Tuesday, 30 November 2010

And Winter Came

The White Witch awoke, and, upon glancing out of the window, was met with the sight of the long-anticipated snow.
So she donned her warmest furs to keep out the cold (with a mustard dress Peggy Olson would be proud of)...
And advanced into the snowy wastes.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Never forget who you are, little star

Still no snow. Though it's like living in Siberia right now - the frosty cold, the temperature hardly rising above freezing...but life goes on. Another tube strike today (thankfully not affecting me) so London once again becomes a gridlocked mess.
I thought I might have had the chance to leave the gridlocked mess to apply for a serious job, that would have given me a real career advancement, back in my home city. Today I discovered that, in fact, it wouldn't be a guarentee at all, and that I'd, in fact, be mad to move home to security, job or otherwise, when compared to all that I have here. I'm starting to really like my jobs (both of them) and I have great friends here. I just wish I could spend Christmas out of the grimness of this city. I don't like the view from my window. I'll miss looking out across my home city, seeing out as far as the woods on the other side of it, seeing the mist set in on the streets and around the lampposts on my street (the number of stories I've started that feature that lamppost...) You can't even walk in a park here without hearing police sirens.
I may not have the view, but at least I'm warm.
I have a new coat. Every year I have to get a new winter coat. It's like a ritual. This year's is from Zara and is an early birthday present from my grandma.
I also have a few new items of jewellery - been on the hunt for some sweet gold pendants for a while and found these two. Been after a gold wishbone charm for ages and though this one is a tad too small, it'll do, and it's subtle enough to wear with other things. I need my luck.
And on a completely non-related note, I have a massive (and completely justified) style crush on Katie McGrath. Or rather, Katie McGrath as Morgana in Merlin. For any readers who haven't yet discovered the delights of Merlin, it's the BBC's family-friend reimagining of the Arthurian legends, told through the eyes of a teenaged Merlin, in the service of the teenage prince Arthur Pendragon (yes, they mess with the legends a lot, but that makes it even better when they weave the real legends into it). Katie, as Morgana, is all alabaster skin, beautiful hair and stunning clothes, and between her and Colin Morgan as Merlin, there's enough chiseled cheekbone to cut diamonds.
Gah. I wish I got to play dress-up in that and make eyes at Colin Morgan (sure they're 'I'm your nemesis and I'm going to kill you' eyes, but that's still a lot of locked eye contact) all day. And hang out with Richard Wilson and John Hurt.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

So fair, yet so cold

You know that feeling you get when something makes you feel so euphoric and overwhelmed that you feel like your heart is swelling up?
Well, that's what I get when I see things like this.




(This can go in another category - cute animal activity - as I'm pretty sure there were baby parakeets inside that tree)

This is Richmond Park. It was so cold you would not BELIEVE, but so unbelievably beautiful and tranquil. Still no snow yet here in the capital, but I'm hoping by the time I escape from work this evening there will be.
But if not, there's always perfect autumnal days like these.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The White Witch

Still no snow for us here in the south. But it's bitterly cold and wintry, especially at 8 o'clock in the morning on a train platform. So I thought it was high time to drag out the faux-fur coat.
Bow down to Jadis, the High Queen of Narnia.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Anticipation and Coming Cold

It's nice to be out of the city. Though I am still in close proximity to a busy-ish high street, the rows of terraced houses and the local park make it feel like the country. I can't wait to wander the tiny streets when they're lit with Christmas lights while imagining a small choir singing.
I'm coming over all festive. Advent is my favourite time of year, because for me the anticipation is always better than the event. Advent - singing carols, the lights, the buzz in the air of coming festivities and the happy faces of those who can feel it too, the music, the smells of the Christmas markets. I just love it all. The first time I listen to O Come O Come Emmanuel...
Which I can technically do this Sunday. How fast the year is going.
It's getting colder, and apparently we'll get snow tomorrow. It may be an occasion for my new coat, as today I was ever so slightly chilly.
Oh, and there was frost.
Winter is here. And I'm still waiting in vain.

Forever is our today

In the one of those weird coincidences that so often occur in everyday life, I was thinking earlier about this being the last full week of Mo-vember, and how Freddie Mercury had a great moustache. And then I learned, or was reminded, that today is the 19th anniversary of Freddie's death.
I still lament the sad, closeted girl that I had the misfortune of encountering at school who asked me who Queen were. They are one of those bands that you grow up listening to if your parents have any good sense at all (I grew up on a diet of Queen, Tracy Chapman, Nina Simone, Tina Turner, Genesis and Vivaldi. Just for good measure) and they're one of those rare bands who have, in their extensive repetoire, at least one song for everyone.
Freddie knew he was dying when he wrote this song, which makes it all the more poignant. It breaks my heart a little every time I hear it, because it's so full of hope for someone who knew his number was up, who knew he'd given it his all and who, in his life and in his legacy, touched and continues to touch the lives of so many people. And who, truly, went out on a cruel, untimely high note. 

RIP Freddie.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

It's a no brainer

Why waste your time standing in the cold and then wrestling in the stifling heat with 100+ others for the same dress that's worth 25% of the asking price, and will probably just get put on eBay in a week...
...when you can get these instead?

For only £16. Beats getting repetitive strain injury in your fingers to try and get the last Lanvin frilly party dress that you can guarentee everyone else at your fashion party will be wearing. I'm thinking of putting these over a pair of white tights and rocking them with a loose-fit white shirt.

(It's worth adding that I was introduced to these amazing pants by my esteemed fellow historian and general mad person Paperback Rioter, who is trying to distract himself from writing his thesis by any means necessary. I don't make a habit of trawling the internet for pants featuring historical figures.)

And they aren't just for the girls! My sources tell me that you can get one with Elizabeth I's face on too! It's your lucky day, boys.

