Friday, 12 May 2017

Three SS17 Catwalk Looks Made From Stuff I Already Owned

The ever-accelerating march onwards of seasons and micro seasons keeps the fashion industry churning. Each season (or each week if you're ASOS and pals), we're subjected to new styles, silhouettes, prints and cuts, rendering the ones we feel like we literally only just bought outdated.

"Psssst", retailer newsletters and facebook banners say, "I know you bought a shirt with a waist tie last month but this month it's all about embroidery so you better whip out your bank card or you're going to look shit, mate." And often we fold because, well, who wants to look shit? I don't. 

But our quest to not look shit is endless because as soon as we're satisfied with our new ruffle shirt or our corset-waist t-shirt, the fashion industry will go and design something different and we'll need that instead. It's a futile process and one which resulted in me feeling genuinely stressed when flicking through any new season issue of Vogue, faced with all the things I would soon need.

Luckily, I've since had the following realisation: you literally don't have to get stressed about buying new clothes. At all*. The dress you bought last year defo still looks great and I won't like you any less if you don't have one with an on-trend hanky hemline. You are 100% allowed to want new clothes but you also definitely do not have to stress about owning them. You can just go ahead and wear what you have and everything will be fine.

Even if you're steadfastly dedicated to new trends, even then you still don't have to stress about buying new clothes. To prove it, I pulled together three looks straight off the SS17 catwalks from the clothes I already had in my wardrobe. 

1. First up, MSGM. Most current season trend stories would lead you to believe tulle has just been invented but sheer slips have been hanging from the rails in H&M, Topshop and others on and off for years now; I bought this blue one from indie label Somewhere Nowhere back in 2013/14. It just happens that we've gone particularly mental for them this season. The top is actually a folded down strappy top and a piece of ribbon, the shirt came via Depop and the leggings came from wherever it is stray black leggings magically appear from. So that's one SS17 look and zero new clothes. Let's move on.

2. Stella Jean knows how to do prints and I covet every single thing she's ever produced. Luckily it turns out that I could quite easily emulate one of the looks from her spring/summer collection by wearing my striped vintage dress as a skirt, nabbing a white shirt from my boyfriend's wardrobe and breaking out a trusty Paul Smith shirt that I got at an outrageous 100% discount when I worked there. (Uniform allowance truly was the best part of working in retail.) Who knew I had a full Stella Jean look just ready and waiting to go in my wardrobe?

3. Finally, we move onto my favourite look, a copy of Isa Arfen's delicate summer layers. While admittedly I prefer the real deal top, I do fear that it would struggle to contain even the most modest boobs so my over-a-year-old Topshop number is probably the safest option. The vintage Levi's aren't a great match but were the closest thing I could find. As for the white, split front dress, that's a story of vintage serendipity. I was forced to admire it on a sad looking mannequinn for weeks, unable to buy or reserve it, convinced that someone else would nab the perfect layering piece when, one day, I noticed it was no longer in the window and marched into the shop to find it staring at me from the front of the very first rail I came to. I'd give this a 7/10 for accuracy but a 10/10 for being the most wearable of the bunch.

Releasing myself from the stress of feeling like I needed new clothes has been truly transformative. And, as evidenced above, next season's looks aren't always so groundbreaking anyway, so why not just stick with what you already love?

*Obviously this applies to the lucky ones among us who can buy clothes for fun and not to those who are struggling to afford a shirt for an interview or new school uniforms. That's an entirely different, much more difficult issue to be addressed another time when I'm not playing dress up.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Fashion Revolution: Are the High Street's Eco Collections the Answer?

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the high street is leading the fashion revolution. Almost any sustainable shopping feature you'd care to read will feature H&M, hailed for their yearly sustainability reports and commitment to upping their use of recycled and sustainably sourced materials. Alongside them will likely be Mango, whose Committed Collection is in shops now, and ASOS (not on the high street but surely the high street of online shopping?), on the list for their Made in Kenya range.

