Thursday, 30 December 2010

Stand and Deliver


Look what Santa delivered!

It's the floor length shearling coat that I was salivating over last October from the Nigel Preston Knight collection!! I still can't quite believe it myself and have to keep going back into my wardrobe to stroke it and remind me that I wasn't dreaming the whole thing!

Mr V. bless his heart, did indeed have words with Santa.  I truly do not deserve such a doting boyfriend but he did say he was rather tired of hearing me complain about the cold.  Well, no excuses now!


Back in October, when I waxed lyrical about this coat, Sarah from Cloud of Secrets put an idea of playing up on the highwayman's influence on the cut of this amazing coat with her comment:
     "I can see the 18th century and other historical inspirations in the cut and fall. This thing was made to be worn by you -- I hope boyfriend dearest sees it, too! Then you can tie a nice silk scarf to cover your face, choose some tall boots, find a brace of pistols and a fast horse (midnight black), and hold up some elegant carriages on rural highways all winter long."


My sister and I were big fans of a television series about the adventures of the infamous London highwayman Dick Turpin when we were kids and later I was also a big fan of Adam Ant!  So especially for you Sarah, I give you the shearling clad, headless highway woman of Brixton.

I'm clearly missing a pair of good flint lock pistols, a tricorn hat and a trusty steed.  I'm also mixing up ye olde historical references using harems and over the knee boots as a modern day doublet and hose.  Yeah I know - wrong century, but hey the shirt is Edwardian and I have the excuse of being a feckless Australian with no sense of European history.


Now if you'll excuse me I have to go frequent ye olde local tavern before cruising the local highway looking for an unsuspecting Net-a-Porter van to accost for all the sales goodies inside.  Hmmm... Might be a bit difficult when the only thing I have capable of shooting anything is a Nikon SLR camera.

Shearling Coat, Nigel Preston Knight; Harem trousers, Kaylee Tankus; OTK Boots, Karen Millen; Edwardian riding shirt, vintage; Silk scarf, Kate Moss for Topshop; Velvet waistcoat, designed and sewn by me.

And a little something for the Adam Ant fans:


Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas and Friend Friday


It's Friend Friday again and this Christmas edition of Friend Friday is brought to you by the MaxMara Christmas tree! Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic and if you would like to participate email Katy at katy_rose1@yahoo.com.

I'm back in London for Christmas despite the travel chaos incited by the recent cold weather. I was almost disappointed on arrival early Wednesday morning to see that all the snow in the city had melted as I had worked myself up to the idea that we would be having a white Christmas. I did however travel from 18 oC in Seville to about -8oC at Stansted airport so I promptly developed a cold the next day which kept me bed ridden.

Before I went to Spain I got to go on a buying trip for the boutique Image and check out the Autumn Winter collection for 2011/2012 from MaxMara who had this wonderful Christmas tree in their lobby.  The great thing about fashion buying is that it feels like an intimate form of window shopping, getting to see, feel and try on lots of beautiful clothes, selecting and adding things you like to a rail, all in the comforting knowledge that someone else is going to be footing the bill.  Shopping without the guilt!

I spent the day photographing clothes on the models.  It is very interesting what a difference a good model makes to selling clothes.  I've been on enough buying trips now to realise that there are some girls who have an instinctive understanding of how to wear clothes and others who don't have a clue.  Although you wouldn't think it would make a difference to how a garment looks and falls I can tell you from observation, it does.  You begin to understand why the likes of Kate Moss get paid what they do when there are millions of pounds of expensive stock at stake.

There were some very covetable and elegant clothes and accessories on offer from both the S and Weekend lines which made my Christmas wish list for next year (yep - starting already).

And on that note I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


And now to the Friend Friday Christmas questions:

1. Your favorite holiday memory:

Spending Christmas in Rome with Mr V. and going to midnight mass in Balisicia di Santa Maria in Trastevere which is one of the oldest churches in Rome.  Apart from being held in the exceptionally stunning surroundings of this ancient church, the midnight mass was made a truly magical experience by the music during the service.  The hauntingly beautiful and uplifting rendition of ancient hymns by priests with world class singing voices was unforgettable.

Image Source: New Liturgical Movement

2. Were you ever a victim of those family Christmas party photo shoots? What do you think about them now? Care to share an old photo?

Although I don't have an example to share everyone in my family loves taking and being in photos at every opportunity so I never feel a victim.  There is a shared understanding that photos at family events is all about remembering the love and togetherness that bonds our family and that one day looking back through these photos will bring back happy memories.  I love looking through old photos to see how everyone has grown up or grown older.  Its also fun to have a snicker at my sister and I working our eighties looks as young teenagers.  Yeah - I did the eighties the first time around.

3. Best Christmas gift you ever gave:

Giving up my last job last year to be able to be with my Grandfather in Australia for what would be his last Christmas.

4. Craziest/funniest holiday family tradition:

My family's Christmas traditions are fairly straight forward but I often spend Christmas in England with Mr V's family.  They have kept up a tradition of continuing to play the Santa sock tradition for the adults with someone sneaking into all the rooms at night and leaving an old sock filled with a collection of small silly toys and humorous knick knacks for each person in the house.  Past scores for me have been a wooden frog clock, glittery coloured fake eyelashes with matching nail polish for me and one year Mr V. received a miniature inflatable squashy silver alien.

5. Favorite type of Christmas cookie:

A big Christmas tradition in my family is to stay up late on Christmas Eve with my Mum and help her make Soogee biscuits and pineapple jam tarts, both of which are my favourite Christmas cookies.

It always use to be the job of my sister and I to decorate the pineapple jam tarts with little pastry decorations like Christmas trees, stars or Christmas angels with the spare pastry.   Since my sister has moved out of home this job has been left to me when I am visiting Australia for Christmas and in recent years Mr. V has gotten into the act too.  Though he takes the decoration job a little too seriously - miniature replica of scene of the giant squid attacking the Black Pearl in Pirates of the Caribbean? That's upping the ante on Christmas cookie decoration somewhat!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

What is it with Topshop and Studs?

Image from Topshop

Behold the studded trapper hat for the Topshop AW collection as seen in promotional campaign photographs earlier this year.  Since clapping my eyes on this beauty I have been checking Topshop's website obsessively, waiting for it to come into stock. I had grand visions of late night walks home from the tube becoming suddenly hassle free, with me glaring menacingly from beneath this crowning glory at pesky Brixtonian drug dealers who would part like the Red Sea before me in fear.

However, what has actually appeared online at Topshop is this:

Image from Topshop

Not quite the same.  Perhaps if I had never seen the original I might have been more impressed, instead I am left feeling quite let down.  So too must the Topshop design team when they compare this pale version of urban armour against their original design sample.

