Saturday, 31 July 2010

Break the Rules at Festivals

This man has the right idea. In the middle of a park filled with people in 'sensible' or 'casual' outfits, he has decided to wear his braces with pride. I didn't want to interrupt his evening to ask for a photo because I only spotted him half way through the headlining act, and he seemed quite into them. But I wish more people would make bolder choices like this, especially in summer when clothing becomes more practical and geared towards the beach or the art of keeping cool. By applying braces, this man is saying that he doesn't care what season it's meant to be, or indeed what the weather is doing. He is his own person. Equally, the girl to the right of him was pretty well-dressed herself, with a partially shaven head, short denim ra-ra skirt, old blazer and studded ankle boots; not trying too hard, but still having fun.

And, in other sartorial news, here's my favourite new fancy dress outfit: a walking bunch of bananas. He also danced and gave out muesli. This really is how fancy dress should be done, with no compromise on effort in order to look sexy or nonchalant. It's all about embracing the masquerade and the carnivalesque elements of the whole thing, and pushing your idea as far as it can go. In this case, stitching fabric over the top of the original yellow base layer works very well and means that he doesn't look like a giant yellow blob, but clearly demonstrates his banana persona.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Maison Martin Margiela @ Somerset House

As you can see, I took a few sneaky photos at this exhibition, even though photography was technically banned. But I couldn't resist - Margiela's emulsion-covered t-shirts, brogues and jackets jumped out at me, as did his trompe l'oeil work. The whole exhibition had loads of elements which I'd put into my Art Degree Show and I wish that my tutors had been interested in fashion and taken the time to understand why I referenced so many designers in my project. Using materials like emulsion will always look fantastic and unusual when not on a wall. Adding something so purposeful yet out of context to a piece of wearable fabric is, in my opinion, a stroke of genius (excuse the painterly pun).

The middle photo shows the part where we explore the ideas behind a Margiela store, and a room was covered in mannequins, shredded paper and boxes (all, of course, in white). Everything felt clean yet disorganised, and wonderfully fresh.

The bottom photo shows one of his amazingly structural dresses. This is design not for commercial gain as the primary motive, but for a genuine love of creating new things and pushing the boundaries.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Why I Hate Summer...

[Image above is taken from$ja=tsid:19907]

As you can see from the picture, Autumn/Winter fashion will soon be upon us in the high street, and I can't wait. The thing about these colder seasons is that designers (and the general public) have more layers to play around with and I find this generally leads to more fun. From heavy coats to boots and knitwear, there's so much more to be gained here than the increasingly uniformed look of sweaty vest top and skirt that I plod around in during the summer. This hot weather does nobody any favours, unless you look like you've just stepped out of a perfume ad. In contrast, the Mark Fast diffusion collection for Topshop (seen above) is all about peeping at the body rather than revealing it in the harsh British light. It's feminine, but not in a cloying way, and is celebrating the figure - remember, this is the man who controversially dared to send models down the catwalk who didn't work the horrific Heroin Chic appearance. You couldn't see their ribs, but why would you want to when you could see these knitted dresses? I just wish they were a bit more affordable, but then it is Topshop, so they aren't going to be giving anything away. These dresses would look perfect with a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath in the winter, or with some wet look leggings (yeah, I don't care how much of a fad they are, because I have loved mine for years and don't intend on chucking them out) to mix up different textures. If you're going for this season's de rigeur look, then combine a chunky knit like Fast's with a very thin, mannish belt at the waist. Oh, and belt your coat up too. If you wanted to take the belted thing to extremes, combine with a satchel similar to the Mulberry Alexa, and perhaps the look will become more 'heritage bondage', if there ever was such a style. Naturally this should all be teamed with Topshop's recent make-up collection, particularly their dark berry lipstick, though I prefer a nuder shade at the moment for something more subtle.

Now could you ever get so excited over deciding which sarong to wear with your swimsuit? Nope. That's why I prefer Autumn/Winter clothes. And there are no pesky wasps, either.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Old Photos, New Inspiration

Discussing the importance of old photographs in a recent post made me realise that I had a wealth of inspiration sitting under my nose (not literally), in the form of old family photos. The past can inform us about the styles that used to be worn, and which basics have survived the test of time after fifty years. So, to start with, I discovered this photo, from 1960, featuring what most girls would give their right arm for this season - rolled up shorts. It's just a shame he was a little early with the trendsetting. Personally I'm living in my shorts at the moment, because they're just about the only comfortable things that you can wear without feeling too girly all the time. Don't get me wrong, I have more than enough skirts and dresses, but they just don't have enough pockets for all the rubbish I carry around with me (phone, keys, etc). And no, I don't care how fashionable they're meant to be, I'd rather die than wear a bumbag.

