Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween all from Australia!  Although I've never lived in a country that really celebrates it as seriously as perhaps it is in the United States.  I'm amazed at how much effort Americans I know living in the UK make in decorating their houses for the season and in organising their children's trick or treating expeditions.  My sister has just come back from a trip back from the States in awe of the amount of Halloween decorations being set up in preparation for today.

Usually the boyfriend and I don't do anything to celebrate Halloween other than buy a pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern and make pumpkin soup for dinner.  I wish I could say I was going to some fancy dress Halloween party dressed in layers of black as Morticia but this year we've enjoyed a big barbeque with my family instead.  We thought we would still keep up with our jack-o-lantern tradition though!

The boyfriend is a dab hand at pumpkin carving and here are his efforts with the local Australian species (we couldn't get hold of a large plain orange one here).  I do like how they glow in the dark.  Pumpkin soup for lunch tomorrow!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Friend Friday: Ten Things

I have just touched down in Australia this morning so posts are going to be erratic for the next two weeks while I run around preparing for my little brother's wedding.  Suffering a spot of jet lag so am answering this week's Friend Friday.  This week we have been asked to list ten things about ourselves.  Some of my regular visitors may know all these already so I've provided some extra tidbits:

1. I live in Brixton, London.  You can't get any gloriously grittier than that! I love it because despite its rather seedy reputation it has a vibrant community of immigrants, a great local cinema, a fantastic market that sells cheap vegetables and amazing fish, our local pub holds jazz jam sessions which attract world class musicians and when I come home late at night the streets are still buzzing and full of life.


2. I moonlight as a professional flamenco dancer.  I run a flamenco group as well as work freelance.  I perform around the UK.  I got to perform at Glastonbury festival a couple of years ago but have to say the mud and toilets left me traumatized!  On rare occasions I also get the odd bit of film and TV work as an extra and so have some insight into what working on film sets is like.  It is a lot less glamorous than you'd think!

My first blog was actually about my flamenco experiences in Spain but it became too private and close to my heart to make public so I chose fashion as a blog subject instead.

I am currently freelancing for my other "day job" career but the ongoing recession here has meant I am more free these days than lancing.  So I am now looking to get back into a permanent job.


3. I lived in Andalucia, Spain for a couple of years studying flamenco dance intensively so I speak pretty good Spanish and have many dear friends with whom I communicate only in Spanish.  I return as regularly as I can to keep up my studies, attend local festivals and to spend time with friends.


4. I cannot function without drinking two coffees to wake me up in the morning.

 
5.  I'm addicted to Mac make-up, have tonnes of it and am a pro at putting on my own make-up.  I have always loved make-up and having to do my own make-up for shows means I get an excuse to buy lots of it.  I've done courses to learn to apply it properly and have got used to doing it on the fly whilst travelling in cars and trains.  I am one of those people that actually uses the Prep and Prime products!  I'd love to be a make-up artist.  I'm totally obsessed with foundation formulations and their different finishes and am always looking for a a foundation that doesn't come running off after sweating during a dance performance.  I'm hoping Mac's new Pro Longwear range delivers!  My latest obsession is false eyelashes.

6. Apart from collecting clothes, costume jewellery, shoes and make-up I collect blank notebooks.  Yeah, I don't get it either.  Leather bound, paper bound, as long as it comes with plain white or cream pages and looks beautiful on the shelf.  No ugly lined pages allowed.  Some turn into written journals when I'm very diligent.  One actually became the handwritten predecessor to this blog, the real Taxonomy of My Wardrobe, a handwritten tome with a lipstick red cover listing everything I have in the closet!


7. I cry really easily watching sentimental movies.  Really, really easily!  I'm not just talking heart wrenching human tragedy and drama, even Disney pictures get me.  I sobbed when the ant died in Honey I Shrunk the Kids and when the mother dinosaur died in The Land Before Time.  I cannot and refuse to watch horror movies.  The X-files television series is as scary as I can cope with (even the movie terrified me).

8. I am a mean cook.  I love cooking and eating!  My favourite cuisine is Asian and Italian and I love recipes by the English food writer, Nigel Slater.  I have started learning a couple of Spanish dishes.  I think I would love to do a food blog one day.


9. I can sew really well and used to sew my own clothes.  I didn't study design formally but could modify paper patterns to suit what I wanted and could copy a garment pretty closely if I had long enough in a changeroom with it to work out how it was put together and what its measurements were.  These days I don't have time to sew but I usually do my own alterations.

10. I don't own or watch a television.  I don't know how anyone else finds the time to watch television but I find not having one frees up a lot of my time to do other more interesting and creative things.  People always wonder how I manage to do a lot of different things like work, dance, cook and eat amazing meals every night and now blog.  Couldn't do it if I watched TV every day.  I catch up on series I really want to watch (which aren't many) by buying the DVD's and doing a marathon.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Ultimate Shearling Coat


A couple of weekends ago I was photographing some rather wonderful clothes for a lovely boutique called Image in the historic city of Bath.  Check out the website: if you're a regular reader of this blog you might get a sense of déjà vu looking at some of the photos of the clothes!  I've known the owner for years, always drop in when I'm in the area and inevitably come away with a bag of goodies.