Each of these fashion giants have carefully crafted narratives which fit snugly within the sustainable style remit. They flaunt their green credentials, assuaging consumer guilt with promises of organic fabrics, fair wages and renewable sources. Taken at face value, this sounds wonderful. We can continue to shop at our favourite shops and save the planet. It's a win-win. 

Except, it's not quite that simple, so let's dig a little deeper. To do so, we first need to establish the differences between ethical and sustainable fashion, because ethical fashion isn't always sustainable. Imagine, for example, that a brand produced a range of t-shirts. The t-shirts are made in a safe factory which is subject to regular inspections. The people making the t-shirts are entitled to benefits such as paid holiday and maternity leave and they're paid a fair, living wage. To many, this would be considered an ethical set up. 

But if those t-shirts are made from cotton, it would take around 3000 litres of water to make each one. And if those t-shirts were bright pink, the toxic dye might seep into the local water supply, denying people a clean water supply. And if those t-shirts were best sellers, they might be produced in the hundreds of thousands. And if those t-shirts went out of style, they might end up in landfill. That doesn't sound very sustainable. 

The link between ethical and sustainable fashion cannot be assumed but the two are often conflated and this works to the high street's benefit. Looking at H&M as an example, the brand has committed to implementing wage management systems at supplier factories, to switch to 100% renewable energy, to use 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030 and to become climate positive throughout its entire value chain by 2040. Grand claims indeed. 

The importance of commercial and financial commitment to meeting such goals cannot be overlooked. Investment and research lead to breakthroughs and if those breakthroughs can transform the supply chain with pioneering recycling methods and new, sustainable fabrics then all the better. However, their claims often lack context, so here's some of that for you:

Looking first at their intentions to scale up fair living wages, it's vital to note that the brand doesn't actually own any factories, instead utilising independent suppliers in developing countries. Just this year, violent protests broke out at a supplier factory in Myanmar over benefits and working conditions. 'Scaling up' industrial relations does not guarantee the ethical treatment of workers throughout the supply chain.

Moving on to sustainability, what exactly do H&M's pledges mean in the face of the 550 million garments they reportedly produce a year? For every promise and impressive statement, they are still pumping the world full of clothes that are intended to be disposable; discarded in favour of the next new trend. 

I'm using H&M as an example because they're often lauded as being at the helm of the sustainable fashion movement but, of course, they're not the sole culprit. Built upon modern consumer culture, the fast fashion model is, at its very core, utterly unsustainable. 

Global clothing production has more than doubled since 2000. On top of this, the average person buys 60% more clothing yet keeps them for about half as long as they did 15 years ago*. Fast fashion is feeding our insatiable, untenable desire for more clothes than we've ever owned before. 

It's also important to remember that alongside every eco, conscious, committed and green collection on the high street are rails upon rails of clothes that are decidedly the opposite. Not made from organic cotton; not made from recycled fabrics; not crafted with the environment in mind. 

A biannual capsule collection and intermittent use of recycled fabrics simply isn't enough to offset the inherent unsustainability of producing hundreds of millions of garments a year. So, yes, there are a handful of positives take from to those eco collections but they are absolutely, resolutely not the answer and they do not clear fast fashion of its culpability in the mistreatment and exploitation of human beings and the irresponsible use of the earth's finite resources.

*Source: Fashion Revolution in partnership with Greenpeace

Thursday, 13 April 2017

It Was Summer for a Weekend: Here's What I Wore

In a somewhat unprecedented move, summer happened last weekend. Of course, it's gone now and it's only a matter of time before the Christmas adverts come on, but for one glorious 48 hour stretch, summer happened and it reminded us all that we have ankles and shoulders and inner happiness. 

