Category Archives: Style

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.

It’s Tricky

Warehouse midi skirt and Run DMC teeLife in this fair capital is fraught with difficulty – the elusive work life balance issue, finding a place to live larger than a shoebox for less than twice your monthly income, and, of course, navigating skirts which fall mid calf. The frump risk is high, as (if said skirt is voluminous) is the risk of Monroe-style butt bearing in the event of a gust of wind (photographic evidence nearly supplied – my near miss on a Central Line platform later was thankfully not subject to permanent record, or not that I’m aware of).

But when they’re right, they’re pretty damn fabulous. I fell in love with this pale denim Warehouse beaut on sight (then had to traipse to 3 different stores to get the right size, learning in the process something I already knew but the well meaning shop assistant did not: you can’t return something bought from a stand alone store to a concession. Grrr). Anyway, it’s super versatile, flattering in the right places and looks fab with a bit of Run DMC (composers of the title track, for those a little hazy on their 80s old skool hip hop). Not so tricky after all.

All in the mind

Dorothy Perkins floral jumpsuit

Dorothy Perkins floral jumpsuit

Do you have a fantasy wardrobe? I don’t mean a list of items from Dior/Whistles/H&M (depending on your price point) that you’d grab in a post lottery win trolley dash. No, I’m talking about items which you staunchly believe are in your closet, but which actually aren’t? I realised whilst trying to accessorise this floral jumpsuit that I definitely do. I would have sworn that my bag box (yep, a whole chest full of clutches, cross bodies and just plain massive shoulder bags) contained an electric blue asymmetric zip number from Accessorize. Sworn. Vehemently. But said chest only contained the orangey red version. Convinced I had bought the blue hue too, I relocated the entire contents of the bag box onto my bed to no avail. I must have hallucinated handing over the cash; suffered a phantom transaction. Which was darned inconvenient as I tried to get ass-out-of-door for my friend’s birthday party on Sunday with minimal (read: no) time to spare.

This phenomenon works in reverse too. I’m sure the little boat print TopShop tee lurking in the back of my drawer will work wonders with the new denim skirt I just snaffled, but said tee is now adorning someone else’s torso, having been despatched to the charity shop some years previously. Rats.

So, the lovely lily-print jumpsuit had to make do with slightly dull all black accessories. It deserved better – aside from a few tense moments when toilet urgency was substantial and the zip was reluctant, it gave storming service and no doubt will again. If only I can find those cobalt courts….

The Emperor’s new pants

Jazzy wide legged pantsImagine my excitement when my lovely – and very pregnant – friend offered to put us on the guest list for a special view of… nothing. Well, nothing in the Serpentine Gallery, so at least it would be a nicely white-washed nothing with a well stocked book shop and pretty trees in the background. And maybe a free orange juice and some pretzels.

However, this wasn’t nothing in the sense we mortals might know it (eg, “there’s nothing in the fridge, I’ll have to eat noodles and ketchup”; or “there’s nothing on TV, we’ll have to binge-watch House of Cards till our eyeballs fall out”. No, this was art nothing. Which is kind of like something, but with added pretension and better outfits.

Certainly the ladies and gents milling around outside the gallery when we arrived were dressed more for a fashion party than an art “thing”, but seemingly the two are merging towards indistinguishability. Lots of Whistles, neon, very directional shoes and even funkier jewellery (on ladies, there were still the odd pair of red trousers on men, but mainly sharp suits). It was a street style dream, even if that street was Rotten Row rather than Shoreditch High St.

Any road, as you’ve probably guessed if you’ve checked the culture pages or glanced at Twitter in the last few weeks, the “nothing” in question was quite something: Marina Abramovic’s 512 Hours performance/living installation/happening in which she interacts with the gallery guests – usually one at a time in hushed tones – and leads them by the hand to the far corners of the space whilst the rest of the punters look on slightly awkwardly, unsure whether to talk above a whisper, whether to follow her from room to room, and mostly whether to air punch or run for the hills if the artist looks like she’s heading their way. I’m sure there was more going on than this, but precisely what was only really palpable if you happened to be picked to be an interaction subject/victim (depending on your POV).

Sadly, I had no close encounters of the Serbian kind, but I witnessed a few only a few paces (and lots of backs of heads) away. I imagine her MOMA performance where she sat across a desk from visitors was more affecting, allowing more genuine intimacy for more visitors, rather than the strange semi-silent Pied Piper effect here in London, but I’m still considering a return before it ends in August.

On the plus side, I got to wear some jazzy pants which were extremely comfy (a requirement which is sadly working its way ever higher up my priorities list as my mortal clock ticks) flat sandals (ditto) and the ubiquitous biker jacket. On viewing the picture plonked to the left, I realised said pants weren’t perhaps as flattering as I’d initially thought and that heels might have alleviated the unfortunate flatten-and-widen effect they bestow, but it was too late for this particular outing. Still, at least there was sunshine. And free orange juice.