Outerwear challenge plus: luggage edition

When Katerina declared her outerwear challenge, I knew I was in. Having spent last winter navigating sartorial doldrums in a +J down jacket, this year I’d like to get my cosy coats on again. To make it happen, first I have to crack the luggage code.

The reason for this is that my usual formulaic solutions are breaking down. The entire capsule needs a rethink, particularly for travel purposes.

The idea is to get back to using a single small bag on the regular, otherwise I lose things. Most of the time, what I really need is not so much a bag as an extra pocket, for keys, wallet, phone and face masks. Lightweight, compact, big enough for not much else, paired with a lightweight tote for carrying sundries. If I can keep the essentials in one place, I can leave the house in a timely fashion.

To solve the problem, here comes a no name harness bag bought from the Fez tannery, chosen in lieu of a bum bag, or fanny pack as I believe you call it across the pond. Those things look terrible on me, (insert joke here about Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple breasted etc etc.) so I opted to try its less bulky cousin, reasoning that where the bum bag led, the harness would surely follow as the chest bag du jour. I was right about that. A fringe trend at the moment, thanks to Virgil Abloh they threaten to come roaring back at any time, in which case I should get my wear in right now. As an unexpected benefit, surprisingly useful for taming any blazer or fitted jacket which no longer fastens.

So far, so good. I want to make it the default carry for the season and see how far the formula can go. To this end, I will be benching some of my other bags for the time being, including those favorites which are proving impractical right now, on account of everything ending up in the wrong place.

But there is a further handicap. The challenge is to put it to work with two oversized lightweight totes, neither of which have seen enough action. Both can be partnered with the harness in interesting ways, and I want to see how they perform in the context of the outerwear capsule.

  • Anello bag, purchased by Mr Edge in Japan. Popular in the Far East, apparently, and by popular, I do not mean the same thing as fashionable. Ubiquitous would be a better word for it. Luckily for me, nobody else round here is carrying one. Handsome, well made, hard to wear. Needs time in circulation in the interests of marital harmony.

  • Promotional piece by my friend at ByBrown. Not exactly a bag. More like half a vest that functions as a giant pouch. Looks incredibly cool, unsuitable for load bearing. Useful for carrying ultralight puffer vests, empty shopping bags, small items from the chemists. Bonus layer of weatherproofing. If I can figure it out, it might just come into its own. At the very least, I shall wear it today to collect my Uniqlo order, and report back.
  • The fallback: Quilted tote by JW Anderson, another from the Qlo. Showing wear, but good enough for groceries. The default for when I can’t make either of the other two work.
Wish me luck!

Update: this unlikely device exceeded expectations. Added a couple of surreptitious shots from today’s outing. Pleasantly shocked and amazed.

1

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →

20 comments

Troubleshooting a Tee (bonus: favorite shirt at the end)

Forum regulars may recall my ongoing engagement with the graphic print. I could say I love them for the layers of meaning and the visual impact, but the plain facts are that bold prints and crew necks suit my body shape. Also, shameless nerdery. And I (used to) go to a lot of gigs.

The right print can be very forgiving on a large bosom, but not always easy to integrate into outfits. The deep vee tunic/t-shirt combination I tried last week is a promising idea. Sadly though, the wall of text on this shirt from London’s Science Museum is not one of those forgiving prints. Human Ingredients should probably include Too Much Pasta, but I doubt this design was ever very flattering. Too busy and not bold enough. Compared to last week's shot featuring Grumpy Pablo, you can see the difference. Still, I like the concept and the aesthetic of this shirt enough to want to make it work, so in defiance of my own vanity, which since menopause is almost non-existent, a shot showing the raw materials, with hair tied back and no headgear. As you can see, this is where long hair comes into its own, detracting from the volume on my upper body, which was not that small to begin with.

I am a novice when it comes to styling long hair au naturel and I don’t have the face to pull off the no-fringe look. (That vast expanse of forehead is where I keep my brains, dude.) If I want to keep my hair long, headgear is going to be essential. I am OK with this, in fact I really like it. Among other things, it allows me to wear it loose while keeping it under some kind of control. In this instance, I want to preserve a minimal appearance and add the right amount of detail. No idea what to call this scarf/headband hybrid, but yesterday I scored another one in navy blue. It does the trick. Stand aside, funky orthodox art teacher. Here comes the female David Foster Wallace.

