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The Offbeat Independent Blog

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Carrie Harwood is a London-based blogger and Community Coordinator at ASOS Marketplace. Her blog WishWishWish is known for its beautiful, funky features and Carrie is a self-confessed lover of cats, ‘60s dresses and junk food.

Offbeat Independents know how to experiment when it comes to fashion and beauty. They love do-it-yourself crafts and learning new skills. They are most likely to be employed in the creative industry and are able to utilise their imaginative style at work. After a long day of hunting for vintage pieces, you will find them winding down in quirky pubs and bars.

Over the next few weeks, Offbeat Independent Carrie will share her favourite beauty tricks as well as how to create your own unique personal style.

I'd never been happy with my smile - forever covering my mouth as soon as a camera was anywhere in sight. I had my forced, closed-mouth smile down to a tee - this was imperative, because as a fashion blogger my face is always in front of the lens.

I said no to braces as a teenager - funnily enough, train tracks across my teeth didn't seem like an appealing option as I was about to start college. But I bitterly regretted this just a few years later, and thank goodness I stumbled across Invisalign – a clear alternative to metal braces, that would very quickly help my confidence come on by leaps and bounds.

The decision to change my face wasn't exactly an easy one - but after a chat with my local Invisalign practitioner, I was convinced (especially after seeing the amazing results on her own teeth!). Six months later, I couldn't be more pleased with my choice.

My once overlapped front teeth now sit perfectly straight, and whilst my teeth aren't even halfway finished, family and friends have all noticed how my smile is getting bigger and bigger!

Growing your confidence isn't easy though - going from somebody who used to cover her smile with her hand to somebody comfortable talking on camera takes time - and I'm still not there. But slowly and surely, I know I'll find the confidence. Sometimes it's about biting the bullet and going for it!

Growing up in the middle of nowhere didn’t give me the greatest confidence boost when it came to fashion. A trip to the high street wearing anything but a pair of jeans and a t-shirt might prompt a few funny looks from the locals.

Those of you from big cities might not relate, as it was London that would inspire my more “crazy” outfits. I’d visit with my mum and spot people working everything from coloured tights to gasp high heels, and return home with a smile on my face and new clothes in my backpack. These new clothes would usually sit in the wardrobe, untouched, as I never quite found the confidence to wear them like the girls I spotted in the city.

This all started to change when I began blogging. I wasn’t the only one any more - I was connected to hundreds of other girls who loved coloured tights and hats with ears on, who told me that it was more than okay to embrace it. Sharing my outfits online was key to discovering my style.

Developing a sense of personal style isn’t easy. But once you work out what works for you, and what you love, you should really embrace it. Even my hat with cat ears will earn me a few strange glances in London, but now I can wear it when I’m at home in the countryside with pride, because I’m proud to show off what I love.

So wear your sequins, ears, clashing prints and platform heels with pride – you look amazing!

• Take a moment before you leave the house, pause and pull yourself up to full height. Roll your shoulders back and down to release any built up tension or anxiety

• Keep your head straight and slightly raised to give that air of confidence in your pose – this will also naturally straighten your spine, making any outfit sit better on your frame

• Finally, a smile can be the perfect accessory to any outfit and it can also work wonders on your inner confidence – make sure your smile reaches your eyes, to reveal the most genuine of smiles

Whilst I can't deny my love for the high-street, it's always fun to mix up your look with a unique fashion piece. If you know the right places to go, it can often be an inexpensive way of following the trends and an even better way to create a distinctive look. I'm going to share a few secrets - I've gathered together my top five places to hunt down one-offs so you can fall in love with vintage too!

Radio Vintage London

If you're into 90s grunge, this is the store for you. Radio Vintage London stock everything from the popular slip dress to beaten up band tees. I only wish I could get my hair up in bunches like their model! 90s perfection.

Allen Company

Often when you think of vintage, images of rummaging through bargain bins come to mind. Allen Company couldn't be further from this. Their handpicked pieces look pristine, and are merchandised perfectly on their Etsy store, making them all the more alluring. I've got my beady eye on a pair of boots!

House of Jam

My favourite all-rounder, House of Jam is stocked to the brim with unique vintage finds. But what sets them apart is their handcrafted pieces - I recently wore one of their handmade kimonos to Reading festival and it was a total hit. Be sure to check them out!

