Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Five Fashion Week Trends

Fashion month has come and gone. Kanye's disaster at Roosevelt Island feels like a decade ago, and Gigi Hadid and Kendal Jenner must have strutted down at least half a million runways since that day (give or take). Much like AW16, this season was shrouded in familiarity. Ruffles and cold shoulders are unwavering stalwarts, whilst the 70s and 80s continue to wrestle for the spotlight (the 70s aren't yet out for the count but the 80s are certainly winning the fight this season).

There have been a lot of shows that I've somewhat glossed over, with not much new to be found, but a handful of trends did come to the fore that captured my attention. Let's explore.

Off the Hook

L-R: MSGM, Novis, Red Valentino, M Missoni

This is a trend I can very much get on board with. My favourite lazy days are spent crocheting under a blanket with a cup of green tea and if I can use that time to whip something up that resembles MSGM or Missoni then all the better. MSGM adorned their models with halterneck frills that were neither a top nor a scarf and I'm intrigued by the ambiguity. Novis' approach was more straight forward with granny square style patterns and hand crochet techniques. Red Valentino used crochet for festival-inspired bikini tops and beach vistas and I was completely taken with M Missoni's chunky, bobbly crochet trimmed satchel bags.

Belt Up

L-R: Prada, Maison Margiela, Bally, Isabel Marant

Samantha Cameron will be singing from the rooftops; waist belts are back. From slinky barely there belts, to corset-proportioned cinchers, nipped in waists ruled the roost. Prada disrupted the structure of their panelled jackets, crossing the fronts over and securing them with kitsch belts that sat somewhere between 60s wallpaper and 70s motocross. Maison Margiela took us into the future, embellishing his space-age creatures with looped metallic belts and at Bally, Pablo Coppola offset his rich colour palette with slimline leather and sturdy metal clasps. Isabel Marant, meanwhile, deployed belts to add shape to slouchy utilitarian silhouettes.

Check In

L-R: Au Jour Le Jour, House of Holland, Peter Pilotto, Rahul Mishra

If someone stole all of my clothes and brought them back as gingham duplicates, I'd probably be OK with it. Ever since I commandeered my Mum's old pink gingham nightdress when I was about 7, the print has prevailed as a firm favourite. Au Jour Le Jour harked back to the print's prim, prairie roots with frills and aprons but retained an air of cool with sleek sequins and sportswear touches. House of Holland and Peter Pilotto layered gingham upon gingham; clashing colours and creating some of my favourite looks of the season in the process. Rahul Mishra also created abundant layers but instead interspersed his checks with bouyant frills and woodland scenes. 

All Tied Up

L-R: Isa Arfen, Milly, Roksanda, Trussardi

This trend speaks to the DIY-er in me. Give me a couple of long sleeved t-shirts or a handful of silk scarves and I feel like I could recreate this look in a jiffy. Isa Arfen, Milly and Trussardi all riffed on the same theme, with multiple knot ties to the front of tops and dresses, offering a flash of skin and a sense of feminine structure without resorting to ubiquitous frills and ruffles. Roksanda, on the other hand, swaddled her models in sumptuous fashion; her luxurious fabrics wrapped and tied at the waist.

Something Up Your Sleeve

L-R: Dsquared2, Jacquemus, Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana

This trend may be bigger than the actual sleeves that designers sent down their respective runways. From Topshop Unique and Simone Rocha to Zac Posen and Salvatore Ferragamo, sleeves went supersized this season. Dsquared2 and Dolce & Gabbana took similar approaches, their puff sleeves clashing with decadent textures and ornate adornments. Jacquemus and Stella McCartney were subdued in their maximalism; tempering voluminous shoulders with clean lines and understated colour palettes. Saint Laurent, on the other hand, went in the other direction entirely; an embodiment of 80s excess.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Return of the Max

The end of summer is a funny, conflicting time. As a hangover from my school and university days, I'm filled with both new season hope and new term dread. I'm plagued by nightmares of school exams yet eager for crisp mornings and cosy evenings. Sartorially speaking, I mourn the loss of breezy summer outfits but excitedly welcome the return of layers and my favourite jackets. Unleashing your new season wardrobe has all the thrill of a shiny new uniform without the inevitable and depressing realisation that, shit, it's just that same old shapeless blue jumper again.

Autumn/Winter is the maximalist's time to shine. You can layer to your heart's content; piling on the prints and textures as the mercury drops. Warm weather is great but gingham against stripes against leopard print is far more exciting. Despite this summer's best attempts to hold on, losing just a few degrees to September's grasp has significantly broadened the horizons of my wardrobe. Double, and even triple, layers are on the cards again, satisfying my need to squeeze as much into any given outfit as possible.

L - Jeans (both): Monki, T-shirt: Vintage, Dress: & Other Stories via charity shop (customised), Boots: Zara, Scarf & Bag: Vintage | R - Shirt: Vintage via Depop, Halterneck: Charity shop, Necklace: Vintage via Depop, Shoes: Paul Smith

Defying custom and starting on the right, the halterneck over shirt combination was this season's first foray into layering. It may look like the height of summer in the photo - it was gloriously golden and perfect lounging on stairs weather - but the extra layer was perfect for the chills that tentatively loitered in the shadows and on the breeze. 

Moving on, the outfit on the left is the my favourite thing I've worn in a long time. I lusted after the Memphis-esque graphic print dress when it was first available in & Other Stories but I was unspeakably poor at the time and so doomed to admire it from afar. Luckily, I happened upon it in my local Oxfam for only £8 a couple of weeks ago; a win for historical me. It was a slip dress but, as an irregular dress wearer, I decided to slice it up and turn it into the most perfect layering piece I have ever owned. Paired with my favourite vintage space t-shirt, my Marge Simpson does Chanel jacket and current go-to jeans, it made me briefly wish I was the type of person who interested the paparazzi just so that it was fully documented. (When they failed to show, I deployed my Instagram husband and reassessed my ego.)

So, yes the nights are drawing in and cold days are edging closer but the scope of my wardrobe is expanding by the day and that seems like a fair trade to me.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Do I Want a Hoodie?

I bought my first hoodie when I was 11 and entering my seminal grebo phase. I felt like a serious (albeit harmless, 11-year-old) rebel walking around in my black, oversized Linkin Park hoodie, probably paired with huge corduroy loons and a bandana in my hair. It was extremely fetching, especially when accented with the black eye shadow I later took to wearing. But hoodies soon became the mark of the type of teenagers that petrified the Tories and then soon after that they dissolved into ubiquity and I never rekindled my love for them. Until now.

Over the past few weeks I've found myself hankering after a hoodie. But do I actually want one or has their presence on the catwalk and the torsos of fashion's coolest just tricked me into thinking I do?

Images: Pop Sugar, The Telegraph

Images: Vogue

It's not a new trend. Kanye has rinsed the oversized hoodie with every passing Yeezy season, Vetements have had the audacity to charge £500 plus for theirs and it's become the uniform of choice for every off-duty model. From Lacoste to Marc Jacobs and Ashley Williams, they've been very much present on the SS17 catwalks and they are most definitely an established trend way beyond fashion's inner circle. But still, despite the fact that they may well be already 'done', there's something so appealing about a hood peaking over the collar of a trench or the slouchy proportions dressing down a pair of tailored flares.

The only thing is, I never wear sportswear. I used to wear trainers almost every day and had a growing selection of vintage Adidas but now trainers only make an appearance at the gym and the Adidas collection has become my lougewear. Surely, then, it's fashion working its magic. The same magic that makes us want to throw away our wardrobes and start again every season. (Either that or it's my predilection for all things cosy because don't they look so impossibly cosy when they're tucked up around someone's ears and pulled down over their hands?) 

So if I succumb to fashion's spell, how will I wear my hoodie? Well, definitely not on its own with bare legs for starters. That look is best left to Rihanna with her infinite confidence, seriously great legs and eternal close proximity to a warm, chauffeur driven car. As I alluded to before, it's the contrast that I like, so I won't be going full sportswear or full Yeezy, instead, I'll be layering mine over shirts or under blazers and tailored coats. And if I had an uncapped budget this is what that would look like...

L: Hoodie: Topshop, Shirt: Marni, Skirt: Gucci, Bag: Mark Cross, Boots: Alexandre Birman | R Suit: J Crew, Hoodie: Off-White, Bag & Shoes: Stella McCartney

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Curious Case of the Fashion Singular

The fashion lexicon is a thing all of its own. There's talk of diaphanous silks, jarring textures, theatrical silhouettes and unapologetic volume. I wholeheartedly indulge in this somewhat absurdly lyrical rhetoric because I think fashion can be genuinely magical, and slightly OTT write ups are my ode to all of those collections that make my heart stop for a split second. I think a beautifully crafted dress deserves to be described as 'striking in its fluidity' or 'a densely layered exercise in modern decadence'. Fashion is poetic and at times ridiculous and so too can be the language to describe and pay tribute to it.

That said, there is one element of the fashion vocabulary which I will not partake in and that is the fashion singular. For the unaware, when I say fashion singular, I'm talking about certain editors' and designers' propensity to refer to 'a boot' or 'a jean'. This particular linguistic quirk seems to be exclusive to the fashion and beauty industries. Never have I heard my dentist refer to 'a gum' or a chef say that 'a noodle' is the perfect foundation for a stir fry and yet it prevails in design studios and magazine offices throughout the style universe.  

What works with a cropped jean? An ankle boot. How do you dress up a casual trouser? A heel. Want a new stand out look? Try a statement sleeve. Want to look subtly sexy? How about an exposed shoulder? Need a flash of colour? Debut a bold lip.

So why do people insist on using this awful phraseology? Well, I have an unscientific theory, which I have taken precisely no steps to prove and here it is:

Almost everyone, on some level, partakes in fashion. Most people have an idea of what they like to put with what, and almost everyone can go to the high street and pull a trend-led outfit from the rails. In many ways, fashion belongs to everyone, so how do industry insiders set themselves apart from the 'amateurs'? They create a language to establish a sense of authority. Your mate might say she's going to wear some boots with her dress but an expert would suggest toughening up a simple dress with a chunky boot. You might stick on some trainers with a denim dress but an editor might prompt you to add a sports luxe edge with a fresh white trainer. A patent boot or a blouson sleeve sound more like tools of the trade and less like something anyone can get their hands on in Topshop. It conveys a sense of knowledge and credibility. Unfortunately, it also sounds completely ludicrous. Do we wear only one boot or a single trouser leg? Do we pop on only one sleeve or sport a solitary heel? No. So it needs to stop. Immediately.

Please, just let boots be boots.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Worth the Wait

Burberry have released a preview of their see-now-buy-now 'seasonless' collection. Not only is it unusual for a brand to release new collection teases before the official show during fashion week, it's also big news for the industry; marking a definitive shift in the fashion calendar.

Image: Burberry/Testino

It's not a surprising move. It's been talked about for seasons, with Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger having announced their intentions to follow the new model and the likes of Moschino, Michael Kors and Prada having already done straight-from-catwalk releases. It's also an answer to the issue of the high street producing knock offs before the real thing has even hit the rails. Ever since fashion week transformed from an industry event into a public spectacle, high fashion has become more accessible than ever as the trickle down effect has reached warp speed. Great for those on a budget, not so great for those selling the original designs 3 months after they've graced the rails of Topshop.

Burberry's collection, combining menswear and womenswear, will launch in store on the same day that it hits the catwalk. I completely understand the move. It's arguably the only way to beat the highstreet and it plays into the immediacy of modern marketing and social media. It's understandable. Necessary, even. But waiting for something makes it all the more tantalising and removing that wait extracts a part of the magic.

As a child, some time around mid November, you would write a letter to Father Christmas. In my case, I would trawl through the pages of the Argos catalogue and list whatever it was my heart desired that particular year. The wait was what made the whole thing exciting. The six week long anticipation allowed my level of yearning to reach boiling point, so that by the time Christmas day came round I could barely contain myself when the time came to tear open the wrapping paper. 

The see-now-buy-now model will rob consumers of that giddy, delicious anticipation and the weeks or months of imagining all the ways that a particular dress, coat or bag will wildly enhance their lives. I've scanned magazines and dreamed of an entirely new life that would be bestowed upon me if only I could own a particularly dramatic skirt or a heavily embellished blazer. I'd be the type of person who does yoga before work, who always carries cash and who has a signature scent. If I could go and buy that magical garment on the same day I saw it, I'd know within 24 hours that, actually, an extra hour in bed always trumps feeling 'centred' and that my only scent is whatever deodorant is on offer in Wilko's. 

Not only does waiting build excitement and prolong preposterous dreams, it also avoids those big mistakes. "Yes, my wardrobe is all black but think of all the ways I can wear this lime green sequin jumpsuit!", you think as you hand over your debit card, mere minutes away from buyer's remorse. Hours of listing unworn, ill-advised purchases on eBay has taught me that a little time between initial lust and parting with your money is necessary when deciding how much you truly love something. I've saved a sizeable chunk since implementing this rule and excited, sweaty palmed fashion fans may do well to remember that the latest thing ≠ the best thing ever. Impulse buying is the stage for regrettable purchases.

So, yes, it seems as though the see-now-buy-now may be the logical conclusion brands are coming to in order shake things up and drive sales but I will argue that incredible fashion is always worth the wait and, in fact, the wait makes it even sweeter. 

Monday, 8 August 2016

No Sew T-Shirt DIY: The Tote Bag

Ain’t nobody got time for harming animals, polluting the sea, adding to landfill, or 5p bag charges, so in the second instalment of my No Sew T-Shirt DIY posts, I’m going to show you how to make a super cool, reusable tote bag.

You can use any t-shirt you like; the bigger the t-shirt, the bigger the bag. I happened to find one languishing in my boyfriend’s drawer with boxer Marvelous Marvin Hagler gracing the front and decided to co-opt it for this project. (I got his permission to use it. Please don’t start cutting up your significant other’s clothes without asking, I can’t be held responsible for any ensuing arguments). T-shirt trivia: Marv got so sick of the announcers not referring to him by his ‘Marvelous’ nickname that he had it legally changed so they had no choice but to use it.

The Tote Bag

To make the tote bag you will need:

- A t-shirt
- A pair of scissors
- Chalk or a washable marker

Step 1
Cut the sleeves off each side.

Step 2
Using your chalk or marker, draw a curve under the collar. Make the curve shallow if you want a handbag and deeper if you want a shoulder bag.

Step 3
Cut along the line. This creates the handles.

Step 4
Before starting this step, you may want to shorten the t-shirt by 10 or so centimetres so the bag isn't overly long. Once you've lopped the bottom off, draw a line 10 cm from the bottom of the t-shirt and cut upwards in 1-2 cm intervals.

Step 5
Knot each pair of tassels together.

Step 6
In the words of Jennifer Anniston, here comes the science bit. To fill the holes between each not, lay the pairs of tassels one up, one down as shown in the photo. Next, tie each top tassel to the bottom tassel on its left. If that makes no sense, I simplified it with a diagram to avoid any confusion. Just tie A to B all the way along.

Step 7
Finally, fill your bag with books, snacks and money for ice cream and head out for an adventure.

This feature originally appeared on Sistrhood.

