Thursday, 31 July 2008

Dresses R Us

When I get dressed in the morning, I don't just think about the aesthetics of the look. The weather, of course, is of the utmost importance, however the wearability factor must also be taken into consideration. And dresses are so easy to wear! Maybe the wearability factor could explain why I love dresses so much. I have plenty of them; they accumulate over the years, it's very difficult to get too fat for a dress and they're so easy to wear. Somehow it's easier to justify excessive spending on a dress because it's a whole outfit. Cue:

I love my new dress because it's so wearable, so flattering, so bright and so comfortable! But upon closer inspection the label says that 'professional dry cleaning recommended'. But don't slightly more expensive dresses always say that? I once read an article talking about the bad quality of Zara clothes, but saying that they are actually not much worse that any designer clothes, only we treat a £60 Zara dress worse than a £300 Marc by Marc Jacobs.

But surely if I have to start dry-cleaning it, that reduces the wearability of the dress which is the whole point of it anyway, no? I'd appreciate your input!

Also, I love dresses so much that I think I'm going to do another post about the charm of dresses and my personal very favourite...

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Writing it all down

I've written about inspiration quite a lot lately, but what do you do when an idea siezes you? I tend to forget about it, or if I'm lucky write it down on a piece of paper. But recently the idea of a fully fledged notebook has been appealing to me more and more. Yesterday I was browsing in Selfridges and came upon the stationary department. I found some very sweet and satisfactory notebooks; an ethnic-style set, leatherbound with little locks and pretty patterns and a table with notebooks of special cover designs; Orla Kiely, the Design Guild etc.

But I was especially drawn to the beautiful Smythson stationary with the thick leather covers and gilt pages.

Typically, Smythson stationary has sky-high prices; they are an established brand, the leather is top-quality, the pages are made with a special patented technology. But still, the above gorgeous 'Lockable Manuscript Book' will cost you upwards of £220.

But doesn't just looking at or holding a beautiful notebook give you a sudden urge to write, inspire a fountain of ideas? There's nothing quite like the blank pages of a notebook, definitely not a blank Microsoft Word document (possibly the most depressing sight ever). Better start saving?

Monday, 28 July 2008

A different kind of shopping experience

I have previously said that I hate Primark; there are numerous reasons for this, but the main one is the shopping experience it offers. But today, for some unfathomable reason I decided to endure a 50 minute bus journey (I could have taken the tube, but that would have been worse) to do some much needed holiday purchasing. Apparently our destination is going to be so hot that you get changed at least 3 times a day - I can't imagine it getting much hotter than it was today - so an abundancy of cheap t-shirts and shorts was necessary.

So Primark it was, and very pleasant indeed. I got my shopping done and had plenty of time to trek to the other side of Oxford Street to browse in Topshop and exchange something. The air-conditioning wasn't working! I managed to find a very cute necklace but by the time I left the shop I was far more disgruntled than upon leaving Primark as well as a good deal cash lighter.

The moral of the story? You don't always get what you pay for in terms of the shopping experience. You may be shopping alongside better dressed shoppers, but after disapproving of Flying Saucer's judgement of her fellow shoppers (although my comment seems to have vanished; maybe I was suffering from sunstroke UPDATE: yes I was, sorry FS), I don't think I can use that as a valid reason. Plus, the Topshop brigade were a lot sweatier.

Sunday, 27 July 2008


I have previously touched upon the idea that there is never any true originality, because everything is inspired by something. A comment to that post argued that even though nobody can be completely original any more, combinations of old elements can create new things which are just as exciting. Yesterday I went to the Serpentine Gallery and saw the current exhibition, which is a collection of the artist Richard Prince's work, called Continuation (running until the 7th of September). In the words of the Serpentine website, who can probably articulate it better than I could:

These works have been critical in challenging ideas of authorship and raising questions about the value of the ‘unique’ artwork.

Therefore, Prince is very honest about taking direct inspiration frome existing art in creating his own; is work is a continuation of what already exists. For example, this beautiful and extremely valuable photograph:

Which is a continuation of the Malboro Man campaign. Searching for information about Prince, I found this interview with the New York Magazine, and this quote:

What do you think of younger artists under your influence, people like Kelley Walker and Wade Guyton? It would be strange for me to think I’m being ripped off, because that’s what I do! In those days, it was called “pirating.” Now they call it “sampling.” There’s a guy on the street who paints copies of my “Nurse” paintings, along with Elizabeth Peytons and Eric Fischls. I think it’s funny. I actually bought one; I thought it was pretty close.

It put an interesting spin on the recognised idea that 'copying' is 'wrong'. I am certainly in the camp which will not buy a fake item of clothing which claims to be designer; even if the designer piece is ridiculously overpriced, it feels like they are cheating the designer out of the credit they deserve for their work. Additionally, I hate reading the 'steal their style' pages in magazines, which completely rob any individuality from an outfit.

But when I was watching Gok's Fashion Fix (yep admitting that I do that is slightly embarrassing) this week Alexa Chung, who makes freqent appearances on 'steal their style', asked the designer behind Missoni if she minds when her designs are copied. Just as Richard Prince, she doesn't mind. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery isn't it? And I'd personally prefer to be on the steal her style page than worst dressed (well, depends on the magazine: I'd be honoured to neighbour WendyB on WWD's Disaster Area!).

