Saturday, 18 October 2014

Last weekend...





Unusually we had two parties consecutively, what was lovely was that they were both old friends of around 20 years.  So there was none of what I call 'Competitive extensions', you  know the sort of party small talk where the person that you meet wants to make sure that you understand how successful they are, how brilliant their children are, that they have a bigger house and car and take better holidays.  Faced with a conversation going in this direction I tend to come straight out with the fact that I live in a one bedroom cottage and buy everything I own from Ebay, at this point, the 'Competitive extensions' will either relax and be quite good fun or make their excuses and find a more worthy opponent.

With old friends it's different, we know each other so well, we've all gone in completely different directions and share the thick and the thin.  We pray for each other in the bad times and are genuinely pleased for old friends when things go well and lady luck has been kind.

For the first night I wore a silk Paul Smith dress with 'nearly' rockstuds in black and an Anya Hindmarch clutch.


It was quite an adventure to find as the venue was in the depths of Battersea Park with no road access..

There was something quite Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe about seeking out our destination...

And when we saw it, it was beautiful...

The weather was so mild that we had drinks outside in October!

The next night was another lovely evening, this time in Wandsworth...
A close up of the new hair, that could def do with a tidy up, it's better held back in clips to disguise the uneven bits...



The lace jumpsuit was a rare success from China, really nice quality lace and long enough in the body to fit, but an XXL! I plumped for the jumpsuit as felt a bit frumpy the night before and jumpsuits were plentiful. It's been so long since we have been to a party that I have lost track of 'what to wear'.
Another pair of nearly rockstuds, this time in nude and black, they look quite similar to the real thing in the pics, but in the flesh are very different both in shape and colour. Topped it off with a ByMalene Birger coat.





Being with old friends is my safe place.

Mr B found has found his safe place too....



Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Sandy scissor hands...



Looking for pics to illustrate how old all of my favourite clothes are, I found this picture of Tatjana Patitz, she was always my favourite of the supers, I loved her fine features and feline eyes.  The polar opposite of me, but I decided on Friday I might try out this hairstyle.  


Tatjana got her cut on the beach...

I started mine in the bathroom in London (no pics and no light) the scissors were the ones that I use for Christmas wrap and even my impatience told me to stop and wait.

The coiffure continued at the cottage...






I needed pics to see how the back was going, err not great...

 So kept cutting until it was vaguely even...


Emboldened by the cutting prowess I decided to tackle the topiary, I balanced the balls...

To round perfection...
 Unruly boxes and firs...

Trimmed to tidiness..

Pooped pooches resting after all the exertion....

The workers needed the traditional fare, PG Tips, digestives and dark chocolate...

Family sized of course....

And back to more tidying...

Alexandra has a thousand abbreviations, one of my Scottish friends christened me Xandy (pronounced Sandy)...Sandy Scissor hands...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Inside my fashion shopping brain...



The last year has been spent in a world of consumerism excess. The job consists of tempting people to buy things that they really don't need and if they do buy them, won't keep for very long before they decide to replace them all again.

That'll be fashion then.

It has served to highlight how silly the cycle is and how much money we are prepared to spend to buy an illusive 'moment' that is as fleeting as it is costly.

It has also made me a bit depressed. My last job in fitness, had terrible pay, but it made me feel good, I helped people to feel better about themselves and everything was positive.  Now we make more money by making people feel insecure and we hope that they find short term redemption by buying clothes.


When I started this blog (pre fashion), I was an innocent.  I posted pictures of outfits, pleased to share new discoveries, affordable, amazing quality vintage or hand embroidered tunics from India at a fraction of the price you would normally expect to pay.  I worked in the fitness industry and when it came to buying clothes, I just chose nice fabrics (linen, silk, cashmere), colours that I liked or suited my skin tone and after years fighting the bulge, I chose shapes that flattered my shape, aiming to trim my thick waist and create the illusion of femininity by disguising my robust shoulders.


The first few months in a high fashion environment were quite an eye opener.  To start with, no one looks what the average person might consider to be 'nice'.  Beautiful girls hid their natural charms under cavernous layers or scary make up.  The one girl in office that I always thought looked the best was written off by the buying team as 'commercial' or 'mainstream'.  The rules of engagement were completely different in this world.

Nobody wears what suits them, they just wear what is 'new' and what is 'now'.  It felt like we catered for a 23 year old who lives in Shoreditch, earns £100k a year and goes out every night (and of course she is a size 8 and has perfect proportions).

It's been enough to make me completely rethink how I shop, why I shop and how consumerism defines so much of our lives.


