30.10.10

The witching hour

I am not a fan of Hallowe'en. Mainly because I hate the forced festive feel of dressing up as, well, basically whatever you feel like but with blood on and rips so you look dead/zombie, the bad press it gives to the real goths, rockers and hardcore people who get ridiculed for their dress sense every other day of the year except tomorrow, and the fact that it lasts for days, weeks. I generally get annoyed by having my sleep disrupted, my tube route clogged, and any part of my day invaded by teenagers with fake blood on their faces on their way to another party.
It also promotes vandalism in exchange for E-numbers.
I am Scrooge about Hallowe'en. But it appeals nicely to my sensibilties - where we are supposed to respond to the fear of dead spirits coming back to haunt us, and hope desperately for good to prevail and for new beginnings.
I also find Hallowe'en a bit of a strange time because at some point between the night of Hallowe'en and the morning of All Souls Day, my grandma died. So it's a strange inbetween time, between the bad and the good, the holy and what's supposedly wicked, and life and death.
So tomorrow night I will probably be listening to some slightly weird witchy music, in my room, probably burning a candle, and remembering the past, while hoping it stays there.
Oh, and here's a photo. I had my hair cut yesterday (I'm addicted to haircuts) and the stylist put some much product in it I had to wash it when I got home for fear of being glued to the pillow. The grey fleece jacket is a recent acquisition from Warehouse, courtesy of a Grazia discount voucher.
And yes, this is a photo taken in a toilet. I was on my way to see The Social Network. I thought it fitting to go and see a film about a loner with 500 million virtual friends on my own.

29.10.10

I'm sorry, this is supposed to be a personal style blog

In case you wondered, I have been wearing clothes for the past few days.
And in case you were wondering, yes these trousers are borderline impossible to wear. Don't get me wrong - they are light, floaty and so comfortable, but they drag along the ground, show stains something awful and a pear-shaped girl should know NEVER to wear pale colours on her bottom half. When will I learn?
But I had a mad idea that it would look great with a denim shirt. Even though I'm undecided, I'm pretty sure it doesn't work.
And then there's today's, which is back in the realm of Alexa Chung-ville. I've worn this exact outfit once before, and never got round to photographing it.
This is a bad photo, but the dress is reddish brown with a pattern of ochre swallows. It's very cute, very easy to wear...you can see my theme recently.
I am a bit bored of easy and cute and want to go back to slightly more edgy, high glamour. Starting with makeup - I was supposed to write a post for another blog about dark winter makeup and given that I've befriended most of the Illamasqua counter I should be an expert. Plus everywhere I look there are girls with amazing makeup - on the tube, in the shops, on the screen (Taylor Momsen's fleeting return to Gossip Girl, Olivia Wilde in Tron Legacy, which I got the chance to see a sneak preview of tonight and can safely say it's going to be EPIC)...I am a great one for trying radical changes. My current mad idea is to cut my hair into a pixie bob and dye it dark purple. Thoughts?

27.10.10

IWantOneOfThese

In the vein of my blogger pal Jo of Jo's Clothes 'Want It On Wednesday' feature, here's mine. No needless spending for me for a bit. In the meantime, I can stare at this bag and probably by the time I can afford it, I'll find it hideous.

26.10.10

The Clan

Ok, so I may have been abusive about Grazia, but they did have an amazing shoot inspired by the tartan trend in last week's issue.
So yesterday, the man I was dressing for was, I suppose, William Wallace.

Leave Joan alone

Christina Hendricks has been in the news again recently, apparently because she has stunned all the women of the world by deciding to go on a diet.
Yep, that's right. The reluctant icon of all discerning curvier women (as opposed to just large women - they have Beth Ditto) has supposed decided to shed some pounds.
Naturally, Grazia, taking its stance on the front line of all things topical, published an article in today's issue called 'Christina: 'I'm not on a diet, actually', which contains some of the stunning shots they featured of Ms Hendricks in her first interview with the magazine, and affirms to the slavering public that the twins are here to stay, the ass most definitely won't quit and the killer curves will be dropping jaws still. Women everywhere breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Except, of course, for poor Christina, who is stuck in the endless media circus that her life as become. The article continues by mentioning how, as a young model, Christina was a relatively thin little miss, until, to paraphrase Tyra Banks 'booty started coming, and breasts started coming'. Tyra, never one to miss an opportunity, immediately switched her appeal to the Sports Illustrated crowd. Christina, by this time making a break into acting, was encouraged by co-stars to stick with her new, unique shape and carve a unique career for herself in the sea of identikit skinny startlets.
Except poor Christina, like January Jones, has become as ruled by her body as many supermodels. The article, ironically, concludes with Christina's plea for people to 'notice you for your work' and with the reassuring 'they sure do now, Christina'. Erm, no they f***ing don't!
If this man can look squarely at Christina's eyes, why can't the rest of us?
This really pisses me off. Mad Men is a phenomenal show, it can't be denied, and last week's episode, featuring the first real glimpse beneath Don's polished veneer and into the vile world of Peggy's relationships with, well, everyone, was solid gold tv. But for the glossies crowd, it's become nothing more than a shameless excuse to run endless cycles on what Betty (who I despise) is wearing, how to bag a man like Don and why Joan is the best thing since sliced bread. If I was the show's writers, I'd be banging my head against a wall shouting 'but what about my scriiiiiipt?' Because (and please someone correct me if I'm wrong) all that the glossies seem to give a toss about it what Joan and Betty wear. They have no interest on what a useless mother Betty is, how Joan is simultaneously a kick-ass woman and a total pushover, and how the star of the show, Peggy, the kick-ass modern woman who is ambitious, uncompromising and basically the best tv role model women have had since the Sex and the City girls (well, not Carrie. Or Charlotte. ) is so totally sidelined, based on her slightly dowdier appearance and lack of swishy hair and tight dresses, in favour of the two 'hotter' actresses.
So sorry, but I'm pretty sure no-one is really paying any attention to Christina's acting talents, as long as we're being bombarded with press chit-chat about how amazing her body is. The first thing that comes up after her name in Google when I tried to find an image for this piece was 'measurements', 'breasts' and 'cup size'. Yes, she's a big girl. Now take her off her pedestal and just let her be an actress.
Oh, and they also printed this article about Christina feeling the pressure to diet in the same issue as an article about how Angelina Jolie has been seen with a slightly rounded tummy and is therefore pregnant. This stuff just writes itself.

