This tucking phenomena has been around for some time now, but so in love with this simple garment manipulation am I, that I just had to commend the trend and write an ode to the Half Tuck! In my humble opinion the half tuck is the perfect and most simple way to manipulate almost any garment worn on the upper body, be it a shirt, t-shirt, jumper or whatever else we might care to wear. Unlike say, the embellished collar trend, that’s dependent on many factors; it requires a shirt with the perfect collar, a statement necklace – the necklace needing to be the right size to sit perfectly between the front band and point spread of the collar and it has to do this without dishevelling it, the half tuck doesn’t require nearly half as much technique. It’s merely a tuck! Having said that, there are many ways to wear the tuck and many reasons to do so; Those of us rocking the half tuck will have our very own reasons to rock this upper garment manipulation and will have perfected our very own way of tucking – one that works for just for us! The rule of thumb would have it that the less contrived the tuck appears to be, the better it looks. This doesn’t mean, however, that the tuck isn’t contrived!
I personally wear the half tuck for its slimming effect. Being that I am curvier than model straight up and down, wearing a jeans and shirt ensemble for example, with the half tuck makes all the difference. The tucked in element reveals my waist – exposing one of the smallest parts of my body. Consequently, the loose element of the shirt conceals my derriere – a particular advantage for me when I’m wearing skinny jeans. I wear my skinnies tight enough to be a second skin, to make my legs look slimmer, however this also pronounces the derriere – which I am not always entirely comfortable with – especially when I am in the office. The half tuck offers some concealment of my derriere. Of course shirts worn loose, particularly if they are over sized or loose fitting, disguise my derriere too, but in the meantime they also disguise my waist line – the half tuck allows me to reveal and conceal all at the same time.
The way the tuck’s worn can be dependent on a number of things – the length of the garment being tucked in, the occasion we’re dressing for, the type of garment we’re pairing our top with, the belt we might be wearing – if we’re wearing a statement belt we won’t want our shirttails disguising the statement, our body shape and many other factors. Some of us half tuckers might tuck the front of our garment in, others will tuck just the front corner away and some might tuck one side of the shirttail into a waistband whilst wearing the other shirttail loose. Some of us will tuck in every which way possible. Regardless of how we’re tucking, those of us that have adopted the half tuck will appreciate the aesthetic brilliance this effortless manipulation can have on an ensemble. I would argue that the half tuck is miraculous – I really would. I think I first discovered the half tuck being worn on Victoria Beckham seven or eight years ago and I’ve been half tucking in this fashion ever since!
Of course the half tuck isn’t all about accentuating waistlines, disguising bottoms, flat or rounded, saggy or wide, this tucking of the upper garment adds a stylistic edge to an ensembles; making a simple jeans and white shirt appear effortless yet stylish, a sheer shirt and black jeans ensemble appear more casual as opposed to stuffy and make an otherwise sexier or more revealing garment, cutaway shorts or mini skirt for example, appear less sexual and more relaxed and easy. For all the half tuck’s massive feats it must be celebrated!
The weather is said to be the most disengaging topic of conversations ever. It’s definitely the most thoughtless and uninspiring of conversations, ideal for filling silences and the perfect small talk with people you don’t really care about, but where fashion is concerned the weather is a big deal. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter; if there’s one thing that fashion is dependent upon for its success it’s these four elements.The seasons are indeed what keep the fashion wheel spinning and in turn keep us fashionistas from going crazy, because let’s face it, we fashionistas depend upon change. In the winter we sit at our desks at work fantasising about balmy summer evenings after a day in the office spent on roof top bars overlooking the capital adorned in the latest spring summer trends, with Tom Ford sunglasses perched on our noses and polished toenails peeping out of strappy sandals. Once summer eventually turns to autumn we romantacise about being tucked away in cosy pubs protected by overwhelming woolly jumpers, jeans tucked into long boots with our winter armour of scarves, hats, gloves and the latest statement coat piled up beside us. Of course, us Londoners are unfortunately more familiar with the latter.
The impact the weather has on our state of mind, our being and of course our wardrobes, especially our wardrobes is spectacular. For those that live in countries where the seasons are clearly defined comes a sense of clarity, winter; comforting and protected, autumn; melancholy, settled and reminiscent of the summer, spring; new, refreshed and enthused and summer; alive, liberated, contented and of course, happy. In London right now we’re not quite sure what to feel, we’re not quite sure of the season and we’re not quite sure what to wear, let alone what clothes to buy. It’s mid-may and it’s fair to say the UK is still very much fantasising about Summer…still waiting tentatively for a long enough stretch of good weather so we can put away our winter clothes, prepare our summer wardrobes and finally start investing in all the summer trends we’ve been reading about since September 2012. However, it would appear that the sun isn’t ready to put his hat on just yet, which means us Londoners aren’t taking ours off.