Nevertheless, there is a fine line between continuation and imitation. Richard Prince's work is very much his own and it is fascinating to be able to see the thought-process of inspiration and how art can evolve until it is only faintly recognisable (part of the exhibition included casts of car hoods which were then painted so that I actually felt very proud in identifying them correctly as car hoods). And whilst it does become dull and repetitive to see the same thing over and over again, such as when fashion clones copy Kate Moss's once fresh look, creativity is often something born of inspiration. Even if we can no longer be truly original, there is still plenty of creativity left in taking inspiration from old ideas and continuing them into new forms.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Hello @ 23:05

I didn't want to make a habit of missing this, but right now I only really have one over-riding thought. Over-riding off-to-bed thought? I have 8 insect bites on one leg (I think the other is less tasty). My legs look terrible but they're also very itchy.


I don't read very many fashion magazines; I have three Vogues in my house which are on heavy rotation but I mainly read them for the articles and like to look at the pretty pictures. I think that I have briefly mentioned my inability to spend more than a minute on websites such as; I just find the experience very monotonous. You could say that I can still get some trend knowledge from reading fashion blogs, which I obviously do. But most of the blogs on my blogroll is very un-trend-orientated; they lack those polyvore or photoshop moodboards of every season's trends. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with these, simply that they don't inspire me.

Therefore my awareness of current trends is fairly limited. So I thought it would be fun to take a couple of what I have gathered to be current trends, explaining where I got the idea that they were the trends from and whether these trends have translated my wardrobe.

1) Fringes. Right now, fringes are everywhere on everyone and their mother's blogs. Multiple times, in some cases. I have a couple of fringed pieces in my wardrobe, most notably this bag which is almost a year old. Once I got it, I noticed a very similar version in Zara (mine is hand-made). However I think fringes are one of those trends which have yet to become properly trendy; my friends refer to my bag as 'tasselled'. It's wonderful how uncool certain words can make something sound...

But when on the Autumn page of the Topshop website, I see this:

That's a red light trend alert.

2) Vertiginous heels. These have always been around and worn by my deputy head teacher on a daily basis, but I have only recently begun to notice heels which reach heights which even the most weathered trendista would find difficult to cope with. On top of that, most of them are stiletto-thin! According to this article, Gwyneth Paltrow's recent spout of high heel wearing has had an inspirational effect. Trendy!

All I can say is 'ouch'. The highest heels in my closet come in at a measly 8cm - that's just over 3 inches (and I've only worn them once). Must. Try. Harder?

3) Other footwear: loafers and gladiators. About a month ago I did buy a pair of white loafers (which have a fringe!), which I have worn plenty; they are ridiculously comfortable and satisfied my desire for a pair of white shoes. I began to be alerted of their trendiness afterwards when I saw somebody I know wear them (this didn't bother me because our looks couldn't be more worlds apart). But it was on a rare glimpse at the Daily Mail newspaper that I came upon this article naming it 'the must-have shoe of the season'.

Luckily, the article was written by Liz Jones who continued her story with a brief bashing of almost every other flat shoe alternative (a fan of the vertiginous heel trend, perhaps).
I do wear ballet flats, Havaianas and elasticated flats, plus it's Liz Jones, therefore I didn't take this personal affront to heart; in fact, I think I may wear my mocassins (I prefer the sound of mocassin to loafer) tomorrow.

Gladiators, however, are another matter altogether. They have become so ubiqitious lately that they are one trend that is simply impossible to miss. I do not deny that they can be beautiful, and I will take any opportunity to pay homage to classical civilisation, however I am glad that my glads are a little less, um, full-on.

(I have these, in silver)

I think that my interpretive sandals are an example of the key to staying away from being a trendista. Read the glossies,, blogs or just visit the shops, whatever floats your boat but always make sure that in the translation from trend to your wardrobe, you're making it your own.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Summertime Day 2

Well, I finally found my straw hat, courtesy of Marks & Spencer. It's a little less trilby and a little more cowboy. But hey, I'm OK with that. I think it fits quite well with the summery vibe I've got going on...

(note the ankle - a little nod to the destination of my upcoming holiday. It was a gift from there a while ago; too big to wrap around my wrist twice, too small to wrap it around thrice)

Thursday, 24 July 2008

I can't wait!

Today feels like the first day of summer... the sun is shining, I can wear my summer clothes properly (without the add-ons of tights or a cardigan) and I can have my window open without getting cold.

I can also do nothing all day without feeling guilty and thus I have done a ton of writing today. In two weeks from now, I am going on a holiday (more about that nearer the time or I might just explode with excitement) and I don't think I be using a computer at all there - even when there is one available, I like my holidays to be completely technology free. But I didn't want a huge two week hole in my history, so I have created a couple of posts for before and during the holiday and I am hoping to accumulate enough scheduled posts to have a regular output whilst I'm away.

But it's soooo difficult to spend forever researching and writing something and then not being able to share it straight away. Doesn't 08/08/08 feel like a lifetime away right now?!?

