Monday, 27 February 2017

Trends Aren't Dead

Some fashion insiders have recently started to argue that trends are dead, or at least outdated, within the modern fashion cycle. They say we're increasingly guided by personal style and that, in the face of shifting show and buying calendars, the trend as we know it is becoming irrelevant as a concept. This is utter shit and here's why: Crocs. 

Pre-SS17 show season, Crocs were the footwear of choice for hospital staff, tired parents and unfortunate children with no choice in the matter. Enter: Christopher Kane. Kane was successful in getting dresses embroidered with dicks, nips and vulvas onto the red carpet so maybe it makes sense that he zeroed in on the ugliest shoes the world has ever seen. He swapped the primary colours for muted marbling and the dinosaur decals for chunky stones and, lo, one of the most contentious trends of our time was born.

Image: Harper's Bazaar

Of course, not everyone loved them. Most couldn't believe those perforated monstrosities had made it onto the runway. The Independent went as far as to call them 'fashion's biggest punchline'. But, slowly, the fashion community began to open their arms to the molded vinyl clogs. Why? Because now they came with a designer label attached, they had crossed the line from ugly and embarrassing to 'out there', daring, directional even (insert very, very strenuous eye roll here, please). Editors and bloggers took them for test drives in the name of fashion journalism and declared them comfortable, as if that wasn't the appeal all along. It's kind of like when Justin Bieber came out with 'Sorry'. Even hardened music journalists found themselves admitting it was a solid pop song and so it was OK to sing along and maybe try and do that wide legged dance move in the kitchen. But this song was actually good so, like, you know, people who liked Bieber for the first time were way cooler than the original fans who still listened to 'Baby'.

When asked about the collaboration, Kane said, "I always work with unexpected items and combinations, transforming the everyday into desirable luxury." And that's the crux of this whole thing; elevating something to desirable status. What is it that plants that seed in our minds and makes us want something?

Crocs haven't quite got me but if I was to sit here and tell you that I'm immune to trends that would be an enormous lie. I mean, look at this image:

I'm wearing a blue striped shirt with the sleeves poking out and Adidas originals trackies. And I'm carrying a basket. As I said in the Instagram post of this particular outfit, it's full 'fashion dick'. Only a pair of Gucci fur lined loafers could take it to the next level. Maybe I wear a bit more colour than some other people, but this outfit still has all the elements of belonging to someone whose brain is an involuntarily open door for the next suddenly desirable thing

Do you know what I really want at the moment? A pair of red boots. Why do I want a pair of red boots? First, I saw Leandra Medine wearing an exquisite star-embellished pair by Ivy Kirzhner, then she started popping up in my Instagram feed in a knee high, cone-heeled pair by Isabel Marant that make my heart actually hurt with longing. Since then, red boots have cropped up in approximately one million fashion month shows including Fendi, Vivetta, CO-TE, Emporio Armani, Missoni and Jil Sander. It's a sneaky process that is designed to prize open our purses as we sate our consumer desires, however savvy and individual we like to think we are.

Now, I'd like to play a game of street style bingo. Head over to Street Peeper or Collage Vintage or literally any fashion website and take a look through their latest street style posts. Here's your list, shout me when you have a full house:

  • A blue pinstriped shirt (free drink if they're wearing it off-the-shoulder)
  • Vintage Levi's 501s
  • A puffer coat
  • A hoodie
  • White boots
  • The J.W.Anderson Pierce Bag
  • Kitten heels
  • An oversized trench coat
  • Fishnets
  • Heritage checks
  • A corset
  • Gingham
  • Blouson sleeves
  • A shearling coat
  • 80s wire frame glasses

All images: Collage Vintage

Bingo! And the £5 prize goes to the lady in the back row. The point of that game wasn't to peg anyone as unoriginal or as a mindless follower of fashion, it was simply an indication of just how prevalent trends clearly still are. How would the fashion industry keep us coming back for more otherwise? If we weren't hungry for the new and the next, we'd be satisfied with what we already have and we wouldn't spend our hard earned cash tapping into the next season's trends. It's unhealthy and it's unsustainable but it's the reality of the fashion landscape. Sure, there's more scope to interpret them in your own way and they're faster moving than ever before, but trends certainly aren't dead.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

My Personal Style: A Paradox

As I get dressed each day, I can see all the pieces starting to fit together as I become the version of myself that I want the world to see. There’s no template or precise formula to the process, it’s all down to feeling.  So checks go over stripes which in turn go under faux fur or spots or denim and I start to take shape.

