What’s the deal, ASOS?

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 13.18.56

 

Let me start by saying I have been ASOS’s #1 fan since 2007. I honestly think no-one does online retail better – the pricing, the variety, the delivery and returns policy, the interface – all of it makes for the best shopping experience you’ll find on the web. But now they’ve teamed up with my most hated brand, Primark. Their ethical reputation has long been shady at best, but in the wake of Rana Plaza I’m baffled as to how they’re not enduring more of a PR storm. And not only that, but how they’ve managed to score a fantastic sales platform as ASOS’s latest sign-up. Today Vogue reported that ASOS would be doubling it’s stock – clearly I’m in a definite minority being as unimpressed by this news. It’s a move many will be celebrating as Primark has shunned online retail forever, depriving customers of bargain surfing on the web. But if you want cheap clothes, Primark isn’t your only option! Years and years ago I was debating the ethics of Primark with someone, and she threw out the ‘Not everyone can afford *blank*’ card. Bull. Shit. Charity shops, eBay and low-cost chains like Uniqlo, H&M and New Look are all viable, much more ethical alternatives to shopping on a tight budget. I just think we shouldn’t be so quick to blow apart our morals when enticed by the prospect of a £6 top.

And let’s be real for a moment here – anything Primark actually designs, i.e. that isn’t a pair of jeans or a plain jumper is kind of hideous. If I’m ever found roaming the streets wearing a ‘varsity’ oversized tee that says ‘A student’ on it, then just put me out of my misery.

P.S. So this was a really downbeat post to return with – brighter things coming your way soon I promise!

Tagged ,

Favourite #1

Don’t you just hate it when you love a song, but then bother to listen hard enough to the lyrics or check out the video and realise you’re bopping your head to the beat of a raging misogynist? That’s pretty much the deal with Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ – ‘I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two’. I mean come on. For REAL?
So thank the lord for Grimmy and Greg James, who’ve made it possible for me to at least watch the video. Also a big fan of Grimmy’s look and Greg’s grey suit. Sharp.

Time for DIY?

ss13lulu189000960-pink

Lulu & Co Pink Horizontal Stripe Jeans, £195 at Liberty’s

Pink paired with fashion always reminds me of one of two things – the Dior collection that somehow made fuchsia work with pillar-box red, and when the offices of Quality magazine in Audrey Hepburn’s Funny Face get a rosy makeover. But lately I’ve been bringing it to a more personal level, and suddenly everything at the top of my never-ending wishlist is in some shade of Barbie’s favourite colour. The latest addition to the pile are these Carrie Bradshaw-worthy jeans by Lulu & Co, which can currently be purchased from Liberty at a 30% reduction, bringing them down to an equally unaffordable £142.45. Now, I’m known amongst my friends for my incessant need to shop but also my money-saving obsession (yeah I subscribe to moneysavingexpert.com’s newsletters – and what of it?). My latest, and possibly all-time best steal was the recent purchase of a pair of £325 Linda Farrow sunglasses for £20 at a sample sale. But last time I checked, that ain’t an option here. I put down my needle and thread, multipack beads and blunt scissors about a decade ago when I finally accepted ‘customising’ clothes was not for me. But these jeans do seem DIY-doable. I’m thinking masking tape, neon pink paint and charity shop denim could provide a viable – if not washable – affordable alternative. I’ll keep ya updated.

Tagged , , ,

CFDA Male Models Cover Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’

Turns out I’ve been absent for so long that I forgot my password and had to reset it – a cardinal sin in the blogging world I know (the absence… not the password)! I’ve been interning for the fashion section of a newspaper hence the empty void. So apologies for that, but I have been absolutely loving my work, and one aspect of that is rounding up the daily fashion news. That’s when I came across this gem after the CFDA awards. Aren’t we all grateful it exists? Most of the internet has reacted with a mix of horror and WTF but I for one am a huge fan. Also really enjoy the Duckie Brown looks (side note – for some reason I’m getting more and more into menswear these days). Enjoy!

Tagged , ,

Saint Laurent F/W 13 – 14 by Hedi Slimane

cysl1

 

Cara_10

 

Cara2

 

