Colour, Feel good

Romance and such

My idea of romance is a Lionel Ritchie song, not the cheapest bottle of wine and maybe some cuddles on the couch.

What’s yours?

Happy Valentine’s Day xxx

Art, Feel good, Out And About, Sydney

‘Me’ Day Series : Art Gallery Of New South Wales

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that one of my favourite things to do when I have a day to myself is go to the Art Gallery of NSW. It’s a ritual that I have been following since my high school days, back when the café sold soggy focaccias and mugaccinos. Fast forward to now and it’s a much grander affair and that’s great because my life is a much grander affair. True story.  

Seeing as it’s my happy place, here’s my list for the best way to experience the AGNSW. Follow these steps to get the most out of your next ‘me’ day. No focaccias allowed.

1.       WALK THERE

I mean, you don’t have to walk all the way there from your doorstep, but do take a stroll from the train or bus or nearby suburb. Why? Well, that’s the best way to enjoy the location of the gallery. Depending on which direction you come from you will get to enjoy either St. Mary’s Cathedral, Woolloomooloo wharf, Lady Macquarie’s Chair, Sydney Botanic Gardens, The Domain, or Hyde Park. It’s literally surrounded by Sydney’s best spots. The gardens around the Gallery are dotted with many a pretty bench to sit at for a spell and soak up the glorious Sydneyness of it all.



It is scientifically proven* that no matter what time of the day you go to the Gallery, the beautiful sandstone steps and columns at the front entrance are bathed in the warmest most pure sunlight that will warm you up from the inside out, and help prepare you for the temperature controlled gallery interior. Perfect spot to watch the lunchtime exercise crew.



Take it from me, even a vigorous walk to the Gallery and a good half hour on the steps cannot warm you for long enough to get through the ground floor, let alone the entire Gallery. Half way through the first hour your teeth will start chattering loudly enough to get you a few dirty looks from the serious art contemplators. Trust me, even if it’s 40 degrees outside, bring a cardigan and don’t leave it in your bag when you check it in.



I always head straight to the main exhibition if it’s something I’m keen on because if I get too tired (it happens) or I’m in a hurry I could always visit the permanent exhibitions another time. Best way to find out what is on is to check their website. It costs about $20 to see these exhibitions and it is always worth it.



The café at the Gallery has had a much-needed facelift, and boy is it a good one. Good food, good coffee and they even have scones with jam and cream (perfect ‘me’ day food). Definitely have a pit stop between exhibitions because you’re worth it. And definitely sit outside in the courtyard, if you are not afraid of birds stealing your scones that is (you’ve been warned!).



There are so many Permanent exhibition spaces at the Gallery, I recommend choosing one or two to go through lest you wear yourself out! My favourites – the 19th Century art from Europe and Australia, and the 20 and 21st Australian art – are on the ground floor. There is so much more to choose from, find yourself a map at the front desk and see what takes your fancy.


7.       LATE LUNCH

Matt Moran’s Chiswick restaurant is stunning and on the ground floor of the Gallery. Award winning deliciousness aside, it is the perfect spot for a beautiful view over Woolloomooloo Bay, a nice drop of wine and a well-earned rest after all that art and culture. Insert big happy sigh.


8.       SHOP

You can’t not stop in for a quick look at the Gallery shop! I always get a postcard from an exhibition I’ve seen, and there is such a great collection of books to look through.


What a seriously good day, right? You could follow up with a bit more art, or a bit more of a walk around the gallery’s surrounds and find yourself near the glittering harbour’s edge.

Or you could just call it a day…and damn good one at that.


All images via

Feel good, Photoshoot, Style Tips, Wardrobe Staple, Women

White Shirts Forever

Having written about them previously and sporting a couple myself in this post, you could be forgiven for thinking that I’m a bit obsessed with white shirts.

Well, you would be right!

What should you look for in a white shirt? Read on.

1.  Fabric Composition
In a world full of leaky coffee cups, eating on the run and heavy duty make up, your white shirt will need a good soak every now and again. Get yourself a shirt made from sturdy natural fibres such as cotton or linen as they’ll last long, breathe well, and because you’re worth it.

