Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Layer Up

I have a complicated relationship with winter. Firstly, I despise being cold. I spend almost the entirety of winter wrapped in blankets, hunched over hot water bottles, saying "feel how cold my nose is" to my boyfriend. Secondly, I loathe dark evenings. You better believe I've uttered the sentence, "ugh it feels like it's the middle of the night!" at least five times a week since daylight savings began. Thirdly, each winter the universe conspires to place me, at all times, within at least 5 feet of a compulsive sniffer or an open mouth cougher. 

BUT, despite the germs and the dark and the cold, this time of year is also sort of my spiritual home because it facilitates me wearing an inordinate amount of clothes on any given day. So, while Vogue continues, inexplicably, to extol the virtues of bare legs in winter, I'm trying to work out the logistics of wearing two jumpers without looking I'm partaking in a YouTube challenge.

I think it's clear by now that 'less is more' means absolutely nothing to me, so I've decided to take you on the rollercoaster that is my layering process. Strap in, it's about to get cosy.

Almost every single winter outfit starts with a turtleneck because, of course. So, leaving the formalities of layering aside for a moment, let's take some time to focus on my jeans because they cost me a mere £5 and happen to feature the most exquisite green stitching and a very pleasing centre crease. I can only assume the previous owner was some sort of Guinness world record holder as I had to lop a full 20 centimetres off each leg. But back to business. Next up is a printed shirt to bring some colour to proceedings and then the obligatory neckerchief because what is a turtleneck if not a blank canvas for a jaunty neck accessory?

After that it's coat number one. This vintage ski jacket featured in my snappily titled 'Vintage Clothes That Totally Look Designer' post earlier this year and I'm still very much on board with its Miu Miu-esque vibes. Adding to its already lofty credentials, it's a lot warmer than it looks and a double zip means I can create some shape and avoid looking like a toilet roll tube. I've deftly neglected to demonstrate that particular detail here.

After coat number one comes coat number two. Not strictly a coat, but this monster is about as warm as knitwear gets (or faux knitwear as I'm no longer buying wool - more on that soon). I found this blanket-masquerading-as-garment in a flea market in Berlin and it's one of those pieces that gets compliments every time I wear it. Maybe it's the extravagant blouson sleeves.

Lastly, it's hat and scarf time. Frankly, this could have been one image but I needed an even number so here we are. I made the scarf a couple of years ago as a post-Christmas treat for myself when my generous spirit began to wither after weeks of crocheting gifts for other people, and the hat came at the hefty price of £2 from a vintage shop. Both the scarf and hat are near permanent features about my person throughout winter.

So, there you have the secrets of layering laid bare. Stuff over stuff over more stuff, essentially. And you will find me in this cocooned state for approximately 3 months until the weather forces me to do otherwise. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

The Party Season Style Guide We Actually Need

If I'm to take the magazines I read and the marketing emails I receive as a barometer for my social life, I should be attending at least ten Christmas parties this year. How many do I currently have in my diary? Zero. 

Don't worry, this isn't a cry for sympathy. As I write this I'm wearing a blanket that has sleeves, which is perhaps an accurate sartorial metaphor for precisely how in the party mood winter makes me feel. On occasion, I like to muse on flitting from party to party swathed in velvet, weighed down by outlandishly huge earrings but then I remember how impossibly stressed I feel when anyone invites me to anything that starts after 8pm and I come back down to earth with a thud. 

As a child, I always wished I was older but as I edge towards my late(ish) twenties that has translated to a mental age of somewhere around 75. So, whilst I will happily scroll through page after page of velvet blazers, twinkling party dresses and Bowie-esque shoes, mentally creating show-stopping party outfits, what I really need (and I'm sure I'm not alone here) is a realistic party season style guide. One more suited to a less high-octane Christmas social calendar. Oh look, here's one...

Activity: Watching Elf and eating a tub of ice cream

The oversized silhouette of this cosy jumper will work with the curves of your impossibly bloated stomach. Teal joggers will infuse your look with a flash of colour and contrast fabulously with your sagging sofa cushions. Opt for monochrome socks to pull the look together and accessorise with a spoon that you can use to dig through the mountains of ice cream.

Jumper: Max Mara, Joggers: Baja East, Socks: Marni, Spoon: John Lewis

Activity: Staying up late to create beautiful gift wrap that will inevitably be torn apart

As you painstakingly curl the ends of each length of ribbon that will be cast aside without a second thought as your loved one desperately strains to see if you spent as much on them as they did on you, put comfort first with a pair of lightweight poplin pyjamas. You might be tempted to choose flannel but don't forget how much you stress sweat when you just.can' A sumptuous silk dressing gown will provide all the warmth you need if you start to feel a chill. Echo the luxury of the fabric in your footwear with plush slippers and add a playful edge with pompoms that will almost certainly be in danger of being mistaken for a decoration and snipped off by an errant pair of scissors.

Pyjamas: Three J NYC, Dressing gown: Olivia von Halle, Slippers: Dickins & Jones

Activity: Sitting in quiet despair as you wonder where the year has gone

The tree is up, the presents have been bought, now all that's left to do is panic about exactly how little you've achieved this year. Your mate on Facebook has been on three different spiritual journeys and you've spent 200+ hours watching videos of unlikely animal friendships BUT there's no reason why you can't look fabulous while you're doing it. Literally nothing can make you feel like you've got your life together like a well cut shirt, so let this striped number swaddle you as you question every decision you've made since January. Pair it with the matching trousers for a pyjama mind set with a high fashion aesthetic. Complement the look with a blanket in contrasting tones under which you can hide until January arrives with a whole new dose of reality check.

Shirt and trousers: Isabel Marant, Blanket:

Friday, 4 November 2016


Despite my best intentions, I haven't yet formally declared my undying love for crochet on this blog. If I could, I would live out my days in a large yet not ostentatious, semi-minimal/semi-cosy loft, crocheting under a blanket with my cat on my lap. 

There's nothing quite as soothing as the process of making something from nothing (well, yarn). And, the added bonus is that busy hands mean I sidestep that now almost instinctive itch to grab my phone and scroll through Instagram or read article after article about brave dogs recovering from a hard start in life (although the latter is arguably a great way to pass the time too). I started just over three years ago by following a granny square tutorial on YouTube and I've been hooked (sorry) every since. 

From watching videos to learning how to follow patterns, to then developing my own patterns and designs, I slowly built up my craft and inflicted it upon my loved ones by crocheting almost every birthday and Christmas gift for the past three years. But, aside from gifts and those triangle crop tops that, much like a re-aggregating sponge, become a single moving mass each year at Coachella, crochet is very much a winter thing. Scarves, gloves, hats, jumpers, it's all autumn/winter-focused and I wanted to create something that I could wear all year. That's when I discovered jersey yarn.

Created from textile off-cuts in order to minimise waste, jersey yarn is bold, chunky and fun to work with. So, after stocking up I opened my shop, named after this blog, and started designing and making jewellery, accessories and homeware.

The off-centre Russian doll (second from left) makes me die inside

Crocheting gives me the freedom to make whatever I'm in the mood for, rather than waiting to find it online or in a shop. Last year I wanted a chunky, colour block scarf. Instead of buying one, I made my own that no one else will have. A few weeks ago, I fancied a mini, multi coloured handbag, so I found the perfect marble handles and set to work. I've spoken before about our need to reconnect with making in order to truly value what we wear and crocheting certainly helps with that. 

In a sudden wave of appreciation for my own craftiness, I decided to style an outfit around my two favourite crocheted accessories; the first chunky ring necklace I ever made and my most recent project: the aforementioned mini handbag. The handbag is highly impractical as I have to carry two enormous EpiPens with me wherever I go but what does that matter when it's so deliciously bright? The tones were perfect for pairing with my new vintage skirt which I found in a Berlin charity shop for just €8. I added my favourite pink boots and, hey presto, an outfit worth rounding up my boyfriend and his camera for. 

So, to sum up, crochet 4eva. IDST. 

If you'd like me to crochet something for you, head over to the Colours May Vary Shop.