Tuesday, 29 November 2011

What to wear on a photoshoot

Above is a photo of Jane Keltner de Valle at Paris fashion week, trying her hand at being a street style photographer. What's good about her outfit is its simplicity - a no-brainer piece which needs little or no accessories with an elegantly French air about it. Of course, a street style photgrapher must give off an air of being stylish and creative, but perhaps not to the extent that they drown out the style of their subject, so the bright, bold blue of this dress is ideal. Finally, the shoes are classic, well-made and completely practical. Nobody wants to be running in 6-inchers when they are late for a shoot!

Let's take a look at what photographers wear and what makes their outfits so fitting.

The accessories - Garance

Check out that roomy bag! Perfect for bringing all your kit with you without looking too bulky or unstylish. I also love her watch, which just screams expensive without being ostentatious, plus it has the practical element of ensuring she is on time to shows. And don't overlook the value of a small notebook and working pen (with a back-up just in case it runs out) for jotting down numbers, names and addresses.

The coat - Scott

I believe that this photo was taken in London, so it makes sense that Scott might need a warm cover-up. Something dark and well-cut can cover almost any outfit and still look sophisticated. This will probably be particularly useful during February fashion week in London, because it will be COLD.

The dress - Micol
I love this dress. I don't know if it's vintage, designer or what but it is so delicately pretty that I can't help but lust over it. I think this is an ideal thing to pack for a shoot because it requires no thought when you need to get up early - just throw it on! Plus, it looks like it's keeping Micol cool here, but I bet you could easily trasfer it to Autumn/Winter with a pair of tights and fur jacket. If you see something as gorgeous but also functional as this, invest at once!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Operation Christmas shopping is GO!

Some people hate Christmas. Not necessarily the day itself, but certainly the lead-up to it. The constant gift-buying, crowd-fighting, box-wrapping, dinner-planning and outfit-preparing can really get to you, and it can be tough to keep going. This week's IFB project is to provide tips for shopping survival, and I think this is probably the most difficult part of getting ready for Christmas, so in this post I aim to give you a few different plans for having the least stressful time possible, and you can choose which one you like best.

Plan A
Start the day early with your best friend in your favourite cafe. Have a filling brunch, you will need the energy. As you do so, make sure to plan out all the people you need to buy for and put potential ideas next to their names. If you can't think of something for someone, make sure to keep them in mind while you are browsing in case something pops up. Don't give in to panic. Walk with purpose but calmly. Stop at midday for a light lunch and again in the afternoon for coffee and something involving chocolate - perhaps cake? Enjoy the process of shopping and revel in the retail therapy. End the day with a manicure and dinner in somewhere warm and friendly.

Plan B
Convert to a religion which doesn't celebrate Christmas.

Plan C
Stay home in your pyjamas. Make yourself a big mug of hot chocolate with cream, marshmallows and all the trimmings. Keep a stack of credit cards next to you. Watch Love Actually while you work through your list by ordering things from online stores. If you are stuck for ideas, try notonthehighstreet.com or Oxfam

Plan D
Book a long weekend in Paris. Go to the ballet, eat amazing food and climb to the top of the Eiffel tower. Remember at the last minute that you cam here to Christmas shop and order a box of macaroons for everyone on your list.

Plan E
So you're stuck on what to buy? No problem. Everyone loves a classic novel. And if they don't, they're not exactly going to say they don't because 1) it would seem ungrateful and 2) they don't want to look non-intellectual. Plus, though they might already own a copy in one form or another (probably on their kindle) publishers are constantly coming out with gorgeous new editions. Who can deny the benefits of a good-looking book on their shelf? Here is my list of can't-go-wrong classics.
For the man: 1984 by George Orwell, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy by John le Carre
For the lady: Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, Romola by George Eliot
For the young gentleman: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Brideshead Revisited by Eveleyn Waugh
For the young woman: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
For the boy: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
For the girl: Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Plan F
Organise the shopping trip with military precision. Bring a few unwilling friends/boyfriends/boyfriends-of-friends and assign each of them a task to be completed by 1200 hours when you will meet at the coffee shop to reload on coffee and receive a new mission. Wear big boots to kick other shoppers out of the way. Avoid stress by focusing on the prize. Reward your team at the end of the day with a glass of mulled wine. Then tell them to drop and give you 20.

