Monday, 31 January 2011


I have something special in mind for Valentine's Day... here's a taster of what's to come:

I think I look quite Studio 54 in this shot...

Book Review: Bright Young Things

Bright Young Things is the first in a new series by Anna Godberson, author of one of my all-time favourite series of books, The Luxe. In contrast to her previous work, which was set in New York at the turn of the century from 1800s to 1900s among the privileged families of the time, this has 1929 as the setting and the characters are decidedly lower on the social hierarchy. That doesn't mean to say that all of them are poor. My favourite character was Astrid Donal, a wild girl in her last year of school with a mother who has married money... several times. She lives in luxury and is the height of fashion but still finds herself feeling insecure. The other central characters were Cordelia and Letty, girls from Small Town, Ohio who jumped on a train to New York and never looked back. I adored Cordelia for the first bit, but then she did a few stupid things and I started to feel less sympathy for her. And Letty? She's... cute, but I hope her character develops more and that she learns from her mistakes in order to become less naive.

Overall, this is a very entertaining read, but nowhere near the dramatic decadence of The Luxe. I'm expecting it to get a little better as the stories progress, because as anyone doing History GCSE knows, 1929 is the year of the Wall Street Crash, and that doesn't seem to have happened yet. Drama, debt and death is inevitable.

Read it if you like: The Luxe, The Great Gatsby, anything to do with the 1920s

Mark out of 5: 3.4

P.S. Please tell me I'm not the only person who thinks the girl on the cover's head looks way too small for her body?

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Afternoon tea and cake

Yesterday I mentioned that I was planning a trip to the cinema with friends. That sort of... fell through. So instead, I went to the rather posh Cadogan and James Deli with my parents and we had afternoon tea. We're thinking of starting some sort of cafe guide website to review all the places we go and establish the best coffee in our area. For the record, I had a mocha, and it was very nice, but not as nice as my delicious and beautiful cupcake.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

This is something I made on Wordle a minute ago. it uses words from my blog and makes a little word cloud out of them. I think it does it by seeing which words you use the most, which shows I must have been saying 'Vogue' a lot recently! All you have to do is enter the URL of your blog feed and it can make one for you too!

Prints Charming

Suddenly, the weather is really cold. And when I say cold, I mean wind-actually-stings-your-face, don't-go-out-without-gloves cold. Summer seems such a long way away, and I'm dying to wear some colour! Instead, I've made this collage of prints and patterns which make me think of warmer seasons and packing for holidays... I could do with a holiday.

Going to the cinema with friends today, so expect some comments on the film soon! In the meantime let's hope my hands don't fall off in the cold.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

10 Reasons To Love Teen Vogue

It was only May last year that I first picked up a copy of Teen Vogue. I don't know what I was expecting, since at this point, I had never even looked inside a copy of Vogue. I think I must have been more than a little intimidated by its notoriety, but I've managed to segue into it through reading its daughter publication.

I suppose what I was really expecting when I picked up that May issue (and it actually was the May issue in May, because of the time it takes for them to get it over here) was the same old teenage magazine I was used to reading. Something like Mizz, Bliss, Shout or Sugar, the kind of things I had started to become disappointed with, due to their lack of fashion pages and an overall shift of tone. I had realised that they were sometimes patronising, catered to a younger audience than they should have been aiming for and were generally preparing their younger readers for a diet of celebrity-obsessed gossip magazines.

I was pleasantly surprised by Teen Vogue, though. In fact, that's an understatement. I was blown away by how different and sophisticated it was to what I had read previously. But what was it exactly that made this magazine so much better?

1. The Fashion Editorial - The British teen mags I had read before used to have great fashion spreads. Over the years they reduced down and began to feature only one brand, turning them into 2-page advertisements for Tesco. Looking through Teen Vogue however, you notice things about the spreads. Just by checking who took the shots, who styled the looks and who is modelling them, you start to see big names. As well as that, the clothes are from a mix of high-end designer to high-street brands, prices low enough to be affordable alongside ones high enough for a girl to dream about.

2. The layout - When I read Vogue, especially the American edition, I can see the similarities in terms of font etc. but what sets Teen Vogue apart are its colour, its boldness and the total overload of headlines on the front. It's very loud, and sometimes OTT, but it's perfect.

