Friday, 25 February 2011

A Night at the Opera


What do you do if you are going to the opera at none other than the Royal Opera House in London?  You pull out all stops on the outfit front of course!  Between London Fashion Week and the recent flamenco festival I've had a chance to crack out some more outlandish outfits.  However a night out with Mr V. seeing one of our favourite operas, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), calls for an extra special effort.

This marked the debut outing of my Wheels and Doll Baby tutu!  I also couldn't pass up a more perfect opportunity to get my coat tails out again.  I originally wanted to channel Papagena and wear my Topshop feather coat but I found the cut of this coat was better in that it allowed my tutu to peek out cheekily between the cutaway front.  However as you'll see I did manage to find a way to work some feathers!


I have always loved the opera, in particular the works of Mozart.  The Magic Flute was the first opera I ever went to see as a wide eyed teenager with my sister and friends on a five dollar student discount and I remember we got dolled up to the nines for the occasion.

Last night was the third time I had seen it and I was very excited about seeing this version which would mark the first time hearing it sung live in the original German.  Not that I can speak German to save my life but I remember listening to the German version on endless repeat as a young woman and I know the melodies of all the arias off by heart with every note and intonation sung in that language.  It makes a difference!

Even though we had already seen it once together, when considering an opera to book this season Mr V and I chose Die Zauberflöte as a video preview on the Royal Opera House website showed an amazing set and costumes to die for.  It didn't disappoint!  The third time around it was still as thrilling, emotional and funny as the first time.  There is good reason why people still listen to Mozart after more than two centuries!

Penny Dreadful has done a wonderful post complete with photos on the opera's costumes which were truly superb, especially that of the Queen of the Night, who was resplendent in metres and metres of sparkling diaphanous tulle.  There was also some rather wonderful use of puppetry and contemporary dance throughout which made the production quite unique.


Thankfully it has warmed up in London lately so I was able to substitute my normal layers of wool knitwear for something a little more glamorous.  What better to embrace your inner Papagena than a vintage marabou bolero!  Perfect for keeping the chill at bay in the lofty heights of the amphitheatre!

The shoes weren't exactly what I originally had in mind but I ran out of time getting ready and they were the only dressy pair to hand before I had to dash out to get the tube - in ballet flats mind, the heels went in my bag and I changed when I got to the Royal Opera House.  These shoes are from the late Alexander McQueen's last ready-to-wear collection and I found them at the Harrod's sale marked down by seventy percent on a day they were having an additional ten percent off sale items.  It would have been criminal to leave them there!  They scored a compliment from a lady whilst I was sitting in the foyer waiting for Mr V. to arrive.

The only thing that left me a little disappointed in an otherwise faultless production were the costumes of Papageno and Papagena.  I always look forward to the extravagance and fantastical beastliness of these two characters who are more often than not dressed in wonderful feathery confections.  As you may know by now I am more than a little partial to feathers!  While the rest of the cast were dressed in sumptuous eighteenth century opulence, Papageno and Papagena were uncomfortably propelled into the twentieth century by way of their modern costumes.  Papageno was in a bland khaki suit with a stuffed duck stapled to his hat and Papagena was dressed in a leather miniskirt, skin tight top and white stiletto heels for her final appearance.  I was a tad underwhelmed.


My favourite version of the Papegano/Papagena couple appeared in the English National Opera's production which Mr V. and I saw about ten years ago.  Papageno was played by the handsome baritone Leigh Melrose, who also happened to attend the same University college as Mr V, and who was decked out in a beautiful feathered jacket, feathered breeches and an amazing feathered headdress with a giant beak.  His interpretation of the character was so endearing and charming that in the scene where Papageno consults with the audience as to whether he should end it all as there is nobody to love him, he actually had ladies pleading with him not to hang himself.  For the grand finale Papegana descended in a giant birds nest from above, a vision of star studded plumage in a stunning voluminous white gown covered in crystals and feathers.  So much more memorable!

The corset I wore underneath has its own operatic stage story.  I bought it years ago on sale and it remained in my wardrobe unworn for several years afterward until I had to play the role of Bizet's Carmen in a flamenco version of the fight scene for a flamenco show.  But last night marked its first night out offstage so to speak, dressing a member of the audience.


You would think that people in London would dress up more to go to the opera or the theatre but I've been very surprised to find that most of them don't.  I have to say I did get eyeballed a bit by other ladies on the tube and in attendance at the opera, probably because they thought I was way over the top in what I was wearing.  I think it is a bit sad that apart from those going out to fancy nightclubs people don't seem to make the most of opportunities to get dressed up anymore.  Sometimes I wonder where all the people who like to dress up go in London.

Despite that I thoroughly recommend a night at the opera in London.  We really enjoyed the performance and even treated ourselves to a glass of champagne in the interval.  If you book ahead you can get inexpensive tickets with great views and even though we weren't sitting in expensive seats I wasn't going to let that stop me from having fun getting dressed up for the occasion.  Surely the opera is the place to do it and after all, every gal living in a big city needs her Carrie Bradshaw moment in a tutu!