Age is just a number...not

(Image from here. I bought this card for a relative's 50th. She still has it in display)

I finally got around to reading the interview with Anne Hathaway in this month’s Elle (one of my favourite cover girls of this year) and my love for she of the improbably large eyes and mouth was affirmed by the fact that, despite her cutesy teeny-bopper origins as Mia Thermopolis, she’s a smart, sophisticated yet mercifully human girl with a brain cunningly concealed behind the immediately likeable persona of Bambi eyes and ready smiles. She’s not the first girl you’d pick as the most beautiful in the room, but that’s what I think the Elle girl is about. Vogue gets the classically, conventionally beautiful girls, but Elle picks the growers, the faces to watch. They gave Emma Watson the cover last summer, all big hair and '60s eyes, and she’s doing a stellar (ahem) job on the cover of Vogue this month (the first issue of Vogue that I’ve bought in a good few months. Incidentally, Anne has the US Vogue cover this month too. The girl done good.

But she’s not really a girl any more is she. She’s a woman, though the interview opens with her firmly affirming, via a rousing rendition of the Britney Spears classic, that she’s still in between. They casually mention in the article that she’ll be 28 this year, and she muses that she would like to settle down with a family one day.

The number 28 struck me. It’s been floating around in plenty of circles for the past month. Our dearly beloved royal Winklevoss twin, Prince William (observation courtesy of iFlicks) is finally engaged to his beautiful brunette girlfriend, the Charlotte York of St Andrews, Kate Middleton. She’s 28. She’s (supposedly) put her life on hold for this guy, foregoing a traditional career path, or real job, to stand around looking like the epitome of good middle-class breeding in tweed, Ralph Lauren and pastels, with her glossy brunette locks as shiny and smooth as the mane of the horses she is no doubt fond of.

I like Kate. She seems nice, normal and sensible, despite being a tad dull and, let’s face it, rather uninspiring (Chelsey Davy may have been a tad chavvy in appearance, but at least she had a career), and she’ll no doubt make a beautiful bride. A lot of the media doesn’t seem to think so – one paper published a damning article about her lacklustre character and the fact that no future King of England could possibly do with marrying a commoner. I hope it was a joke. I’m unsure.

But I’m off-topic. What interested me was how the angle most often played was that the true tragedy of the Waity Katie scenario was how old she is. Her life is flashing by. She’s practically an old maid. The Evening Standard has a piece about how her younger sister, Pippa, is going to be the oldest bridesmaid of recent times. The poor girl is 26.

While all the big name monthly magazines are tripping over themselves to print life-affirming, ‘throw those rule-books away, girls’ articles about how box-ticking your way to your thirties is the worst possible way to live, certain others are undoing all their good work by constantly printing the ages of their journalists next to the features they publish. Like a badge of honour. ‘Look what this girl has achieved by 26’, ‘pity this poor girl who is still struggling with one tiny aspect of her otherwise perfect life at 24’. And so on and so on. The psychology behind this idea can only have these two possible interpretations. Neither of which make me, 23 in less than a month’s time, feel good.

A friend of mine is 28. He is, by all accounts, massively successful, having risen to almost the highest peak of his professional career trajectory and achieved financial security. But, as he pointed out, it all depends on how you measure success, citing a relative of his who may not have the dream career, but has a loving partner and a healthy baby. I didn’t realise men had to choose between the two as well.

All this life-affirming nonsense about throwing the rule book out of the window is not helping anyone, and neither am I by bringing it, I suppose. But while the rest of us are struggling, there’s nothing I need less than an article about a massively successful 26-year-old with her dream job. Because that’s only three years away. And though a lot can happen in three years, I’m not sure how I’ll find the time to fit it in in between finding my dream man, burning all the rule books and having my eggs frozen.
(Image from here)

Monday, 22 November 2010

The stars are coming out tonight

It's ok (for those of you that still care), I am still alive. I've just been mega-busy, as we creative types with no job are.
Had my first day off in over a month on Friday, which was so exciting for me that I couldn't even lie in like a normal person and instead woke up extra early out of sheer anticipation. Stupid body clock. But it did allow me to get a lot done, including lots of walking in parks, unintentionally befriending a squirrel and managing not to spend any money on anything other than lunch. I was impressed.
Though on Saturday I caved and bought a bag. I've been eyeing up the Peter Pilotto for Kipling range for quite a while (aside from that weird gorilla that they insist on adorning their bags with, their bags are rather good and rather cheap), irritating the salespeople in the store on Regent St by regularly walking in, jumping up and down to try and reach the bag on the top shelf, unwittingly engaging their assistance and then not actually buying said bag. I clearly need to make these people suffer. The poor salesgirl in the shop I actually bought it from had to go into the stockroom to find it for me. I'm so demanding.
But I have it now. I was a tad obsessed with the supernova-inspired print, a love only enhanced when Christopher Kane's most recent Resort collection appeared. Anything that fuses the incredible artistry in nature, that has inspired artists, poets and musicians for years, and captures it in clothing is good by me. What I like about Kane's collection is that he doesn't just allow the print do the talking, but adds interest in cuts and details as well, which only compliments the print. Making a fashion supernova all of his own.
Bleurgh, I can't believe I really just said that. Here's a picture.
It's apparently forecast to snow this week, even in the Big Smoke. It is bloody cold here, but I'm a tad disorientated as it is. It's dark outside, at half past four in the afternoon. As much as I love winter, that ain't right. This will be the first time ever that I've not had the vast part of December free to wander through fields and cobbled streets on dimly lit days and dark evenings. It'll be weird. Baptism by fire, detox, whatever.
Oh well, if it does snow I'll just have to make the most of the park near work. And throw snowballs at myself.
And, of course, wear my big fluffy black and white coat. And powder my hair and face white and pretend to be Tilda Swinton.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Brand Awareness