What is it with Topshop and studs?  I complained in a previous post about how an eagerly anticipated pair of Louise Goldin spiked shoes designed for Topshop fell short of the original designer's vision by way of the skimping on the spikes and studding details that went into the final product.

So what happened between the design desk and production line this time TS? Did we lose several thousands of packets of spiked studs along the way?  Did we not pass health and safety restrictions??

I do think that Topshop has a great design team but it is not the first time I have seen some great design visions go from promotion phase to disappointing product.

I was also awaiting these spiked gloves and scarf.  The gloves are in stock online too (see below) and although they're not bad in themselves they are still missing what the original had, that essential and audacious detail of a row of spikes on the knuckles.  Again I wonder if there was some health and safety line crossed that resulted in the spikes being moved to the wrist instead.  Once again though - close but no cigar!  I wonder what will become of the scarf!

Image from Topshop

Friday, 17 December 2010

Friend Friday: Holiday party attire

Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email katy_rose1@yahoo.com

This year seemed to be rather short on invitations to flash parties in the run up to Christmas in London so my holiday party attire is going to be quite casual in comparison to years gone by.  The bitter cold we've had recently wasn't really helping to get me into a festive mood and I fled the country last weekend!  I am actually currently spending ten days in the south of Spain with friends and flamenco before returning to England for what looks like a very quiet Christmas and New Year.

1. Which holiday party are you looking forward to attending this year?

Tonight I will be attending a Zambomba, a traditional Christmas celebration where the locals gather to sing and play Christmas carols in flamenco style (villancicos).

Zambomba (source: Opiniones)

They are often held in patios of the old Andalucian houses or outdoors in the plazas.  The zambomba is actually the name of a strange looking drum which traditionally accompanies these types of carols.

The Zambomba

Zambombas are very informal family events and people of all ages attend.  A lot of sherry is consumed, in part to keep warm.  In the town I'm currently staying people also get up and dance a particular flamenco party dance called bulerias which is danced solo with one person singing and everyone else cheering the dancer onI've included a few videos throughout the post to show you what the fun looks like!




2. What is your go-to holiday party outfit?

This so depends on where I am for the festive season.

In the years running up to the recession the office parties I attended in London were usually black tie events, some of them themed.  I would either wear a sparkly dress covered in sequins or a black lace dress with a feathery bolero, sky scraper heels and piles of jewellery.  I even wore a vintage top hat and tails to one of them and a black lace flapper dress and feather boa to another.

Sadly there hasn't been many of these events since the recession went into overdrive and Christmas office parties are now much lower key events that partners/wifes/husbands/other halves aren't even invited to anymore.

Some years I spend Christmas in Australia with my family where it is summer and it can get extremely hot.  My holiday party outfit is usually something floaty, summery and cool to cope with eating lots of food at family events in the forty degree heat!  And it isn't unheard of for us to end up in our bathers taking a dip in someone's pool on Christmas Day after Christmas lunch.

This year in the run up to Christmas will be quite a change.  As I will be partying outdoors in zambombas in the milder, but still formidable Andalucian winter, I'll be dressing casually and wearing something to keep me warm until the sherry starts having an effect - coat, snood, woolly hat and boots.  I'll also dress to be comfortable in case I have to strut my stuff on the dancefloor por bulerias!



3. Do you go dressed in something that would be impractical to wear at any other time of the year?

Are sequins, feathers and sky scraper heels impractical?

4. If you are going to a house-party what gift will you bring to the host/hostess?

Looks like no house parties for me this year but we would usually bring a good bottle of wine or champagne if we attended one.

5. If you could buy only one trendy piece to update your holiday party wardrobe, what would you get this year?

Only one? Bad me, I've already bought two.  An oversized charcoal feather coat and a pair of cropped leather biker trousers both by Topshop.  Although I did say my holiday party attire was going to be quite casual, I can't seem to leave the feathers alone despite no black tie event on the cards.  I have however, swapped sequins and lace for leather.

Although Mr V and I still haven't planned what we are doing yet I am hoping to wear these together for New Year's Eve!


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Andalucia


Being a bit of twenty first century gypsy I get itchy feet staying in one place for too long.  Sometimes I decide to go travelling on a whim so I have fled the cold in England and am back in Andalucia for a short while.

This is a place which feels very much like a home away from home.  I recognise the smell of the winter here as soon as it hits my nostrils and the dense humidity enters my lungs.  I recognise the distinctive tunes sung by the church bells in each neighbourhood.  Here I arrive and there are friends waiting to greet me and a place for me to stay.  I navigate the streets like a native even though I might not remember their names.  I know which bar does the best and cheapest tapas, where the cola de toro stew melts in your mouth, where the waiters will top my glass up with Rioja while only charging me for one as well as invite me to a shot of limoncello after I've eaten.  I know where I can have a quiet coffee and read the paper before my first flamenco class.  I know which tailor to take my costumes to be adjusted, which shoemaker will mend my flamenco shoes, the cheapest studios to hire for rehearsing and the classes in which the flamenco teachers greet me like an old friend returning.

Sometimes my flamenco life just takes over.  If you think blogging can become an obsession it is a pale shadow compared to flamenco and having this home away from home has opened up my world in ways I would never have imagined.

Where is your home away from home?

Friday, 10 December 2010

Friend Friday - Reader Connectedness

Tea dress: Mango

This week's Friend Friday is another in the series of blogging navel gazing and the topic is our readers and reader connectedness.  Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email katy_rose1@yahoo.com

1. How important do you think reader connectedness is to the success of your blog?

I think it depends on what you define success.  I certainly think a successful blog is one that engages its readers.  My goal in starting the blog however wasn't about gaining readers, it was and still is to develop my writing skills on a regular basis. In that respect it has been very successful in helping me realise that goal.  Even if I didn't have any readers I think I would still use a blog as a platform to explore my writing.

So is a blog that nobody reads any different from scribbling in a notebook that goes back onto a bookshelf?  In a notebook I can write whatever I please.  I might have nobody commenting or no hits on my blog but as long as it is open to public view there is still going to remain the idea, the possibility, that someone might see it and that immediately changes everything.  That alone makes me put much more effort into my writing.  No stream of consciousness, blue sky thinking and rubbish punctuation.  That's for the notebooks.  A blog is for some prose with a bit more polish with the added benefit of combining it with imagery.

There has never really been a lack of motivation on my part to write a post for this blog in the absence of a large audience.  If you want to write you are going to do it whatever.  I did blog for six months with just one reader to my knowledge - a dear friend I trusted and shared it with.  My friend would (and still does) tell me her thoughts on the odd post via email or over coffee and convinced me to make it public so she could read it without signing into her Google account.  If it wasn't for that initial encouragement and kick out into the blogosphere from my first reader I might still be blogging away behind the scenes.