It's a Feminist Issue

Doesn't everything seem to be a feminist issue? Fat, guns, climate change, gay rights and food are just a few of the things which a google search throws up as feminist issues. No wonder the idea of feminism has acquired such a stigma that women are reluctant to 'be feminists'; feminism is associated with bra-burning, ferocious, man-hating and bitter spinsters. A notion seems to have developed that you cannot be a feminist if you have chosen to be a mother, or enjoy hobbies which may be seen as frivolous: that sewing, cooking, even fashion cannot go hand in hand with feminism. That to be equal to men, you have to have a high powered career.

These ideas are only inaccurate, but in my eyes are the entire opposite of the true feminist ideal. To me, feminism implies a choice. It is the movement which started by demanding to have the same political rights as men, but is actually more important than being identical to a man in every way (after all, that would mean bra-burning, hairy legs and no dresses, wouldn't it?); it is the ability which a woman should be able to have to choose which path of life she wishes to take, and not have to factor into that decision the constraints of law (which thankfully has been achieved in the UK to a great extent), society and even each other. Despite the preat progession in women's rights, I don't think feminism is an archaic issue when a woman is unable to choose the path of parenthood without making great sacrifices for her career when for a man, this is a complete non-issue.

In the same way that I deem their beliefs inaccurate, I am sure that there are plenty of people who disagree with my milder approach. Take the book Jane Eyre, which upon publication caused an outrage for its 'strongly feminist stance'. Now, it is difficult to appreciate how ground-breaking it was from a feminist point of view. This does show how far feminism has progressed, but it is also a great way of highlighting what are to me, the core ideas of feminism, that the roles of men and woman should not be concrete; they should be fluid and flexible and reversed as the individual wishes.

'Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel...they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer'

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Label Whore, Yes I Am

Most of my rantings and complaints are completely and utterly hypocritical. One thing I attempted to demonstrate in my Label Snob post is that if you like something, it shouldn't matter where it's from (as long as it's ethically made, affordably priced, of good quality etc etc etc). But you can never say that I've ever denied enjoying a gold ole bit of label whorery.

Imagine my delight when presented with this delightful shopping bag come Sunday morning. Glowing white, bright and labelerific.

The gift was fairly modest, but very much appreciated. You can see how quickly the paint was applied and dried on my delighted nails!

Now I fully appreciate that the level of pleasure I derived from the paper bag the present came in (still on my desk) is highly disproportionate. Does this make me a bad person? I don't think I care...

Monday, 21 July 2008

Not Just a Pretty Face

For all you guys who are still missing Style Bytes after its mysterious disappearance, Detective Pretty Face (who is obviously not just a Pretty Face.... and referring to herself in the 3rd person. Okay, that's weird) has some news for you.

Style Bytes' former writer, Agathe, has had a phiary for several months. That's a photo diary - word morphing, like Brangelina. Click here for Agathe updates.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

As I write this, it is in actual fact not yet my birthday; one hour and 26 minutes until I am one day older, and one year older at the same time. My parents aren't too big on surprises, spoiling me all year round but rarely failing to disappoint come Christmas or birthdays. Of course, I don't truly mind but as it is, I have already received my lovely birthday presents, which I myself chose.

One of these is the holy grail swimming costume, the elusive item to which I have referred to on this blog.

It's flattering, supportive, inexpensive, my favourite colour; so great that it is featured on the front of the speedo website. It even hides those stretchmarks that my not-so-pristinely-perfect anymore shea butter has as of yet failed to fade.

Which leads me to the point of this post (other than celebrating the anniversary of my blessed birth and introducing you to the holy grail of swimsuits of course). Stretchmarks. Well, not so much stretchmarks as the perceived ugliness of them. Their negative connotations. It appears to me that a stretchmark almost becomes acceptable on women who have been pregnant; seen as a souvenir of the time when they carried their child inside them. but for everyone else, for teenagers or men or anyone else, it is a mark which we should do our very best to eradicate, or at least fade, or at least hide out of sight. It is an unattractive disfigurement, supposedly a sign that you are either fat or used to be. I may not be perfectly happy with my body, but I know that I am not overweight and I know that my friends are not either, and almost every teenaged one of them shares these stretchmarks; maybe not in the same place, the same shade, the same severity but a quick google search shows that I am most definitely not alone.

A stretchmark is a scar. It occurs when the dermis tears due to skin stretching and I have extremely fragile skin which therefore tears more easily. Many other scars are far more accepted by society; in many films and movies the scars of characters are seen as a mark of individuality, even beauty. When you break your elbow and get a raised white scar to show for it, you don't hide it away in long sleeved shirts for the whole of your life, do you? Aren't bruises and scratches simply a way of telling the world about your cool rock n'n roll lifestyle? So why are stretchmarks so hated? I am not going to do a self-righteous turn here and go around baring mine, so why do I hate mine so much?

This post may be perceived as a rant; it probably is. I could go down all sorts of paths now that I've started; stretchmarks are only the beginning. When the whitest of white skin used to be the height of fashion, why do people rush for the fake tan or display such insecurity about baring their white legs without the moral support of a pair of leggings? Hair: since when has body hair become this unsightly thing which provokes such strong reactions of disgust when not waxed, veet'd, epilated, lasered, tweezed and shaved within a millimetre of its life. And of course, the most predictable one of all - weight. When exactly was it that women decided that thin was in and fat was out?