In my dreams.

For the rest, Lemaire denim chinos, which used to be far too big and now fit very nicely thank you, with MM6 boots, inspired by nuancedream’s cuffed jeans/fancy boots combo. I particularly like what happens to the shoulders when I put on the puffy Uniqlo vest, presently the hardest working item in my much depleted wardrobe. The whole ensemble put a spring in my step on Friday’s excursion to the deli and the greengrocers.

What about you guys? Curious to know about your body shape hacks, assuming you have any. Patterns, scarves, proportions, whatever. Do tell! Also seeking a recommendation for a tangle free hairbrush, if anyone has such a thing.

PS: The wider topic of headgear merits a whole other discussion, so by all means tell me what you think of this solution but please and thank you, save the more general comments for another time, because I promise you it will be back again soon!

1

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →

28 comments

Dressing up indoors (for going outdoors)

Oh, alright then. If you insist. But you’ll have to excuse the mess. My dressing area is a war zone, my selfie game not what it used to be. I led with a dummy because I wanted to keep my fat self from appearing on the YLF wall of fame, with no makeup and a grumpy face on. And long hair, which is coming up.

But first of all, colour me astonished at the things that always seem to work. Sonia Rykiel’s H&M tube dress is (almost) as flattering on a fuller figure as it ever was, so file it in the box marked things that should not work but do. Flop proof over black base layers of which I have several, teamed with velour trousers which I promise you are definitely not my pyjamas. Finish it off with Scarpa Mojito sneakers with decorative lacing, and we are good to go.

Bear with me. While I have every intention of getting back to fighting weight if I possibly can, I am not going to sacrifice style until I get there, so I have no choice but to dress the body I have. Not planning on panic buying either, because I have plenty to be going on with, and winter is traditionally the season to be jolly, which I always assumed was a byword for being gluttonous. Stretch fabrics and elasticated waistbands are my friends, far too useful to stay indoors.

The goal is to elevate pyjamas to the level where they can feasibly leave the house. Objectively, this is nothing that can’t be fixed with the right shoes, accessories and outerwear, and I am far from the only woman in this town to be wearing these kinds of pants on the street. Pyjamas are like beauty, in the eye of the beholder, if only I can stop thinking of them as pyjamas. Hang them in the closet instead of folding them with tees, and pretend they are a real pair of trousers. Of course they are. Pyjama trousers are trousers.

The same trick with a draped knit, this time with Fluevog creepers and a necklace Angie might recognize. I quite like the way I fill this homemade dress these days, but you can see where all that homemade pasta went. This ensemble left the house under the MMM-H&M oversized blazer, and got as far as the supermarket. Sigh.

Lastly, I’m experimenting with this black cotton/viscose mix tunic with a deep vee. In the past, I’ve worn this mostly over button downs but rarely felt moved to wear it with a tee. Right now it seems obvious, necessity being the mother of invention and all that. I like this formula for getting more out of the omnipresent screen prints in the transitional season. Seen here with boots, pleather skirt, long hair and Pablo’s grumpy face on. I am pretty sure he looks marginally better in the mirror than on camera and I’m struggling to see past the need for a better bra, but I’m thinking the proportions should work with the right underpinnings. Just flattering enough? I might wear it to go out at the weekend.

What say you good people? No need to comment on the looks if it’s embarrassing. Tell me what you think about outdoor pyjamas. Also considering a black plissé midi skirt to wear under all three of these knits. Next month's +J collection has the very thing.

1

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →

37 comments

Life under Lockdown

Long story short. I’ve been away, I’ve put on weight, and I’m having a major overhaul. I’ve dropped a few lines about what I’ve been up to below the line in the Off Topic section. Please forgive the stream of consciousness, but there’s a lot to unpack.

I dare say a lot of what else has changed will become clearer in conversation. Throughout this whole period, my inclination has been to leave the wardrobe alone. Let it work like a muscle. See what happens, when it all revolves around a few key pieces, barely planned.