My personal style sits in direct contradiction to itself. It’s at once a shroud of confidence and a source of vulnerability. It’s everything I am and everything I’m not. Pulling on bright colours and stepping into clashing prints feels like coming home but I’m far removed from the person these sartorial markers make me appear to be. People assume I’m confident, positive, extroverted but underneath it all I’m a serial worrier who loves to stay in and hates being the centre of attention.

On more delicate days when I wake up without an ounce of fight about my person, I can feel the gaze of each passerby as their eyes fix on my hot pink sock boots or my apple green gingham blazer. I inject malicious intent into stray laughter and unkind comments loiter, the words of judgemental strangers smouldering upon my reddening cheeks. On these days, the days when I feel like a beacon for insults, my style is a mark of defiance. It’s my physical stamp on the world when fading into the shadows would be the easy option. It’s me choosing who I want to be and not who others want me to be.

And on the other days? The days where I feel strong and capable? My style feels like a celebration. Capacious proportions, chunky plastic bangles and diametrically opposed hues are a confirmation of who I am. It’s my visual vocabulary and a badge of honour for my creativity. As I get dressed, I clash and layer and mismatch and become the embodiment of exactly who I want to be.

My outer self is folded in drawers and hung in my wardrobe. It sits, like a jigsaw, waiting to come together as the final image, only each piece doesn’t connect with the next. I pick and choose – a colour from here, a texture from there – until I create just what I want. It doesn’t look like the picture on the box but it does look like me.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

One Dress, Four Seasons

If I were the type of person to believe the universe provides us with what we need, I would believe it had provided me with this dress. It appeared to me in the window of & Other Stories; a soft, summery interruption to a chorus of coats and knitwear. I didn't succumb but just a few days later there it was in my size, unworn, with the tag on, on depop for half the price. I hit buy it was mine. The universe had provided. 

But so consumed was I by the fate (sheer coincidence) that had brought me and the dress together, I hadn't really thought about when I might wear it. Seeing as I bang on constantly about wearing what's in your wardrobe and not making wasteful purchases, I thought I'd better hold myself to account and make sure I actually wear this dress.

On its own, it screams sophisticated night out but the closest I come to that is a moderately priced meal followed by a cup of green tea in front of Netflix so that particular scenario isn't remotely realistic. A going out dress is a waste of precious wardrobe space, so this dress needs to work within significantly less glamorous contexts. As I'm sick of the current season, I took it for spin through all of them. Let's start with spring.


Ah, spring. The season I resume shaving my legs on the reg in the hope of exposing them to some sunshine. Let's face it though, vitamin D isn't very forthcoming in March, April or May (or June or July or August) so layers are a prerequisite. If you happen to have a vintage space t-shirt, here is where you would deploy it. If not, any old t-shirt will do. While I'd love that alone to satisfy the layer quotient, we all know it won't so this is the point where a jacket must begrudgingly be added. Something about white denim makes me think of a retirement cruise but, nevertheless, I'm determined to bring it back so I've been hauling this jacket out of my wardrobe every spring since 2008. If your style is more post-graduate than pension, try a lightweight duster instead. So that's spring, onto summer...


This dress is made for summer. When I took it out of the packaging, I had visions of myself strolling around European cities, exploring the winding back streets and drinking coffee in a sun-drenched square. It's ridiculous the dreams a single piece of clothing can conjure but that's part of their magic, I suppose. This is my 'sauntering round an Italian city' outfit. The silhouette wouldn't be in the least bit forgiving to my inevitably bread-swollen stomach but who cares when you're free from the constraints of waistbands? Something about red and black feels a little wintry (Father Christmas connotations maybe?) so parrot earrings and a rainbow accessories spectrum solve that problem.