All these unspoken rules of beauty, which I willingly admit to obeying, or cheating (if I know I won't get caught). I will not step out of the house with hairy legs, or if I do, they will be hidden with tights or trousers. Thus, these rules of beauty and not dissimilar to the laws of the land. Why? - a question I'm not going to attempt to answer. So when? When exactly is it that we start following these rules? At what point must be take responsibility for our beauty? The government sets an age, I think it's 10, when a child can be prosecuted for offences such as stealing; any younger and they are not held responsible. Is there such a finite limit with beauty? All I know is that I reached that age a while ago and now I want to know the upper limit; at what age can I go out dressed in purple from top-to-toe (ignore that monochrome is 'in' right now...) and not give a shit what the Beauty Police think? I don't know, but I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Laughter is the best medicine

Clichés normally get a bad rep, but in fact most of the time they're very true. One of my favourites is that 'laughter is the best medicine' and yesterday it was proved correct (in my eyes anyway) when I went with a bunch of friends to see Mamma Mia! It took a lot of persuading, because most of them are either highbrow Guardian readers or restrict their cinematic experiences to Kids AM due to skintness.

However I was determined and in the end most of them agreed 'because it's your birthday'. And we all (well, almost all) loved it, I laughed more than I've ever laughed in a cinema before (more than Dodgeball!) and I've been singing the tunes in my head all morning. As we were leaving the cinema, one of my lovely friends thanked me for making her go, such was the movie's geenral fabulousness. I'm planning on going again tomorrow.

Anyway, in order to persuade every single person who reads this that it is simply imperative that they go and watch Mammia Mia! The Movie as soon as is physically possible, here is this clip of the 'Lay all your love on me' (terrible quality but side-splittingly hilarious).

'Scuse my lack of eloquency this morning, I blame Mamma Mia, which despite all its wonderfulness is not an eloquent movie.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Qué noticias brillantes!

I've had a lovely day today! Gorgeous friends, scrumptious food, delectable movies and exciting plans for my birthday weekend! So what noticias brillantes (brilliant news in Italian, according to freetranslation) to log onto my blog and recieve the delightful news that enc at Observation Mode has deemed me a Brillante Weblog Premio-2008! I love you, enc! Have any of you noticed yet that my exclamation mark use goes into overdrive when I'm a teensy bit excited?!

The rules stipulate that in order to bestow upon others the same happiness that you have just experienced (well, I'm assuming that's the reason) you must choose seven other bloggers to receive this award. There are other little rules too but they're a little dull and obvious. But if you're, like, some huge rule lover, check out Observation Mode's helpful post. Now for the fun part: spreading the love!

Disney Roller Girl: for her genius words of the day.

Mettch: for being super cool.

Pamcasso: because I love her blog, comments , etsy finds and general Pamness.

WendyB: who scares me with her scary combination of beauty, talent, stylishness and mass of in-depth knowledge about inspirational people. Whilst being funny.

Francis Girard: my favourite vintage looks can be found on this beautiful blogger.

Jennine: has an adorable accent, super shop and professional posts of pulchritude on The Coveted.

Times of Glory: whilst boasting a ridiculously enviable wardrobe, she also looks like a super fun lady!

If any of you have already been tagged as brillante weblogs, well that's just a testament to your brillanteity!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Label Snob?

There is a huge number of brands and labels which over the years have been branded as tacky/ugly/unfashionable. There are those which have made a comeback; Burberry, Topshop, Jaeger to name just a few. Yet there are plenty more which remain lurking in the cesspits and reject piles of unstylishness and therefore remain undiscovered by the hordes of fashionistas who refuse to explore. There are even those who claim to be label-blind, shopping in musty vintage shops way before it was cool and braving an S&M shop all for the sake of fashion. However there are still labels and brands I doubt even these daring folk would entertain the idea of wearing, because they're just so uncool. Admittedly, me included. So I had the idea of doing a little bit of exploring, and see what I could come up with which may be able to prove that a label is just that, a little piece of fabric stitched onto the inside of a garment, a label.

I decided to start off with the hardest one I could think of, the notorious shop Jane Norman, famed more for flammable clothing and chavvy bags of this nature than anything a stylish blogger would be caught dead in:

But on further investigation, I discovered a selection of dresses which *shock horror* I actually liked. They have a very Hervé Léger vibe to them.

Next up is a similarly trashtastic label, Juicy Couture, famed as the chosen apparel of gym-going slebs and WAGs. Velour tracksuits anybody?

No? I didn't think so... well how about this stunning one shouldered dress then?

Designers such as Cavalli get a bad name for their ill-advised animal print and permatanned clientele:

But I've always adored their stunning snake inspired jewelry collections, which whilst always very similar are always equally dazzling.

(both Cavalli pieces are available on net-a-porter, you know which one I'd go for...)

What about those brands universally acknowledged as 'frumpy'? Surely they must have something to throw up. Take Phase Eight, more commonly known for mumsy ensembles such as this:

However dig a little deeper and you'll find some insanely over-priced but gorgeous pieces, such as this sparkly lot. Whodathunk it?