2. Fabric Type
By this I mean how the fabric feels. A crispy feel (cotton poplin) is neat and can be dressed up or down. A gauzy soft feel (cotton or linen) is more casual and is great for weekends and beach wear. Choose one or the other, or one of each!

2. Cut
There are a lot of options and the best fit for you will depend on your ‘style’ as well as your shape. For versatility, choose a shirt that has a small collar, simple front pocket (if any), and nice tidy buttons. Slightly roomy is much nicer and more flattering than slightly too small, so make sure there are no gaping buttons. Currently I like an oversize shirt, slightly drop shouldered with a scoop hem and hidden placket, but I seriously have every style of white shirt available and I wear them all. Experiment with the right style for you!

Text and images by Catalina Alfaro Stylist for Alfie’s Friend Rolfe

Art, Feel good

O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith : making modernism

When I have a day to myself I really love to visit the Art Gallery of NSW…the location overlooking Woolloomooloo harbour is stunning and the collections are world class. Did I mention Chiswick restaurant?

Currently exhibiting O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism celebrates the work of three pioneering artists of international modernism: American painter Georgia O’Keeffe, and Australian artists Margaret Preston and Grace Cossington Smith.

With all three artists coming of age during a time of dramatic social, artistic and cultural changes in the US and Australia, O’Keeffe, Preston and Cossington Smith each rejected the conventional limitations placed on art and gender and endeavoured to become truly modern artists, all three innovating new ways of depicting their own rapidly changing worlds.

The development of each artist is explored, evident in the confidence with which the subject matter is approached over the course of their lives. As part of the larger dialogue of modernism that was developing globally at the time, the work of the three artists seen together reveals the evolution of the movement across the Pacific.

Brought together by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art in partnership with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, the exhibition features over 90 works from these and other galleries as well as various private collections. 

O’Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith : making modernism is at the Art Gallery of New South Wales until October 2.


All images, Art Gallery Of New South Wales.


Feel good, Movies

Movie Moments: The Makeover Part VII

The makeover films you’ve been reading about the past few weeks make the top of my list for style inspiration. There are countless makeover movies not mentioned here, but there are certain favourite scenes which warrant acknowledgement. Here they are:


Jamie Lee Curtis’ transformation from timid dowdy housewife to vampy (but still clumsy) secret agent in True Lies (1994, Dir. James Cameron). Who knew what tearing into your Sunday frock and a bit of vase water could do! I vacillate between total awe and absolute embarrassment watching the hotel room scene. You know the one.

The envy inducing sequence in National Lampoon’s European Vacation (1985, Dir. Amy Heckerling) where the Griswalds shop up a storm and make themselves over Italian style. Postcard perfect!


Frances McDormand’s delicate portrayal of Guinevere Pettigrew (that name… sigh) in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008, Dir. Bharat Nalluri) is divine. Her makeover begins with a silk scarf, a simple gesture. All the same, a new outfit serves only to render seen the tender beauty of a strong resourceful woman.


The many reincarnations of best friends Romy and Michele in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997, Dir. David Mirkin) are close to my heart. I love a matching outfit as much as I love dressing for an occasion, and this movie delivers big time on both those counts. Romy and Michele make themselves over and over and over depending on place and mood. Cute gym outfits? Check. Hot club outfits? Check. Business women’s power outfits (business women’s lunch specials anyone?)? Check and check. Spice Girls eat your heart out.

There you have it. Hollywood makeovers aren’t always serious or stylish (Mrs. Doubtfire, anyone? I can’t remember which bled more, my eyes or my ears…), but they are always awesome fun! A couple of hours of gratifying fashionable escapism. A life transformed from the outside in. But while most of us don’t have the means to call on a Hollywood costume designer for our wardrobe rejuvenation, there is help at hand. Seriously fun and chic help. You may or may not want to film your style journey, but you can decidedly star in your own makeover. Catalina’s a Hollywood grade fashion genius. And she promises not to use vase water.