Plan G
Begin shopping in advance. It's a bit late for this year, but hey, you could always start at the January sales and stock up on all the gifts you'll need for next year! Of course it's difficult to predict what people will want next year, but buying jumpers, socks and chocolate in bulk is always a good strategy.

Plan H
If you're Miranda Priestley, have your assistant do it for you.

Plan I
Set out with every intention of getting the Christmas shopping done. End up buying this dress for your NYE outfit instead.

Plan J
So sometimes it can be frustrating when you have been shopping all day and feel like you're getting nowhere. Plus, the aggressive shoppers have made your life hell by not playing by the rules. Now, I don't condone this type of behaviour, but sometimes it could be useful to have a list of their dirty tactics so you can watch out for them... or perhaps employ them yourself...
[]Taking something from someone else's trolley (it's not stealing if they haven't paid for it yet)
[]Padding out your clothes and pretending to be pregnant so people will let you jump the queue
[]Pulling the button off a cardigan and asking to buy it for a lower price because it's damaged, then sewing the button back on when you get home
[]Spreading a rumour that they're putting out the new Sylvanian families set upstairs to get the floor to yourself

Plan K
Buy everyone you know Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. It is brilliant for all ages (above 14) and both genders.

Plan L
If you know you will get stressed over the shopping, just forget it and start making things instead! Foodie gifts for your friends who live close and little craft projects for those who you have to post to.
This is a recipe for Cherry & Coconut Florentines from BBCGoodFood:

  • 140g light muscovado sugar
  • 100g clear honey
  • 200g salted butter
  • 100g desiccated coconut
  • 140g flaked almonds
  • 300g glacĂ© cherries , sliced
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 250g dark, milk or white chocolate , or a mix

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the sugar, honey and butter in a large pan and gently melt together. When all the sugar has dissolved stir in the coconut, flaked almonds, sliced cherries and flour.
  2. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment (about 40 x 30cm), and roughly spread the Florentine mixture out to a thin layer - don't worry if you have small gaps, it should melt together in the oven. Bake for 10-12 mins until a rich golden colour, then set aside to cool and firm up.
  3. Melt the chocolate(s) all in separate heatproof bowls over gently simmering water. Line a second large tray or board with baking parchment and carefully flip the cooled Florentine bake onto it. Peel off the baking parchment. Spread the melted chocolate over, if you're using a few types just leave a gap between each.
  4. Leave aside until set, then stamp out shapes using cookie star cutters - if the cutter is digging into your hands (as the Florentine mix may be a little hard), rest a small plate or pan on top of it and push down on this instead.
And if you feel like getting crafty, why not check out Crafty Minx, Geek Crafts or PS I made this

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Style Icon: Jane Keltner de Valle

For anyone who doesn't know, Jane Keltner de Valle is the fashion news editor for Teen Vogue. If you have read an issue of the magazine, you may recognise her as the writer of the column Fashion Blogger, which you can read here. She is also a favourite of street style photographers due to her pristine and polished look, which I think keeps her looking professional whilst still maintaining that spark of creativity which is essential to her job.

I have been drawn to her aesthetic of late because it's getting pretty chilly here in England, and I'm finding it difficult to keep stylish without freezing my limbs off. Jane has several ideal outfits for traipsing through a cold Paris when she goes to see the shows and I have found valuable inspiration in many of her choices.

