And a Happy New Year!

My fringe and I (and my first up do of my 20s) would like to wish you a very very Happy New Year!
If, like me, you've had a truly awesome 2012 (new job, staying at new job for longest of any job, promotion, pay rise, excellent new friends and personal successes thanks to job, good times with great friends all rounded off by a fabulous Christmas with dear family and loved ones) then I hope that you are more than ready to upsize for 2013. 2012 was a great year for me, possibly the best ever. But I've got big designs on 2013 - make real headway with my writing (you can read some of my creative writing efforts on my other blog here), continue to divide and conquer at work, live with my boyfriend without us killing each other, tone up and stuff and generally be the happiest I can be - and after the hard work I put in this year and how spectacularly it paid off, I'm just scratching the surface of what I'm capable of.
2012 was never really a year I thought beyond - ever since the Olympics I think we've all been counting down to 2012. From the terror of the househunt that never happened to the false fear of commuting hell, 2012 was a year to be feared. And maybe because of mild superstition about the Mayan calendar, I'd never really factored in 2013.
2012 was also the year I hit the big 2-5, the quarter century. Ten years ago, if I knew where I'd be now, I'm pretty sure I'd be happy. But then, like now, I'd have no idea where I'd be in ten years from that point. Who knows where I'll be in ten years? I'll have turned 30 and with luck, managed not to box-tick my way there like so many people seem bent on doing. My philosophy is do what makes you happy, but that's about both appeasing the people you love and never compromising to inconvenience yourself And as we get older and family and true friends become more scarce, these become far more important.
In the age of the internet, defining a modern friendship becomes more and more difficult. Around this time last year, a girl I never met but knew and felt I knew through Twitter died. It's a strange thought to grieve for someone you've never really met, and it's strange that people you've never met in person can infuriate you in real time, as the internet allows us to do. You can be a totally different person on the internet, make new friends and say things you'd never have the guts to say to people's faces. I've made some great virtual alliances and made virtual enemies arguing with people I've disagreed with this year. Fighting the good fight, or time-wasting? I'll make a real attempt in 2013 to draw the fine line between online bitching and being constructive. Plus, I've got far too much of my own stuff to construct this year.
So so long 2012. You've been awesome. But I'm off to make 2013 even better.
I'll leave you with this little anthem - perfect for anyone who needs a change of direction, needs a bit of motivation or just needs a kick up the arse to get started. It was pretty much my anthem when I was getting ready for a big change two years ago. 

Happy New Year!


Merry Christmas!

Happy holidays! May Santa bring you everything you ask for and may this rain eventually stop! Remember that white Christmas England had two years ago? *looks out of window at rain* Sigh...
Never mind. It was my birthday on Monday and, thanks to various presents, winning vouchers and a little bit of saving, I was finally able to get my hands on my dream bag. 
Why yes, that is a new season Alexander Wang Rocco bag, complete with studs so pale gold they look silver. They must have known gold isn't really my thing. It was also the last one in the shop. Definitely meant to be. 
I've been dreaming of this baby for years, ever since I first saw it and the hipster bloggers started to carry it. But its price tag put it out of the reach of someone no good with saving. But then, thanks to a Selfridges voucher I won through work, together with a nice promotion in time for Christmas, I thought it was high time to save a little up to reward myself with something I finally feel I deserve. In the words of Rowan Atkinson in Love Actually, this is so much more than a bag. It's a sign that things are good. And they'll only get better. 
Merry Christmas everyone!


Gold and blue and a problem or two

Now, here you witness a classic example of the problem with having a long torso.
(And also with having not moved my tripod up to London with me, meaning I have to balance my camera on the wall in my patio garden and as a result get the lens hitting, and magnifying, at hip level while also making my face look longer than SJP's.)
I love me some Topshop; you'll know that from the fact that the vast majority of stuff on here comes from there. Tax-dodging aside, they are the high street equivalent of ASOS - cheap, fast and on-trend - and even manage to make a cut of jeans that flatters me. 
But for reasons not entirely unfathomable, their entire range seems cut for a girl with a standard torso and long legs (and no hip bones to speak of, but that's quite standard). ASOS and most other retailers are guilty of this too, but I'd really love to see a brand that, instead of offering 'petite' and 'tall' offers 'long torso' and 'short torso' as alternative options. That way, I can wear a dress that I really like and have it look on me how it was meant to look, not with the waistband in my ribcage and with it shorter than it's meant to be, giving it a maternitywear air. 
Such is my problem when buying dresses. But this one was too beautiful for me to pass up; I was walking past the rack, spotted it and just went 'wow', out loud, in the middle of the shop. 
(Close-up of the fabric - scratchy as you like but a beautiful soft, warm blue shot through with copper gold threads. Not a boob shot, but it does serve to demonstrate how high the waistband is.) 


