Friday, 27 September 2013

Fashion Friday

It's the end of another week (already) spent wondering what the hell to wear in this undecided British weather of ours. I had resigned myself to the fact that summer was over and it was time to put my coat on for the next 8 months, but then the sun comes and shines all over place and confuses me.

Now, I don't mind if it's sunny - I don't mind if it's cold. I would just like it to stick to one or the other, please. It makes it incredibly difficult when I'm trying to get dressed in the morning and I know I'll inevitably spend the day freezing or boiling. It's just not on Mother Nature. 

On to more pressing matters. Here's a little taster of what I've been wearing and buying this week. I went "window" shopping with a friend during the week, which lasted all of half an hour once I stumbled into the lingerie sale in Gap. Lingerie being one of my favourite things to buy, it was hard to resist. I came away with some really pretty lace bras AND the matching underwear which is always a bonus. I don't often have the energy to shop for bras because it's so very time confusing but I'm super duper happy I did because I have 3 new ones and they were ONLY £4.99 each. Not a bad afternoons work. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


I reached a milestone in my fashion life at the weekend. I think I'm finally becoming a woman. I made a fashion purchase so monumental I just had to share it. I may be exaggerating slightly here but I'm still very excited. 

It was just a normal shopping trip, I wasn't planning on spending any money until I stepped into River Island and my eyes clapped on a leather jacket the moment I walked in. I was pretty chuffed when I saw it was only £100 - which for a leather jacket is reasonable. I was double chuffed when I remembered I had a 25% off discount card, free from the October issue of Elle. There was no way I wasn't going to get it even though I felt mildly guilty about spending £75...but come on, £75 for a leather jacket. I'd have to be a mental case NOT to buy it. Please just agree with me. 

At least I can rest assured this is something I'm going to continue to wear for a long time. I have never had a real leather jacket before - I could never afford one, and had to make do with pretend versions. Which to be fair, I wore to death. So I feel like this is a worthy investment. Again, please just agree with me..

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Book Porn

We all like to fantasize about our dream home. The place we'll live in once we finally grow up, get real jobs and can actually afford a mortgage. Maybe not the mortgage part. We like to fantasy decorate this house, it changes from time to time as flocked wallpaper flits in and out of fashion. Depending on the kind of gal you are, you might spend the majority of your ideal-home daydreaming time imagining the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom or wardrobe. I am not one of these ladies. For me, the creme de la creme of my proper grown up house will be the library. Oh yes. We're not just talking the living room with a few extra book shelves - an actual library; a room dedicated entirely to books and the reading of them. I'll know I've made it when I have a library that's for sure. 

Until that time comes, I have to make do with a variety of temporary solutions. For many months now, quite possibly years, my growing book collection has sat un-shelved and forlorn on my bedroom floor. Nothing pains me quite like the mistreatment of books but my 2-shelf book case doth not suffice in housing my entire collection.

Each time I purchase a new book, it is destined for life amongst it's fellow friends, pushed against a wall teetering dangerously high. This is necessary, because the solution to this problem - sharing the shelves with everyone else's books is also too painful to consider. The thought of my books being mixed up with somebody else's in God knows what order - no, thank you.

I thought I my Birthday and Christmas had both come at once when I managed to snag an unused bookshelf with 3 whole shelves - much larger than what I currently have. I moved all the books into their new home and was feeling pretty damn good. Until now. After scouring the living room shelves for any of my babies that had been separated from the pack - I came up with TWENTY TWO books that I have no room for. 

I can't bear to start a new bedroom floor pile, so I suspect I will have to move a few things back to their original 2-shelf home. Now this problem of mine, like Carrie Bradshaw before me, got me to thinking. It seems in our digital, techno-overload, modern existence - there is no place for books. Literally. There's plenty of space for a teeny-tiny piece of equipment that slips into your back pocket - and slips right out again into the bath, sea, a puddle. 