There's been some great stuff going down recently about brand awareness. I was at a dinner last night (hence the lack of post) where the topic rolled round to brand awareness, mission and promotion (as it would naturally do in a room full of PR people and journalists). My good cyber-buddy Sister Wolf has just written a post on the subject of creating a brand for yourself online, in which she references an article by Zadie Smith about how we are censoring ourselves on Facebook.
It's something I've given a lot of thought to in preparation for my next role, and also as a graduate jobseeker. A friend of mine from uni once wrote in her Facebook profile that she wore lots of hats - student-hat, yoga-bunny-hat, friend-hat, girlfriend-hat - and it's a good metaphor for those of us with an active social presence, online or otherwise. Sister brings up her old rival Sea as a great example of how certain media presences have censored out the parts of themselves that they don't like or don't think are appealing in order to draw in a specific audience. Sister then claims that she does no such thing. And one of the commentors on the post (it would make way more sense if you just hopped over to my blogroll and read it for yourself) says that only the most calculating of people can lie about themselves in print.
I have to disagree with that. As someone who has studied journalism (purely as an amateur, you have to understand) I think that a person is most easily able to lie about themselves in print, because it can be edited, censored, carefully controlled. Sure, some people open up completely in their own private writing, but not everyone. I used to keep a diary, which provided a fascinating read for me when I dug it out a few years ago, but nowadays I get so sick of the sound of my own voice (she says, while upchucking online with wild abandon) that the idea of having to tell myself my innermost secrets is nauseating. And a tad scary.
You see, I think where Zadie and Sister have it right is that the influx of social media tools has allowed us to censor out parts of ourselves. That's not a dangerous thing. People have been concealing parts of themselves for years. That's why we have therapists. If everyone told the truth on Facebook, and in life, we'd have far fewer friends and far fewer problems, but we'd be bored. Part of the great game of trying to understand other people is those mysteries. A truly forthcoming person with an online presence doesn't exist. Or if they do, they are more calculating than the rest of us who censor ourselves, because they've made the conscious decision to not hold anything back, and have relaxed control so completely that they are in total control of every aspect of their persona. Online.
Because you have to be pretty bloody careful about what you put out there on the internet. The magazines that I read have been awash with cases of cyber bullying (something encountered recently by my good friend over at Dead Stylish - see the second of my bloggers vs. journalists posts, except we deduced that she wasn't actually a journalist at all), with innocent girls finding themselves the victims of malicious taunts, threats and bile. But, because people can say what they like on the 'net, often a simple comment made that, if you said it to someone's face, would be taken in jest, is blown out of proportion. Someone apparently wrote 'die Katie Waissel' on Facebook (re. the X Factor's baboon-faced media cannon fodder and sometime contestant) and is being investigated by the police. All sorts of legal mumbo-jumbo gets battered around from a simple looksie at Wikipedia.
But if we're looking at other peoples' profiles, we always have to worry about who's looking at ours. And that's where the censorship comes in. Because as competition for jobs has become tougher, I don't doubt that employers are snooping around Facebook for good evidence not to hire people, or to get a bit of a feel for an individual who censors themselves silly in an interview. In the current series of The Apprentice, a foolish young candidate has had the foresight to dub himself 'Stuart Baggs The Brand'. Obviously the only thing this brands him as is a massive tool, as he clearly has very little clue about how to present himself. He could take a lesson from 'The Real Estate King' from American Beauty, who maintains that 'in order to be successful, one must project an image of success at all times'. We never see said King uncomposed, uncontrolled (yes, even during the slightly disturbing sex scene) but at the same time we get the feeling that as a result, the King isn't quite human.
Because that's what people are able to censor out online, and in person if they have boundless concentration. Their humanity. Presenting an idealised version of yourself dependant on the situation is often what is called for, and often what we are forced to do. In less than twelve hours' time, I'll have done just that. I should really be trying to get into the mindset right now, because if my concentration on that image I'm trying to project wavers, like a Patronus it will disappear. But I'm only human.
I don't think there's anything with people censoring parts of themselves out. It's how I've been getting by for years. The real me is odious, at least I'm pretty sure she is. We haven't spoken in a while. Unless I've become so absorbed in RedHead The Brand I've become her. Brand Assimilation...wait, let me write that one down.
Ok, if you made it this far, I'll reward you with some pictures to show my flippant, whimsical, easy-going side.
You can look, there are two. I'm slightly superstitious.
That's my reflection in the doors of the lift at work. My hair is like a small bonfire. That really needs dealing with. Maybe I'll squeeze in a haircut on my day off.
The last two outfit days - I was having a 'brown' moment. I also have a bit of a thing for Office brogues. And cardigans. It's the time of year for cardigans.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I'm, like, FAMOUS and shit

Whoops, there go all my good vibes about avoiding gratuitous swearing on the blog.
Basically, my DLF (anyone who gets the literally reference gets a high five) at Dead Stylish has given me this:
Look! A blog award! Not had one of them in AGES!
So I will put on my ballgown, practise fake-crying in a mirror and reveal (as this weird award demands) five things about myself that you didn't already know, and then five fabulous bloggers deserving of this award.

1) The worst illness I've ever had is the flu. I haven't taken a day off sick since I was 11. My immune system makes germs its bitch. I am practically Wolverine.

2) I have absolutely no interest in Lanvin for H&M.
Seriously. I find shopping exhausting, because often I get taken over by a mad shopping demon with the mantra 'you can't leave until you've bought something and if you do YOU'VE WASTED A WHOLE DAY'. Now my huge wardrobe is starting to make sense, right? And the idea of the scrum that H&M is going to turn into on the first day just makes me feel queasy thinking about it. Plus, the stuff is nice, but the idea of paying a ridiculous price for a label saying 'Lanvin for H&M' on a relatively nice piece of clothing that bares very little resemblance to real Lanvin when you could just save your money to buy some, y'know, actual Lanvin is totally beyond me. I don't get designer collaborations. Kate Moss for Topshop takes the overpriced biscuit.

3) I have only ever been drunk once.
I was three, and a bridesmaid at a wedding that made the mistake of leaving Buck's Fizz within my reach. Since then, I have mellowed. You know when you're playing at pouring 'tea' with your plastic teapot aged four? I used to pour Chablis. I used to be a right wine buff in my early teens (when on a school trip to Germany in Year 8, we were taken to a vineyard, given a thimble-sized sample and asked to describe it. The others used words like 'sweet' and 'nice', while I asked if based on its sweetness if it was intended as a pudding wine, and got approving nods from all the staff), but the idea of losing total control when out in a darkened room full of sweaty strangers is not my idea of fun. I also hate the feeling of comedown - the exhilaration of a few drinks is totally not worth the exhausted feeling you get trying to function afterwards. I clearly need to get more drunk next time so I am not the responsible one looking after my drunk friends and having to be boring.