The difficult dress

You know when you have a really stunning, unique and awesome dress that, because it's made of relatively thin knitted cotton, is really rather unforgiving and makes you look like you have a pot belly, and also requires you about 20 different photos to avoid having lines from your clothes underneath? 
Yeah, that. This All Saints dress is one of my favourites, from the days back when the brand did innovative and cool things instead of being boring. So many of my favourite brands, including my beloved Thomas Sabo, seem to have lost their spark and swapped uniqueness for fitting in with what's popular and what makes commercial sense. Poppy Delevigne advertising Thomas Sabo's new diamond trinklets when two years ago it was like a high end version of the rock god jewellery you find in Camden Market, and All Saints' advertising campaign that runs like a Levi's ad mixed with a Skins episode. And while it's a tough time for high end high street brands while others swoop in and do it cheaper, their new direction to more stable financial waters, away from what made them what I loved best, is so disheartening. 


One simple buy

Every season, whether you like it or not, one simple item of clothing becomes your staple. It's the item that you reach for when you have no inspiration, the one that makes you feel good every time you wear it, the item that goes with everything.
Predictably enough for me, it's black, it's A-line and it's leather. It's a leather skater skirt from Topshop (which I bought three months ago and yet they're still in store), with a hand-cut unfinished hem that's got imperfections and tiny rips, and a visible bronze zip up the black. It's also, as you can see, got pockets. It goes with everything, makes any outfit go from good to better, and is comfortable, simple and oh-so-me. It could very well be the best skirt I've ever bought. 
And this wicked dip-dye is the best hair thing I've done in ages. Well, since the fringe. 


The lion's mane

Sorry I've been off-grid...but I have something cool enough to show you that you'll forgive me.
Isn't it cool? The colour reminds me of toffee, and the clash looks like a lion's mane. I love it. Totally worth spending four hours at the salon and the brief panic moments when I had no idea what colour it would come out (because the bleach didn't completely strip away the red so whatever was layered on top would have a red tint). It came out perfectly. 


Maison Martin Margiela for H&M

So the latest high end/high street collaboration has dropped, the mad queues have died down and the swag posts have started to appear. I don't normally go in for all that as in my mind I much prefer a good design to a must-have label. My only piece from a collaboration collection so far is the alligator/crocodile dress Christopher Kane did for Topshop. Until...
Amongst the hideous 'duvet' coats and truly hilarious jeans was this stunning navy skirt, cut from a pair of tailored trousers and the perfect expanse for swishing. 
A close-up of the skirt's fabric, which goes perfectly with my Nails Inc manicure (yes, I got an actual manicure to see what all the fuss was about. Quite honestly, I could have done just as good a job myself!) and YSL ring. 
PS For more manicure shots and day-to-day photos, follow me on Instagram!


High street thievery

I bloody love Primark sometimes - I've been eyeing up a lovely draped black jumper in Miss Selfridge (as part of their Project #3 label) but at £45 it seemed a little steep. And then Primark brought out this decent and decidedly budget replica. Maybe I should have picked a size bigger, but it'll look better with skirts this size. And I'll be keeping an eye out for the sales in Miss Selfridge...


Red and Black

I'm getting into this very rudimentary collage presentation style. Though it is made in Paint because I am too poor to own anything like Photoshop (I don't even have Word). 
A very old knitted sweater from Topshop and a sheer white shirt meant it was a tad chillier on a wet autumn day in London. But at least, unlike last year, my hair can keep my ears warm. 
Trying the two-tone nail trend out by utilising a little sellotape. I suggest you try to avoid doing it in dim light as you make a right mess. Another suggestion? Illamasqua in Scorn is the perfect tone for use on the tips. 


