Tuesday, 16 March 2010


Posts are a little thin on the ground at the moment, as I am spending all of my time on property websites, trying to find a nice flat to rent. Our landlord wants to sell our flat, so it looks like we are reluctantly moving on. For a dedicated follower of a fashion, it's a trying undertaking - I must have enough storage for my clothes! Right now, and in my previous existence at my parents' house, I have been lucky enough to have a spare room to put my clothes in. It's higgledypiggledy but basically organised. Except when it's not. I don't know if I will be so lucky in our next place - though we can afford a place with enough space, it's simply a case of actually finding it, in the area we want (i.e. exactly where we are now, thank you very much).

The search goes on... wish me luck.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Rainbow warriors

I've always had a penchant for very colourful makeup. At 16 I had a Saturday job in the long-gone but legendary South Molton Street Pharmacy - a treasure chest of Spectacular and Barry M rainbow nail colours, cheap sample-size posh products (Eight Hour Cream for a fiver!), and make-up of every shade, consistency and brand imaginable. You'll be shocked to learn that I amassed quite a collection, and wore absurd eyeshadow every day. At one point I owned four hundred bottles of nail polish. Worrying.

The legacy of this still lives on in my three make-up boxes and tendency to buy everything I think I might ever need. Admittedly in recent years I have been a bit more grown-up about things, sticking sensibly to dark brown liner, soft neutrals and occasional metallics, and buying much less as a result (no-one needs ten grey eyeshadows). Nails are still fair game, although my collection's shrunk to about 40. Lately though I have felt the need to explore colour again. Music videos are a great source of inspiration for me; blame Gaga, Katy Perry or Karen O... either way, it's fun to play with colour.

Yesterday I had a bit of a splurge, as tends to happen when I go into Superdrug. Here's what I got, as well as a few of my regular favourites.

I love Gosh products. I'm wearing the nail polish above on my nails, and the green eye pencil makes a great base for green or yellow powder. I've found the products I've used to be as good as Mac, and significantly cheaper. (I strongly recommend the eyebrow pencil/brush combo.) And they have a great sense of colour - they aren't limited to traditional colours or even the very primary and secondary shades that Barry M use. Lots of weird combinations. Yum!

I'm quite impressed with this colour palette from Collection 2000. Cheap as chips, you get nine superbright shades in varying textures. It's a tiny detail but I also really like the flexible plastic overlay (like thick clingfilm - not shown) that protects all the colours once you open the palette.

And some old favourites:

I'm getting a lot of use out of this Rimmel solo at the moment - a really nice pastel aqua-green powder that's great with pale skin. A nice zing of colour without being too neon or vulgar.

I use this magenta Mac lip pencil lots. A light covering gives a soft, matte look, or it can provide a base for dramatic pink or magenta lipstick.

Regular shoppers at Superdrug will know what a treasure trove it is for affordable and modern make-up. I believe if you know your way around Superdrug you rarely need to even venture near the pricier make-up stands. Sam of make-up artist duo Pixiwoo has made no secret of her admiration for the Sleek colour palettes. I haven't bought any yet (it's only a matter of time) but I have to throw my hat into the ring for BeautyUK. Their muted forest-toned iridescent palette is a modern classic, but this rainbow palette is great fun, and less than £5. You'll get a lot of colour out of each shade, and they wear really well over a good base. I can't recommend it enough.

Best eye quartet I ever ever bought. I bought this Hard Candy quad when I was sixteen. I'm now 27 - and still using it. The pressed powder hasn't degraded at all; it's heavily pigmented and very iridescent with a thick, luxurious texture. The yellow is fantastic with a strong green shimmer and the darker shades are gold-shot. I know you're not meant to keep make up for so long but when it works such a treat, and is so irreplaceable, how can I throw it out?

I miss Hard Candy SO MUCH. I'll probably do a post dedicated to them shortly.

Who doesn't love Shu Uemura? A deliciously pigmented shimmering yellow that I like on its own with black mascara and minimal make-up elsewhere.


Friday, 5 March 2010

Very excited

This layabout blogger is going to be a paid-up member of society once more. No more daytime television or odd days of work for me for a while... I just landed a very serious executive PA job, starting at the end of the month.

My father and boyfriend's responses: "Congratulations!" My mother's response: "You'll need to sort your wardrobe out, dear. Not that you don't have wonderful clothes, but I think you might need to . . . er . . . " Yes, Mother, I know. Yours truly will be finally sorting out her tax this month and trotting off out in search of a couple of suitably executive looking shirts. Advice, Londoners? Where will I find beautiful shirts? Thomas Pink's shirts are a bit stiff for me... I need something with a narrow, slightly mannish fit and very sharp but understated collar in fairly thin fabric, nothing that looks like it could stand up on its own. Proper cuffs a bonus.