4) Ok, family one. I have never met my maternal grandfather.
Not because he died before I was born, but because, following a breakdown, he was advised to leave his wife and kids, and completely detached himself from everyone. He knew that my mum got married and had kids (his sister was still in contact with my grandma and all of us until she died). I'm not sure if he knew the sad circumstances surrounding his son's death, though. I'm not sure what he would have made of all of us. I hope he had a better life on his own, without having to worry about looking after any of us. Incidentally, my grandma, having never been the breadwinner before, went on to build a travel business out of nothing. You may be starting to see where some of my massive fears of failure come from.

5) I'm a Sagittarian, the centaur/archer, which apparently means I'm great at languages and a born leader. Over the course of my life, I have taken lessons in French, German, Italian, Ancient Greek, Latin, Old English and Old Norse, and have qualifications in four of them. I have also, during my many happy youthful years as a fantasy writer and Tolkien enthusiast, invented three incomplete languages (and yes, they were pretty much lifted from LOTR, but they had proper grammar and everything). But I am yet to fully master English. And I have never been good at leading. I think it's my not-so-subconscious fear of people disliking, resenting, or worse, pitying me.

Ok.....other bloggers deserving of this award!


Basically, my blogroll is truly a list of all the awesome people I think you really should check out, and picking five is hard. But these five are great inspiration (fashion and otherwise) for me of late, so these five it is!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Concrete Walls

Another week begins, and already I'm anticipating the end. Mainly because I know what comes at the end of the week. Certainty is a luxury that I can no longer afford. Along with most things.
My whole life has been a reassuring pattern, a nicely drawn map. Somewhere around July 2009 I fell off the end of it. Not applying for jobs while at university was a decision I possibly regret, but that's what life is about once you have to make your own map. That horribly cheesy valedictorian speech Jessica gives in Eclipse is all about how important it is to make mistakes and do things you don't want to do in order to know what you do what to do. Do the wrong course at university. Work for the horrendous company. Date the massively inappropriate man.
That's apparently what your twenties are supposed to be about. Not worrying about first jobs, paying off loans, considering pensions and savings plans, freezing eggs, losing that 'studying stone' (gained from years of eating Pot Noodles at 3am) and finding your future husband by the time you're twenty-five.
Fuck it. I just want to have some fun.
And as for the 'studying stone', I was having a look through the sizes of a dress I liked in Primark, and, weirdly, was a tad freaked out by the idea of a size 8. Not that I am. But for the first time in a long time, I'm happy with my body. (Sorry) There's a great article in this month's Glamour which is a series about body image. One of the submissions is from a man who describes his now-wife, whom he describes as a Joan Holloway-alike with the confidence to match. The article, from the thin girl wishing she had curves to the former male model who gained his bodyweight from bingeing, dealt with a catalogue of hangups. But what it really came down to, of course, is confidence. Once the thin girl stopped apologising for not having curves, once the former model dealt with his issues, and once the Joan...actually no, there was nothing wrong with her, they were happy. And given how many other problems there are in my life right now, not being a size 8 is not in my priorities.
And it shouldn't be. A single digit size is for models, for sixteen year olds. I'm never going to be a model and I remember being sixteen and I remember looking much the same as I do now. I've been thinner than this, I've been a good deal fatter than this, but while so many other things are up in the air, I'd rather not have to worry about what I see in the mirror. And I don't. Because it's who I am, it's what I'm going to have to look like for a good few years, and it's what someone is going to have to love someday.
So that's me. I was a tad cold. I have awkward legs, which were once described as 'rancid' by some schoolboys on a joke podcast and which is a comment I'll still remember. My skin goes blotchy in the cold, and my nose goes bright red. My hair still doesn't do what I tell it. I'll never be perfect. But I'll never be cookie-cutter. No-one really is.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Cult

So I got home from work and a meeting (in Starbucks, where they were playing Christmas songs on a loop) to catch the end of X Factor. Not that I am remotely interested in which desperate wannabe is unfairly pushed into the spotlight, but it does interest me in the massive power of primetime tv these days.
It was timed nicely by the latest issue of Company hitting the stands, with the gorgeous Tiffany from BNTM posing on the cover. Normally I don't buy Company, and I deliberately avoided last month's issue due to the choice of cover girls, but this month I thought I'd give their generally amazing fashion spreads a chance to rectify the damage done by their choices of B-list celebrity cover girls.
Not so. I forgot about their 'celebrity' columnist.
There's something about the 'celebrity' column in a magazine that strikes a death-blow to a publication's credibility. Some celebrities, who are actually knowleadgable about a certain field (such as Lauren Laverne in Grazia) add something to the publication, but when a magazine merely provides a platform to further bolster the platform of pointless celebrity, no favours are done.
Company is currently employing the services of Jameela Jamil, who appears to be the new new Alexa Chung. Coltish, simpering, sweet and inoffensive, Miss Jamil is given a page in the magazine to talk about her life. A few weeks ago she used this space to talk about how a mean comment (I think it was relating to her cellulite) on Twitter made her feel, prompting a wave of supportive letters, praise and affirmation that to criticse Jameela is like kicking a sweet puppy with long eyelashes. This month's column features the troubles that she faces trying to convince her family that 'working in tv' is a real career. Now, I have no bearing on the attitudes of her family to her making a career out of standing at parties in short dresses chatting up musicians, or presumably talking about something young and B-list hip on tv (I honestly couldn't tell you anything about her career in tv), but....
Oh Jameela Jamil. Your life is so tough. You have joined a long line of moderately attractive teenagers plucked from obscurity to find fame, fortune and free fashion on T4. Your biggest problem is mean, resentful bitter people like me telling you that you have cellulite, when you clearly have no spare fat on your body to lodge uncomfortably. You admittedly are a fabulous ambassador for teenage girls struggling with body image, because as well as being massively successful and wealthy, you have to content with cameras adding ten pounds 24/7, but for a magazine aimed at women enjoying their 'freedom years' (which I think seems to eqaute to your twenties), you are way off the mark.
Most of us enjoying our freedom years aren't remotely free. Life is harder than it's ever been for us, and the little problems of someone who struck lucky based largely on looks really don't help us. Admittedly, Company's content is generally an espacists's dream, with tales of 'real' girls who give up jobs to strike lucky abroad, who are so much worse off than us due to horrendous illness or family tragedy, encouraging us to feel generally satisfied with our distinctly average lot, but I'm a little tired of hearing how fabulously hard the fabulous lives of others are.
As much as Jameela irritates me, though, it's not so much her I object to, more the amount of undeserved attention given to certain 'celebrities' nowadays. Unlike women and men with actual talent (singers, actors, experts in certain fields), and motivational stories of dedication yet, crucially, genuine humility, that can inspire us, certain people with a smidgen of talent at something and good genes appear to be elevated to the same level as those with incredible talent and work ethic. I bet that Katie Waissel has had more front page covers than any real female talent this year.
PS My rant is over. Here are my pretentious outfit shots.
I have to wear black, or dark colours, for work, and weirdly for someone who loves to wear black I find it oddly restrictive. But I do like this lace top. And curling my hair. I am a simple soul. Maybe I should pick some simpler idols.