Oh Lady Mary

And I'm not even a Downton fan. Ever since seeing her play Susan in the Sky adaptation of Hogfather I've dreamed of coming back as her in my next life. Flawlessly beautiful but blissfully unique, non-traditional. And with those eyebrows. 
(Images via Grazia from a shoot with Interview magazine) 


In defence of Gossip Girl

Ok, confession time. While my television watching habits do stick closely to what's acceptable at the Emmys and among the highbrow (Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Homeland, earlier seasons of True Blood and more recently Breaking Bad) I'll always have a place in my heart for the work of Josh Schwartz. The man who launched the careers of Mischa, Rachel, Adam and Benjamin, and more recently Blake, Leighton, Ed, Chase and Penn. That's right, I'm a sucker for the Upper East Side and I'd love for Sandy to teach me to surf. Oh yeah. 
While everyone agrees that The O.C. wasn't the same after Marissa died and even I'll admit Gossip Girl jumped the shark a good few seasons ago (somewhere between the dodgy French accents, the lack of an actual baby bump and the fact that we were somehow still supposed to sympathise with the clueless blonde one), there is still enough in the old horse yet for them to keep flogging it, although the current season of Gossip Girl will rightfully be its last as the plots get more and more hackneyed and the one-liners lose their zing.
While the fashion mags wax lyrical over the designer dream wardrobes, I was always more a fan of the grunge look sported by Taylor 'I'm in a band' Momsen's character, but my true fashion crush of the entire series was and is Michelle Trachtenberg.
Oh come on, how could you not? That glossy, that flawless skin and perfectly applied eye makeup. I'm still trying to learn how to raise one eyebrow in quite the same pitying manner she does, and that's before we even get into the beautifully scripted brand of evil genius she brings to the show. So long as she sticks around, I'm still in. 
And also, like The OC before it, Gossip Girl's ability to send a band stratospheric is not to be sniffed at. Phantom Planet may have had a following, but there's nothing like a glossy teen show to rope in the lucrative glossy teen market. While Gossip Girl has no theme song or glossy opening credits, the music choices throughout the show are often smart and often inspired. Months before it hit the radios (around a year ago, in fact), a little-known track called Somebody That I Used To Know was featured in the fifth series of Gossip Girl, Gotye's earlier hit Heart's A Mess having appeared on the show before. Within minutes of the episode ariring, 'like if Gossip Girl brought you here' comments were popping up all over YouTube, exposing this brilliant band to an even bigger fanbase who were ready and waiting when the album launched this year. A year later, the song is a global hit and stands the test of time as an outstanding popular track. 
The show has also introduced me to bands I now adore such as White Lies, featured a performance of No Doubt covering Adam and the Ants' Stand And Deliver years before it finally made it onto the new No Doubt album, and had me humming Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros' Home for a whole summer. While the plotlines get woolly, the cameos cringeworthy (though Liz Hurley's outrageously hammy British accent was a laughable delight) and the fashion gets tired, the show still has the ability to deliver standout song choices. Case in point, this track from the closing scene of the most recent episode, by a band called Stepdad. This track is from their latest album, available in the US in June. Hope it makes it over to the UK soon. 


Flashes of Turquoise

(Featuring nail polish from Louise Gray for Topshop (which I've layered in about seven coats before realising I had a turquoise that could have done as a base coat), a new necklace with a gorgeous chunky chain link design from Topshop and a turquoise shirt from American Apparel, and immovable liquid eyeliner from MAC.)
Depending on what you read, turquoise is my birthstone. I've also read lapis, so basically I should stick with blues. And while it does get a tad boring sometimes, blue, and turquoise in particular, do wonders to bring out red hair.


Nails and Necklaces

Juxtaposing today's relatively simple outfit with the mother of all statement necklaces (a hunk of metal, beads and bugs from ASOS) and my new favourite nail polish - Scorn by Illamasqua, which is a matte black. I do buy rather a lot of nail polishes (even though, for some reason, Selfridges no longer stocks OPI) and pick favourites regularly but this is the current, despite loving the turquoise glitter I've got on at the moment. Glitter nail polish is a pain to take off, but the technique of wrapping your fingertips in remover-soaked cotton pads and tin foil really works. 