Club Vintage

If you love the 60s as much as me, you'll want to take a peek at Club Vintage over on ASOS Marketplace. They are always stocking the sweetest collared mini dresses! Not to mention I'm in constant awe of the model's beehive - perfect for styling tips!

Blitz, 55-59 Hanbury St, London

Blitz is one of my favourite offline vintage haunts; it makes it easy for you to shop vintage with all of the rad and less of the rummage. If you're a vintage lover, their department store in London is a must-visit. I've spotted many a vintage gem on their rails.

If you're lacking the confidence to brave a unique style, be sure to pop back soon! I'll be giving you a few tips on how to feel more comfortable in the clothes you love, so you can wear them with confidence and a smile on your face!

• Flattery will get you a long way with shop assistants. Highlight how much you love the store and ask lots of questions to make the interaction feel more personal.

• Make sure to use eye contact at all times so they know you mean business. They will be less likely to try and rip-you off with an unrealistic price.

• Looking confident is important – make sure to avoid using aggressive body language such as crossing your arms, as this can make you unapproachable.

• Allow for pauses in the negotiation. Silences put pressure on the other person so they will be more likely to crack and agree to a lower price.

• Finally, always remember to smile. A genuine smile can make you look confident in the prices you have offered and can change people’s attitudes towards you in seconds. A smile might just be your perfect negotiating tool!

Eating out is a rather indulgent past time of mine...but when you live in a city peppered with some of the best burger joints (and have a passion for the meaty treats as strong as mine) it's hard to resist.

I've managed to sample a fair few burgers since moving to London, but there are a few restaurants I just can't keep away from. I thought I'd share my top three with you, so you can indulge too!

MEATliquor, 74 Welbeck Street

You've undoubtedly already heard of the infamous MEATliquor! The first time I tried their Dead Hippie burger, I was memorised. It was juicy - dripping with everything that is bad for you, but tasting oh so very good. I like my burgers messy, and in that respect, MEATliquor delivers. Cutlery is a no-no here; instead you are presented with a roll of kitchen towel. The queues might be long, but the wait is totally worth it.

Honest Burgers, 4 Meard Street

This burger is slightly more refined than the former - the cheeseburger is served with a red onion relish, lettuce and your choice of mature Cheddar, Red Leicester or Stilton. Mmm! But the real reason to head to Honest Burger is the house chips, seasoned with rosemary salt. These have to be some of the best chips I've ever tasted - not to be missed!

Dirty Burger, 78 Highgate Road

Dirty Burger is my local burger joint (and conveniently positioned directly in front of my gym! Boo!), and is always a favourite. The menu is simple; cheeseburger, crinkle cut fries or onion fries, and I like it that way. The burgers themselves are as described - dirty! You'll need kitchen towel at the ready for these babies. Don't expect lavish surroundings either, Dirty Burger can only be described as a sort of shack, but that only adds to its hip vibe. Check it out!

Wonder what it's like to eat out wearing Invisalign? When I first had them fitted, I'd head to the bathroom before every meal, but that just isn't necessary - like the name suggests, they are pretty damn invisible, so simply covering your mouth and whipping them out into their case, doesn't attract any attention at all! Simple.

I started my journey with Invisalign almost half a year ago now – and like most people undergoing the procedure, I had major confidence problems when it came to my smile. As soon as a camera was pointed in my direction I’d immediately stop talking, or pull an awkward closed-mouth grin – you know the kind. Whilst my half a year wearing Invisalign has improved my teeth immeasurably, old habits die hard!

So, sometimes it takes a little help from Miss Ruby Woo (MAC fans know exactly who I’m talking about) to muster up the confidence for that picture-perfect pout.

Red lippy can be quite intimidating for lipstick virgins – and especially those of us not happy with our smile. You’d imagine it would draw attention to your perceived worst feature, but I’m here to tell you that it has an adverse effect!

Find the right shade, and your pearly whites will look just that – pearly white! But not only are you getting an instant teeth whitening solution, your new favourite colour will give you that much-needed confidence boost. A bold lip is a state of mind and an outfit update all rolled into one!

I swear by MAC’s Ruby Woo, applying a slick before any important event or night out, followed by a layer of Lipcote to keep it in place (smudged lipstick is not a good look – and certainly won’t help with any confidence troubles!). Remember to keep the rest of your make-up look minimal. You don’t want to over-do it and feel out of your comfort zone.

If you’ve not tried a bold red lip before, don’t leave it any longer – own it and the big cheesy grin will soon follow.

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