Friday, 12 November 2010

Three things I learned from The Social Network

It's Friday, and it was raining, so I treated myself to a nice little cinema trip after work. I needed a bit of inspiration and I knew just where to get it.
If you haven't seen The Social Network already, I suggest you do it before it is forced out of the cinemas by Harry Potter (though in a fight between Mark Zuckerberg and Harry Potter, I don't like Harry's chances). What better phenomenon to celebrate the internet event of a generation than the film about it? It's been all everyone's been talking about, and on, for years, and the chance to see not only where it came from, but that story told in a skillful, subtle, beautifully acted and (fingers crossed) award-winning way is a good reason to take time out from an evening spent...well, probably on Facebook.
Both times, I've been to see the film on my own. I often do best watching films that I know are going to be inspiring on my own, so I can revel in the feeling for as long as possible afterwards. (I can't be the only one who does that - sees Lord of the Rings and wants to go and do some archery, watches Twilight and wants to go for a very long, fast run through some wood) The sequence showing a rowdy college party juxtaposed with Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg creating a website and its subsequent viral effect is truly breathtaking, combined with a frenetic, digital score.
Watching someone so mercilessly bright yet so cripplingly dense at work made me realise several things.
Firstly, I wish I understood the internet to that level, or even just a computer. Now that I am devoid of my handy neighbourhood computer ex-pert, I will be at a total loss if I have a problem. I still couldn't tell you the components of my laptop, and my understanding of the internet and how to manipulate it is about as sophisticated as knowing what SEO stands for.
But thankfully, I might soon be getting the chance to learn. As of the week after next, I'll be taking a significant step away from the path I thought I might be heading down, and taking a new one. This week, I had two interviews, one to intern with the fashion label Jasper Garvida, and one to intern with a marketing company in Richmond. As of next week, I'll be moving on from my experience of PR to become...a community manager intern for a marketing company. Basically, I get to spend my time blogging, tweeting, Facebooking and trying to figure out how to sell a product using 140 characters.
But here's the second thing that The Social Network taught me. I can't hardly wait. Offered the choice of the two, I initially thought that the fashion internship would be more beneficial to me, carrying me along in the direction of a career in fashion media and, crucially, allowing me inside London Fashion Week as I've wanted for the past few years. But now that that is no longer an option, I get to try my hand at something new. Use skills I've developed in a new way. Draw not on my love of fashion, but on something that requires a little more engagement of my cerebellum.
Not to say that fashion is stupid. I'd be a pretty crazy person to turn round on a fashion blog and say that fashion is for the stupid. But...verbalising it is hard...I will get to go into something I know very little about, with just the skills that should allow me to do it, and learn from there. It'll be skills first, interest and knowledge second. It won't matter if I don't know what the head designer at Burberry is called (I do know, just in case you were wondering). What will matter is purely me. In the interview I really felt that, as I didn't have much knowledge of the company in the same way that I did at Jasper Garvida, I could just allow myself, what I am and what I have, to shine. And I'm hoping that once I get there, the same will continue.
Maybe I just like the idea of a bunch of likely lads huddled round a computer, marvelling over their incredible idea, a little too much. But I'm tired of feeling stupid. I want to do something that makes me feel intelligent, something that I haven't felt in a long time. I can start to feel a bit like Peggy.
Oh, and the third thing?
Worryingly, I so totally would. I think I just have a thing for slightly arrogant men.  (And yes, I know he's acting.)
Oh, and just in case you were worried that this was no longer any type of fashion blog...
The Rizzo hair lent itself nicely to the Henry Holland-esque retro skirt, but because of the rain it had turned into Danny Zucko hair by the evening. Stupid rain. Stupid me thinking I wouldn't need an umbrella. You should always take an umbrella.
But the rain did allow for some rather cool pictures.
I know it's a massive, needless waste of power, but I love standing in Picadilly Circus and looking up at this at night. The centre is illuminated by it, it seems to look down on us as we rush about leading our lives. Like staring up at a stained glass window and feeling the presence of a higher power, this somehow feels like I'm staying up at something aspirational. It's not so much the feeling of my name in lights, which I've never really wanted, but the feeling that one day, I might be the one standing near the lightswitch.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

