02/10/2011

this lace obsession

I've been meaning to write a post about lace for ages, so it's just right that the arrival of October, and Sophistique Noir's monthly theme, should spur me on. I've always loved the idea of lace, but it's a tricky kind of fabric. A lot of people are afraid of it, because it can often look cheap and tacky. It's either In Fashion, or very definitely Out of Fashion, and I think the only type of fabric that is more at the mercy of trends is velvet. At the moment lace is very much In Fashion, especially on the sleeves of dresses, the lingering influence of a certain wedding dress, I expect.

However, I'm not sure how I feel about lace sleeves! I've seen few dresses with lace sleeves that I actually really like. It's all because of the pattern - I'm really fussy about any kind of pattern and lace is no exception. Most lace sleeves are not to my taste, I'm afraid, and my lace dresses and tops are sleeveless, with the exception of one almost-tacky goth top I bought from Camden Market when I was a teenager (it just about works. Under another dress).

I have decided to use this post as an excuse to look for pretty things on the internet and create a list of lace things that I do like, and things that I don't. We'll start with the don't likes, because there are no pictures so it'll be a more boring list.

1. I don't like lace ruffles around the neck/shoulders. Amongst other aesthetic issues, I never know what jewellery to wear and I like jewellery, so I don't want to have to skip it.
2. I don't like plain shift dresses with lace overlays. The simplicity of the shape seems to make the lace dull by association.
3. I don't like lace leggings. This is because I despise leggings in general. Unless they are jeggings that really look like jeans. Those are fantastic. I digress.
4. I don't normally like crochet, there are exceptions, but those are rare, I don't like the blocky look it has.
5. I don't like lace trims on tulle, it just reminds me of net curtains.
6. I don't usually like that cream colour often called 'nude' (why? It's not skin colour for the vast majority of humans) as a backing for lace, but that is because I despise that colour in general. Exception:

I just have no idea how to stand for outfit photos. I'm sorry. This photo also makes me laugh because it looks as if I have cleavage and this has never happened in a photo before!
 (Hat - M&S current season, dress - H&M Summer 2005, wrap top - H&M no idea when, long cuffable scrunchable socks - Sock Dreams, shoes - Clarks, necklace - Agatha via charity shop, lipstick - Sleek Pout Paint in Pin Up)

I think this dress gets away with it because it's a very cool neutral, not warm at all, almost grey. Plus it's obviously darker than my skin colour, when shades are too close I feel they just look orange in comparison. The socks and the hat (post coming about the wonders of M&S cloche hats) are quite a dark blue-red, so there is no clashing. It's still a bit too yellow to be worn with purple though, I don't think I've even tried. On top of the dress I'm wearing a wraparound top with black lace trim that I love because I can convert sleeveless or short-sleeved tops into longer, warmer, more interesting tops, as soon as I put it on. On that note, onto things I do like!

1. Bright colours behind black lace. This dress is amazing! It's so amazing I can even ignore the presence of leggings in the photo.
2. Lace that is almost-off-the-shoulders. I love the shape of this dress though it's hard to judge the quality of the fabric from the picture. It's simple without being dull. Plus, it's purple.
3. The odd bit of lovely weirdness, like a lace dress with a hood.
4. Two different colours of lace together. This dress is way too short for my tastes but I love the way the purple and the brown look together.
5. Lace gloves.When the quality is quite high, anyway. I can't supply a link here as it's so difficult to find a pair I like.
6. Lace on hats. As you may already know.
7. Lace effects on other things. Lace makes a great stencil, whether you're painting your Docs or your nails.
8. Knitting lace. SO DIFFICULT. Just wonderful. I do like a challenge!
9. Lace + floatiness = great. As seen today on the cherry blossom girl.

I haven't actually bought any thing from the new influx of lace onto the high street, but I did get a lovely long dress that is aqua-green with black lace over it from a charity shop recently. Unfortunately it's still in the wash right now (gaaah hand wash gaaaah) but here is a size 14 version on eBay (disclaimer: I am not the seller, I do not know the seller, I am not responsible for this listing and the quality of it).

