Friday, 30 September 2011

5 ways to savour the day

With the constant flow of work to do, places to go and people to see all working their way into a regular routine, it's easy to let the days slip past without really noticing them. I think the trick to enjoying these kinds of days is to shun the routines and replace them with rituals. Treat each day like it's a dream wardrobe and you can have any of the clothes you want from it, you just have to choose to wear them. To start you off, why not try one of the tips I've outlined below?

My friend Holly sharing a pot of coffee with me on my front wall yesterday morning
Have coffee outside and watch the world go by, you don't have to go to a cafe with al fresco tables. Just brew a pot, set out your fanciest crockery and add a biscuit on the side, then serve on a tray in your front garden/ back garden/balcony/local park. I find that this is especially enjoyable on a sunny morning when you can watch the light get higher in the sky but it's still cool enough to see the patterns the steam makes in the dawn.

A couple of boxes of herbal tea tied together make a lovely and inexpensive gift
Give a gift to someone spontaneously. If you do this fairly early in the day, you can watch the expression of surprise followed by delight on their faces and keep it with you throughout. Now it doesn't have to be a big gift, it doesn't even need to be a physical object. After all, compliments can brighten a day endlessly.

Visit somewhere beautiful. I know it's not always possible, but if you work in the city, for example, you are never more than a short and cheap bus/train/tram ride to something you can marvel at during your lunchbreak. Hey, you could even bring some sandwiches and eat them there, acting the whole time like you own the place. If you think there is nothing close enough for you to go to, I beg to differ. In the words of Madonna, "Beauty's where you find it."

Treat yourself on the way home from work or school or wherever. It could be a moment that you take to pause and look at the view from that bridge you always cross, or perhaps sitting on a nearby bench when a great song starts playing on your iPod. I know what mine would be, and it would almost certainly be cupcake-shaped...

King Alfred the Great

Watch the sunset somewhere with an incredible skyline. We all know how dramatic and beautiful it can be when the colours of a sunset mingle with the landscape, but if you want something truly jaw-dropping to behold, position yourself somewhere the buildings will create shadows against the sky. Above is the view from the bottom of Winchester's high street, and I like how King Alfred seems to be bidding the daylight farewell.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The September Review

At the end of a long month, in which we have faced the change in weather from light and warm to dark and cold (and in the case of south west England, back to light and warm again. Very confusing) it is always comforting to know that the return to Winter months heralds an annual tradition: the September issues. Of course, most of these went on sale ages ago, back in August, but it has taken me until the end of the month to accumulate all the ones I wanted.

I just wanted to share with you what some of the highlights were for me, and the things I'll be taking away for consideration this season. Let me know in the comments which ones you've liked best and if you think 2011 has been a good year for the September issue.

American Vogue
Let's start with the big one, shall we? And when I say big, I mean literally 758-pages-long big. The US edition of Vogue is so hotly anticipated for this month, and the amount of effort that goes into its production process is just fascinating. If you haven't seen The September Issue, I would recommend it to anyone interested in fashion, or even if you just like a well-made documentary.
This was my first September Vogue ever, so I was very excited and in no way let down. My favourite features just had to be the Karlie Kloss shoot in China - it's as though you're going on the journey with her - and a piece by Janine di Giovanni called Women at War, all about women in Libya. It is articles like this which I tend to refer to whenever anyone declares Vogue to be superficial or airhead-ish, when they have never actually read a page of the magazine for themselves. Overall a triumph of an issue, I look forward to next year's!

Australian Harper's Bazaar

The theme of this issue seemed to be: cinematic. Its stunning cover is the best I have come across by far, with Karlie Kloss looking ethereal in a fuschia gown as she wonders the streets of Paris. It was photographed by Victor Demarchelier (son of Patrick) who is fast shaping up to be one of my favourite fashion photographers. In addition to the cover, Two For The Road, photographed by Will Davidson was one of the best story shoots I've seen in a while and played on my current love affair with all things 40s. Every frame seemed to have come straight out of a movie from the Hollywood golden age.

I think this issue may have been my favourite in terms of art direction, photography and just the visual elements in general. At the end of the day, you can have a magazine packed with in-depth articles and fascinating features, but it won't interest the average fashionista if it doesn't look good.

Teen Vogue

Always a pleasure, Teen Vogue feels light and youthful to me. Yet, as I'm sure I've said before, it does not patronise, and why should it? When it comes to high fashion, the girls who you see on the runway can be anything from around 16, sometimes younger. If those wearing the clothes are allowed to be young, why shouldn't those observing?

