Monday, March 4, 2013

Onesies. Just say no.

Is it truly the time for the apocalypse?  Have humans really regressed to the state of being overgrown toddlers?  Is it, in fact, the idiocracy? How has this happened?  Our society stands, wobbling, holding desperately onto the side of the sofa.  In, let’s face it, a babygro.

I’m talking about the ‘onesie’.  When we envisioned the one piece suit of the future, this was not what we had in mind!  What are you doing people?  Are you two?  Are you old enough to buy your own clothes or is your mummy still dressing you?  Now i’m all for freedom of expression, but there are levels.  What happened to dressing like a grown-up?  And not a grown-up tiger.  Now stop it. And put some proper clothes on.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Permission to Change..?

One of the things i love and also hate about fashion, is its transitory nature.  It's always in flux, this month's 'essential trouser' is next month's 'never to be seen again'.  For instance, you will not, ever, see me buying anything with a peplum on.  Apart from the fact that i'm 5'11 and therefore would look like a lampshade, they'll be totally over by christmas...

I love the transitory because, hey! New shiny! And i hate it because that thing that i loved, the look that i've clung to since 2007, the perfect jeans that i now can't buy anywhere, disappear without trace, never to be seen again.  Or at least for another 20 years or so anyway.  And while i am a big fashion geek, i get stuck in my ways as easily as anyone else who's been on the planet for more than five minutes - especially as, soon after my fashion geekism kicked in hard, i then became what's referred to as a 'lifestyle music fan'.  In this case, a goth.  For a long time.  And give or take the odd change of trouser shape and update of hairstyle, goths have pretty much looked the same since the 80s.  It's an extreme example, but think about your friends or your older female relatives (and the boys too, to a lesser extent). How many of them found a look that 'worked' in the time they felt happiest about themselves and stuck with it?  The 80s powersuit, the 90s grunge hair, the 60s bob and black eyeliner?

Fashion doesn't help, by the time most of us have the income to buy decent quality stuff, we're twice the age of the models that are being used to advertise it!  We're never going to look like that, so why bother?  Stick with what you know, right?

It often takes a major life changing event to make a woman change her look.  In my somewhat erratic career path, i spent some time as a hairdresser - and 9 times out of 10 (citation needed), any woman who booked in for a 'restyle' had generally had something major happen.  A brutal crop or a sudden change from brunette to blonde or blonde to scarlet would often coincide with a suddenly unadorned ring finger.  Hell, i did it myself - long blonde tresses went to short red bob went to bleached crop went to my current short brunette (really need to update that profile picture).  And each time, end of relationship, move of house, another move of house etc etc...

Its not always a big event though.  For instance, you wait your whole life for the shade of red lipstick that suits you and then two come along at once.  In this case, rimmel 'tantrum' (this makes all my friends laugh wryly for some reason) and also rimmel kate moss 01.  Both the perfect grown-up red, and both completely unsuitable to wear with the smudgey black kohl i've been doing since i was 19...  So, black eyeliner goes in the bin, out comes the nude shadow palette, and a couple of pixiwoo tutorials later i'm rocking the totally sophisticated scarlet pout that is apparently so this season....

It's easy to get stuck in that look that everyone knows as you. The hair, the makeup, the skinny jeans become your fashion 'brand' whether you like it or not.  Why change?  But then if change is thrust upon you anyway, if that 'you' uniform suddenly feels redundant, it can be a relief to drop the 'you' everyone thinks they know and go for it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

So what the hell is a 'capsule wardrobe' anyway?

Interestingly, in the name of researching the question i just thought of, i googled it. And google being google, as i started to type it gave me a bunch of possibilities, the second of which was 'capsule wardrobe'.  The first was 'capsule endoscopy', and now i wish i wasn't so inquisitive.

But yes, capsule wardrobes. If you've been reading my other blog, or watching my twitter, you might be aware that i'm planning a move soon.  Expect posts about decorating and cushions soon! (Not really).  So while i don't have a lot of space where i am now (someone else's attic) and will actually have more after i move (studio, yay! No shared blimmin' bathroom! Even more yay!  I know, the glamour never stops!) the actual act of moving is much more of a palaver than i want it to be.  The major faff for me is packing.  And then unpacking at the other end. I'd almost rather just chuck everything i don't need and start again.  Which, ok, is not that eco-friendly on paper but hey, i don't drive, i get credits.  Yes i do.