Grey Thursday

It was quite a dramatic fringe. That's the trouble with a fringe - it only looks amazing two weeks out of the four between cuts, it's too short the first week and in the fourth week you look like an Old English sheepdog. C'est la vie. 
I got this skirt in the American Apparel sale at the end of the summer. I should have bought it in lots more colours; it's the perfect shape for me and very versatile (though as I learned over the course of the day it really needs a slip to stop it sticking to tights). Ah well, nothing wrong with a light grey. 


Trick or Treat?

Here I am playing with textures like I said. The choice du jour? A black lace A-line pleated skirt from Topshop (with my trusty Topshop boots, which I actually found by accident as the salesgirl brought me the wrong box which contained a better pair of boots than I was after) and a slightly over-straightened fringe. 
To make the effect of the lace better the lining only hits mid-thigh...on normal people. But when you're pear-shaped with a long torso things tend to hit a little..higher than intended. Black tights were of course essential. In the summer this will be perfect with a white t-shirt, bare legs and strategic sitting. 
Despite the heading I actually wore this on Monday for my review; I find dressing up a little is empowering when you need to make an impression. Did I get the result I wanted?


Wide on top

My thinking here was an alternative way to wear a leather pencil skirt without feeling self-conscious/being required to wear stupidly high heels/just being a little different. Plus I was trying the trick of making your bottom half look slimmer by widening the top half. Not sure if it worked. 
But I like it anyway.


An ode to Natasha Khan

I love Bat for Lashes. I mean, I'm a huge fan of flailing, wailing-type female musicians in general (Stevie, Kate, Florence) but I think my love for Bat for Lashes, aka Natasha Khan, runs a little deeper than that.
Firstly, because her newly released third album, The Haunted Man, is possibly one of the best records I've ever purchased and is one of the few records that doesn't have a track I don't like on it. Seriously worth buying too as one of the best tracks - the spooky, festive Lumen - is a bonus track. But if not, listen to the title track and Winter Fields until Spotify blocks it.
And secondly, because Natasha herself is one of those brilliant stars who manages not to be a star, while saying all the right sort of empowering things demanded of a true icon. As an extensive and insightful interview with Pitchfork (which is worth a click to marvel at the gorgeous presentation) reveals, following the world tour to promote her second album Two Suns, she returned home to her Brighton flat alone and single. But unlike Adele and her ilk who turn their heartbreak into beautiful yet bitter records, Natasha took the time and put in the effort to transcend heartbreak and produce an album of incredible power and scope. It's got the blistering, raw and epic power of a truly awe-inspiring creative soul, and showcases what you might expect from a person who, instead of forcing themselves halfheartedly through the creative process, has sat down quietly with themselves, and themselves alone, in a dark room, until they were happy to emerge, hand in hand with themselves, and come crashing back into the world with the best album of their career to date. 
And also, because she says stuff like this about her appearing naked on the album cover. 
Update: I went to her gig last night in the HMV Forum, Kentish Town. Absolutely mind-blowing. She has incredible energy and never missed a note, even while dancing energetically to every song that wasn't 'Laura'. If you get a chance, see her live - a performer of the highest order.


And now for something completely different...

I've never been a huge fan of Alexa Chung, but by golly that girl wears clothes well. Her two ELLE UK covers and shoots perfectly encapsulate her demure yet sweetly sexy girl-boy style. Sort of the British equivalent of the manic pixie dream girl. Where the US has Summer Finn, we have Anna Gardiner (the protagonist in Like Crazy, who loves Paul Simon, writes poetry and wears vintage). And Alexa is the tribe's queen. 
(Alexa Chung for ELLE UK November 2011 and March 2012)
So when I spotted this ASOS dress that combines the simple androgynous cool of the first look and the elaborate collar of the second, I jumped at it. 
And while I don't have Alexa's terrifyingly skinny legs on enviably flat stomach, I think it works well with a cute little bob haircut. 


