Old, new and blue

Dirndl skirt, cotton shirt and BirkenstocksI’ve recently been reunited with the other half of my wardrobe. It’s been emotional. Exciting. Surprising (sartorial goldfish memory has led to several happy reminders, some “snap” moments where I realize I had bought two near identical items three years apart, and an overall amazement at the amount of money I have willingly donated to the shareholders of Whistles over the years).

The this little combo represents a perfect marriage of US-purchased H&M gear (the jacquard dirndl skirt, cotton shirt and plaited belt) and the liberated-from-London Zara bag (actually bought in Dubai, this is quite a global ensemble) and the truly ancient but much loved white Birkies. Like those other fashionably orthopedic shoes, Dr Martens, I had to go through the whole lateral foot blisters experience again, having been without them for many months, but you’ll be pleased to hear I can now wear them for several hours without developing nasty toe sores.

Of course what every outfit need is a small shih tzu hanging off the sleeve. This black and white version perfectly complimented my colourway and happened to appear at just the right shutter-click moment.

As an aside, if anyone has mastered the art of wrist bag carrying without looking like they’re a) threatening to punch someone or b) about 98, please let me know.

Overall enthrall

Dungarees and sweary bagContinuing what appears to be a trend of outfits it’s hard to go for a pee in, I finally bought some dungarees (overalls as they are less exotically known stateside). Aside from one unfortunate undone-strap-down-the-loo incident (the chilling sound of metal on porcelain…), I’m managing pretty well, you’ll be relieved to hear.

Though formerly the preserve of cartoon Italian plumbers and painter/decorators worldwide, dungies are surprisingly versatile, I’ve convinced myself. They’re a daytime staple paired with leather espadrilles and a cheeky evening ensemble with my ancient Oasis stone colored heels. The former combo took me to the top of St Paul’s – though not without my consent – and the latter to Mark’s bar in Soho where, after a certain point, consent may have become debatable*. But they were ever comfy and just a bit different to those boring old end-at-the-waist jeans.

Sweary bagAs for the evening bag, it was a gift from a very lovely friend. I’m not sure she intended it to be used as anything more than a make-up bag, but it’s too good to fill with Rimmel (I’m a classy lady) and hide inside a proper, non sweary handbag.

My brothers in overalls, the Minions, would be proud, if slightly red faced, though I understand that they too speak a bit of French.


*From brain meltdown caused by too much sightseeing and fun having, not by da booze, FYI.

Jump around

IMG_0786It is a fact universally acknowledged that one who wears a jumpsuit to a festival will surely regret it. A fact I sadly overlooked at the weekend in this daisy-covered number, a gift from my lovely friend Kallie (if there’s anything better than thrift store shopping, it’s shopping your friends’ wardrobes). Having hacked a foot of fabric off the legs (she is a little more statuesque than I), I thought I’d give it an outing before it frayed into nothing. Since we were also cycling to said festival, a trouser leg was a wise move, as were the black and gold Nikes which were bought for exercising but have spent more time flouncing around town drinking coffee.

Although a cycling helmet is never a chic addition to a look, I’m now old enough to value not having brain damage over coolness (it took a while), so helmet hair was my companion for much of the day, as was a smug glow from all that bike-based calorie burning. And the camel attached to the back of my bike, a hangover from last year’s Burning Man which I’ve become too attached to to liberate from her fender-top home.

But, clearly, what you all want to know is, did it pass the formidable portaloo (or porta potty, as they are known here) test? Well, since this was a daytime family festival, at 4pm the facilities were still in a state of cleanliness acceptable for those who need to undress completely to pee. Any later in the day and I couldn’t tell you, I was on my way home, helmet atop my head, ready for some coco and an early night.