Feel good, Movies

Movie Moments: The Makeover Part VI



Continuing the makeover excellence from last week’s Pretty Woman is one of my all time favourite guilty pleasures…with one of the best high fashion montages ever AND Meryl Streep (she who can do no wrong), The Devil Wears Prada is makeover gold. A must-watch on your next girls night in. Enjoy X Catalina.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Dir. David Frankel.

Most of you will know this one (the movie or the book. Or both.). Anne Hathaway plays Andy, a frizzy haired young writer who applies for an assistant position at a fashion magazine as a step into serious journalism. This sees her come face to face with film icon Meryl Streep’s formidable Miranda Priestley, feared Editor in Chief, and gives us lesson number one: don’t wear a cerulean jumper to a new job. Also, care about your footwear, but really, just no cerulean. So… a makeover film set in the offices of a glamorous fashion magazine. Who’d have thunk it? It makes all the amazingly expensive outfits to follow a little more believable on an assistant’s wage. And what outfits they are! The fashion montages in this film are drool worthy. We watch naïve Andy find her (very fashionably shod) feet in her new job, thanks in part to softie fashion stylist Nigel (played by the awesome Stanley Tucci), the ability to run in high heels, and some ruthless use of her mobile phone. Success! Or is it? Has she been blinded by the coruscation of couture? Andy has an existential crisis, but, luckily for us, not before she’s provided us with all the fashion eye candy us lowly mere mortals could wish for.


Feel good, Men, Shopping

Outfits Aplenty!

As a buyer for a store, you’re always working anywhere from a year to 6 months ahead. It’s a pretty big gamble. The most exciting part is when after hours and hours of appointments and showings and budgeting and culling and re-shuffling and more budgeting and then six months of waiting, the stock we painstakingly chose from a million and fifty things finally arrives…and it’s awesome! After a decade of being a buyer, I don’t have any major fails anymore (knock on wood…there have been some doozies in the past) but even nowdays it’s still a bit nervewracking when it all starts arriving.
all over patterns 1

Style Tip: All-over-prints are everywhere this season for guys. Not keen to look like a Hawaiian tourist? Excellent! Stick to a small pattern in a subdued hue, and team with solid plains.jeans

Style Tip: Sworn off your jeans forevs now that you’ve grown to love chinos? Well there’s no need to go to extremes, jeans are and always will be a must-have wardrobe staple. They’re awesome! Stick to clean and structured if you are only going to get one pair.

chinosStyle Tip: Chinos are an excellent way to smarten up your outfit over summer. Opt for soft lightweight fabric, with a tapered leg. And do go colourful! I mean, it IS summer after all!

My favourite part is making outfits from the new arrivals, matching it all up and thinking about what kind of person would wear such an outfit and where they would wear it. I always think in outfits when it comes to buying…buying for the shop, for my Personal Shopping clients, for myself…anything that you buy needs to go with other things or you end up with a wardrobe full of “nothing to wear”.

So here’s a little outfit inspiration (for the guys…sorry ladies, your turn next) all these looks put together from the current selections at my store Alfie’s Friend Rolfe. Six months ago we chose all of these pieces from different boutique labels, and they all go together so perfectly! It takes a lot of research and planning, but the end result is excellent outfits aplenty.

If you need help with outfits then now is the time to contact me as it’s the beginning of the season and the perfect time to plan, source and buy…spend well and spend wisely.

All images sourced from Alfie’s Friend Rolfe  

Feel good, Movies, Shopping, Women

Movie Moments: The Makeover Part V


After last weeks man-makeover heaven thanks to ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’, we have one of my favourite movies ever…the storyline, the huge hair, the epic soundtrack (OMG Roxette!), the outfits, the megastars and one of the best movie moments of all time (“Big Mistake!”)…what didn’t Pretty Woman have? A sequel, that’s what. Pure 90’s gold that I could just watch again and again. Enjoy X Catalina.  