As it crept up on us with precisely no warning, I imagine half the population spent Saturday morning stood in their underwear, peering into their wardrobes, wondering what to wear in the absence of the easy option of teaming a gigantic coat with a look of resignation. That's exactly the predicament I found myself in. Warm weather is so fleeting that whenever it occurs, we have to completely reboot our sartorial systems in order to cope with the prospect of sun on our skin. Some people take it very far, very quickly (case in point: the men in rolled up denim shorts and nip-skimming vests); others know they've been hurt before and so bravely persevere with puffer coats, safe in the knowledge it's only a matter of time before everyone else joins them again too. I hit somewhere in the middle ground, suspicious of the weather's intentions yet wildly keen to embrace it wherever possible.

Armed with a healthy dose of pessimism, I wasn't quite ready to commit to anything as radical as bare arms or exposed toes. Instead, it felt like the perfect opportunity to pair up two things I'd been waiting for warmer weather to wear. One was the dress that I recently took on a spin through all four seasons in a bid to prove to myself it wasn't a frivolous purchase. The other was a Fila polo my boyfriend bought me for Christmas. I was going to do the obvious top-under-dress strategy but this polo has a trompe l'oeil pocket and wayfarers which would be criminal to hide, so I flipped it and went top-over-dress. Life starts when you step out of your comfort zone, guys.

I topped it off with my new-to-me leopard print cardigan and an ancient belt that I've often considered donating but always comes in handy. Clearly, this was all far too tonal, so I stuck on a pair of turquoise loafers, grabbed my plastic basket and a summer outfit was born.

Emerging from beneath the shroud of the winter coat is an event worth celebrating with copious amounts of accessories. Never one to scrimp on the details, I popped a naked lady pin on my lapel and loaded up my wrists with a pleasing selection of bejewelled paraphernalia, happy that the world could see them for a change. 

Despite the initial panic and struggle, we all get into the swing of warm weather dressing pretty quickly. We settle into a style rhythm, with light layers, sandals and floaty silhouettes setting the tone, only to have to go crawling back to our coats mere days later, embarrassed at having being lulled into a false sense of security by the sunshine once again. 

Sunshine is the cheating boyfriend we instantly forgive when he rocks up with a bunch of flowers and a knowing smile. Things will change. There will be sandals, slip dresses, we've even been planning a straw hat! But unfortunately, you know how this story ends. With heartbreak. Before I knew it, I was back in boots, jeans and a jumper, but at least I have the memories of the short but sweet summer of 2017. Unless it comes back. In which case I'll be stood by my wardrobe, ready to emotionally invest again without a second thought.

Friday, 7 April 2017

I Heart Lisbon

Allow me to preface this post by saying that I am not a travel blogger. I don't note down the names of picturesque back streets, I forget the names and whereabouts of any and all cute local shops and I have never once stood at the edge of a cliff, back to camera, arms akimbo. So, I'm afraid this will be less a comprehensive guide to Portugal's capital and more a gushing account of just how much I loved it. 

I will bestow you with these two top tips though: 1. The Vegan Food Project cooks up a mean bifana of seitan and 2. do not, under any circumstance wear soft-soled loafers lest you end up skating along Lisbon's polished paths like I did on the first day.

Lisbon is, as the first selection of images suggest, a riot of colour. You can't take 20 steps without being confronted by a coral house, a green front door or that Instagrammer's favourite: a tiled wall. It's a veritable tile fest in Lisbon and I was all over it like a rich white girl at Coachella. There was absolutely no mistaking me for anything other than a tourist as I flitted from tiled wall to tiled wall, photographing every new pattern I spotted, risking my life every time I stepped onto one of their free-for-all roads to get the best angle. Azulejos, as google tells me they're called, are undoubtedly the city's defining feature but do you know what else Lisboan's (I think I've made that word up) absolutely bloody love? Sardines. 

So mad for sardines are they, that they have an annual sardine festival. I wasn't there for that but I did visit O Mundo Fantastico da Sardinha Portuguesa; a haven for any oily fish fanatic or, indeed, lover of outrageous extravagance lavished upon the mundane. 

As a vegan, I had absolutely no intention of buying any sardines to snack on but this place was hard to resist. The actual Ferris Wheel of sardine tins (!!!) in the window is what drew me in but the interior was just as wildly ostentatious. The walls were lined top to bottom with tins of sardines, each printed with a different year. Apparently a tin of sardines with your year of birth on it is a wonderful token to treasure for the rest of time. I did not purchase a 1989 tin but the sardines did, however, crown me as their Queen...