I was the Woman

One of the things that got me really interested in fashion, from a younger age than high fashion and contemporary fashion did, was gender. And costume. And how you can dress not just for a role, but for a gender.
When I first got my hair cut off into a boyish crop, at the age of 11, I remember the scandalised reaction (this was long before the Deyn and no-one remembered Twiggy). My favourite was one of the bigger girls (and weirdly, I ran into the same girl at university and I am now taller and...well...more solid than her. She'd gone from burly teen to anorexic twentysomething) asking me out, as in 'ha ha you're a boy now' not 'I go to an all girls' school, I'm a lesbian'. Oh the wit of the teenaged bully. How I miss it.
I may have mentioned before that one of my favourite films is Stage Beauty. Not solely because of the beautiful Billy Crudup, but mainly because of Billy Crudup in drag. The film, set in seventeenth-century England when women were allowed on the stage again, stars Billy as Ned, the most celebrated actor in female roles of the day, and Claire Daines as Maria, his dresser and soon-to-be-rival. Throughout the film and the flirtation the two engage in, the pair are challenged by their own gender. Ned, educated in the ways of the theatrical woman from youth, admits his love of women comes largely from the way they are always beautiful, in everything they do, while Maria berates him for his lack of understanding of the feelings of both women, and men. When required to act a scene demonstrating true masculinity, after claiming that there's no artistry or talent required to act your own gender, Ned falls flat, having been solely educated in how to act as a woman, while when required to perform for an audition, Maria impersonates Ned's hammy style of portraying women - falsettos, over-theatrical hand gestures and forced intonation. It is only at the end, when the tension between the two has peaked into a full argument, that they can truly force across their own point of view, and accept themselves, gender or otherwise. At the end of the film, Maria asks Ned 'so who are you now?' to which he replies 'I don't know'. Having been both man and woman over the course of the film, defining himself by his gender is completely inadequate.
(Image from here)
As it should be for us all.
A pretentious artist character in Sex and the City said 'gender is an illusion'. Aside from biology, the confines that brings in terms of employment and advancement, and sexuality, the powers in every individual are not defined by gender. Defining yourself as man or woman isn't enough any more, and judging by the complex themes beneath the surface of what seems to be a light and simple film, it has never been. And it will not satisfy.
I have always loved the trend for androgyny, but the difference between true and fashion androgyny means that the former has often been ignored. Current toast of the town Freja Beha (featured in three magazines this week, all of which have run a 'models of the future' section) is praised for her androgynous look. Her face can vary for undeniably feminine to gamine, almost masculine. Her long, lithe body is almost completely devoid of femininity, next to the undeniably womanly shape of her contemporary Lara Stone. While those of us with faces undeniably confined to one gender or another can embrace it, some stuck in the middle can exploit this. Harness a dual power.
I have never been a huge fan of having curves. I often think it's because with short hair, a curvy figure is all the more noticeable. I've talked before about how I think long hair makes women look thinner, but with short hair there's little distraction. My shape is at odds with a plain face and boyish hair. There's very little disguising that can be done. But there is the delight of being able to assume a role, just for a moment. I've always been drawn to the male voice, the male roles in plays, the capabilities of men. I was thoroughly confused and intrigued by Orlando.
Sometimes it is intriguing to be able to exist just as a person. Not a man or a woman, and revel in the power of just being an individual, undefined by gender and the restrictions and challenges that brings. How we relate to each other, and how we are expected or not expected to live. Maria berates Ned for not understanding how to suffer like a woman, and how a real woman would fight. As someone stuck between girlhood and womanhood, growing into your gender is a challenge.
It's also surprisingly hard to be convincingly feminine. I find it hard. To be gracefully, sweetly, convincingly, positively feminine, as opposed to irritatingly girly. Girls can be bitches. Women can be too, but there's a self-assuredness that comes from being a woman that a girl hasn't mastered. I'm unsure when the magical jump from one to the other occurs, if it does at all. More definitions.
This does actually stem back to something that is appropriate for this blog; I've discovered hair straighteners. Or rather, I've discovered how to use them for curling poker-straight hair, like mine. Ever since I watched Legend and Dirty Dancing, I've equated curly hair to being incredibly feminine. It's no surprise that all the hair (wigs and otherwise) in Stage Beauty is in beautiful ringlets. Of course, it's just fashion, but Baby wouldn't have been the same without her curly hair.
So who are you now?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

You Have Placed A Chill On My Heart

See, fashion post! Yes! We are back on track, blog fans.
It's been properly cold in London the last few days, which has been simultaneously awesome and...not so awesome. Since I am currently without a working shower (don't even ask) and look to be without one for a good week or two, getting out of my nice warm bed in the mornings will be a lot harder (pouring boiling water over my head over the sink isn't quite the same as boiling myself). Then there's the chilly walk to the tube, followed by the cramped and stuffy tube itself. Yup, dressing for a winter in the Big Smoke is a bit of a challenge.
Yep, gang, it's time to shop for...the winter coat!
It strikes fear into the heart of every girl in the same way that the swimsuit does - it's the thing that you don't really want to buy, but have to. It's as much of a chore as buying jeans, as it requires discipline, time, careful planning, and lots of note-taking. And no impulse buying.
I remember going winter coat shopping two years ago, with the perfect practical buy shopper: my mother. We trekked round and round the shops, trying on all manner of coats, regardless of whether I liked them, to gauge cut, feel, colour, fabric, buttons, collar, hem, belted or non-belted...see how difficult it is? What you need is something practical, but that always looks good, whatever the occasion or weather.
Rather like this one...

(Image from here)
I've been looking for an excuse to post a picture of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock on the blog for ages, and here's the perfect opportunity. Sherlock Holmes, despite being far too cool for that sort of thing, has always been defined by his fashion (in the same way that Peggy Olson is noted for but isn't defined by hers - read an amazing article by Hadley Freeman about the unsung fashion heroes of tv, and her piece on Peggy's wardrobe, her importance and how bored she (Hadley) is of reading about Joan took the words out of my mouth). Gone is the deerstalker hat, and now we have a classic sophisticated gent. Long coat, perfect for maintaining the aura of mystery, yet short and swingy enough to sprint after villains in. And let's not forget the neatly knotted, ever-so-slightly boy-like scarf.
Now here's a man who knows how to wear a long coat.
(Image from here)
And so very this season with the camel shade. Hmmmm.
Shame Matt Smith doesn't wear a long coat. Any excuse.
Anyway...back to the task at hand. But these two are a pretty good representation of the way the coat trend is going this season. You can go for a classic black (or charcoal - it goes with more, it's as draining and doesn't show fluff so easily), tailored and architectural like a YSL, or the sophisticated, chic and 70s-style. Must be worn with long flowing locks. Yep, a la Chloe. I really am a one-track record.
But that's the thing with coats - trends really aren't what they are about, unless you're rich enough to have a wardrobe full of them. They're one of the things that demands one big, practical spend on something that you'll live in all winter. Something that will look just as good over your weekend jeans-and-poloneck outfit as it will over the Christmas party dresses. I'm seriously tempted by a cherry-red one from Oasis, but I know I'm going to be plumping for classic black. I've got my eye on a beauty from Zara - black, coming just below the knee with a flared 'skirt', double buttons and lightly puffed shoulders, with a pointed collar. But for now, I think I'll be sticking with two choice finds from Spitalfields' crop of vintage stalls to keep me snug.