I fear we may be entering into a time where books no longer have a place and that deeply saddens me. I feel like I have been mourning the loss of books since the first e-Reader sold. I have no doubt the sales of physical copies has been effected - they were probably struggling to sell them before e-Books were invented (I've never seen so many 2 for 1, buy one get one 1/2 price offers), hence the need to come up with a more affordable way of selling books - but I'd imagine it has made it even harder to shift something for £7.99 when you can download it for £1.99.

This is great for all those people who can't afford to buy a mountain of paper backs and then struggle to find the space to store them - however, if you can afford to spend £200 on a Kindle I'm sure money wasn't really the issue in the first place. The selling point for the e-Reader is the convenience of it all. It's so tiny and flat - who needs a giant, unwieldy book that weighs down your bag and crinkles in the bath when you can download 2 trillion novels into ONE THING that weighs 10grams? Or something. People these days don't have the time to go to Waterstones and buy a book, then find the space to store it in their shoebox flat - because it's 2013, guys and if you're living alone and you're under 40 - you're probably living in a studio with a shared bathroom. Where the hell are you supposed to fit all your stuff anyway? 

I understand it's easier. I really do. I hate the fact I can't always fit a book in my bag and there's nothing more annoying than finishing a story half way into a train journey and not being able to start another one. Because there's no way I'm taking 2 books every where I go - that is ridiculous. It just makes me slightly sad that we may be losing something very special with the prominence of digitized books. The future of print is looking very, very bleak right now and it's a great shame. 

I can see there are positives in that people are probably reading more than ever before because it's so much more accessible.  I cannot deny how easy and convenient it is to be able to download something you want straight away rather than wait until an Amazon delivery. Everybody should read, it doesn't matter what you're reading, as long as you're reading something and if buying a Kindle helps you do that, then great.

But there is nothing better to me than the physicality of a book. The tangible, actual-ness of a paper book. The weight of it in your hand. The feel of it when you're in bed late at night and you can't put it down, I love the turning of the pages - the possibility of all the words ahead of you. You can see them and you desperately want to know what happens at the end but you really don't want to ruin it for yourself at the same time. Yes, they can be heavy and they make your hands hurt sometimes but that's all part of the charm. Laying on a sun lounger, in bed, on the sofa - you have to keep turning round because your hands and arms are going numb. Nothing can replace the beauty of a real paper page - the e-Reader knows it's fighting a losing battle with all the promised 'paper white' screens. It's just not quite the same. 

They all look so beautiful lined up on their shelves. What could be better than a shelf full of your books - the memories of reading them and how they affected you? You can't underline a quote or a special line on an e-Reader. There's nothing personal about a black screen. There's no sharing a favourite part with somebody who's reading the same thing, you can't just turn over the corner page and flip back to a funny line. This is why I treasure the books I have so much, I love to see them all in front of me. I like to chose which one I'm going to re-read depending on the mood I'm in. Instead of inventing different ways to read books - how about they develop a way of forgetting you've read a book so that you can rediscover and love it all over again?

I await the demise of the printed book with sadness, along with the possibility that many of my favourite magazines could also be headed down the same route. I guess the rarity of print can only make it more special, but I don't want to imagine a time when my children or grandchildren might not have a creased and torn copy of The Cat in the Hat on their bedside table. 

Monday, 16 September 2013

Fashion roundup

So last week I went WILD (they were in the sale) and purchased a pair of Nike Air Max 1 trainers. I have been lusting over these for a while now, glaring enviously at those who already posses a pair - after pay day I felt like this was the month to finally invest. I spent a while looking at different websites at all the colours and prices, quickly coming to the conclusion that they were the same price everywhere and there are TOO MANY COLOURS TO CHOSE FROM. 

I made the decision at this point to buy the one pair that were on sale and in my size - I love pink and at least it's different to my usual boring black. They arrived last Tuesday and I have literally worn nothing since. They are so comfortable and I already want another pair in (boring) black. The only problem is the bouncy air pocket in the sole makes me about 2 inches taller, for most people this would be an added bonus but I am anything but vertically challenged. Well, it's a small price to pay for looking fabulous. Check out what I've been wearing this week..