3. The cover stars - With the exception of Justin Bieber, every person I've seen on the front of the magazine since my first issue has been someone I have a genuine interest in reading about, and even if I have never heard of them before (case in point: Karlie Kloss), by the time I've finished reading the interview I'm in love with their style and have to know more.

4. The issues they address- Have you ever seen an article or advice column about a subject you'd like to know more about, then been disappointed that it ends up being the same old spiel? In the article pictured below, they addressed the issue of people who go to great lengths for a place in an Ivy League school. It was thoughtful, insightful and went far beyond the ordinary stuff they insist on repeating at teenage girls constantly.

5. The view of culture - For me, it's vital, and sometimes amusing, to read an American perspective on teenage culture, but that's not the only thing I enjoy about their view. I just love how they've accepted that bloggers are a huge part of fashion now, and some are celebrities in their own right, you don't really get that in any British magazines.

6. The letters pages - This had to be the first thing that hit me in that all-important first issue. I was used to reader letters like this: "OMG I LUV JLS SO MUCH, THNKS 4 THE GR8 THING ON THEM" from Shaz in Northampton by text. So I really wasn't expecting: "Words cannot express how much I enjoyed the fashion story 'Global Citizens.' The styling was beautifully executed, and the eye makeup was fantastic. I loved the mix of models too!" from Gabriela in Guaynabo.

7. The ads - There's no overload of advertisements for Always and Tampax (though there are some) and random other stuff I have no interest in. They don't treat you as any less of a fashion-follower because you're young, and acknowledge this by keeping promotions for high-end designers within their pages, but keeping their audience in mind, and tending towards the cooler more youthful ones.

8. The overall tone - As I've mentioned before, I find a lot of magazines aimed at younger people sound patronising, but Teen Vogue steers clear of that trap. They do it, not by assuming you know more than you do, but by explaining things quickly and simply, then slipping the related twitter or facebook address onto the bottom of the page, allowing you to look something up if you don't know much about it.

9. The title - I don't mean what it's actually called, I just mean that I think it's clever how they put the iconic name of VOGUE on the front, then added a young, bold 'teen' which sums up their aesthetic.

10. The Teen Vogue Handbook - OK, not technically part of the magazine, but the product of it. If you want to work in fashion, and that's not just on a magazine, it's as a designer, model, stylist or publicist, you have to buy this. It has so much to read which would be interesting in its own right, but when you realise that they're letting you know exactly how each interviewee got where they are today. Mixed with amazing images and handy tips, this has become the book I pull out of my shelf and read for guidance, inspiration or just something good to have a look through. If you don't have a copy, you need one.

Sorry if any of that sounded a bit gushing. If it helps, there is one thing I don't like, the Index. Some rich and well-connected teen gets to show off how much nicer their clothes are than yours - what's not to dislike?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

S/S moodboard 2: White and Nude

I thought these two were fairly similar, so I've merged them as a sort of antidote to my colour trend. I love wearing white, but I'm normally a bit scared of looking like the bride to wear it, so tend towards a tennis-inspired sporty look. As for nudes, I only really discovered them last year, and I love them. I have an amazing nude dress which I'm hoping to share with you sometime around Valentine's day (it's perfect for a date)

That's all for now!

Friday, 21 January 2011

S/S moodboard 1: Colour

The mood board
The inspiration
Thanks to Vogue's Catwalk Report, I am now well-informed on the trends of the season, and as I normally do, have made a mood board. The difference for s/s 2011 is that I couldn't choose between a couple of trends, so since I have two pin boards, I've made two!
This is the first one, made using mainly images from old Mizz magazines. Hope you like it! Second one to follow soon.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Final Exam

It was my last exam until about May today, and there really is nothing like the feeling of having completed a Latin translation to make you feel good.
I don't know if anyone else has had exams at the moment, but I thought I would share this with you anyway for future reference.

This is my essential kit for exam days. Take notes, there'll be a test later...

Scarf - They might make you take it off during a test, but this is essential, especially if they make you wait outside like they do at my school.

Umbrella - Again, this is an essential, at least for January exams in the UK. It would be horrible to have to sit through a 2 hour exam when soaking wet and cold

Chocolate - First of all, I do not advise a sugar high just before any exam, especially a long-haul one. You'll just come crashing down mid-test and be unable to work any longer

Tissues - Sometimes, your body picks the worst time to be ill. Be prepared, because sneezing on the person in front is not cool, no matter how much you dislike them.