Autumn colours

It's been a beautiful autumn day in London, so I went for a walk on what actually turned out to be a still very green Hampstead Heath. There's a definite chill in the air though - no repeat of the heatwave we had last October. Suits me nicely. 
I proudly declare a season my favourite every time a new one comes in, but for the scenery autumn definitely beats the others. Dramatic colour contrasts of the leaves, from green to gold, red and brown with cold sunlight cannot be beaten. For someone with a flair for the dramatic, it really is the perfect season. Also makes me want to watch Hero again. 
I know I said that I would be sticking to a blue, black and white colour palette for AW12 but I was desperate to wear quite possibly my favourite dress again - a mustard-coloured A-line beauty from ASOS that I've worn and washed so many times it's got a bobbly texture. Then while trying it on I happened to catch a glimpse of my then-ice blue nails against it, which coupled with the need for a jumper resulted in a stunning colour clash. 

Et voila - perfect autumn-winter colour combination. I'll make sure to try this jumper with my mustard 3/4 length trousers.


The Moran fiasco/why you should never tweet your heroes

In the aftermath of the Caitlin Moran Girls interview debaucle (though debaucle is putting it mildly) I did a lot of reading of blogs and tweets to try and formulate a response to it and adjust my view on the show, the media, privilege, racism, feminism...you name it. And while I'm no way near close to forming a response to that yet, I did have some thoughts about how this incident reflects on my perceptions of Moran and others I idolise. I initially submitted it to popular feminisn-lite blog The Vagenda, but it was shot down (I imagine the milidly inflammatory remarks about certain journalists the member of the team I dealt with wanted to impress, along with suggestions that we form our own opinions independent from internet influence, came into play). So I will publish it here.

Everyone has heroes. Like the modern equivalent of gods for the largely athiest public consciousness, a hero is someone to steer your life by, to map your goals through, and to act as a handy cultural fingerprint for who you are. As a hero, the way you behave is inextricably linked to how you are perceived as a public figure - see the backlash Rihanna faced, and now the ridicule attracted to Leona Lewis when she suggested Chris Brown would be an excellent choice to play Christian Grey. 

But you are only human, of course. It's a truth universally acknowledged that everyone, at some point in their lives, will behave in a totally cuntish manner. From extra-matiral affairs, making the joke that you should never make or answering truthfully when the person you don't really like gets the person/job of their dreams and asks the rhetorical 'are you happy for me' question, everyone will, inevitably, on a small scale or in front of a massive audience, be a total cunt. 

Ignorance is bliss, especially when it comes to heroes. In the same way that the deluded Republican member of the US government's science committee proudly proclaimed that he believes the Big Bang Theory is a lie made in the pit of hell, looking too closely at something you idolise can only end in tears. Look at all the disenchanted formerly religious kids and the students-turned-graduates who hate the Liberal Democrats. Like religion before it, the modern-day pop culture icon has only a faint shroud between it and the prying, inquisitive deductive reasoning powers of a crowd fascinated with it. Like Greek gods on pedestals, we study these idols, fascinated, but if we get too close, we see cracks. 

(Moran - a feminist, yes, but still makes mistakes)

I try not to dig too deeply into the back stories of my chosen idols. I feel sad that I can no longer fancy Michael Fassbender knowing he beat up his ex-girlfriend (yes, sorry everyone, Google it) and I know I crush dreams when I raise the point that John Lennon and Steve Jobs were really not very nice men. Witnessing the crushing of your idol, seeing the gilt statue come crashing down, is always a sad experience, and one we meet with more and more as we get older and start to have to accept that we don't live in Narnia or Never Never Land, that the world is a nasty place and that people can be horrible. Especially on the internet, the unerasable time capsule that can give us an up-to-the-minute account of when the gloss came off our idol. And, what's worse, we can see it happen for ourselves. 

You've probably figured out by now where I'm going with this - last week, following the publication of an interview with Girls creator Lena Dunham, Times columnist, new-wave pop feminist figurehead and all-round legendary nutter (edit: see the comments) Caitlin Moran caused quite a storm by, flippantly and in keeping with her usual off-the-cuff style, successfully alienated a large proportion of her fanbase, namely those who aren't white middle class women. From a flippant response to a single tweet from the type of Twitter user who treads the fine line between making a point and looking for a fight to a full-blown block-unblock segregation shitstorm in a matter of hours. Other journalists (similarly from the white middle class area of society that seems to breed journalists) crowded round to mock the growing numbers of women (and men) taking offence to the handling of the situation. The gods, high on their broadsheet pedestals, mocked the little people and poured their distain down from Mount Olympus, their self-congratulatory glasses of Prosecco mixing with the lonely tears of their fans. 