25.10.10

Who do you dress for?

I was out for dinner the other night with a friend and fellow fashion fan. Inevitably, after exhausting the few other topics that were on the menu (where to eat, how we were, our jobs, any gossip) we got on to the fallback topic of any friends, nay, or anyone anywhere - sex and fashion. They go hand in hand, don't they? You generally measure a dress by how much it shows, or how little, and there's just something about a man in a suit (case in point - Matthew McConaughey in the The One Gentleman advert, normally a don't but in that suit? Totally a do...ish).
So you've got your beautiful woman in a flesh-flashing dress, and a hot man in a suit.
Ta-da! Beautiful celebrity couple 101.
Sure, in real life it doesn't work.
Ok, let's try it again.
Let's try the hipster crowd. We have weirdly cute girl in a cute dress, with strangely alluring rocker boy in skinny jeans.
There! See, it works. Much better.
Ok...polished goth girl with rocker goth boy.
This is getting silly. All I need is to post a picture of Don and Betty and we'll have come full circle.
But it's true - a girl dresses a certain way to attract a certain guy, and vice versa (she says, with Keira Knightley's Coco Mademoiselle ad on in the background, proving the point). Not only do you compliment the guy, or the girl, but you can assert your similarity, your total compatibility, to the world.
Except, of course, it isn't always that cut and dry. And because there's a tonne of variety out there. The utility look won't necessarily snag you a soldier, the hardcore babes in leather trousers won't always get themselves a nice Harley Davidson-driving dude, and the women dressed in camel won't bag themselves a 1930s explorer (unless they want one).
So who are we dressing for, then, if we're dressing slightly alternatively to the nice social stereotypes I've laid out?
My friend and I talked a bit about this, me asserting firmly that I dress for me and for no-one else. But obviously, by stating that, I'm in fact dressing for someone else. I'm dressing to make them form a certain opinion: that I dress for myself, am my own woman, and know what I want. If I wanted a Nate Archibald, I'd get hair extensions (as all the girls in Gossip Girl have long hair) and if I really wanted that indie boy I'd commit to brogues and tea dresses 24/7.
Except, of course, that's horribly stereotypical of the blokes too, isn't it? And because they can be attracted to more than one type of girl. Look at Brad Pitt (which incidentally I am - Mr and Mrs Smith is on, what a wellspring of inspiration the tv is providing tonight), who has a fabulous habit of evolving to look like every one of his girlfriends. There was that interesting platinum crop with Gwyneth, the All American Hero look with Jen, and, erm, the dodgy beard with Angelina? No-one said these rules were cut and dry.
But it's quite clear that as well as dressing with a certain style in mind, every day, I do dress to provoke a reaction, as we all do. I call it armour. When I mess up my hair, put on some fierce heels, excessive eye makeup and a lot of heavy duty black, I'm arming myself. When I play it softer in a little dress with minimal makeup, I'm soft. Fashion can allow you to be anything you want. You can dress yourself in the guise of the person you choose to be for the day.
And you can dress as the kind of girl that would be glanced at by the hot banker, by the cute rocker. The bookish hipster in the cardigan pouring over the free newspaper. The too-cool surfer dude wearing wooden beads in November. (Ok, maybe it's a bit cold for one of those). All the women wearing 50s A-line skirts are, I bet, also secretly crossing their fingers for a Don Draper to smile that easy smile at them.
Because, of course, there really is no such thing as dressing for yourself. And that's what makes it fun.
So who will I be tomorrow?

24.10.10

Treasure

And so another weekend rolls to an end...and as per usual, I'm more exhausted than I was at the start. Tired, footsore, but satisfied.
On my walk back on Friday (a decidedly footsore-enducing ramble, not getting lost) I was determined to avoid getting on a bus or a tube that might take me any other route than Vauxhall Bridge. Because at night, the view going from one side of the Thames to the other is worth the detour.
Sure, I'd love a view of Big Ben and parliament as well, but a sneaky peak of the London Eye, plus walking right past the MI5 building is almost as good.
I feel just like that girl in my ultimate favourite trashy book, I Heart New York. Yes, I'm ashamed. Cute wannabe writer girl has massive traumatic breakup with scumbag ex, runs away to New York, makes great new friends, gets a fab makeover, fab new job, shops up a storm and falls for a sexy indie guy called Alex and a hot banker guy called Tyler. She's basically a far more fortunate version of me. I know all about falling for indie guys called Alex, getting from a size 12 to a 10 and being rather overexcited every time I see views of famous landmarks. I'm sure one day I'll be able to wake up and see the Chrysler Building.
So this morning, I got up nice and early in order to 'hit up' (I believe that's the cool kids term for it) Spitalfields Market. Sadly Portobello isn't open on Sundays, so that's my project for the next time I have a late start on a Saturday. It was so bloody cold at 9am this morning, but worth it. I love finding treasure in the form of cheap clothing, and the £1 rail on one of the vintage stores is my best friend. I've been on the hunt for a specific type of item for a while, and now I have one for less than I pay for lunch.
And when I finally made it to work, aside from the pay and the right to handle pretty jewellery every day, there's another very good reason to love working there.
(Images from the Thomas Sabo SS10 Lookbook)
This is the male model who's featured in the campaigns for the last few years. I get to stare at him all day. I bet he's called Alex.

