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.

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Seasonal refresher WIW

I’m sorry I’ve been away so long. I’ve had some health problems this summer and spent way too much of it in my pyjamas. In my defence, they were very nice pyjamas, but not really worth talking about on a fashion forum.

Hence I’ve been caught somewhat on the back foot by the changing weather. I usually enjoy dressing for the transitional season, but there’s always a week or so when I don’t quite know what to reach for, even more so when I haven’t been getting out much. This is when I have to trust my instincts, falling back on some established formulae as well as testing out some new styles.

The budget had a hammering earlier in the year (prescription sunglasses and a new handbag) so not much room to splurge but I did manage to add a few inexpensive essentials and I’m finding new ways with existing items and a slightly different hairstyle.

So here’s a preview of the new direction, which doesn’t stray terribly far from the old one, but it’s feeling sharper in some areas, softer and more refined in others, but still quite unfinished in places.

Old favourites: mannish looks

Random thought: Suz and skylurker both mentioned elsewhere that dressy menswear felt more “feminine” to them. I feel the opposite - these two looks are a case in point. Interesting how that plays out.

1. An old blazer from Jil Sander +J for Uniqlo, still my high water mark for mass market designer collaborations. It’s a great fit but the mossy green is not my best colour. I’m liking this year’s embellishment trends so I added some sequin appliqué. As for the outfit, I loved it on the day, but looking at it now I’m cringing at such an obvious throwback. This is pure 1980’s Camden Town, and I know this because I was there. I’m regressing, clearly.

2. I love this grandpa cardigan from Henrik Vibskov. I’ve had it ages and it’s impossible to style without looking sloppy but I don’t care. It’s reasonably flop-proof over a black and white printed tee, but I don’t think I’ve ever done better than Edvard Munch.


New acquisitions: lady looks.

Random thought: last year’s Style Lab exercises helped me focus more sharply on what my closet really needs, and how to shop for updates. The skirt in particular is a great addition, because it’s got me reaching for my other skirts too. I fully expect to wear skirts more this winter.

3. I went for a skirt and bag from the JW Anderson + Uniqlo collection. Both are pulling their weight, both are great for the price, (as good as +J? Dunno.) Here with last year’s boots and a leather/wool sweatshirt I made ages ago.

4. This black scuba knit tee with pastel shoulder insets from &OtherStories is one of the most useful things I’ve bought this year. Great for my body shape, goes with everything. I wish I’d bought two of them. The skirt, boots and fleece (Uniqlo again, haha! Are you seeing a pattern here?) have been around a while.


Vintage treasures: my boho shadow

Random thought: this is my personal danger zone. The risk of keeping a large wardrobe as a working resource is that it can very easily turn into a museum. I have some outstanding pieces here which I love dearly but are irrelevant as fashion items in any given year. My instinct is always to hold onto them until the moment they’re wearable again, but I can’t always wait for that to arrive.

5. I love this ’80’s vintage Kenzo jacket and I’ve worn it quite a lot. This is a prototype look for the coming season, layered over a lightweight down jacket. I’d like to wear it again this year but probably not like this. I think I can make it work one way or another. Maybe with a full midi skirt?

6. Granny takes a trip indeed, I had a major Westwood moment in my pyjama bottoms (see if you can guess where I bought them) with the pirate boots and Anglomania blouse. Two more pieces I love and enjoyed in the moment but should probably bench for now.

What are your thoughts? Your honest feedback is most appreciated.

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Returning to a favourite formula

I'm really liking the return of dresses over pants. Like Angie, I was a big fan of the A-line over skinnies look (somewhere in the last decade) and I'm fully on board with the current incarnation of sack/shirt dresses. It's a fantastic way to get the most out of a summer tunic, particularly in the cooler Northern European climate. 

I made this wax print dress a couple of years ago. I'm very fond of the pattern but it's a bit too casual on its own so I'd been thinking of shortening it. I'll probably leave it as it is for now, because this longer length feels very contemporary over jeans this summer. I'm not sure I would have thought of this combination without a bit of extra YLF inspiration, but I love it and I'm definitely wearing it again. Thanks Angie!

