Geoffrey Boycott, colliery bands, straightforwardness to the point of autism. Yes, Yorkshire – the county of my birth – has its fair share of totems and stereotypes (some truer than others). It doesn’t really need me adding to its outdated cultural image. But it seems I am, inadvertently: I’m loving my flat cap at the moment. I’m aiming more for a Tinie Tempah-style urban chic than Andy Capp-style race track homage. I reckon I’m managing it as long as I don’t (a) speak, at which point the flat vowels will betray both me and God’s Own Country or (b) burst into a rendition of On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘At*. The latter is somewhat easier than the former, as some form of communication is required during the average day, even in London.
It does have the added bonuses of disguising hair which is well overdue a visit to the ‘dressers and keeping out the rain/hail/gale force winds I encountered yesterday (note to God: it is mid May, kindly desist). So all in all, I’m seeing it as a great investment. So great, in fact, that it makes me want to sing. All together now: “Where hast tha bin since I saw thee, I saw thee….?”
*If you’ve got through life without having your ears assaulted by this ditty (how?), it is basically about going out ont’ moor without headwear, getting a cold, dying and being eaten by worms. That’s what passes for entertainment oop north.
It’s taken a while – nearly 12 months – but I’ve begun to look with nostalgic eyes at my old work wardrobe. Not all of it, mind. For the most part I’m delighted I don’t have to dress like a minor royal visiting a hospital/WI president/general office slave (as I’ve previously explained). However, some of the pieces I wove into my working wardrobe were pretty cool, if I do say so myself. So now I’m experimenting with integrating them into my very much non-working wardrobe. Yes, the twain are beginning to meet.
And where better to start than with a Chanel inspired, DP created cardijacket? I loved this so much I bought it twice – I have the other colourway which is cream with black trim and both got serious wear back in the office day. But yesterday it wasn’t paired with a knee length tailored black dress, court shoes and an understated pendant, but with jeans, excessive jewellery (including a black and gold zebra head ring) and the trainers. I also added a quilted leather gold-trimmed bag from Zara which with work clothes looked classic but can also look a bit Ghetto fabulous – that’s a hardworking handbag. I think there’ll be more of this workwear fabulising……
By the way, the trainers are still making me disproportinately happy every time I put them on. They’ve also proved to be a great conversation point even with complete strangers who want to admire/purchase/marry them. Londoners will know that this is a rare and beautiful thing, much like the items themselves.
I don’t mean commando in the no-pants sense. I was definitely wearing underwear. So, now that’s clarified…
I genuinely went back to some ancient wardrobe favourites yesterday. The long, overall-like blue stripey shirt is not a hangover from a job cleaning bogs in a Travel Lodge, it’s an almost vintage H&M purchase from c. 2002. The army jacket came from Gap boys section in Camden, again over 10 years ago. It’s one of my favouritest usefullest* pieces ever, mainly because it’s the least “womany” item ever. I’m not sure about the overall (no pun intended, kinda) effect. Partly because its a God-awful photo where I look like a loon and you can’t see my awesome accessories, but partly for the reasons outlined in my last post – my tootsies and my torso look like they were in different time zones. Such is the London weather at the moment. For now, I’m just smugly congratulating myself for having hung on to both those items through numerous flat moves and Oxfam purges. Army sanitation-worker chic is clearly a modern classic.
*I know they aren’t words but they really should be.
After literally months of whining about almost being cryogenically frozen as I go about my business (which at the moment, granted, is basically just wearing clothes and faffing about), spring has finally sprung, thank the Lord. I am loathe to look this particular gift horse in the mouth for fear it’ll flee the paddock given half an excuse, but I am struggling a little with my outfit choices since the weather finally caught up with the calendar. I’ve refused to wear anything but sandals for the last few days, but the woollens are still a necessity on the top half, especially when the sun goes down.