That said I do think that interaction with readers makes a huge impact on your blog and as a writer.  It's suddenly like walking out onto stage and realising that there are people in the audience and they are watching, waiting to see what you will do.  It is intimidating, yet exhilarating at the same time - you suddenly want to give them the best performance you can.  I am also very fortunate that I have readers who actually read my posts, leave very thoughtful, encouraging comments telling me when they have found the posts engaging and who return to read more.  It has turned blogging to meet a personal goal into a very rewarding and enriching experience.

2. What do you do to draw readers in and create that writer-reader bond?

Sometimes I try to be entertaining, sometimes I try to make people think, sometimes I'll just share something I find beautiful or interesting.  But always, I put a lot of effort into writing well.

For several reasons I've chosen to blog anonymously and not show my face in photos.  This probably puts me at a distinct disadvantage to other bloggers whose readers have a name and face to put to a blogging voice. Although I'll admit that it probably makes it easier for people to relate to a blogger whose face they can see I don't think it is strictly necessary in order to engage readers.  As a result of my perceived disadvantage I try to inject my writing with more personality to compensate, which can only be a good thing for the reader.  For the record some of my favourite blogs are written by anonymous or pseudonymed faceless bloggers.  I find that because the blogger can't rely on a pretty smile to gloss over what amounts to inane prattling a lot more thought actually goes into the content.

I've noticed that my posts that have received the strongest response from readers (and I don't necessarily mean number of comments here) is when I talk a bit more about my personal life, such as when I answer questionnaires about my wardrobe or my favourite things or ten random facts.  I guess everybody harbours some curiosity about the people behind the blogs they read.


3. What is one way you could improve this connection?

I am happy so far with the connection I have with my readers and can only recount what I currently do. I don't buy into the advice that is often tossed around that you should find out what your readers want and give it to them, or pander to some notion that your blog has to be useful and helpful to people in order to increase your readership.  I would rather be true to what I want to do creatively and connect with readers who appreciate that.

My stance is that if you love doing something you will be motivated to do it and to do it well, even if you don't have an audience or are not being paid.  If the love for what you do shines through then there will always be readers who will find what you have to offer engaging.  If I pursued doing something that I didn't really have an interest in just to court favour with readers than the lack of interest would soon show in the posts.

I think the most effective way of connecting both as a reader and a blogger is through commenting.  I always try my best to reply to comments on my blog - so if you leave a comment check back on the comment board in a few days.  Nine times out of ten I will get back to you.  I also try to visit and read my readers blogs and leave meaningful comments. Commenting makes everything feel a little more like a conversation albeit a short (and sweet) one.

4. Is there a blogger you think does a great job creating that writer-reader bond? Why? 

I'm not going to name names or pick just one because there are so many with their own distinct merits.  I will say that the underlying theme would be blogs that have personality.  A lot of the blogs I get drawn into let you into their personal life just enough to get you interested in them in people.  Also if I know that after leaving a comment that the blogger is likely to reply I'll return to read the reply - now in these social networking times of a thousand facebook friends you've never even met that sort of behaviour must count as a serious relationship!

There are also some blogs I find really engaging that are not really about writing and more about imagery.  I may not be a reader but I am still digesting the content and returning for more.  Some are just awesome outfits and styling - I am a fashion addict after all and in fashion a picture can say a thousand words.   However others are more a moodboard or scrapbook collated by the blogger from which one can draw inspiration, or equally build up a mental picture of the blogger as a person in the same way you would walking around an exhibition pondering the curated works of an absent artist.


5. What do you do to cultivate new readers? How do you get them to your site in the first place?

Not that much, I spend most of my blogging time writing the post!  I think most of my readers came from joining IFB and participating in Friend Friday.  I post an alert about my new posts on the wire at IFB and I always submit a post on IFB's Links a la Mode regardless of whether I think it is going to get included or not - I figure some poor sod has got to read it and hey, they just might like it enough to read something else I've written.

Visiting other blogs and commenting has brought some readers and funnily enough so has having an active presence on Twitter.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Not Quite So Grey


Zero degrees here in London.  Went for brunch with a very dear friend yesterday and was determined to beat the cold and look feminine for a change! So I pulled out this wool grey maxi dress I bought last winter and which hasn't seen enough light of day since.

I have two of everything on here! Two turtlenecks, two pairs of tights and two long sleeved wool maxi-dresses!  You might see the hem of the black merino wool maxi I'm wearing peeking out underneath.  I put on a wide corset style belt to disguise the lumpy join of the tights and turtlenecks under the clinginess of the dresses and to get some semblance of a waistline back after piling on the layers to sausage-like proportions.  That was just enough to keep me toasty.

I was originally going to wear a black cape but then I realised I would have been in yet another black and grey outfit.  I knew I had to do break up the black and grey somehow so my efforts were to use this pale gold crocheted statement necklace with silver stones and to wear a pale coat instead of resorting to my normal black.

As much as I love the shearling aviator jacket trend (well shearling everything in these temperatures) I really can not justify another hefty shearling jacket purchase because I already have one that I love.  It was actually a present from Mr V about seven years ago along with a matching Russian czarina style hat.  They both come out on chilly sunny days every year and keep me very warm indeed.  Both are also reversible so if I want to I can wear them with the pink fluffy shearling side showing on the outside.

I'm already getting a little bored of my white wall photographs but I don't think I'd be posting photos at all if it wasn't for it.  I took the camera out yesterday as I wanted to take some photos of my girlfriend looking very glam in a very now double leopard outfit: a sequined embellished leopard print tee, a faux leopard coat and studded biker boots.  But I was very disappointed with the light available to me.  Already at two or three in the afternoon the light here is overcast and grey and by four the sun has gone down.

I think my Christmas wish list is going to include a decent flash as the one I currently have on the camera makes for very garish night photos that aren't very flattering to my subjects.  I'm also wondering if a photography course would be useful in showing me tricks to get the most out of dying winter light or low lighting in indoors environments like cafes or bars without resorting to bringing in large reflective umbrellas and brick sized flash bulbs.

Any hints from you more seasoned photographers out there about how to get around these light problems?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Friend Friday - Blogging Burnout

Coat: MaxMara, Marl Harems: Whistles, Boots: Gap, Cardigan: She' So
Hello I'm Veshoevius and I am addicted to wearing harem trousers in all their incarnations.  I'm happy to say I avoided wearing all black today by wearing my winter coat of yesterday's post with erm... multiple shades of grey. (Okay, okay, colour still eluding me in my winter fashion challenge here! I'm learning, I'm learning).