Image caters for sophisticated customers who enjoy good design and are looking for something classy but a bit different.  There is a good selection of classic clothing with a twist for the older and professional ladies but I'm always delighted to find some new and quirky designers which are a little off the mainstream fashion radar too.  This is where I bought my velvet tuxedo jacket with the chiffon peplum featured in my Harper's Buy Now Wear Forever post.  It's by a relatively new designer called Kaylee Tankus.

And then of course I love trying on all the really luxurious clothes just for fun!  If only this sumptuous floor length shearling frock coat was mine!  This is by a British design label I've been introduced to by Image called Nigel Preston & Knight.

The late Nigel Preston was a British designer who specialised in suede and leather for over thirty years and I was interested to learn that in his heyday, where he led, houses like Gucci and Hermès would follow.  He was an artist, musician and singer who had a love of clothes design and who started out making stage clothes for friends and rock stars of the late sixties, working from Pete Townsend’s (The Who) recording studio in London.  In the mid-seventies he opened his own shop, Maxfield Parrish, just off the Kings Road.

The Nigel Preston & Knight collections were founded by Preston and his wife Brenda Knight in 2007.  They became renowned for artisan hand-painting and decorative techniques as well as for exquisite form and pattern cutting inspired by Knight’s collection of 18th century antique clothing, accessories and fabrics - a collection which was sourced from her travels to the antique markets of European cities like London, Paris, Milan, Venice and as far away as India. (Doesn't that just make you want to quit your day job right now?)

Knight also released her women's collection in 2007 and when Preston passed away a couple of years ago she took over the business.  Knight's designs take inspiration from 18th century old French Priest Coats, Edwardian frock coats and military jackets or antique silk and lace jackets, blouses and skirts.  Now that is my kind of designer!

The design house's expertise in cutting leather is evident in the cut and fall of this coat.  It looks more as if it has been cut from luxury cloth like satin or heavy velvet.  I love the way the collar falls into a relaxed frill.  It makes the perfect partner to dress up blue jeans and would also look fabulous over evening wear.  And it is so warm!!! As a petite, short person I am often warned away from floor length coats by style guides, but try seeing if I care wrapped up in this when we plunge into subzero temperatures in the height of winter.

Boyfriend dearest, this is on my Christmas wish list!  Have a word with Santa will you?

Nigel Preston & Knight floor length black Shearling jacket. Available at Image in Bath.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Links à la Mode

I am pleased to say that my post on shopping the wardrobe for the Harper's Bazaar Buy Now Wear Forever list made the IFB Links à la Mode list this week. Many thanks IFB!  Congratulations to all who made the list especially Devillishly Pleasurable, No Guilt Fashion and Boheme Noir!

links a la mode
The Blogging Diaries- Introspects, insights, and inspirations

Edited by: Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista

As  bloggers, we often find ourselves looking to other blogs for  inspiration. Sometimes we look to our closets, magazines, or in the  mirror. This week's roundup fashions some of the most introspective and  insightful posts from bloggers who reach across the blogosphere as they  look for ways to build upon, contribute to, and pull inspiration for and  from the fashion world.
  • 365 Fashion Rehab: Lessons from a (Reformed) Shopaholic: A beautiful handbag repaired (for free!). One more reason to buy quality over quantity.
  • Boheme Noir: The first ladies of Vogue - a closer look at the most important editors in chief.
  • Daisy Dayz: Friend Friday: How to learn from your mistakes and let your blog grow
  • Devilishly Pleasurable: Reflecting on the evolution of my blog and tips for better blogging!
  • Fish Monkey: The notion of flattering dressing is oppressive and unnecessary. Rather than conforming, why not chose a different shape?
  • Hazel Eye Personality:  Who has what it takes to be the next big and game changing designer? It  takes a lot of time, passion and sanity to make it in the fashion  world.
  • Independent Fashion Bloggers: Work Smarter, Not Harder–3 Ways to Massively (and Permanently) Increase Your Traffic.
  • Miss Viki: "Love Me" and what is wrong with our beauty ideals, if anything?
  • No Guilt Fashion: I put on my game face and tried out my biggest fashion trend fear
  • Passionista Place: qvc, hsn...oh my! find out why home shopping networks have become a bit of an addiction for a modern passionista like me.
  • Seamstress Stories: Reflections on the role that mirrors play for our body image and self-perception.
  • Showcase Edge: Indie Fashion Goes Back to the future. A look at designers who hand-make clothing inspired by times of the past
  • Sidewalk Chalk: I'm a poser, baby: 7 steps for posing naturally in outfit photos
  • Stylish White Female: Transitioning from vegetarian to vegan: Some things are hard to give up. Fur is not.
  • Taxonomy of my Wardrobe: Shopping the Wardrobe. My version of this month's Harper's Bazaar Buy Now wear Forever list selected from my own wardrobe.
  • The Coveted: Three Way With a Long Chiffon Skirt
  • The Curvy Fashionista: Nordstrom reaches out to plus size fashion bloggers to collaborate on its newest plus size endeavor- Sejour
  • The Demoiselles: She is not a fashion blogger. She's just a woman, sitting in her bathtub.
  • The Simply Luxurious Life: In a world that seems to be changing quicker than the seasons, what does it mean to be a lady?
  • The Wondergirl: retail-me-not: waxing poetic on two interesting happenings of late in the world of specialty retailing.
  • Vogue Mornings:How not to lose motivation when blogging, a few quick solutions to the problem many bloggers face.
SPONSOR:
Shopbop DenimBoot Cut, Cropped, Straight Leg, Skinny, Black, Maternity, Boyfriend, Tall, & Petite