22.10.10

Good fortune

So it's been the end of another week in the Big Smoke, my fourth week here! Need to renew my travel pass and pay some more rent.
It's been a heck of a month - busy, tiring (physically and mentally) and probably the most satisfying month I've had in a long time. Doesn't show any signs of slowing down, but then again I didn't come here to be bored, did I?
Had an interesting day - the office was short-staffed so was rather hectic. Ended up staying a little late and then going a very long way home to run an errand and then getting lost in Chelsea trying to find the river. My sense of direction, which is normally excellent, failed me completely. But I found my way home eventually. I mainly walked because I wanted to slow down and take in the view from Vauxhall Bridge - the lights of the London Eye on one side, the industrial towers on the other. I still laugh like a manic child every time I cross it (silently to myself if I'm in public), as I used to whenever I saw the university clock tower when coming back from home. It's just the feeling that I'm where I really want to be.
So it's the weekend, which for me means more work for actual money. Here's hoping I can still remember how to work the till!
I'll have to try and work on a proper insightful fashiony post, probably drawing inspiration from Elle. I had a whole load of ideas but most of them related to relationships, romance and communication, not fashion, and since this is supposed to be a fashion outlet...we'll see.
But I really just needed some words to fill this space before showing you a great photo - doing my usual daily blog trawl I spotted some amazing images on Oracle Fox by a photographer called Emmanuelle Pick. It appeals to my love of sunsets, images of the wild and the rogueish, and anything with a slightly swashbuckling, fantasy element.
Image via Oracle Fox

21.10.10

For I will grow tall, as a tree

Mid-way through an interview today I realised something.
It was an interview that bore a striking similarity to the interview I had before I got the Job from Hell (the door-to-door sales job, oh what a fun time was had) - minimal office, minimal job description, minimal information on the role in the interview. Cheerily smiling staff. Identical forms. Identical clients. I knew the place all too well. I was the victim of Stereotyped Graduate Syndrome, a common strain in the job marker where they prey on the desperate. And I thought I was desperate.
Until now. They didn't call me back, but if they had, I can honestly say I would have turned down a job to continue at my internship, where I don't get paid, am tired and sick but am learning a lot and slowly feeling like part of the team, and to make a meagre wage at my weekend job, which I enjoy and am very greatful for.
Because I didn't move 200-odd miles away from my home, a job, and stability, to settle. I came to chase my dream. And if it will keep running, I will just have to wear sensible shoes and pace myself.
And as my esteemed blogger friend Lily of Bleed for Fashion says, as this is supposed to be a fashion blog, here's an outfit.

When the stakes are higher, never play with fire

It was the first frost this morning, and even at the late hour of 9am (I live a sedate life, NOT) there was still a good thick coating of it on the cars. I do love frosts, summer is great but there's something mythical, ethereal, almost pagan about the coming of winter. I'll miss seeing it in the countryside (no I didn't actually live in the countryside, but there were woodlands in abundance back home compared to up here).
I am an avid follower of Delightfully Tacky (over there in my blog list), who is currently on an epic journey around America in her trusty Winnebago. It's very Gerald Durrel (did anyone ever read The Fantastic Flying Journey? Great book, Doctor Doolittle meets Enid Blyton meets Lewis Carrol meets Jules Verne....but for kids, and with pictures!) of her, and her blog is flooded with amazing pictures of her varied travels, alone on the road but for her trusty dog and the friends she meets along the way. She's a modern Pippi Longstocking. She recently stopped in a wooded area to take some photos and seeing them made my heart yearn.
(Image from Delightfully Tacky)
It's coming up to Half Term, and I remember in my Half Term five years ago I spent several days clearing the house of a relative, who had lived in a secluded cottage in Wales. The cottage was dusty and crammed full of nick-nacks kept by a woman who never threw anything away. I have an allergy to dust, so it could have been a lot less fun, but I was mucking in in a cottage in the middle of woods in autumn. I was happy as a clam.
So mostly for my own purpose I'm going to embrace my inner druid (apparently it's a real religion now! Though I'm sure there's more to it than staring reverently up into canopies) and inundate this blog with a few autumnal pictures. I'm missing the leaves changing. I changed my banner picture in celebration of the new season, took those photos last year around Hallowe'en and the colours were great. But not as good as these lovely ones I found on Google (Simultaneous thanks and sorry to those I poached from!)
A gorgeous still from Hero, one of my favourite films. Visually, nothing beats it. The colour schemes in each scene, carried through from the setting to the costumes, which are really just colour washes themselves and allow the actors to become a part of the scene, are just stunning. Darn, I want to watch it now and I don't think I brought it with me.
And one of the shots from last year's Hallowe'en shoot. In truth, the leaves were largely still on the trees and green. That's what's great about autumn, it's a long, slow burner.
(PS The lyrics that make up this post title are from a song called 'Autumn Leaves Are Falling' by Clannad, one of my favourite bands and with many memories of my misspent youth as a fantasist and fantasy novelist, so it's not totally random. Yeah it is.)