At the end of March I spent four days in Barcelona, the weather was glorious and although it wasn’t the height of summer or even officially spring, it was warm enough not to wear a jacket. So bright and sunny was it that it frequently tempted me into spending a ton of Euros on summer clothes in all one hundred Zaras located on La Diagonal. But I refrained, because I knew it was some 16 degrees colder back in London and that it was far better to have the money in my bank account as opposed to hanging in my wardrobe. After a fabulous four days with my partner, eating Tapas and drinking sangria with the sun beating down on our faces, sipping cocktails on the beach and strolling along the boardwalk as skaters swooped by us, the thought of returning to London filled me with dread. After my partner and I split up a year ago we got rid of our flat and were living separately, which meant returning to separate homes. It meant returning back to reality, the nine to five job that took away my liberty to sit and eat Tapas for hours should I want and stroll along the streets taking in my surrounding as opposed to marching from point to point, always with something to do, somewhere to be, some appointment to make. And of course, it meant returning to the cold, back to boots and coats with scarves and hats. As we sat on the plane mid-flight I willed the temperature in London to have at least reached double figures, but the captain confirmed that the temperature in London was four degrees!
I went to work the following week with that sense of ‘Is this as good as it gets?’. At the time I hadn’t realised I was probably suffering a mixture of holiday blues with a bit of Seasonal Associative Disorder. I was feeling so great in Barcelona and it was though I was crashing. I remember saying to one of my colleagues, who’s young, bright eyed, bushy tailed and not even been working a year yet, ‘I deserve more than this.’ She said to me, as though I were crazy, ‘Like what?’ Through fear of sounding old and depressing I said nothing, but secretly I knew I needed a change. I was beginning to feel like I was in a rut, which isn’t particularly like me. Did I need a change of job? Surely not, I love my job. Did I need a new project? I knew that couldn’t be it…I have my blog, which I also love and I am still writing my novel…albeit slowly. I was enjoying working out, which I felt good about, momentarily – so what was it? Then one morning, after checking the weather on my phone, hoping it might have changed from the night before when I first checked it and disappointed that it hadn’t, I dressed myself in the weather appropriate ensemble I had prepared the night before; a black long sleeved midi dress, with tights and black suede wedged boots. As I maneuvered myself into the black tights that have been protecting my legs from the cold I realised I had grown to resent them and once I had hooked and zipped and tied my feet into the black boots I enjoyed clomping about in all winter, I realised I have grown sick to the back tooth with wearing boots. It’s Spring Summer 2013 and I should have been prancing around in a monochrome skirt, something yellow and an ensemble worn with a pair of metallic stilettos. Of course a major part of being well dressed is being dressed appropriately and knowing how to dress for the weather is paramount, so resentfully and fearful of the weather, I headed to the office that day in my tights and boots feeling warm, but still far from fabulous. That evening I went for after work drinks, I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror of the establishment I was drinking in and remember thinking that I looked far too covered up, which is all well and good for winter, but surely not for spring, even if it was only four degrees and raining outside! I ended up removing the tights and suffering the cold and I am not generally one to endure the cold for aesthetic purposes.
It very quickly dawned on me, I wasn’t in a rut, I didn’t need a change of job or a new project, I needed a change of season. When I am feeling low or less than confident, it’s fashion that I turn to make me feel fabulous. Of course reading a book, writing and such all make me feel great internally, but I am sure most fashion lovers will agree, when going out to face the big bad world, an ensemble that makes you feel fabulous can make this very normal part of living a whole fabulous event. And I will put my hands up and say, that one of the things that makes commuting everyday that little bit sweeter, that bit more fabulous, is wearing an ensemble that I have taken a bit of time to put together and that I love wearing. It makes the train journey, the visit to Starbucks, working in the office, going for lunch, taking meetings and socialising after work that special. And even more so, when I’m wearing something new! But I wasn’t shopping, because it was too cold to buy spring/summer clothes and I didn’t want to waste anymore money on winter clothes, just in case spring did decide to settle in, so therefore I had nothing new. On the other hand I had grown bored and almost angry at the winter clothes the weather still required me to wear. I had developed, what I have coined, Fashion Associative Disorder – caused by the lack of change in season and therefore the lack of change in wardrobe.
Instead of getting angry, I accepted this as a fashion challenge and I embraced it. The challenge being, how to look current and on trend, whilst in season, without the weather necessarily correlating with the weather? So, like I would with the turn of any season, I began to select the trends that most suit my style; for the season I have opted for Marc Jacobs Monochrome, so accessible and depending on what garment you buy, doesn’t need to be particularly seasonal and won’t necessarily date too quickly. Yellow, think Louis Vuitton, often associated with spring and summer, but again, purchasing yellow tops as opposed to trousers or skirts, makes this an easier trend to implement into an ensemble and make it look current, without looking too summery or feeling too cold. The perfect trend for UK weather right now has got to be what I am calling ‘the new denim’ – I might have read this term somewhere, just think Philip Lim’s New York runway s/s 2013. This trend is perfect for me, because I love denim, but always fear it can be too casual – this new reworked denim has changed wearing denim on the upper body entirely, denim shirts have become smart and sexy in soft kimono sleeved tops or cropped and boxy soft denim t-shirts. Another key trend I have adopted this very cold spring is the graphic digital print partnered up with a complimentary, but again slightly different print, again inspired by Marc Jacobs.