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Denim Madness

There exists in a woman's wardrobe a selected few items of clothing that are set apart from the rest of the pack. They are special. You remember exactly when you bought them; where you were and how it felt. Whether you like it or not. 

These are the pieces that will have incurred more hassle whilst attempting to purchase than any others. They might include the perfect black trousers, a well fitting suit or the perfect LBD. No one had prepared you for the horror. Nobody told you that a size 28 waist, and 32 leg would be different in every single shop. You walked into town thinking it would be so easy. It's just a pair of trousers, how hard can it be? Turns out, very.

For me, there is no journey more arduous, so laden with problems - than the trip to Jean-ville. No shopping trip more sweaty or exhausting. How can there be so much of it around yet so little of it that actually fits? I believe the first woman to declare "I have NOTHING to wear", was standing in front of a wardrobe full of ill-fitting denim.
I can honestly say, in all my years on this planet (not actually that many), I have never owned a pair of jeans that fitted me perfectly. There has always been a catch; too short, too low in the waist, too big, too small, too big and too small at the same time - how is that even possible? Once again, the Gods are have blessed me with height - which I am eternally grateful for. It does however, make jean buying EXCRUCIATING. The days that I feel stable enough to attempt to shop for jeans - they are fleeting, and must be taken full advantage of - I grow steadily angrier as each pair is discarded for being almost perfect. Like Goldilocks and the 3000 bears. 

I usually approach the denim beast during the sale period. I think this is my first mistake. Why do I think my perfect, made-for-me jeans are going to be in the sale? These are things nobody wanted, Jo. Don't get me wrong, I do believe you can find some hidden gems. You just have to wade through the t-shirts with Lady Gaga's face on first. But if I do miraculously find something in my size which, by the way, is up for some debate because helpfully, I'm a wildly different waist size in every shop. Sometimes by up to 2 dress sizes. No, I don't know either. 

So I'm out shopping, I'm browsing through the sale and I've found a pair in (roughly) my size - plus the size up and down. If I'm feeling pumped enough to try them on, I make sure I take a good few extras with me. Unless it's a really good day, there's no way I'm coming back out for take 2. I get to the changing room and I'm feeling positive - I start with the bigger size, (yes, I want to feel good about myself) and I'm braced for the fit. I can pull them up over my calves, it's a good start. Oh wow, they even fit over my knees AND thighs. I'm getting excited at this point. They're finally up, but hang on - what is this? Why is the waist band so loose? Are these maternity jeans? What fresh hell? Do I have a size 14 knee and size 10 waist? NEXT. 

The following 27 pairs run along the same kind of lines; "are these for kids?", "why won't they go over my foot arches?" and "do you think it matters that these flares are a touch too short?".

Oh but this next pair looks promising, they're a - wait for it - leg 34!! The only time you see a leg 34 anything in the sale is when it's a waist 24. If there are people out there who wear a 24/34 then I don't want to know about it. So far, so good..they're over the thighs - plenty of stretch, I can even do them up and they're still a bit snug. (This is essential as we all know that jeans expand by two inches once you wear them for 5 minutes, take the label off and/or throw away the receipt.) Now, let's have a look in the mirror. Oh, Lord! Is that ME?! Look at my thighs! I knew they were high waisted but look at my arse! It's longer than my body! How is it possible to look so wide? Jesus Christ. What I was thinking picking up acid wash anyway. No wonder they're in the sale. 

At this point I will exit the changing facilities. I'm empty handed. I'll maybe take a quick glance at the sale rail on my way out the shop. Just to see if anything new is there, you know. I'm flipping through what's left; stuff's falling off the hanger onto the floor but I don't care - I'm pissed off, I'm sweating, my hair is inexplicable. People are in my way - one look at my face (and hair) and they move.They're scared, more so than usual. There is nothing left for me here, I resolutely conclude. 

