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28.09.2012- International Day of the Girl: Life Lessons

Raising your hand. Whether it's to ask a question or to make your voice heard, it's just about one of the most powerful gestures in the world. Think about how many times you've put your hand up in your life- from answering a question at school to sharing your opinion with others, it's something which is fundamental across most of our lives. Sadly however, not everyone in the world gets the chance to raise their hand, especially not in a classroom, and especially not if you're a girl. Around the world today, 75 million girls are not in school. As a result, those 75 million girls are far less likely to survive into adulthood, marry later and have fewer, healthier children. The message then is simple- education not only changes lives, but it also has the power to save them. It's this simple fact which has led to the establishment of the International Day of the Girl, which happens for the first time ever on October 11th. The culmination of a campaign spearheaded by Plan UK, the aim of the day is to encourage people to raise their hand, and call on the UN Secretary General to make girls' education a priority. This in turn would allow millions of girls all over the world to move from poverty to opportunity, to use their education to educate others and to realise their potential to the fullest:

In celebration of the International Day of the Girl, I've been asked by Plan UK to share with you my experiences of education and put together a life lesson, illustrating just how continual learning and developing knowledge is a constant part of so many different aspects of life, encompassing everything from formulaic algebra to fashion. Throughout my time at school, I loved learning. My mum taught me to read at a really early age, so I always had my nose buried in a book. Then came the scary transition to secondary school- something which was made easier my making some amazing friends, the support of my mum (again!) and finding subjects which I really loved. Hurtling towards my GCSEs, I worked really hard and left secondary school with some really strong results- even winning an award for getting the highest overall exam results of my year group! From there I went to college, leaving after two years with the grades I needed to get into university. I studied Drama & Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London, opting for a subject which I'd always really enjoyed- I really do think it makes a difference when you're learning about a subject which you have a genuine interest in. Through my time at uni, I also came to realise that learning isn't just about how many facts you can recall or about how well you can argue your point in an essay- it's about being open to new ways of thinking, new experiences and new ideas as much as anything else.

Looking back, my experience at university was really fulfilling on so many different levels; I had the chance to challenge myself in so many different areas, and developed a lot of confidence in what I was capable of, which in turn led me to establish my blog! It's very much been a work in progress since my first post back in May 2009, but through teaching myself the basics I was able to shape My Sentimental Heart into the platform it has become today. Whether it's sharing the contents of my wardrobe with you, creating wishlists or posting about something whuich I've found particularly inspiring, blogging is and has always been something which I love doing. What originally started as a means for me to practice my writing has turned into something beyond anything I could have imagined, and I still find it really overwhelming that people are interested in what I have to say (especially as I have a tendency to waffle quite a lot!) Anyway, the simple point is that without education, and the learning process as a whole, I wouldn't have developed the know how to put together a blog. I wouldn't have graduated from university with a First Class Honours degree. I wouldn't have the same confidence in myself that I have today. In short, learning, wherever it's taken place, has been something which has afforded me so many different opportunities in life, and is something which I'd be lost without.

After being asked to host a life lesson by Plan UK, I did struggle a little bit at first when thinking about what to post about. But, considering the style of posts which I usually put together led me to the perfect solution- make yourself comfortable for my tutorial on AW12's tricky to wear trends:

The printed trouser trend is one which shows no signs of abating. Whilst I was a little reluctant to get to grips with the look myself, after experimenting with some rather bold printed trousers whilst I was on holiday, it's a trend which I'm really keen to try out again as we move into autumn. At the moment the shops are full of beautiful bold patterns, so don't be too shy about which print you plump for- as we all know I'm an avid floral fan so can definitely see myself investing in this beautiful pair from Warehouse before too long! The key to cracking this look is to let the print do all the talking- team with a block colour on top and some co-ordinating accessories and you're there.

Nowhere was AW12's trend for statement jewellery better demonstrated than at the Dolce & Gabbana presentation. Shoulder sweeping earrings,  jewel-encrusted hairbands and classically inspired opulence all pointed towards the fact that big jewellery is back, and as bold as ever. This trend is undoubtedly one which works better for the evening, but if you're feeling adventurous then certainly don't shy away from working some subtler pieces into your daytime wardrobe. Co-ordinating your chosen pieces with a fairly neutral block colour will really help the jewellery to stand out, and a touch of sparkle in your choice of footwear will draw everything together perfectly.

Believe it or not, the gothic look has come a long way since the days of black lipstick and floor length leather coats. The dark, brooding glamour of the Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci presentations captured the essence of this trend perfectly, as dramatic shapes, rich colours and embellished details all added up to form the core components of the New Gothic aesthetic. Whilst this is a trend which might seem quite intimidating at first, it's one which is really easy to work into your wardrobe in stages, for instance by incorporating a lace detail here and there or through investing in a dramatic maxi skirt. Don't feel confined to monochrome colours either- pick up on the rich burgundies, deep berries and dark purples which are in the shops at the moment and subtly work these shades into your look. And, if you're feeling particularly bold, wine coloured lips nod to the trend perfectly.

So, there you have it! My lesson on how to wear some of AW12's trickier trends. Whilst I've had a lot of fun putting these little tutorials together, it's all with the objective of demonstrating just how much education figures in each of our daily lives- whether it's through tackling trigonometry or tapping into tough to wear trends. Education in all forms is something which has been vital in every aspect of my life, and I can't imagine where I'd be today if I didn't have access to learning, so that's why I'm so keen to support the work of Plan UK and the International Day of the Girl. By raising your hand, signing the petition to the UN Secretary General and showing your support for the campaign through social media, you can help to transform the lives of girls currently denied access to education all around the world. Never has such a simple gesture been so powerful.

(Image credit: Topshop, Warehouse, River Island, Dorothy Perkins, Forever 21, Ever Ours, H&M, Zara, Dune and Monki. Video credit: Plan UK on Youtube.)


  1. Great post, Sarah. I love the gothic pieces you've picked, that Topshop lipstick is definitely on my autumn wishlist. Off to sign the petition now. x


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