Overly poetic and silly, yes. But as someone who has met, liked, laughed with and idolised the work of Caitlin Moran from wide-eyed studenthood to still-wannabe journalist, my heart bled for the de-glossing of my idol, joining an ever-growing collective of those with but a thin veil (often as thin as a piece of printed journalism) between us and them who feel the veil is unpenetrable and who behave badly behind it, often at the expense of their fanbase.  Professor Green publically mocked a bipolar fan of his because the fan dared to challenge his appaling treatment of a writer who gave him a bad review. Leigh Francis (the man behind the caustic comic creation Keith Lemon) blocked every single film journalist who tweeted a bad review of his film. Grace Dent threatened to have fired the writer who made a derogatory comment about her on Twitter, forgetting that the PR firm he worked for had her on their books. Do not mock the gods. 

Watching Moran's Twitter feed the day after the whole palaver, seeing her tweet messages of thanks to those who stood by her, uncharacteristically ignoring the criticism and reading her and her colleagues' jeering putdowns of the nobodies who dared to question them, was a sad moment in the continued shaping of my feminism. But, as with all these instances, it opened my eyes to two things. Firstly, that there is far more to feminism than just one (famous) woman's (humourous bestselling) perspective. She is still a brilliant journalist, and her interview with Dunham, though poorly researched, was excellent positioning. She is just, like us, sometimes not a very nice person. And while we can admire the writing, if we idolise a person we must, and have to, observe when they stray. And secondly, because of this, that there are no gods and idols among mortals. And we should never allow any people to have that much power. Take back the mob rule and make up your own mind. 


School Uniform

So back to the ol' style blog posts we go. 
First up, one from last week - I was recently (and still am) totally obsessed with a lovely little film called Like Crazy, which concerns the love story of two young people who meet one summer and then become seperated by circumstance, showing how their transatlantic love affair plays out over five years.
It's dripping with what certain corners of the internet would refer to as 'white hipster privilege' - the heroine somehow lives in a one-bed flat in Kensington (it isn't even ex-council) while working at a tiny indie magazine, and they are both mad keen on poetry and Paul Simon. Her parents are a plummy Surrey-based pair who dote on their delightfully hipster daughter. But nicheness aside it's a beautiful film - tender, sweet, beautifully shot and scored (seriously, listen to this) and the chemistry between the two leads is totally believable.
Anyway, I digress. I was a tad taken with the outfit worn by the heroine, Anna, in the final scenes of the film. Breton top and high-waisted simple black trousers - the go-to uniform of the off-duty hipster. So I went on a quest to create my own equivalent.
Almost? Well not quite, given that there's definitely a dress size between us. But I think rolling up the trousers   a tad in warmer weather and losing the jacket will make it better. 
Then, when I was at home this weekend emptying my old room of, well, stuff, before my parents move, I realised that during my last trip I had been a tad overzealous with my wardrobe clearout and had no tops at all. Except for this, my old school jumper. It still has a name tag in it. 
Not too bad in the end, eh? Especially when paired with a black leather skirt (see, I'm already all over this 'different texture' brief) and a little bit of bling. Excellent. It's great what you can find in your wardrobe. Though I draw the line at wearing my old kilt. 


Yay, I can wear black again!

I'm still alive! Yes, it is me and my dramatic fringe, which actually looks far less directional at this camera angle. I was in a hurry, hence the hasty shot in my back 'garden'. Just trying to get back into the habit.
Despite spending most of my time in black by default I'm making it official/like it was carefully thought out and declaring that my palette for AW12 is monochrome with accents of ice blue, and maybe a little navy. Or lapis. Or cerulean. Typically just as fashion decides to favour purple. 
I'm also planning to try different textures, too. Leather, and velvet, as well as chiffon and denim and wool. Juxtaposing a leather skirt with a drapey wool sweater or a chiffon shirt. Oh it's going to be all kinds of fun. 
I also finally found a pair of boots that can go halfway to replacing my beloved heeled Office brogues, that Office stupidly decided to discontinue just in time for winter. I KNEW I should have bought a third pair (yes I wore through the first pair) when they were suspiciously discounted...Oh well. Instead I have these Topshop ones, which are suitably more grunge, to pair with jeans and slightly 'angrier' looks, keeping the brogues for special occasions. Still hoping they come back.