Marabou feather bolero, Vintage to Vogue; Corset, Karen Millen; Tutu, Wheels and Doll Baby; Coat, Just Cavalli; Shoes, Alexander McQueen; Necklace, Banana Republic, Brooch on Coat, Vintage

Thursday, 24 February 2011

London Fashion Week: Camilla Skovgaard


The gladiator shoe and shoe boot are both far from being dead.  (Cue relieved sigh from yours truly.)  At the hands of shoe designer Camilla Scovgaard these styles are being reincarnated in a plethora of new and exciting forms.  These are shoes for girls who aren't afraid to make a strong statement with their footwear.

Scovgaard offers up a huge variety of colours, tone and texture in the materials for her Autumn Winter 2011 shoe collection.  In addition to some very covetable fierce black designs, there were shoes in a deep tan, chocolate, aubergine, ivory and grey leather, as well as in leather with various finishes: metallic gold and silver, lizard skin, patent, pearlised and even rainbow tinted hologram.

There were creations in a textured dirty white suede which I particularly liked when smartened up with a contrasting black leather trim.  Aubergine nubuck was contrasted with a multicoloured hologram leather which appeared as trim on a gladiator shoe and covering the spike heel of a treaded court shoe.  There was a smart, scratch stripe printed canvas that came in grey and black or brown and copper.

The designs featured contrasting fabrics or finishes and clever use of buckle straps, zips, press studs, silver buckles, criss crossing straps, cut away sections and even a continuation of this season's predilection to add a shearling lining.  Of course Scovgaard's signature angular platform soles and distinctive wide, shark toothed tread are heavily featured.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Puss in Boots

I thought I would do a study of how to dress for a cold foggy day in London and my thought process in how I layered up.  I pondered for quite some time on what to call this post before settling on the above title.  It is interesting what seeing a photo of your outfit does to your perception of what you look like and who you might have had in mind when getting dressed. By the end you'll see why I settled on the final post title!

It also being London Fashion Week the question on everyone lips is what are you going to wear if you attend.  At the Osman show on Sunday I overheard one lady say "...some people choose to wear some very strange things!"  Well if you can't push the envelope during London Fashion Week when can you?  This is what I wore yesterday on my rounds of the exhibition and here is the methodology from the base layers up:

Choose base layers which consist of a cotton tank top and wool tights over which goes a leather tee shirt and suede harem trousers for warmth.  Add high flat boots both for comfort,warmth and to be able to stuff in trousers legs for even more warmth.  Accessorise with your favourite necklace making use of the grey pearls to pick out the grey of the trousers and the gold chains and spikes to break up the black tee.


Realise that you are absolutely freezing.
 
Add a charcoal wool cardigan, one with a bit of origami folded structure to the knit which works better with the shape and stiffness of the leather tee.  Take mental note of the interesting way the hem of the cardigan matches and continues the line made by the hem of the tee shirt and decide that these two items should be worn together again.  Feel slightly pleased with yourself that you've managed to avoid an all black outfit then realise that actually sticking to black and grey is probably cheating.


Realise that you are still cold.

Turn to selecting a coat.  Recall that you saw Desiree of Pull Your Socks Up looking fabulous in coat tails recently, that it was a reminder that your own fantastic coat with coat tails is hanging neglected in the wardrobe and has not made it out all Winter despite promising yourself you would be getting it out this season.  Resolve to wear.


Realise that you are still cold.

Waste considerable time cursing that you appear to have lost your favourite Baker Boy cap and will have to head off outside without the warmth of a hat!  Throw a pair of studded driving gloves in your bag to stop fingers freezing.

Button up and add snood.  Feel rather dandyish and that you remind yourself of someone but you can't quite place who that is or where you've seen them.

 

Remember when you come to process the photos!  Below the real Puss in Boots:

Source: Wikipedia

Chiffon backed leather tee, Topshop; Black cotton tank top, Suede harem trousers, Cos; Bombshell Necklace, Merle O'Grady; Wool cardigan, She's So; Coat, Just Cavalli; Snood, Cos; Wool tights, Falke; Suede Pirate Boots, Vivienne Westwood;

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

London Fashion Week: Osman


It has been a while since I've been in attendance at a catwalk show at London Fashion Week and it is surprising just how much of a proper show they always are.  There is a reverential hush that falls over the noisy audience as the lights are dimmed and the first notes of the musical score slices through the built up anticipation hanging thick in the air.  As the first model struts out under the glare of the runway lights you suddenly become aware of a constant mechanised hum suddenly starting up, slightly breaking the hypnotic effect of the music and the calm, even, plodding stride of the first model. Then you realise what you are hearing: the constant whirring and flashless clicking of dozens of cameras in the press pit.

In comparison to his more usually pared down pallette Osman offered a riot of colour for Autumn Winter 2011.  Base colours of white, black, silver, grey and charcoal were still used heavily throughout the collection but  lime, hot pink, electric blue, orange, red and turquoise were used in colour blocking pieces or as accents to break the severity of the more basic colours.