Over summer, I zeroed in on a black asymmetric knit dress from MM6. Oversized tees, with prints and without. A pair of men’s jeans from Dame Viv’s Anglomania, acquired on a pilgrimage to the World’s End homestead in Chelsea, to see where it all began. These are jeans only in the loosest “indigo twill and rivets” sense of the word. Any resemblance to classic denim ends with the deconstructed jacquard weave, alive with unraveling threads, which my state of mind demands I tug at like a fretful toddler. They look good with Scarpa Mojitos, the one sneaker to rule them all.

Over winter, culottes comme des garçons, worn with knee boots or Fluevog platforms. At peak lockdown, when +J landed at Uniqlo, I perused by appointment in an almost empty shop, and came home with the Jil Sander quilted jacket I’ve always wanted, and two pairs of chinos, one navy, one taupe.

Also, new eyewear, much like the old, but softer round the edges. A lovely waxed cotton jacket from a closing down sale.

My hair is longer than it’s ever been, and now I see my natural colour for the first time in years. Sometimes I wear a headscarf. But still, I am only putting on my clothes. It is not the same thing as getting dressed.

I learned to make my own pasta. Then I put on weight and become an unapologetic mess. Nothing fits the way it used to. Some of it no longer fits at all. Remarkably, other things seem to fit better with the extra curvature.

The purge is like catharsis. There are a number of casualties, the less said the better. A great many changes to how I see the world. A different lens, with different contexts.

Suddenly, a whole lot of things are making sense. I begin to see a leaner, meaner closet, the closet I’ve been working towards all these years. Old lady avant garde, for the woman with no more of those precious f***s to give.

So nice to see you all again!

24 comments

Nerd shirts for my fashion friends, fashion shirts for my nerd friends

It’s been a while since I posted - mostly because I haven’t been online much lately and my camera wasn’t working. But I haven’t forgotten this wonderful space, so I’m popping in to say hello and share my latest wardrobe preoccupations. It’s lovely to see you all again. I hope you’re doing well!

This season, I’m raking over some familiar territory. My efforts to rethink my relationship with the screen print are ongoing. After a year or so of buying what felt like very few, clearing the decks of the ones I wasn’t wearing and enjoying the ones I was, I came to the conclusion that these urban staples qualify as a summer essential. I should add that most updates in the last couple of years have been to the winter wardrobe, and when the weather warmed up I found myself on the back foot and in need of a refresher.

With this in mind, I've been trying out a new silhouette. I’m liking the extra coverage, longer length and looser fit of a unisex tee, and I’ve found some interesting designs on my travels. I’ve swapped the merch stands for museum shops (fewer concert shirts, more art prints) and I’ve found some of the best ones on various trips to Spain. No idea why this should be the case.

I’m not entirely sure whether this is backsliding or consolidation, but it occurred to me while making this post that I tend to use a printed tee as a kind of “third piece” in summer. Then again, in this capsule the third piece is probably the hat (a sort of beanie/cloche/turban in lightweight leather) which I like to think adds a bit of polish to the look.

1-2 A little gem from Spanish brand Typographia. There are so many layers to this obscure visual gag that I can’t even begin to explain it, but if you’re one of the tiny number of people who’d get it, then you’ll know the joke’s inevitably on you. Or me in this case. Of course I had to buy it, it’s perfect with oversized pants and ridiculous footwear. Pretentious, moi? Why thank you!

3 Props if you remember the name of this 1950’s robot, with a skirt from my mother’s collection (I shortened the lining to bring it up to date.) If you’ve ever wondered what happens to urban Goth style when the European sun comes out, then wonder no more. Everyone has to leave the house sometime and Barcelona’s Annexia have pop-culture references and bad taste designs for every occasion. At three for €50, I felt it was important to save Mr Edge from himself so I took up the slack. As they say on their very NSFW Instagram feed, be afraid. Be very afraid.

4 I was browsing Uniqlo looking for something sensible and plain when Mr Edge thrust this Andy Warhol design into my hand and said it had my name on it. Enough said. Menswear styling with linen mix silver pants and wild-card Sketchers, but in the end I wore white Birkenstock sliders. Best viewed IRL than in the photo, for full metallic goodness.

5 The tee that convinced me not to give up on tees, a concert shirt from the ridiculously talented tune-yards. I love the cut and the print and I’ve worn it a lot. The guipure skirt is very old and was doing nothing, so I cut a chunk out of the lining and it’s looking like a player again.