So I know everyone will have seen these by now but I couldn’t not post about the campaign for what might be my favourite collection, ever. On the Fashion Spot and elsewhere there seems to be a lot of hate for the collection, the campaign and Slimane’s tenure in general.  All three seem to be branded as showcasing a surly teenager, but there’s only so long a fashion house can cater to one generation of customers before they start dangerously limiting their clientele. And I dispute that evaluation of Slimane’s work anyway. Yes, the looks are “young”. Yes, the looks are “grungy”. I don’t know too many adults in fashion (read: none), or even many that take an interest in the industry, but if street style blogs are anything to go by the over 30s are hardly just limited to finely weighted suits and silk shirts. So a young and grungy look isn’t necessarily at odds with a mortgage paying customer. I’m 21, and this collection is how I wish I could dress. But equally if I were 31, 41, or even 51 there is still so much in it that I could easily wear – check shirts, mannish outerwear and cocktail dresses are hardly beyond the wardrobes of those who can actually afford Saint Laurent. I love the direction Slimane has taken the brand in – the aesthetic is bang on for me but when you actually look at the individual pieces, they’re still very much wearable for older generations. And that’s why, despite pretty much every TFS comment to the contrary, Delevingne was the perfect choice for the campaign. No one seemed to kick up such a fuss when she was chosen by Burberry, who similarly promote a youthful, renegade vibe but generally sell to a much more financially secure customer. Here she looks perhaps a bit troubled, and certainly has a sense of recklessness, but it’s a mood that couldn’t fit the collection better.

I may actually splash out on colour cartridges so I can print these out. Fo’ real.

Tagged , ,

An Ode to Desert Boots

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 13.24.26

Screen Shot 2013-05-29 at 13.23.49

Office Uphill Desert Boots in Black and Pale Blue, £45 each (£40.50 with student discount)
(And yes that is an embarrassing his and hers style desert boot photo…)

In terms of sex appeal, they’re the boot equivalent of Birkenstocks. But I’ll be damned if they aren’t my absolute favourite shoe. I’d wanted a pair for about four years before I bought Office’s Uphill version in Black – why so long, I hear you ask. I have no idea why but when it comes to things I really love but are a bit more expensive I put off buying them forever, but will throw money down the drain on inexpensive items I’m not so into. The obvious desert boot of choice is the Clarks classic but at £79 they are definitely in the ‘expensive so I’ll put off buying them forever’ category. But unfortunately there’s something so perfect in the shape of the toe and the positioning of the laces that makes them a difficult piece to dupe. So when Office came to the rescue with a reasonably priced imitation I buckled and bought them. Almost three months later and we’ve barely spent a day apart. They have a weird ability to add a certain edginess to an outfit but also make me feel like a kid again – it’s not often you find a shoe with nostalgia-wielding powers. So when I walked past Office the other day and saw a sky blue pair in the window, I literally did a double take. The only slight drawback is that they are super bright and are yet to mould to my foot like my black pair, so at the moment they do kind of resemble clown shoes, turning my feet into unnecessary beacons of luminescence – not really something anyone wants from their footwear. I took them for a walk through a waterlogged park today so hopefully when they dry out they’ll have calmed down a bit! But either way, if you haven’t taken the desert boot plunge yet then hopefully this incredibly self-indulgent post will give you the push you need.

Tagged ,

Holy Grail: Eyeliner

I don’t know much about make-up, but I know my eyeliner. My first make-up staple was the black Rimmel kohl liner that every schoolgirl across the country bought as a rite of passage into her teens. Since then I’ve never really let go of the fixture that most of you probably left behind several years ago, and smudge a line of black on my waterline most days. Over the years I’ve tried out plenty of black eyeliners, so I thought I’d share my hard-won wisdom with you.

Image

From left to right:

Barry M Bold Waterproof Eyeliner in Black, £3.99
MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Engraved, £14
Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner in Black, £3.99

I’ll start with the most expensive one, MAC’s Powerpoint. I wore this religiously from the ages of around 16 to 19 (when I find a product I like, I tend to stick to it) after I graduated from the basic Rimmel kohl liner. I prefer pencils to liquid, but always found that kohl liners faded far too quickly into an unpleasant grey-ish smear under my already tired looking eyes. This liner seemed the perfect solution – decent staying power with great pigmentation. I swear when I first started buying it it cost a couple of pounds less, but either way at £14 a pop it ain’t cheap. Now that’s not necessarily an issue if you only wear eyeliner on nights out, but I wore it pretty much everyday and found it went down disappointingly fast. I don’t apply a lot but was still having to sharpen with almost every use, so when student poverty came a-knocking I knew I’d have to downgrade…

And this is where Barry M’s dupe came in. Whenever I’m on the lookout for a new liner I swatch a load of different ones on my hand at the beginning of the day, then see which one is the most intact a few hours later. This liner won that test as I was so impressed with its longevity as well as pigmentation, which were just as good as its pricey predecessor’s but without the hefty cost. But like MAC Powerpoint, I found myself racing through pencils, plus they had an added side effect: the liner gets everywhere. Applying it was like juggling with a bucket of black paint. Okay that’s a tad melodramatic but hell, it was not the easiest ride. So I decided to look for greener pastures, which took the form of…

Rimmel’s Scandaleyes eyeliner. Ladies (and possibly gents), this is the QUEEN of all pencil eyeliners. Staying power? Check. Pigmentation? Check. Ease of application? Check. Need to sharpen? Once a week tops. If that. At £3.99 it is far better value than its MAC equivalent, and is far less wily than Barry M’s offering. Honestly you need look no further. The thing speaks for itself, so if you’re in the market for a new black eyeliner, Rimmel’s got you covered.

