a personal platform along with some waffle about my life started as a hobby, yet I have slowly let it infiltrate every pore of my existence and convince me I need to be keeping up with unrealistic levels of effort when it’s not a full-time job and I have other aspects of life that need my attention; like my actual job, social life, self-care and the people I care about.

No matter what happened day to day, I felt a compelling need to keep prioritising the blog and sharing on Instagram like an addictive obsession – as if my life depended on it. But my head was so indulged in my online-self I didn’t even notice how ridiculous this was or how much it was affecting my day-to-day. I went through a break up, struggled through uni coursework and dealt with family drama but none of these things were enough to encourage me to take it easy for a while: I would still make time to blog despite needing it more desperately for rest.

Since starting dating Josh in January I began forgetting about my phone, about sharing photos on Instagram; instead I relished in the moments we shared and soaked up experiences in a way I hadn’t in a long time. This authentic and raw connection partly influenced taking time off from blogging, because I craved such a carefree and genuine attitude in all aspects of my life.

Among other motives was a lack of inspiration: I fell out of love with blogging, which turned it into a chore and therefore inevitably affected the quality of my content. I dreaded editing posts and procrastinated from something that I didn’t even need to do! I’d spend all day glued to my work computer, only to switch to my phone as soon as I left the office and try to squeeze out any energy I had left into writing. It wiped me out and unfathomably left me feeling guilty and drained a lot of the time.

Despite these indicators pushing me to wake the fuck up and take a step back I still didn’t really understand what was causing me so much stress. I guess the only way to metaphorically snap me out of it was by having an accidental break – I intended maybe two weeks at most, but instantly I was amazed at the free time I acquired to spend how I wanted.

For the past two months I have met friends without an agenda to have photos taken, but with the sole intention of enjoying their company. I have opened my eyes wide enough to recognise which of my relationships are flowers that need watering and which are weeds that need to be stripped back.

I’ve eaten great food, attended cool parties and read interesting books without feeling the need to post every second to my Stories; I’ve worn clothes I want to without furiously planning to make sure I get a photo of every outfit to share on Instagram. Wonderful days have been spent not giving my phone a second thought – and even when I do pick it up it’s to message or phone someone important or share pictures that mean something to me.

I’ve wrestled with how to continue after my revelation. A part of me doesn’t want to lose the sincere and thrilling attachment to the world I have redeveloped by disconnecting from this space, whilst the rest is so proud of the words and creativity that have gone into this blog and can’t bear to see it wilt away. I need a channel to share thoughts and build memories and this does work for me, however I want to experience it in a different, healthy way that aligns with my personality and steers away from a heavily fashion-focused perspective.

Changing the lens on what I share on social media and on this blog from a highlight reel of largely curated moments to snippets I’ve collected of my actual life is the path I’m going to take going forward! My goal is to have a flexible, happy outlook towards blogging: sharing when I want to, taking photo shoots less seriously and capturing more casual images. I love the frivolity and joy that disposable pictures provide – the idea that the snap you’re taking is a mystery until developed – and hope to experiment with this more and more by seizing candid moments of myself and those I surround myself with in our typical settings.

This is an evolution I’m proud of and one that should improve my mental health and help me to see blogging in a lighthearted and fun way again.

And with that, I’m ready to return with a lookbook I captured on my phone camera whilst out in Bilbao for the BBK festival! It’s no secret that festivals are my happy place and that dressing up for the occasion draws out my true style – another extension of myself that I’m trying to return to the roots of and express freely.

I remember booking this trip way back in March and telling myself I had loads of time to get everything sorted, then suddenly the week was upon us and I realised I hadn’t even thought about how we were going to get a 6 man tent on the plane (let alone booked the baggage for it).

Usually I’m the most organised person when it comes to these things, but lately my diary seems to be getting as messy as my room (and my to-do lists), meaning everything gets left last minute. Which isn’t always a bad thing and can lead to the brilliance that comes from spontaneity, but this doesn’t tend to apply when you’re pitching up in a field somewhere in the mountains abroad.