Isn't it just beautiful? Sure it's massively too big for me - clearly belonged to some hulking biker with a big beard, but I just don't care. It's the painted design on the back that does it for me, as well as the studs at the collar. Wearing it, I feel absolutely terrified. Clearly need to work on my Desperately Seeking Susan attitude.
Or, I can work on my Chloe Sevigny in Mr Nice (not the dodgy accent, the drug-dealer's wife bit) with this.
Because every hipster kid (I wear brogues. I am a hipster kid now, apparently) in London needs themself a fur jacket from a vintage market. This one is actually fake fur (I do have a real fur one, since you ask, that I got for a tenner because of a huge rip) so I can avoid having fake blood thrown on me. Still waiting for a disgustingly cold day to get this one out. It requires serious guts.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Keep remembering

Here dead we lie , because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is, and we were young.
A E Housman

I was sitting on the tube today on my way to work, and looked up to spot that. Very fitting. I was convinced that today was Remembrance Sunday, until a phonecall to my war veteran grandpa corrected me - it's next Sunday. D'oh.
Doesn't hurt to remember, though.
I was going to try and turn this into some sort of DMC about rememberance and the war dead and what people have given up for us and for me and what we've all fought for this year and other years and how hard we may have fought for so long and whether it was worth it...but I can't.
I'm sorry my posts are getting thinner on the ground, and have stopped being about fashion. I still love it as much as I used to, and I still read all the same blogs, magazines, websites and newspapers. I still have the same opinions and new ideas. It's just harder to try and remember to get them all down. I haven't had much of a chance to look at the resort collections, because I'm too busy applying for jobs, writing press releases and, ironically (or 'amusingly coincidentally') filling my journal with notes, spider diagrams and plans of action.
So I'll go back to my plan. I plan to write a piece inspired by the new issue of Vogue, show off the world's most awesome leather jacket and discuss my obsession with brogues. I'm obsessed with brogues. Seriously.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Remember, remember

Sorry for the few days' silence - thought I'd let the below post sit for a bit. Thanks for all the feedback (including an email from my mum saying she liked it); I feel really proud to be creating a bit of a dialogue out here on the fringes.
Had a busy few days, as ever. Yesterday was working at the opening of a new restaurant and bar in Notting Hill. I counted the designer shoes and bags. There was a Balenciaga, two Bayswaters, a few Hermes and a token Alexa, along with the Louboutin boots worn by Alexandra Burke in her Bad Boys video. I do love watching wealth walking past on perfectly toned legs.
Meanwhile, I was working the Jenny Humphrey Season Three dress.
The Gossip Girl styling team worked a lot of Topshop into Jenny's look last season. I bought this dress before the series first aired, but haven't worn it yet this year, season. (Just typed winter, but realised it's still technically autumn and it's so warm outside it can't even really be called that!) So I thought it would do for the evening. It's the perfect shape for me, and I can't believe I haven't worn it more.
My makeup has taken on Jenny's 'raccoon' edge, which basically means I use black or dark brown eyeshadow to line my eyes. At the end of today, what with the rain, humidity and laughing a lot (my eyes often run when I laugh), I looked like a really bad robber.
Made the mistake of wearing Topshop suede kitten-heel witchy boots today. Did more walking than I anticipated and they got a tad wet. Not good. Plus I should know better than to buy Topshop shoes. They look great, they don't last.
But one product I'll happily rave about is a new one from Barry M. It's called Instant Nail Effects. Basically, you paint it on over your regular nail varnish, and it looks like black matte varnish, but as it dries, it cracks. Ends up giving you a very cool camoflauge effect that's as good as a professional manicure but for about a tenth of the price. I've got green on with the Nail Effects now and it's very military. Definitely a must-buy product!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

They don't care about the young folks

I'll let you in on a little secret. I don't think having a blog is a good idea if you want to be a journalist.

Yup, going against everything said by my good blogging compadres over at Wannabe Hacks (a five-piece
set of likely lads all trying to get into journalism), I'm pretty sure that everything I'm doing here is only damaging to my chances of ending up the next Hadley Freeman. No, bad example, she won a competition, though all my digits are crossed for the Elle Talent comp. Ok...Hannah Swerling. We love her.

A couple of things happened today which led me to decide this. First off, I discovered that someone had blocked me on Twitter, the realm where censorship is dead. What was most bizarre was that I only ever had nice things to say to this person. I have this thing I do that clearly some people find offensive - if I like something a person has done, I tell them. I tweet Caitlin Moran when she writes an amazing column, I tweet an editor when I love their magazine. And up until recently, I tweeted Mademoiselle, Elle's columnist, to tell her every time I read her column and loved it. That's basically one tweet a month. Well, guess I won't be doing that any more. It appears Mademoiselle didn't like this random affirmation that she is a great writer. I guess she doesn't need me to tell that: she has a column in the alternative fashion bible. So out I went, sweet simpering fan that I was.

I have quickly become disenchanted with Mademoiselle, in the same way I became disenchanted with Jane at Sea of Shoes when she never replied to my emails saying how big a fan I was (two other big name blogs that I love both replied to my emails). I can't wait for the new issue of Elle, but I will warily turn to the back page this time, in case it spits at me.

The other thing that happened was that a full blown blogger vs. journalist war erupted over on another blog that I follow. The blogger, taking inspiration from a Vogue article, gave us a guided tour of the piece and explained as she went along why she agreed, gave us little snippets of info, and summed up with a nice nod to the magazine by featuring its cover. This, according to a visiting journalist researching blogs (which is a massive compliment to the blogger, if it's true), was plagarism.

The war kicked off. The blogger neatly rebutted all the the comments, before signing off with a slightly sarcastic well-wishing, as any blogger does to the colloquially named 'trolls' who patrol the internet looking for people to needlessly abuse. Of course, this particular troll, as it transpired, was a journalist herself, and was subsequently defending the sisterhood, and saw the sarcastic rebuttal as testament to the popular belief that a blogger is just a parasite riding on the majestic body of the journalist, stealing their ideas, stealing their carefully-sourced pictures, and generally belittling their endeavours by rehashing it for their eager followers.