I’m pretty sure Angie’s going to tell me this is sloppy and the proportion is off, and I cannot disagree. Nevertheless, when it comes to channelling some old-lady-punk attitude when running the tourist gauntlet on my way to the supermarket, it can’t be beat. I know you know what I’m talking about.

1

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →

31 comments

How I got into Vogue Italia

What time is it? It's time I looked in to say Hi! and share another of my shaggy dog stories! Also, I want you all to share in a tiny moment of glory but I have no idea how much longer the links will work.

As you might recall, I didn’t get very far with my own business, but in the process of trying I did get quite a lot better at pattern cutting. So, after a season of health issues and career uncertainty, and needing to get into a more positive routine, I persuaded my friend over at ByBrown to take me on part time. I started there at the beginning of the year and so far it’s all been good.

Surprisingly for a small brand, (but less so for the quality of the product - I am a long time fan) ByBrown was scouted by Vogue Italia to feature as one of their Next Green Talents. I always appreciated Melanie's approach to quality and sustainability, which you can read about in her own words if you can scroll past the eye candy. 

Anyway. This last month I’ve been helping out with the featured collection, which was built around a series of hand-printed fabrics developed by Marnix Postma (that’s him with the tattoos). I’ve been working mainly on pattern development and other technical details, but I also had some input on the final styling, which went something like this.

Among the collection were some digital prints derived from an original artwork, in stretch knit and cotton velvet. The lightweight knit was made up into some gorgeous body wear and it came out beautifully. On the other hand, the velvet proved harder to tame. With time was running out and no wearable garments it looked like it was heading for the reject pile. I saw its potential and was pretty sure it could be rescued.

And so, on Friday afternoon, less than 48 hours before the shoot, I draped a pair of culottes. If you make clothes yourself and you’ve worked with large scale prints, you can probably see what I was up against. Everything depends on placement and proportion - a wrong tuck and the whole design collapses. Too long and you’re wearing curtain material. But with a bit of luck you might find a sweet spot where it all falls into place.

See, this is the kind of “fast fashion” I can get behind. It’s nothing like the brand’s technical sportswear, where products can be months in development, it’s just a very simple design to showcase a striking fabric. But I wasn’t expecting these culottes, made more or less for the fun of it, to make it past the house stylist, let alone onto the Vogue Italia website.

And yes, those are my YLF-endorsed Ann D’s. I loaned them for the shoot.

1

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →

56 comments

Fashionably late to the YLF ball?

I’m in a bind. I’ve been faffing about trying to decide what to wear for far too long and I’m late. Now my fairy godmother’s arrived and she’s the kind of bad witch they burned at the stake back in the day. She dresses Grace Jones, Bjork and Roisin Murphy. She thinks Tilda Swinton is a bit tame and Solange should get out of her comfort zone. She doesn’t exactly do Red Carpet.

I really wanted some Comme de Garçons but she nixed that, said it was daywear and gave me this Alexander McQueen corset instead. I put it on and no kidding, it was like being trussed up like a turkey. I couldn’t sit down. 

Then she pulled out this vintage Margiela cape made from human hair. No, it’ll freak people out I told her, this is YLF not some Japanese horror movie, and anyway what if it catches on the furniture?

Next she showed me something by an up and coming Korean designer but it wasn’t even a dress. I said it wasn’t that kind of party and if I wore that everyone would be too embarrassed to speak to me. 

Then she found this one dress from Iris van Herpen. It might work, but I think it looks like a poofy snowflake and I told her so. Fine, she said, then it’s perfect. That’s exactly what you are.

1

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →

22 comments

Personal vintage: yay or nay?

I’ve been cautiously welcoming the return of the flare these last few seasons, but I’d like to exhaust my closet before buying anything new. I’m now thinking of resurrecting this pair, which have been languishing in a box for years. They date back to around about the turn of the millennium, when I bought them from a local atelier who were making them to order. I wore them a few times before they became a roaring success for the woman who made them and suddenly there were duplicates in different colour ways walking around my neighbourhood. I hated that but I still liked the pants, so I put them away.