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Elevenses


Nothing quite like good coffee and blackberry crumble on a cold autumnal morning.  Met a friend for elevenses today in a new cafe in our local market and was quite taken with the delicate artwork adorning the milk foam of our flat whites.  Then we went on to the market to buy some fish and vegetables.

Today I also debuted my new leopard print peg leg trousers! If there is anywhere that I can feel comfortable wearing a pair of leopard print trousers to shop for groceries it would be the ever lively Brixton market.  My outfit is tame compared to some of the amazing things worn by the Jamaican and African ladies who shop here regularly!  There is no excuse to wear a track suit to visit the fishmonger when there are people making the effort in full national costume.

I love leopard print and am over the moon that it is the print of the season however, I usually stick to wearing it in tops and accessories.  I first saw these on Topshop's website and thought they looked like fun.  I also convinced myself that I'd never dare to wear them.  I then saw someone else wearing them, got a case of leopard print trouser envy and decided to take a walk on the wild side!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Friend Friday: Product Placement

This week's Friend Friday topic was sparked by the rescue of the Chilean Miners and the issue of product placement.  Friend Friday is run by Katy of ModlyChic.  To participate email katy_rose1@yahoo.com.

1. As you watched the rescue efforts of the Chilean miners did you notice the products? What were your thoughts?

I don't own a television or watch TV.  Probably one of the best ways of avoiding exposure to product placement!  So I didn't see the rescue efforts other than pictures in newspaper reports and I didn't notice what brand of sunglasses the miners were wearing to protect their eyes when they surfaced.  Someone on the Google groups mentioned they were provided by Oakley and this generated millions of dollars of free publicity for them.

I'm very familiar with Oakley.  I grew up in Australia where, after decades of a deteriorating ozone layer, there has always been a high incidence of skin cancer and eye cataract formation due to such low levels of atmospheric UV protection.  Concerned about the health of my eyes, I researched what the best brand was for daily sun protection.  Oakley came up trumps not only for the quality of their lenses but they were one of the few brands in those days that made wraparound frames for sports activities that properly shield your eyes from damaging UV rays.

Wraparounds are pretty ugly, make you look like a bug and give you hideous strap marks on your face after a summer of wear.  These days they are probably only worn by people using them for sporting activities, that antipodean wonder that is the proudly sartorially ignorant Aussie bloke and er... me.  But all those lovely fashionable sunglasses that let the sunlight in from the sides? They are actually utterly useless in stopping UV exposure.

In that sense I think Oakley has a superior product that actually does what it says on the tin - protect your eyes from UV.  With regards to the miners I don't take issue with what Oakley did.  I say smart move and in fact they probably had the best product on the market the miners could hope for in terms of sunglasses that were designed for the job.

Bug eyed but cataract free: my Oakleys, still going strong after 12 years!
Companies exist to make profits not to be charitable institutions.  Marketing is how they make consumers aware of what they are producing and how those products can benefit them.  That is just business and we have to respect the rights of companies to pursue ways of making their operations successful.

I do agree being advertised to constantly is annoying and I can see that product placement can make some people hot under the collar because it feels deceptive.  In societies with free market economies it is perfectly legal activity and that is never going to change.

But you as a consumer have free will and the intelligence to either ignore it, limit your exposure to it (don't watch TV, clear your cookies on the internet regularly and get off Facebook!), research products you may be interested in buying and exert discipline on your own consumer behaviour.  Yes you!  Nobody is forcing you to open your wallet.

2. Product placement is all around us today, what do you think makes it such a marketing gold mine?
Because it works!  Human are acquisitive by nature, more often than not with the aim of showing off their status and marketing is all about exploiting that. 

Apart from the mediums like TV, the internet and movies it is even at work when you go to the cash register to find sweets stacked up in the line of sight of your toddler.

The more we are exposed to an image of something in a subliminal way the more normal we begin to think that image is as we fail to filter it out before it seeps into our subconscious.  (I mean don't all columnists for newspapers write on an Apple laptops and earn enough for a closet full of designer labels and Manolo Blahnik shoes?)
Image from Sex and The City Movie
All the more reason why awareness of it is a good thing because if you are aware you can exert control over what influence it plays in your consumer behaviour.

The rise and rise of a celebrity worshipping culture has presented even more and powerful opportunities for companies to take advantage of as people strive to imitate their heroes and icons.  Why do fashion designers invite celebrities to sit on the front row and send them clothes to wear for free? Because they know that sales of those clothes will go through the roof when photos of the celebrities wearing them are released by the press and their label becomes forever associated with the glamour of the star wearing it.

3. On your blog, either now or in the future, what is/will be your stance on highlighting specific products?
If I have an opinion I'll state it. This has been and will continue to be on things I've personally bought.  I rave if I love something and I'm honest if I don't like something or find it doesn't work for me.  I don't expect and am not seeking to review products that some company sends me unless of course PR for Alexander McQueen comes knocking.  It is not really the aim of my blog.

If the blogger has stated clearly that a product is being reviewed for or has been accepted on behalf of a third party then that's fine with me.  It's their blog and they should do what they want to.  That's enough information to signal to me to make my own mind up.

4. If the opportunity arose would you give a bad review of a product?
If I found something to be really bad, yes I would.  I have reviewed the poor service at a luxury shop in London but stopped shy of naming which one it was after heeding the pleas of my litigation paranoid boyfriend.

5. Do you view your blog as a product? Where have you or do you hope to place it?
No.  Nor do I intend to make it one.  You know, whatever happened to the days of a blog being on online diary or mood board?  One where you could post what you felt like.  I am feeling a little bombarded these days with articles about how you should be marketing your blog, branding it, taking it to the next level, catering for your audience, post daily or you're not serious, do more outfit posts, categorise your blog, don't write long posts, don't write short posts, comment to increase your followers, don't comment to increase your followers... the list is long, contradictory and getting overwhelming.

All this well-meaning advice is fantastic for those hoping to be the next Susie Bubble or Fashiontoast.  I salute your drive and ambition because blogging, even as a hobby, is hard work.  I'm all for blog improvement and there are excellent posts I've read recently full of great tips (see Grit and Glamour for my personal favourite and in my opinion one of the most balanced).  But I have to be realistic about how much time I have on my hands. I have a very busy life which is only set to get busier and the blog has to be something that fits into my life not the other way around.  I'm also quite wary of making a product out of something I wish to retain creative control over because if I wasn't able to blog on my terms I probably wouldn't blog at all.

A blogger I follow regularly recently posted about complaints from some of her followers that her blog had branched out from her original street style content into other things and that she should go back to focusing on street style.  She rightfully pleaded that she has a right to feed her own creative needs by pursuing other avenues.  I would take issue with people telling me what sort of posts I should be doing on my blog unless I've asked for suggestions.  Hello?  I'm the blogger.  Let me remind everyone that I am not being paid to do this!  This is supposed to be fun!

While it is wonderful to have readers and their comments on my posts, this is a creative outlet and a hobby for me which I use to wax lyrical on my love for fashion and to experiment with photography, writing and style.  Apart from perhaps changing the layout at some point in the future I don't have plans on "placing" it anywhere or to drastically change it or the types of posts I have been doing just to make it more marketable.

I enjoy the social networking aspect of it and will continue to network it in that way.  The best thing about my blog is that it now feels like a cosy cyber meeting spot for some amazing, interesting and stylish people from whom I take inspiration from every day and I trust that will continue to be the case.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A Dressing Up Box to Die For



When I grow up I want to be Anna Dello Russo!

I stumbled on this video of an interview with Anna at Vintage Honey's blog Forever Vintage and I think I watched it about ten times in a state of awe. After collecting my bottom jaw from the floor I thought I'd re-post.  Now here is a dressing up box I would dearly love to set up camp in and play dress up!  Feathers, leopard print, couture, divine shoes, fringing, brocade, sequins, hats, frilly underskirts, amazing jewellery - she has it all!

Trust this lady to be the first to champion a lampshade skirt dress from the Mary Katrantzou's Spring Summer 2011 collection and just get a load of that stash of jewellery!  She also mentions having an entire flat in Milan to store her wardrobe (this video appears to be in her Parisian flat).  Now that must be one serious dressing up box.

I love how she just glows talking about clothes and fashion.  She is just so into it that you can't avoid being infected with her enthusiasm and passion for fashion.  I think I'm burning a fashion induced fever now and will have to hide the credit cards and go lie down for a while.