Pretty Woman (1990), Dir. Gary Marshall

Ahhh, the quintessential makeover film. Granted, Julia Roberts has the bone structure and long limbs to make for a pretty breezy makeover. This however, does not detract from the fact that any woman watching this film will not fail to feel a certain yearning over her transition from escort to society lady. The thing about this movie is that, speaking as a woman who loves to shop, it delivers satisfaction on many levels. It’s a fairly obvious Cinderella story, with a happy Hollywood ending (actually, the Cinderella comparisons are so obvious here, they are even worked into the script) but the genius of Roberts’ transformation is that the shopping sequence is drawn out and detailed. Down to the now famous shopping denied sequence: “You people work on commission, right? Big mistake. Big. Huge. I have to go shopping now”. Waves armfuls of expensive shopping bags in uptight snooty shop assistant’s face. Sigh and clap (and raucous cheering from me –  X Catalina). There’s talk of spending ‘really offensive’ amounts of cash on high fashion. Sigh. Sigh and clap at every new outfit reveal. The end. Way more interesting than a fairy Godmother, some singing, a pumpkin and some mice.

pretty_woman_shoppingOh yeah snooty shop girl…you got owned! – Catalina x


Feel good, Men, Movies, Shopping

Movie Moments: The Makeover Part IV


Last week’s post on Working Girl got a lot of love…nostalgia for big hair perhaps? This week is the quintessential man-makeover (with mega bonus shirtless Gosling scene!), I love it when the dowdy guy gets hot.  Enjoy x Catalina


Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011), Dir. G. Ficarra & J. Requa

There are whole tumblrs dedicated to Ryan Gosling’s movie style. In Crazy, Stupid, Love he does his bit to further the style cause, even for suits which seem to have been inspired by traditional Bavarian hunting gear. He’s impeccably tailored here, and takes it upon himself to help a sad and defeated Steve Carrell (whose wife has just asked for a divorce) out of his funk. A barrage of insults coming from a looker like The Gos might not motivate anyone into rediscovering their manhood, but it seems Carrell has nothing left to lose except his tragic 90s dad style. Gosling gets to work getting rid of all fleecy fabric and ill fitting denim, but most brilliantly, he does something in this film I’ve dreamt of doing many times- mid mall, he takes Carrell’s functional but ugly New Balance 407s (actually, is there a stronger word than ugly for these eyesores polluting the urban landscape?) and throws them over the railing. It’s worth watching this movie just for the feeling of satisfaction you’ll feel in that scene. The fact is though, that this is actually a rather enjoyable comedy. And as we watch Carrell squirm in multiple fashionable layers, struggling to find himself, we empathise, and know that extremes, even in fashion, are not for everyone.


Feel good, Movies

Movie Moments: The Makeover Part III


Following last weeks classy foray into our favourite Princess Makeover on Roman Holiday, this week is a little more arse than class with 80’s classic Working Girl. Bring on the big hair! Enjoy. X Catalina

Working Girl (1988), Dir. Mike Nichols

The 80’s were all about climbing the corporate ladder. And because the corporate ladder was fraught with danger from the sharp elbows of ruthless selfish backstabbers, you needed the biggest shoulder pads you could find…for protection.

Poor objectified Melanie Griffiths certainly needs a lot of protection in this movie! Her new boss, Sigourney Weaver, is living the life Griffiths has been dreaming about, and betrays her to further her career. Good-natured hard-working Griffiths quickly sees that nobody will see past the ‘body for sin’ to the ‘mind for business’ until she makes some changes. And although the shoulder pads do not shed in this movie, the giant helmet hair and showy jewellery does, to make way for a more confident, softer yet stronger woman.


A makeunder can be just as powerful as a makeover, funnily enough paring back can give you strength. This movie reiterates the power of the right outfit, (even if it is borrowed from your absent boss’s wardrobe). Of course it isn’t all plain sailing after the wardrobe change, but it makes for an enjoyable watching experience. Awesome bonus points for Joan Cusack as Griffiths’ best friend, doing her bit against the ozone layer and assaulting the senses.