I would like to invest in some more lace items as those that I do have, I've been wearing for years. The dress in the photo above is from Summer 2005. I didn't actually wear it that year, I was too shy, but I've been loving it since Summer 2006, it's now one of my favourite summer dresses, and by wearing it over thick thigh-high socks I was able to wear it during the autumn. Then the autumn was replaced by summer in the UK, and I wore it with red tights to go to a few pubs earlier in the week. Heatwaves and lace are best friends. The worst thing about lace is that it's not particularly warm and it looks best when it's slinky and at least partly figure-hugging. Not ideal for the winter, but then again, lace shawls can be warm, when made with the right yarn.

You may have noticed that I've gotten into the habit of posting these monthly theme posts a bit late. That's because I like to read some of the other participants' posts so I can feature those that I really like. If I were more organised I might make two posts out of it, but I'm not, especially not at the moment as I'm coming to the end of employment. I kind of wish I'd had SalKaye's idea to feature some free lace knitting patterns, except that would have taken me ages.

I really like the dress in the first picture on The Irish Phantom Cat's post, probably because it's green. I actually have a top that is green underneath with black lace on top, it's even older than the dress in my picture, I think I've had that one since I was 17! I also love Unlacing the Victorians' top, and it has lace sleeves. Whee!

How do you feel about lace? Yay or nay? Any lace dress recommendations?

02/09/2011

this Dr Martens obsession


Back when I was a vaguely alternative sixteen year old, too shy to actually buy items of clothing involving black lace and wear them, several of my vaguely alternative (although at least one actually identified as punk) sixth-form friends had Dr Martens, and I was jealous.

I had a pair of boots. They were very plain, square-toed, but still quite sleek, and from Nine West. They were about £60 in a sale, and after a lot of pleading I got my parents to buy them for my (fifteenth?) birthday. I loved them. I still have them somewhere but the sole is now so thin my feet get sore really quickly. I'm not convinced resoling will solve the issue, I think they've worn out both sides, and I don't think I can get an insole in as they're size eights that I wore as my feet grew so they stretched - just enough to fit me. I can't bear to throw them out though - they were my Buffy boots; in them I felt like I could slay vampires and save the world. I wore them to music lessons, to school in Year 12, and even just around the house if I felt like it. And they gave me my first taste of Life in Boots.

Back to the Docs.I was desperate to get a pair for my seventeenth birthday. So off we trooped to Camden market on a Sunday afternoon. I looked around several stalls, but it was in the British Boot Company store that I found the loves of my boot-wearing life. 14-holes, zips, and most importantly, purple.


Whew! They were expensive though. £120. Worth every penny. Worth twice that. At least. I have worn them so many times I'm now scared that I'll wear them out. And by scared, I mean terrified. I love these boots - I still have the box inside my wardrobe, seriously - and they don't sell them any more.

Which is where the black 10-holes come in. They were originally my sister's, but she stopped wearing them, and a couple of years back I persuaded her to let me wear them as my everyday boots. They're nowhere near as comfortable as the purple beauties, because they're made out of the thicker normal leather (the 14-holes are thinner leather because of the zips, hence the fear), and I'm sure they're factory seconds because the tongue doesn't seem to have been sewn on right. They came from a stall in Camden. They do have one advantage over the other pairs though - they look good with skirts, they're just the right length.

When I saw the flock dot Pascals online I started flapping my hands Mini-Skins style and hyperventilating. I love polka dots. I love purple. I love that there is no yellow stitching, it's dark lilac on the leather, and black on the soles. Even the tag has the same purple on it! Adorable! I had wanted another pair of Docs for a long while, plus I had some money from doing surveys online to spend. I bought these from the official Dr Martens website. There are a couple of places offering them for slightly cheaper, but only the official website had size nine available.

I was really impressed with the delivery company, DPD, because they let me choose the delivery date from a list, and then sent me a text message to give me an hour window within which they would arrive. Wonderful. When they arrived I was totally thrilled to find that they fit fine, and the leather is so soft they require no breaking in. The only problem is the combination of leather and flocked dots, I'm not sure how to polish them, but I guess I'll work it out. Now for the scandal: I've had them a few months now, but I haven't worn them yet! First I didn't have any waterproofing spray, then it was summer. But autumn is coming, perfect boot weather. Yay!