Before I do a shout out must go to the lovely Franca of Oranges and Apples who has given me a Sunshine Award.  Thank you Franca!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Shopping the Wardrobe: Harper's Buy Now Wear For Ever List

About this time every month when the new issues of the British fashion magazines come out I find myself rushing home with the latest Elle/Vogue/Harper's Bazaar like a kid on Christmas Day.  I'll then pore over the contents in a state of fashion euphoria only to come crashing back down when I compare my list of lustworthy, must have items splashed on page after glossy page, their price tags and my bank balance.  That is even before considering the colossal lack of storage I have in my wardrobe for any new purchases.

So before I start whining in self pity at all the things listed in the "buy this season or forever be unfashionable" guides that inevitably come out around this time of the year I thought I would go through the exercise of taking one said list and plundering my closet for examples to keep me out of the shops and getting more wear out of my current items.

Take the UK version of Harper's Bazaar "Buy Now Wear For Ever" list of key Autumn Winter pieces in this month's edition.  If I'd personally bought everything on this list the bill would come to a whopping £7682.  Well here is my version shopped from my wardrobe.

1. The Tuxedo Jacket
Harper's says: 
"There is nothing sexier than a woman in a menswear inspired jacket."

Veshoevius says:
I couldn't agree more!  White tuxedo jacket ...check.  Black tuxedo jacket ... also check! (Although technically this is a fairly new addition...)


2. The Chain Bag
 Harper's says:
"Coco Chanel created the 2.55 - the first chain-handle bag - in 1957.  The style now evokes a classic elegance..."

Veshoevius says:
Doesn't anyone get chain burn from those things?  My Review bag has enough chain hardware to add some sparkle but is still comfortable on my shoulders.  The flamenco frills give it a personal twist!


3. The Stiletto Boot
Harper's says:
"Toughen up an evening tux or an LBD with jewel-toned ankle-boots as seen at Givenchy and Lanvin."

Veshoevius says:
Curses! Several pairs of stiletto ankle boots, but none in jewel tones.  How can this be? How about mock croc for day and sequined for night instead?


4. The Trophy Blouse
Harper's says:
"Minimal and luxurious, the silk blouse adds an elegant touch to any look."

Veshoevius says:
In my books a blouse that ain't fussy ain't a blouse worth fussing about!  Too minimal and I fail to see why it's a trophy.  I like lavish details like pussy bows, layers of frills and intricate pin tucking.


5. The Statement Cuff
Harper's says:
"A statement cuff will add a striking lift and a personal touch to any look."

Veshoevius says:
I think I am more than covered in this department...


6. The Statement Belt
Harper's says:
"Metal-detail belts are the ideal finishing touch this A/W... Invest in a skinny gold detail belt.  It will add a polished accent to a blazer or will up the luxe factor of a pair of jeans." 

Veshoevius says:
I love this snakeskin finish leather belt with silver hardware for nipping in jackets and blazers.  I also have this skinnier, vintage leather belt with gold metal detailing for creating waists on slinky seventies style maxi dresses.


7. The Statement Coat
Harper's says:
"Opulent coats, reminiscent of the gilded, boho chic fashion of the 1970's, will add an elegant regal edge to your wardrobe.  Don't save these pieces for night - they're also about daytime glamour this A/W."

Veshoevius says:
Although lacking in ornate brocade trim this otherwise opulent wool coat with its tails, statement lining and leather trimmed collar gets a very rare outing to the theatre or opera.  I wore it once during the day whilst sightseeing in Venice (as you do) and whilst walking over the Rialto Bridge I got serenaded by a gondolier passing beneath.  I credit the coat.  Time to show it the light of day again as there is really something quite special about wearing a coat with secret messages and codes written into its lining.


Sorted!

What buy now (or rather have bought) and wear forever items you could wear this Autumn/Winter are lurking awaiting rediscovery in your wardrobes?

Thursday, 14 October 2010

London Fashion Week: Renaissance Life


What with Friend Friday and flamenco shows I've been left with a backlog of London Fashion Week posts still in draft and have all but missed what has been happening in Paris Fashion Week!  So I'm returning momentarily to indulge at looking at beautiful things, specifically jewellery.

I like a jewellery line carrying a positive message.  Renaissance Life is a Swedish jewellery line which prides itself on being made with love and part of their Spring Summer 2011 Trilogy collection has taken inspiration from dreams, possibilities and happy summer days.  Just the kind of talisman I want to hang around my neck to ward off the winter blues.

The Renaissance Life collection features simple, elegant shapes fashioned in shades of gold, silver and black.  There are pretty angel wings whose selling point is that they can make your dreams come true (see first image), Russian doll charms, lucky horseshoe earrings, a Freedom horse, whimsical clocks, heart lockets with removable drawers for keepsakes and spherical cage lockets each holding a heart shaped river stone from the Swedish Stone Age.  Ideal for those who prefer jewellery pieces that are less flamboyant but still imbued with personality.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

After The Show


This is what I wore to and from my weekend gig in my efforts to shop my own wardrobe.  If I'm working in an office during the week I normally don't get to break out and wear zany things.  So when I turn up to perform in a show I like to let my hair down and dress like I'm about to run away with the circus!  Perhaps it is a fashion statement of intent.