Loving leather

Kinky, right? No, I've not come over all whips and chains much more than usual - still a bit fan of leather. But I AM enjoying just how much it has become adopted by the fashion elite and, more importantly, the high street.
Over All
(Clockwise from top: Balmain SS13 via Oracle Fox; my new Armani Exchange A-line faux-leather dress and winter staple - just add a black polo neck or a lace top; awesomely stylish lady in leather via Stockholm Street Style; ASOS leather dungarees...maybe a touch too far.)


Push and Shove

No Doubt are back this month after an eleven-year-hiatus with a new album. Aside from being in awe of their continuing radness, I have to ask:
1) How does Gwen Stefani still look so damn good?
2) Will Gwen Stefani ever not look good?
3) Can I look that good without a similar quantity of dedication, cool points and skills with eyeliner? Probably not. Sadface. Enjoy the tune!


Hair 'mares and model stories

On a particularly low 'n' lazy afternoon I was watching America's Next  Top Model, which as we all know is about as representative of the modelling world as The Apprentice is of the business world. A friend of mine, already a successful model, went on BNTM and didn't even get past Boot Camp. I am under no illusions that it is a reality show first, with hot contestants who are often vain as anything. 
My favourite of all the episodes is always the makeover episode, seeing the true bratty vain ones whine and moan about their haircuts and the confident gracious ones who just plain love whatever's done. And this is a truism about radical changes to your look, something I, a person so preoccupied with understanding the true power of a good look, can attest to. 
(Your average modelling show contestant) 

A little story. Last May I achieved possibly the pinnacle of all my achievements, ever. I was, as part of an advertorial for John Frieda's product collection for redheads, in ELLE magazine. Four girls were selected and shot one sunny Saturday morning as part of a one-page advertorial showcasing the products and looks available to redhead girls, and I was LOVING IT. My own Top Model moment.
But people griped. Girls on set complained about their shoes, their clothes (and yes, I'll admit when they initially dressed me as an androgynous mod, I was frustrated that, even at ELLE, the default setting for a girl with short hair is to dress her as a boy) and even their hair. One girl requested that, after her hair was taken out of its flawlessly done high ponytail, they straighten it back into her previously protective curtain. I went out in Clapham that night to the most vile club I've ever been to (Infernos - avoid) with a bunch of traditional-looking friends with my hair still slicked flat on my head. I did it again the next day. I'd cut all my hair that short and slick it again in a heartbeat. 

There are two types of people in the world, I think, when it comes to style. Those who know what look they want to convey early on and adapt it to last through the ages, and the clothes horses, the ones who like to try everything and are known for that. For being the ones who will do what no-one else will. Victoria Beckham vs Lady Gaga, perhaps. Ashlee Simpson is trotted out in one season to demonstrate how so many changes to your look just end up becoming your look, defining how people see you. I don't know why this fascinates me so much, but from being the girl who always feels very different to the norm and the one who is looked at  in a different way in the street, I've got a huge, undefinable chip on my shoulder. But I guess what it boils down to is that I'm not in love enough with any aspect of my personal look that I'd cry in a stylist's chair while they shaved my head. Underneath makeup, hair, clothes and attitude I'm always me. I'm an actress, and part of the fun of fashion is playing all these parts different looks can give you. Confidence despite any look, or fear of actually being exposed? Both are true. But the expression is 'adapt or die'. And life's too short to care that much about your hair. Life is short, but hair grows fast. And there's so much fun to be had in the inbetween. 


A nice song with a guitar

It must be autumn because I have a strange desire to listen to what I would usually view as insufferably fluffy guitar-based tracks. This one is just quite pleasing, sounds like a mashup of Bloc Party's 'Signs' and most of Sufjan Stevens' 'For The Widows In Paradise'. 