I used to see Docs as a sort of compromise; what I really wanted was some big ol' New Rocks. But I don't see myself graduating from the Dr Martens phase any time soon. I've yet to see a pair of New Rocks in a bricks-and-mortar shop, available to try on, that are, um, calm enough for my tastes. I don't want buckle overload, and I've always felt quite strongly about this. The only thing that's changed since my vaguely-alt teen days is that I've stopped looking. Dr Martens have run away with my heart.

Although it's technically the second of September, this post was written for the lovely VictorianKitty's monthly theme. I voted for this theme over black and purple - that's how obsessed with these boots I am.

Make sure you check out her post to see some of those buckly New Rocks I shy away from, but she looks great in. Is there nothing this woman can't pull off? She even looks good with her hair in double buns. WTF.

The Obscurialist also loves Docs. GothBarbie has the Darcies, which I have yet to make my mind up about, as I haven't seen any in real life. Le Professeur Gothique has some floral print docs, I've been tempted by the floral print ranges a few times (also by the pink and black lace pair, happily for my bank balance, they never have my size). Ghoulina Bones has a fantastic electric blue pair.

I am now lusting over all the boots in Electrobat's post, especially the Fluevogs. Oh, Fluevogs. So beautiful. So unattainable. See also the purple boots worn by Trystan L. Bass. Yes, I'll admit, part of me is finding this theme almost painful, and is wondering why on earth I voted for it!

10/08/2011

Westfield London, A Review

A couple of months back I made the trip to one of London’s newer shopping complexes, Westfield, for the first time, and I thought that I’d write a review for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t been but is thinking of paying a visit.

Apologies for crap photo. The problem with having two bottles with black writing on them and one bottle and one box with white writing on is that you can't get it all to show up together on camera.
It’s been open since 2008 but I hadn’t visited before because it would take me over an hour and a half to get there on public transport. The route includes the Central Line, which is probably my least favourite tube line. Also, west London is by no means a familiar area for me, although maybe I was exaggerating slightly when I said to the friend I travelled with: ‘We’re south-east Londoners, coming here is like going to the other side of the world’. There are plenty of shopping centres much closer to where I live – The Glades in Bromley, the Whitgift Centre and Centrale in Croydon, and the Lewisham Shopping Centre...in Lewisham, obviously, as well as a multitude of high streets. I also usually go to Bluewater with my family for a day out at least once a year, as it’s quite easy to get to by car. My visit to Westfield was focused around seeing my friends, trying out a couple of restaurants and cafés, and of course visiting Inglot, whose only store in the UK is at Westfield. I was also interested in visiting Beauty Base to see if they still stocked Milani, and the Make Up Store, as I’d never been to one of their shops before.
Westfield has the worst layout of any shopping centre that I have ever been to. In my opinion, Bluewater is pretty much perfection in layout terms, being round. You go in, pick a direction, and go around in a circle until you’re back when you started. Then you go upstairs, or downstairs, to the other floor, and repeat the process. Then you leave (I'm not the biggest fan of shopping, so I appreciate efficiency). But Westfield? WTF? I mean look at this map. Just look at it. You’d hope that with a layout this random, they’d have plenty of maps around the centre. No. There were a few interactive information points dotted around, on which you could search for the store you were looking for, but not nearly enough. I had to queue to look at one!

With a few mostly-make-up related exceptions, most of the shops at Westfield are the same as those you’d find on most high streets and in most malls, and I wasn’t very impressed with the branches of the chains that I did visit. I think The Glades has a bigger H&M and possibly a bigger New Look (it’s recently moved lot and I haven’t been there since). There is a section specifically for designer stores, The Village (oh hello ironic name) but we didn’t bother going down that way.

I had pad thai jay at Busaba Eathai for lunch, which was delicious and quite reasonably priced considering, and then later on had half a lemon tart and half a mixed berry tart (my friend and I ordered two and then had half each so we could try both), at Le Pain Quotidien.