And if that lot's not enough to convince you that even the worst labels can house some fantastic treasures, then I bow to you and name you a true label snob.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Finding Beauty

As you may have gathered, the theme I am trying to use as a linking theme on here is beauty. I believe that beauty is something that is present in every nuance of life, and important to everybody including those who do not see themselves as 'interested in fashion'. However I am also writing an offline collection of musings (for want of a better word) which are all somehow related to beauty. I haven't actually given very much thought to how both the hard and online copy will continue to develop simultaneously; there will probably be plenty of overlaps, but on the whole I think the book will be more personal and less conversational.

Anyway, I thought I'd share the first poem in the book which I wrote a couple of nights ago, because it sort of sums up this blog (well I think it does) although might dip in every so often with some new additions.

It's not perfectly polished because I bashed it out pretty quickly and I concentrated on the structure of the poem. The sentences ending in the middle lines isn't me being pretentious (well it is a little bit), I wanted the lines to flow into each other so that although 'In the words of a love song' is what it says, 'In the pages of a love song' is also true. This sort of works for every line: in the lines of ancient buildings as well as intricate paintings, the uniqueness of a snowflake, but modern art too.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Those little deets.

About a week ago, I posted a 'sneak preview' of some post ideas I had. As it happened, life got crazy and in the short time slots I had to write, I was getting so many other ideas which I wanted to write down before they got forgotten. I have to do this; my mind is always full of ideas yet only a small percentage are in any way preserved. But now I have a little bit of time, so I thought I'd expand on this idea which I keep thinking about:

The little details.When we see an outfit, we notice the main features; the beautiful dress, bold hair colour, statement necklace. But I read somewhere that it's the little details which separate you. Healthy hair, neat and polished nails, clear skin, well-ironed shirts, the tiny buttons and pleats. I'd like to investigate this idea further, and see how it has been presented succesfully in different ways.

Let me explain: throughout the week, I keep on noticing creased clothes. There are the obvious suits, rumpled and scruffy in a way that is not one bit bohemian-poet-who-doesn't-have-time-for-such-chores-as-
ironing cool. Simply put, they look horribly unstylish. But I have also taken to noticing much smaller details; a jersey shirt which is wrinkled on the back or a pair of lined shorts. I have begun to wonder; is it just me, or do other people notice lack of attention to detail too?

As I said in the preview, I once read an article which claimed that the secret to looking chic is in those small details, but I'm not sure this is true. Take Jennifer Aniston, who follows all those rules: not a gleaming hair out of place, well-kept nails, nice and straight teeth. Yet I could never see her as stylish, or chic. Kate Moss, celebrated as the epitome of cool (hey, I'm not saying I agree) could never argue that she takes good care of those little details.

But somehow, when my nails are freshly cut and coloured, when my hair has just been washed (properly) by a hairdresser, when I'm wearing some perfectly matched - and hidden - socks, when my dress has a pretty lining and an edgy exposed zip which is naturally covered by my hair, I feel so much more fabulous.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Hello @ 21.22

I suppose I'm cheating a little bit this week, because I'm not quite off to bed yet, but I reckon that's better than missing another week. I'm not going to hve an opportunity to write this later.... so here are my general thoughts which are pretty jumbled anyway because I've just watched TV for almost 2 hours.

-Yes, I do possibly watch a little too much television/film. But I like to justify this by the fact that I stick to the good quality stuff. No Scrubs, soaps or Big Brother for me. Lots of House and pretentious movies. A little bit of CSI. I just watched the whole first series of The Book Group, a very funny little gem which is an extraordinary mixture of laugh-out-loud, depressing and surreal. I was drawn to it after noticing taht the star is Anne Dudek who is amayyyy-zing on House.

-I also think I've been saying amayyyy-zing a little bit too much recently. I've noticed this after spending a week working with someone who says amayyyy-zing a lot, and darling too (almost as much as me!). It's rubbed off on me in the same way that sometimes you adopt your close friends laughs or arguing techniques.

-My posts for the weekend are horribly text-heavy, no images at all. I scheduled a post for tomorrow which also has absolutely no images, thinking I could slot one in today, but I've had no time and now I'm not writing from my computer, soo.... Tomorrow's post, which is an expansion of one of the sneak preview ideas could have easily included some images but there were none crying out to be added. This led me to wonder: do people find pictures make text much easer to absorb? Almost in the same way that food can help soak up alcohol and prevent hangovers? I do know that I find very long articles much easier to read in a newspaper, where they are intersected with images, than online, where I usually give up about 3/4 of the ay through.

If you think is the case, I might add some images to tomorrow's post. But right now, I think I'm going to make myself some fantastic vanilla, apricot and honey flavoured instant tea. Called Dreamtime. Maybe that will send me early off to bed?

Saturday, 12 July 2008

I'll tell you what I want...

Do you find that the items on your wishlist change frequently? Obviously, the things I want are dependent on season, so for example at the end of winter this year, I hadn't fulfilled my desire for a simple cashmere jumper and right now that's the last thing I want.