Episodes like this take their toll on a gal, as you can well imagine. There's a Gap next door but there's no way I'm going in after the Topshop experience. I'm not even going to walk near Jack Wills or Abercrombie. They can't handle me when I'm in a good mood let alone at this level of rage. I should probably just go home, I've ruined everyone's day and my Mother is scared to ask where I want to go next. Her patience is starting to wear thin, she asks me if I'm OK; apparently "I'm FINE" means you're definitely not fine, whether a man is involved or not. I have a coffee and some cake and I'm somewhat placated. I remember that if something seems to good to be true, it probably is and make a vow never to shop for jeans EVER AGAIN. Until the next sale, anyway.

Despite the trauma - I have faith in denim-kind. I still believe that there is a pair of jeans out there that's just right for me. Like my soul mate or future husband - I know he's out there, I just have to find him.

Fashion 101

I suppose it's about time I wrote a fashion related post. Seeing as how as it's one of my main interests in life and everything. 

As the new season approaches - kicking off with New York Fashion Week, it's that time everyone starts thinking about what they're going to be wearing six months in advance - but also when we actually start buying what we're going to be wearing now.

I have the tendency, as I'm sure many other women do, to compile a mental wish list as I go through life. The list peaks around the start of a new season, as the pieces I've been waiting for finally drop. It also tends to spike during the periods that I'm flat out broke - but I fear that has more to do with me wanting what I can't have that anything else.

Anyway. Although I like to follow and keep up to date with fashion, the latest trends and all that jazz - it's part of what I do after all. I am also a firm believer in spending the majority of your money on pieces that you feel you will wear for more than one season. Unless you're a billionaire - which I doubt if you're reading this - if you spend £50 on a skirt, you'd hope to wear that for more than a couple of months. I certainly can't afford to buy a complete new wardrobe every six months and honestly, even if I could afford to do it - I probably wouldn't. When it comes to investing your money in clothes you should think wisely before you spend. It might be £20 or it might be £200 - the same thought should be going into it. 

I split my purchases into two categories - trend led and classics.

With trend led pieces I am reluctant to throw a lot of money at them. If there's a trend I'm crazy for but I sense doesn't have much longevity I might buy a couple of high street interpretations of it - but I won't spend much. This might be a t-shirt from Primark or something from H&M - if I look ridiculous in it a year down the line at least I can wear it to go running and I'm not upset I paid a fortune for it.

With classics, it's a different story. These are the pieces that I'm going to be wearing on a day to day basis. These are the things you will likely base your outfit around, for me it's jeans, black trousers, jackets, dresses. I'm a coat fanatic as it is so I'm always going to spend money buying them. Take the parka I bought about 5 years ago - it was the most expensive thing I'd ever bought at the time but I still wear it every year. I got it from an army supply shop, it cost me about £70 and it's still wearable. I can't, and don't want to, imagine a time when a parka won't be in fashion. I mean, they literally go with everything.

I don't want to mislead anyone and make you think you have to spend a fortune buying one piece of clothing you'll wear forever - when I say I spend the majority, that still isn't a lot - it's just more than I would spend on something faddy. I think it's mostly important to be mindful about what you're buying and spending less where you know it's a passing craze. Jewellery is also a great example of this - I would generally advise against spending £250 on a bejeweled, gem studded collar necklace. It might look pretty cool right now against your white tee but what about 2 years down the line when everyone has pretty, dainty chain necklaces on and you wish you'd saved the money? Exactly.

When it comes to shoes, I do believe you're going to get better value for money and quality if you shop outside of Primark, for example. Purely because I find buying shoes so difficult, I do it infrequently and tend to go for the same kind of thing. If I could get my foot into wonderful, spindly heels and S&M boots I'd probably be buying them all - unfortunately, I cannot. The gods have blessed me with height and awkwardly shaped feet so I must make my peace with that. But as with a parka - Vans, Converse and Nike Air Max 1's are probably always going to acceptable footwear choices, so it's not all doom and gloom.