1. I have gone full circle from wanting to sell all of my old couture made clothes on Ebay to realising, I will never buy quality like this again. Some of them may be 25 years old, but they ooze quality in a way that even the more expensive contemporary designers simply do not as they chase the ££s selling poorly made items at over-inflated prices.




















2. Fashion is a bubble, it exists only in the mind of the beholder. Someone in my team in the office has a completely different take on it to a mum at the school gate.  By nature of the job we are buying 12 months ahead of the current season, so our reference points are different to people who aren't particularly interested in the subject.  An outfit that I might think appropriate for work would look ridiculous at a sports match where no one would 'get' the boxes that I might be ticking and just think that I look bonkers.



3. The last year has confirmed how I have always bought. It's better to think about 'appropriateness' as the rule of thumb rather than 'Fashion'.  By all means go for sequins and thigh skimming Herve Leger in St Tropez, but in the Cotswolds stick to boots, skinny jeans and a jacket whatever is happening 'fashion' is now so quick that it has little effect on real life.  All I am ever going to consider when I dress in the future is 'Where am I going?What will the other people there expect? How can I make everyone else feel comfortable?'



4. Ignore what it says on the label about where something is made. Many items are now 'finished' in the country stated and 80% of the work has been done elsewhere.  In Italy there are now Chinese factories that are populated with seasonal immigrant workers paid in Chinese currency.  In all but name the items may as well have been made anywhere in mainland China.

5. Buy less, buy it to last forever, buy colours and shapes that you love and you know to suit you and your body shape.


6. Buy from shops that you want to support and add a touch of magic to your locality.  If you have a great little boutique that adds colour and interest to your high street, you have to spend some money there to keep it.


7. Look out for fairs and events that will pull in local makers who sell beautiful wares that are actually locally made by proper artisans. They also have a community feel, you get to know people, either other shoppers or the real people behind the items that you buy.



8. If you are falling for a fashion moment, you know when you have gone from hating something to feeling you can't live without it. Just buy a cheap version or a fake.  Is that such a terrible thing? There were some 'must have' boots from a fairly high end brand (they are around £500 a pair), I saw the 'real' thing at work and was amazed at how poorly made they were.  I bought the so called 'fake' which arrived from a factory in China, exactly the same in every way except for all branding removed.  They were 30 quid and I think probably came from the factory making the originals. These boots are a 'masstige' product,  ie expensive, but sell in such high volumes worldwide that only China has the capacity to manufacture them.

9. Try to make yourself spend MORE on an item than you are comfortable with.  It will make you really think hard about how much you want it.

10. If you have everything you need, intend to buy only 3-5 items a year.

I'm only preaching to myself, so that if I get carried away in the future, I can read this and collect my thoughts.  For someone with a really clear vision and a laudably puritanical view to shopping check out Lady Sarah. I hope to reach her purist ideals one day.

What do you think, are you a fan of fast fashion? Is the thrill of the chase too exciting to let go or could you give up buying your fashion fix?







Sunday, 28 September 2014

September Sun....


The beautiful on-going sunshine is making it much easier to be sociable and this weekend was one of  friends and food and buckets of booze.


Sadly Cynthia's beautiful floral display is over and in the interest of ecology and economics it was recycled as Friday's dinner party gift with garden grown hydrangeas....




Sometimes I think that being at the cottage is the nearest thing to heaven, it feels like the safest place in the world.....and then by chance I capture it on my phone.....


All the goodies ready to take to the dinner party, bubbles, tarte aux citrons and chocolate tart with raspberries...

What to wear? Our host used to work in fashion and has exquisite taste, I'm only conscious that I don't want to lower the tone. So opt for Zoe Karssen jeans, (new in)H & M jacket, £29.99 and better than the Helmut Lang one I had tried (and returned) from my-wardrobe.  Lace Temperley top (old, as old as my eldest child) Matthew Williamson bag (similar age) and pointy toe flats from this season.


 Hated doesn't come close to the fashion critic's critique, he is really confused by this ripped jeans thing, just about OK for the garden, but for going out? You have to be kidding...

 So changed into some old bootcut 7 jeans and a higher necked top from Karen Millen...



Make up is a rare thing, but as there was time to prepare, I unearthed a selection of goodies that go back years.  Most of them gifted and I don't really have a clear idea as to what to do with them...



Is Bare Minerals always meant to leave this kind of mess behind?...




setting off....


 and arriving at the most beautiful cotswold farm house....

Interior design heaven.... I couldn't get enough pictures of the effortlessly elegant interior....








The next day we hosted a humbler barbie with friends who have just moved to the village...

The usual starter platter....

Goodies for the chocolate fountain....


The kids laid the table for ten....



 And when the sun set we lit the heaters to keep everyone toastie..