So what did I buy? Well, there is no longer any Milani stand at Beauty Base (sad, I want this lipstick), but there is a giant section of the aisle devoted to L. A. Colors nail varnishes, for 99p each. I managed to restrict myself to only buying three. I couldn’t remember whether I’d read any good reviews of the brand so I decided not to risk any more than £2.97. The purple is 'Tropical Breeze' (bit of an odd name for that shade, I think), the wine red is called 'Plum Wine', and the pink with blue duochrome effect is called 'Shocker'. My bottle of 'Plum Wine' was a slightly different shade to every other bottle on the rack, which was odd. I haven't tried it or 'Tropical Breeze' yet, but I have worn 'Shocker' twice now and I love it. It's so lurid.

I did almost actually drool over the eye dusts at Make Up Store, I found the green one that Zoffe used for this look and I promise you that it is even more amazing in real life and I want it. However I showed yet more remarkable restraint, sticking to my eye product buying ban. Go me! Then I broke this ban rather spectacularly last month, when I bought three Sleek palettes. Oh well...

After Grey gave the gel eyeliners a good review I decided that I would pick one up in Inglot, and after much deliberation, I decided that red was a bit too impractical for someone like me who doesn’t have a lot of red clothing to match it with, but I still wanted something bright, so I went for the almost violet, but definitely blue number 83 as the purples were either dark or lilac.

I will write reviews as soon as I’ve properly tried and tested everything!

01/08/2011

Hats and I: A Partial History

Hats. What would I do without them? Who was I before I discovered the wonder of hats?



A much less flamboyant version of myself, that's for sure. I discovered the wonder of hats around the same time that I decided to give up blending in and release what Sadye in Dramarama calls her 'Lurking Bigness' (I am reading that book at the moment. It is amazeballs). Once upon a time, I would have lusted over the hat from afar. I might have, in a moment of daring silliness, tried on some of the department store formal section offerings. Occasionally, I might have bought one - only to keep it in my cupboard, only wearing woolly hats on the coldest winter days or during the most scalp-burning summer hours and feeling self-conscious all the while.

Par exemple, the one to the right. I took this photo in first or second year of uni (hence the blur), I forget which. I love this hat, but I bought it in Debenhams yonks ago and have hardly worn it. For the first several years, I was too scared to wear it outside the house. Now I have no such fear, but the problem is the print. It doesn't go with anything! It's acceptable with a plainish dress, but most of my summer dresses aren't plain. Also, I can't find it right now...

I have a couple of regular summer hats that fold up easily and are plain (boring) enough to go with anything. Here's one, a hand-me-up from my sister. Yes, that's the Colosseum in the background.


In my last post, I showed you one of my winter hats and the vintage black and grey hat, the latter of which hasn't been worn out of the house due to lack of occasion. I know! I should make an occasion! Here is another hat that has yet to make its debut into society, apologies for another old blurry bathroom pic:


I just don't wear blue that much. I have worn it a lot more recently though, so perhaps this hat will have its time soon! I bought it from Prangsta (warning: website will make you drool) - they have, or had, five years ago, a vintage section in the basement. It was £10. It still has the little pink label attached. I think this is the hat that really triggered the obsession. I just couldn't believe that I had bought something as silly and frivolous as a hat! I loved it. And proceeded to purchase several more hats of varying practicality and wearability.

I've gone through phases of obsessive wear with most of my hats - I've got a green silk floppy one that I wore practically every day for a fairly long time, and a pale blue and a black one, both similar to the red one in the previous post, that have had a lot of wear. The dark red spiral mesh cap has been worn quite a lot as well, and I haven't even started telling you about my beret collection - I have four. But it is far too hot to be wearing and photographing berets, so I will leave you with this picture I took of Aprella at an Emilie Autumn concert, wearing a miniature top hat. I have wanted a miniature top hat since the moment I first saw one. One day I will find the perfect one, and actually persuade myself to hand over the funds for it. Shouldn't be too hard.