Another family photo, this time taken in Paris in 1966. I'm not sure this look would be street style blogger material, but you can't fault the sense of this photo being natural. Also, if you're going to be a tourist, at least be an inconspicuous one, as seen here. There is no sign of the obligatory souvenir hoodie (or, indeed, one of the aforementioned bumbags) which make today's tourists seem like clones. Handbag, pencil skirt (featuring the kind of chequered pattern seen frequently in Christopher Kane's clothing for this summer), cardigan, sunnies - simple but effective and giving a nod to the always co-ordinated chic of French ladies.

This is another 1960s photo, or possibly late 50s. The headscarf is something that I would love to emulate, but I have a feeling that my interpretation would be as successful as Bridget Jones'; in the first of her films, she wears a headscarf for a dirty weekend and it flies off within minutes, leaving her hair resembling a bird's nest. Anyway, back to this outfit - with bows on her shoes and a simple chequered shirt dress, everything ties in nicely together, but you can tell that she has made an effort to look this good. I swear if I ever went caravanning then I would not be able to pull this one off, but somehow it works.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

What To Wear For Falling Down A Hill

This was my outfit yesterday, during a hectic day of hitting the Job Centre, picnicking and sitting on the beach. The photograph was taken just after I had fallen down a hill - it was very picturesque and I sort of lost my balance running down to get a better look at scenery. I guess those brogues weren't made for hill walking! Anyway, my clothing choices yesterday were accidentally geared towards H&M - vest top from their collection last year, striped skirt from this year and the hat is from their male department. The brogues are from Warehouse and are really comfy, but not fantastic for grip, so I'm not sure they'll be much use in bad weather but I shall look forward to crunching through autumn leaves with them in a few months.

The Job Centre went ok; I was a bit worried that people would dress up to go to their first meeting, but a lot of people looked like they had rolled out if bed, just like me, so I was in good company. My interviewer didn't know a lot about fashion, so when I said I was looking for fashion retail work and we did a job search then she didn't understand why I wasn't up for working in Country Casuals. Then she attempted to nudge me towards a 4am shift at Fat Face; who knew they worked such odd hours? Finding a job in fashion is proving to be a big learning curve, but hopefully there's something out there which could potentially be juggled with the journalism course (if I get in, fingers crossed).

Monday, 5 July 2010

An Old Favourite

I bought this dress from ASOS a good few years ago (the picture is from 2007) and it's still going strong. Peacock print looks great in blue and purple tones, as seen here, and also in green tones. It's one of those patterns that is feminine but not too twee. With this dress, there is a further styling element of the print in that the dress hangs in fluid lines, off the shoulder and on the hips. I think when I've finally worn it out then I'll use the fabric for cushions or something, because I can't bear to get rid of it!

Recent Purchases, In Situ (My House)

These shoes are from New Look (I put them on the cooker for this photo but have no intention of getting them burnt!). I really like the cage effect, which was big a couple of years ago with YSL, and I'm getting into these wedges as they're not some of those gimmicky ones with raffia or cork on them. I want to be able to wear my shoes all year round!

This hairband is from Primark and I shot it with rose petals. I'm going to wear it as a corsage because my head is far too large for any kind of headband - the other day I bought a hat and it was a men's size large. Seeing as few men wear floral headbands, there isn't much chance of me getting anything I can fit on my head with a flower on it. Alternatively, I might just dig into my stash of ribbon and pin the flower onto some of that. I really like the dusky grey/blue colour.

Here are some fingerless gloves from New Look, which I love. I'm accumulating nearly as many grey items in my wardrobe as black, because it's so versatile.

No, I didn't buy a ship, but I bought the necklace below it. Was feeling a bit Blue Peter with this styling. The necklace is from M&S - I'd been looking for some statement jewellery for a while, and this is just a really nice aqua shade for putting with t-shirts and vests. I like the way that the beads are all irregular sizes, so it feels more handmade.

Visual References Post, Continued...

So, here are three more for my top ten selection of my biggest visual references for style. Above is quite a tragic photo of me in preparation for Avatar Night (I get the feeling an acting career is not in the pipeline!) - see point number 5 for more information.