Once I decided the trends I would be wearing, I decided how best to implement them in this barely even tepid UK weather. I avoided purchasing garments directly associated with spring, so instead of buying little skirts and dresses, trousers to light to keep me warm and floaty tops too summery to be appropriate just yet, I purchased tops and blouses and trousers of a substantial material. I bought myself that soft denim Philip Lim inspired kimono sleeved top from Zara and I wear it with leather trousers and metallic Terry De Havilland wedges – an outfit that nods quite nicely to this seasons’s key trends. I have also found playing with colour is a great technique to make an ensemble appear spring-ier and current, without necessarily having to compromise on warmth from the garment, so I bought jeans from Zara in beige and khaki green and pastel pink and bright yellow blouses, which I have worn with some new black stilettos from Zara, a black blazer and my staple black Chloe handbag. I have also entered into a little monochrome madness, but I justify this with the thinking that monochrome printed shirts and blouses will never date. In fact, I entered this monochrome trend toward the end of last year with a few shirts from Zara and then continued with a birthday ensemble that consisted of a black and white printed vest top tucked into black and white Marc Jacobs inspired trousers, all from Topshop, worn with a black Marc Jacobs handbag and red Miu Miu wedges. And last, but by no means least, my absolute favourite spring summer purchase, that makes me feel fabulous no matter how warm or cold it might be, is without fail my Tom Ford sunglasses. I am now coveting more spring-ier shades for wardrobe pieces that allow a high cost per wear; a handbag, ideally the grey Prada Saffiano bag or the 31 Hour Phillip Lim handbag, of which colour I am not quite sure. And I am still struggling to find a spring jacket that blows me away, it needs to be lighter in weight and in a neutral or pastel colour, but what I have found once again, is that fabulous feeling and that is what’s most important!
The weather is not only affecting wardrobes and our state of minds, but its affecting retail sales and clothing companies are just as desperate to see the spring officially kick in as much as we are. But in the meantime, if you’re feeling this seasonal slump or think you might have a case of my Fashion Associative Disorder, I say embrace the fashion challenge and shop your way out of it! Nobody quite knows how theraputic retail therapy is quite like a fashionista and if it gives you that fabulous feeling, surely that’s all that counts!
Monochrome and digital print pairing, inspired by Marc Jacobs…
The Great Gatsby, a love story made extraordinary by the sad yet perfectly characterised Jay Gatsby…
Last night F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby overwhelmed me once again, this time in a totally new realm. I have seen the 1974 Great Gatsby film, directed by Jack Clayton starring Robert Redford, watched those electric party scenes over and over again with complete awe – wishing myself there, reliving the novel I became enchanted by the first time I picked it up. And I’ve read the novel countless times, falling more and more in love with Fitzgerald and the world he penned so perfectly. Nevertheless, that doesn’t take away from how special I found watching The Great Gatsby on the big screen last night.
No matter how many times I have read The Great Gatsby or, in fact, any of Fitzgerald’s novels, long or short, without fail I am guaranteed to be ignited by his acute characterisations, his ability to materialise the human condition so tenderly on paper and his faultlessly captivating descriptive writing that paints with clarity a very rich and colourful picture of the Roaring Twenties. To any writer, aspiring writer, literature enthusiast or lover of a good narrative, I have no doubt that Fitzgerald or his definitive novel The Great Gatsby will mean something to them too, for me Fitzgerald is the only writer I have come across thus far that inspires me to write and intimidates my writing on a daily basis. He is the writer that sets the bar and leaves that antagonising voice in the back of my head that says, ‘You’ll never write anything nearly as good as this.’
Watching Baz Lurhmann‘s The Great Gatsby last night was overwhelming and spectacular, of course for all my admiration and respect for Fitzgerald and the novel, but also because it would be the first time I would see this great American Classic come to life in my lifetime, with actors I am familiar with, fashion designers that I covet, fashion eras that I have studied and the Roaring Twenties, an epoch that I have fallen in love with, studied and written because of my admiration for Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby, the 1920s, literature and fashion all mean so much more to me now than it did when I first read the novel, because since then I have had plenty of time to cultivate my understanding for each of these elements and neither of them has ever failed to keep my intrigue.
After reading reviews that claimed that the 2013 film rendition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s defining American Modern Classic was all style no substance, my heart plummeted, I wanted nothing more than for Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo Di Caprio to raise goosebumps across the world. The promotion had been nothing but alluring, the trailer was magnetic, the press was sending out the buzz accordingly, designers were creating Flapper inspired collections, features on Fitzgerald and Zelda filled the pages of the Fashion glossies for months before its release and in the lead up to the premiere The Great Gatsby and all things associated had gone viral on Social Media. It was a move that was truly ‘highly anticipated’ and had been set on a pedestal to be brilliant and I wanted nothing more than it to be so.
