Thursday, 31 March 2011

Slowly Converting to Granny Chic - Send Help

[Image credits: All image composition and collaging by me. Original photos: American Apparel sheer chiffon skirts; Topshop midi skirt; Jil Sander SS/11 catwalk shot from; original brick wall photograph taken from].

When I heard last year that longer skirt lengths were going to be everywhere, I will freely admit that I was worried. Maxi skirts conjour up horrendous mental images of 'boho chic', 'hippy weirdo', 'Victorian schoolmarm' or 'hiding shit legs and potential varicose veins'. I also like to go against the grain a bit and deliberately avoid the things that others are opting for, so I was pretty convinced that my ever-growing stash of mini-skirts would be as well used as in previous seasons.

Then came the bombshell: Jil Sander's catwalk display of brightly coloured fabric with a slash at the thigh, teamed not with a frumpy ribbed vest top or beads that purport to be from a Thai beach resort, but with a simple white t-shirt. There was peony or a sort of sickly faded lime that somehow worked, and I was gripped. When Tilda Swinton took the ensemble to the red carpet, critics and fashionistas had one of those Marmite moments, either proclaiming Tilda to be a genius dresser or a raving loon. I prefer the former. It takes guts to wear something like this. Unable to find anything resembling a Sander skirt on the high street, I moved into a sheer black petticoat sourced from the Traid shop in Camden for £3. It looks like something you'd find at a Goth wedding, and I am completely in love, teaming it with leggings, a dress or another underskirt and some chunky black boots. But somehow I still yearn for that screaming blast of colour, which is a craving that black just cannot satisfy.

The alternatives are seen above:

American Apparel's sheer skirts are available in both single or double layers, though they will set you back an extortionate £46-£52. To its advantage, the colour palette is varied, and you can strut around in bottle green, mustard, navy or wine, amongst other hues. If you're a crafty person, I'd advise making your own from some cheap chiffon or sarong fabric, elastic and thread (I might have a go, if I can brave a sewing machine again). I paired two different shades in the image above, and it would look pretty cool to do this in real life, though it would be quite fiddly.

Topshop has released a fantastic pink and blue skirt, but sadly in only a mid-knee length, which is out of bounds to anyone who is petite or in possession of thick calves. I'm 5'7 and skirts of this stature make me look about 3'4, so I tend to avoid them. This beauty will cost you £32, so it isn't exactly an ideal price for such a tricky overall silhouette, and it wouldn't look as edgy if it was converted to sit on the knees. Despite the drawbacks, it would be a great look to pull off with a baggy t-shirt or a Fred Perry-esque polo.

So am I converted? I'm getting there. I didn't want to like the longer length and I didn't expect to, but Jil Sander showed that there's certainly more than one way to wear a garment. And no hippies in sight...

Miss Marple Remake: Ideas for the wardrobe department?

[Image credits: Guardian Newspapers Online].

One of the most surprising news stories in the last few days has been the announcement that the English super-sleuth Miss Marple is to become the star of a Hollywood film, where she will be played by Jennifer Garner. The casting of Garner is somewhat removed from previous incarnations of Miss Marple, two of which are seen above, as portrayed by Joan Hickson and Geraldine McEwan. Part of the appeal for many fans of the books and television series is that a lady whose life should be confined to cream teas and early nights is consistently able to outwit murderers and policemen with her amateur detective skills. It works on the principle that nobody expects Marple to have the mental faculties or opportunity to be able to solve a case, but she does so with annoying regularity, much to the chagrin of the criminal minds featured. But what happens when you replace this 'wolf in sheep's clothing' with an actress who is clearly not going to look inconspicuous in comfy shoes and a twinset? It does seem like a very bizarre twist on a tried and tested formula which has managed to captivate a large audience without any problems.

So, how will the wardrobe department manage to dress Jennifer Garner for this flashy new adaptation, without alienating her male fans? I have a few Hollywood-esque ideas below.

  • A tweed bikini. Perfect for doing some sunbathing in the garden between crime scene visits.
  • Marple's sensible brimmed hat to be replaced with a Von Dutch trucker cap when she needs to go into the ghetto without standing out like a sore thumb.
  • Her teacup should become a permanent accessory rather than a mere drinking vessel, a la Lady Gaga. A diva tantrum will occur if the cup is lost or broken.
  • The sensible cream blouse should be replaced by a sheer pussy-bow number, accompanied by a visible lace bra.
  • Miss Marple will discover a penchant for designer handbags, particularly by Chloe, because her new life lesson is never to underestimate the potential of the it-bag.
  • Her new sidekick being Snooki from the Jersey Shore, she will realise the appeal of fake tan and a micro-mini skirt for a heavy night on the tiles in celebration of solving a mystery.
  • A sensible heavy blazer will be replaced by a black jacket (sleeves rolled up) with matching city shorts, for that chic look. Her fashion muse will be Alexa Chung.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Statements, Truisms and Text

[Image credits: 'This Is No Fantasy' by Jenny Holzer, taken from; 'Girl Going To Work In An Office' t-shirt by Antoni & Alison for Uniqlo, taken from; 'I Can't Tell You' by Jenny Holzer, taken from].