The shape of many of the garments and the use of long tunics worn over trousers was reminiscent of Eastern Asian styles of traditional dress.  There was a sheer tangerine tunic dress with an embroidered navy blue motif running down one side which called to mind South East Asian forms of traditional dress, batik fabrics, and the tradition of shadow puppets dancing behind guaze screens.  The long narrow cut of the long frock coats worn over trousers reminded me of the traditional jackets worn by Indian men.  Many of the pieces in the collection were lent an understated sex appeal by details like the unexpected fluidity of flowing ties and trailing backs on tops and tunics, or by the angular precision of cutaway sections on the front and sides of dresses.

While I fully recommend that you view the photography on sites like Vogue to see the collection the images still don't do justice to the beauty of the fabrics used in the collection as seen with the naked eye.  Many of the garments were constructed from very richly textured material with metallic sheens or some sort of surface pile.  There was a thick, intricately quilted material worked into jackets and trousers.  There was a shimmering furry velour with an almost velvety pile.  Some of the more severe tunic shapes in white and silver were softened with the additional of fluid trousers in a plush, mottled, deep emerald and black velour with an almost fish scale iridescence shimmering underneath. 

He made clever use of a wool with a finish that gave it a bright metallic sheen.  It appeared as triangular panels of electric blue on the front of dresses and tops, or it was used in a shimmering silvery grey in sharply tailored pieces like a long sleeved, high necked maxi dress, starkly simple tops and wide legged trousers.

There was very interesting use of leather with dresses and skirts given some surprising and playful accents in texture and colour using inlaid horizontal stripes of brightly coloured bouclé wool.  He continued the trend of Prada's horizontal stripes worked in fluorescent pink wool against a black leather dress with an A-line skirt.  A skirt fashioned from leather in a muted tone of baby pink was given horizontal stripes of navy blue bouclé wool and paired with a navy blue wool top.  A severe black leather shell top was lightened up by the addition of an angular lime green cape and a stiff leather tee was given a contrasting back of floaty, bright orange chiffon.
 
Stand out pieces included the red quilted jackets paired with turquoise trousers; the long leather trimmed, belted coats in white and charcoal, a jaffa orange caped trenchcoat, a black dress with an inbuilt cape lined in bright orange and the hot pink maxi dress with cutaway sides and electric blue motif. 

My personal favourite pieces were the dresses with furry sleeves. There was a black column dress with blue fur sleeves and a bronze metal zip that snaked its way down the back, around the side and into a dramatic thigh high split.  Despite the explosion of riotous colour he didn't disappoint on the little black dress front.  There was a fitted leather shift dress that appeared to have zips splitting it into three sections - a zip off bottom section to make it shorter, and a zip at the waist to convert it into a top.  Three leather garments in one!  There was a shift dress fashioned from material that resembled a fine faux fur, and I loved a black tunic dress with voluminous glossy black fur sleeves.

Monday, 21 February 2011

London Fashion Week


My first day over at London Fashion week and this is quick post about what I ended up wearing.  It is still very cold, grey and drizzling in London with a bit of fog settling so no fast forwarding to try and work Spring/Summer 2011 trends for me - it is going to be coat and boots all the way.


I'm still living in heavy coats and this is my latest addition to the wardrobe courtesy of the Image sale.  A midnight blue, wool/angora mix, kimono style wrap coat with a satin trim by Korean designer Kaylee Tankus. I love how the coat folds up like origami and the satin band falls down the line of your body when you close it, like a mini Great Wall of China splitting the landscape.  The label was becoming a big favourite in my closet for its exotic mix of East-meets-West aesthetics and luxurious designs imbued with street style sensibility.  To my dismay I have recently heard that after Spring/Summer 2011 the label is no longer as the designer and the Italian company who runs it have parted ways.


I learnt my lesson at the last Fashion Week to know that it is best to forego heels and stick with flats!  So out came my Vivienne Westwood pirate boots which were very comfortable on the rather unforgiving surfaces at Somerset House when I was dashing around trying to take in collections and the odd photo.  These are my first pair of pirate boots (I've been craving a pair for years) and I got them off the Outnet.  For a great rundown on what to look for when buying a pair see this article at Fashion Pearls of Wisdom.

I chose a long sleeved leather shift dress to keep me warm and accessorised with my other favourite necklace at the moment, another fabulous statement piece by Merle O'Grady.  I'm still working through photos of her new collection and it is truly stunning.


The Osman show I attended yesterday (detailed review pending) was lovely, my photos of it however, are absolutely terrible.  Being so short all I got was heads and shoulders of people in front of me and blurry models and I'm a bit too polite to raise my camera above my head to block the view of the people behind me for the sake of getting a decent shot.  I think you really need to be in the press pit or front row to do a catwalk show justice with a camera.

I wasn't able to stay long enough yesterday to do the exhibition justice so I am going back for more tomorrow!

Coat, Kaylee Tankus; Leather dress, Cos; Tights, Falke; Boots, Vivienne Westwood; Necklace, Merle O'Grady; Snood, Cos

Sunday, 20 February 2011

London Fashion Week: Corrie Nielsen


I'm off to London Fashion Week tomorrow and thought I would spend some time catching up on the action on the official website where you can see the catwalk show videos.  After filing through most of the videos of the last two days I hadn't really seen anything that had me leaping out of my seat with excitement until I came across this show.  I hadn't heard of Corrie Nielsen before but she has been the first designer this season whose show has made my jaw drop.  She had me hooked from the first swashbuckling outfit.

Sculptural and dramatic shapes constructed with an attention to detail and flair for drama that for me recalled the work of Alexander McQueen.  Some wonderful Elizabethan references which she quotes as an influence.  Amongst my favourite details were the Elizabethan feel of the high ruff-like collars, a voluminous taffeta cape and blouse, the fine pleated waists on pantaloons and pencil skirts, the medieval corsets, the use of volume to exaggerate the female form.

The sheer grandeur of the two final gowns can only be described as hauntingly regal and walk straight out of their historical references into the modern day, reinterpreted via clever twists of tailoring.  There is a cream satin corseted wedding gown with a train and hooped skirt (using what appears to be a modern replica of the Elizabethan farthingale) and the grand finale of a very queenly gown glorified in Gothic black.

A quick perusal of her credentials explains a lot - several years working for Vivienne Westwood would explain the attention to draping, womanly curves and the fine work on the corsetry.

Of course the shoes caught my eye.  I noted flashes of the trademark black stripes of shoe designer Georgina Goodman on the soles of the shoes as the models strode away.

This is what I love and enjoy about fashion.  Everyone needs clothes to wear but seeing a designer work this kind of transformative magic is what makes the heartbeat quicken, the pulse race.  Corrie Nielsen.  One to watch!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Friend Friday - Body Image

Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email katy_rose1@yahoo.com.  This week we are talking about body image.

Recently I have been rehearsing in a local hall and I start my session by undressing and hanging up the elements of my daily uniform on a rail of clothes hooks arranged like this.  My cashmere jumpers, alpaca coat, Mongolian fur gilet, wool hat, cashmere snood, and jersey harem trousers.  Seeing and recognising this shapeless, lifeless, skinned version of myself prompted me to get my camera out and take a picture.  The shell without the body so to speak, sullenly watching me (and I, it) the whole time I rehearse.  A deflated and dissected being silently awaiting reanimation on reunion with my limbs, torso and head.

 

Somehow this ghostly representation of the living, breathing, conscious me, formed by this orderly alignment of my clothes suspended on the wall, strangely reflects what I was thinking when I got dressed in the morning, my state of mind, how much time I put into selecting what I wanted to wear, my inability to acclimatise to a cold climate, my preference for certain fabrics and my predilection for wearing black.  This phantom self will retain the warmth of my body heat for some time after undressing.  Its scent would tell an amateur Sherlock Holmes whether I bothered to wear perfume today and if so, which one.  He could also deduce how often I wear each piece and what I habitually do wearing them from the signs of wear that scar them.

So much of the essence of me infused into the fibres even when I am not in them.  It made me reflect how wearing clothing is strangely like puppetry.  It is funny how our body image can be so deeply affected by how clothes fit and how we look in our clothes, and yet our garments are just inanimate objects which only come to life when inhabited by our bodies.

I'm rehearsing with a bata de cola these days, a long trained skirt that needs to be brought to life with the technical skills of my body.  Another act of puppetry with a garment.  The skirt has to dance.  Sometimes it has to fly, sometimes it has to appear to float and it always has to fall in time with the music.  It must not be allowed to flip over and sometimes it has a will of its own if you let it control you rather than controlling it.  Some dancers will tell you that dancing with this skirt is like dancing with another person, a partner.  Mine happens to argue with me a lot!

Clothes should be more grateful.  They would have no life if it wasn't for our bodies!

 
1. Since you started blogging has your image of yourself changed? 
I assume this is referring to body image but my image of myself (body or otherwise) has never really been affected by the blog.

I've been a very physically active person for the last two decades and I would say my body image has a lot more to do with being a dancer and the requisite number of hours spent in front of a mirror scrutinising what your body does and how it looks.  I studied ballet for years and now dance flamenco and I always notice how much muscle loss I suffer and weight I gain when I don't dance as much.  Your body is what is on show when you are on stage and that makes you acutely aware of how it looks in costumes, under lights and in photos.  I have been photographed on several occasions for promotional purposes as a dancer and it never fails to amaze me how much lighting and film can visually add in pounds.

When I started the blog I had actually put on a lot of weight after working horrifically long hours for months on a contract job and I was struggling to fit into half my wardrobe.  Although it gave me a good excuse to go shopping for new clothes, I found it very frustrating that many of my favourite clothes were suddenly off limits.  I went to Spain for three months shortly after starting the blog and lost a lot of weight while dancing over there.  Since I've got back to England I've put on at least half of what I lost in Spain back on again due to comfort eating in the winter (curse those crumpets with jam and clotted cream) as well as not walking and dancing as much.  So changes in my body image over my time blogging has had much more to do with things going on behind the blog rather than the act of blogging and doing outfit posts.

2. Are you self-conscious about any aspect of yourself? If so, do you go out of your way to avoid it or do you post it/talk about it anyway?
I'm self conscious about lots of things but I don't think it makes for interesting blogging to moan about it.  I will say that I don't think I am particularly photogenic and don't like looking at pictures or videos of myself and I have to do enough of that outside of this blog for dance related things.  It not actually the reason I blog anonymously but I certainly save a lot of time doing outfit posts by not showing my face as that would just mean having to spend even more time filtering out photos with facial expressions I find annoying.

My blog is about my passion for clothes and even though issues of fit, cut and what I find flattering on me is going to be affected by my body image at the time, I wouldn't usually discuss that thought process ad nauseum in a post unless it was the sole reason I chose what I wore.  Poor old Mr V gets the job of dealing with the "does my bum look big in this" questions, nobody else!

3. Based on how you are feeling now, what do you think the future holds in the evolution of your body image?
I'm thirty eight and suffer from all the run of the mill age related things that everyone suffers from when it comes to body image, but ironically I'm probably far more comfortable with my body now than I ever was in my cellulite free teens and twenties when I had much less to complain about.  People have been kindly advising me for at least two decades every time another birthday comes around that "it's all downhill from here!" and I'm sure they will continue to tell me the same thing for years to come.  I've found its best to stop worrying about it so much and enjoy what you have, now!

4. Do you photograph yourself for your blog? If so, how do you feel about the experience when you're having your picture taken? If you choose not to post pictures of yourself, what prompted that decision? 
I usually take photos of myself for the blog.  I generally feel a little bit silly doing it which is more to do with prancing around my kitchen in front of a tripod and camera than anything to do with my body image!  In blogging anonymously I also spare everybody my corny facial expressions.  I look for photos that are the best at showing off first and foremost the clothes and that usually coincides with what looks flattering on me.  Certain poses and angles can make anyone look a bit strange due to foreshortening or other effects so it is really about finding something that looks good.

5. What would you want every person who struggles with body image to take to heart?
It is the rare person that is not insecure about something in terms of their body image.  If you have body image issues you are in good company.  It shouldn't stop you enjoying from getting dressed every day and if anything clothes can be your best friends if you are feeling self conscious about your body.  It is a question of wearing clothes that fit well and flatter you.  But speaking from my own experience it is amazing what even a moderate amount of regular exercise can do, not only in terms of toning up but also in terms of feeling healthier and more positive in general.

The body is an amazing machine and I firmly believe it was built to be active.  I love putting mine through its paces physically and you get out of it what you put in.  I'm actually one of those people that doesn't like going to the gym but I found a form of exercise that I love and enjoy doing which I think is key.  I would also say that you shouldn't approach exercise with the expectation to fall in love with your "new" body afterwards.  Rather, just show your body some love by giving it some exercise!  In the end its health is far more important than the clothes you put on it.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Merle O'Grady Bombshell Necklace and London Fashion Week


My absolute favourite necklace at the moment which I find goes with almost everything I'm wearing in my winter wardrobe.  A combination of spiked grey pearls, black Swarovski crystals and vintage chain links from the sixties.  Just how I like my bling - with lots of edge!

I'm hoping to wear it well into Spring/Summer to spruce up my sharp blazer and tee shirt combinations.  The only catch is the spikes - I wouldn't wear this on fine knitwear or very delicate fabric that might pull and they are actually a little prickly if I'm wearing it directly on skin or on a thin garment.  Oh well, you can't say I am not willing to suffer for my art!  It was designed by the talented Merle O'Grady who I managed to interview last London Fashion Week.

Speaking of London Fashion Week this one has completely snuck up on me!  I feel totally unprepared and, rather crucially, have no idea what I am going to wear.  I will be attending on a couple of days but as a buyer, rather than a blogger.  I will nevertheless be scouring the trade shows with my camera for interesting subjects - more of the inanimate kind mind you.  I haven't the nerve to ask strangers if I can take their photograph and I can't say I am really interested in elbowing my way through the paparazzi throng who will no doubt be out to snap the stylish over the next few days.

I will be going to just one show - Osman Yousefzada.  I may, if I am really motivated, go to Preen too.  However it's very early in the morning and I just know I'm going to want to sleep in on a Saturday morning!  Of the seven or eight designers who I emailed for an invite Osman and Christopher Kane were the only ones who replied.  I do wonder if I had applied as a blogger whether I would have got more response on the back of being "press".  In fact from what I have understood some of the shows were for the press only.  You know, I understand that designers want the free publicity from blogs but buyers might actually order some merchandise if they like what they see!


Of course Christopher Kane was way oversubscribed but I'm pleased that Osman did send an invite as I really like his designs.  An ex-banker, he threw in the towel on making money to pursue fashion.  Don't blame him really!  His designs are sophisticated, elegant and quite minimalist at heart and he does some wonderful draped dresses.  I can attest to the transformational properties of his little draped black dresses as I am the proud owner of one. 

I've got an invite to the Osman after party but that really is going to be a case of turning up and not knowing anyone if I go.  Anyone else going??

Bombshell Necklace by Merle O'Grady

Monday, 14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day


Introducing Mr V!  He'll probably tell me off for posting a picture of him in what he says is his grotty old jumper but I love this jumper on him and won't let him throw it away!

I've been cruising the blog rounds today and noticed quite a few Valentine's Day posts.  Like many others I'm not a huge celebrator of Valentine's Day and won't be sulking if Mr V hasn't arranged some ridiculously expensive dinner or weekend away or a gift.  We actually find the commercial aspect of it all a bit nauseating and there is nothing to kill romance faster than having to compete for restaurant bookings and sharing your romantic dinner for two with half of London.

However, many of the blogs I visit have posted a "I don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day but..." and then proceeded to tug at my heart strings with a mushy post about their friends (Penny Dreadful) or other halves (Dusk).  So you've all got me into the spirit and I've felt the urge to do a Valentine's Day post dedicated to Mr V!

Fact is Mr V and I rarely do anything on Valentine's Day apart from perhaps swap silly humorous cards and cook an extra nice meal at home.  But we have been too run off our feet lately to even think about organising even these small things this year.  Tonight I am going to be teaching flamenco until late and therefore won't see much of him at all today.

In the past, Mr V has on a couple of occasions tried unsuccessfully to hide a bunch of flowers for me in the flat the night before, but somehow I always stumble across them by accident and rumble him.  One year, when he worked out a better hiding place, I woke to find stem roses interspersed between the plants in the patch of dirt we call a garden.

After reading about Dusk's husband finding the round crisps in a bag at the cinema to feed her so that they won't hurt her mouth and how he does all the greasy work on cars to spare her hands getting dirty (aawww!!!) I was reminded about all the wonderful selfless little things that Mr V does for me which are little acts of love every day, not just Valentine's Day.

He makes me coffee in the mornings, hot water bottles to keep me warm at night and always tells me I look beautiful even when I'm sloping around the house in my pyjamas and haven't made an effort.  He takes a huge interest in and is the biggest supporter of everything I do, even this blog which he reads on his way home from work, including every comment!

No matter how times Mr V has seen me perform flamenco, if he can come to one of my shows he will be there, and last night when I had a gig was no exception.  I always think that it must be getting a bit boring for him and tell him he doesn't need to come if he doesn't have time or doesn't feel like it, but then it is always so heartwarming to see him there in the audience.

This weekend Mr V put on his DIY hat very much as an act of love.  I recently lost my dance rehearsal space which was in our outdoor shed.  Due to the snow and foxes digging underneath it the roof had sprung several leaks and the shed had become saturated to the point where I could no longer rehearse in it.  Mr V spent all yesterday skillfully attaching a tarpaulin to the roof and ended up covered head to toe in grime, all to make sure I could start using the space again.

A bit about Mr V's style - he is the type who looks great in fisherman's jumpers, pea coats, floral print shirts, distressed denim jeans and he loves bright and bold colours (you can just see the cuff of his bright orange tee peeking out in the photo).  He has a big collection of brightly coloured tee shirts and jumpers in red, orange, yellow, lime and bright blue.  Yep!  Polar opposite to me in the colour spectrum!  Like many men he dislikes clothes shopping but takes exception when I come with him and help him choose!

Whether you are celebrating or not have a wonderful Valentine's Day everyone!

And Happy Valentine's Day to my wonderful Mr V!

Mr V wears:
Fisherman's Jumper, Versace Jeans; Grey cashmere sweater, Uniqlo; Orange long sleeved tee shirt, Uniqlo; Jeans, Pull and Bear; Shoes, Camper

Friday, 11 February 2011

Friend Friday - Colour Wars


Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email katy_rose1@yahoo.com.  This week we are talking about the use of colour in our wardrobes.

1. What color dominates your closet?
It is most definitely black.  Through grey seems to be catching up!  It's not that I am unadventurous with colour or don't like wearing it.  I actually love wearing colour.  I own many colourful pieces that I wear in warmer weather, but by far black seems to rule the roost because I wear it during winter and the winter here is loooooong!

Although I complain I wear too much black, I find I continually return to it when getting dressed as if I rather relish the challenge of remixing all my black pieces to make them interesting.  To be honest - I like black and really embrace wearing it in a myriad of shades, fabrics and textures.  I love the mystery, the drama, the glamour, the Gothic overtures, the rock and roll, the sex appeal and the luxuriousness of black.


When I am time strapped to think about getting dressed I find wearing black is a fail safe way to create a sophisticated, stylish and elegant look.  It also suits my skin tone.  Some years ago I had a colour analysis done, ironically to try and introduce more colour into my wardrobe, and my colour season is, even more ironically, Winter!  I was told if you are a Winter you fall into the only season whose colouring will find black very flattering.  The first thing I did after the analysis was to buy a black dress!

Known as the colour of protection black also serves as a form of armour in dress.  As a dancer I almost exclusively wear black in class and rehearsal (apart from when I did ballet and had to wear pink tights and shoes - the only non-black items I wore).  You spend a lot of time in front of a mirror being extremely self critical about everything you are doing and wearing black becomes a form of emotional protection against your own view of your self!

I've become a bit of an expert on mixing black with black, black with grey and grey with grey.  It would seem I'm gradually diluting towards white over time but I could do with moving sideways out of this part of the colour spectrum sometimes!


2. If money weren't an issue how would you change the color emphasis in your closet?

I would move to a warm country and wear all my pretty summer prints and whites all year round!  My summer and winter wardrobes are like chalk and cheese and I do have a lot of colourful summer clothes.


3. What is your mantra about mixing colors?

I'm not a bold or particularly great colour mixer.  Blocking clashing colours or mixing clashing prints has never really worked for me.  I don't go near acid brights or fluorescent colours.  You won't see me working neon unless I'm having to wear high visibility clothing on a building site or riding a bike.

If I work a colour it is generally in one printed piece or I'll wear a piece in one colour, say a red top with denim jeans or with a skirt or pair of trousers in a more neutral colour.   I do have a couple of good dresses in block colour which I will wear with a denim jacket or a black or neutral toned jacket.


I generally stick to the advice I got when I had my seasonal colour analysis done and avoid wearing the colours and tones of colours which don't suit me, especially near my face.  Having the analysis done has been really useful in that it sets boundaries for clothes shopping.  For instance I love canary yellow but I look hideous in it, so I would never buy something with yellow in it.  The exception would be if it was only a minor accent in a print where the base colour suited my skin tone and it wasn't worn near my face.

4. For you, how do you incorporate color into your outfits?
If it is warm there's no problem - I'm usually wearing something colourful!

Really black and darker colours like charcoal and navy are the basis of my winter wardrobe and these colours have been my staples for office work wear.  If I want to avoid all black/all grey/all navy I use nuetral accents in tones of paler greys and whites to break up the darker tones.


I also incorporate colour using accessories like shoes, scarves and bags (I rarely carry a black bag actually).  I do also like wearing printed pieces to break up an all black outfit.
 
5. Which blogger(s) do you think do a good job of incorporating color into their wardrobe? 
I do really enjoy seeing how other bloggers mix up colour.  Tops marks go to the fearless Franca of Oranges and Apples.  A few of my other favourites would have to be Be Fabulous Daily, No Guilt Fashion as it is very rare to see them in all black, and I love the colourful outfits of vintage clothing put together by Vintage Vixen.

But I don't want to only acknowledge good use of bright colours here because to me mixing black on black well is truly an art form.  The absolute master in the blogosphere in my eyes has to be The Divinitus.

People can make the scientific point that black is technically not a colour but in terms of pigments, combining all three primary colors (red, yellow and blue) and their second derivatives and you get..... black.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Tan and Gold Platform Shoes


After going a little mad at the winter sales I'm trying to keep myself out of future trouble by revisiting what is in the wardrobe to plunder for next season's trends.  I'm not much of a bright colour blocking type and I am just not getting the enthusiasm up to combine fluorescent pink with acid green or fluorescent orange.

For the last couple of years I have stopped myself from getting too excited about new Spring/Summer collections as bitter experience has shown me that I get very little wear out of anything I buy.  I still have several unworn summer pieces from previous years when washout summers meant that it was too cold to wear them.  I'm much more prepared to splash the cash in Autumn/Winter, especially in the sales because I find myself in Winter clothes and boots for about ten months of the year!  The upside is that my bank account should be relatively safe from Spring's new trends.  I'm quite happy to pass up fluoro brights for the ample amount of boho chic I've got stored away waiting for the sun to come out. 

Apart from floral prints and frilly dresses (of which I have plenty) I've noticed that old fashion chestnut "the seventies" is being touted as a big inspiration for Spring.  Nothing wrong with plundering the seventies for historical reference as I quite like the floaty hippy vibe that comes with it, but part of me has been thinking "What? Again?" It's like everyone in Planet Fashion has been extremely lazy in their free association brain storming sessions to come up with fresh ideas for the new season.  Hmmm Spring - sunshine, flowers, bees, flower power - I know let's revisit the seventies!  It almost feels like fashion groundhog day rather than fashion genius.

Not that such a revisit should give me reason to complain.  I've been taking stock of the seventies style pieces I already own and realise I have enough from previous seasons when the seventies came around to avoid buying new.  It also doesn't actually seem that long ago that this was a trend seeing as some of the tags are still on those items!!

I've also been seeing lots of platform style shoes filing in online at the likes of Topshop with those chunky seventies style block heels.  Although as a shorty I really love the extra height that a platform shoe gives me I can't bring myself to like that kind of clumpy stack heel.

Some time ago I bought a pair of black patent leather peeptoes from Katia Lombardo for work when they went on sale and was very impressed at how well the shoes were made.  When I saw these sandals at a bargain basement price a few months later I got them too.  My name is not Veshoevius without reason.  The combination of the tan leather with the gold platform lend them a bit of a seventies vibe even if the heel is not a stacker.

Due to the poor English summer last year they remain unworn!  This year I have plans to wear them with my flared jeans and some floaty blouses.  Here's hoping we actually have a decent summer to make wearing open toed sandals a reality for me!

Tan and gold leather platform sandals, Katia Lombardo

Friday, 4 February 2011

Friend Friday - Staying Unique in Blogging Events

Ai WeiWei Sunflowers: Tate Modern - a statement about an individual's place in society.
Friend Friday is run by ModlyChic.  To participate email katy_rose1@yahoo.com.  This week we are talking about how you maintain the unique selling point of your blog when you participate in blogger events.

1. With all the blogging events out there how do you determine which ones to participate in and which ones to avoid? 

That's easy: I just avoid all of them!  Except for Friend Friday of course - that must count as a blogger event and a pretty hefty one at that! I signed up when there were something like 30 members and now there are apparently ten squillion.