A few months I had a serious craving for a trench-coat. Then the heat turned up and that wish got sort of discarded. But now that it's raining the whole time, I am desperate for one. If you'd asked me two weeks ago what the one thing was that I really wanted, I could have answered you straight away; a sunhat. In fact, I am still on the hunt for a nice straw trilby but the urgency has definitely subsided.

There are, of course, those clothes which do not have any relevancy to the weather. Around a month ago, I was searching high and low for a red skirt. Right now, there is nothing further from my mind (although I would be a very happy bunny to receive one...) and my major lemming is for something leopard print. Now this wish has lasted for a very long time but it recently resurfaced when I spotted that leopard print trench. And today I watched a marvellous movie where one of the characters had the most wonderful faux fur leopard print coat. So in a couple of weekends, totally out of season I am going faux fur coat shopping. Unless, naturally, I decide I want something else.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Victime de la Mode

Most people agree that there is nothing less fashionable than a fashion victim. But what exactly is a fashion victim (or une victime de la mode, if you want to make the term sound more fashionable...)?

The archetypal fashion victim, in my head, is runway thin, wearing a big fur coat on a swelteringly hot summer day and stiletto heeled leather boots to catch the bus. Every aspect of her aesthetic is entirely based on fashion, with absolutely zero regard for practicality. In this way, she has become a victim of fashion; sacrificing good food, animals, her health, getting places on time and comfort all for the sake of fashion.

With such a definition in mind, I was a little bit of a fashion victim yesterday, when the only bottoms which looked right with the top I wanted to wear were a pair of tight black trousers. These trousers are so tight that my friend thought they were leggings, despite knowing that I categorically do not wear leggings. They are so tight that after several hours I have to unbutton them at the top, so that I can breath. These tight trousers noticeably reduce my flexibility so much that after a while walking, my calf muscles begin to hurt.

Yet I (nor anybody else I know) would never want to see myself as a fashion victim. Despite the fact that a fashion victim might have highly coveted figure which looks oh so cool on Sasha Pivovarova, those sky-high YSL Tributes which any sleb worth their salt has been snapped in and a trillion 'investment' Birkins, she is the epitome of uncool. She is a slave to the trends, zapped of any personality by the strict laws of Fashion Magazines. She has no awareness of which 'trends' suit her body shape, only a vague idea that a belt at the waist is totally flattering for absolutely everyone.

But isn't this idea a little bit old now, isn't it getting a little bit stale? Aren't we all fashion victims in one way or another; maybe because we wear too-tight-for-comfort trousers because they're the only ones that go, or maybe because we're secretly obsessed with Trinny and Susannah (sorry, I mean Gok). Maybe we have a slightly unhealthy addiction to buying Grazia, or perhaps we pop onto the TopShop website a little too much. So when I saw this absolutely fantastic poster for road safety in France, I loved it, because it completely renews the definition of fashion victim for me.

Are you willing to die for the sake of fashion? No? Then pop on your reflective safety jacket, and don't become another victime de la mode (come on, even Karl agrees).

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The Birth of Octopuses

I had a couple of posts that I was planning to write up and publish today, but this fantastic tidbit had to take precedence.

You see, I have a couple of fabulous dresses. Serious, below the knee affairs. But they're so damn elegant that I really have no place to wear them. Except, one time, around November of 2007 I decided to go and watchh a film at the BFI Film Festival. And I was desperate to wear the beautiful gold silk dress I had recently acquired. So I pulled on a pair of purple tights, some battered brown boots and a great big duffle coat (there was some serious rain); I was still the most over-dressed person there.

It may be slightly worrying that I can remember an outfit which is over 6 months old in such minute detail, but to me it is completely understandable because I had such a fantastic night; it was a stunning movie. The film we watched is called Naissance des pieuvres (click on link for brilliant myspace page), literally 'The Birth of Octopuses' but the English title is Water Lilies. Both names are very apt for this breath-taking story of teenage love, with some of the most beautiful scenes centred around the beautiful Florianne, who is a synchronised swimmer.

The film came out in France in August, the UK premiere was in November and I read at the time that it was coming out in our cinemas around March, but I never saw any listings for it and so couldn't watch it a second time, which I love to do. So I was delighted to check onto 4oD (channel four's online tv service) and see that Water Lilies is available to rent. I urge any of you who can access 4oD (it's free in the UK) or even if you can't, to go and find it and watch. I think it was one of the first films I've seen which is truly unique (my film-watching has surged this past year) because of its wholly un-Hollywood approach. There are plenty of pauses, beautiful cinematography and of course, the obligatory vagueness ... you don't always know exactly what's going on.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

For Posterity.

I have frequently documented my adoration of top to toe, One Colour Outfits. They need a name... they probably have one, but as you can likely tell, my impressive vocabulary is pretty much limited to words beginning with P. In fact, I was about to do a post about the fantastic word 'pulchritude' and its fascinating connotations but I realised that there is very nearly no-one (apart from me) who is interested in my ramblings about words. I should totally study etymology.

Anyway, as I said, I am obsessed with the idea of these wonderful outfits. Bonus points if they match the wallpaper. I've been harbouring the idea of a One Colour Only Wardrobe for a long time. In fact, there's always been a colourcentric element to my shopping.