I completely misjudged the weather on this occasion and dressed in my cold weather uniform of layers of black to armour myself against a cold cloudy day but it turned out to be gloriously warm and sunny instead.

If there is one thing other than avoiding dance related injuries that motivates me to keep up with three sessions of weight bearing pilates a week it is owning a pair of Sass and Bides Black Rats leggings!  I chose to fish out these PVC ones languishing in my wardrobe spurred on by the ever fashion forward courageousness of Pull Your Socks Up in rocking a PVC catsuit!

I have ranted previously on on Friend Friday about semi-transparent leggings, perhaps giving the impression that I am totally anti-leggings but I'm not.  I actually really like leggings either used as a layering basic or as a statement piece in themselves.  Leggings can extend the life of those summer dresses you can't quite say goodbye to during autumn and you can use them as an interesting alternative to tights in winter when worn under a winter dress.

And I do dare to wear them as an alternative to a skinny jean as long as they are thick enough. The release of Sass and Bide's statement making Black Rats were what convinced me to give it a try.  Despite being around a good couple of years they are still on constant reorder on online retailers like My-Wardrobe and Net-a-Porter and still periodically sell out.  I find their all over ruching adds enough texture in the right places so they are actually a lot less revealing than smooth leggings and I feel okay with wearing a shorter top.

On this occasion I've worn my Rats with a burnout patterned tee shirt from Pull and Bear and a Sass and Bide ringmaster style tailcoat which I bought for a bargain basement price in the winter sales a couple of years ago.  The coats tails are long enough to keep me covered up at the back.  I also like to wear the Rats with a slouchy tee and hip length blazer or jacket. 

I keep my accessories to a minimum going to gigs because I never know where and under what conditions I'll have to get changed into a costume until I get there and flinging jewellery off in a hurry is the fastest way to lose it!


Black Rats look amazing with statement heels but despite being a heels girl, after an hour of dancing and stamping in high heels the only thing I can face wearing is a pair of comfortable flats, in this case biker boots.  These are from Gap, bought recently out of desperation when my old faithful flat biker boots developed holes in the soles.  I'm not too enamoured with their colour though as the "distressed" finish is neither here nor there so I'm considering attacking them with black boot polish to darken them up.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Show Time


This was what I got up to on the weekend.  The great thing about being a flamenco dancer is that you get to wear amazing dresses to go to work!

There has been a request for flamenco pictures from another flamenco dancing blogger Dusk (also an Aussie coincidentally).  I wish I could say this was my full time job but the reality is that I have to do other things to support both it and a reasonable quality of life in a city as expensive as London.  C'est la vie.

Also good flamenco costumes don't come cheap, but having seen some great dancers let down by lacklustre costumes I think they are really worth the investment.  To me costumes are as important as the dancing and I have all of mine made in Spain by specialist tailors.  I also like to push the envelope here too, opting for more modern dress styles, fabrics and prints that are the current fashion in Spain.  Fashion changes in flamenco costumes too!  So you won't find me wearing the traditional polka dots or fifties postcard feria confections with meringue skirts too often.

It is one thing relying on your skills as a dancer for a performance and another walking on stage feeling confident and good in what you are wearing.  A professional dancer friend of mine instilled in me this - si sientas guapa, bailas mejor - if you feel beautiful you dance better.

As a flamenco dancer you have to transport the audience somewhere else so why let your performance slide by not paying attention to details that help you do so?  You spend so much time honing the skills to be able to express yourself artistically that it seems a great shame not to honour yourself and your art by investing in something amazing to wear whilst doing it.

The photos were taken by my wonderful boyfriend who is developing quite a skill at capturing flamenco dancers in photos from being dragged for years to gigs as official photographer!

Traducción:

Esto fue lo que he hecho este fin de semana pasada. La gran cosa acerca de ser un bailarín de flamenco es que se llega a usar vestidos increíbles para ir a trabajar! Ha habido una petición para los cuadros flamencos de otro blogger y bailaora Dusk (también australiana). Me gustaría decir que vivo del baile, pero la realidad es que tengo que hacer otras cosas para apoyar tanto a ella y una calidad de vida razonable en una ciudad tan cara como Londres. C'est la vie.

También trajes flamencas buenas no son barata, pero de haber visto algunos grandes bailaoras que por trajes mediocre creo que realmente vale la pena la inversión. Para mí trajes son tan importantes como el baile y tengo todas las mias realizadas en España por las modistas especialistas. También me gusta los estilos más modernos, hecho de tejidos y estampados que son la moda en España. La moda desarolla en trajes de flamenca también! Así que no me pongo casi nunca los lunares tradicionales o trajes de feria con faldas enormes si fuera de las tarjetas postales de los años cincuentas

Es una cosa confiar en sus habilidades como bailarina de un espectáculo y otro a salir en el escenario con mucha confianza y sentiendo bien en lo que estas llevando.  Una amiga que es bailaora profesional me ha avisado una vez - si sientas guapa, bailas mejor.