I joined Friend Friday because I love writing and was new to blogging.  I wanted to exercise my brain and structuring my writing around a set of challenging questions every week (or two) seemed a good way to do that. And it is a great way to meet other bloggers too!

What I haven't participated in and probably never will are the style challenges limiting you to not shopping, remixing with a limited selection of your wardrobe etc... I understand the reasons people do this.  I get it, really I do.  But to quote Gauguin: "my brain is allergic to instruction."

2. Be honest, have you ever jumped on the bandwagon of some blogging movement/event for the wrong reasons? How did that turn out? 

No.  I tend not to sign up to blogger events because I feel most of them have inflexible and unattainable goals that I don't feel the need to set myself.  Like having to post daily for 30x30 or leaving 500 comments in one month.  I just wouldn't be able to make the time to do those sorts of things.

I recently put my name in the hat for a British Bloggers Society regular write up for guest posts and it was for good intentions. I was keen to get more involved there as a guest writer and get given some interesting topics to post on.  They came back with a cracking subject about covering style in your area this month.  But unfortunately I think I've overextended myself there as I just won't have time to do it before the deadline and now feel a little silly for signing up in the first place.  Maybe next month!

3. How do you give your own flair to a blog event while still maintaining the general mission and purpose? 

I can only account for what I do with Friend Friday and that is write what I really think and in my own writing style.  I generally don't read what anyone else has posted before I finish writing and post myself so I don't get swayed by what anyone else says on the subject.  I also take my own pictures for the blog and I do outfit shots in a way that I am comfortable with.

4. When determining the best content for your blog what criterion do you keep in mind? 

I just focus on things that inspire me to write a post whether that be an outfit, a piece in my wardrobe and a personal story behind it, a good photo or image, a magazine article or something that gets on my nerves.  If I'm not inspired, I don't post.  Simple.

5. While everything will not suit your blog, how do you try and support your fellow bloggers who are participating in something worthwhile but not your style?

I have been cheering several bloggers from the sidelines in various blogger style challenges like Cynthia from Be Fabulous Daily when she was doing the GAAD and all the 30x30 remixing ladies.  I also posted on my admiration for them on my own blog even though I'm never likely to participate.  I think these types of challenges can be fascinating to watch and wanted to publicise their efforts as someone else reading could be inspired to join in.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Babushka


Though it might not seem it looking back on my winter outfit posts to date, I am actually an old hippy at heart, partial to a shaggy gilet, folk inspired print dresses, jangly baubles and long cascading earrings. 

I bought this silk print dress from Warehouse a couple of winters ago.  It was no doubt inspired by Freda Gianni's brilliant collection for Gucci in the winter of 2008 which was all very "glamorously bohemian Seventies Russian hippie" and inspired me to try combining a vibrant folkloric print dress with a furry gilet and knee high boots.

Regardless of whether this look is so three years ago or even whether boho chic is in or not, I still love dressing like this in winter.  As a self confessed outfit repeater, I drag this look out when I want an easy way of indulging my more bohemian sartorial spirit (which is usually in hibernation until summer) whilst keeping toasty warm.

The only change is now I have smartened it up with a pair of suede, shearling lined clog boots, courtesy of the My-Wardrobe sale.  They're somewhat of a luxe upgrade from the battered old Topshop biker boots I used to wear with this outfit and much warmer too.  I'm still keeping an eye out for anything shearling lined in the sales to buy and keep for next winter because boy, does that stuff keep you warm!


And a minimalist snood won't do as a winter warming accessory for an old hippy in folk costume.  A shawl with a bit of family history is much more appropriate.


Do you have pieces in your wardrobe that feel more like old friends who have shared important parts of your life with you?  This crocheted fringed wool shawl that I inherited from my dear old grandmother's closet just after she died is one such piece holding pride of place in mine.


I brought it with me to Spain when I went out there to live for a couple of years and it was always the thing I reached for to wrap around my shoulders and neck to keep me warm in winter, or to use as a wrap over a slip of a summer dress when the sea breeze started up in the evenings.  It even doubled as a practice skirt tied around my waist on rehearsal days when my real one was still in the laundry basket.

I believe this shawl has a bit of magic of its own, imparted by the charming lady who was its previous owner and who, like her granddaughter, loved to dance.  My grandmother also had a reputation for being popular with the boys.  As I walked through the narrow Andalusian cobbled streets, an artful flick of her shawl to send the fringes flying as I wrapped it closer around my shoulders would, on more than one occasion, elicit an admiring "Olé!" from male passersby.  As well as a memento of my grandmother, I like to think of it as my good luck charm and that I am adding to its history as a garment by living in it as she once did. 

In monetary terms this shawl is probably worth nothing, but the treasure trove of memories now woven through its tired threads makes it beyond invaluable to me.  I'd like to think it will live to see the day when a granddaughter of mine takes it on her travels.


Shawl, inherited from my Grandmother; Wool Turtleneck, By Malene Birger; Silk floral print dress, Warehouse; Shearling Clog Boots, D&G; Tights; Uniqlo Heattech, Falke; Necklace, Accessorise; Earrings, Warehouse

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