This leads to this post. For Posterity. It combines two of my favourite thing, words beginning with P and One Colour Outfits. It should therefore be a top favourite post, however that would be cheating because I have effectively stolen the idea from the very talented Clothes Horse. I've already told her that if my cheekiness is, well, too cheeky then I am happy to take this post down. But for now, I shall post these delicious photos that she found on from a couple of Haute Couture collections. That the One Colour Outfits (OCOs?) can be found in more than one collection is indeed wonderful news, because it means that me and the top designers are on the same wavelength. Great minds and all that.

Monday, 7 July 2008


As a child, I always had the essential set of watercolours but they were rarely used. I was far more likely to be found experimenting with charcoal, feathers or trying unsuccessfully to replicate the texture of acrylic with bog-standard paint and glue. I could never find anything remotely appealing in the life-like, but insipid watercolours (such as those painted by Hitler which I blogged about here).

A couple of years ago I received a watercolour set from a good friend, and I truly appreciated the fact that she didn't just go out and buy me some candles/socks/pencils/cheap jewelry as almost everyone else had. They came in a fantastic array of vivid colours and there was no way I was diluting the 'Viridian Hues', 'Burnt Umbers' and 'Aquamarines' with a splash of water.

Because the paint comes in these great little tubes, I have taken to using them as if they were acrylics. Squeeze a little onto the desired area and spread around with purposeful untidiness to create that wonderful textured look which I love so much. Obviously, my crafting becomes wholly amateur in comparison to Picasso's stunning art, but I've always enjoyed trying to emulate the expressive brushstrokes that are present in his work, as well as many other artists.

However, the truth that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' is made extremely patent here, because there are many people out there who actually prefer gentler watercolours to the less perfect texturing I find so beautiful. And I can see their point, the picturesque landscapes for example can be very relaxing. But it is my opinion that total perfection, flawlessness if you will, is a flaw in itself.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Hello @ 22:31

Wow, I've had such a tiring week, and I think it's been reflected on here. The posts are a little hurried and random, but I have been so overwhelmed that there has been less chance to stop and reflect.

-I do adore being busy. The wonderful rush of things to do, not having to stop and experience boredom (truly the WORST emotion, no?). Sometimes business is just a way of distracting oneself from the blues, but you're always going to need to stop and in my experience, then you feel lower than ever. Right now though, it's just a fascinating sort of busy and on Friday I almost felt like time stood still for a moment and I wanted to freeze it, freeze that moment in the wonderful sunshine, but of course I couldn't. And now it's two days later. I am constantly startled by how quickly time flashes by. I sometimes wish I regularly wrote a diary, which would somehow capture time better but there simply are not enough minutes in the day. Or that I wrote letters. I am STILL reading the Mitford letters and recently there was a quote which fascinated me. One of the sisters, I can't remember which, said she wanted to start a diary, but she didn't need to because of how many letters she wrote. I don't think this blog would be a broad enough record of my life; I wouldn't want one detailed enough to satisfy my future curiosity online anyway. Maybe these Sunday posts could function as a record instead?

(I do know that I missed last week's post, I don't know how that happened!)

-And in a blur of frantic eventfulness, today has been a lazy break. I have stayed in my pyjamas all day, much to my embarassment. I have prepared a post for tomorrow but other than that I have done very little work at all. Does a little bit of laundry count? I watched the wonderful movie Secrets & Lies and munched on popcorn. I found it in the video library (am I the only person who uses them? It's always empty) to rent but they couldn't find the disc. Soon they realised it was because it was filed in the second hand section, so I bought it instead. To rent it for a week would have been £3; I bought it for £2. Bizarre. It was such a touching film, I absolutely adored Timothy Spall and in my mind, his and Phyllis Logan's storyline far overshadowed the main storyline of Cynthia and Hortense. On a side note, what an amazing name is Hortense Cumberbatch? I audibly gasped when she mentioned her surname; I have been in love with the actor Benedict Cumberbatch solely for his name ever since watching Atonement. Oh, is anyone else as obsessed with IMDB as I am?

-I have got a handful of spots these past couple of days. This always happens when I don't get enough sleep, or laze around a lot which is hugely annoying. But I can never tell if this is a coincidence and it is just a happens-once-a-month kind of thing. Well, in that case, I'd better be off to bed.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

What a Feeling!

For me, one of the best feelings is giving someone a present, which they love. There is an old-fashioned belief that giving gifts is accompanied by more happiness than receiving them (I had to word that sentence soooo carefully, or it sounds soooooo wrong) but most of the people I know disagree.

I, however, stand firmly by that idea, because it is so beautiful to see a gift being well-appreciated and it adds more cred to my self-given title of 'Chief Present Buyer'. Plus, as someone who is hugely fussy, I tend to be disappointed by most surprises. Then there's all the present wrapping, all recycled naturally, card making and general excitement of giving the present. Buying a gift for someone comes with all the thrill of making a purchase for yourself but none of the guilt!
Still, I am willing to concede that there is little worse than struggling with finding someone a suitable present. You fight with the uncertainty of whether they will like it. Normally, your first instincts are right and if something jumps out at me as 'so xxxx' I buy it for them even if it's the wrong side of their birthday. Better in the long run, but annoying right now with a couple of presents still overdue after a day of shopping (somehow I managed to find a dress for somebody whose birthday is in over a month).