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Fashion with a capital F.

Much as I love clothes, there are times when I really, really hate Fashion. I hate it for failing to amaze me. I hate it for making me grind my teeth while I click through acres of editorial looking for something I haven’t seen before. I hate it for wearing its lineage on its unnecessarily complicated sleeve and for being so thoroughly predictable. Most of all, I hate it for turning itself into a caricature.

Bear with me. My original plan was to work through Angie’s handy spring style cheat sheet (I scored 9 out of 10) but as usual I’ve got something else to say about what’s happening in Fashion right now. I see it on the cool kids in my town, at the art school where I work, and on the catwalks of New York, Paris and London. It’s not pretty.

Ground Zero for these disturbing developments is Paris based streetwear brand Vetements. Here, helmsman Demna Gvasalia is busy grinding out velour tracksuits and windbreakers so the 1% can spend a fortune on goods they could have bought at Walmart. That’s Fashion’s democratisation apparently, but the press remains politely silent about a certain historical precedent.

There’s more. The Georgian superstar has a second gig at Balenciaga which, classic boots notwithstanding, is all but unrecognisable as the brand that Nicolas Ghesquière reinvigorated to such great effect in the late 1990’s. Their inflatable vest is not suitable for life preservation, as Net-a-Porter helpfully remind us, should you be tempted to wear one on your yacht this summer. To my shame, I find myself actually wanting it, but my budget has its limits so I’m settling for a quilted jacket in YLF citron from Marks & Spencer. Call it this year’s wild card.

Down the road at Gucci, Alessandro Michele presents a meticulously crafted retro chic confection which, minus the sumptuous embellishment, could be replicated at any medium-sized flea market. Utterly gorgeous, entirely derivative. I remember a pair of no logo Italian-made jeans I packed away in 2005 because I couldn’t bear to part with them. It’s always sobering when something you bought as a grown woman finally achieves vintage provenance, but it’s not the first time and they’re a nice pair of pants that fit as well as they ever did. Those are Swarovski crystals, I’ll have you know. But don’t worry, if dressing like a thrift-store urchin makes you queasy, there’s always the branded tees that look like they came from a street stall in Marseilles.

Can you see where this is going? The Emperor has no clothes, or no new ones at least. The snake devours its own tail. These designers, two of the most influential players in the business, are plundering a backlog of urban style so unoriginal it can make a white tube sock look inexplicably desirable to the global elite. This is what had to happen for Fashion to Keep It Real and I’m sorry to say I saw it coming a mile off. Granted, that article is a year old almost to the day, but so little has changed that I can do nothing but shrug my shoulders, climb on board and say I told myself so.

Sigh.

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Ankle pants and killer heels

No pics of the Ann D’s just yet. I’m waiting for a set of inserts to arrive so I can customise the footbed before wearing them in earnest. Meanwhile, I’ve been putting in some practice with another tall shoe, and I wanted to try them with these pants.

I’m very fond of these Isabel Marant for H&M jeans but I’d been thinking for a while they’d look a whole lot better three inches shorter and with a frayed hem. I asked the question here a while ago and you all talked me out of it. Later on I realised a crop would open up many more options with shoes. Eventually I caved in and I took the shears to them.

When the deed was done I showed them to Mr Edge. He scowled and said they used to be lovely jeans. I said it was an improvement and now they were even nicer. Yes, but mutilation he replied.

No regrets though, because I must say I’m very happy with the result and he’s since admitted he likes them like this. It feels more contemporary with a high shaft boot or a flash of ankle with oxfords and sandals. I don’t want to go any shorter than this though, because I think the embellishment needs a margin to set it off and anyway the hems would get caught in my boots.

I tried them out with the Balenciagas for a bit of fun. I’d been thinking of passing these on but as soon as I put them on again I realised I couldn’t part with them. They wear like stilts and there will be no running for the metro, but they’ve put in some miles and have the scuffs to prove it. I’m not done with them yet.