Admittedly I was apprehensive when I when I sat down to watch it, for it to be disappointing would have been heartbreaking. It takes moments to recognise the film is highly stylised, but with it it’s visually stunning and what of the novel can’t be conveyed in film has been translated into a symbolism that evokes the senses that film calls upon. Gatsby was noisy, opulent and colourful hence you hear the music, because you’re familiar with it, you see the colour because it’s almost cartoonish and emphasised and you feel the opulence, because the entire film is exactly so – opulent at all angles. That’s the style, now the substance; I could argue that the style in itself has already offered up a pretty good foundation in itself, but if that’s all a little too floaty, then Toby Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio’s rendition of Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby most certainly brought the film back down to earth with their weight and substance. Of course I expected Leonardo Di Caprio to be nothing short of impressive, for me he is up there with the greats of our time, and his performance was unsurprisingly superb. However,what I hadn’t expected was, to be so moved by Toby Maguire’s rendition of Nick Carraway. I suppose I have always been so fascinated by Fitzgerald’s creation of the character Jay Gatsby, that I hadn’t given much thought to what I might expect of Nick Carraway’s characterisation in the film. Toby Maguire evoked such a sympathy for Nick Carraway that it brought to the screen a character that was just as discernible and as moving as Jay Gatsby.
In my humble opinion, if you are going to watch Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby this spring, don’t go expecting to see a perfect imitation of the pages you read in the book on screen – The Help was very successful at this achievement, as was Sam Mendes’ film adaptation of Nick Yates’ Revolutionary Road. Nevertheless, what you will see is a film director that has celebrated his visual medium by recreating the tale of The Great Gatsby in a way that is entirely exclusive to film and what you should appreciate is the chance to experience the novel in a whole new dimension.
I’ll put my hands up and say, I am no film writer and that I am writing this on account of the fact that any chance I get to talk about, read about or write about Fitzgerald I will do so, but what I will say is, I wasn’t disappointed. Half way through the film I took a moment to appreciate how immersed and possessed I was by this visual marvel. The hairs on my arms were raised, my senses were stirred and there I was again, like when I read the novel, wishing myself at those parties, guessing Gatsby, growing angry at Daisy Buchanan, tingled by Carraway’s observations, hating Tom Buchanan, loving Gatsby, then feeling sorry for him, then empathising with him…. For me, watching the film was just another way I could run in the playground of the world that was F. Scott Fitzgerald and again, I was ignited.
So, indeed, today is the day that Miranda Kerr announces her departure from luxury lingerie house Victoria’s Secrets. Although we have enjoyed admiring Miranda work the Victoria’s Secrets runway with her sweetly pretty face and her stunning body, wings and all, there need be no reason to be sad that the angel is leaving this runway behind. She’s about to take flight in another aspect of life, that celebrates being a woman just as much as an Angel does, she’s making this departure to prioritise her responsibilities as a mother to her two year old son Flynn. Kerr has been modelling since she was thirteen years old, now twenty nine and about to celebrate her 30th birthday on the 20th April, she felt it was the perfect time to hang up her wings.
Miranda is such a fashion icon, with a style that mixes Parisian chic with just enough glamour to be perfect in its effortlessness, that she has become a Pinterest Princess – an icon that the masses can and want to relate to even when her wings aren’t on show. Some of us may never have the body of an angel, but we frequently take inspiration from her style and most would certainly like to be fabulous mothers some day, so to Miranda’s departure from Victoria’s Secrets I say, congratulations!
If you’ve picked up a Vogue magazine, scoured the Street Style pins on Pinterest or admired the spring summer 2013 ad campaigns of the major fashion houses in the last six months you will know that the stiletto is back and with a vengeance. These days you rarely spot the likes of Olivia Palermo, Kim Kardashian and the the recent addition to my fashion radar, Miranda Kerr, out and about without donning these ever so simple, ever so classic, yet suddenly ever so chic shoes. In my fashion lifetime, which consists of twelve years, defined by the period of time in which I have been a contributor and a consumer of fashion goods afforded by my own pocket as opposed to my parents – this is not the first time the stiletto has been coined ‘chic’. When I say chic, I am not referring to the days when the stereotyped Essex girl claimed this pointed heeled shoe in white leather. No, the stiletto has reigned once before within my fashion life, with a lot more fashion kudos than the Essex girl was rewarded, and if my memory serves me correctly, this was circa 2001.
I remember it categorically. It was about the time when I was studying Performance Art Management at the Brits School and dating a French man 13 years my senior. The pointed stiletto I owned a plenty, mostly from Faith, a few pairs from Ravels and one pair from Karen Millen, complete with matching handbag. I wore them to feel grown up, elegant and worthy of dating an older man. I wore them in pink with a wooden heel, black mesh with a leather toe cap, silver with a metallic heel, monochrome with a white toe and black heel (which would have been perfect for the trends of the coming spring) and my very special pair from Dune, in gingham check red and white. On their debut, I wore these shoes with an asymmetric little black dress from Miss Sixty. It was Monday night and I was at Ten Rooms. Indeed, it was about the time when Ten Rooms was the hot London night club and the ultimate place to be Monday nights. That particular night, the night I wore my gingham check shoes to Ten Rooms, John Legend was just launching in the UK. So fresh out of water was he that he required an introduction from the master of ceremony for his performance, which won over the hearts of me and my friends . That was the era – my era, when stilettos were the only shoes you wore.