I took 2 disposable cameras along with me and originally was going to document my looks with film pictures – but a lot turned out too dark, many feature my best mate Lol’s fake nails covering half the shot and the rest are beautiful group pictures that deserve a blog post in their own rite; so I’ll be sharing them separately with a more detailed account of our adventure.

For now I’ll let my chronologically ordered outfits tell their own story; you can probably tell that the first night we were most definitely not yet accustomed to tent life and were in fact living somewhat glamorously all squeezed in a hostel room (where the bunk beds had black curtains that likened to being stuck in a coffin on its way for cremation).

I am lucky enough that this was my second trip to Bilbao, having partied at the very same festival in 2016, and the chance to appreciate it a second time around (with far better weather, might I add) was just as lovely. I returned to the Old Town with a fresh bunch of friends and it was as enticing as I remember: cobbled streets giving way to gorgeous architecture and a hidden gem of a pizza-place. After dinner we had a few (very generously measured) cocktails by the river, where I sported my much-loved spotty wrap dress made casual by classic Converse.

Our water-baby souls (and some practical travel skills from others in the group) directed us to the nearest beach the following day for a dip before throwing ourselves into camping. Throwing on my Levis shorts was a no-brainer, along with the linen Topshop shirt that I have owned for years and that tends to join me for any coastal trip. I don’t really wear bras anymore but I still have a soft spot for sports bras and think a classic Calvin Klein style makes for a comfy crop top.

Evidently the festival is where my fashion sense really seems to come into its own and I can parade out the funky clothes I’ve had tucked away in preparation for months. If I had the time and money to invest in such groovy clobber I would no doubt be flailing around in this kind of thing day-in day-out (unsure what my official office decorum is at work but I’d probably be asked to work from home a lot more).

Waaaay back at the Hay festival in May my best friend Meg drew my attention to possibly the most incredible playsuit I have ever laid eyes on and instantly I knew it had to be mine: I have never felt better represented by an item of clothing in my life. The overwhelmingly 80s mix of patterns and colour clashes infused my senses with Rugrat nostalgia, and the comfort of long shorts and free arms allowed me to dance for hours (a.k.a the dream).

Friday night’s magical Spanish sunset was appropriately accompanied with my newly acquired mesh crop-top from Pretty Little Thing (I’ll be the first to admit this was a tempting fast-fashion buy, which I rarely participate in, but I love it and will do everything in my power to wear it season after season and recycle the fabric once its threadbare), which features a mystical moon and radiant sun print and compliments my black flares dreamily.

I am 100% that cringey girlfriend that buys matching couple outfits (just wait for the disposables), evidenced by the fact I bought my boyfriend the Fila bucket hat he wanted for his birthday and also treated myself to a very similar style. I love the childish quality of bucket hats; they’re equally pathetic and cool, and they work a treat to protect my thin-haired little scalp from the sun so I’m overjoyed that the trend has resurfaced. This white version was in the ASOS sale and the only downfall is that it can’t be matched with much without making me look like a toddler on a seaside holiday.

Alongside some sibling drama (extended gossip in my next post), I wrapped up the weekend with this Urban Outfitters sunflower skirt and the crop top that I bought for my first ever festival and make it my legacy to wear every year (and don’t stop banging on about either). The skirt is a few years old and I have unbelievably never considered it for a festival, but its rich colour palette and ditsy style proved dazzling (lets forget that it’s knitted and wasn’t ideal in 30 degree heat).

I’m a massive overpacker (spoiler alert though: we managed to get the tent on the plane) and lugged 3 pairs of shoes along with me, much to the group’s disgust, but you just never know at a festival! I alternated between my chunky Docs, Converse and Birkenstock’s and managed to suit at least one pair to every outfit.

My accessories are usually the same: rotation of quirky sunglasses, huge star hoops, Heineken beer, (lost) Ralph Lauren hat and a fucking huge smile because there’s nothing I love more in this world than a festival!

I know the season is now drawing to a close (as you read this I’m attending one of my last for the year: a sad reminder) but these looks are hopefully ones that are timeless and can be returned to for inspiration – certainly for me anyway (if I do say so myself).

Due to my lack of posting for the past 2 months I have a huuuge backlog of summer content to share which I’m so excited about, but for now: shimmy your way into autumn and I’ll see you on the other side!

Lil x

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