Vaseline - I don't know about you, but my skin and particularly lips go very dry when I'm stressed, then I start biting my lip when deep in thought. maintain your lips and sanity with some kind of lip balm.

Diary/Planner - It simply wouldn't do to miss an examination and have people think you are unorganised!

Water - This is another thing they might take off you, but sometimes they'll keep it at the front and you can ask for some when you need it. Just don't drink too much, or you know what will happen...

Calculator - Depends what subject, but it's always good to keep one on hand

Pencil Case - make it look cool so that you have a shining beacon of hope to help you through to the end. For my ideas on how to personalise yours, check out my post on the matter.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

I'll make you banana pancakes, Pretend like it's the weekend now

There are few greater pleasures than making yourself a delicious home-made breakfast, however one of them has to be making yourself a delicious home-made breakfast with a friend before heading out to see and Oscar-tipped film. That's what happened on Saturday before we saw The King's Speech, and yes, the jack Johnson lyric which serves as my post title is not entirely accurate. We made pancakes with baked fruit which included bananas and it actually was the weekend.

Anyway, for some reason we had a romantic candle-lit breakfast of American pancakes, recipe courtesy of Sam Stern, and baked fruit with yogurt, maple syrup and some lemon juice. I think it's very important to have a stylish apron for all culinary exploits, hence the close-up of my polka dot 'Le cook' apron. I like to wear a skirt and heels with it and go all 50s housewife every now and then.

On the other hand, if I was a '50s housewife, I don't think I'd fancy facing the washing-up...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

And the nominees are...

So the BAFTA nominations are in, and since it's the only award ceremony I actually watch (due to most of the others being broadcast in the middle of the night in this time zone) I've taken a look at the list. The big awards (best film, best actor, best actress etc.) look fairly similar to Golden Globes and critic's choice, but the one I was particularly interested in was Best Costume Design.
So without further ado, here's the list of nominees:

Costume Design:
Alice in Wonderland - Colleen Atwood
Black Swan - Amy Westcott
The King's Speech - Jenny Beavan
Made in Dagenham - Louise Stjernsward
True Grit - Mary Zophres

Now I've only seen two of the films in question (King's Speech and Alice) but I've seen plenty of publicity shots of the others and I have to say that the Black Swan costumes seem to me to be the most stunning. Having said that, there are some gorgeous dresses in Alice in Wonderland, and Jenny Beavan has done some legendary British films - Gosford Park, Sense and Sensibility, Emma - but I don't think she was given enough of a challenge in The King's Speech, which mainly requires mens' suits. In fact, all the designers have an exciting track record.I particularly like Louise Stjernsward, who designed for one of my favourite films - and one which frequently influences my style - Wimbledon.

So my pick for Best Costume Design is Jenny Beavan for Black Swan (which I'm hoping to see once it comes out here) but that's just me, who would you choose?

Photo from IMDB

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Hollywood infected your brain

Following the positive reaction to The Sun Always Shines Always On TV and my viewing of the excellent The King's Speech yesterday, I did another poll to find out what films influence people's style. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's was a firm favourite, as always, but both Marie Antoinette and The Virgin Suicides came up so perhaps Sofia Coppola films in general are quite inspiring. I must admit I've never seen one of her films, but I am hoping to see Somewhere soon.

As for my fashion inspiration films, I discovered while making this that Anne Hathaway is my screen costume idol. She actually pops up three times in the above collage- can you spot all of them? Anyway, aside from her, my biggest influence of late has been An Education and a rather late-to-the-game viewing of Ferris Bueller's Day Off (you might be able to spot Sloane somewhere near Natalie Portman and Rachel Mcadams). I just love Sloane's relaxed summer style and Ferris' cool-guy leopard print concealed under that jock-ish jacket.

Other films I couldn't get pictures of are 500 Days of Summer (love her vintage dresses), Stardust (favourite film EVER) and High School Musical 3 (hear me out, have you SEEN Vanessa Hudgens' wardrobe in that film? Summer perfection).

What films inspire your style?