I've always been a big fan of slogan t-shirts and artwork; I wrote my dissertation on textual art, exploring the work of Jenny Holzer (as seen above), Tracey Emin and other artists who are handy with words. I love the honesty and direct nature of this genre and it appeals to the side of me that wants to tell people what I really think of them, when otherwise I'd keep my mouth shut. Over the years in my wardrobe, I've worn every slogan from 'Give Generously' to 'Pop Music Is Wasted On The Young', and I enjoy having something in my outfit that becomes a talking point. Obviously it's less fun when you get a really slow reader, or someone who doesn't understand sarcasm, asking you what exactly you're trying to say, but most people get the idea. In fashion there has always been a slogan tee option which provides a viable alternative to smart dressing, whether it be a Katharine Hamnett-designed 'Use A Condom' or a Henry Holland creation suggesting 'Let's Play Naked Twister, Linda Evangelista'. More recently we've had the more elegant -but still cheeky - words of Erin O'Connor to choose from, with the launch of her t-shirt and bag range entitled 'She Died Of Beauty'. You can pick what might have sent you to an early grave, with options ranging from 'Love' and 'Perfection' to 'Individuality' (though the latter could be awkward if you bump into someone with the same message emblazoned on their chest... then you may need to alter it to 'Embarrassment'). The products are aimed to give 'a teasing yet a affectionate tickle at the fashion industry we continue to love, honour and serve', and I think the idea works excellently.

Yesterday I found myself amidst the latest slogan t-shirts at Uniqlo, which could almost have fallen out of Jenny Holzer's journal, and I was transfixed. The fashion duo Antoni and Alison are responsible for this collection, which uses some of their most popular archived slogans and gives them a new lease of life. Ever fancied telling someone 'I Can't Stand You'? There's a top for that. Ever felt the need to declare that 'Nobody Understands Me'? Yes, they've got that one covered as well. After a long deliberation, during which I'm sure the staff thought I was about to nick half of the items in my hand, I went for 'I Can Play The Piano (Really Well)', because I can. Not that brilliantly, but luckily the 'Really Well' is in very small print, so nobody will try and test my ability on that front. It's great to be able to continue my love affair with textual clothing and also shout about a secret talent that doesn't often come up in conversation. The Uniqlo collection is also highly affordable, at £12.99 a pop, so you can afford to buy more than one if you find yourself drawn to several statements. I say go out and get one, because they're selling like hotcakes. Jenny Holzer would be proud.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Trends that I will never understand

I don't consider myself to be a sheep when it comes to fashion - yes, I enjoy reading about it and looking at it and thinking about how a trend develops, but I don't need to copy it mercilessly. It's great to embrace different looks, though ultimately you have to go with what suits you and makes you feel confident. There have been some cult items over the years that I really am unsure about, and I am determined never to embrace, so I have compiled them below to reflect on the sometimes worrying nature of fashion:-

1. CLOGS. I will admit that I once owned a pair (I was about 13 and I thought they'd be useful. They weren't. The only useful thing they did was hide my early-onset bunions. Otherwise they were ugly-looking, cumbersome and really quite sweaty). I know that Miu Miu do some so they're supposed to be fabulous, and normally Miu Miu as a brand is rarely wrong about looking good, but I'm still not sure I could succumb to them, unless I was trying to stop someone from asking me on a date and decided to dissuade them with the footwear equivalent of a chastity belt.
2. PARACHUTE TROUSERS. These were very popular circa 2000 and came in a variety of garish colours, with pink and turquoise as memorable highlights. Festooned with more straps and ties than a straightjacket, and requiring many users to seek said straightjacket for their taste levels, parachute trousers were the bedraggled bastard child of combats with even less sex appeal. They were often spotted in copies of Smash Hits magazine, back in the day, and luckily died a death along with the squeaky-clean pop groups who wore them.
3. NEON RAVE WEAR. Glowsticks, I can cope with. Neon face paint, in small doses, can be quite fun when you go clubbing, especially if you have had a lot of Snakebite beforehand. But a neon orange miniskirt, a neon yellow wifebeater vest or neon green legwarmers? Really? This trend just refuses to die, with designers constantly referencing it for Spring/Summer collections as they wipe away tears of nostalgia of their partying days. Even in an ironic, post-90s way, this trend is wrong on every level. It's like doing one of those weird eye tests at the opticians that make your eyes hurt and your head feel a bit fuzzy, only you can't escape and someone's banging on about 'livin' it laaarge' and digging out horrendous house music.
4. FURRY MOON BOOTS. No, you are not cute and 'fwuffy'. No, I don't care if you're responding to Chanel's Autumn/Winter fake fur look with serious dedication. You are moulting on my carpet and you look like a twat.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Worrying Fashion Icons

[Image credits: Digital Spy, Now Magazine, and moi].

Some of my longest-running wardrobe interests are leather jackets, black boots, mini-skirts and leopard print. I share these with one of Eastenders' biggest scene stealers, the hard nut Shirley Carter, played by Linda Henry. The wardrobe designers on the soap have done an amazing job at establishing her character through clothing, giving her a clear personality that's not to be confused with our other animal print-loving Albert Square resident, Kat Moon. As I sat watching Eastenders the other day, it occurred to me just how many of the items in Shirley's closet I could easily have pulled out of my own, and this was a scary revelation. I wouldn't otherwise identify myself with her character in personality or temperament, but it's funny how the same garments can be representative of different people's individuality. For me, just like Shirley, the mini is a show of freedom and a determination to not be considered dowdy or plain. The leather jacket can survive anything, giving me the tough outer layer that I want to present to the world, however vulnerable I may actually be feeling underneath.

So, whose wardrobe secretly parallels your own?
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