Having done a quick inventory though, i don't have that much to chuck out.  I might even be doing the capsule thing already by mistake.  Here's my capsule, broken down to categories:

Biker jacket. Fitted. Works with a smart frock like you wouldn't believe. Trust me. Doesn't have to be expensive, mine's plastic and you wouldn't know to look at it.

Brolly. Small, handbag size. Biker jackets don't have hoods.

Something big and functional that's not an anorak.  Throw-over ripstop hoodie, yachty jacket, it gets cold again in winter, and it rains a lot these days (bloody knackered planet, did nobody take notice of Tomorrow's world?).

Tailored dress. Wherever around the knee works for you. Not short. Think job interview, presentation etc. Get two.  Make sure they're different enough. Yeah i know its sexist but boys can get away with the same suit two days in a row; that's because mostly how they look doesn't matter all that much, nobody's looking at them.

Wide leg trousers. Don't care if they're in fashion or not, they look damn good, ask Katherine Hepburn.

Slinky top to go with the trousers.

Awesomely grown-up handbag.

High heeled boots. Knee high for preference, they go with skirts better

High heeled shoes. For when its too hot for boots. Either black or mental coloured/sparkly. Like Caitlin Moran says, animal print is a neutral.

Not smart:
Jeans that fit and suit your shape. See, thought i was going to say 'skinny' or 'high waist' or whatever there didn't you?  Nope. What fits you looks good, and what i love now about jeans in 2012 is that there's no 'must have'. Skinny, Flared, 'boyfriend', nicked off boyfriend, nicked off girlfriend, whatever works. Me, i have a pair of skinny that are currently the exact perfect shade of old and will therefore probably fall apart the next time i wash them, and a pair of flares that are such a perfect fit i can hardly get them done up but once they're on, i don't notice them.  Blue or black. Colours make you look like a jester.  And i saw some acid wash jeans today, don't do that. Ever. Unless you're Kate Lanphear. And i doubt you are.

T-shirts, assorted vesty camisoley things.  Again, shape is everything. I like mine sprayed on OR way too big but then i have tiny boobs.  Experiment. Find a shape that works for you and buy a load of them.

Jumpers. NOT sweatshirts, unless you're american and 15, and probably even not then.  Big huge snuggly jumpers you can wrap yourself in on a cold day or use as a blanket. AND teeny tiny ones that make you look like its the 50s.

Trainers. Biker/combat boots. Wellies.

Courier/laptop bag, backpack.

Party/date/night out:
KILLER dress. I mean, killer. The one that makes you feel like Jessica Rabbit.  Doesn't have to be expensive, shouldn't be trashy, you're a diva, not a jersey shorer.  Yeah, gender binary, yeah sexism, but yeah, why the hell not? A frock that makes boys open doors for you and clear a path.  You don't have to snog them or anything.  It's not for them, it's for you.

Shoes to go with killer dress. Can be anything.  I'm being vague here, but my killer dress shoes are a pair of matte platform courts from new look. They do the job.  Make sure you can walk in them.

Whatever your signature jewellery is.  You know what i mean. For me it's bracelets. I never take my earrings out, but if you do, get an assortment.

Bags.  You can have too many bags but it isn't easy.

More shoes. Just general shoes, they make good ornaments too.

Tights. Opaque. Black.

At least one bra that really, really fits. Doesn't have to be expensive.  Whisper it, but i hear on the grapevine everything high street is made in the same factory anyway. Except for the really fancy stuff.  Probably.

Pyjamas. Old leggings and boy's t-shirts count.  And look adorable, actually.

The makeup thing that really suits you. For me, its smudgey black eyeliner and neutral lips.  Easy and doesn't need to be neat, because that's the point.  I want want WANT red lipstick but it makes me look like a zombie david bowie.  And not in a good way.

A decent haircut.  That doesn't mean expensive, that means one that suits you, flatters your features and works for your life.  I've gone on before about hair but its a big thing, it's a body part that you can easily 'fix' unless something disastrous happens.  Watch any makeover show - what makes the big difference? It's the hair. Get the hair right and everything else falls into place.  And i can't say it enough times, right means what you feel comfortable with, whether its the full Cheryl of extensions or a dyed pink grade 2.