I sometimes feel that, in their efforts to make it concise, Teen Vogue ends up feeling sparse, which is why it is nice to have a fuller September issue. I loved The Comeback Kids, focusing on different eras and their fashions. I think it basically summed up how there was no prevalent period from the past in this year's collection, so the best thing to do is just go for whichever suits you best. I also thought it was cool that Shenae Grimes, one of my style icons, had done an internship at the magazine over the summer and specifically asked for no special treatment... except that they then ran a feature on her, but I'm sure it's the thought that counts!

Company Magazine
I often overlook this young, British magazine and class it as being a little more high-street than high-end. However, I was drawn in by its special price (£1), cover girl (Emma Watson) and the promise of a Young Hollywood feature (if you ever want me to buy a magazine from you, just say it has a young Hollywood bit in it and I'm there). I was then won over by the magazine's interesting  and useful article on careers, Now I'm Grown Up I Want To Be. Then I was impressed by their sensitive and balanced pair of articles looking at the London Slutwalk and the movement in general. I can safely say that I will be buying Company again.

British Vogue
Less ambitious in size as opposed to its American sister, British Vogue still manages to retain standards this year with several beautiful spreads, my favourite being Light Work. It featured a gorgeous metallic jumper which I now long to own. I was also fascinated by the in-depth analysis that was The Turbulent Life of John Galliano. It was presented as any fair news article should be, balanced and with enough distance to show what has happened to the greatest degree of truth it can achieve.

I hope September has been a good month for you. I'm now looking forward to wearing metallics, colour and 40s-inspired pieces for the winter months. What will you take into account and into your wardrobe?

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Autumn/Winter wishlist

This is about the time of year when I realise that none of my clothes are appropriate for the weather except for a few hoodies and pair of jeans. BORING. I want a wardrobe filled with bright leafy colours - berry, mustard, forest, chocolate - and luxurious cuts and fabrics. In short, I am looking for some stylish but exciting staples for the colder months, and they should look something like this...

What is in your wardrobe for the colder months? Do you stick to a colour scheme, or just go with the flow?

All available from ASOS

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Some links for your coffee break

I don't feel so good today, emotionally or physically. My dress sense also seems to be taking a brief holiday so I think a fashion post might be a bit of a stretch. I am hoping to go into town either today or tomorrow and visit Cafe Monde, my favourite place in the city, to have a Mini Mighty Mocha. They are such a gorgeous treat, which always look amazing (as you can see above) but don't last me very long (as you can see below!)

What do you do on a day when feel a bit... bleurgh? So far, I've found that being productive helps, though I can't keep that up for too long. Also, putting on a great CD (I have Vampire Weekend playing right now) or film can make you feel better. I'm thinking the best remedy might be some fresh autumnal air though, so I'm on my way out any minute now.

Even better, why not grab your own mocha and browse my list of the best articles from the past couple of weeks? If you're also having a bad day, I promise they'll lift your mood instantly!

Top 10 shirts and blouses at The Guardian website

An interview with Jane Lynch (aka, the best thing about Glee, Sue Sylvester) in the LA Times Magazine

Why not... be more productive? on The Simply Luxurious Life's review of the 3.1 Phillip Lim Show S/S 2012

The Beauty Department: Fall For This

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

How to be Miranda Priestley's assistant

Following the success of Things I have learnt from Legally Blonde a while back, I thought it was about time I shared some of the important lessons gleaned from one of my other favourite films: The Devil Wears Prada. I started off trying to use moral messages learnt from the film, but I decided it was way more fun to create a guide for how you can become a successful assistant to the editor-in-chief of a glossy magazine.

Missing a phonecall from Karl Lagerfeld can cost you your career

If you don't know how to spell Gabbana, people will just hang up on you.

Don't drink the punch at a designer's party - it's lethal

Everything you wear has been chosen for you by a small group of editors and stylists

It isn't scientifically proven, but apparently cellulite is one of the main ingredients in corn chowder

You'll take what Nigel gives you and you'll like it

It's useful to know Patrick Demarchelier's number off by heart

We all have those times when we want to slip into a dress which is just that little bit too small. All you need is a little Crisco and some fishing wire...

A brilliant outfit can increase you in anyone's estimation. Even Gisele's

There is a balance to life: when your personal life is hanging by a thread, that's a sign you're doing well at work.

