May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 31 - The thing you're obsessed with at the moment!

I am obsessed with too many things at the moment to elaborate properly, but happily, as the title implies, the whole point of this blog is that it's a place for me to write about my obsessions at the moment. This challenge has reminded me that it's as simple as that. I don't have to get caught up in trying to be super-useful to readers. I can just write about the things that have caught hold of my imagination.

So look forward to reading my posts obsessing about: crackle nail polish, ballet pumps, ombre hair, space, eyeliner flicks, dyeing things, and much much more!

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 30 - Pretty hair

Getting my hair into a style is difficult enough. Taking a photo of it is a whole other challenge.

Instead I am going to show you two tutorials that I have followed with some success:

1. Violet Le Beaux's Overheard Summer Plait tutorial

This took me a while to get the hang of but I can say that I have actually left the house with hair like that.

2. The Rookie Two Minute Beehive tutorial

I did it! I achieved this style! And as soon as I put my hands on a camera it started to collapse.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 29 - Face of the day

Today's face is neutral - just a brownish shimmery eyeshadow, a bit of blusher, mascara and lip balm. So instead I have an EOTD from a couple of weeks ago. I originally intended to go to a pub but ended up staying at home with a friend.

I used a real mix of products: Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil in Retrograde (purple), one of my many purple eyeshdows on top and blended up into the crease, and the silver from the Sleek Sparkle palette on the other half of my eyelids, with Bourjois Suivez Mon Regard in 'Regard étoile d'argent' (loose silver glitter) patted on top. I finished the look with Bourjois Liner Pinceau in Black à la the Rookie tutorial.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 28 - Something everyone has now

I used to get so many compliments on my big rings. If I met someone else who wore some, we would bond instantly.

Now they're everywhere. I only buy them from charity shops, though sometimes I recieve one as a gift. There are just so many designs out there in the new shops I know I'll fall in love with, and they'll only break my heart by going orange and falling to pieces. I decided a few years back to hold out for quality, or at least pewter, and it's hard to find either in high street jewellery sections.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 27 - Inspired by your style icon

I don't really have a style icon now. I've gone through several in the past. It all began, like Hannah, with Amy Lee, when I was 16:

How much did I want long black hair and blue eyes? The answer is: A lot. I was so obsessed I had a whole folder of pictures of her outfits and used to have a shopping list that I would update every time I found a new picture of her. I tried many a time to copy the make-up from the 'Going Under' video:

I recommend the below tutorial, if you want to try it. Obviously this tutorial was not about in 2003, I discovered it a year or so ago! Thank you YouTube sidebar.

When I was 18/19 I discovered Emilie Autumn, which led to an obsession with stripes - grey and black are my favourite. I also got into fashion blogging and started to be inspired by Gala Darling's love of colour. I also obsessed over hats with Ashe, drooled over Viona's photography, and admired Zoetica Ebb's wardrobe and ability to put together an outfit. But I didn't try to copy any one person's style. I never really did. Even when I was an Amy Lee devotee, I was too shy/low on funds to do more than try to grow my hair, experiment a bit with make-up, and wear longer skirts. But once I started exploring all the gorgeous images and blogs that were starting to appear, I was inspired by too much to even want to hitch my apple wagon to only one star.

More recently I discovered the wondrous world of make-up blogging and started learning how to apply eyeshadow properly (hint: it involves brushes) - the bloggers whose make-up looks I copy the most are Zoffe and Lily, but I have tutorials and EOTDs saved from many more.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 26 - What's in your bag

This is the bag I'm currently lugging around and its contents!

  • Oyster card
  • Book
  • Make-up bag filled with painkillers, vitamins, etc
  • Make-up bag filled with actual make-up as pictured: Blotting papers (the pink thing top left, don't know why it's so far away from the rest!), concealer, clear mascara, white eyeliner (used under concealer to compensate for its orangeness), lip brush (usually used for concealer though), lip liner, lipstick (Revlon 'Cherries in the Snow'), lip balm, mini Benetint and black mascara (Bourjois Volume Glamour Ultra Care)
  • Purse/wallet/whatever you deign to call it
  • Pens x 2
  • Perfume (just a Next one I got as a gift)
  • Three hair bands
  • Mirror that I've had since part way through secondary school - it's supposed to look like a CD case but I photographed the wrong side
  • Sunglasses (not pictured, but the case is)
  • Tissues
  • Phone (not pictured because I forgot to include it, I didn't go out on the day I took the photo so it was hanging out on my desk instead)
  • Diary (not pictured, same reason as phone)


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 25 - A totally YOU outfit

I was tempted to put together a totally purple outfit but that would be a bit obvious, plus I don't actually wear completely purple outfits very often (because I only have one of some types of clothing in purple so they don't all go together) so I decided to find a real picture from the archives instead! This is the outfit I wore to my BA graduation ceremony, a whopping four years ago this year, but my style is pretty static - I just add new obsessions and never really discard past loves. I cropped my head out because my facial expression was not the greatest.