Glad in plaid

Plaid shirt and accessoriesThere’s something hugely comforting about a plaid shirt, especially a big, warm, fuzzy one. It’s perhaps not the obvious choice for Saturday night attire, but after subjecting myself to 10 hours of yoga in one day – which should be illegal, I have since concluded – I needed an outfit for dinner and a comedy club that felt as much like a sleeping bag as possible. This came pretty close.

If you can squint past the horrid lighting (note to self: learn some photography basics), you’ll see that I tried to look a little less like I was in my PJs by adding a chunky necklace, a half top knot, bright lipstick (always an error when going out to eat) and my new flatforms. Regular readers may recall my grief at laying my TopShop pair to rest, so these F21 versions filled a void in my wardrobe and, somewhat sadly, my heart.

On the basis that you can never overdo accessories (note to self: you can) I chucked a faux leopard skin bag and a tonne of rings into the mix. They may or may not have acted as an effective beard to my super-casual shirt. But I was too comfy to care.

My ultimate accessory or ten was Violet Beauregarde’s fingers due to an incident involving freeze dried blueberries at lunchtime. Even after multiple scrubbings I still looked thoroughly manky,  It set the delicate mini rings off a treat. Note to self: aim to start acting and dressing vaguely like a lady before hitting 40. Or maybe 50. I think that note can go in my “pending” pile, near the bin.

Camp sucks

American Apparel tent dressWhilst camping isn’t always my bag (it has to be warm, there must be no dangerous or even inconvenient beasties present and please no propane infused-baked beans), I do like a dress which looks a bit like a tent. They are hideously unflattering and crease like billyo (too much fabric will do that), but my devotion is unwavering. Voila my latest habit-feeding purchase from American Apparel (the store which, for so many reasons too libellous to mention, I should avoid like the plague but am drawn to like a moth with SAD). Still, at least no sweat shop labour was involved in cutting the hole in the circle of material and affixing the $90 price tag. Phew.

I look like the side of an industrial estate which has been daubed with Keith Haring-alike graffiti. But I don’t care. And I was mighty grateful for its voluminousness (which must be a word, surely?) after a 3 course meal.

On a tangential beauty tip, after this snap was snapped, I realised I was unknowingly ahead of a revolutionary hairstyle wave (which involves no waves). Yes, the half top knot is a thang. I am directional, finally. And I also recently rediscovered my neon orangey-red lipstick. I have no idea whether this is in any way OTM since all beauty articles sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking in my head, but I like it. Really, that’s the face I always pull when I’m happy.

Post script: I have now lost the goddam recently refound lippy (Kate Moss for Rimmel in case you’re interested). If you find it down the back of your sofa, please let me know.

The anti-topless top

No More Page Three TeeAccording to the tireless organizers of the campaign to “Take The Bare Boobs Out Of The Sun”, as at 12 February 2015, said boobs had indeed been absent from the “news” paper since 22 January. That’s three whole weeks.

As you may well be aware, this came after a truly bizarre incident (more bizarre than naked women being considered par for the course in a daily current affairs publication) in which The Sun claimed it had bowed to pressure and stopped the 1970s hangover, but then a few days later said it was all a “joke” and reinstated it. Hilarious! Oh how we laughed! In one of the best examples in recent years of shooting oneself in the foot, this resulted in a huge increase in support for the No More Page Three campaign and a spike in sales of their t-shirts to women who – previously a bit peeved and nodding in support of the activist – were now mightily pissed (in the US sense) and wanted to show it. Well done News Group.

Undeterred by the fact that 99.9% of the people I encounter on a daily basis in Nevada would have no idea what the bejesus it was all about, I felt duty bound to purchase one of the Wham/Frankie inspired tees and wear it repeatedly (even paying twice the cost of the garment in postage for the privilege). You can take the girl out of London….

Anyway, at the time of scrawling, topless shots of Tina, 22, from Salford, next to reports about the Ukraine incursion, disappearing airliners and benefit cuts seem to be a thing of the past. Hallelujah! And I have a tee which simultaneously takes me back to the eighties and stands as testament to the fact that we’ve come a long way since then. Amen to that.