20.10.10

Put me up on the angel's shoulders

I don't know if we're closer to heaven but it looks like hell down there.
Welcome to the loneliest city in the world.
It's no good for you, baby.
I must have looked like a right try-hard - the Burberry store is right at the end of the street I work on and here I am in imitation shearling boots and a shearling jacket. Very cool.
With a top with owls on. I have a slight thing with owls at the moment - bought a hat that, to quote Despicable Me, is 'so fluffy I'm gonna die' and if I had big yellow eyes I would literally be an owl baby. There are photos of me when I was little where my eyes are so big and saucerlike I look like an owl-human cross-breed. I squint a lot in these photos. It's vair high fashion. Or so I believe.
I was going to do a long and interesting post tonight but I can't quite bring myself to do it - am knackered, have a longer day tomorrow and one of my glands is so swollen it's trying to constrict my breathing and my ability to swallow. Not good.
PS The post title and random sentences are lyrics from Kate Bush's 'Top of the city', which I can't stop listening to.

19.10.10

The claw is our master

The claw chooses who will go and who will stay!
This is ludricrous.
One of the rings I found in Camden - I didn't deliberately match it to my nail varnish but they do go quite well.
This skirt is freaking difficult to walk in - it's too cold not to wear tights and this being a rather tight cotton tube skirt, it does cling to the tights somewhat. So not the best thing for a speedy getaway. But I was after a long, dark maxiskirt and it was less than half price. See, I'm savvy.
In fact, I'm swearing off shopping again. Have plenty of fabulous stuff in my wardrobe and plenty to save for. I just find it much better to put these things down on paper/in writing, like all the best things.
Aside from not hearing back from the internship interview people, I had a pretty good day. Got Letter of the Week in Grazia, caught up with an old friend and once again, feel blissfully optimistic, despite the massive uncertainty, gaping holes and financial instability and total dependance in my life.
Oh, and because I'm a massive fangirl, here's a photo of me with Imogen Heap. It reminds me of that portrait of Chi Fu and the Emperor in Mulan.

17.10.10

Cue the cheesy inspirational music

Sorry I abandoned you this weekend blog fans, but I've been out fighting crime and stuff *takes off green wetsuit*. Sorry, I am a little obsessed with Kick-Ass, still. Literally the most awesome thing I've seen since I watched Joseph Gordon-Levitt freefalling down a lift shaft.
Suffice to say, now all I really want to do is punch the air, go for runs, jump off buildings (mainly to feel the awesome adrenalin rush that comes with the awesome music from the film) and play the soundtrack on repeat, which will really bug my housemates after a while.
Aside from all this ass-kicking, I've started a new job! Only a temporary Christmas thing, but it's in Thomas Sabo, otherwise known as my favourite store, and aside from the tired feet and lack of free time, I couldn't be happier. Spending days getting paid to handle pretty jewellery? Sold! Plus I have to wear black.
And tomorrow it's back to my day-'job' as an intern, but I also have an interview for a new internship post that I'm verrrrry excited about and majorly crossing my fingers for. Wish me luck, I'll be back soon!
In the meantime, here's some kick-ass music. It will make you want to punch the air and wear a costume.

15.10.10

Strange Inclinations

For some very strange reason, I was inexplicably drawn to a dress with a Peter Pan collar and little hearts all over it.
I apologise for this interruption in the regular scheduled programming of hardcore punk-rocker wannabe with occasional flashes of weird 70s floatiness. Will be back to normal one day...
PS I know I'm very late to the party on this one, but I've finally seen Kick-Ass and cannot get over how god-damned awesome that film is. I wanna be Hit-Girl, just a little bit.

14.10.10

Stand tall and mix it up

Since an anonymous commentor told me off for venting online, I'm planning on toning back on the random rants. This is supposed to be a serious blog, not given Andrew Marr some more amo.
But it's fair to say that my last few days have been far from plain sailing.
And when the going gets as tough as it got recently, the tough puts on glad rags. This is my outfit from yesterday, aka the day before it all came crashing into a massive mess. Today was very unispired, but I will be back tomorrow.
You get to see my new pixie cut anyway. There's a line in one of my trashy chick-lits about never mind washing that man out of your hair, cut him out. So mine have been cut, and dyed, out.
This is from Tuesday - my home internet has been decidedly tempramental and my work computer has no USB port, hence lack of outfits, and you know how much I love my outfit posts. I'm determined to get good wear out of these boots, and despite their height they're surprisingly comfortable.

And this is today's - a nice mash-up of my liking of Alexa, Shoreditch style with my rocker, biker aesthetic. Complete with fingerless gloves. And waist belt. I've got so little time I don't know how much longer I'll be able to stay thin enough to wear this belt...but we'll see.
So this post has been a long time coming. Between the taking of the first two photos and the third photo, life's been a bit of a rollercoaster. But thanks to some chocolate, a supportive online community, Enimen, Keane and a dear little friend of mine having a laugh with me in a Bethnal Green bar, things are slowly starting to look up.

13.10.10

Diehard or Try-hard?

I was on the escalators out of the tube yesterday and the girl in front of me was wearing a black suit trimmed with white ribbon, pearls and a padded Chanel bag.
When I was walking past Liberty on my way back to work, I saw a trio of tall, skinny teenage girls in battered leather boots and jackets, skintight print leggings and Ramones t-shirts.
I was queueing for my lunch a few weeks ago, and in front of me was a group of girls clad in camel coats, khaki trousers and brown brogues, their hair elegantly, messily topknotted.
If there's one thing that's only been reinforced as the fashion seasons go on, it's that there's a very strongly defined series of 'looks' going around, camps to fall into. I don't know if it's because of the proximity of my place of work to Vogue House, or because I'm just off Oxford Street, but you can't move for a shearling jacket and boot, a beautiful camel coat (tried on a gorgeous French Connection one and while it made my heart melt, it's not my style) or a messy-haired Balmain rock chick. Pick your side, ladies.
Or you can pick a defining look and stick with it, like some of the fashion pack's most watched celebrities. Alexa, taking centre stage on her second Elle cover, continues in her vein of tomboy-girly-sexy-cute, while Coco Sumner is constantly in the 'What Were They Thinking?' pages of low-end magazines for her fine line in granddad cardies, shorts, skinny limbs and socks'n'brogues. They have clearly decided on an aesthetic, and are sticking to it like glue, skillfully selecting the new season's take on what they already wear, and adding it to a growing arsenal of items in their perfectly coordinated, yet still evolving (Alexa's now less cutesy and more girly chic, and Coco has reverted from messy band groupie to, well, just a bit, loveably odd) wardrobes. Like the Chanel-a-like girl on the tube or the Ramones girls, they have their look nailed. (And yes, I did pick these photos to highlight how much they resemble eachother.)