I'm also really happy I found the perfect cashmere snood today in grey (doh!). This is my slouching in the snow look.  This Spring I probably would have worn these marl wool mix harems with high heels and a diaphanous top and been good to go out on the town in London.  Now they are one of the warmest things I have in my wardrobe and are stopping my legs from freezing in the snow (along with my legwarmers)!

But I digress - it is Friend Friday again and this weeks questions are about blogger burnout.  Sounds so easy doesn't it. Take a few photos, play around with them a bit, write something vaguely entertaining and voila - post!  But we all know what the time consuming reality is really like! According to a quick questionnaire I filled out on Grit and Glamour's IFB post I also seem to be addicted to blogging. But am I?

1. How many hours a week do you spend blogging? Has that number changed since you started blogging?

Too much probably. To be honest I haven't counted. I just pitch up to the computer and post when I feel like it as I'm fairly free at the moment. When I first started blogging I was on a gruelling rehearsal and dance schedule in Spain which has abated since returning to London where I am between jobs as they say. So my blog gets more attention that it would have had I been working full time.  Believe me if I was on my usual schedule of full time job plus dancing you wouldn't be hearing from me nearly as much.


2. There is always more you can do, write, read, comment on... how do you limit your time spent on these tasks?

I should probably put more limits on it because it is time consuming and I get absorbed by it all. But hey - tasks? What is this? Blogging Big Brother? Who says I have to do anything? I get given tasks by a boss who pays me money in exchange for my services, not by a social media phenomenon.

Seriously if anyone thinks they NEED to do any of this you need to get a grip.  The key here is balance.  It is hard enough to find a work life balance without adding a blog life balance into the equation.

There seems to be a sort of blog rat race going on that I am quite happy to watch scurrying by me as it heads towards its inevitable end off Blogger Burnout Cliff.  Lately I got a whiff of some competition to leave 500 comments.  Have you all gone completely mad?  Between your jobs, posting, facebooking and twittering and setting yourselves these unreasonable goals do you actually have time to do anything else?  If you are posting daily chances are people like me are only getting around to read one fifth of your posts anyway or skim read several in one Google reader fest.

If I don't feel like posting or don't have time I don't.  I may read or comment instead of posting but if I don't have time to do that either then I will do it if and when I get the time.  I'm motivated because there are actually a lot of fabulous blogs out there and the connections I've made with the bloggers is a lot of fun but we all have lives off the internet to attend to!  I don't expect people to read or comment on every post I put out there and I hope people will understand that I can't read and comment on all of theirs either.


3. Have you experienced Blogger burnout yet? How have you dealt with that?

No. I don't subject myself to this pressure to post daily or because I have to.  I post when I want to and that is if I've had some inspiration of what I want to say and something I've photographed that I'm happy with. I'm enjoying learning about photography so that perhaps that interest is keeping any fatigue at bay.

Also I doubt I would let it get to the stage of burnout.  Why would you?  Maybe it is because I have held down so many highly stressful and time consuming jobs in the past that I find it a totally alien concept to force that kind of extra stress onto myself doing something I am supposed to be enjoying.

By the way I love this snood!

Tops and Snood: Cos, Legwarmers: Bloch
4. This time of the year is always a lot busier than any other time. Will your blogging change as a result? 

Quite possibly.  I doubt I'll post as much except to wish everyone Merry Christmas!


5. Could you forsee a moment in which you are not blogging anymore? How would you identify that it's time to walk away?

This isn't the first blog I've had.  I didn't continue the last one because I couldn't find a happy balance with putting my personal life on the internet and what I wanted to write about.  A fashion blog provided that balance.  Now I've been blogging for a while and am enjoying it I doubt even if life got very busy that I would give it up altogether.  If I got bored or stopped enjoying this blog I might start another different blogging project.

It is worth remembering that no matter how much you love something at first spending a lot of time on it can eventually make it feel like a chore.  Flamenco was a hobby I loved, dedicated time to and persevered with until I am now able to perform and teach.  But I have to admit it can feel like a chore sometimes and though I never believed it when I first started taking classes there are days when I don't feel like going to rehearse or dance.  I have heard even the most accomplished of professional dancers in the prime of their careers tell me that they just don't feel like dancing today.

I took heart from hearing them say that.  It's normal.  Everyone has off days or weeks and usually taking a break sorts it out fairly quickly.  But if I couldn't shake the feeling of drudgery doing something for a prolonged period of time and it was continously getting me down then I would probably walk away from it.  Life is too short.

This snood is so cool!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Back to Black


Yesterday's outfit.  No I was not attending a funeral.  Could have fooled you huh?  I remind myself of Mary Poppins.  Just missing a jaunty Victorian hat.  Or maybe I look more like the chimney sweep covered in black soot head to toe.  Sigh!  All black outfit.  Again.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect £200.  Go straight to fashion jail.

It so happens I had to look serious and businesslike yesterday and the warmest things I had to hand for a snowy day were all black.  This is what I wear to pimp myself out to gain work.  Pictures like this make me realise how ingrained hiding my feminity becomes when dressing professionally.  Cynthia of Be Fabulous Daily and Mrs Bossa did a very interesting Friday Friday exchange last week about this very issue - of whether appearing feminine at work can hinder how you are percieved professionally.

Be Fabulous Daily also offered up an interesting and related quote by Robert Davies from which I took note.  "If you look like an underling, you'll be taken for an underling, because people haven't always time to find out what you really are. So do smarten up."  The point being that we can change people's perception of us by changing our appearance.  Dress for the job you want not for the job you're in?  Though I might do well to replace underling with undertaker and give the statement some reconsideration!

I dug out my wool sailor trousers which have tragically had to be adjusted lengthwise to save the hem from snow and puddles and are now too short for my liking.  When it's dry I take the hem down to the floor and wear them with high heels.  I bought them from the Kate Moss Topshop range and they've seen me through three winters already.  They're holding up well for a high street garment!

I'm also wearing an alpaca wool coat, a cashmere blend jacket, my trusty turtlenecks (two), a Uniqlo Heat Tech thermal, the now obligatory two pairs of tights (wool over Heat Techs) and my umbrella.  Thought I'd copy all those 30 for 30 bloggers posing with umbrellas (though I haven't actually seen one yet so I'm obviously out of the loop there).  However I actually was carrying mine around all day against the threat of snow showers.

The only flat boots I had were unfortunately my distressed bikers which are incongruous against the other shades of black I had on but as the pavements are encrusted with treacherously slippery ice at the moment I don't dare put anything with heels on. Nor do I feel like spoiling any suede, patent and pony skin boots trudging through puddles of black icy sludge.