Now, I have no problem wearing vintage in general, but the problem with digging out something form my past like this is that it comes with all kinds of baggage, and it can be hard to dissociate it from previous reference points. I don’t think I’ve ever kept hold of something for this long without returning to it and I’m not even sure why I still have them when just about everything else from that era is long gone. I’m also struggling to uncouple them in my head from the late ‘90s fashion culture that produced them.

But I like them dammit! Yes, I like these pants and I’m willing to give them another go. I’m looking to London's Goodhood for urban baggy inspiration, as well as the colourful, dressy palazzo styles that are around right now. 

Obviously, I need to know, what do you guys think. Are they fun and a bit Fenty, or obviously dated? More to the point though, is there any personal vintage lurking somewhere in your storage? I’m not sure if I should be delighted or ashamed that I want to wear these again…

1

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →

39 comments

Dressing for my fantasy life

Ladies, Boho Trinity has brought along some friends and she’d like to introduce them…

Yukiko Kato spends her days running around pixellated Neo Tokyo collecting materiel, slaughtering mutants and eating first aid kits. Sometimes she thinks there must be more to life than this, but then she doesn’t know she’s a character in a computer game, poor thing.

Antoinette Wolfsbane runs the youth LGBTQ drop-in centre on Diagon Alley. A former Slytherin head of house, some doubt her suitability as mentor for vulnerable wizarding teens. Few, however, deny her bravery as a sleeper agent in the battle against He Who Shall Not Be Named. (She has no trouble naming him, but mention Bellatrix Lestrange and she’ll most likely hex you.)

Tatiana SmithKline Beecham owns the last independent record shop in Soho, through which she launders cash for the Russian mafiya. Refuses to believe the neighbourhood has shot its bolt and that Shoreditch is now the place to be. Once played Hugh Grant’s quirky flatmate in a Richard Curtis rom com nobody can remember. Voted Leave.

Ellen Roberta Doolittle is one of an unknown number of women to have held the title of Dread Pirate Roberts, a position she inherited from Inigo Montoya when he left to join the CIA. Her favourite pillaging destination is the Cornish coast, where she enjoys drinking scrumpy, looting tin mines and stalking Ross Poldark.

I think I just bought a magic coat. This is far too easy. kkards, what was that about workhorses?

1

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →

22 comments

Styling the new acquisition

Since I began the year with the goal of being somewhat more mindful of my shopping, it’s probably fitting that I should end it vindicated with an outstanding example of my failure to follow through. Some things find an immediate place in the wardrobe, but the best ones can take you to the next level. The moment I put this on, it was all over bar the haggling. This is me at my very best and my very worst - as Agent Smith would say, that’s the sound of inevitability.

I am very much in love with this number. It is classic, distinctive and slightly exotic. It is gorgeous leather, beautifully made and a fabulous fit. It packs some serious attitude and has the potential to be a real heavy hitter. It’s by no means a departure for me and in some respects it’s a consolidation: I think the reason I fell for it so hard is that a clean A-line with a round neck and a bit of structure is just about the most flattering thing I could possibly wear.

However, fashion being what it is, these things don’t often turn up, so there’s not much like this in my wardrobe, and it’s far harder to style than I was expecting. There’s something about it that falls so far outside the contemporary fashion vernacular that it’s almost an anachronism. Where exactly does this style come from, or more to the point, when? To put it another way, this piece is not fashion-forward in any way shape or form. If anything, it’s fashion-sideways.

The trick, then, is to integrate it into my style in a way that feels contemporary while honouring its syncretic provenance. Taking a leaf out of Old Chic’s book, I decided it was best to be true to myself rather than trying make it look Fashionable, while avoiding a slippery slope into SF/Gothic pastiche.

It turns out this is harder than it looks, in which case Boho Trinity could be a massive false positive. A better descriptor is probably Fetish Anna Wintour, and if you’ve been paying attention you might just remember why this is painfully close to home. Zipped up, it has a formal severity which I like very much, and it really comes into its own layered over voluminous midi skirts. Luckily, I have quite a few of these and not enough ways to wear them, so this seems like a winning formula.

What do you guys think? Am I missing a trick here, or is this a good enough jumping off point? Shown here with this year’s default hat - I’m due a trip to the salon and my hair is a fright.

1

Go to the full post to see all of the pictures →

31 comments