Reluctantly stepping away from sardines for the time being, most of my time was spent wandering around the steep, narrow streets saying, "ooh look at that" to my boyfriend. It's a miracle I survived, what with the hazardously polished pavements and the precarious, unmarked roads. Roads which are shared by impatient tram drivers with tuk tuks, taxis and the local's cars, all of which are driven with the wild abandon of someone with only 24 hours to live. 

Luckily, I did survive and managed to drink in yet more of the vibrant streets and paint palette vistas. I've never visited anywhere quite so charming yet with a definite thread of cool running through it. It's no Berlin or London but a smattering of indie restaurants, tucked away, eclectic boutiques and even the left wing grafitti speak to the city's youthful undercurrent. It's hidden below a thick layer of American and German tourists but it's definitely there.

Unexpected pieces of art interrupt the rows of pastel buildings; little reminders of current culture and a fresh voice nestled among the classic facades and tourist spots. Of course, most of them are suitably bright so sit neatly within the city's palette. In a completely out of character twist, my favourite happened to be the super lo-fi wire quote. 'Don't be mean' ranks high on my list of most uttered phrases, so it felt like serendipity when I came across it. 

Those little artistic snippets are the side dish to Lisbon's main course, though and I am completely smitten with both facets of it. A quick stroll away from the main shopping street brought us to a row of haberdashery shops that I was completely charmed by. I kept catching them after closing time, and admired the elaborate trims and ornate buttons through the windows. When I did manage to catch them during opening hours, they seemed uniformly to be run by tiny, elderly women who didn't speak a lick of English. A few bits here and there were on display in glass cabinets behind the counter but everything else was tucked away in battered old cardboard boxes. 

In the shop I'd spent the most time lingering at the window of, the woman behind the counter gestured at me to come behind and take a look through the displays. Embarrassed by my poor attempts at Portuguese, I left after a few minutes. I had been lusting after a particular pin in the window, though, so I returned a few minutes later and eventually managed to communicate my desire for the giant safety pin with a tortoise shell-style clasp. She brought a box out from the back and I gave her the thumbs up when the shuffle of trinkets revealed the one I wanted. 

My success at snagging the pin I wanted is not representative of my other shopping trips in Lisbon. Except for a fruitful venture to Feira Da Ladra, a local flea market, I was thwarted at every turn by 'permanently closed' notifications on google that I'd failed to notice during my pre-holiday itinerary planning. 

Luckily, unlike our recent trip to Berlin where temperatures dropped below zero, the weather was sunny and mild so I was content just wandering the streets and avoiding death by tuk tuk. If the locals' get up was anything to go by - puffer jackets, hats and scarves - it was positively freezing for the acclimatised but I was perfectly happy gallivanting around in my new most-worn piece; the pink, oversized, longline jacket my parents bought me for Christmas. Except for the loafer incident on the first day, my pre-planned outfits proved to be pitch perfect for the balmy weather and I fit right into the local colour scheme. (Unlike Berlin again, where black is the uniform and I looked like a children's entertainer by comparison.)

We stayed for three nights; the perfect amount of time given that my legs couldn't take another day of trekking up and down steep hills, crafted mostly from polished stones with all the grip of an ice cube. The locals must have calves of steel. Still, I was sad to leave and England looked decidedly dull as we disembarked.

To sum up, 10/10, would visit again.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Why I Won't be Buying Clothes for the Next 3 Months

A few weeks ago, I had an absolute charity shop score. On an impromptu trip to my local Oxfam, I bagged a pair of vintage 501s, a jumper dress that's perfect for layering over said jeans, a leopard print cardigan (something I'd recently been searching for on Depop anyway) and a long length pinstriped blazer jacket with a super cool asymmetrical button fastening. And I paid less than £35 for the whole lot.

