5 April 2014

I'm Just Really Into Guys That Annoy The Shit Out Of Me

My ex-boyfriend really annoyed me. The guy before that infuriated me. The one I was with for five years? Constant frustration. But the guy who I dated for a few weeks but never really clicked with? Didn't annoy me at all. Inoffensive just doesn't really do it for me.
The person who annoys me the most? My current boyfriend. From questioning my taste in music, to telling me how to do my job better, to not eating any vegetables (like, seriously?) he just really seems to get under my skin. Cuddles on the sofa can turn into a heated debate, while restaurant outings have me grimacing at every vegetable being picked out of a dish.
But do you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way. What is interesting about someone who shares your every opinion, or worse: someone who just agrees with you even if they don't? What's exciting about being with someone who doesn't teach you anything? How can you feel passion for someone who doesn't challenge you?
All of the best couples I know annoy each other. A close friend of mine, who has been with his girlfriend for eight years, recently told me that he actually aims to annoy her as much as possible. Because being nice is boring. And boring is not what you want in a relationship. Boring does not equal longevity.
One thing that I really hate about relationships is people referring to their partner as their "other half". I never want to become half of anything; I want to be a whole person. An amalgamation of my experiences, my interests, my likes, my dislikes, my wants, my needs. I would never expect, or want, my partner to be the other half of me. Forgive me for being greedy, but I want an entire person all to myself. I don't want someone who is a reflection of my personality. I want someone who defies the way I see the world, who shows me new things, and maybe even uncovers parts of myself that I didn't know existed.
This is why I'm actually quite happy when my music taste gets insulted (don't get me wrong, I'm never going to wipe my iTunes - it's pure gold), because it challenges me to expand my horizons and seek out new bands and new genres. And I don't feel wounded when I'm told that I should be doing my job differently, because I can accept that I have a lot to learn and advice should always be welcomed when it's coming from someone I respect. Alright, so I might produce an indignant counter-argument from time to time (every time) but debate is healthy right?
I am not suggesting that I want to be with someone who sneers at my every idea: respect is a fundamental requirement of every relationship I form. Having similar ideals and values is obviously important too; I could never be with someone who was a climate change denier, for example. But as well as caring for my needs and keeping me laughing on a daily basis, I also need someone to tell me when I'm wrong. Even when I don't want to hear it.
So when you really can't decide whether you want to punch someone in the face, or kiss them; that's when you know.
First published on Huffington Post UK.

11 March 2014

Satchel Style

Artist Jacky Tsai, creator of the instantly-recognisable Alexander McQueen floral skull design, has teamed up with British leather satchels brand Zatchels for a collaboration that combines fashion and art. Keen to show the world that he can build on the success of his iconic skull print, Tsai has further explored the idea that beautiful things can be created from unusual sources of inspiration.

His three unique prints are applied to Zatchels’ 13” satchels and saddlebags by engraving the designs into a metallic coating, which covers the leather. Drawing on unconventional themes such as petrol on water and microscopic scans of viruses, and creating a 3D model of his floral skull, Tsai gives the traditional bags a truly modern finish.

All Zatchels bags are handmade to order in Leicester and are available online. Find out more about Jacky Tsai on his website.

First published on Running in Heels.

22 February 2014

In praise of slippers

Hot buttered toast, the sound of rain that you do not have to go out in at the window, an Audrey Hepburn movie and, of course, tea: such things never cease to make me feel cosy, and like everything might all be okay.

Slippers are the epitome of this feeling. They encase your toes in a fluffy embrace, while protecting them from old dried-up contact lenses and preventing wooden floor slips (essential if you’re as accident-prone as me), but they get a bit of a bad rap. Lumped in with cardigans and sensible shoes as old-fashioned, they can be dismissed far too easily.

So here I am sticking up for slippers. I bloody love the things. As a sufferer of near-constantly cold feet, they are essential if I want to move from the sofa. Which, let’s be honest, isn’t that often; but just think how little I’d get done if my feet were permanently ensconced under a cushion.