But for the rest of us, who are still embracing the simple joy of a new item to try, it's a lot less appealing to stick to our guns. Over the past few weeks, I seem to have acquired an impressive number of 'girly' items - vintage print dresses and a pair of pink chiffon flares (see below) which has totally messed with my whole capsule wardrobe concept of 'black, black and maybe some grey' (and my plan not to shop, but along with my many many f*ck-ups and flaws I have accepted and acknowledged my natural urges). While cute, and lovely, and making me smile, I have to wonder how well they will translate to the rest of my wardrobe.
That's the problem with trends. If it doesn't slot seamlessly into how you already present yourself, it does you a disservice.
But hey, fashion's about fun. And some days I feel the need for a cute dress, some brogues and a beanie hat and pretending I'm some sweet girly girl, or Alexa Chung.
Though sometimes, in pursuit of a certain aesthetic, one takes it too far. I was walking along Carnaby St when I saw a clump of teenagers, almost all of whom were wearing those thick, Joe 90 glasses often seen on American Apparel models. Yet I'm willing to be that they all have perfect vision. Being a d*ckhead's cool, it seems.

11.10.10

Paper lanterns

And we're back to shots of my various wanderings around London. Today I had to deliver letters to various theatres in the West End, so it was perfect for a little detour through Chinatown.
I'd love one of those lanterns in my room - would be slightly 70s crack-den chic but I still think they're pretty.
As well as my detour through Chinatown and my deliveries, I also had a haircut (and now resemble a Wishing Troll). I love getting haircuts, it's like putting on makeup or wearing odd clothes - a chance to dress up, to become someone else, and boy do I need that.
Also, because hairdressers tend to be incredibly wise people. Mine and I were discussing where we wanted to be. I tapped the copy of Elle on the counter. He told me about his days of free work at Fashion Week. Then I told him about all the contemporaries of mine who are ahead of me now, who have jobs and are on their career paths. Then he told me that that's only for now. That soon they will tire, and I'll catch up.

10.10.10

The ties that bind

Okayyyyyy....I'm back from a nice whistlestop return to my hometown. I got off the train and immediately felt a little repelled by the place - it's so bloody quiet compared to London and I love the pace of life here. But had a good time seeing family, checking that the pet was ok and having a truly fantastic Friday night out (after a few unscheduled disruptions) watching circus performers, seeing some truly impressive costumes, and raving til 3am with a friend with feathers on her face, three men in Speedos and a Matt Smith lookalike (sigh). Fantastic.
But I'm back now. Earlier existential crisis over. Doubts are flying around, and they got worse when I went home, city of uncertainty, failings and rejection. Spending too much time with too little to do and too much time to think about things - lack of job, friends I'm worried about, complicated situations with men, or rather so completely simple but made complicated by me. 
I think I really just have to leave it all behind, cut all ties with the place, with bad influences. He once said to me that you should never be with someone who makes you feel stupid, and I've seldom felt more stupid than when around him, or thinking about him. 
But I don't have time for that now, or I shouldn't. Returning home has only made me realise how badly I need to stay away, and how much I love living in London, even though I've only been here two weeks. So that's it. From now on, every opportunity will be grabbed, every road will be taken. I'm in no position to waste what I've been given.
So that's my new manifesto. From now on it's business as usual. I've got some excititing projects starting, interviews, new jobs, and a wardrobe just waiting to be explored. (Unfortunately, that wasn't a Narnia reference). The future is bright.
Oh, and I forgot to show you this ring I bought the other day - 5inchandup has the same one, excellent taste - from Camden. It probably counts as an offensive weapon.