Como bailaora tiene que transportar al publico en otro lugar, ¿por qué estropia el dibujo completo por no prestar atención a los detalles que le ayudarán a hacerlo? Despues de pasar tanto tiempo en perfeccionar las habilidades para ser capaz de expresarte artísticamente parece un gran lastima de no honrar a tí mismo y tu arte de invertir en algo que te luce a llevar al mismo tiempo. 

Los fotos fueron tomadas por mi novio maravilloso que se está desarrollando bastante habilidad en la captura de los bailaores de flamenco en las fotos que se arrastra desde hace años a los conciertos como fotógrafo oficial!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Links à la Mode: Hats Off!

A big thank you to Thom for selecting my Friend Friday post on negativity in blogging as part of this week's IFB roundup as well as some other pertinent posts related to it (see Beauty and the Recession and Oranges and Apples posts in particular).  The posts by the other bloggers participating in Modly Chic's Friend Friday on this topic are well worth a read too.  I hope posts like these will generate more discussion, raise awareness and provide food for thought for all bloggers out there on these issues!

links a la mode

Hats Off!

Edited by: Thom of The Sunday Best

With  fashion weeks in full swing it would have been easy for the IFB fold to  post multiple photos and call it a day. Hats off to these dedicated writers for continuing to pump out original content on often thorny issues (negative blogging anyone?). In particular it was nice to finally see more than one male blogger throwing his hat into the ring. Dressed for Dinner - we salute you and your lovely beard.

Links à la Mode: October 8th

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Friday, 8 October 2010

Friend Friday: Constructive Criticism

1. Do you allow comments on your blog? Why or why not? 
Yes.  Because I would like to think that I am not just talking to myself.  I've found allowing comments allows you to interact with other bloggers and you get to meet some amazing people who you look forward to hearing from regularly. 

I find it amazing that in the few months I've been blogging I've met people from America, Latvia, Brazil, Ireland, Tipton and Spain whose blogs I visit and they visit my blog.  Did anyone have a pen pal as a kid?  I had one from Japan.  Now I have several on the go from different countries all united by a love of fashion and who I get to share photos and fashion tidbits with regularly as well! 

I suppose you could just email each other but interacting via commenting is fun.  I've found some great blogs through the comments left on blogs I read.  You get to see who is visiting and commenting and visit them all as well.

2. Do you think at times people leave comments that are insincere or not well thought out? (like the ones who write two words and just seem to be trying to comment on as many blogs as possible.) What's the point?
I once had someone comment and it was clear they hadn't even read the post.  When I googled that person I found she had just copied and pasted the exact same comment on every blog she had visited just to leave a link to her blog.  I didn't bother publishing it.  There is no point in those comments because that kind of thing becomes very obvious after a while.

I've made two word comments like "nice skirt" or something similar sometimes, but actually because I liked the skirt and perhaps there were already so many other accolades in the comments section that nothing else particularly witty or interesting to say sprang to mind.  Or maybe I wasn't feeling particularly imaginative.  But I still wanted to pay the blogger a compliment on what I'd seen.  At least I will have picked out that it was a nice skirt and didn't just post a generic "nice photos, thanks for sharing, follow me...!!"

3. Would you ever leave a comment that could be considered negative?
I have once.  I tried to be very diplomatic in what I said but I'd just read something I found really, really offensive and thoughtless in the post and decided I had to say so.  I left a positive comment elsewhere to try and show that it really was only that statement I found objectionable. 

Later I wondered whether it was worth commenting at all as I'm not sure that it would have really changed the way that person thought and I never returned to the blog anyway as I was so off put by the post.  I have since seen far worse offensiveness on the blogosphere and I now refrain from commenting at all.  I don't see the point.  People will be want they want to be. 

Now I'll just leave and don't go back or start off a Google groups discussion and have an unholy rant to Friend Friday people on my own blog.  I figure if I stand on my own soapbox in my own corner to crow about what I believe than it is up to other people to make their own minds up about whether I can change theirs or not. 

I did notice in the last Friend Friday some bloggers actually mentioned that they had as of that day decided to unfollow some negative blogs.  So just by making them think about an action they'd been doing made them question it and ultimately change it. Yay!

4. Most people claim to like constructive criticism. Do you really and how do you offer that kind of criticism to others? 
Some people are better at taking it than others but I think deep down everyone is sensitive about being criticised no matter how diplomatic you try to be about it, even if you sandwich it between two bits of positive feedback.  How often does constructive criticism actually feel constructive? 