Friday, 14 January 2011

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Some Recent Buys

InStyle February Issue. I get this magazine every week and have done so since the January 2010 issue, and I still love it! This was a particularly good issue because it had their hot list (things to do, films to see, bands to listen to etc.) and last year I picked out 10 things to do... I only managed 3: See Alice In Wonderland; go to the Grace Kelly exhibition at the V&A; check out Marina and The Diamonds. This year I've picked out about 20 things to do, so hopefully I'll get to do a few more this time!

This is only my second issue of British Vogue (I get TeenVogue most months and have about 3 US Vogues) and this was even better than my first - the December issue with Emma Watson on the front. The catwalk gave me a reason to change my style moodboard (more on that at a later date).

I got two book tokens for my birthday, so it was straight to Waterstone's to buy Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson, who wrote one of my favourite series: The Luxe. I also got Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover by Ally Carter, the third in a really fun series about a girls' school for spies. I love reading, but I've been having trouble finishing books recently. Reading Rachel Johnson's diary about editing The Lady has saved me though, so hopefully I'll be through these really quickly.

 I'll admit two things about this chamomile and vanilla tea: 1. I didn't pay for it, it was part of  our weekly shop and 2. I was somewhat seduced by the packaging. However, I did have some before bed last night and I slept a bit better than usual, so I believe my whim has been justified.

What can I say about this magazine holder? Basically, I have way too many magazines, and I don't want to throw them out, so i need more holders which aren't so flimsy that everything falls out the bottom every time you pick it up (sadly, this actually happens rather a lot). Also, my filing cabinet is red, and I'm trying to add some more red accents to my room.

I'm going to see The King's Speech on Saturday, and hopefully will be seeing Black Swan once it comes out, so expect me to be getting caught up in awards season soon, as I generally do!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Sun Always Shines On TV

Due to the recent glorious return of Glee to Monday nights in the UK, I decided set up a poll on IFB to find out what TV shows, if any, people were influenced by when dressing. The result was a resounding Gossip Girl and Sex and the City with some Mad Men and other things mixed in for good measure. I don't watch any of these shows, but I am influenced by the girls on 90210, Jamie Campbell Bower in The Prisoner, Downton Abbey and, of course, the varsity jackets and cheerleading uniforms in Glee. Here is a little something I made quickly this afternoon which fuses my influences with the most popular ones. There's a bit of The Hills, Desperate Romantics and, for some reason, Malcolm In The Middle. Which shows have an impact on how you dress?

P.S. Sorry about the creases on Mary from Downton Abbey's face. I stole that picture from a magazine in the art rooms and it's been in my blazer pocket for a while now...

Sunday, 9 January 2011

A weekend in the city

Building of the shard reflected in an opposite building
Craft Fair day bag and H&M large bag
Vintage Oversized Clutch

New Look Shirt
H&M Top

New Look Jeans
Next Blazer
Vintage Shoes

New Look Boots
Primark Cardigan

Rage @ New Look Dress
Primark Pyjamas. Aren't they cute?
This is what I packed when I went to see Jonathan Groff (swoon) in Deathtrap on London's West End. It was a one night stay in very early January, and I had to pack light. If you are maybe thinking of doing a similar weekend trip or going somewhere with work or school, this is my list of essentials:

1 Large bag for clothes, shoes and wash bag
1 medium day bag for everything else
1 evening purse which can travel in the day bag
2 tops, one for wearing on the way there, one for the next day
1 pair of jeans. Can be worn as both travelling and sightseeing outfit
1 blazer, which will help you sharpen up a look during the day or serve as an extra layer at night
2 pairs of shoes, in this case I went for boots during the day and heels for the theatre, but you could get by with just one pair
1 pashmina. Friend of all travellers.
1 winter coat to keep warm
1 cardigan as an emergency extra layer
1 going out dress/outfit
1 pair of pyjamas or other sleeping things (I am known to forget these, so make it a priority to put these in)

Other than that, you'll need underwear, socks/tights, a good book or magazine and the basic bag contents (purse, phone, make-up bag, keys). You may have noticed that I stuck to a basic colour scheme of blues and whites. This is partially because I have a lot of those colours in my wardrobe, but it also means piecing outfits together is easier and adding layers won't ruin the effect. Packing just monochrome is also a good idea, especially for a work trip.

P.S. Here's a picture of me with Jonathan, just so I can show it off