8.10.10

In defence of our dreams

I literally cannot stop thinking about that god damned owl movie trailer, thanks to the kick-ass 30 Seconds to Mars song that accompanies it. I had forgotten that that was Jared Leto's band until Elle reminded me. That man is awesome.
I've had a lot of great feedback on yesterday's post about the importance of bloggers. It's given me plenty to think about. As much, dare I say it, as a journalist has to think about.
There's a debate going on over at Wannabe Hacks, a blog run by a group of guys with whom I once edited, about whether a wannabe journalist should actually blog. The debate rages on and on. I've thought about this too much.
But I am worried now, about whether I'm actually doing myself a disservice. Not by writing this on here, but by trying to use this content to promote myself as a writer. Because, as you can see quite clearly, I haven't really been preaching in favour of those I admire.
Who am I to say what I say, when I am referring to real experts, people who have spent years honing their craft under the limits, constraints and barriers that do not confine us bloggers? While we are freely (literally) allowed to upchuck online, giving rise to the dismissive statements about whining bloggers, whereas those that some of us aspire to be like work to strict constraints. While we are free to do whatever, say whatever we want, perhaps this is our problem. Will an editor really want to see that I can write reams and reams arguing a point, or would they far rather see me do the same thing in four paragraphs?
I used to run at school. I was never very good at the sprints, not being possessed of the favoured slight, wiry build essential for a good sprinter. But like Sharika, I have the strong legs good for long distances. But for some reason, I decided that it would be a good idea to keep trying to run the 1500m, possibly the most difficult distance. Too short to sprint, too long to get into your stride, it's exhausting, punishing and often very unsatisfying. And this is the kind of work left to the modern journalist - a mid-point, in terms of time, word limit and available information.
God, now I sound like I'm selling out.
See, this is the real thing that a blog tests in the way that a newspaper doesn't. Because the blogger has total control of what they write, what they say, and total responsibility for the backlash, they often have to consider their integrity. I suppose that's what Gala did when she turned off the comment section on her blog, taking about staying true to herself and her vision. One of the comments on my post berates me for making a flippant comment about the blogger conference, and now it must sound like I'm pandering. This is something that wouldn't happen to a journalist, mainly because the editor would swoop on it like a bird of prey and edit the heck out of it. (See, an editor has edited the opportunity for a swearword out of that). Because I am my own editor. I have to take full responsiblity for whatever I write, back down when I feel I should, and stand my ground when I know I should.
Listen to this, me talking like I'm important, going on and on about myself. Now who's the whiny blogger? The consumerist nobody who doesn't know she's born. Am I bitter because I'm not a successful 'big' blogger, vengeful because of all the rejections I get (if I get them at all), scared shitless because this whole 'no plan' thing isn't really working for me, freaked out because I have no job and am alone in the biggest city in Britain, with no income and no prospects other than what I can graft for myself?
To be honest, I don't think I'd make a very good journalist. I have idolised Caitlin Moran for years, and her main selling point is her unique and hilarious voice. No-one goes to Caitlin to write a short piece on finance, told in a completely straight style with no room for wit or humour. It's lucky to be able to get into journalism off the back of your signature style (incidentally, she was one of three features writers I met at the media conference I mentioned below), and for the vast majority of us, they won't even get to see ours until we've proved ourselves working in vox pop for years. It's a hard hard world for all of us who think we have something unique to say.
Because, and it's become quite clear from my recent posts, that I really don't. I stopped covering fashion weeks because I just couldn't keep up, and contrary to my self-depricating opinion I do actually have things to fill my time. And mostly, because I don't want to be a slave to what the other publications are producing. I set out to just muse about fashion, but it became more than that. I like to try to explore issues like this, to bust stereotypes, to start debates, and to wear interesting clothes and go to interesting places. It seems to be interesting enough of you that you keep coming back.
And I never really set out to be some sort of myth-busting, heavy duty copy-typing blogger of great things. I just wanted to have something mildly creative to do, having always had the creative spark. I've always wanted to be a writer, ever since I learned how. People used to read the stories I wrote and say they were good, and I'm still unsure as to whether they actually were or because they are my friends. As I've got older, my patience has waned, I get distracted easily and I've got so many ideas flying around but no patience to see them through. I still miss being able to write for hours and hours like I did when I was a teenager, getting up an hour early before school so I could write another few pages on my ancient first computer.
It all comes down to passion. Back then, I loved what I wrote about. Now, I still do, but there are so many other things and so much more less important stuff that I love. Inspiration has gone. Now instead of going home, firing up my laptop and writing for hours, I fire up my laptop and watch DVDs for hours. How lazy have we got, with all this extra opportunity?
Compared to yesterday's post, which I thought long and hard about and am quite proud of, this is pretty nonsensical. I guess it's just me having a mope. I am still unsure as to whether I think I could actually do what I thought I wanted to do. Whether I can do anything. Whether I should stop chasing what I thought was my dream job while applying for anything that moves and actually decide what would make me happy.
But I forget, I'm not Elizabeth Gilbert.
And I am in no position to mope about anything. Everyone has their down days. Unfortunately, because I have a blog, mine can be massively public. I am essentially just worried about where my life is going to take me, whether I should back down on my previous stance, lose my integrity and actually try and use this blog as a portfolio rather than a real outlet of who I am and what I want, and whether I'll ever know the answer.
But I don't have the time for that. I am sick of being surrounded by successful people, and even though I'm only 22 and have plenty of time, I still wnt to be one of them. And I guess, ultimately, a bunch of successful journalists and bloggers sitting on a stage and telling us it just takes one yes when all I've heard for months is no, doesn't really help very much. Because one yes may be the difference between them and me, but hundreds of nos is the difference between me and them.

7.10.10

How important are bloggers?