Tagged , , ,

realtalk

There is no place that will crush your faith in the common sense/decency of humanity more than the comments section of most online articles. They seem to be a breeding ground for misinformed opinions, an invitation for the idiotic and insensitive to take up their digital megaphones and trample over the valid feelings and attitudes of others. I read a lot of pieces on feminism, and always masochistically trawl through the comments afterwards, leaving me shaking with rage and metaphorically weeping for the sheer ignorance that seems to reign triumphant in my community of fellow readers. But I’m not one for getting into arguments with anonymous fools over the internet, as a) no one ever changed a bigot’s mind by hitting ‘reply’, b) often people are coming from emotional, not logical standpoints and c) you can’t argue with stupid. So this weekly feature is my antidote, and each instalment will take one infuriating comment and break it down in an attempt to claim a small right against a small wrong in my own small space. This week’s was in response to Sarah Ditum’s ‘Three reasons why a vagina is not a laptop’, which reacts to Nick Ross’s suggestion that our attitude to theft prevention should be reflected in our attitude to rape prevention (as well as a whole load of other unhelpful and inflammatory remarks). Here is the comment I’ll be taking issue with this week:

Screen Shot 2013-05-26 at 22.54.34

I have two main gripes with this clearly moronic retort, but let’s start with the shortest one which references the final sentence. I hate it when journalists, commenters or people in general take a thought-through point and reduce it to some hyperbolic disfiguration. I see this happen time and time against particularly with feminism, where instead of addressing the actual problem being raised, individuals try to silence that problem by making out like the writer is hysterical or the issue simply doesn’t exist (a perfect example of this is this disgusting article on the NUS lad culture report). This kind of reaction is a dismissive one that is painfully unhelpful but gains a hell of a lot of airtime in our media. For one thing, it’s simply not a refutation to put words in someone’s mouth that suit your misogynistic narrative. Secondly, and most importantly, to solve a problem we need to understand it. Hideous remarks like ‘they were excusing the behaviour of child molesters’ are a way of refusing to understand that problem.

Hundreds gathered at the Alberta Legislature g...

My second issue is the notion of victim blaming and responsibility for personal safety. In the wake of Steubenville my friends and I got into a discussion of this topic, which centered around the whole ‘we’re taught not to get raped, rather than not to rape’ idea. This commenter reduces the topic to a very simplistic argument, suggesting that telling people to protect themselves has no repercussions beyond being good advice. Now, if I’m walking home late at night I try to make sure I have someone with me and that I stick to well lit areas. However, all that is doing is plastering over the cracks. In making how to protect ourselves the focus of media conversation on rape, we are concentrating on the consequence, not the crime. Change never came from slapping on a plaster time and time again. All of this builds up to the question of what is a helpful conversation to have. I do think that the media has a social responsibility, and the minute the Daily Mail or any other outlet decides to publish material on how not to become a victim, rather than how not to become a rapist (as simplistic as it sounds, that’s the dichotomy we’re dealing with) it continues to fuel an unhelpful conversation. A strictly informative news article telling its reader that a woman was raped at 11:30pm whilst walking home alone gives enough information for the reader to deduce that such a scenario poses a potentially increased threat. Hell, a basic chat with your mum or dad, the type you’ve probably been having since before you hit puberty tells you what to do. So simply put, giving out ‘good sense’ on a platform like Ross’s doesn’t end there. Instead it does perpetuate a culture that is still, incredulously, not paying enough attention to what we need to do to tackle rapists. Call me naive, but shouldn’t our aim be that a woman can walk home from the library at 11 at night, by herself, without being followed (true story, folks)? It’s not enough to settle with essentially accommodating a problem by curbing our freedom in line with its threat. Containing the problem is not the same as overcoming it, and that’s a point articles like Ross’s and comments like Spike501’s refuse to incorporate in their narrow-minded monologues.

Tagged , ,

Magazine Review: Wonderland

Taylor Swift heart cover [Wonderland Magazine - April/May 2013]

During term I have no time to read magazines, so now I’m a free woman I’m catching up on everything I’ve missed. I tend to mentally group fashion magazines into weeklies, glossies, and arties. The glossies are my comfort zone but when it comes to reading arty magazines I always feel like I’ve turned up to a house party wearing the wrong clothes. And moreover, I often find their layouts pretty distracting, making it hard to follow the copy. But Wonderland, you are a revelation. I wanted to try out either Wonderland or Pop and both had Taylor Swift on the cover (what’s the deal?) so I nearly lost my nerve but went for the first one in the end. I could go on about it for a really long time which would a) be boring, as I’m pretty late to jump on this bandwagon and b) be unhelpful, as my experience is obviously going to be different to yours. So to keep things brief here are three of my favourite things about the magazine:

1. I came away feeling like I’d actually learnt something. I loved their ‘Inventory’ pieces – short, informative, and always on something I couldn’t have discovered by browsing the internet. Also the topics were nicely varied, from an introduction to singer-songwriter BeBe Black to the 411 on Cartier’s ‘Paris Nouvelle Vague’, a ‘collection inspired by seven different Parisian moods’. Sure, I’ll probably never be able to afford Cartier in my lifetime but the idea is charming, and I appreciate an editorial process that chooses its content based on that charm rather than just commercial potential.