Friday, 29 July 2016

No Sew T-Shirt DIY: The One-Shoulder T-Shirt

It takes 2720 litres of water to make a single t-shirt. To put that into perspective, that’s how much we drink over the course of 3 years. And yet we churn them out at an alarming rate. We’re swimming in the things. Generally they’re cheap to buy, which means they’re one of the most disposable items in our wardrobe. It only takes a trip to your local charity shop to see how many t-shirts are thrown by the wayside: Jenny’s Hen Do Magaluf 2011, band merch, obscure American sports teams; the list goes on.

So, to save our planet, charity shops and pyjama drawers from the burden of unworn t-shirts, I'm bringing you two no sew DIY projects to bring new life to those jersey cast-offs. Here's the first...

The One-Shoulder T-Shirt

The off-the-shoulder top is undoubtedly one of the biggest trends for SS16 but, let’s face it, once a trend hits the rails in ASDA, its days are numbered. So, in light of this, I see your off-the-shoulder top and I raise you a one-shoulder t-shirt. It provides all of the shoulder liberation (well, half) with none of the worry about your Mum turning up in the same outfit.

To make the one-shoulder t-shirt you will need:

 - A t-shirt
- A pair of scissors
- Chalk or a washable marker

Step 1
Using your chalk or marker, draw a line from one side to the other, starting just under the neckline and ending just under the armhole.

Step 2
Cut along the line (save the spare sleeve for later).

Step 3
Cut along the side seam of the armless side.

Step 4
Create ties at the top, middle and bottom of the t-shirt by cutting 5-10cm inwards (depending on desired fit) and cutting away the excess fabric as shown. Measure for accuracy, or approximate like I did and get it ever so slightly wrong. The choice is yours.

Step 5 (Extra credit)
Snip the bottom 10cm off the bottom of the spare sleeve to wear as a matching cuff or choker.

Step 6
Now, tie those sides, put on that choker and live your truth as the pulled together, co-ordinated individual you always knew you were.

This feature originally appeared on Sistrhood.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

On Repeat

Repeating outfits is a hotly debated topic. Is in uncool to outfit repeat? When is it acceptable? Can you wear the same outfit twice in one week? Some fashion publications consider it tacky or a fashion faux pas, whilst others consider it to be a marker of a down to earth personality and a frugal mindset. Take Kate Middleton, for example; whenever she repeats an outfit you'd be forgiven for thinking she's cured famine, such is the praise she receives. Others are not so lucky; pegged as being 'caught out', questioned as to why they'd wear something twice when they can afford not to. (Side note: if I were to start a bitchy column documenting celebrities repeating outfits, I'd definitely call it Repeat Offenders).

In the world of fast fashion, it's deemed perfectly acceptable to wear an outfit once before either binning, donating or selling it because it has served its purpose. As a non-wasteful, non-millionaire I don't and can't subscribe to this one-wear school of thought. Not only that but I have a selection of favourites in high rotation at any given time. Not only am I not afraid of wearing the same top or pair or trousers a few times in the same week, I'm also wholly on board with wearing the same outfit two days in a row. Firstly, I work from home so my outfits are often 'wasted' (a subject which you can read about here) and secondly, if an outfit is truly perfect, it surely deserves a second outing.

Currently on high rotation are: a pair of wide leg polka dot trousers, a blue candy stripe skirt, any and all neckerchiefs and a lemon print denim jacket. Until I wear them out like and grow tired of them like a new song, they will continue to see the light of day multiple times a week and I will feel precisely zero sartorial shame.

Jacket: River Island (old), Shirt, trousers, bag, neckerchief and jewellery: vintage, Shoes: ASOS (old)

Dress, trousers, neckerchief and jewellery: vintage, Bag: Pineapple Retro, Sandals: River Island (old). I also had the lemon jacket this day but it was too hot to wear it!

These two photos were taken about a month apart on a couple of rare summer days, so clearly my current crop of favourites are in no danger of falling off the hot list any time soon.

Don't limit how often you can wear your favourite clothes for fear of being an 'outfit repeater' (a phrase which, according to google, will hold significance for Lizzie McGuire fans). If you love them, wear them seven days a week if you feel like it. Perhaps give them a wash midweek though...