We are now officially in the thick of the Festival Season! Oh the festival, the emblem of summer, synonymous with denim shorts, spent in vain without Hunter wellies and not a summer at all if you’re not attending at least one! Well, truth be told in my twenty nine years of living I must have lived only a handful of summers, because I am far from what the likes of Glastonbury and V-Fest goers would call a ‘Festival Goer’. In fact, I’m not. I just happen to wander along to the odd festival the occasional summer, and I am delighted to say that this is one of those summers. Indeed, on Friday I will be attending Wireless Festival at the Olympic Village park and as you would imagine, the ensemble preparation has begun.
My stylish thoughts have led me to the conclusion that festival fashion can be easily imitated; firstly it’s functional, so common sense and practicality, before aesthetic, dictates many of the garments Festival Goers select as a collective. Secondly, festival fashion is pretty much preordained; cut off denim shorts (Levis), sunglasses (Rayban), wellies (Hunters), parka (Babour) and an across the body bag (of your choosing) and of all the aforementioned designers for hardened fashionista festival attendees. These are what I have called the non-variable garments of a festival ensemble – although the designer can be varied in accordance to your bank balance, the actual items themselves can’t really be argued with.
If like me the rock chic/boho/festival/fashion student/Topshop look (all styles make up festival chic) isn’t ‘honestly’ your style remit, then putting together a festival ensemble you feel comfortable and chic in poses a slight fashion challenge. Readers of Charms of a Dandizette will know that I love a fashion challenge – such challenges allow you to dip into different styles and fashion sub-cultures outside of your comfort zone – giving you a broader scope to draw upon when creating ensembles, which can only add to your styling capabilities.
As tempting as it is to go against the grain, which is an approach I would usually take, for my festival ensemble I have looked at what has been working for the masses and imitated the essentials, the non – variables. As much as what Solange wore to Coachella this year is closer to my own personal style than the likes of denim shorts and wellies, I am not confident enough in this realm to be able to break the rules just yet – so, you could say in this context I am playing it safe. Did I just say that? Admittedly, following the crowds isn’t an overly dandyish or dandizette like approach to dressing, but you see, the festival would not have been a dandies typical playing field anyhow – so I believe there’s no need to feel bad about not being overly creative at this point. Besides, this is just the beginning.
In line with this way of thinking, I was able to select the key garments in my festival ensemble quicker than you can say ‘denim shorts’ and indeed, those cut off denim shorts I have an on again off again relationship with are on again, not Levis but Topshop. My footwear, not Hunters, but black zip up stack heel ankle booties, also from Topshop and my across the body bag, the only one I own, from Marc Jacobs, have all been selected. The variables, on the other hand, the sunglasses, jacket (or something to keep warm), jewellery and head wear – are the more fun and more expressive elements to the ensemble. These are the game changers and I am going to be using these items to be more expressive, more individual and more on trend – hopefully showing off some fashion savviness at the same time!
My Tom Ford sunglasses, my summer investment piece, will be replaced with a non-designer pair that are loud enough and conspicuous enough to earn their right in the sea of Raybans. And can do so without denting the bank, because let’s face it, although the opulent and frivolous sunglasses, think Dolce and Gabbana, are trending right now, we’re sure to hate this trend by next summer. I’m adopting this attitude for all the variables, replace my everyday cuffs and chunky Marc by Marc Jacobs turn lock bracelet for wrists embellished in a pile up of gold bracelets and plenty of bangles. And, instead of opting for the conventional parka I’m opting for an elaborately printed silk bomber jacket.
I am now in the midst of selecting the perfect top, but that’s nothing that a visit to Topshop won’t solve! I am feeling festival ready and pretty fashion confident! Should my ensemble be a success, there could be some personal photos to look out for!
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…
Never has the drop waist dress looked so fabulous…
Gucci SS 2012
When people who work in fashion ask me who my favourite fashion designer is, I always say Balmain or Azzedine Alaia, however, the truth is it’s Gucci. It always has been and as long as the likes of Tom Ford and Frida Giannini are behind the design it probably always will be. I say Balmain because Gucci sounds so cliche. There was a time when everybody and their neighbour owned a Gucci wallet, Gucci trainers or a Gucci bucket bag and I should know because I happen to own all three, so I say Balmain to sound a little bit more fashion savvy.
I hold Gucci very dear to my heart, it has sentimental value. My first pair of designer shoes and my first designer handbag were Gucci. Gucci made me fall in love with high fashion and since this love affair began a Gucci collection has never failed to have my heart beat racing and always inspires my wardrobe choices. The Spring Summer 2012 Gucci collection is especially special to me as it is clearly inspired by my absolute favourite era, the Roaring Twenties.
Nicole Phelps at Style.com mentions The Great Gatsby in her Gucci catwalk report, which naturally excites me even more so. The collection features a gorgeous new take on drop waist dresses that literally make me want to go back in time to live that infamous Jack Clayton Great Gatsby party scene, dressed in one of those mirror embroidered drop waist dresses. Amidst the shimmering dresses are a myriad of statement jackets, some with frog latches, some with art deco prints and others inspired by equestrian dress. The collection is a stunning, typically Gucci glamorous and powerful one that will definitely inspire the wardrobes of those of us who work hard but like to party even harder.