Anyone who reads her column on a regular basis will also know that Jane tends to avoid trousers almost as arule. While there is nothing wrong with trousers, I find that winter can often start a pattern of cold mornings resulting in boring jeans-and-jumper combinations. I love how she keeps her femininity the focus of all her outfits. While searching the internet for street style shots of her, I stumbled across her entry on The Coveteur. I tell you, who could resist the style of a woman with a wardrobe like this?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

I want it!: Closet cross-over flare dress

I know there's some rule about not wearing white in winter, but to be honest, all the winter wonderland displays make me want to wear white more than ever, then blend into the snow. I love this because it's tailored and quite versatile, so you can wear it with tights for the party season then go bare-legged and fresh once spring arrives! You can get this dress from Awear.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Friday, 11 November 2011



Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;
And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day--
And the countryside not caring:
The place names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat's restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;
Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.
Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The Enduring Romance of the Wedding Dress at Bath Fashion Museum

I was in Bath the other week, so I thought it was probably a good idea to visit their fashion museum while I had the opportunity. I was unaware of what exhibitions were on at the time, but was pleased to see one called What will she wear? The enduring romance of the wedding dress which was designed to celebrate the royal wedding. I was especially pleased to find this exhibition as I have already missed similar ones in London and Melbourne.

It did not disappoint. Despite the overwhelming first impression being that the layout was rather creepy (a hundred Miss Havishams shut away in a glass case, scary) I enjoyed looking at the individual dresses and the way the styles have evolved over the years.

This Alexander McQueen has obvious similarities to Kate Middleton's gorgeous wedding gown, though I'm not sure whether this one was designed by Lee himself or Sarah Burton, as it was dated 2010. Either way, I imagine this is a star piece of the exhibition, since I myself was fascinated by being able to see the intricate lace-work close up.

Of course, Kate and Will are not the only royal wedding to have ever happened. This Victor Stiefel gown reminded me of the one worn by Wallis Simpson when she married the Duke of Windsor, though hers was designed by Mainbocher. While this is a decidedly 1930s style (the museum's dress was from 1934 and the Duke and Duchess' wedding was in 1937) it still has echoes in some modern wedding wear. In fact, Sir Paul McCartney's recent bride Nancy Shevell wore a gorgeous vintage-style dress inspired by Wallis' outfit at their marriage in October, designed by -who else? - Stella McCartney.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Occupy movement and the fashion industry

Protesters in the UK city of Bristol and, on the left, a rather stylish person representing fashion
Protests can be funny things. They start out with one small group of people's objection to something and their idea of how they can deal with it. As more people join the cause, as needs to happen if the movement is to have any serious impact, their beliefs and ideals can become confused and begin to spread over many different areas. Unfortunately, I think this may have happened with the Occupy movement, if only due to its global appeal.

In a search to learn more about what the protesters' actual demands are, I read the 9 points put forward in the initial statement of Occupy London, (you can find the full list here) and one in particular stood out to me:

"7.We want structural change towards authentic global equality. The world’s resources must go towards caring for people and the planet, not the military, corporate profits or the rich."

Now, I love fashion. Some people think of it in a snobby way, calling those involved with it superficial and stupid. This is obviously just a severe case of small-mindedness and lack of appreciation for beauty. However, this statement resonates with me and forces me to consider the fashion and retail businesses as they stand today. Can they really be using the world's resources to help people? Perhaps some people, like Mrs Moneybags who spends each Saturday afternoon perusing Harrods for a new designer dress. But she isn't alone - we in the West reap the benefits everyday of cheap clothing manufacturing costs overseas. And how do you think they get those production costs so low? It certainly isn't by giving each employee a six-figure bonus at the end of the tax year like the banks which Occupy seem so keen to put in their place. It's not even by giving them a fair wage and reasonable working hours. Exploitation is rife in the developing world, and the bigwigs at the helm of value high-street stores right up to Designer houses and their daddy companies. 

By no means am I trying to attack the creatives who design the clothes I love, and in turn the shops which turn them into cheaper imitations which I can actually afford. Neither do I want to undermine those sitting outside St Paul's, or in Wall Street, or wherever else in the world they choose to occupy, in fact I admire their expression of free speech and hope that they at least make an impression on some politicians who could really do with listening. I would just like to suggest that, instead of demanding a long list of things which will take years to implement, we as fashion consumers make a positive decision next time we buy an item of clothing. Check up on the seller's human rights policy, see if that website knows exactly where its products and ask someone, even if it's Google, whether the woman who made your dress earned even a fraction of what it cost you for her hard work.

But please, never EVER stop enjoying fashion.
from Chanel News