They save my poor delicate feet from the shards of the countless glasses I break in my life as London’s clumsiest girl. They stop me slipping on the lakes that form on my bathroom floor when my flatmate who apparently doesn’t believe in drying himself has a shower (love you really, Ben). But mostly, they’re just pretty snuggly. And I like snuggly.

I don’t just have one pair of slippers. Oh no! I have a whole collection, each serving a different temperature range. Right up until the height of summer, when the flip-flops come out. Because what’s life without whimsy? Here are some of my favourites, because I know you’re all DYING to find out:

Love 4 An Owl moccasin slippers c/o Moccis

My Moccis – the ultimate slipper. These things are, simultaneously, basically comfy indoor shoes and a regression to your childhood. A leather moccasin sole (skid proof for those as clumsy as me), snuggly sock AND they have owls on. What more could you want?

Fleece slippers - Ayacucho

My Ayacuchos – softest thing I own. As well as being made from the softest fleece (something I'm not usually an advocate of, but it totally works in this case), these also have a non-slip sole. I'm sensing a pattern here...

Ballet slippers - John Lewis

My ballet slippers – as chic as slippers can ever really get. These are what I wear when it starts to get a bit warmer and I just want something to pop on, probably over bare feet. Being in the style of a ballet flat, you could almost get away with wearing them to the shops. ALMOST, GUYS.

9 February 2014

Long, fluttery, voluminous lashes sans extensions? Meet Magnifibres.

My eyelashes have always been a disappointment to me. Short, sparse and with a determined refusal to curl, the ability to seductively bat my eyelashes has always eluded me. A friend once asked if I wanted some of her mascara and had to backtrack with the skill only a girl possesses when I told her I was already wearing it. I’ve tried every ‘false lash’ mascara out there but to no avail – my lashes have never been convincingly enhanced. I was starting to resign myself to a life sans the flutter-factor, when I was introduced to Magnifibres.

Working in a very different way to false lashes (there’s no fiddly glue to deal with here), Magnifibres coat your lashes with natural fibres to add fullness and length. You apply a layer of mascara as usual, then brush what looks rather curiously like cobwebs on to your still-tacky lashes. Wait 30 seconds and apply a top coat of mascara and your lashes are done. Magnifibres are a totally different approach to eyelash enhancement, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the fluffy fibres, but I was suitably impressed. The fibres clung to my eyelashes so well that when I added my final coat of mascara they looked thicker, longer and even obliged me and curled into a pleasingly flutterable fan: something I had never experienced before. Removing them is easy peasy too: they came off quickly with my usual face wipe with no extra effort required.

Although they created a noticeable difference to my eyelashes, false lashes they are not. For every day use they give a wonderful boost to your look, but for special occasions I think that falsies give a fuller effect: even if they run the risk of embarrassing impromptu ungluing. But £20 a tube (which lasts for months), it’s a great investment for your make-up bag. I feel a flutter coming on…
Magnifibres are available to buy online here.
Originally published on Running in Heels.

22 January 2014

We've been conditioned to think that only skinny people can be beautiful

Scrolling through H&M’s latest beachwear collection, modelled by Jennie Runk, it’s difficult not to wonder where the thigh gaps and flat stomachs are for a minute.  However, that soon passes as you’re struck by just how beautiful Runk looks paddling around on a desert island.  Smiling as she runs her hands through the sea, she looks the personification of summer holiday bliss.

Runk in H&M+

I find it slightly bizarre that we’ve been conditioned to think only skinny people can be beautiful. It’s not like we’ve even had a choice. The only models we are ever shown are devoid of any fat at all, so who are we to know that other body types can also be beautiful? And most shops sell clothes up to a size 16, usually, but these are only ever photographed on models that are a slim size 8 – or smaller.