If you ride a bike, then HELMET. And gloves. Yeah, they look dorky, yeah you probably won't need it, until the day you do. I've got a scar on my chin and a scratched Urge Dirtomatic that would have been a trip to the hospital had i been trying to look cool.  You really don't look cool sliding down the road on your face no matter what you're wearing.

So hum, ok, i've just pretty much looked around my room and done a clothes inventory.   A bit of a big 'capsule' but still only a suitcase or two's load. Not too horrific.  And like i said, we're not going travelling here.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Branding, Pictures, Headshots and self-awareness...

If you're not already aware of the whole #brickgate debacle, its probably best for your mental health if it stays that way.  Google it if you must, but i'm not linking on this one!  Partly because it was the final nail in the thing that made me install kittenblock so i never have to look at the stupid daily mail again, ever...


But one question it raises, is the issue of personal branding.  You may or may not, depending on how much notice you've been taking, have noticed that none of the pictures on this blog are of me.  I think. But definitely not the profile images. While the other two blogs are about tech and anything else i feel like writing about, this one's all about fashion (sort of) so you'd think a bit of personification would be useful? Well yeah, maybe.  But as Madame Brick has found out, if you make the way you look an issue, it overshadows any other point that you might have to make.  Right now, i can write about fashion from any point of view, whether its 'gruddangit what are the young people wearing these days?!' to 'you just don't understand us and our music, squares!!'.

I could be sat at a desk in pristine chanel typing on a gleaming mac, or on a futon in my pjs with a netbook on my lap and it doesn't actually matter.  It's what i write that matters, not what i'm wearing when i write it. And it's working; i'm getting a few new media industry types adding themselves to my twitter followers.  This is good.  That's why i got twitter in the first place.

My twitter image is an old pic of my bike in urban bullet mode, taken at a train station.  I like it.  It's personal to me (i love my wheels man), it's modern, it's a bit gritty but it's also shiny and fast...  My blogger profile pic is just damn cool...  Both of those images say a lot more about my personal brand, who i am, what you're going to get if i write something for you, than a posed picture of me would.  Branding? Yeah, it's a thing. It's an issue but i choose to not make it an issue.  Mostly.  Certainly not here.  Unless i change my mind or it becomes useful later.  Branding has to be malleable too...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I want to be an individual. Just like the others...

Fashion, tribalism, conformity, and anti-conformity.  Even the most derided communities have their tribes and their fashions.  Yes, i'm talking about cycling again.  This is pretty old now but there's still relevance if you ride a bike where anyone else does, and especially if you've been near any kind of bike forum.  There are any number of 'rules' that it's a major faux-pas to disobey, especially for roadies (in this case, people who ride what used to be known as 'racers' and are now 'road bikes' - as opposed to mountain bikes, you see - rather than people who carry the amps for motorhead), who 'other tribes' can occasionally consider a bunch of over-macho po-faced gits yelling 'THE PAAAAAIIIINNN!!!' like Kyle MacClachlan in Dune...

Even the tribes split into tribes.  The downhill full suspension mob sneer about the cross country lot, and the enduro lot are just mad, but then so would you be after 24hours sat in a saddle..! ' Urban cyclists' are 'officially' currently trendy, which means the media hates them.  Then there's the BMX kids (some of whom are in their 40s) and the 'street trials' posse (does finger shakey thing) who despite thinking they're Danny MacCaskill, actually seem to spend most of their time doing teeny tiny bunny hops off kerbs, or trying to ride along walls and then falling off.

We don't talk about people who ride Bromptons.

"So, ok, which are you?" i hear you cry, oh non-existent reader person!  Well, obviously i'm a utility urban mountain biker, who occasionally rides enduros (ok, i did one once, in a team, and have mostly not stopped going on about it yet).

Told you i was an individual...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


'I am not my hair' says lady gaga. Or possibly 'I am my hair', I don't know, as I'm writing this on my blackberry on a train, somewhere where the mobile internet doesn't penetrate... But yes, anyway, so.  Hair.  If clothes maketh the man, then hair maketh the woman.  Not that hair dothn't maketh the man as well, what's a sure sign that a metal band has decided they want to be taken seriously? Trip to the barbers for a short back 'n' sides, that's what..!