The sadness of the end of summer is tempered by the return of layers. The only problem I have with dresses is that they're a lot of just one thing. The summer iteration of this look is dreamy but a few more layers thrown into the mix feels much more me. I wear the blue shirt so much I imagine my skin will soon start to envelop it and provide it with its own blood supply and pink and red are a match made in heaven, so those two items were an obvious choice. Another obvious choice was the rocket ship bag I got as a gift a few Christmases ago. I mean it LIGHTS UP FOR GOD'S SAKE. I'm being pretty optimistic with the bare legs here (no matter what any fashion editors tell you, a midi skirt and ankle boots are not the answer when temperatures start to drop into single figures. They have cars to drive them around. They don't experience weather like you and I). If I were to indulge in a spot of hosiery, it would probably be fishnets which is very street style 2016 and I apologise. 


And finally, back to winter. No matter how many times Ned Stark warns us of its arrival, it's still very much the unwelcome visitor of seasons. I decided to approach this one from the perspective of a 1980s art student. In fact, I feel this is what Tia from Uncle Buck might have looked like had she had a slightly rosier disposition. The boots originally belonged to my Nana and at once feel very 30 years ago and very now thanks to the prevalence of midi lengths over knee high boots on the AW17 runways. The stripy turtle neck was part of a mime costume my boyfriend wore for Halloween years ago and the jacket and jumper are both vintage so this really is an outfit of hand-me-downs. And of course, I could be wearing long johns under this and no one would be any the wiser so maximum points are duly awarded.

And there we have it. One dress, four seasons. I've run the gamut of the British climate and come out on top. The dress will stand the test of lazy summer afternoons and a trip to the local shops and so can hang guilt-free in my wardrobe.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Dress Code

I don't know if you've noticed but it's winter. Still. But, although we're only just past the middle of the season, Mother Nature isn't even really trying any more (I don't blame her given the current state of affairs). The weather in England at present is like a soup of grey, drizzle and wind that's been left out on the side for so long it's not really any discernible sort of temperature. 

So if winter isn't even going to put in much of an appearance I'm going to make friends with spring/summer instead. I'm not quite prepared to step outside in sandals but I will wear a breezy summer dress with scant regard for seasonal wardrobe conventions. I picked up this striped beauty at a vintage shop last October after I'd just got back from Berlin and 'wasn't going to buy anything for a while'. I would attempt to feel guilty for falling so quickly back into the arms of consumerism but, 1. it's vintage and, 2. it has heavy Céline overtones (specifically Resort '16).

I hadn't worn it yet and I was determined that it wasn't going to be relegated to single season status so I followed the standard formula of any summer-does-winter garment reboot: anything + a turtle neck + tights + boots = winter. It all added up and my cotton summer dress became an all-rounder. 

As usual, Vashka decided she might like to feature in my mini shoot and outshone me instantly. (Please note the homemade tipi to the right of frame that she has never once used.) 

But back to the dress. A mere turtle neck is fine if all you're planning on doing is lounging around at home admiring your cat but if you plan to actually go outside? You need to get a little bit more strategic to take the 'summer' out of summer dress.

A kimono jacket, belted at the waist, serves as the logical next step in this outfit. It has the sharp appeal of a waistcoat peeking out from under a jacket at the top and the whimsical appeal of a Victorian over coat at the bottom; it's the mullet of garments in the most positive way possible.

Next up, a jacket. Short, of course, to reveal those carefully arranged layers. And from there you're on the home straight. Wrap a scarf around your neck with the gusto of Lenny Kravitz, pop your boyfriend or significant other's hat on and grab a bag that features all of the colours of your outfit plus a few more for good measure.

And with that, you are released from the tyranny of single season garments. Go forth, retrieve your floatiest dresses from the darkest depths of your wardrobe. Free them from the shackles of summer, dust them down and take them for an off-season spin.