Oh, and footnotey thing. I have red hair. A change is as good as an expensive new outfit, apparently.

Nice weather for it…

IMG_0402There are people in this world who still deny the occurrence of climate change (or, as I like to call it, the artist previously known as global warming). As I type, parts of the east coast are under several feet of snow and flood water thanks to “epic” and “life threatening” blizzard Juno, whilst many here in northern Nevada pray for precipitation and bemoan that temperatures have rarely dropped below 60˚F since 2015 put its January pants on, so this boggles me. However, I have spent enough time in Yorkshire to know that there’s nowt as queer as folk, especially if those folk happen to have shares in fossil fuel companies or, say, vote Republican.

That said, my reaction to this preponderance of winter sun and the virtual certainty that no brolly or cagoule* will be needed when leaving the house is perhaps worse that those who deny it’s happening: I know full well it’s happening and I’m loving it. Let’s be clear, I’m certainly not loving homeless polar bears and vast swathes of the planet becoming unfarmable dust bowls (I saw Interstellar, I know what’s coming). But please, for now, let me be just a tiny bit excited about not having to swaddle up like Ranulph Fiennes just to get a pint of milk. I promise I’ll be all anxious and socially responsible about it next year, but for this – my first winter in the US – can’t I at least be a smidgen chuffed to be out of the frozen grey wastes of the UK? No? OK.

IMG_0400Well, whether hand-wringing or high-fiving is your response, you’ve got to dress for this weather and it does throw up a few challenges – heavy knits are too hot in the full glare of the sun but very necessary if it nips behind a cloud; Ugg boots may be the default January footwear setting (especially for those who experienced the “proper winters” of yore), but they cause tedium-induced death by Valentine’s Day if not mixed up with something a little less, ugg-ly (see what I did there?).

My answer was prison-escapee meets wedding refugee chic. Obviously. The H&M sweater has had to fight its way into the laundry basket as I keep finding reasons to keep wearing it, even though ( or because?) it looks a little like the garb criminals wore in the old silent movies – non? As well as being cheap as chips, the Valentino homage shoes were actually my wedding shoes which I loved more than my dress and was determined to repurpose. Mission accomplished, though my ankles are still paying the price. My old faithful Mulberry cross body bag sought to raise the overall tone, and the distressed denim dragged it down again. Oh, and the sunnies – from an unbelievably good second hand store – are awful but awesome all at once. A bit like this blasted weather we’re having.

* Since Americans call these types of waterproof jackets something significantly more boring, they pronounce this crazy Frenglish word “coogle”. Fact.

NV state of mind. And wardrobe

IMG_0403What’s a few months between friends [read:posts]? Especially when, within those months, one has moved across the world, got married and endured repeated dealings with the US Department of Homeland Security (to get a Green Card, not for any nefarious reasons) and – here’s the sucker punch – living in Nevada? From this smorgasbord of insubstantial excuses for poor blogging, let’s leave aside the “big life event” shizzle and focus on the Nevada thing. I think my recent status probably qualifies as post traumatic sartorial shock, brought on by living in a place where Wranglers are considered black tie and sweats are definitely “smart casual”. We’re not in Kansas anymore, if you know what I mean.

IMG_0402I am, you’ll be in no way surprised, exaggerating. There are indeed heavily-bearded hipster enclaves here and some very glam ladies (often in a pre-divorce Sue Ellen way), so maybe I am unfairly blaming the entire state for my relocation-induced jeans-and-tee catatonia (a strange affliction I previously catalogued here). But the point is, I think I’ve finally come to. My eyelids flickered and the nurse was swiftly summoned. My first request? A mash up of distressed denim, the Nikes (still doing sterling service after nearly 2 hard fashion years) and thrift store lace. Obviously.