I like to think my bikers lend the outfit a kind of dishevelled Dickensien Artful Dodginess - hiding behind a cloak of respectable black are the subversive street urchin shoes, giving away that I'm possibly capable of picking your pockets.  But hey who am I kidding?  I just don't have any other snow friendly shoe that won't send me toppling over as I brave the newly formed public ice rink that were once the pavements of London.
 
A word about the blazer which is from the Jil Sander J+ for Uniqlo collaboration.  I'm not a minimalist type of gal usually but I was intrigued by an article written by Paula Reid in Grazia magazine publicising the release of the J+ range and the shots for the publicity campaign made the collection look quite impressive.  Ms Reid was practically having fashion orgasms over the collection, gushing over the quality and cut for the price.  The article quoted Sander herself saying that women came back and bought bagfuls of her first collection for Uniqlo because they had literally fallen in love with their new fashion selves and after seeing what I can only imagine was some miraculous transformation in front of the mirror.

I'm the sort of optimist that likes to believe in a fashion miracle so I bought some pieces online to add to my workwear wardrobe: a blue pea coat, a mannish wool tuxedo jacket and some mannish trousers.  I returned all of them.  It wasn't that they were not nice and well cut.  I just somehow wasn't falling over head over heels with me when I looked in the mirror.  Maybe I'm just secretly sick of having to dress like a man for the sake of earning money.

They also didn't pass the Mr Veshoevius test, which is just one of the things I use in deciding whether I keep or return a new purchase I'm feeling guilty about.  If I parade for him wearing said purchase and he bursts out laughing I usually keep it as it is a good indication that it is so far forward a fashion statement as to be incomprehensible to the average British male (Yeti coats and feather skirts are good examples).  But if he just wrinkles his nose up than it is a kind of "meh" neither here nor there piece and not worth keeping.

I did however also drop by to see the carnage in the Uniqlo on Oxford Street a couple of days after the J+ release.  I left with this classically cut blazer in a fifty percent cashmere and wool mix.  Its warmth and cut finally convinced me to part with my cash and it looks way smarter than the couple of extra layers of knitwear I usually lump on.

Is it snowing where you are?  There is a full blown snowball war occurring in my street at the moment!  How are you all coping with the cold weather?

Creature Comforts


Turns out Mr V. did not want to go back out into the cold for last orders on Monday night.  So we went out last night instead to meet friends at a nearby pub and where we drank steaming mugs of aromatic mulled wine by an open fire.  Just the thing to warm you up on a cold winter's evening.

So my Yeti ensemble did at last get an outing but with one slight alteration - I had to swap heeled boots for flat boots and legwarmers.  Far less glamorous it has to be said however there was already far too much snow and ice on the ground for even a hardened high heel wearer like me to contemplate the risk of trying to walk in them.

My "bloomers" are in fact suede harem trousers which I got from Cos a year ago and their baggy fit is turning out to be very useful when you have to wear two pairs of thick tights to keep warm.  And I also quite like their bloomer-esque appearance when stuffed into knee high boots.  They are however, cropped at the ankle.  This means if I wear them on a frosty day with my mid-calf length biker boots there is a little gap between the top of the boots and the trouser hem that allows a ring of skin around there to instantly freeze when outdoors.

I was racking my brain as to how to get around this perplexing problem and then I'm Not Emily Brown came to my rescue and reminded me of how useful and warm legwarmers can be, not to mention a stylish solution against the cold.  So I dug out an old black pair from my ballet days (just seen above my boots in the photo above) and the freezing gap was closed!

Oh, and my yeti coat was duly stroked by all in attendance.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Yeti In the House and Fashion Blogger Challenges


Greetings.  I am the Abominable Snow Woman.

In case you haven't heard the UK is experiencing another Big Freeze with snow and ice over most of the north and a good dose of it heading steadily south.  The north of the country has copped the worst and depending on who you believe it is either a relatively balmy 0 to -2 degrees Celsius in London tonight with some predictions of snow.  Nothing like the mercury hovering around or below zero to send me running to the wardrobe to layer on the shag pile to keep warm.

Now I fully expect that anyone living in somewhere like Canada or North America is probably sneering by now but oh my God!  I am so cold!  Even wearing Uniqlo Heat Tech everything, two cashmere sweaters, a yeti coat, two pairs of thermal tights and suede trousers, I am still cold when I step outside.  Today I actually googled "shearling trousers" with the full intent of purchasing whatever creation popped up on screen, however hideous.  Suffice to say that I was sorely disappointed to discover they don't exist.

Last year I missed the Big Freeze completely having been overseas.  This year it has arrived early and caught me off guard completely.  I was still mid-way through changing over the clothes in the wardrobe from summer/autumn to full on winter gear.  As Sod's law would have it, the week in which temperatures dive to record breaking levels for November would be the same week that our flat's central heating system would choose to spring a leak and cease functioning properly.  A leak that requires all the floorboards being ripped up to find it!  So, not a great week all round.

To top it off my evening's plans have unfortunately been scuppered by the ongoing tube strike which appears to be running past its promised stop time of six thirty.  Yes, in addition to bad weather and an ongoing brutal recession we have half the nation on strike with gradually increasing civil unrest amongst our student population.  Emigration anyone?

I don't really fancy getting the bus looking like the Sasquatch incarnate so I'm staying in and hoping Mr V gets home in time to walk to our local pub for last orders.  At least on the tube there is always guaranteed to be someone dressed way more outrageously than me and it's about ten degrees warmer underground.

You might have guessed my biggest style challenge is dressing for the cold.  I'm a warm weather person through and through.  Below a certain temperature I am completely out of my depth in deciding what to wear.  My proverbial idea of hell isn't flames, it's ice.

Honestly, I normally just give up and stay in rather than suffer or go out looking, well, like a yeti.  Or worse, I pile on way too many layers to be flattering to my small frame (I gain at least ten centimetres in girth) and I wear the same cosy but boring things on endless loop.  I've decided this year my challenge is that the winter is not going to get me in the fashion doldrums though I am still trying to formulate what my goals should be.

And on that note I would like to pay homage to a few bloggers who have really inspired me with the fashion challenges they have currently set themselves and are posting about.  These ladies have my complete admiration because I am essentially a lame and lazy human being that hates having to do things because I have to and would fail if I ever attempted one of these challenges.

There are various interesting motivations for people undertaking this challenges - wanting to get greater use out of their clothes, enhancing their creativity, saving money, reducing clothes related waste going to landfill and networking with other bloggers doing the same challenge.  The results are inspirational and I keep telling myself that if these girls can rise to these challenges then surely I can pull my sartorial self together and brave a few snowflakes in style!