So here’s today’s slightly schizo offering. Note there’s a second stealth cardi under the top one, and a large woolly scarf/shawl in my bag in case of air con emergencies too (called on twice, thanks to London’s restaurateurs’ belief that we are living in the tropics). So I could hardly claim to have embraced the warmer climes with gay abandon, but I’m sure you’ll understand that I don’t trust quite yet that it won’t snow again. My parka is away in the wardrobe, but still on speed dial…..
I’ve never really understood why anyone would want what hairdressers seem so desperate to impose on their clients: to “frame your face”, usually with layers of hair which start short and get progressively longer, like some kind of beauty version of OCD Tetris. Not my hairdresser, he knows better than to suggest such things to me. I am truly allergic to layering and only have some uneven strands thanks to my very brave (if I do say so myself) Carey Mulligan-style (in my head) crop a couple of years ago. And they aren’t long for this world, thankfully.
However, it appears that today I left the house with not one but two face framing devices about my noggin – slightly ridiculous faux glasses and a rather beautiful faux collar/necklace (a one off, but similar style are available via www.actonstreet.com; and don’t be put off by the fact that the talented designer also moonlights as a taxidermist – remember the rat?). So, maybe subconsciously I am longing to be framed in some way for posterity? Maybe I’m warming to the layering thing?* Or maybe I’m just going through an experimental phase since I don’t have to dress like a grown up at the moment. I think the latter is more likely, especially since I just got a new ear piercing (surely at least 10 points on the midlife crisis scale?) and spent a significant part of the day discussing taking a spaceship to the Burning Man festival (a long story, more on which later). So there you have it. Why have hair like Jennifer Aniston when you can have glasses like Jack Duckworth? Stay tuned for more dazzling fashion insight….
Never one for doing things by halves, yesterday’s outfit consisted of 3 different animal hides. Well, only one of them had actually ever seen a real live beast, but you get the picture. I’ve written before about my struggles with leopard print et al (I’m ashamed to say it isn’t related to the ethics of slaying cute critters for fashion, though my views on that are that, if it’s vintage and a long time dead, what’s the harm? I wouldn’t support the industry buy buying a new fur though). So in my version of what a psychologist might call immersion therapy, I went all out.
I was partly acting in homage to Baroness T. I don’t care what you thought about her ripping out the industrial heart of the country/saving the nation from crippling strikes/sinking lots of Argentinians*, you can’t deny she knew how to rock a handbag. And I had just the specimen, thanks to my mother’s sojourn in South Africa in the 60s/70s and excellent taste. I quite liked the fact that it could be used (à la Maggie’s Spitting Image puppet) as an impromptu weapon, should the need arise (I was in deepest north London yesterday so you never know when the need might indeed arise) but, man, that thing is tiny inside. It’s like a reverse tardis. I’m use to carrying most of my life round on my shoulder but that simply was not an option yesterday – wallet, keys, “capsule” make up bag (which basically meant I had nothing I wanted with me all day) and I was struggling to close it. So, it’s not going to be a regular bit of arm candy, but it’s nice to have when I feel the call of the wild or have to go to north London which, depending on where you live, you may consider to be the same thing.
No sooner do I write about breaking free from my 90s fashion tendencies, than I go right back there through the medium of trainers. Not the Converse/Superga/any other plimsoll-type compromise. Nope, I’m talking full on could-run-in-them-if-you-really-wished sports footwear. Nike Air Max 1, to be precise. Last time I owned a pair of these I was wearing them with combat pants and puffa waistcoat and desperately trying to be one of the Appleton sisters.
But isn’t that the funny old thing about fashion? Trends you laugh at one week, you’re reconsidering and labeling vintage or reinterpretations the next*.
Quite simply, I’m in love with these. They make me worryingly happy. And they’re super comfortable. What more could an ageing, slightly sartorially confused would-be fashionista ask for? Except perhaps a second pair in another colourway? The purpley/blue’s my favourite if anyone’s lining up an early birthday present.