I'd got myself some stellar garms, it was all second hand and I'd saved a fortune. Then, last weekend, I found another second hand gem. A strapless, wide leg, gingham jumpsuit with a frill trim was calling to me from the rail of a vintage shop, so I snapped it up for £18. Another triumph for second hand shopping and sustainability. Right? Well, sort of.

Sustainability isn't just about buying second hand and investing in ethical labels and organic fabrics, it's also about consuming less. And buying five items in the space of just a few weeks is definitely not consuming less.

With guilt quickly replacing my second hand bargain high, I announced to my boyfriend that I wouldn't be buying any clothes for the next three months and made a note in my diary on the 25th June page that says, "NO CLOTHES BEFORE THIS DATE!". 

Why three months? The length of time is completely arbitrary; just the first thing that popped into my head. It seems a little paltry compared to Michelle McGagh's self-set challenge of not buying anything at all for a full year but it should at least be a sufficient amount of time to rethink and readjust my shopping habits. Maybe I'll extend it when 25th June rolls around but for now, three months is the goal.

I'm going to be completely honest. I know I will have to buy one thing during that time. Not strictly clothes but worth mentioning if I'm going to hold myself accountable: I need a pair of sandals. My last pair breathed their final breath at the end of summer 2016 and spending early summer stomping around in boots just isn't practical. 

When I realised my need for a new pair of sandals somewhat scuppered my plan, a funny thing happened. It started a chain reaction and I began to think of all the other things I might need. I haven't been on a beach holiday since I was 14 but I panicked that I don't have any swimwear. I had planned to buy a dark indigo denim jacket for spring/summer. What was I going to wear now?! (Answer, any of my other jackets). Maybe I'd need a pair of trousers or a new dress. What if I needed something before the 25th June?

The thing is, I don't need anything. I'm in absolutely no peril of being forced to leave the house naked having found myself bereft of any clothes to cover myself with. I have skirts, dresses, trousers, shirts, tops, jackets and coats. I have a plurality of each category of clothing but the consumer-clogged section of my brain started to itch at the thought of not being satisfied. 

Want and need have become interchangeable and I hope to finally separate them within the next few months. Obviously I know the difference between the two on a literal level but you'd be surprised how often all of us transpose or conflate the two in the name of justifying a purchase. 

I need a winter coat. I need shoes. I need a selection of clothes to cover my body. Do you know what else I've told myself I need? A pair of bright pink boots; a third summer dress; a fourth pair of jeans. None of them would serve an imperative function but I decided I needed them. I needed the pink boots because there would never be a pair as magnificent as them ever again (kind of true but still want not need); I needed the dress because it had long sleeves unlike any of my others and it looked v. Céline; I needed the jeans because I only had a light pair of Levi's so obviously an indigo pair was necessary. 

If I don't break the cycle somewhere, I'm going to continue to 'need' unnecessary things for the rest of my life, adding further to the burden we put on our planet. Earlier this year, I set out to take the time to consider whether I really need to buy something before committing. I've stuck to it, asking myself, 'do I need this?' when I'm tempted to hand over my money and the majority of the time, whatever I've been tempted by has ended up back on the shelf. Somehow, though, this attitude stopped at my wardrobe door.

By enforcing a break in my part self-inflicted, part capitalism-inflicted consumer cycle for the next three months, I hope to mirror the same shift in my mindset that I achieved where accumulating superfluous stuff is concerned. I imagine it will be a little harder seeing as I write about clothes for a living and love fashion with every part of my being but it's an essential exercise if I'm to truly embrace a sustainable mindset.

Here's to the next three months...

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

All The Things I Want to Wear Now Because I'm a Conditioned Consumer

In my last post, I mentioned my sudden but deep and burning desire for a pair of red boots. This desire was brought on purely by osmosis. Those with the most connections or the deepest pockets began slipping their perfectly pedicured feet into red boots by the likes of Isabel Marant; street style photographers snapped them in said red boots and the resulting images seeped into my subconscious, manifesting as a desire to own my very own pair. 

