Saturday, 21 July 2012

The sun shines brightly in my window today...

Can we finally celebrate the arrival of summer? Please? 

The weather this weekend promises long-awaited sunshine but after a dismal summer of rain it is hard to believe that it might be here. In the absence of any real, warm sunlight (and faith that it really ever exists) I think my subconscious is directing me towards other injections of warmth. 

Chanel's buttercup yellow shades are definitely on the Sunny Disposition wishlist...

...and Thakoon's latest collaboration with make-up brand Nars has produced this warm shade called Amchoor. Available at Liberty for £14.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Admin: The Spring Clean

The bliss of moving into a house with a Sex-and-the-City-style walk-in wardrobe has motivated me to have a sort through all my clothes, shoes and accessories. My main aim is to give myself a bit of breathing space, and to end up with a wardrobe where I can find things easily and be inspired to mix and match more. I think that the philosophy behind any good spring clean is economy. Making what you have work harder and challenging why we spend.

Here are my top tips for storing and caring for your beloved pieces and generally having a healthy and inspiring wardrobe.

1) Have a clear out. Rifle through what you have. You'll probably discover old favourites and horrific skeletons in equal measure. Getting reaquatinted with what you have will ultimately help you optimise what you are left with. Try everything on, jewelry, tights, everything. There should be no escape. Weigh up how much you wear something against the value you might place on having more space to think. Sort the horrors into two piles.

1a) One for charity...

... consisting of low value items and knackered shoes. As long as it's clean, it doesn't matter what the condition the pieces are. Unwanted clothes can be given away by charities, recycled and sold for rags or resold in-branch. Above, my efforts for this Easter weekend.

1b) and one for re-selling. Have an honest think about whether you will get round to re-selling. If you know you'll struggle to get round to it then throw them out! Lesson learnt, don't spend so much on clothes you like but will never have occasion to wear. Below are a box of clothes and another of 10 pairs of shoes that will be going to Luminous and Vogue on Berkhamsted's Lower Kings Road. It's good to have a good dress agency on hand to resell clothes. That way you can recoup some of the money you have spent.

2) Aftercare. Once you have honed your wardrobe, you'll need to protect and store what you have decided to keep. As a vintage enthusiast I am no stranger to moths but they are a common evil in many a wardrobe. They can live in the carpets and love warm temperatures. If you find something with moths, chuck it in the freezer in a plastic bag. Leave it there for a week. To prevent moths I cannot recommend products like 'Gotcha' or 'Zero' highly enough (see below). The pheromone in these beauties attracts the males onto glue paper. This interrupts the mating cycle and over time the moths will cease to be a problem. Purchase one for around £4.50 in your local hardware store. They last for 3 months so they are worth it. If you can't bring yourself to kill things that are happy to kill your wardrobe (no bias from me) try cedar wood balls or lavender pouches but don't expect dramatic results.

3) Hang your clothes on wooden, padded or plastic hangers. You don't have to go out and get matching or fancy ones but wire ones can be damaging to clothes.

4) Invest in a debobbler and use it regularly. Concentrate on the parts of wool garments that rub - under the arms of to the side seams. The above is a cheap hand-held one from the ever-resourceful JML. You can buy smaller ones from dry cleaners or from John Lewis. The John Lewis version is £7. They don't last forever but they can give a new lease of life to knitwear and are definitely worth having.

5) If you can (and I realise that this is a luxury) try and display your clothes in a way that you will find enticing and inspiring. A friend of mine has all her jewelry hanging from nails around the room. All her shoes are on shelves. You couldn't help but walk in and get excited about putting an outfit together with all those treasures around. If you are the kind of person for whom, for example, accessories are always an afterthought then displaying them foremost might make you build the outfit around them first. Little things like that can rejuvenate your interest in your look and can kickstart an existing wardrobe. You don't have to spend anything on new pieces.

6) Enjoy!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Lace in Favour

Lace, broderie anglaise, applique - all looks du jour on high streets and catwalks alike at the moment. Louis Vuitton's Spring/Summer collection is all over the fashion magazines (10 major covers worldwide). Prada's at it too, Lana del Ray was recently decked out in the look in Mario Testino's cover shoot for British Vogue this month. It's a look that has become part of internet sensation's signature style. Her look is Veronica Lake-Lolita and her style slams vintage up against ghetto glamour. Lana del Ray is always feminine, always coquettish (she is not averse to a see through buttoned-up). I think that it is the secret to keeping the look away from fusty.

The great thing about the look is that it's affordable for anyone to recreate. Regulars will know that I always favour vintage - it's a much more rewarding shopping experience - and for this style I would head to a mainstream vintage store like Beyond Retro where 50s and 60s clothes are easy on the wallet. The Shop on Cheshire Street (Brick Lane) is a great, if small vintage emporium. Holloway Road's 21st Century Retro might also be worth a visit - I love this woven, jewelled raffia bag - it's just the thing.

Above: Vintage Enid Collins bag is £65 available at 21st Century Retro

If vintage feels just too much like hassle, or if you cannot divorce it from old lady style, then the high street doesn't disappoint either. I have recently bought a Next lace top with unlined back and peplum waist (two trends in one piece). It comes in navy, fuschia or jade and is a rather reasonable £24. Topshop are in on the act too. Below, their effort is at a less friendly £175 and harks from their Limited Edition collection.

Going Up (in price): are these Philips glasses by a-morir (Kerin Rose). $250 is a lot to spend on such style specific glasses but I just had to include them because they ooze Lana del Rey. You can buy these from the website direct or from Liberty. Perfect pastels and gorgeously garlanded.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Bring out the gimp

I am so enjoying wearing this Amma Gyan leather jewellery - a gift from a friend who is very in tune with my lust for quirky handwear. Loyal readers and friends will know that I am a massive fan of Mor Jewellery (in Ganton Street, London). I love Mor for its uniqueness, for fusing textiles and metalwork and it's general spot-on-ness and Amma Gyan, with her use of moulded leather and metal, fits nicely into the same oeuvre.

I very much doubt that it was in Amma's mind when she designed it but I see in these Dot Rings a knowing wink to the ball gag (as modelled by Betty Page below and made infamous in Pulp Fiction). Maybe it's that it was chosen by a dear friend, or the fact that it feels just a little on the naughty side, but it makes me smile when I see it and I look forward to wearing it for years to come.