They’re a fierce shoe and no mistake, but for most of the day I’ve been wearing a long-standing favourite, these wooden soled platforms by Margiela 22. Battered, heroic, first among equals.

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Boots, coats, scarves and a hat

I’ve been having an acute case of the February blues this year so I hope you’ll forgive my glum expression. And I need a bit of dental work, so no big smiles today.

The good news is that I’m particularly enjoying my cold weather style this year, which has to be some kind of first. I’m applying more discipline in putting outfits together while still being creative with things that weren’t getting enough wear. This is not to say that every outfit is a complete success, more that I’m sharpening my awareness of what works and what doesn’t.

A friend gifted me a box of ceramic push-pins, saying she was pretty sure I’d know what to do with them. It took me a while to work out what that was exactly, but in the end I cribbed an idea from the Accidental Icon by way of an older gent I spied on the Metro. There’s a joke in here about daisy roots and a Lonnie Donegan song, but only British fabbers will get it.

I have Mr Edge to thank for the lovely winter coat he chose for me over Christmas. Shown here in my natural environment with gold pants and my vintage steel-capped Docs. These are my old safety boots from when I used to work in the oil business over 20 years ago. They are Made in England originals and have been with me longer than any other item in my closet.

Only one hat seems to be working with my longer hair, and it’s this beanie. I hereby declare this colour Winter Orange, because it’s the only shade or orange I seem to be able to wear successfully. I’m wondering whether I should go back to a shorter cut, or find different hat styles.

I knitted the scarf mostly over Christmas in a reversible double knit. I’m enjoying the colours, but it’s a slightly awkward shape. I made it mainly to go with the vintage tapestry coat, but I’m seeing this as something of a “shadow style”. I quite like this quirky urban boho look, but I think I prefer something a bit more refined and sporting.

The reversible faux fur I made a while ago is proving amazingly versatile as a layering piece, which was exactly my intention. It’s great for throwing on over jackets and has enabled the resurrection of the velvet blazer, which has been a key player this season, worn high-low style with jeans or casual pants.

The OTK boots are another fantastic addition. Side eye and random compliments in the street abound for this look. In combination with the fur, the beanie and the St Pauli soccer scarf, I find I’m suddenly and accidentally very, very trendy, at least in Amsterdam if not here on YLF.

Unlike my jeans, which I am still wearing vey baggy and at full length.

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome and much appreciated.

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WIW: New Boots and Panties!!

I broke my pledge to dress from the bench to put a couple of new additions through their paces and I couldn't resist a tribute to the late great Ian Dury. You've probably never heard of this Brit punk icon, a man so committed to thrifting that the only items he bought new were shoes and underwear, or so he claimed.

When you learn a foreign language, inevitably there are going to be one or two words that make you snigger. Here in the Netherlands, what I call tights and you probably know as hose have a name that always has me chortling like a prepubescent schoolboy.

Panty. Hence the title. 

Yeah, that's what I'm wearing today under my shorts, playing the young things at their own game in shear support tights by Dutch household brand Hema. At risk of sounding like a shill, this is the miracle product for walking all day and dancing all night. Something for the weekend, as Ian might say. ;)

But I digress. This was very nearly a K/R for the boots, but it was a no brainer so here they are on their maiden voyage instead. They are a shot in the arm for my winter style this year, exactly what I needed to get a few skirts off the bench and so much more besides. Not exactly premium but good enough quality at the price point and really very comfortable. I wasn't sure they'd work on the bike but it turns out they cuff nicely so no problems there. 

The coat is a workhorse from 2012, the sweater a traditional Guernsey fisherman's jumper I bought on summer holiday. It's gorgeous and I've been looking forward to wearing it but it's not quite the shoo-in I was hoping for. It may take a few outings to get the measure of it, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

And the Dutch word for brown sugar? That will never get old.

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WIW: return of the max

I was going to save this for the next Style Lab thread, but I think it merits a post of its own. This is why I hold on to the good stuff, and why I sometimes feel I shouldn't.