Cynthia of Be Fabulous Daily is taking the GAAD - that is Great American Apparel Diet to the uninitiated.  No clothes shopping for a year.  Gulp!  I thought I was good cutting up a credit card until I came across her blog, which has made me think about my clothes shopping habits.  A lot!

I'm Not Emily Brown is a blog by a lady after my own heart.  Emily has not one, not two, but five pairs of leather shorts! And she has set herself an impressive challenge in this weather to tear off the accusing price tags and wear one pair of shorts a day.  She has some seriously sassy outfits!

Terri of Rags Against the Machine, Katy of Modly Chic and No Guilt Fashion are all doing the 30 for 30 challenge that a lot of American bloggers seem to be doing - basically sticking to thirty items in your wardrobe for a month and remixing them.  I find this an impressive feat to take on in winter!  Given I am wearing ten items of clothing in one outfit at the moment I would probably get through 30 garments in three days!

Although the idea of not shopping for a year, wearing shorts in near zero temperatures or limiting myself to 30 items in my wardrobe all fill me with true dread, I will say that, although I'm unlikely to sign up to these sorts of challenges, all of these bloggers have succeeded in making me rethink about buying something new or how I might wear something I already have.  So hats off ladies!

POSTSCRIPT

In my old age I had forgotten to mention JT Wisdom of Bubbling With Elegance and Grace, who is also another blogger I'm following doing the 30 x 30 challenge!
I've also been reliably informed by Katy of Modly Chic via her twitter feed that coats are not included in the 30 x 30 selection which makes it a bit easier.  Phew!  Still find it an impressive challenge though.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Mariachi Jeans and Mongolian Sheepskin Gilet


I've had to up the ante against the cold. London is apparently getting snow in the next couple of days! The jeans and gilet are the spoils of past winter sales. Since wintry weather continues here until about April anything I pick up in the winter sales is far from the end of its useful seasonal life.

I like shaggy sheepskin gilets like this because my hair just blends right on in!

I got the jeans for the lines of gold buttons trailing down the backs of the legs but it's been a challenge to find shoes that work with them as they are a bit long for me. Usually I wear with a high, decorative, chunky heel and split open the last few buttons to show the heel off. My knee is still not happy though so heels are still out. A wedge however, I can do. Last night I tried them with my hairy wedge boots.

These jeans are by Sienna Miller and her designer sister and after I had them for about a year I discovered that they had been inspired by trousers worn by the Mexican Mariachi. I found that quite amusing so last night when I wore them out to go for drinks with a girlfriend I went for a Mariachi lost in Mongolia kind of theme.

I spent a whole day with three Mariachis on a film set once. Some bright spark directing thought that flamenco dancers perform to Mariachi music. Hello? Different countries, completely different musical genres! It annoys me when people who should make more of an effort don't do their homework and lump flamenco into the same bag as a whole lot of Latin American dance and music styles. I can't tell you how many times I've had people ask me to dance flamenco to salsa music, Argentinian tango or Ravel's "Boléro".

The director corralled the Mariachis and I together.  Jubilantly grinning and clicking his fingers to some Latin rhythm of his own invention to show that he knew, and was just so clever at the cultural coup he'd scored for his production, he told us to do our thang.  Lord only knows what strange vision of flamenco dancing he had in mind.  The Mariachis and I regarded each other in faint panic and then had to explain that no such thang would be possible.  They couldn't play flamenco music to save their lives and so I was duly absolved from dancing and spent the day standing around like a decorative pot plant in the background scenery.

I did love the Mariachis outfits though - so marvelously OTT! I should have asked to keep one of the sombreros.

Monday, 22 November 2010

White Wall


My kitchen wall has been repainted white.  Just in time.  With our hours of natural light disappearing fast, expect it to feature a lot in this blog!

Winter has well and truly arrived here and the temperature has really dropped recently so I've been layering up.  Here is what I wore on the weekend to visit old friends in Cambridge where it was bitterly cold - my attempt to avoid both wearing all black and swaddling myself in wool.

I've been wondering how to wear this silky Whistles blouse in winter without freezing.  The surrealist print reminds me of the works of Miró and it feels a bit Dynasty with its draping and big shoulders. My solution was to use it to cover up the boring black turtlenecks that are becoming my uniform in the cold.

Secret weapons under my billowy silk layers are wool rich tights and not one but two wool turtlenecks.  Yes, that's how much of a wimp I am in cold weather.  I also still had to wear a wool crombie coat over everything and accessorise with a scarf and gloves.  Despite wearing an additional pair of socks the cold went straight through the soles of my bikers and I stopped feeling my toes.  I feel this outfit would be better with heels but the cold has brought on a niggling knee problem (can you get flamenco knee?) which is not worth me making any worse for the sake of fashion.  So flats it is.

I deeply regretted not wearing a hat.  If I had a pound for every winter hat I've lost on the London underground I'd probably have enough for a new one.  And hat smchat.  In this cold I need a balaclava!

As a girl my parents bought me one party dress a year and I would get to choose.  Sort of.  My first choice was always vetoed.  It was either too dark for my father's liking as I liked black from an early age or too fancy, i.e. too expensive.  Hmmm... the psychological seeds that grew into my shopaholic ways are probably embedded right there!

So the second choice would be the most colourful, frilly, floaty Cinderella like confection I could get away with.  During winter I would be dismayed to the point of tears when my mother forced me wear thick turtlenecks and tights under my beloved dress to stop me freezing at parties.  I suddenly felt that my dress had been ruined. 

Looking at myself in the mirror with my dress rucked up in unpalatable bulky lumps over rolls of thick wool, it was as if it had also sprouted a neck, arms and legs of different textures and colours, all of which combined to overpower any of the delicate details of the dress I had taken so much care in choosing in the first place.  So began my lifelong battle with winter dressing and layering.

I detest feeling like a turtle and turtlenecks make me feel claustrophobic and strangled.  But in this cold I'm not going to ever get to wear a floaty blouse or almost any type of dress without them.  The little girl somewhere in there still cries at her reflection in the mirror, riling against what she still considers a heinous aesthetic crime but the practical winter battered adult is somewhat resigned to the fact.

Thankfully Cos has made an extremely thin wool one with unfinished seams that avoids adding the bulk that normal thermals do and hopefully four or five layers will now look a bit more like three or four.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Friend Friday: Copying

Image courtesy of Image.  Photographer: Moi!

This week's Friend Friday questions are about copying.  Friend Friday is run by Katy at Modly Chic.  To participate email katy_rose1@yahoo.com.