10/06/2011

What I Wore: Mad Hatter's Day/Red and Black Week

 Happy Mad Hatter's Day! Despite having a photography student for a sister and studying many an article on the subject, I still suck at taking outfit photos. Proof below, but first!


This is my favourite hat. I think it's from the 1950s. I have never worn it out. Every time I think about wearing it out, I never end up going to the event I was planning an outfit for. I really struggled to get a picture of it in action - in the end I had to pretend that I was on Myspace circa 2004 and the hat was my face.


It's in an erm, interesting state of repair. I bought it for £10 in a local vintage/secondhand shop that has since closed down. The feathers are awesome but not in the best condition, some of the rachis have been snapped. There doesn't seem to be any lace missing, but it's been torn a bit. When I first got it, it smelled of gravy granules. I am not even kidding. This is not the only vintage hat I've had that smelled like that either, it seems to be a thing, stench de gravy granules and vintage hats. But I put my limited edition precious Jungle soap from Lush inside them for a couple of weeks, and now they smell fine.

Grown-up goth blog Sophistique Noir has been hosting a red and black theme week, and I would have, ideally, contributed more than one post, but unfortunately I don't have many red clothes. Don't worry, I have already looked at my life AND my choices, and decided to keep both eyes out for more red clothes in future. Seriously, what was I doing? Now if it were purple and black week...or purple and black month...However, I do have red eyeshadow, of course, and my tights box contains three different pairs of Marks and Spencer red tights. I love M&S tights. Every pair comes in at least two different sizes, depending on the style, there many be four - small, medium, large and extra large. Why don't other shops sell tights in varied sizes? 'One size' is the bane of my life. People are not 'one size'!

On the right are the crazy bright ones, which are the oldest and were purchased when opaque coloured tights had just become fashionable. I used to wear them a fair amount to the students' union for club nights with otherwise all-black outfits, and of course on Christmas Day, with some green! Still in their packaging are a pair I got last Christmas. They have not emerged from the packet because I have too many pairs of tights 'on the go' already. It's a sickness. A really pleasant sickness. The pair I am wearing in this APPALLING outfit photo (I need to learn to use a tripod, stat) are the second pair I got. They're darker, therefore more subdued. I usually wear them with purple and black.

This is not a particularly interesting outfit to say the least. But there is red. The camera was balanced on a pile of clothes. My facial expression shows that I knew how this would turn out.

Necklace: Vecona (bought at an Emilie Autumn concert in...2008, I think)
Dress: H&M via charity shop
Tights: M&S
Shoes: Nine West (yeah, there are shoes, scroll down)

I call this dress my 'goth nurse' dress as it is probably the closest I will ever get to wearing an actual goth nurse dress (if you like them, more power to you, but really not my thing). It doesn't fit. It's perfectly comfortable, but was probably designed for a much shorter woman as the waist section is right under my boobs. Don't care though, as it's got pockets at the hips! Gotta love a dress with pockets. Clue #1 that I would never wear this outfit out of the house unless I joined a band or something similar:


These shoes. Nine West size eights (US 10) bought during a sale at Debenhams a couple of years ago. As I've mentioned before, Nine West's eights come up big, so I can sometimes squeeze my feet into them. These are a little small but as they're strappy it doesn't matter. I have actually only worn these shoes outdoors once - for one of my sister's birthday parties. They're quite comfortable, but most of my friends are significantly shorter than me, whereas my sister is half an inch taller than me. If I wore these clubbing with my friends I couldn't hear the conversation! Also, I never go anywhere where it would be a good idea to wear these shoes with this dress. The dress is too casual for clubs where I might wear the shoes and the shoes are totally inappropriate for mooching around shops and pubs. To do: join a band.

Clue #2: I'm only wearing one necklace and no other jewellery, and Clue #3, it's the Vecona Sacred Heart locket, which only leaves the house for Emilie Autumn gigs. I'm afraid of the ribbon magically fraying really quickly or something equally unlikely. If I were going out in this outfit, I would carry this bag, which, of course, came from a charity shop. I do love it, and hope to get a lot more use out of it this summer.