Then there's the fact that I can't wait for my impending birthday, because I saw the dress my friend has got for me but she won't hand it over...

Friday, 4 July 2008

Sneak Preview

Well, I'm back and feeling a lot better, thanks to you guys who wished me better. I think it was only one of those nasty 12 hour bugs because I was fine the following day, merely super-busy. And at the end of the day, super-tired.

I have been missing reading and commenting all your fantastic blogs and my mind has been buzzing with a trillion different ideas. I was going to start again tonight but it appears I am too tired to be able to knock up a decent post, with pictures. Instead, here are some of the ideas I've had going around in my head which should soon arrive as fully-formed posts.

-The little details. When we see an outfit, we notice the main features; the beautiful dress, bold hair colour, statement necklace. But I read somewhere that it's the little details which separate you. Healthy hair, neat and polished nails, clear skin, well-ironed shirts, the tiny buttons and pleats. I'd like to investigate this idea further, and see how it has been presented succesfully in different ways.

-Costume design and The Importance Of Sewing. I'd love to do another post about costume design and the absolute art that it is. I have definitely realised how much effort goes into elaborate custome design and am also realising more and more how when a great deal of effort is put into costumes, it adds so much to a performance. But can costumes be simply an excuse/diversion for worse elements elsewhere?

-Pick 'n' mix or integrity to period? I know I keep coming back to this idea but it entirely fascinates me. In modern times, the most fashionable ensembles seem to be ones which mix different styles and eras, but looking back to earlier decades/centuries and even current couture collections or costumes for film and theatre, a great deal of importance has been placed in maintaining a consistent style and period in an outfit. (accompanying photo is a screenshot of the first page that comes up on a google search for 'de-prettify' - when you take a girly look and add a hard edge i.e. you pick 'n' mick. Interestingly, several of the images coming up are of Queen Michelle at Kingdom of Style)

-The purpose of entertainment. An unusually interesting essay title got me thinking about this one and it sort of links on from the second idea. There are so many different reasons why someone may reach for the 'unessential' entertainment of books, films, TV, music or art. This is such a vast area, ranging from politics to evoking emotion. To me, good entertainment is something which induces an emotion (other than boredom). This is why a film which makes me cry is more beautiful to me than an elaborate production with stars, couture and multimillion pound sets.

As you probably picked up on, a lot of my ideas are centred around performing. This is probably influenced by my current mood and as a result the ideas are all linked so that I couldn't possibly make a full post on all of them. So I thought I'd cheat and give you a sneak preview, and ask, esteemed reader (if there are any of you left), which ideas would you most like to see explored?

And how are you?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Silver Lining?

Just when things started getting interesting at work, I acquired the mother of all stomach-aches.

6 hours later, I've thrown up 4 times. It appears my feet have decided to switch with my stomach.

I also noticed that I forgot to do Sunday's off-to-bed post... hang in there, normal service shall resume shortly (I hope).

And the silver lining? At this rate, I'll be looking like Kate Moss.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Puns, my foot!

I was trying to think of a suitably witty foot-related pun for this post title, but I soon realised that the issue of foot is, well, not very funny at all.

You see, I currently have very sore feet. Coming back from a 24kish hike was nothing in comparison with the soreness induced by a day of sales shopping on a Saturday in a pair of red ballet shoes.

It was upon arriving home with some very unhappy feet that I slipped on these:

Ugly, hideous, unsightly to the extreme, FitFlops are truly the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. Seriously, when your feet are lacking a little bit of love, these babies are more comfortable than bare feet. Despite this, I haven't been able to venture past the corner of my street in these FitFlops and have therefore been desperately trying to come up with vaguely nice outfits incorporating comfortable shoes.

On Sunday it was a super soft pair of leather pumps which are so soft that they feel like cushions. Until you start walking around central London in them for a day. Then your soles start to suffer.

Yesterday it was a brand-new pair of comfy, supportive white mocassins which required plenty of plasters for new shoe adjustments. At the end of my (first full) working day I slipped on a pair of the famously comfortable Havaianas. Bad mistake... a year of non-use led to ever sorer soles.

So today, I knew what it had to be. No, not the FitFlops, not quite. Trainers. But it had to be hot, and therefore I had to come up with an alternative to my normal comfy fall-back combination of a pair of Nikes and some skinny jeans. I decided on a dress and Converse, although not high-tops, which make me feel like a try-hard hippy. No offense hippies. My low-tops are either too small or too big but my mother convinced me that the too-big pair would be fine with some ankle socks, and they did match my outfit beautifully. I soon realised they were still too big. Out came the storage socks that are guaranteed to lurk in the bottom of my bag, stuffed down the back of the shoe. All was well. Until a sock fell out.

Tonight, the only shoe I could face, bar the FitFlop was the Birkenstock (isn't this post just reading like a list of commercial comfy shoes companies?) - I even painted my toenails a pleasant shade of pink in preparation. So when the weather forecast predicted 'heavy rain' for tomorrow, I metaphorically screamed with exasperation. And began to see the FitFlops in a whole new light.

And it is upon finishing this post that I have decided that am never to try on a pair of crocs.