So when pay day approaches and you're itching to buy - please try not to go mental and buy something you'll regret. Unless you are actually a millionaire. In which case buy what you want.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Day 2

Well, it's day 2 and I'm writing again. This is an achievement in itself. Yes, I'm proud.

Not that I have any idea what I'm actually going to say. Perhaps this is the point that I should heed my Uni tutors advice and decide on a context before I begin a new project. She has a point. 

It is incredibly hard to write if you don't know who or what it's for. You wouldn't write a letter if you didn't know who you were writing to. (I'd imagine.) I think this is probably applicable to most things in life. It's a concept many people struggled with at first - at the start of our 3rd year of University, we were informed we must decide on a context for our final major project before we even decide on a concept or idea. 

This may have seemed alien (and annoying) at first. Eventually it made sense to me. Whilst I was struggling to form an idea that I liked enough to research for half a year, yet wasn't too broad OR  wasn't broad enough so I'd run out of material - I was told to decide on where I thought my project belonged. Was I going to take pictures, make a film? Was it editorial, conceptual - was I going to create a feature film trailer or an advert for a fashion brand? It is important to make these decisions early on - lest you create a piece of work that has little or no use to anyone or anything. There's a reason advertising agencies will commission an artist or designer instead of shopping around for a project that 'fits' their idea for a brand.

There was no way I was going to do a project about the naked female body and try to pass it off as a submission to Good Housekeeping - it just doesn't make sense. Maybe it sets boundaries that might limit your creativity but I don't believe it really has any detrimental effect. If you were creating a submission to an art gallery or magazine you could probably be as free as you liked. But it helps to understand where your pictures, writing, music is going before you start creating it so that you understand your audience and what they want. It's not just about tailoring your art to fit into a certain mould - I think it's about clarity. The ideas will flow more freely if you have an inkling of the context for the end result.

Take this blog for example. I have no idea who, if anyone, is reading this and I haven't got a fucking clue what to say.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Dear Me

Day one at sea. And by day one I mean month 9 and by sea, I mean unemployment.

Today is a new beginning, Captain. Encouraged and inspired by the writings of other, more productive people - I have decided I will write a blog and I will do it for more than a day, every six months. Besides, what else am I going to do? One cannot read ELLE, watch Sex and the City and eat porridge forever. 

I don't yet know what this blog will be 'about' exactly. It's just another one of those things I can't make a decision on, because I want to write about EVERYTHING. Just like I want to do every job conceivable and learn everything, ever. And travel and get settled and meet a boyfriend then be single, have children, read ALL the books, be a popstar, be a writer, move to a remote island to do yoga all my life..

I understand it is slightly unrealistic of me to expect to achieve all of these things in one lifetime but I can always try. I suppose what I want most, like everybody else, is to be happy and to live without regret. 

As I sit around, unemployed and broke, worrying that i'll never get a job or have any money - the chances of achieving any of these things slips further away from me. Inexplicably, what then scares me is the chance that I might actually get offered a job - a permanent, paid one. Hang on a second! Is this really what I want to do? What if I don't like it? What if I realise I don't enjoy it as much as I thought I would? Should I have gone traveling instead? Should I have applied for a different position? Should I have done a different degree? What am I DOING WITH MY LIFE? Crucially, why am I being such a whiney bitch?

I must remind myself not to use this limited time I have worrying about what might or might not be. Most likely it won't be if i've spent my life procrastinating. So, if I don't get a job soon I guess I can go traveling - it's not like anything will be holding me back. If I do get a job, I will probably love it. If I don't, I'll do something else. 

I'm hoping that voicing, or writing, a few of these concerns will lessen the fear. Because ultimately it's the fear that is holding me back. I must not be afraid to put myself out there for the fear of it not working. It seems fitting to end on one of my favourite quotes. Obviously I don't have one favourite because I can't decide on that either. 

"I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet." 
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar