Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Buy Cape, Wear Cape, Work

Boy do I love me a cape.  Why don't more women wear capes to work?  Is it the fear of being compared to Sherlock Holmes?  Surely the Sherlock connection means that if there was anywhere you should wear a cape that place would be London.  I could think of worse things to be compared to frankly and besides, I hear clever is the new sexy thanks to the reinvention of Sherlock by Benedict Cumberlatch.  Apart from allowing you to cut a dramatic figure wherever you wear it, a sharply tailored cape is the perfect garment for a professional woman flying around trying to be Superwoman!  That's been me lately with a schedule going something like this: work, teach a class, rehearse, eat, sleep, wake up, repeat.  My feet have hardly hit the floor and I 've been out of blogland completely.

Where have the weeks gone?  I completely missed London Fashion Week this year as trying to fit in attending was unthinkable with a day job, performing in a flamenco show that same weekend and having to meet work deadlines.  I feel really behind the fashion curve at the moment as for the first time in years I have no idea what the next Autumn/Winter season holds.  It seems to be the way that when you are busiest and least need it life throws you a few curveballs to cope with - all at once!

Apart from dealing with the aftermath of being burgled and sorting out the insurance claim, since my last post the old computers which we revamped to reconnect for emergency internet access have been dying on us at a rate of knots.  So Mr V and I have been squabbling for time on the last one left standing.  Where I work there is strictly no access to social media or personal email accounts so my time on the internet has been sorely limited (strangely the flat is also now very tidy...).  I've also been working weekends as work has become quite demanding of late and if that wasn't enough, I've had to deal with a pressing health issue which meant a short turn in hospital - nothing serious but it does make you stand back and take a big gasp for air after trying to juggle everything and take it all in.  So I am all for a bit of superhero chic to bouy me up at the moment!

We currently don't have a single functioning camera in the Veshoevius household either as I dropped my small Canon Ixus on holiday in Australia whereupon it stopped working and Mr V's got stolen.  So I've not had the chance to blog my winter wardrobe and it seems (fingers crossed) that winter is nearly over.  You haven't missed much - we had a horrible long cold snap in London and I wore black wool, black shearling and more black shearling on top - for days on end!  I looked like a walking animal hide.  I even gave in and bought black shearling Ugg boots and one of those horrible shearling trapper hats!

But more recently it's been very mild and we've even had some glorious sunny days.  The top photo was taken of me on one such day by Mr V on his iPhone when we met for a crafty Friday lunch in a City gastropub.  I must say I don't get on with Apple products in general but the quality of the photos the iPhone camera takes are really impressive.  Compare to one taken on my work Blackberry post intensive work with Photoshop:

Rubbish really.  Doesn't do this cape justice at all.  The dramatic collar, the smart leather trim, the glossy satin lining in a diagonal navy stripe - it all gets a bit lost in pixelated glumness.

I admit cape wearing is not without it's challenges.  They are not great cover ups when it is very cold as their billowing shape allows the cold air to roll up and hit you when walking.  Best avoided when windy!  The ideal times to wear one are during those trans-seasonal periods when temperatures are milder, such as early Autumn, or around now, when the long awaited thaw-out from Winter is giving way to early Spring.

Other cape related conundrums are how to carry a handbag and what to do with your arms.  The bag can't go over your shoulder as you ruin the line of the cape by rucking it up under the handle, so carrying your bag in the crook of one arm is the only way to go.  Whilst this does look very ladylike, it means that if you're like me and carry your life around in your handbag, you can expect a very sore arm by the end of the day.  The ideal bag to accompany a cape would be one of those elegant large envelope clutches, but just try fitting your life into one of those without causing it to bulge unattractively!

This cape unfortunately doesn't have pockets to jam one's inactive hand into, resulting in my free arm veering between flailing around aimlessly and self consciously crossing over to drape over the other arm.  Despite these drawbacks, capes are fun, not least because they force you to up your game and be a bit dressier.  I found I had to go for a lacy tight and a smart lace up patent shoe boot to finish the look.

Very pleased too that I waited to get this beauty on sale, as I'm sure with the morning chill set to continue for a good couple of months there will be plenty of occasions to whip it out.  Oh yes, still managed to get some online shopping done despite all the internet challenges - I mean come on, how could I resist? They are having final reductions! Priorities ladies, priorities!

Cape: Sportmax; Tights: Wolford; Bag: Michael by Michael Kors; Shoes: D&G

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Vogue Australia

Let's hear it for Vogue Australia!  This is the publication I credit with fuelling a lifelong addiction to glossy  magazines.  My first forays into reading about fashion started at the tender age of thirteen when I used to borrow copies from my local library, to later pore over them with my sister and girlfriends in a gaggle of collective girlish glee - oh the clothes!  However I also remember wonderful articles, sharp writing and captivating short stories that stayed with me for ages after I reluctantly returned them by their due dates.  When I go home I always reacquaint myself by getting a current edition for the beach and am never disappointed to find that it is just how I remember it - that is, a bloody good read.

Regular readers will know I regularly have my rants about the UK fashion press on this blog for it's capacity for mind boggling vacuousness, being out of touch with readers and giving poor style advice.  Although there is still a focus on high end fashion and luxury goods, Vogue Australia feels a lot more down to earth than it's English cousin. 

Take their Vogue View section where the reporting on the latest trends is free from irritating and snide insinuations that if you weren't wearing it all yesterday rather than your old clobber, then you are nought but fashion roadkill.

Instead the accompanying commentary offers new trends up for your consideration, rather than ramming them down your throat with the bullying tone of the "buy now or forever be unfashionable" rhetoric that is so prevalent in some UK publications.  How refreshing to see mood boards spread out like visual smorgasbords of ideas and inspiration from which you are invited to choose at leisure, rather than pressured to consume.

I was also struck how inclusive the articles were to older readers (I always feel the UK editions pretend we don't exist).  In a November issue I happened to read in a lobby there was a honest, intelligent and heartfelt exploration of the ageing issue by a journalist struggling with being thirty nine and the myriad of reasons why women feel compelled to lie about their age as they get older - career pressures, entering the dating game again and the pressure of society for us to have achieved a list of things that we may not have by the time we reach certain milestone birthdays.

I particularly loved this article with fashionable barrister Dixie Coulton on her eclectic wardrobe.  So often when a UK magazine celebrates a woman as a fashion icon it is usually some actress/model/heiress/popstrel/rockstar/fashion insider or, most irritatingly, a trustafarian with a dream creative career in aforementioned categories on the back of having rich or famous parents.  These are women who have designers and stylists on speed dial and who seem to do nothing but swan from one glamourous party to the next getting papped.  But how about this for a new concept? To feature (gasp!) a modern career woman who works! Yes successful lawyers in the over fifty age bracket have style credentials too!  Who would have thought?
Add to that and here is a woman who says sensible things about her amazing wardrobe and love of fashion.
"It never worries me about being seen twice in the same thing or even being seen in it a decade later.  It think it's a great thing, a badge of honor."
"I know fashion changes, but you do hope when you buy things that you will be able to have them for 20 or 30 years to just pull out and wear...And if we're talking about reducing our carbon footprint, it's a pretty good way to be able to do it."
More fashion role models like this please!

For the fashionista who is also a thinking feminist there was an article in their Opinion section exploring the theme of plastic surgery and whether the artificial is now accepted as being normal.  While acknowledging the insidious invasion of this mindset into modern society is not actually a new phenomenon, there is a healthy debate as to whether this is a good or bad thing.

The other fascinating thing I've noticed has been the gradual shift towards Australia being six months behind Europe in reporting on and following trends to being a fashion forward six months ahead. Given Australia lags the Northern Hemisphere in season by six months, it used to be the case that the influence on local fashion from the design powerhouses in Europe and the States would consequently also filter through six months later.  I would come home and spot trends in the local magazines that had been the big thing last season in the UK.

Well no longer.  Yes, if these recent editions are anything to go by Australian women are already embracing the major trends of Spring/Summer 2012 while we in the Northern Hemisphere continue to shiver enviously in this Winter's coats.  No doubt the information age, the internet and the speed with which new fashion is beamed globally the instant it hits the runway has been used by the Aussies to their sartorial advantage to turn being six months behind to being six months ahead.  Bravo!

Though the styling may not reach the giddy heights of the avant-garde European editions, in no way does Vogue Australia skimp on doling out pages of fashion fantasy that most of us can only ever dream of wearing.  The difference is the impression I get while turning the pages is that I am being spoken to as a grown woman, in a way that conveys great enthusiasm for fashion, but with the recognition that most of us are not ladies who lunch or party endlessly, that we cannot and do not buy into everything new, that we read Vogue for inspiration and ideas rather than as a shopping catalogue, and that we might update our current wardrobes with something new if the fancy took us while still continuing to wear old things that we still love.  Considering subscribing!

Also thanks so much everyone for all of your well wishes and messages of support of late after our burglary.  We are unfortunately still camera-less chez Veshoevius, but thanks to the talented Mr V reviving some old technology lying around the flat, we now have a running computer (albeit a very slow one). So while I can't promise normal blogging service just yet, we are getting part of the way there.  I've missed everybody so will be around to say hi eventually!


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