Fashion is not about utility. An accessory is merely a piece of iconography used to express individual identity... and it's pretty

This is a Shu Uemera eyelash curler. Try to remember that and maybe you won't embarrass yourself in the beauty department

If you don't like the person you are becoming, just walk away. Preferably towards a fountain you can throw your phone into.

You know what they say. Tiny man. Huge ego.

When an editor views a designer collection, there's a scale. One nod is good, two nods is very good. Smiles are rare. If she doesn't like it she shakes her head. Then of course there's the pursing of the lips, meaning catastrophe.

All images are not mine and property of Universal I imagine

Monday, 19 September 2011

Personalising your winter coat

Often during the Autumn/Winter season, it can seem that everyone is wearing the same coat as you. Whether this is because it is the latest must-have from the collections or because it is a timeless investment piece which everyone has a version of, it can be a bit annoying. Especially when you love your coat so much and feel like you should stand out in it. I believe the key to standing out (in a good way) is to have total confidence in your outfit, and often when a coat comes into the mix, it is about making it appear that you have been wearing it all your life. There are a few tricks you can use to do this, so allow me to share 7 of the best with you...

Roll the sleeves up
Stylists have known this trick since the dawn of fashion, and it is already in common use for blazers, jumpers and anything which needs that personal touch. It is particularly useful for anything with quite masculine tailoring, as it appears to fit better to your body. Plus, how else are you going to show off your arm candy?

Let it hang open
Though your coat is obviously an essential part of your outfit, you probably don't want to cover up the rest of the clothes which you painstakingly picked out this morning. If you have a trench coat or other coat with a belt you can tie, try tying it at the back to both keep the belt out of the way and create a subtle waistline. This will also prevent the coat from slipping forward and covering up your outfit.

Don't do up the buckle
You want to stand out, right? Everyone will be wearing the coat as it is supposed to be worn, so mix it up a bit! Knot it, tuck it in your pockets, take it off. I tend to tie it at the back as this accentuates the waistline and stops it getting in the way. Do what you will, but never take the trouble to do the buckle up all perfectly. After all, you are a busy woman, and if you have time to do your coat up properly, people will begin to assume that you can handle all the demands they place on you. It all adds up you see.

Use a different belt
Often trench coats come with a belt which is the same colour and material as the coat, and this can cause problems when attempting to create a striking silhouette. By using another colour like red or blue, you can draw attention to the waist, which will now be neatly cinched in. This is where I go back on what I said previously - this time it's best to do up the buckle. It will create a better line and show off any features of your chosen belt to full advantage.

Put a scarf on under the collar
Strangely, I picked this trick up while watching the largely forgotten Lindsay Lohan and Chris Pine film, Just My Luck. As you can see in the photo, she wears a silk scarf under the collar of her coat. This is then tucked into the belt, but you can only see that in later scenes. Though her incarnation is perhaps a little girly for some, the basic principle can look very stylish when executed properly.

Wear something sequinned underneath
We all know that Winter is less about throwing strange colour combinations together and more about trying out different textures against eachother. I have a bit of a soft spot for all things sequinned, embellished or sparkly and the contrast between these and the smoothness of a trench or heaviness of a wool coat makes for a dazzling effect. Only let a little bit show through and let the curiosity of others do the rest.

Hang it on your shoulders
WEather is unpredictable (especially in England) so you never know when you will need to throw on a coat and put up your umbrella when the net second you could be throwing off your coat and putting on your sunglasses. On a practical level, draping your coat over your shoulders without using the sleeves is handy for quick-change weather. It also looks incredibly stylish and perhaps a little bit dapper. If dapper is the look you're going for, try it.

Friday, 16 September 2011

My Guest Post at The Language of Fluent Beauty

Recently, I have been very busy adjusting to a new, much larger school and taking on a greater workload, which is difficult after about 3 months of summer holiday. This might have shown in the briefness of my posts. For this I apologise and assure you that I have several good features on the way.

In the meantime, why not check out the guest post I have written for the language of fluent beauty? It is part of her around the world Wednesday feature and shows the progression of a trend which I picked up on the catwalks and tracked all the way to my home town. 

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Sunny side up

I've been putting together this series of photos for a while now (there are probably loads more, but I think these are the best three so far) because I am no longer doing art as a taught subject, so I am looking for some other creative outlets like this photography project.

What I like about it is that they show my travels around the world. the first one is next to an Italian coffee in my hotel in Naples, the second is outside on a cafe table in Perpignan, France, and the final one is just at a table which was for sale outside a supermarket in Southampton!