I just discussed this with my boyfriend as we both have to take constructive criticism regularly in various walks of life - primarily work.  We concluded that the only time we ever feel like the criticism we'd been given was constructive was when it is given by an instructor in something physical, like skiing or dancing.  Everything else somehow manages to make you feel small in some way.  Maybe its because physical things are easy to correct then and there and you see the results almost instantly, rather than just getting the "you have not been very good at X, Y and Z" and not being able to do very much about it.  But then again maybe it is because we normally work for psychopaths.

I would be wary of asking for constructive criticism on a blog because that could just be an open invitation to busy bodies who like the process of criticising rather than being constructive.  Just my opinion!  And I think the term constructive criticism as applied to fashion almost implies that there is a right and a wrong. 

I don't think there are any rights and wrongs in fashion and personal style.  The trend setters in fashion are the rule breakers.  Fashion isn't always about wearing something flattering, its also about playing with proportion, flying in the face of conventional aesthetics and turning old style references on their heads.  Start putting limits on it and you remove the freedom to be creative.

I don't leave constructive criticism on blogs because I don't think it is my place unless someone specifically asks me for it and even then I would probably word things as suggestions and leave it up to the person if they want to take that on board or not. 

I would never leave a negative comment on someone's outfit, not even if they wore crocs with socks, because I can say on my own blog that I don't like this kind of look and leave each to their own on theirs.  And you know fashion is meant to be fun, people should lighten up about it and not take it so seriously.

5. Some bloggers don't allow comments in order to cut down on negativity. Do you think that is the way to go or are there other ways to deal with the negative vibes?
If a blogger is getting a barrage of negative comments just because people want to vent because they are rich, their blog is successful or they just suddenly attract some nasty types who want to pick on them then I can understand a blogger deciding not to allow comments.  It must be unpleasant and demoralising having to read through them all the time and why should they have to?  They may as well go and look in the mirror and slap themselves every day.

There are negative comments that state that you agree to disagree with someone and that could invite a discussion and then there is just pure spite and hatefulness.  And if you have real hate being plastered all over the thing you work hard on and love why should you give those people the honour of ruining it?  It's not nice for other visitors to the blog to read that kind of negativity either.

I'm not a purist about comments being on or off but I must say that I gravitate to the ones with comments because I can leave a compliment if I like something and hopefully interact with the blogger.  If comments are off, or the blogger never interacts that's also fine with me but it is less likely to become a daily read or visit unless the content is really out of this world.  It is just a little bit less engaging because it doesn't feel like there is a human being behind the blog, and the human aspect is what I think most of us like about blogs and blogging.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Penguin Jackets


I like a bit of masculine tailoring especially tuxedo jackets and I finally got a white one. As a teen I used to raid the wardrobe of my best friend's older brother for sharp shouldered masculine jackets and bow ties to wear with bib front shirts. Strangely he later became a boyfriend. It didn't last long - he didn't own any tuxedo jackets.

I think it must have been that scene from Flashdance where the protagonist Alex goes to dinner with her boss in a tuxedo and the shirt she has underneath is revealed to be actually only the bib, cuffs (with cuff links) and bow tie.


Image from DVDizzy.com
My teen obsession with a movie about a girl who moonlights as an exotic dancer, welds to pay the bills and dances to, as she puts it, "disappear" not only led to an obsession with le smoking as a sartorial statement, it also led to two decades of dance classes.  Now I moonlight as an exotic-ish dancer (albeit more covered up dancing flamenco) and weld myself to a computer all day to pay the bills.  Life imitates art.  Sort of.

This outfit is what I wore on the first of the two days I went to London Fashion Week in case anyone was wondering. Well there wasn't much chance of me being over dressed at Somerset House was there?

Traducción

Me gusta un poco de la sastrería masculina, especialmente chaquetas de esmoquin y finalmente conseguí una blanca. Cuando era adolescente solía tomar por asalto el guardarropa del hermano mayor de mi mejor amiga para sus chaquetas masculinas y pajaritas para llevar con camisetas frente babero. Por extraño que más tarde se convirtió en un novio. Esto no duró mucho tiempo - no tenía ningún chaquetas de esmoquin a robar. Creo que debe haber sido la escena de Flashdance, donde el protagonista Alex va a cenar con su jefe en un esmoquin y la camisa que tiene debajo se revela que en realidad sólo el babero, puños (con gemelos) y la pajarita.

Mi obsesión adolescente con una película sobre una chica que empleo como una bailarina exótica, soldaduras para pagar las cuentas y los bailes que, como ella dice, "desaparecer", no sólo llevó a una obsesión con el consumo de la traje esmoquin como una declaración de vestir, también se llevó a dos décadas de clases de baile. Ahora la luna como una bailaora exótica (aunque más encubierto bailando flamenco) y yo de soldadura a una computadora todo el día para pagar las cuentas. La vida imita al arte.

Este es lo que llevaba en el primero de los dos días quando fui a la London Fashion Week, en caso de que alguien se preguntaba. Bueno, no había muchas posibilidades de que yo sea demasiado bien vestida en Somerset House.

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