However, if you weren’t a fan of John Legend nor a fan of the live music scene in London night clubs in the early noughties, then a better reference point to draw upon for any fashionista will be Sex and the City. In 2001 Sex and the City was into its third year. Carrie Bradshaw, my ultimate icon, idol, maybe even professional guru at the time, was flitting all about the streets of Manhattan in these delicate stilettos. And, like I said, she was my life coach, therefore I flit about the streets of London in stilettos too! During this period I wouldn’t have been seen dead without my stilettos, but like all trends, the day came when the pointed shoe was ‘so last season!’ And after becoming very mindful of getting my heels stuck in drains and in between decking and mastering the art of walking on my tip toes when visiting homes that boasted parquet flooring, the stiletto disappeared. In fact, the stiletto didn’t just disappear or slowly fade out, they were thrown out, considered hideous, unfashionable – those items that you’d look back and think, ‘God, I can’t believe I ever wore those’, and very quickly the world became adverse to the pointed toe, pointed heel and all.
Nothing quite confirms you’ve got a few miles on the clock like witnessing a trend complete a full cycle, however the stiletto is back, and in its second term in my fashionable life. Although the world hasn’t gone stiletto crazy just yet, by Spring 2013 it’s likely that fashionistas will be getting their heels stuck in drains, sunk into grass and ruining parquet floors left right and centre. But, the stiletto uptake has been slow. Stilettos were on the shelves of high street stores as far back as 2011. That may not sound particularly long ago in real life, but in fashion years, two years ago is a long time. I remember because I bought two pairs of stilettos that year, a pair from Zara inspired by the Christian Louboutin Helmut shoe and a pair from Office with gold spikes on the back of the shoe. But I found I never really wore them and by 2012 I had forgotten about them entirely.
You see, nobody was really wearing stilettos around the time I purchased mine and although I’d delight in spotting a snap of Victoria Beckham or the occasional fashionite in a Tommy Ton photograph wearing their thin heeled shoes, truth be told, the stiletto wasn’t really making much of a presence on the high street and therefore I wasn’t enjoying them as much as I would have if they were totally on trend and all the rage. I’m not a fashion victim, at least I don’t think so, but fashion is a two way street and no matter how proud one might be to be fashion forward or fashion savvy, part of the reason we all follow fashion is so we can be in it. If nobody else is really getting it and nobody else is wearing it – then the trend doesn’t really work. So I hung up my stilettos…. but only momentarily.
Now I am keen to add to my stiletto collection – a leopard print pair, a nude pair, a red pair and a designer pair. I am wearing the stilettos I already own as and when I can, but let’s be honest, with the violent cold we have been experiencing in England and the recent downfall of rain, sleet AND snow, wearing stilettos is a major commitment that I cannot make at the moment. This is my thing with stilettos, you see, as excited as I am that I grabbed hold of this trend and have been donning these shoes before they become populace, I am only able to wear them on very select occasions. Reason being, I can’t flit around town Carrie Bradshaw style in stilettos the way I once did. I have become way to accustomed to the support and protection a platform or a chunky heel provides. I am not used to the ball of my foot being so close to the ground, I am not used to being able to make out a pebble beneath the sole of my shoe and I am not used to relying on such a thin heel to hold the weight of my body. In my late twenties I have also realised, I am not comfortable having any of my skin exposed to the harsh outdoors of an English winter, apart from my face of course, and this includes my feet. I wear boots and brogues and that’s as far as it goes.
I recently went to dinner with a friend who wore a pair of red suede stilettos with a metal cigarette heel. When she arrived I was a little sad that I had opted for a pair of black suede wedged boots instead of my stilettos and admired her commitment. Let me tell you about my friend – she’s tiny, about five foot tall and she wears heels relentlessly. Even to walk around Portobello Market she’ll adorn her feet in the highest of heels. However, as we readied ourselves to head home, she slipped off her red stilettos and swapped them for a pair of Converse. I was flabbergasted, a little disappointed even – but I got it. Stilettos are not a commuters friend and they are no walk in the park. If you’re jumping in a cab, driving or doing something that involves very little walking, dancing or time on your feet in general, then by all means opt for your stilettos, but these shoes will not see you through hard times, in fact they might create them!