*Speaking of which, the ripped jeans definitely have more of an 80′s feel. Like I said, it’s confusing this fashion malarkey.
Don’t say I never do anything for you. On my recent trip to Dubai I had to endure not only temperatures ranging between 27 and 31℃, but I also tried out a trend last seen (in real life, rather than in the fashion pages) on the King’s Road c.1986: the shoulder jumper.
I’ll be honest, necessity was the mother of this particular invention to an extent as baring the bare tops of one’s arms in public malls in the UAE is a big cultural faux pas, but I was rather pleased with it (and with the fact I could wear sandals! and no coat! and still maintain blood circulation! amazing!) and will give it a repeat outing if the permafrost ever actually melts and the winter from hell ever ends. However, rest assured that I categorically will not be adopting other Sloane sartorialisms any time soon. I am officially allergic to raised shirt collars, baby blue pashminas and (the ultimate classic) red trousers*.
A minor aside, this photo makes me look a bit like one of the mini mannequin’s in my sister’s Fashion Wheel (remember that?)**. The jumper is so neon that it looks like it’s been glued on after the event. I assure you I was actually wearing it. Well, draping it.
*If you haven’t already, check out the site which I will abbreviate for reasons of taste and decency (far be it from me to ever use a profanity) to LAMFRT. I nearly wet myself on the tube on a regular basis because of this internet gem.
** To be clear, my sister does not still play with the Fashion Wheel. She’s 40 after all so sticks strictly to Connect 4 and Simon these days.
It’s been a week or two since I peeled off the jeans and actually wore a dress/skirt/other predominantly female clothing item. The incessant cold has kept me in trousers of one type or another, usually coupled with the polar bear coat. Reading the glossies, it seems that most people who in any way work in or write about fashion either have their cold sensors surgically removed in childhood, or are just so dedicated to the cause that they’ll skip around in playsuits in February (Alexa, I’m talking to you). I don’t know whether to commend them for their commitment, or just suggest they should be sectioned. Either way, I’ll never be one of them.
However, since the literally Siberian winds seem to have returned to Siberia and the temperature has edged fractionally above freezing, I actually ventured a dress. Granted, it covered about 95 per cent of my body, but it was a dress. An actual dress.
I added the the jumper partly as an additional layer (a girl can never have too many in my view), and partly to avoid an unusual fashion pitfall: looking a bit like an out of season Mr Hanky, the Christmas Poo from South Park. Don’t get me wrong, Hanky is one funny dude, but he’s an unlikely style icon. When I purchased this “chocolate” coloured frock a few years ago (along with a navy blue one, multi-buying of such a staple seemed like a good idea, plus they were on sale at ASOS), that wasn’t quite the look I had in mind, unsurprisingly. I was thinking more chic, slinky, versatile etc. Not a jovial, Jew-friendly holiday season piece of poop. Just goes to show, you can never cover all bases in this crazy world of fashion.
I was “fortunate” enough to come of sartorial age during the glorious 90s: decade of retro trainers, Rachel hairdos and hipster trousers. Be they jeans (in which case they’d inevitably be – whisper it – boot cut*), All Saints-style combat pants or even tailored suit trews, most legwear from that era had a waist band which was nowhere near the waist.
I know that higher rise pants have been around for a while, but such was the influence of my formative years that to me they’ve always felt wrong and a bit uncomfortable. However, in the interests of earth-shattering experimentation (OK, I’m trying to build up the excitement factor of discussing a pair of black trousers) I’ve recently invested in these much more traditionally waisted fellas. Although its great to be able to tuck in my numerous vests (the glamour!) and bend over without displaying my undies builder-style, they do still feel a bit weird. However, I’m slowly but surely getting used to them and, as long as they never give me camel toe, they can keep their place in my wardrobe. Wow, I seem to be entering the new century at last.
*Note: I am aware that boot cuts are themselves making a comeback but I refuse to go there. I’m still in post-BC trauma from the first time around. And a bit dizzy from all this fashion coming and going.