Since my infatuation began, fashion month has been and gone, bringing with it an abundance of brand new red boots to lust after, reinforcing the absolutely unfounded notion that they would enhance my life in myriad ways. This is because, ladies and gentlemen, I am a conditioned consumer. My brain was configured within a society that serves much more than the base needs of food and shelter. The mere thought of buying something floods my (and your) brain with dopamine, so no matter how much I abstain from clicking buy in the name of sustainability and having enough money leftover to spend on food, the desire remains.

I avoid as many of the tried and tested consumer triggers as possible; I've unsubscribed to store emails, deleted shopping apps, and stopped going into most high street shops. But I can't cut out fashion entirely. Firstly, because it's my job and secondly, because I don't want to. I love scrolling through show after show during fashion week and I adore browsing street style. I even treat myself to a single page net-a-porter scroll in between articles on work days as a change of scenery (screenery?). I am owning my consumer affliction, so join me, won't you, as I explore the latest objects of my desire. Dopamine incoming...

Midi Skirts/Knee High Boots

This trend descended over fashion month like a beautiful plague. Fluid, often asymmetrical hemlines floated about slouchy knee high boots everywhere from Victoria Beckham and Isabel Marant to Roksanda. The resulting combination has its roots in the 80s but manages to feel ultra fresh; a welcome departure from ankle boots. This is undoubtedly my favourite look to come out of AW17 and I'm mentally reinterpreting every outfit in my wardrobe within this framework. My calves are going into storage - I won't need them for the foreseeable future. 

Isabel Marant, Roksanda, Victoria Beckham. Images:


Just call me Carrie Bradshaw because I feel like I'm about to get into corsages in a big way. Gucci's been pushing them for a few seasons now, most notably atop a bow worn under a shirt collar. But now Saint Laurent, Adam Selman and Alberta Ferretti have all jumped on board and it's become a bonafide trend. I have just this second raided my styling kit and unearthed a silky flower on an elastic hairband, which I'll be re-purposing as a choker, and a polka dot flower hair clip which I'll be wearing on my lapel and under my collar, Gucci style. If there was some sort of points system at play here, I think I would have just earned at least 5 for resourcefulness.

Saint Laurent, Alberta Ferretti, Gucci. Images:

Cargo Trousers

Dads of the world rejoice, cargo trousers are in. Until recently, cargo trousers could quite easily cause me to be a bit sick in my mouth but now I want a pair and I'm laying the blame squarely at J.Crew's feet. If you search 'cargo pants' on Pinterest, you'll find them almost exclusively styled with tan sandals and a white t-shirt or blouse. J.Crew, however, didn't tap into that sartorial snooze fest. No, they had the audacity to create the delicious trio of camo cargo pants, a pinstriped shirt and a velvet blazer (centre image), taking them out of Jennifer Anniston territory and placing them firmly within my fantasy wardrobe. That said, cargo shorts will be going nowhere near my pasty legs. There are just too many connections with style devoid men who 'totally aren't sexist but just truly believe that men are better at driving'. 

All J.Crew. Images:


I remain steadfastly NOT into leggings as trousers but as a layering device? I'm all in. Dsquared2 planted the seed for leggings as a viable style option with their Resort '16 collection, when they layered plain black leggings under short skirts and oversized shirts. Since then, leggings have continued to creep in as a pervading but fairly under the radar trend, permeating the collections of MSGM, Pringle, Gucci, Céline, Sportmax and plenty of others. The key to their appeal (to me) is keeping the sportswear overtones to a minimum throughout the rest of the outfit. I can see ankle length leggings peeking out beneath long skirts and mid length coats in spring and in summer, I'm thinking below-the-knee length leggings styled under sheer skirts à la MSGM SS17 (right) and teamed with slouchy belted shirts and loafers. 

Sportmax, Markus Lupfer, MSGM. Images:

Here ends the non-exhaustive list of the current objects of my desire. Until next time, then, when I'll probably want a pair of Crocs and a corset belt...

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.