So, I wear my stilettos as and when I can. I wear them when I am going for mid-week drinks or dinner and am driving or jumping in a cab. I wear them to the cinema – as just like drinking and dining, you do this sitting down. I wear them on house visits and I recently wore them at a work conference, (not to, because I carried them in my bag) which also involved lots of sitting down. They look spectacular with a pair of leather trousers, and with skirts and dresses stilettos really elongate your legs and give your feet that perfect ballet dancers arch (think Victoria Beckham’s feet in a pair of court shoes). If I’m wearing my stilettos in the daytime I generally tend to pair these very elegant shoes, which can be looked upon as particularly sexual, with a more casual look. As someone who isn’t a particularly casual dresser, but has desperately been trying to pull off the casual sporty winter trends, namely the sweatshirt, the stiletto has been my game changer. Since committing to my stilettos I have bought four sweatshirts and am feeling very proud! These shoes will glam up any sweatshirt and skinny jeans ensemble instantly and appear almost effortless.I say ‘appear’, because only you will know the effort you are making to wear these shoes. Whether it’s paying extortionate cab fares to and from a location, driving on a night out, thereforecompromising on the merriment of alcohol consumption and knowing, if the night kicks off and the crowd gets dancing, you’ll be spending most of it dancing with your bottom on your chair.
So, for those like me, not braving the cold in stilettos just yet, I say we enjoy the spring in our step for the rest of the winter, come Spring 2013, we might not be able to.
Oh Victoria’s Secrets, Oh Angels and indeed, Oh Candice Swanepoel!
(It might be a little bit late, but this is a post that couldn’t be missed on Charms of a Dandizette and better late than never…)
Barbara Palvin, Lily Aldridge, Karlie Kloss and Candice Swanepoel showcased the 2013 Victoria’s Secrets Valentine’s collection. There is no better way to say I Love You on Valentine’s Day than with some very pretty, very pink and very perfect Victoria’s Secret lingerie from the Valentine’s collection – even if you purchase it for yourself!
Admittedly, all the Victoria’s Secrets underwear I own has been purchased by me for me…, but who says there’s anything wrong with whispering to yourself every now and again, ‘ I love me too.’
Happy belated Valentine’s Day Dandies…sorry it’s soooo late…xx
So, first of all I should probably start by saying Happy New Year to you all! So, ‘ Happy New Year’. I hope you all celebrated in style, adorned in your very best. I personally had a small panic attack selecting the perfect dress to make a first impression on 2013. Because I have spent much of my Christmas holidays writing my novel, I’ve had very little time to shop, so thought New Year’s Eve would be the perfect opportunity to don one of the many loved and forgotten dresses that hang patiently in my wardrobe awaiting their outing. After my said panic attack I opted for a Holly Fulton for ASOS black and yellow shift dress I bought a year and a half ago – which, in hindsight, is probably one of the most unique and expensive dresses in my wardrobe and pretty fitting for the occasion. But this dress was selected under the strict instructions of my ever changing body.
It was about the time when everyone was watching The Hills, and I was not only obsessed with my weight, but very much in control of it and a very happy size eight, when Heidi asked Lauren Conrad, ‘Have you been working out a lot?’ and Conrad responded with something along the lines of, ‘No, I just wear dresses’. Immediately I scribbled into the notes section of my That Extra Half an Inch by Victoria Beckham, ‘wear dresses to look skinnier’, this new fashion tip was added to the bottom of my never ending list of how to dress myself skinny. It doesn’t take Karl Lagerfeld to know that black is slimming, so with this in mind and in the light of my newly acquired Lauren Conrad fashion tip I bought myself six black dresses from ASOS all in one pop – it was 2007, my partner was living in Sicily and I was partying frequently. These six little black dresses was merely just the beginning of a frenzied episode in my life where I purchased nothing but black dresses. They were draped or backless, prom or puffball, bat winged or off the shoulder, short or even shorter. I partied attired in black dresses for four years – never wearing the same twice out to a big night out and if so, rarely was it documented on Facebook.
The black dress was my thing, at least I thought so at the time. Occasionally I’d worry whether I had gotten too predictable – friends used to comment that I always wore black dresses, but I was convinced that this was my style and that I was very lucky to have found one – a style that is. I suppose the colour black in itself, although slimming, refined, classic and elegant, can also be associated with being boring, safe, Gothic and worst of all – death. So, one summer I made a conscious effort to invest in a whole array of poptastic brightly coloured dresses in canary yellows, warm corals, floral, striking oranges, emerald greens and a rainbow of prints – even though I love a black dress on a summer evening. So, albeit my effort to rid myself of the black dress, I had moved away from black, but was still very much wearing dresses. I wore dresses to mark occasions, I wore dresses to look glamorous and mostly I wore dresses to feel dressed up – because surely only a dress can do all of these things in good and proper form without each and every time.