The public have applauded H&M’s brave use of a plus-size model in their advertising, but Runk is only modelling their H&M+ range. Click on the brand’s general swimwear pages, and you return to the familiar world of girls that are light enough to be carried on a male model’s shoulders. At a size 16, Runk is actually small enough to fit into H&M’s standard ranges. and H&M+ caters for sizes 18-28, meaning that Runk’s size doesn’t accurately reflect the collection she is modelling. What message is that giving to the target consumers if the model in the campaign is smaller than the lowest end of the size range?
H&M's mainline swimwear
Even worse, designer labels often don’t sell clothes larger than a size 12 or 14. Considering that the average woman in the UK is a size 16, are they confined to only shopping on the high street? Relegated to catwalk trends interpreted in polyester – and potentially manufactured in a sweatshop? Is it fair for women who don’t conform to standard sizing to be forced to choose from a limited selection? As a society, there’s no denying that we are getting bigger. Being overweight is by no means healthy, and perhaps this is something that should be considered when judging the image put forward by the fashion industry. With numbers of obese children at worrying levels, maybe it would be wrong to use overweight models in advertising campaigns.
Mark Fast uses plus-size models for his catwalk show
I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer to the problem of choosing sizing in clothing ranges or models. However, I think as a culture we really need to move on from judging people by how they look. As well as plus size being thought of as ugly, there is now a backlash against skinny people. Magazines attack women for being too fat, then criticise them when they lose weight. I fear for how this trend may develop in the future, and how it will affect teenage girls as they grow and develop. This hatred towards women and their bodies has got to stop.
First published on Running in Heels.

18 January 2014

Have style bloggers sold out to the lure of big fashion brands?

Once upon a time, street style photography captured fashion at its finest: self expression rendered in a mix of high street and designer, vintage and customised clothes. For a few seconds as you scrolled Facehunter or flicked through a magazine, you had a fleeting insight into a stranger’s personality and the image that they wanted to project to the world.
Today, however, marketing has found its way into the arena of sartorial individuality. Fashion bloggers too numerous to name (and I won’t shame them here) have fallen prey to the ‘sponsored post’ – meaning that they’re paid by brands to feature their products. Some brands even tell bloggers what to write, and even worse – there are a few bloggers that don’t explain to their readers that they’ve been paid to create a post. And those spontaneous street style photographs? Many are now a bland tick list of designer pieces that have been strategically gifted to bloggers to ensure brand exposure. You can’t buy style. Or can you?
Not all bloggers fit into the fashion cookie cutter though. There are still blogs out there that inspire and delight readers with their unique insights and opinions on clothes and how to put them together. Here are some of my personal favourites…
Sydney-based Hannah-Rose Yee of Capture the Castle writes about clothes with a poetic beauty and a sense of wonder that make you hope that one day she will write a novel. A mix of travel photography, cinematic style analysis and extracts from fiction, with a healthy dose of food porn thrown in for good measure; hers is not a daily #ootd outlet. Hannah-Rose delves into the beauty of simple dressing and reveals the infallible feeling that follows the discovery of the perfect Breton top.

Dylana Suarez of Colour Me Nana is a So-Cal girl living in Philadelphia, and she has kept her surf country roots close to her heart. Just as likely to quote Fleetwood Mac lyrics as she is to wear denim cut-offs in the middle of winter, Dylana’s outfit posts perfectly capture her free spirited hippie style. Also worth a visit is her model sister Natalie’s blog Natalie Off Duty.

Ellie Loughran of Pretty Much Penniless gives an honest account of her experiences of living in London without being able to afford a new designer handbag each year (or lifetime). Her creative ways of looking continually elegant and also her homemade preparations for her upcoming wedding are crammed with inspiration for anyone looking to update their look on a (very) small budget.

I am still a firm believer in the fashion blog: its universal accessibility allows people who might otherwise have slipped under the fashion radar to have a platform to share their style. While some may have been corrupted by advertising and sponsorship, others take blog ethics seriously and go on to triumph over big business and shine through their originality.
First published on Running in Heels.