Never mind the journalist seeing this, as I did, as a sweet tribute to the issue of Vogue. As the war of words raged on at gattling-gun speed, I could only read and survey the way that the journalist went from rational commentor to sneering belittler in a few short sentences, making reference to an office of fellow journalists having a good laugh at the blog and its efforts to help promote a viewpoint shared by Vogue and the blogger in question.

The aftermath was that the blogger deleted all the comments, but not before a few fellow bloggers, myself included, had waded in. Now, baring the words of my mother in mind (who had a short chat with me when, during the election, I expressed my dislike for our now-Prime Minister over Facebook and she saw this as a bad move considering my current job-hunting status and potential employers' affiliations - truly she is wise), I thought long and hard about what to say to keep my head diplomatically above water. I said I would be interested to read the piece said journalist was writing about bloggers, and in response to her self-depricating statement about journalists hard at work sourcing images, asked whether they source the images themselves or whether the picture editor does. Apparently there was a response to this, but given that I'm a bit too irate and fragile right now to read bitchy diatribes, I'm kind of glad it's gone.

So, we're at a standoff. The journalist is probably at her office, toasting her success with the rest of her cackling office and hunting for the next victim, and the blogger is probably back hard at work 'plagarising'. Nobody wins.

Some of you will remember my extensive post on the importance of bloggers, and the interesting response it generated from journalists and bloggers alike. This recent incident helps prove to me a few things. Firstly, the two sides will never see eye to eye. One exists to undermine the other, and one believes it is far above being undermined. How on earth does one bridge the gap from blogger to journalist, if this example (and I must stress - IT IS JUST AN EXAMPLE. I am not stupid or naive enough to believe that said journalist and said blogger are the only kind out there) is to be examined. And since pretty much every journalist is copying eachother anyway...

Sorry, that was crossing the line. Or was it? The same blogger wrote a post a while back about a certain magazine running a spread on 'the aviator jacket' in their current issue, a trend that I'm pretty sure every magazine on the newsstand has written about. Is this plagarism? Who are they plagarising, Burberry? Who wrote about it first? Have they sued yet? Of course they haven't. When something is broadly accepted, so obviously newsworthy, it's logical that everyone will talk about it. The media is going nuts for Lanvin Hearts H&M, or for the elections in America and Brazil, or that unspeakable oaf who claims to play football's huge paypacket. What kind of magazine wouldn't talk about it? So no-one calls it plagarism when three, four or all magazines write a piece on the must-have jacket for winter. No-one calls it plagarism when four magazines run a fashion spread on 70s style or (cringe) Mad Men chic. So if a blog, which by definition is nowhere near on a high enough level to be accountable for plagarism anyway, since it's purely a matter of personal opinion, takes inspiration from a magazine's article to promote an opinion of theirs, what is that?

Clearly, the lines are getting blurred. Nobody's making friends here.
(Image via geektyrant.com. See, no plagarising without credit here!)

It's quite clear that if you want to have a presence online as a blogger as opposed to just a commentor, you're going to get your hands dirty. If your blog exists solely to act as a diary to your poor little life (sorry, my inner Andrew Marr popped up there) then you have nothing to fear from making enemies. But if, like some of us, you hope to use your blog as a tool to advance you in the media, then you'd better start practising the same things that journalists abide by - censorship, tact, decorum and above all, anonymity.

I am still struggling with this one. Over the past few months, this blog has deteriorated from a decent catalogue of my catwalk inspirations, mental mood boards and interesting debates into just snapshots of my existential-crisis-filled little life. Which isn't really going to help anyone.

But enough about me. Because, as is quite clear from the unfollowing, I'm just an irritant, and not important enough for it to matter.

Except, as is made quite clear by the Andrew Marr incident, and this recent Vogue-gate, some bloggers are. The battle lines have been drawn. Nobody is friends with anyone any more on their route to the top. Once you're there, you can say what you like, but until you get there, your blog should be little more than a good portfolio with evidence of your writing style, attention to detail and research skills.
And it's only when you've earned the right to an opinion, after years of hard work, can you emerge from under your rock.
Uh-oh. I may be in trouble over this one.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Hole, or tunnel?

Another day on the slog. And I'm slowly losing patience.
I've started to understand people who say that this city drains you. It's not so much the hours, the commuting, crammed on the Tube with hundreds of strap-hanging strangers reading the Standard and ignoring you. It's not the fact that the place is expensive. It's just the fact that I feel like I'm getting on the Tube every day, and getting off every night, and still not going anywhere. Letting emails, tweets, phonecalls and applications go speeding off into the world, and still sitting in the same place. I've lost inspiration.
Here's an outfit. This makes it better.
Sometimes unlikely combinations work quite well - brown and black is, as I have no doubt mentioned before, is one of my major fashion crimes. But since camels, earthy colours, all that jazz, are statement colours for the season, I thought it was worth a try. I think it was good.
With luck my Andy Sachs moment will kick in soon - I'm just not sure how long I can stick out the situation. It's hard supporting a team when you have no real likelihood of becoming part of that team. Emotionally, as well as financially, I'm in trouble.
And I've even over-saturated my desire to shop.
I've got a week until I have to put my next move in place. So until then, it's really just a case of sitting and waiting.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Nowhere to hide

Cripes, it's November! Where is this year going? I can still remember wading through deep snow in January. Time flies when you're busy.
Comparing my numbers of blog posts as the months have gone on...October took a noticeable dip. I am run ragged and am so tired and know I'll never be able to fully commit to this blog while I'm living the lifestyle that I currently am (seven days a week at work, seeing friends almost every night and no time to form coherent thought other than 'hmmm, why would I be best suited to this job?' ) so I knew it would go on the backburner, which is a tad frustrating. But you can't force these things.
It's been a long hard day of lots of legwork (not literally, that's Wednesday when the tube strike is on!) - I'm extra-tired, don't feel great and am generally a tad irritable and snappy.
But no matter how bad a day I was having, for some reason, a little voice in my brain said 'go on, wear a short, skin-tight dress that doesn't allow you to hide anything! You'll look great!'
And I agreed with the little voice.
I know that sounds big-headed, but it made me feel better, that I could go to work, in a roomful of people I hardly know, and wear something that revealing, and get up and down from my chair without having to pull the dress down at the back due to being self-conscious. Maybe I am too fat for it. But I don't think I am. So that's what matters.