After a 2011/12 winter spent dressed in a variety of black midi dresses, by summer 2012 my affair with dresses died officially died. It was around the time that I had split up with my partner – a Sicilian man ten years older than me, a workaholic, very rarely seen without donning Cartier shirts and Hugo Boss suits, who has the utmost appreciation for formal dress. My black dress fitted into all occasions suitably and complimented his formal attire. However, when we split up I began hanging around in Peckham, a setting more art chic than and far more quirky than what my wardrobe was used to. The affair ended also about the time that I started using Pinterest ardently, pinning street fashion photographs by Tommy Ton, admiring the manipulation of garments and the styling of an ensemble and falling completely head over heels in love with Olivia Palermo’s ability to dress. Magazines were featuring articles that celebrated statement separates as opposed to the statement dress and suddenly the black dress felt so irrelevant. It felt boring.
I wanted to be more interactive and involved with the way I was dressing – I wanted a challenge. I started with skirts and lots and lots of tops in different materials, cuts and colours. I had emerged from the Victoria Beckham-esque dress and was completely inspired by Olivia Palermo and the thought she put into creating one ensemble. It involved the pairing together and experimenting with colours, fabrics, silhouettes, mis-matching, prints, layering, accessorising and most importantly, being brave enough to be totally unpredictable. I had opened up a whole new approach to fashion, which very quickly managed to empty my bank account and burst my wardrobes. I was enjoying a more youthful approach and it wasn’t about being classic or timeless – it was about being fun. My skirts rose from midi-length to short and I purchased a selection of shorts, short shorts, in wool and twill, leather and silk. It was a very special moment when I purchased myself a pair of denim Topshop shorts! I’ve worn them three times now and each and every time I do I have to mentally coax myself into doing so. Denim shorts have always been my biggest fashion no-no for anyone above the age of twenty four and four years senior, I am prancing around Garage raves adorned in denim shorts. Oh the irony!
So, after the best part of a year piecing together separates and implementing my new unpredictability styling technique, I was especially looking forward to being plain old and predictably glamorous -stunning dress, skyscraper heels and a clutch bag. The art deco style Holly Fulton dress I ended up wearing on New Years Eve went up against a red peplum dress inspired by Lanvin’s peplum, frilled sleeve dress from the Lanvin Spring Summer 2010 collection and a black midi dress with a sheer decolletage embellished with polka dots inspired by the remarkable dresses from Stella McCartney’s autumn winter 2011 collection – you know the ones that took the world by storm. Ultimately, I was most excited about wearing the red dress – I hadn’t worn it in at least two years – it’s hot, it’s sultry, it’s powerful and when I previously wore it to Kensington Roof Gardens the compliments were endless. Let’s just say this dress makes me feel special. Or, more aptly, made me feel special. When I modelled my very special red dress in the mirror yesterday afternoon, during what I like to call my ‘dress rehearsal’ or what my partner calls ‘Ayesha’s catwalk’ I was getting ready to look and feel the most dressed up and glamorous I had felt all year – all for my first meeting with 2013.
However, I quickly realised that the ‘wear dresses to look skinnier’ style tip that I had been swearing by for the past four or five years no longer applied. The very garment that I have always gone to to make me feel protected and safe, glamorous and womanly, refined and special no longer made me feel either of the above. To put the realisation into context, imagine really looking forward to wearing your favourite pair of jeans that you haven’t worn for a while, you know the pair that suck you in, lengthen your legs and go perfect with your favourite pair of boots or stilettos, only to realise they no longer fit or are no longer flattering. Neither my Lanvin or my Stella McCartney inspired dresses, or any of the dresses in my wardrobe for that matter, could hide the fact that in my new found youthful approach to dress, I had also been eating like I had metabolism to match. The dresses clearly displayed the pounds that I have piled on over the months and have been covering up beneath my statement separates without even knowing it.
As much as I have enjoyed piecing together separates, and as much as this has become my new go to look, the irony of fashion would have it that I am now eager to look and feel just as confident being refined and glamorous in my dresses as I feel confident being fashionable and stylish in separates. Fashion isn’t all about dressing ourselves skinny, it’s mainly about feeling good in our clothes. On the other hand, life is about balance and you can get too much of one thing; whether it’s junk food, partying, work or even black dresses. The black dress and the denim shorts are indeed metaphors for the two extremes of my personality and my approach to life. My desire to now find balance in my life between the two extremes and redefine my affair with dresses may be enthused by the rekindling of my relationship with my partner. Of course I am not about to let go of all that I discovered in the four months I was single and I am not going to take away from the great moments that I had playing around in my denim shorts, but I cannot deny my affection for the black dress, the respect it commands with its elegance and refinement and how powerful, yet safe and protected it makes me feel. With some balance implemented into my life, less junk food consumed, less nights spent partying and a lot more time exercising I’ll get excited about wearing the black dress as a means to show off as opposed to covering up, because let’s face it, there’s no fun in dressing up if it’s just to hide lumps and bumps anyway!
So, to all of us planning to shed those extra Christmas pounds, working to fit into a favourite pair of jeans, trying to tone up to look stunning in the perfect party dress and whatever less fashion concerned ambitions we might have for the coming year – here’s to embracing a challenge and never losing sight of our goals for 2013!
Of course, till the pounds are shed – I’ll still be opting for the stylishly fashionable in street chic separates.