A Night at The Emmys

I love me a good red carpet round-up. I especially love doing it for an awards ceremony at which one of my favourite TV shows gets big awards n stuff. No, not Downton Abbey (I must be the only person on the island who doesn't watch that) but Homeland! It's got spies! It's got intrigue! It's got a guy with a beard, a sexy ginger guy who lives round the corner from me (no lie, I've seen him walking around my area) and that lovely girl from Stage Beauty who is actually a phenomenally good actress. 
Claire Danes, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
And who also rocks the best piece of maternity-wear I've ever seen on the red carpet. Lovely Lanvin, and a stunning colour.
Julianne Moore, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
Speaking of yellow, I must be one of the few people talking about this who didn't think Julianne Moore looked terrible in her Christian Dior couture gown. Sure, it's not the MOST exciting/daring outfit (that award goes to Heidi 'High-Thigh-Flashing' Klum, with her dress split Jolie-at-the-Oscars-style in a move marked out as 'desperate divorcee' by that pillar of proper behaviour Liz Jones) but it's a great colour for her (I love a redhead in yellow) and it's not bad. It's just...well, lose the sleeves. 
Nicole Kidman, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
Now THIS I love - reminds me of a top I used to have as a teenager with a sparkling picture of a Chinese dragon printed on it. Loved that top. Wore it to Girl Guides once and got told off. Knew then I was set to break style boundaries. Nicole's Antonio Berardi dress didn't get much love from the critics either (and I STILL miss her red hair) but I like it - simple and sophisticated but with a bit of punch.
Emilia Clarke, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
Another member of the 'white dress with a bit of punch' crowd is Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke (who I totally didn't recognise with dark hair, wearing clothes and not covered in dragons). This is Chanel and it's lovely, though she does look a tad uncomfortable. Maybe it's the shoes. Or the lack of dragons. 
Zooey Deschanel, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
Oh Zooey. You are so kooky and adorable. Like a little floaty princess in your Reem Acra fairy dress. It is a beautiful dress, I'll give it that. I do love me some ice queen blue. And Zooey actually manages to look fairly sensible in it. I think it's the lack of kooky hair accessories and tambourine. 
Christina Hendricks, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
PHWOAR that is all. Nice to see Christina letting her hair loose for once and letting her fabulous hair and fabulous shape do the talking in an otherwise nondescript but beautifully cut Christian Siriano dress, that does the near-magical trick of making her ample bust look incredible but not remotely OTT. The bias-cut drape across the hips and the artful ruffle detailing of the fabric keeps the dress interesting while keeping a beautiful shape to it. If only it came in red. And had a less budget-looking belt.
Lucy Liu, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
Another out-and-out stunning piece of figure-flattery, this time on Lucy Liu. It's Versace and it makes me want to party like it's 1999. 
Kiernan Shipka, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
Speaking of 1999, how lovely does cute-as-a-button Mad Men star Kiernan Shipka look in her custom-made Zac Posen gown? Lovely drop waist, lovely colour(s) and gorgeous cut. I do love a boat neck. 
Ginnifer Goodwin, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
One star who acts cute but deliberately doesn't dress it is Once Upon A Time star Ginnifer Godwin, who once again brings the high fashion fierce to the red carpet in Monique L'huillier. 
January Jones, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
Ginnifer is rivaled in the fash-off stakes by the ever-dramatic January Jones, matching her on-screen daughter in Zac Posen. While I loathe her on-screen (as charisma-free Emma Frost in X-men and bratty Betty Draper-Francis) I love her style. 
Michelle Dockery, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
Similarly, while I have very little interest in Downton, I am in love with its star Michelle Dockery (in Louis Vuitton). That skin! That hair! That jaw! That perfect, perfect breeding! She's the new Gemma Arterton and I just adore her. 
Kelly Osbourne, 2012 Emmy Awards Red Carpet
But while Claire and Michelle made valiant attempts to be my best dressed pick of the night, that award has to go to Kelly Osborne, in flavour-of-the-night Zac Posen. Matching your gown to your hair? So on-trend berry lips? General nonchalance? Looking this good after that shaky start as a teenage emo with an embarassing family? The Osborne kids have turned into upstanding and reputable adults, and I am constantly wowed by Kelly's high fashion style with a bravery that stays true to her rocker roots. Top marks. 

(All images via Stylist)