4. Street style photography - I know it's an obvious one, but there's a lot to be gained from looking at how other people dress, and these bloggers definitely know their stuff. As a result of becoming addicted to their sites, I am the proud owner of the spin-off coffee table reads from The Sartorialist (Scott Schuman) and Facehunter (Yvan Rodic). The images are varied in location and style; we do not always see polished people, or young people, or conventionally well-dressed people. They are not models and they possess a certain innocence because of this. I love looking at how people dress around the world, especially as I do not have the disposable income to find this out first-hand, so the blogs are my guide to the cut of clothing and the mixing of colours. Other sites I'd recommend are (for a more fashion industry directed approach - people are spotted outside the catwalk shows and you can compare their poses to those of the non-modelling blogs) and

5. Fancy dress outfits - I love dressing up in costumes because of the freedom it gives you to express your creativity, but I also pick up ideas for my everyday wardrobe. It's the little touches, like a vampire's black cape lined with scarlet, that can give me the inspiration for making a cropped cape or wrap with that very same lining. Making a costume to be a detective during a GCSE Drama exam many years ago, I realised that borrowing my dad's stone mac looked very cool, due to its large size hanging off the rest of my ensemble. More recently, finding a costume for an Avatar-themed night meant that I gathered up different shades of teal, blue and turquoise and combined them closely together, which I wouldn't have otherwise thought of. In fact, a lot of fancy dress involves playing around with proportion, shades and fabrics, and it's a great starting point for rethinking the way that you dress.

6. AllSaints - if there is one single shop that has influenced me, it is this one. I was already fascinated with skulls and corporeality - my artwork often focuses around this, and I have written countless essays on the subject for university - but often in fashion they can seem too tongue-in-cheek and cartoon-based. The AllSaints designers celebrate the skeleton in a more mature way, creating intricately drawn graphic t-shirts as perhaps their most famous product. Their recent collaboration with the artist Laurie Lipton futher emphasised this, putting the skeleton in various situations such as family portraits or dancehalls, with brilliant results. Aside from this, another point of reference is the way that AllSaints flatters the body of the wearer in their clothes; fabric is draped and pulled expertly, making you think differently about your silhouette and body shape. Their clothing can suit curvy or slender people, and always works to a simple pallette of basic colours, meaning that each piece is easily incorporated into your current wardrobe. I think this is what fashion is really about - finding key pieces that set off everything else you own, giving structure and a focal point. I spend a lot of time looking at the shape of clothes on their website and the pairing of items, because this is a company that clearly knows what it's doing and celebrates the body.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Imaginary Re-Style

I found this man wandering the street where I live and decided he would be a perfect candidate for a style rehaul. His clothing is typical of someone who is resigned to not being interested in their appearance, but could drastically improve things with a few minor adjustments. We're not talking plastic surgery and designer suits here - obviously this man is casually dressed and likes to wear items for comfort and practicality, not for seduction (well, I hope not, anyway). So, what needs changing and why?

1.) The t-shirt - There's nothing wrong with a bit of khaki, especially standing next to a road sign which says 'Military'; hell, this bloke could be part of some underground fashion campaign for summer's colours of 2010. But he's not. The problem is that this t-shirt finishes at the thickest part of his stomach, therefore exposing it and drawing the eye towards it even more. Instead, he should be aiming to conceal this and allow the eye to focus on something else, such as a high-up logo on a longer khaki t-shirt which finishes just below the waist belt of his jeans.
2) The jeans - Again, nothing wrong with the colour, but these are too baggy on the leg, perhaps because his stomach makes him feel larger across his whole body. Going for jeans one size smaller than his current pair could make all the difference, especially when paired with a decent belt.
3) Footwear - If you're going for the military look, sir, I'd replace those forgettable black flats with some charcoal or brown worker boots (not those hideous Timberland boots adored by chavs) slightly undone at the top, from a stockist such as AllSaints or Topman.
4) Cardigan - Yes, I do believe that's a cardigan, and it may even belong to a woman. The ideal replacement would be an unbuttoned shirt - again, longer in length than the current option - in a darker colour than the t-shirt underneath. The shirt could either be plain or slightly detailed, with vertical stripes or a chequered pattern, and by leaving it undone then the eye will see the two panels of shirt slimming down the exposed middle section.

And, if you're really feeling brave, there's those Man Spanx on the market which claim to work wonders on the male version of love handles (no bitchiness meant; my stomach's much the same).

Basically, I just wanted to demonstrate that even the average man on the street can take a little bit of time and effort to improve his appearance and get creative. You don't have to live in shapeless clothes and feel exposed, unless you're completely comfortable with this.
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