For many a reason the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show is a very special and unique kind of fashion show. The typical runway show is ultimately all about showcasing the design and craftmanship and style of a new collection, admittedly designers might put on a show with an elaborate set, think Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel with his motif of icebergs and crystals mise en scene, or use the garments to tell a particular story, think Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton autumn winter 2012 runway show inspired by the golden age of rail travel.
But let’s be brutally honest – the Victoria’s Secret show, although a beautiful show, is not about beautiful garments, imaginative sets or enthralling tales. The Victoria’s Secret Show is about the enjoyment of being a woman and feeling beautiful and who embodies this? Well, we all know that at the heart of a Victoria’s Secret show is an angel – the Angels, the celebrated Victoria’s Secret Angels – and as one might expect, they are celestial.
Unlike the models we are accustomed to seeing on fashion houses runways, that are almost blank canvasses, ready to embody and showcase whatever garment or ensemble they are draped and fitted into – there’s nothing blank about the likes of Miranda Kerr, Chanel Iman, Alessandra Ambrosio, Candace Swanepol and Lily Aldridge. Or even Brit’s very own Jourdan Dunn and Cara Delevigne, who made their debut walking for the lingerie brand in this show. I watched the show absolutely captivated by these extraordinary looking women and their perfectly trim bodies, but what I loved most about the show was simple – it was watching these women delighting in their womanhood!
It was winter last year that the grey sweatshirt became one of the key wardrobe items to for super savvy street style dressing. The sporty garment, a staple for the gym, once taken out of its context and paired with skinny jeans and strappy sandals or a tailored pair of trousers and brogues seemed risque and innovative. Although it would appear, as seen in these photographs taken by Tommy Ton, that the reign of the sweatshirt sill very much resides this winter 2012-13, we have become so accustomed to the sweatshirt trend, that for super savvy-ness and ultimate fashion manipulation we can no longer play it safe by simply nodding towards the sporty trend with the initial grey sweatshirt. This norm has been accepted and it’s time to innovate once again and push the boundaries. Now the expert sweatshirt wearer creates a more stylised sweatshirt ensemble or selects a more statement making sweatshirt.
Those of you that have adopted the new approach to dress that Vogue has coined ‘Haute Casual’ for your winter wardrobe may have coveted the utmost seasoned sweatshirt wearers donning the, albeit conspicuous, admittedly cool Kenzo Tiger sweater. This Kenzo sweatshirt has indeed become the queen of this evolving sweatshirt trend and will buy you plenty of street style kudos in this fashion jungle. So much so that all 2,000 Kenzo tiger sweaters sold out in just two days and in a matter of hours at the Parisian Kenzo store earlier this year. This sweatshirt literally does all the talking, so you don’t have to do too much to look super stylish in it, no matter its sporty nature. Having said that, in my humble fashion books, the most street style kudos clearly comes from how creative you can get with incorporating this practical and functional sportswear item into a trendy chic ensemble.
Admittedly, as much as I adore the creativity and unpredictability of this new sweatshirt glamour, I am yet to invest in a sweatshirt myself. Habitually, in the winter months I take on a more Olivia Palermo/Victoria Beckham perfectly preened and neat image, seeking more inspiration from runway looks as opposed to street style. Unfortunately the sweatshirt creates a couple of concerns for me; firstly, with such a casual garment I would be very keen to wear a shirt beneath it that can smarten the round neck with a nice collar – this I can imagine would leave me feeling very hot, especially when I am commuting. Secondly, I wear a lot of slim lined coats, which I doubt a sweatshirt and shirt ensemble wouldn’t fit beneath comfortably. Thirdly, I fear that wearing the sweatshirt beneath a cape or the voluminous coats we have seen at the likes of Celine a/w 2012-13 can make me appear particularly top heavy and again, leave me feeling extremely hot.
However, for those of you that are tiny, whose commute does not involve power walking or taking the London Underground, that acclimatise to temperatures quickly, if you are thinking of trying out this new Haute Couture sweatshirt ensemble don’t let my sweatshirt concerns stop you. Opt for placing statement jewellery around the neckline, juxtaposing the sporty garment with a tailored shirt collar or pairing the sweatshirt with a glamorous skirt, evening clutch or an elegant shoe. The key is to play that push and pull game between conformist and alternative, formal against disorderly. And hey, if you can nail this look and are prepared to invest, why not go the whole hog and purchase the highly coveted tiger Kenzo sweater?!
I don’t think this sweatshirt trend is one that will stick with me for long, so I’ll definitely be giving the Kenzo tiger sweatshirt a miss. However, I am keen to try out the trend and am currently on the hunt for a grey Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, that I’ll wear with a white shirt, black skinny jeans and a pair of black pointed court shoes and statement necklace. So, I am still playing it safe with the colour, but with Mickey Mouse emblazoned on the front, it’s still a little quirky and most importantly, easy on my bank balance. Having said that, should someone wish to purchase the Kenzo Tiger sweatshirt for me as a gift, I most certainly won’t say no!