There are four things about this outfit that make it typically me:

1. The purple (duh)
2. The matchy-matchyness - the shirt matches the tights and the purple on the jewellery
3. The smartness with a touch of gothiness - CorpGoth is basically my default style. If I am in doubt regarding what to wear for an occasion, I CorpGoth it up.
4. The inclusion of a bright pink item. Usually it's lipstick but here I believe it was lipstick + bag. I love that bag but it's starting to tear. Pleather, you break my heart.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 24 - The item that brings all the boys to the yard

When I saw this topic I laughed. Men compliment me on such random things. From my tights to my eyeshadow skillz, there's no consistency. When I was 19/20 and at my students' union club night one time, queuing to buy a drink and waiting for my friend to join me, I was complimented on this necklace:

by a really, really cute guy. Unfortunately it was loud so I couldn't hear what he said after that very well but because I felt so awkward I pretended that I could (I don't know what I was thinking either), nodded and smiled, and my friend came back from the loos pretty quickly and then he disappeared and I never saw him again.


I do love that necklace though. I think it's pewter - in any case I've had it for years and I've yet to see a single bit of orange disgrace its loveliness.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 23 - Something from your favourite store

My favourite store is Monsoon. I don't have loads of clothes from Monsoon as they're out of my regular price range but they do fabulous 50% and 70% off sales. Everything I've bought there has been of great quality and I love their quirky yet sophisticated style.

Pictured above is a dress I got for half price last summer and (oh god, this is becoming a cliche on this blog), I haven't worn it yet! I think I actually bought it after the weather took a sharp turn for the autumnal following the October heatwave. I love it though, and as I've already mentioned, I'm fussy about florals so this was a lucky find.

One of my most worn items from Monsoon is this dress, which of course I got for 70% off. I've actually had to cut back on wearing it because I don't want the bottom to get so bobbly I can't get away with wearing it as a dress anymore and have to wear it as a top. Woe!

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 22 - A piece of clothing or jewelry that was a gift

This scarf was a birthday present from my sister. It's kind of zebra print. I don't usually like zebra print, but this is quite subtle, in a heathery shade of grey-purple, and I love it.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 21 - Something that is your favourite brand

I'm not too sure on the difference between this topic and day 23's 'Something from your favourite store'. Maybe that's because I don't buy clothes online (I like to try them on and don't want to pay for returns) and I'm not into any particular designers. Therefore favourite brand of clothes and favourite store are the same. For that reason, I decided to take about my favourite make-up brand!

If you split the products I own by brand and counted them up it would look like my favourite make-up company is either Aromaleigh or Sleek. But though I love them dearly, they have failings in one form or another. I don't like Aromaleigh's current and most recent ranges as much as I do the eyeshadows I bought from Aromaleigh V1, and they only make powder cosmetics. I love Sleek's eyeshadow palettes, though most of them have one or two shades that I won't use as they don't suit me, and their Pout Paints, but I don't really have much interest in their other products, either because the reviews are mixed (as for their new Eau La La pencils) or because the shade range isn't quite right. I've heard good things about their lipsticks but the available shades have yet to inspire me to pick one up.

Urban Decay on the other hand - I have three eyeshadow palettes, and love their primer, but I want so much more. Liquid eyeliner in Retrograde (purple, obvs), lipsticks and lip glosses in a variety of shades of red and dark pink, and I certainly wouldn't mind giving their highlighters and blushers and face primers a try. The only thing I definitely don't want is their glitter eyeliner, because I've heard it's pants for the price. Oh, and the brow set, because I don't fill in my brows.

Even the packaging is gorgeous - palettes with pop-ups, silver and purple in abundance. Pictured above is the 12th Anniversary Palette, my third Urban Decay purchase, that I got almost as soon as it came out last summer. When I've attempted to do swatches the results have been not altogether inspiring, so I'll suggest you visit Lipglossiping for them.