The lace dress was actually a Burning Man outfit (yes, an entire outfit in itself, as I don’t think underwear counts, does it?) from a couple of years ago which is so happy to be back in its spiritual home a mere 3 hours from the playa that it is calling out to be worn repeatedly. Since it is January and there are public decency laws in this fair state, a jumper and boyfriend jeans had to be forced underneath. The frock reluctantly accepted, much to my relief. The Gentle Ben coat topped off the ensemble and in a choose-your-own-adventure kind of way, I recorded the outfit both with and without it. Isn’t technology amazing?

As my fashion rehabilitation continues, I do solemnly swear to keep you quite literally posted, and never to fall into fashion oblivion again.

PS: for those reading in northern Europe, those strange dark areas on the photos are called shadows, caused by a mysterious presence in the sky called the Sun. You will not see this glorious orb until June. For one week only. Maybe Nevada isn’t so bad after all…

Wellies: The Wilderness Years

Post-Wilderness welliesIt’s official. My blogging licence will soon be revoked: I forgot to take a picture of the relevant outfit for this post. Sorry about that. In my defence I was at a festival (Wilderness – early bird tickets for 2015 now available!) and having far too much fun dancing at a mock wedding disco (Whitney! Cher! Take That!) to think about recording my clothes for posterity and your entertainment. To be honest, it was your standard issue festival fare – cut off jeans, stripey top, crazy sunglasses and the inevitable wellies. Please accept a picture of the wellington aftermath in lieu (note that they had been cleaned by time of taking).

The festival itself almost appeared to be sponsored by Hunter, so numerous were its rubber sub-knee logos. Having owned a pair in the past, I think Kate Moss and her 2006 Glasto endorsement have a lot to answer for. They gave me horrendous shin splints after walking a few feet, such is their rigidity, so dancing in them must be like trying to bust some moves wearing calipers. My trusty Primark versions (less than ten of your English pounds) offered far superior manoeuvrability for throwing YMCA shapes and slow dancing to Eternal Flame. Result.

There was a dark horse contender for the Hunter crown though – Dunlop. Yes, purveyor of 1980s squash shoes actually do a nice line in cheapy boots which are squidgy enough to dance like a loon in. The Bloke bought his at 9.53pm the previous evening on a last gasp mission to Westfield (do men ever shop any other way?) and was in good company as many other Wildernessites – boys and girls alike – had clearly also been to Deichmann (can I still laugh at that name at 38?) to get theirs for a solid tenner. I’m not sure it’s possible to fight a class war from an RV in the Oxfordshire countryside surrounded by lawyers, children called Hermione and overpriced food trucks, but I like to think we were in some way sticking it to the Hunter man. Maybe. And we didn’t have hurty legs, which is obviously the most important thing.

Black and white and normal all over

Black and white "normcore" outfitWhilst I was out of the country it seems a new way of dressing was invented. By which I mean that someone at a hot desk in Soho (London or NYC) decided that dressing like a normal person without multitudinous accessories and clashing prints should be called “normcore”. Plain grey sweater? Black Birkenstocks? Label-bare white t-shirt? All normcore apparently.

This ridiculous and mindlessly trivial development/sartorial revolution, depending on your POV happened whilst my back was turned. Sure, I was in the US where this probably all began (let’s blame them, it’s fun), but in my defence I was mainly in Nevada where the “norm” is Lee jeans, checked shirt and a gun, so I’m letting myself off for missing it. So now I’m playing catch up and the thing is probably already over. That’s fashion for you.

Given that I still don’t really understand normcore (surely it can’t be as simple as dressing like a normal person, since fashion’s definition of normal would likely be viewed by the man on the street as bonkers?) my attempt is quite possibly wide of the mark. But on the basis this outfit is monochrome with all black accoutrements, and features normal things like legs, I reckon it qualifies. Obviously my white Birkies would have normied it up further but to me they just looked wrong. Maybe I’m not cut out to be normal. But then, I already knew that.