Now on to the make-up! At least I've worked out how to take decent pictures of my make-up.


Eyes (based on my current favourite make-up tutorial - I've already done a purple version twice):
Gold eyeshadow (inner corner): Sleek Sunset gold
Bronzeish eyeshadow (inner half top lids): Sleek Sunset bronze
Red eyeshadow that applies quite pink on me, your mileage may vary (outer half top lids): Sleek Sunset brightest red, on the right of the black
Red eyeshadow smudged into light application of black eyeliner (lower lids): Sleek Sunset, the red underneath the black in the palette


Lips:
Mix of It Started With A Kiss lip tint from Lush, Rimmel Diva Red lipstick, and Lush's Let Them Eat Cake (2009 edition) lip balm. I didn't want to go too bright, mostly because I was about to eat some cheese and I didn't want to be eating a load of lipstick too, but also partly because I wanted to match the level of red on my eyes.

PS. I remembered that I have a red hat too (also secondhand, retro M&S). MYSPACE TIME!


This one is also in a bit of an interesting condition: it's angora-fluffy but some of the fluff has worn away in patches. I think it gets away with it though because it's so RED. Thoughts?

19/05/2011

A Cosmetic Eureka Moment



This is a double-ended Natural Collection eye pencil that I have had since my early-mid teens. I am now 24 (I cannot bear to throw make-up away unless it is seriously gross. If this upsets you, I'm sorry, and don't ever watch Lisa Eldridge's video about her vintage make-up collection. It made me feel vindicated). As you can tell from the amount left, it is not a very good product. It barely shows up on my eyelids. To be fair, my eyelids are brown. But then again, most people in the world have brown eyelids! I am hardly in a minority there, although I may be in a minority of people who are milk-bottle white everywhere else but their eyelids.

The darker green is almost entirely useless to me because not only does it not show up very well, what does show up doesn't suit me. When I bought this thing I was still desperately trying to fit myself into one of the colour categories in teenage magazines/this Mary Quant book. They told me that because I had darker brown hair and brown eyes, I was olive (I know). I couldn't be pale because pale people had blue eyes and blonde/light brown hair. So because I didn't fit into either of these categories, I had no idea what colours would suit me. The light green is actually quite pretty and shimmery, if woefully unpigmented, but it doesn't look good on top of light brown and is therefore really only suitable as a highlight.

Fast forward to 2011, and I'm scrolling through Google Reader when I see this look by Lily at Beauty's Bad Habit. I immediately decide that I want to copy it, and because I have no eyeshadow like Sugarpill's 'Lumi', I apply the paler end of the Natural Collection pencil all over my eyelids, and get out my Sleek Circus palette, which also features a woefully unpigmented green. But that pencil won't let me gently pat on a little of the eyeshadow to create a light, shimmery, but more visible effect. Oh no. It grabs that stuff and holds onto it, and I get this:

Note: it only looks this scaly because my eyes, hot days, and anything more than Urban Decay Primer Potion as a base do not get on. Because I took the photo right next to a window it looks significantly paler than it did in real life. In reality it was much more chartreuse.
I'd already tried packing the Sleek Circus green on top of cream eyeshadow, to little avail, so I wasn't expecting anything like this! I was checking out the gorgeous colour out in mirrors all day (a calmer reaction than running through the streets of Syracuse naked, I'll admit) but it wasn't what I was originally going for. Unfortunately, it doesn't last particularly well in hot weather (it was a very warm day last week), so I'll have to abandon this combo for a few months, but it's good to finally know how to get the Sleek Circus green to look like it does in the pan! Even better, it appears to work with the darker green end of the pencil as well, so I may finally get some use out of that! And if I can find a way to make an eyeshadow work, I'm sure everybody else who was disappointed by this colour can too.


Moral of the story: swatch your combinations before you put them on your eyelids.

Maybe I'll try sprinkling a bit of the green into some of Aromaleigh's Sylph the next time I attempt that look, or perhaps I'll use the light end of the Natural Collection pencil again, but then apply a even less pigmented green with one of my least effective brushes, just to be on the safe side...
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