My mother is desperate for me to buy a silk shirt. I think this has been her ambition for me for some time now.


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Dress Up

I am very taken with Aussie label Dress Up.

The current collection suggests a preoccupation with a state of undress. Dresses fall off shoulders, or sections are pinned together, baring small, irregular expanses of skin. It's sexy and risque but quite the opposite of the sucked in, va-va-voom of body-con or burlesque's old-school kitsch.

Black, brick red and nude prevails, in degrees of sheer.

The perfect black trousers? Dainty and beatnik with flat sandals or pumps, elegant with wedges, and they'd tuck perfectly into some calf-length boots.

Dress Up are stocked at Liberty - and here's Yasmin Sewell, Liberty's Chief Creative Consultant, wearing the most wantsome skirt I've seen since records began. Photo by the very talented Vanessa Jackman, from her blog.

I also just noticed that fellow Aussie label Shakuhachi are now being stocked at Urban Outfitters. Long have I waited for this moment, Shaku fangirl that I am. I had a peruse yesterday - beautiful, loosely structured grey jackets with zip-off sleeves, softsoftsoft black jersey and drapey nude chiffon. Perhaps what you'd call quirky future classics. Pricey though, mostly £150-£200. All the more reason for me to get a permanent job, stat.

Photos, (c) Dress Up, except last photo, (c) Vanessa Jackman.


Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Maxi memories

I'm disconcerted.

The maxi skirt has resurfaced. People are actually wearing them - well, in blogland anyway. And I cannot remember the last time an item of clothing made me feel so uncomfortable. The jumpsuit, the 80s shoulder pad, the leggings - these were all remnants of a decade long gone, but for me they held no personal memories. I knew that they were wrong (until they were right again) but I had no personal issue with them. But the maxi is another story.

I'm trying to pin down what it is about this garment that seems so alien, so out of time and place - why does it make me uncomfortable? My first glimpse in years was on another style blog. My first thought - "Why would you do that?" Then on Off the High Street, a member asking how to wear one. And indeed, they have been all over the catwalks, though they escaped my attention entirely. Ann Demeulemeester and Max Mara sent them down the runways last year, and the fall '10 catwalks were awash with swishy skirts, sweeping the dust from beneath the models' shoes.

My memories of the skirt are mixed and frequent.

1994: aged 12, in a long dark green tube skirt with a Chinese print on it. Think there was a matching shirt.

15 years old, still indulging life-long hippy tendencies (now quashed forever) in a purple satin C&A floor-sweeper and vest top. There was also a black jersey version.

Aged 16, seeing one of the cool girls in college rock a ballgown skirt to the Christmas dance, teamed awesomely with pink basketball vest and Vans. The ballgown skirt flounces its way insouciantly through art classes for the next month.

Aged 16, shamelessly copying her in a pale grey jersey Topshop maxi with back slit, Converse and red basketball vest. The look is infinitely less successful on my pale, bony, sort-of-brunette body.

Aged 17, still enchanted by that one look, attempt to team under-netted gunmetal maxi (more ballgowny, see??) with corset at indie/rock clubnight. Oh dear. The end of my career in maxi skirts.

The 90s ends.

And here's Ann Demeulemeester, with a rufflier version of my grey jersey tribute skirt, to remind me of what I did not look like.

Yet fashion is so contextual, and even now, seeing the new maxis with fresh eyes and surrounded by new opinions, I have no idea what I think of them. I recoil, but not with a familiar "Ugh, how ugly" reaction - I think it's just simple, personal confusion - "Why is it back?" How did I actually feel in my long skirts? I think I felt elegant, flowing, otherworldly, TALL. All the things I was not when I was an insectoid teenager. Looking back, I know I was merely deluded, and the thought, and these reminders, leave me uncomfortable. (Maybe I tried so hard to make this skirt work, with such rubbish results, that I resent its return.) Could I feel elegant now in a skirt like this?

And could I get through the day in one? Floor-length feels all wrong in this bustling city. I'm not Sienna Miller, nor do I have a meadow to frolic in. Even my beloved long grey strappy chiffon Jigsaw dress, bias-cut and perfect with a tough brown belt and flat red sandals, feels bizarre in smoky London. What would I wear a maxi with? How does one look defined and sharp in one, without losing half one's shape or looking out of one's time? Fashion has become so sexualised, culminating in last year's body-con; am I ready to sartorially silence half my anatomy?

No, I do not trust the maxi skirt.


Monday, 1 March 2010

Two to read

Some interesting thoughts about the future of thrifting over at No Signposts in the Sea and The Girl Who Married a Bear (and some bewitching old photographs at the latter). They make an astute point - for those of us who adore second-hand shopping, what future are we storing up for ourselves with the new purchases that, in theory, will populate charity/vintage shops in twenty years - if they make it that far?

Worth a read.