2. The sheer volume of high quality, inventive fashion and beauty work. I don’t know if quantitively Wonderland does produce more than other magazines on this front, but there was something about how different each piece was, and the fact that they had been laid next to each other, that gave this aspect of the magazine a real force. Normally I don’t pay much attention to the make up in fashion shoots, or the fashion in make up shoots but the editors got it bang on with balancing the two and making them really work for each another. Also another huge positive for me was that Wonderland includes both female and male fashion. I often veer between really quite ‘girly’ looks and more androgynous ones so I’m pretty into men’s fashion too. But also it changes Wonderland from a women’s magazine to a cultural magazine – including both genders gives the fashion an aesthetic frame, rather than a ‘wear this to highlight your curves’ slant or whatever. I love the fashion of magazines like Vogue which manage to take an aesthetic approach without including both genders, but it’s a really nice aspect of Wonderland. Also I have a huge issue with Page 3 (more on that to come) and so the profusion of male nudity was a welcome antidote to the sexualised, gratuitous female nudity which is far too prevalent in British media.

The look on the right is one of my favourites from the issue.

The look on the right is one of my favourites from the issue.

3. The emphasis on music. I get the impression from this issue that Wonderland is more interested in creatives in general than it is in packing its pages full of any celebrity it can get its hands on, but there is a particular emphasis on musicians. Wonderland is the first fashion magazine that I’ve ever seen an ad for an album in which has to testify to its interests, and there were certainly plenty of artists – especially ones I’ve never heard of before – featured. Lou Doillon was an excellent inclusion as she neatly treads the line between the worlds of fashion and music, especially given who her parents are. Often fashion seems a compulsory add-on for musicians but Wonderland makes those worlds collide with great skill.

And finally, my favourite thing about this specific issue: the theme, ‘outspoken’. ‘Outspoken’ is often used in reference to people who are simply rude or obnoxious, but to me ‘outspoken’ should be about having the courage to speak up for something you care about. And that’s something I think is a fantastic attitude, one the world needs to have more of. All in all I’d definitely buy Wonderland again.

Tagged , , , , ,

Feel Good

Image

NYR Healing Foods – £16.99

Massage Mitt – £6

Detox Toning Oil – £15

B Complex Supplements – £11.50

I just wanted to share my favourite products for feeling good, and yes they are alllll from Neal’s Yard. Their Oxford store is right next to my college, so during finals I made far too many trips there in the name of maintaining my mental/physical wellbeing! It was probably the healthiest I’ve been in my entire adult life as I knew I needed to swap my sugar-heavy diet for something a little more nutritious to get through it. The Neal’s Yard Healing Foods book is fantastic and I’d recommend it to anyone who feels like their diet isn’t doing them any favours. I stopped being all that concerned about my weight years ago but do care about my health, and I’ve got used to being tired all the time so knew something needed to change. The book does have lots of recipes but the best thing about it is that it explains what each food does for you and goes pretty in-depth, with detailed breakdowns of each food group. It also has day plans for specific issues e.g. to improve digestion or energy. It has nothing to do with losing weight and instead is all about getting the most out of what you eat which I love. Next up is the massage mitt, something I’ve never bought before but if you’re into exfoliating you need this. I use it pretty much everyday and always feel really clean and refreshed after. Plus it’ll last a lot longer than a scrub! I bought the Detox Toning Oil as part of my winding down ritual at the end of a long day in the library. Supposedly it tones your skin but I’m pretty skeptical about that whole idea – has anyone ever used one that works? Anyway, it smells really cleansing and I do prefer an oil to a lotion sometimes, just because it feels less heavy but often more moisturising. Last up are the B Complex Supplements, which I now swear by. I have real issues with my energy levels so knew I’d need a boost during finals, and these contain a whole host of B vitamins as well as lots of other nutrients known for improving energy. I won’t lie, they smell pretty unpleasant, but they got me through!
I love cosmetics and toiletries that are a pleasure to use, and all of these, including the recipe book, have a huge appeal in the feel good habits they bring to your life. So if you’re feeling lethargic or just need to shake your body up I’d recommend checking these out.

Tagged , , , ,