It's that time again, folks, when your good friend RedHead, reliable purveyor of moderately pretentious outfit posts and nonsensical ramblings about favourite people, goes a bit philosophical.
This one's been building for a while, and was, as with most of my existential wonderings, prompted by a post by Sister Wolf about a recent blogging conference.
As far as I can tell, this is when a group of bloggers descend upon some poor unsuspecting town and populate it with their high-end, Prada-wearing, shiny-haired and sweetly smiling selves. Rather like that one in Florence that I last posted about. The biggest, brightest blog stars sit on podiums and lecture their adoring wannabe blog fans on how to be super-awesome and successful just like them.
Sounds like fun, right? I wonder what I could learn from these kids, who wear the best and someone manage to massively endorse brands and products while still refusing to accept that they've sold out. Good ol' Jane shoots her mouth off with this one, insisting that she and her fellow disciples are so much better than they are given credit for, because they are engineering original content, uncensored and uncontrollable.
Aside from the obvious 'massive head' angle I could take on this, Jane's comment came back to me last night, when at an event, I was having quite an interesting discussion with an editor. I introduced the blogger vs. journalist topic of conversation, which led to the editor...not dismissing, but glossing over, the importance of bloggers based on the very thing that Jane marks them out for - lack of editing and censoring. They are written as labours of love, by amateurs. Jane thinks this is good. The editor, understandably, doesn't, taking the viewpoint that the editors and journalists who produce the content on her site are trained and seasoned professionals who understand the rules, regulations and systems involved in producing a great piece.
Whereas Jane has a massive international following and readership, the ear of Anna Wintour, more clothes than she could ever need and more open doors than a hall of mirrors. All based on her amateur efforts.
Unfortunately, I had to cut the conversation with the editor short, but I would have been intrigued to see her defence continue. I have no doubt that she could have beaten me easily, me only being an amateur who writes for free, but it's tricky to define what seperates a great blogger from a great journalist.
Of course, a journalist is commissioned. A journalist works to deadlines, on word limits, to strict legal controls and image constraints. A journalist has a target market, a target audience, and a specific voice in mind. And a journalist has a wage.
But to get to be a journalist, there are certain steps that you have to take. One of them, I have been told (told by friends on journalism courses, who have in turn been told by their lecturers) is to keep a blog. Because there's no better way to keep an online portfolio to hand, to keep your mind and writing skills sharp, and to show what you're really passionate about.
Unless, of course, you're Jane. People like Jane, Rumi and co have transcended their blogs, and now use them in the same way that a young adult uses a parent - acknowledges them for shaping their success, but doesn't feel the need to rely on them. So they occasionally post pictures of themselves to quench their fans' appetite. I admittedly only got into this whole thing recently, so when trawling the archives on Sea of Shoes I see that Jane did used to write interesting posts. But as I'm sure any blogger will agree, it's not as easy as it sounds to produce a coherent post every day.
Recently, I read a Q&A on a blog (its in my list over there) and in response to a question about career and work, the blogger replied 'I blog full time'. Because it's clearly a full-time occupation, posting pictures of your latest pair of shoes. But then, this is a successful blogger, and she's probably including answering emails, dealing with sponsors and attending parties in that. I'm naive enough to not understand how sponsorship works, but I'm pretty sure she can't live on what she makes from them. No doubt plenty of freebies, a student loan and the Bank of Mum and Dad comes heavily into play. So far, so journalism.
As has been said, the media is vastly dominated by the middle classes for this exact reason - it's not like there's money flying around. Gone are the days of the plucky local honest journalist, and now it's the eager young intern, pushy and ruthless, that gets the cream. Or, as was the case when I attended a student media event, often it's the blindingly lucky. I attended a talk with four journalists about how to 'make it' in features writing. Three of the four had won competitions. Clearly, it's no place for the average.
And that's what I think the editor meant when she called bloggers 'amateurs'. Anyone can write a blog. Anyone with a smidgen of style and a half-decent grasp of language can writie a good blog. Anyone with limitedless cash, time and blogroll can be a huge success. But it's generally a case of luck that turns you into a BryanBoy. I haven't plumbed his archives, but I wonder what the eager young BryanBoy was like, drooling at the feet of Marc Jacobs like the rest of us. What was his Cinderella moment, when the good fairy turned him from wannabe to huge hit?
But slowly, the tide is turning on these success stories. Sister has been bringing to our attention the blogger Gala Darling, one of those frightfully pretentious bloggers who only get away with it because they come across as completely stupid, so get away with it out of pity (she annoys me intensely). Recently, Gala was outed as a fraud, a trust-fund brat giving the impression of a hard-grafting blogger lifestyle when in fact she was a hard-grafting Daddy's girl. Gala's got a taste for the extravagant and the weird. Never a good combination, and she's certainly caused a lot of complaints mainly about her appropriation of certain cultural aspects (she has a penchant for wearing Native American headdresses) and apparently being racist (see that link).
That was an interesting one, and brings me neatly back to Jane's point about how bloggers answer to no-one. Except, of course, their fans. Gala, though I doubt she had time amid all her dabbling in Wicca and styling her latest gifts, had a choice - she could continue in the vein in which she started or she could start pandering to the desires of her followers. Like Jane, she chose to reject them completely, disabling comments on her blog and continuing her reign of terror with the credit card and the cultural patchwork quilting. So she continues merrily on, documenting her life in much the same way as before, uncensored and answering to no-one, ignoring the vicious attacks against her on the net as she merrily curates.
And this is where I get stuck. Because people like Jane and Gala will never want to conform to what people tell them to do, so in the big bloggers vs journalists debate they're poor examples. So, how about Tavi and Susie Bubble? Love or hate them, they are arguably industry leaders when it comes to the business of fashion. And, no different from the best fashion editors, they sit front row at shows, contribute to magazines with their opinions and produce detailed, extensive dissections of the catwalk. No wishy-washy 'I love the natural movement, so, like, visual' dialogue for these ladies. They are who comes to mind when I think of bloggers with influence, as well as good old Scott Schulman.
And here, I think, is the ace in the argument. The Sartorialist. Very little writing on posts, very image heavy. You know what he does. But while the fashion editors are all telling us what to wear, Scott is showing them what we actually are wearing. The circle completes - what fashion is actually translating to the streets of the world. (On that note, what's happened to Grazia's Style Hunter?) Sure, he's a massively successful blogger, and probably makes enough from his sponsorships (and book deals) to live on. He's the King of Fashion Bloggers, and us lowly paupers who are getting by on nothing have no chance, and are right to be looked down upon by the hard-working, hard-hitting journalists. But they should remember that they were all like us once, and that for every one of us, there could well be another Scott.
Besides, blogs are free! Think of the outcry that occured when The Times paywall went up (something that, as a woman who appreciates a shrewd business strategy, I actually appreciate). No-one is willing to pay for the internet any more, and the blogs are the best examples of the opportunity. It has opened up the playing field to a level where we're even able to have this discussion about whether bloggers are actually a valid part of the dialogue, because as crap as Jane's grammar may be, she probably gets just as many hits as a news website and I imagine people all across the world namecheck her too.
I imagine that a lot of the editors who are dismissing the bloggers are the old guard, rather like Cal McCaffrey in State of Play, dismissing blogger Della Frye (hungry, cheap and churns out copy every hour) as 'upchucking online'.
Cal, old-school journalist that he is, relying on his connections with the men and women in the right places to get information and a story told, is possibly right, as Della's eagerness to produce copy often negates her need to fact-check. But while Cal keeps the front page held for days, Della is being read on the hour, every hour, and when given the opportunity to do some in-depth research, admittedly forced to come round to Cal's way of thinking in the interest of the investigation, she shows that all that Google-searching paid off, though she is regularly impatient to run with the information that they have, rather than throw it all into Cal's melting pot, hang the deadlines.
Which is where, ultimately, online will always beat newspapers, as there are no print deadlines to conform to. So that leaves us with the bloggers vs the online journalists, where there really is very little difference aside from the wage and the legal constraints (and the access to Getty, though I did manage to register for press information from the Oscars as a blogger - clearly they're with the times).
So I've reached stalemate with myself, I think. From the talented bloggers I've seen and know (the best example is my 'arch enemy' apparently i-Flicks, a film reviewer and freelancer - see him over there in my list) I really can't see the difference. Aside from the numerous proof-reads and checks from numerous editors. But I'm also a professional proof-reader...and it's not like I needed a degree for that.
Ok...so trying to sum up this massive mess. Back in the bar where I met the editor, as I watched her zoom away in a taxi, I regretted the abrupt end to our conversation, as I was very close to actually finding out what a real editor thought of real bloggers.
But as I write this, alongside working, I find a blog in the list of sites I have to contact to get them to review a client's show. And another.
Clearly someone notes the importance of the bloggers. Because somewhere, someplace, the next Sartorialist is teaching himself how to use Wordpress...