Nothing is more culpable for less and less original material doing more and more rounds of the Internet than those two functions on our computers, COPY and PASTE! Just the other day I googled "Rachel Zoe Pregnant" - (I'm so excited to see what she wears!! Can you imagine the maternity range? It's enough to prompt one to concieve!) - I was sorely disappointed to find that with each link I clicked on, I just kept reading the same text copied and pasted, in many cases verbatim, from one celebrity gossip site to another.  In many cases the same pictures were used as well.  These were some suprisingly well established sites and yet nobody writing for them had anything new to add to their take on the news, nor even it seems the time to do some paraphrasing to avoid copyright infringement cases being taken out against them.

Now copying is a hot topic for fashion bloggers too.  I'm going to copy and paste (ha ha) Katy's Google groups header to give you a flavour of the breadth of things she's highlighting:

"This past week I encountered the topic of blogger copying twice. The first time was as I scrolled through the numerous bloggers doing the 30 for 30 challenge. I realized that after one person poses with an umbrella dozens others will. Or as Kendi poses in a parking garage suddenly 20 other bloggers appear in a parking garage. And then I was talking with Kinsey about some of favorite blogs and she mentioned seeing a blogger post a DIY recipe and two weeks later another blogger posted a very similar DIY recipe complete with the same wrappings. That got me thinking... how much of blogging is coming up with your own content and how much is mirroring what we see others doing"

1. What are the 'unwritten rules' about copying content that we bloggers should all abide by?

Always credit your sources for anything you use on your blog be it images or text you are quoting and link back to the source.  If there are notices on someones blog that they require permission to use their material or to be credited as the source then abide by their requests.  And if you are lifting material copyrighted by corporates without at least crediting them you risk being sued!

Some bloggers even reference another blogger if something the latter posted gave them the inspiration for their own post, which strictly speaking is probably not necessary but it's a nice thing to do.  For instance when Courtney of Those Graces posted about blowing her wedding outfit budget it gave me the inkling for my Spring Wedding Outfit post and I worked a mention of this in the introduction.

Now let me turn this around and throw a question out there because I would like to have some advice on an issue bugging me about crediting content.  What about material in the public domain?  For example you might find a picture of Kate Moss or SJP or even Billy Halliday on someones blog and wish to use it. But if it is obviously an iconic picture that has been kicking around both printed press and the Internet for eon's who are you actually obliged to credit?  The blogger is obviously not the original source of the image and has him/herself lifted the image from elsewhere.

Any thoughts?
Who do I credit? HBO??
2. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. But when is a post imitation and when is it copying?

I think this is a grey area as there are millions of fashion blogs out there with millions of minds behind them interested in the same thing: fashion, style, clothes.  Statistically people are bound to find that their original ideas intersect precisely with those of others.

Take for example my personal experience.  Months ago I took this picture of my style guides neatly stacked up with the intention of writing a post reviewing my bedtime reading material.


In the time lag before downloading the photo and writing my post I stumbled across some rather fetching images of books stacked up in Cloud of Secrets' blog posts "Book Niche" and "Chasing Scarlet".  Here also was a blogger whose captivating photography of objects reminded me very much of some of the imagery I was trying to achieve in my own blog and prompted me to become an immediate follower.  I then also discovered she had beaten me to reviewing Style Clinic, one of the books I'd intended to review!

So how do two women living in London and Wisconsin come up with the same ideas without previously being aware of each other's existences?  I imagine it is nothing more than our common interests of style, fashion, photography and aesthetics narrowing down considerably the kind of images and subjects that pique our interests as bloggers.

My post remained unwritten because it suddenly didn't feel original anymore and I certainly didn't want to give a blogger I'd newly followed the idea I was copying her.  But say I had written my post anyway? Could you really say I was copying or even imitating?

Another example was when I wrote a post about Amelia Earhart's influence on the Aviator jacket trend, itself hardly original as loads of people made the connection and posted about it.  A little birdie at that online institution responsible for the shrinking of all journalism sources, Wikipedia, gave me the idea for mentioning the legend of her sleeping in her leather jacket to make it look more worn in in order to gain acceptance amongst her male peers.

A couple of days after my post was published I was bemused to read another online article about Amelia and the Aviator jacket written by Jess Cartner-Morely of the Guardian fashion column in which the very same story was mentioned.  Both articles use Amelia's mythical tactic to have a sly dig at the hoops that women have to jump through in life compared to their male counterparts. (Yeah Jess I noticed!)

Should I have challenged Jess to a showdown of keyboards at dawn? Of course not.  Though she didn't credit her source it's hard to justify throwing down the gauntlet when in all likelihood she looked up Earhart's history on Wikipedia too.  In addition with Big Brother Google in charge of what we see first when we google keywords in our online research for blog topics, you and thousands of others are being fed the same information to reference for your posts, effectively reducing all our chances of being truly original.

Given all this I think that unless a blogger has copied and pasted word for word what you have written or used a photo that is obviously taken by you originally then proving the copying of ideas for posts would be very difficult.

3. Taking another blogger's idea (perhaps for an outfit, or DIY tutorial) is pretty common in the blogging world. Do you think it is necessary to credit the original source?

They say all art is theft don't they?  I feel this is very much like the argument of trying to copyright fashion design.  In order to lay claim to an idea you would have to have re-invented the wheel and prove nobody else had done it before in order to be able to claim it was yours.  Its like trying to argue who to credit for the design of sleeves or skirts - where do you draw the line?

I think common sense should prevail.  It would really depend how original the blogger's DIY or outfit was or whether it was something that was already pretty common knowledge or a current trend already doing the rounds.  If I were following some very original DIY or outfit tips to the letter and posting about it then yes I think it is necessary to credit the person from whom you benefited from gaining that knowledge.

But if your post uses an idea but takes a different approach or represents your unique of view on something then I don't think you would have to.  Nothing is enforceable here and I don't think you would have to change too much before you could claim you've added enough to the "prior art" to make it a new body of work.  (I've written patents before and was staggered at how little had to be added to an idea before you could patent it as a new one.)  But as I said in question one, it's just a generous thing to do as part of the fashion blogging community.

For example I've seen several bloggers doing outfit posts with leather shorts as they are in fashion at the moment.  It has reminded me that I own a pair, should wear them more and could also do an outfit post at the same time.  I'm unlikely to credit every blogger I've seen posting on leather shorts for prompting me to get them out, even if I wear some top and heels combination like many outfit posts out there, because that's just a fashionable look that is around at the moment.  Who can really say they came up with the idea first? Vogue? Alexa Chung? Or the Germans in their lederhosen??