But yes, hair for women is such a statement in the first years of the 21st century.  And not even body hair (I'm not even going to start thinking about going there), just the stuff that grows out of your head takes enough babying to keep to an acceptable level of shiny bouncy groomedness... Nowadays it seems to be a crime against the eyeballs of others to be seen leaving the house with anything less than the full Cheryl Cole 'ware wooth ett!' beehive, extensions and multi-layered colour shining in the sun...

And is it me or is short hair for women suddenly a big deal again?  Whither this generation's Annie Lennox or Sinead O'Connor?  I have to admit, I have a vested interest in this one!  Generally, after way too much experimentation that I haven't grown out of yet, I find that either very long hair or very short hair suit me best.  Which is a conundrum, as I currently have very short hair.  I mostly like having short hair, especially as the multiple random things on my cv include having spent five years as a hairdresser, so I'm more than capable of reaching round the back of my head with a grade 3 and chopping the bejeebus out of the top with a pair of thinning scissors.  Add bleach or an inappropriate shade of red and Annie's your auntie.  And yup, I used to have flaxen (and before that raven and occasionally pink or purple) tresses that bounced and wrapped round my head in the wind. But its a bit of a health and safety issue if you spend your commute on a bike, so after a brief flirtation with a variety of bobs and shags (stop sniggering at the back), I found myself in the bathroom with the scissors and after a while, a choppily boysey crop.  Which I'm currently still sporting.

So far, so Kate Lanphear.  But I do still get the impression I'm letting the side down on occasion.  I watch these hyper groomed business woman or hot lady detective or  types on the telly and think well, maybe I should grow it again.  But I know that I'd have to cope with a middle period of probably a year of looking totally crap while it grew out.

So short it is, unless i can go and live on a desert island for a year.  With lots of conditioner, obviously...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Knowing thyself...

And because i am british, i have to add to that: fnarr, obviously.  But yes, its one of those things we're always told isn't it?  Along with 'always be yourself'.  Which, to digress, don't always be yourself obviously.  Like for instance, if you're John Prescott, maybe try occasionally not being John Prescott for five minutes.  And Jeremy Clarkson should definitely stop being himself immediately.  But actually, there's an interesting couple of examples.  I don't think Mr Prescott (who i actually quite like, i find it hard not to approve of people who punch members of the countryside alliance in the head) knows particularly who he is.  Clarkson on the other hand, is so self aware that he's now just someone doing an impression of Jeremy Clarkson and has ruined Top Gear because of it.

They should get John Colshaw in instead.

But yes, an element of self aware is a useful thing.  Yonks back, before the Times site got stuck behind a paywall, there was an article in the fashion section all about 'fashion sex'.  Which apparently is nothing to do with doing rude things to laboutins, but was, i thought, quite an interesting idea.  Although having googled it i can only find articles being critical about the whole thing.  But for me, it struck a chord.  A slightly annoying one, but hey.  Because i know that my fashion gender (which is probably a better term and would have sparked less criticism from those inclined to criticise such things) is unequivocally boyish.  And it's really annoying!  Take for instance, one of my favourite things: the humble bicycle.  Every day, i ride to work.  And rather than dressing like i'm about to jump out of a plane, climbing aboard the battered but beloved beast and sweating it up the stupid hill every day, just occasionally i'd rather be swooshing along on a nice shiny pashley with a basket on the front, looking all elegant and composed.

Except: i know that i wouldn't really.  Much as the idea appeals, i know, deep down, that my next bike is probably likely to look something like this, rather than something you'd find swooshing through the streets of copenhagen.

That's because my fashion gender is boy.  I've accepted it.  I know, for instance, that when i had my hair long and wore glasses, that while in my head i looked like Anastacia, in actual fact i looked more like Garth off of Wayne's World.  Its not a good look. I can't pull off that ultra-fem thing.  And its a bummer, but its ok. Cos secretly i know that this kind of thing suits me much more than this would.  And while, wah its not fair i want to be a princess etc, also, d'you know what, girls in boysey stuff can look pretty damn cool, actually...