5.10.10

An Englishman In New York

WHAT a day. First off I was kept up late by my racuous landlady singing Johnny Cash with her friend until 2am, then I had a manic day at work and then heard that the internship that I'm supposed to be starting after my current one has fallen through. Excellent. Plus I get home and discover that Royal Mail has lost a package I sold on eBay, the buyer is getting angsty and I don't have my proof of postage to hand.
Excellent day all round.
But as my dad said, I've got to take stock of how much I've managed to achieve in nine days in this city. I'm sure I can spare £15 to reimburse an angry buyer, I've got my dream Christmas temp job lined up, I'm going home for a few days this weekend to party it up and see my family, friends and pet, I have a scented candle that smells amazing and makes me smile, and I have the greatest hat in the world.
You've seen it before...I was dithering over buying it but when I saw it in Grazia I knew I had to snap it up quickly.
Here's Quentine Crisp waiting to board her tube home.
I was quite pleased with today's outfit - pale peach goes well with pale skin and deep red hair (I redyed it, I feel so much better).
I am a big fan of my new hat. It goes in the same box as my John Lennon glasses. Some clothes are meant for dressing up.
Tomorrow night I get to be a proper PR party girl and help out at an event. The office is getting stressful and while I know I wouldn't be much good helping out, I wish there was something useful I could do now to prove myself. It's made me realise how clueless I am about this world that I'm trying to get into.
But I've been scared about this all summer, and now that I'm actually here, I just have to make it. So all I can do is do the work they give me, try not to piss off the boss too much, and try to watch, listen and learn.

4.10.10

Britain's Next Top Model Is...

I think I've got flu, I'm tired, broke and need to put the sheets on my bed before I can get into it. I have no job, therefore no income, and I'm alone in a strange city.
But somehow, my faith has been restored.
Because this beautiful, beautiful girl with talent, looks and poise has finally got what she deserved.
I was terrified that we were going to get a repeat of Allison vs Teyona (ANTM Cycle 12), but thankfully my faith in the public has been restored. Go Tiffany! I don't have to boycott Company now.
And I can go on Twitter and laugh at all the Alisha fans going 'oh it doesn't count, she's not even British'. The public have spoken! And they said the right thing.

3.10.10

The colours of Portobello

So...weekend in London! I was up and out early yesterday morning to go and explore Portobello Market. Among the amazing vintage stalls (and abundance of fur coats) and the fabulous vintage designer shops (where I was very close to buying a gorgeous Josh Goot blazer and a pair of Armani culottes that fit me perfectly), I was struck by the colours of the houses.

I think I liked this one best, probably because of the rich burgundy colour. Yep, favourite house here so far. Apart from this one, which is on my road and is actually inhabited. It's got a certain charm, reminds me of how I imagine the house in Blackberry Wine to look (you'll have to forgive me, I'm reading a Joanne Harris novel atm).

After Portobello I went back across town to Spitalfields, only to discover a lack of market (see, I'm still a novice), and wandered through to Brick Lane. I'd never been before and I wasn't that impressed - aside from the great array of outfits on all the vintage fans and the queue for what appeared to be a Japanese festival. I'm not sure if I had the patience for all the vintage shops that day. Plus it was raining, and it's hard to get enthused in the rain. Maybe if I went with a gang of friends. Or had got a bit more into the spirit.
But all I could think of was that 'Being A D*ckhead's Cool' video...
But I'm off to Camden now, which I've always loved, so I'll just have to take an umbrella. And maybe these...I bought them yesterday from a '3 for a tenner' sunglasses stall and wore them, with an aviator jacket (yes I caved, but it was only £20) to a party. Yes, I was channelling John Lennon. I love when an item reminds you so strongly of a person, and when the item allows you to play dress-up a bit, pretend to be someone else. Though I'm no way near as talented or as much of an arse as Lennon. I think.
It's not a very good photo but the lenses are actually pink. Excellent.