I'm thinking that this could really be a good way of sharing with friends and followers where I am in the world, plus I'll build up a portfolio of shots, some of which are pretty good. I particularly like the reflections in the lenses. The umbrella reflected in the last one looks cool and if you zoom in on the second, you can actually make out a Carte D'Or logo!

What do you think? Do you have any artistic projects going at the moment?

Monday, 12 September 2011

A classic wardrobe

Recently, I've been thinking about my clothes. The ones I used to own, the ones I own currently, and the ones I want to buy.I think this has been brought on by the books I've been reading (pictured above), particularly To Die For, which hilights our obsession with fast, disposable fashion. While I don't think my attitude towards clothes is too wasteful, I am guilty, as most of us are, of buying things I don't need for a quick fashion fix. The other two books, Dreaming of Chanel and French Women Don't Get Fat (the latter purchased out of sheer curiosity) have started to bring me around to a French way of thinking. I am now yearning for the kind of classic wardrobe owned by many a stylish Parisienne. The kind that lasts for a decade or more, and needs only occasional updating with key seasonal pieces. And so begins my quest, and what better way to start it than with a list! One that outlines exactly what I am searching for, and who could be better to illustrate it than Scott and Garance?

A clutch for day
 Some of you may have read about my first attempt to use a clutch for day, and though it worked OK, it wouldn't suffice for a whole day. I think the key to the ideal day clutch is something rather large, made of soft material in a bright colour, so as to add a hit of cheerfulness to an otherwise monochrome outfit. Then, of course, you can find a nail colour to contrast.

A classic trench
Ah, the trench coat. It has been through so many different incarnations, various cuts, linings, lengths and colours have all been tried out on this timeless piece. But to be truly timeless, it should really be of the original style, and only personalised by you and the way you wear it - rolled up sleeves, tied at the back etc. Though it would be nice to be able to afford one by Aquascutum or Burberry, I have recently purchased my own trench coat, from the humble but nevertheless institutional British high-street store Debenhams.

A white shirt that goes with everything
When I finished school a few months ago, I was so eager to get rid of my uniform that many of my white shirts went straight into the charity bag. This is not something I regret, many were too small or dirty, but it does leave me with a bit of a hole in my wardrobe. The white shirt can always be paired with a skirt, jeans, worn under a dress if it's the right one, or even worn as a dress if it is long enough. I think Garance has said it all in her lovely picture (above).

A wear-anytime blazer
This is one thing I do not really need to look for more of. I currently own one black blazer, two striped ones and one cream one. They are my life-savers, I wear them all the time and yet they sometimes make me feel more formal than I need to be, but I would always rather be overdressed than underdressed. However, I suppose I don't yet have a navy blue one... now where is my purse?

A perfect pair of jeans
Can such a thing really exist? In my experience, the answer is: probably. I have one pair of blue jeans which are as near perfect as it's going to get in the near future. And you know what? I didn't even have to pay through the nose to get them. They are actually from Tammy, a teenage store which used to be popular in the 80s, but now is just an extension of the BHS brand, but I got them second-hand from a friend. I'm not sure, but i think the fact that they had been slightly worn in by someone else is what made them so good. They are incredibly comfortable and I wear them with anything.

A business-like pencil skirt and comfy heels
I have recently developed a thing for pencil skirts (I blame Romola Garai in The Hour) and now wear them out often, even though I have no office job to go to. I am particularly proud of my find at the local car-boot sale: an Yves Saint Laurent skirt and jacket set for just £15! I haven't worn the jacket yet, buyt the number of outings the skirt has been on make it already worth the price. If you are looking for a skirt, I recommend walking around the dressing room in it to test whether it rides up or not.

As for heels, I have yet to come across a pair I can spend more than a few hours in without them giving me hell by the end (except wedges, but they don't count). I have heard that if you really want a comfortable heel, you have to pay for quality, preferably Italian quality.

A perfect Breton or Mariniere top
Finally, there is of course the Breton. As Garance says in her notes (above) it should really come from Brittany to be authentic, but I am not sure I can wait until my next trip to France. To be perfect, it should look well on your shape, so think about what you need in terms of neckline, length, sleeves and stripe thickness. I will be on the lookout for one with a very square neck and 3/4 length sleeves.

And there you have it. Just add a dash of red lipstick, a croissant and an air of confidence et voila! You are now ready to take on the world as a Parisian would. Au revoir!