Redefining A Love Affair with Dresses and Statement Separates

Perfection...

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.

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Fabulations and the Joie de Vivre

 

 

Today is the first day of the rest of what is going to be my fabulous summer…

Today is the first day of the rest of what is going to be my fabulous summer. The weather is beautiful and although some days grey has pretty much decided to stay warm. Barbecues and drinks in gardens are in abundance, weddings are being planned and holidays and honeymoons are being taken or heavily awaited upon!
Yes – today, although I’m finding it particularly hard to be completely exultant considering my Sicilian is a minute away from boarding his plane back to Sicily without a return ticket – is a very exciting day!
Summer is the time for FABULOUSNESS and although I have been pulled up on my excessive use of this word by the Sicilian, I don’t care. Firstly he’s not here anymore and secondly very seldom does he read my work anyway.
He asks me what I’ll do while he’s gone, I pull my sunglasses down my nose and look over the rim for effect and simply say, of course with a hint of a joke, ‘Be fabulous.’ He can’t help but laugh, he doesn’t know that part of me and every other woman’s life is seriously concerned with being fabulous. And when better to be fabulous, than in the fabulous summer?
Of course if we could be we’d be fabulous all the time in all aspects of life, our dream jobs would pay our dream salaries, we’d drive dream cars, we’d reside in dream houses in dream locations, we’d have our dream bodies and ridiculously dreamy boyfriend’s.

Nobody can be completely fabulous…

Unfortunately most of us are old enough and sane enough to know that nobody can be completely fabulous. I would like to believe that I am a fabulous writer – But I do not make a fabulous wage. I would like to believe I am a fabulous shopper – But can not shop in fabulous shops – (at least not all the time).
Amy Winehouse is a fabulous singer – But her addiction to intoxication, not so fabulous. See my revelation – or should I say FABULATION?!
And as we get older I think we concern ourselves far more with the importance of being fabulous, I suppose being fabulous coincides with success. I’m guessing if you feel successful then no doubt you should feel pretty fabulous.

Her career requires her to look young, healthy and glamorous…

I have a collection of friends who all are pretty much buying that one way ticket to fabulous; Friends that only date rich men, footballers or models, others that only wear designer clothes and shop in shops just because they’re expensive, others that refuse to wear one outfit twice and friends that only go to exclusive clubs and bars. All of these idiosyncrasies make us feel extraordinary, special – fabulous.
I won’t name any names, I’ll call them Angel Rae and Kimmie Parker – these two are concerned less with how to accumulate fabulous things and focus more on a fabulous lifestyle.
Angel Rae is an air hostess, her career is consumed by looking young, healthy and glamorous, staying in hotels and ordering room service, travelling the world, shopping globally – her tailor is located in Dehli and her favourite shop in America, she’s chin wagged with a seriously intoxicated singers weed dealer and plans gatherings in Barbados. She has very little time for boyfriends and when in London spends her time getting manicures, waxing and clubbing in Crystal. She’s rarely depressed or saddened, she loves her job which completely defines her life – therefore she loves this too. Sounds fabulous? – I think so.

They frequented Soho and Shoreditch house…

Kimmie Parker on the other hand is a student, like myself she wishes to build a career that is as infinite and as fabulous as you make it. She has always had it in mind to work in a field which brings her loads of fabulous perks. Her ex boyfriend was an actor, they frequented Soho and Shoreditch house, hobnobbed with the aspiring creatives and attended film screenings and premiers.
Kimmie, while she’s not studying works for a household Italian designer and spots Naomi Campbell and Sienna Miller from her shop window. She is completely connected in the world of fabulous retail and never pays full price for those fabulous forever purchases. Kimmie Parker recently told me after splitting with her actor boyfriend, ‘Oh I met a man at the Hogan party.’ I told her I thought it was too soon for her to be searching for men already, she replied, ‘Oh he’s gay.’ So then my next comment was, ‘So – what’s he going to do for you?’ Kimmie replied, ‘He knows lots of fabulous people that can get us in to lots of fabulous places where we can meet lots more fabulous people.’ Kimmie Parker is a networker and understands the importance of assimilation and association. She’s a theatre goer, a party goer, a shopper, a fashionista and determined to cater for her fabulous pallet. On nights out drinking in London Angel Rae tells me how much she loves Kimmie and how great she is, ‘She just seems to have no issues.’

Her sole ambition in life was to be rich…

Lila Carr, a friend of a cousin was at a barbecue on Sunday that I attended, she told me her sole ambition in life was to be rich and apart from sleeping her way to the top she was quite happy to do pretty much anything she needed to get there. She told me her life is accustomed to getting her hair and nails done twice a week, to driving a top of the range German car, eating out or getting take away every day and living in Canary Wharf.
‘I don’t have time for passions, for creativity or art.’ She told me she just needed a pay cheque and the best way she could get the kind of pay cheque she needed was to work in sales. I never asked her what her pay cheque was, but she assured me, ‘Trust me – I sell.’ I never doubted her for a second. She pulled out a book from her Louis Vuitton speedy bag, it was entitled,‘I Will be a Millionaire.’
I guess that that was Lila Carr’s idea of fabulous – money.

‘So, what does it mean to you, then – this fabulous life?’

‘So, what does it mean to you, then – this fabulous life?’ My Sicilian asks me.
I am glad that he has become intrigued by my pondering and hope he can endure the endless deliberating I am about to undergo.
The Hills and The City, Runs House, Desperate Housewives, Jackie Collins’ books and Vogue – these all feature characters with fabulous lives. Let’s not forget the queen of fabulous life, Sex and the City.
None of these fictitious or reality characters are happy all the time, their lives aren’t perfect, Carrie Bradshaw didn’t own her house and struggled to find love, but her passion was sex, relationships and writing, so she made that her career – that was fabulous, Mr Big was fabulous, her shoe collection was fabulous and she lived in Manhattan and that was fabulous too.

Anything we can aspire to is usually fabulous, I aspire to have a career like Candace Bushnell (Carrie Bradshaw), Lauren Conrad or Whitney Port. I aspire to have a life like some of the journalists in Vogue who in their articles just seem to have it all – PLUS free clothes.
Of course money can buy you all the things you need for a fabulous life – Holidays, Fine Wining and Dining, Bulgari Jewellery, Cartier Time Pieces, Bentley’s with Chauffeurs and children in Private Schools. But now so consumed with becoming a writer I know that recognition for my talent is far more fabulous at this point in my life than a pay cheque for work I am less consumed with. I suppose unlike Lila Carr, my grand plan for fabulousness isn’t to make money, but to become a writer, which in turn should make me money. The difference is you can be a fabulous writer without having the fabulous trinkets, of course if you said you were giving me a chauffeur driven Bentley and a book deal that would be doubly fabulous!

Once you have that, what isn’t fabulous?

So – after my deliberating I have decided that being fabulous is having that Joie de Vivre. Once you have that, what isn’t fabulous? Getting dressed is a fashion show, the pavement is a Catwalk, a glass of wine is an evening in a bar with conversation, laughter and amazing company, eating is a dinner party, a restaurant that serves your favourite food or a beautiful home cooked meal with family, you look and feel a million fabulous pounds and being gifted with multi tasking you do all of this while being dressed incredibly fabulously (of course).

So, here’s to a fabulous summer, fabulous outfits and most importantly to the Joy of Life X x