I bought this velvet blazer over ten years ago when trophy jackets were all the rage and I practically bankrupted myself for it. The tailoring is beyond fabulous, the fabric delicious and it fits perfectly. I wore it a fair amount when I bought it, mainly out of shame because I'd spent so much on it, and then I benched it because some or other fashion editor said velvet was for old ladies.

Since then, I think I've worn it about twice a year, if that. I've always liked it but I never felt I did it justice or nailed the look I was going for. So basically it's been hanging about in the closet, making me feel guilty and waiting for the rest of the wardrobe to catch up. 

Then it magically came back into circulation last year when I discovered I could layer it underneath the kimono wrap coat. It's finally getting its dues now that a certain kind of military goth glam is back in style. I've been wearing it with loose fitting denim and it was out and about this weekend with a white tee, shiny black pants and lace-up boots. Styled here with Isabel Marant x H&M jeans and these gorgeous Santoni boots that don't get anything like enough wear.

How about you? What do you do with the things you love that kick around because you've no idea what to do with them? Is there anything you got rid of and later wished you hadn't?

(I'm also thinking these jeans are a good candidate for cropping and fraying. What do you guys think?)

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WIW/WIB: pyjama samurai

Can't resist a quick post to show off the new score. I was torn between saving these for Christmas and busting them out straight away, but in the end I cut the tags and wore them anyway. 

I was pretty sure they'd work, but I'm surprised by how many styling options I have. Today I've gone full Harajuku after one of my personal style icons, the lovely lady who sold me the sneakers. It wasn't deliberate, but now I notice I've somehow ended up with her hair colour. 

I tamed the wide legs with detachable straps from another pair of boots, which makes for practical, comfortable day wear, fine for mucking about in the studio and meeting friends later. I'll probably style them over the party season as wide legs with platform heels and a maximal blazer.

Comments appreciated, even to tell me I look sloppy :D

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Sacrilege IV: The Devil in the Detail

It is done. My long nightmare of extreme tailoring is finally at an end. 

I’ll spare you the details, but this post was very nearly an allegory about a Faustian bargain I made on the promise of my ideal pair of pants. I didn’t quite sell my soul, but it’s all true, the road to Hell is paved with your best intentions, the Devil finds work for idle hands, and when you get to the details he’ll meet you there and make you sweat. I still think it might make a fun story, but when I told it to Mr Edge he said it was a mad idea, it’s just trousers and it was my turn to wash the dishes.

On with the show. This is far and away the most complicated sewing project I can remember, mainly because I was without a map and I had to figure it all out for myself. I thought I was close to the finish last time I posted, but no, there was still some way to go.

  1. I decided the only way to get the fit I wanted was to rework the saddleback tuck in the rear, taking out more volume and inverting the excess to the outside. Lots more trial and error here, but I love the result. I finished it with one of the buttons from inside the fly (they all match, of course)
  2. I couldn’t solve the “break” problem I mentioned in the last post. I tried for a longer length, but the form kept collapsing further up the leg and I ended up back at the same awkward point. These pants will not break gracefully and they were never meant to, hence the curve in the original cuff.
  3. I worked a double-sided tuck into the spiral seam around the leg. This balanced out the bulk and kept everything draping properly.

In the end, I have to ask myself: has it all been worth it? Yes. Yes it has. I can’t say I’ve ended up with my ideal pants, but I am pretty darn pleased with the result. I’ve worn them three times already and I’m rather enjoying them. I like the fact that they’re slouchy and structured at the same time, and I’m finding this flood length a guilty pleasure with chunky footwear.

As for styling, my favourite look so far is with the oversized white sweatshirt and kawaii sneakers. I was out and about on the day and couldn’t photograph it, but I got quite a few compliments. This is great but limiting, so mostly I’ve been exploring their retro-classic menswear potential in a Katharine Hepburn meets Marlon Brando kind of a way, as I’ve done in these two looks. Any other styling suggestions would be most appreciated.

Finally, I need to thank you all for your encouragement in this process. If you hadn’t been there to cheer me on, I don’t think I would have gone the distance.

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