But say I see some combination I find unusual or original - like Angela's combination of a polka dot candy pink blouse with her leather shorts at Everyone Love's Lipstick which I liked very much.  After seeing her post I thought maybe I should try pairing some polka dotted blouses in my closet with my shorts.  If I then did an outfit post, even though my outfit won't look the same as hers, I would credit her for the inspiration.

4. How have you improved your blog by comparing it to other bloggers? Have you made changes due to something you have seen others doing?

I increased the width and made the images bigger.  Did anyone notice?  I'd been playing around with HTML and tossing up as to whether to do it or not for a long while but after Pearl of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom did it I finally took the plunge.

5. Have you ever had one of your posts copied by another blogger or publication? How did you handle the situation?

I had part of a post quoted on another blog but the blogger in question did me the courtesy of referencing me and linking back to my post so it was fine.  I was actually pretty flattered.

I've seen some nasty stories about bloggers discovering entire posts from their blogs lifted and used by online or print magazines.  I think this is unacceptable and makes it important for bloggers to at least have a statement (which I have recently added) about their policy on third parties using material from their blog.

POSTSCRIPT
I take my answer to the last question back.  After reading other Friend Friday posts and seeing how many other people had come up with issues of being copied I thought I'd do a more in depth check to see if maybe I was being a bit lax and thinking my blog was too under the radar to be copied.  I was wrong! 

I found my post about my mother copied and pasted word for word on what appears to be a scraper blog which just trawls the internet and lifts content off other blogs.  I'm furious obviously and have contacted the service provider.  Just goes to show it can happen to anybody.  Oh and any advice appreciated from those with similar experiences!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Meet Mum


Meet my Mum! Regular visitors will have already seen that she scrubbed up pretty well as Mother of the Groom.  While I was in Australia she had another wedding to go to (for which she also made the wedding cake) and this is what she wore.

This dress with a polka dot bodice, three quarter length, flamenco frilled sleeves and a darling corsage of red roses is by Wheels and Doll Baby.  She snaffled it for a song when it went on sale in the local store.  Yep, my senior citizen mother shops at Wheels and Doll Baby, it's one of her favourite labels and guess what? She looks great in it.  I'm always so proud of her when I accompany her shopping there and the sales assistants gush over how lovely she looks in their retro inspired dresses and wiggle skirts.

Flamenca mum preparing wedding cakes.

As many mothers tend to do Mum spent a good two decades putting her own fashion needs to one side whilst rearing her brood of four. Mum has always loved shopping but never had the money while we were growing up to buy nice things for herself.  She lived in hand me downs from relatives for years in order to provide for us and often used her sewing skills to make lovely clothes for my sister and I, including red carpet worthy ball dresses for our annual high school balls.

To say clothes, shopping and sewing defines my relationship with my mother may sound ridiculous but as fashion conscious teens growing up in a poor suburb that was a fashion wasteland, a cheap form of entertainment was to go fantasy clothes shopping in nice shops with Mum.  Important sewing and garment construction knowledge was imparted on these trips as she would turn clothes inside out to teach us what she understood from her own sewing skills and she was instrumental in developing an eye for good design in her daughters.


It was Mum who taught me how to copy a designer garment I couldn't afford when she took to recreating the ball dress of my broke fifteen year old dreams.  I remember our sneaky, repeated visits to the boutique together where the dress was tried on, dissected and every last detail then reproduced by her at home for a fraction of the cost.

I have a book which is a guide for shopping for vintage and in one section on recognising garment quality the author wistfully wishes that she had had a mentor whilst growing up that could have explained to her whilst clothes shopping about things like rolled hems, invisible seams and zips, the importance of lining on certain garments.  I remember thinking that the mentor she was describing could have been my own mother!

Now that she has more time and money for herself these days, she's not going to let a little old thing like being over sixty get in the way of having some fun with fashion and dressing up when the opportunity arises.  In the last few years she has taken more fashion risks than she ever did when she was younger and every time I visit I find covetable new items in her closet and she will be working a fresh new look.  Years of providing for a large family on next to no budget, she has honed the art of sniffing out a bargain.  She approaches clothes shopping with military precision often staking out and stalking her prey for weeks and pouncing when it's been reduced to clear.

Mum keeps in shape by regularly going to the gym so she can wear a lot of things women half her age might shy away from.  The nice thing about being in a family of three women who are all the same dress size is that being able to wear each others clothes triples our options!  She still needs a bit of encouragement from time to time to push the envelope as she worries about what the self appointed fashion police in the family might think of what she is wearing. (Does anyone else have some of those types in their families and how do you cope with them?).


For instance she wanted my opinion on the Wheels and Doll Baby dress which she desperately wanted to wear out as it had been languishing in her wardrobe unworn.  (Sound familiar? Are wardrobe neuroses inheritable genetic traits?) She was however, worried about wearing it to a family wedding because she was sure certain relatives would look down their noses at her.  Why oh why do women do this to each other?  Grrrr! I can't tell you how cross it makes me that someone can make a lovely looking woman like my mum insecure about wearing what she damn well pleases because of these daft and inflexible notions of what is age appropriate.

After my blood pressure returned to normal I told her to forget about what anyone else thought, to wear her red shoes to complement her corsage and handed her my black ruffle chiffon jacket from Topshop (pictured) to stop her feeling cold in the evening.  And she looked absolutely fabulous!  If there is anyone that reassures me that you can still enjoy fashion in your sixties it is Mum.

I love styling my Mum because she loves clothes and is a pleasure to dress.  For my brother's wedding she wanted a jacket for the evening but couldn't find anything locally that she liked.  So I played Rachel Zoe and hijacked Mr Veshoevius' weight allowance, stuffing five evening jacket options (as well as five pairs of heels) into the suitcase.

The black chiffon jacket she wore above was one of them, a nude lined black lace jacket which was a gift from me to her was another, as well as a silver sequined cardigan and an embroidered beaded cape by Kate Moss for Topshop.  On a whim, the last thing I tossed in just before zipping up the suitcases was a black lace jacket with grey lining from Karen Millen.

How is this for fashion genetics?  She had no idea I had this jacket and independently without me knowing or seeing it, she bought this grey, lace embellished dress from Karen Millen with which the jacket went perfectly.  The day before the wedding she also managed to pick up a pair of very inexpensive, grey satin courts with little bows that matched the grey lace.

Bro 1 (groomsmen), Mum and Lil' Sis.
Mum wearing her Karen Millen dress and my lace jacket, also by Karen Millen.

And a final note on the part my wardrobe played in my sister's outfit pictured above.  In the end Lil' Sis scored the moral fashion high ground on me and shopped completely from her own closet.  The ruched, frill trimmed corset with spaghetti straps she's wearing with her satin puffball skirt and diamante kitten heels is a recent hand me down from me!

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