I have actually only tried seven of the fifteen shadows so far, but should get around to using the rest soon as it's summer and I have to temporarily abandon my loose powder eyeshadows - the cream eyeshadow I use as a base all winter would probably melt off my eyes in the heat of summer. Though I do need to invest in some Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy to use the most sparkly shadows properly, and that would solve the loose powder issue as well...


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 20 - Shoes you love but hardly wear

I got behind again! Not that I ever managed to get completely caught up last time, but I was only one day away. I'm not going to prescribe a set number of posts per day but just aim to get all the posts up by the end of the month. Which is in three days. Eep.

Anyway, today's choice is some pretty blingin' purple shoes that I got in late 2005. I have only worn them a few times because of the four-inch heel. I pretty much only wear them to house parties and to dinner in restaurants when I'm getting driven all the way there and back! They were £48 in a sale at Nine West which probably sounds like a lot to people who can buy shoes in Primark but for me that's a bargainous price for shoes I actually like. It's a rare, rare occasion when I spend less than £35 on shoes, and I usually shoe shop in the sales, though sometimes I'll have to get in there fast before my size sells out and pay full price. If I need a specific type of shoe quickly...let's just say my wallet cries a little. I still resent the £60 I had to spend on ugly yet practical and appropriate shoes for work (which have now stopped being comfortable so I had to buy gel inserts for them, argh!). It's not like I own many pairs of shoes or spend masses on clothes though so everything evens out budget-wise.

Aren't they beautiful? A bit OTT but oh well, I'm all about the PURPLE PURPLE PURPLE.


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 19 - An article of clothing/jewellery that instantly makes you feel great

You can read the story of how I fell in love with boots and acquired these in my post this Dr Martens obsession, but I didn't really talk much about how great I feel when I wear these. They're the comfiest boots I own. I feel like they're part of my body when I put them on, they're so perfectly broken in.

Whether I wear them with jeggings or stripy trousers, a short dress or a long skirt, I feel like the queen of the world in these. Like nothing can really hurt my feelings, when I'm wearing such beautiful boots. Or, at least, that if it did, I could just look down at my feet, carry on walking, and feel better.

When I put them on I instantly feel more 'me' - more confident, more capable, more comfortable in my skin.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 18 - Your brightest lipstick

I think the brightest lip product I own is a Sleek Pout Paint, but a) I don't like the way it looks alone so I'd only wear it mixed with other colours and b) it's not a lipstick.

The brightest lipstick I own is Revlon Cherries in the Snow. I'll take this opportunity to speak out about a certain fact regarding Cherries in the Snow, inspired by Charlotte at Lipglossiping: It is not red.

That's right. Revlon 'Cherries in the Snow' is not red. Despite what magazines and some other blogs may tell you, it is not red. 'Cherries in the Snow' is pink. Really pink. Not even red-pink. Definitely pink.

And quite a bright pink at that. Before I got my own tube, I was under the impression that it was red. I was expecting it to be red. Then I put it on, and BAM. Hello, unexpected pink. Even with reddish-pink lipliner underneath, it still definitely pulls pink.

Despite the unexpected colour, I really like this lipstick. It lasts very well and doesn't go patchy like some lipsticks do.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 17 - Something you wear when it's sunny

I am almost religious about wearing my sunglasses. If I leave the house in the daytime, they come with me. I'll even wear them in winter if the sun's bright enough. I don't care if people give me funny looks for wearing sunglasses with a wooly hat. I even have to take them if I'm travelling in the evening, in case I round a corner into the glare of the sun whilst it's setting. I don't like to squint, it makes me feel like my contacts might pop out. I also find that if I've got a headache I'm much more comfortable when I'm wearing my sunglasses.

For most of last summer I wore a pair that my sister got from Primark a few years back, with a massive chunk missing out of one lens. They were hideous but I was determined to wait until I found the perfect new pair.

Happily, I got these cat-eye-ish sunglasses for £1.50 (yes really!) from a M&S outlet. What more could I have asked for? I just hope they continue to serve me well this summer!

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 16 - A customised item

Actually this post is about two customised items, because I dyed both these shirts at the same time. I used one pack of Dylon Fabric Dye for Hand Use in Intense Violet and put both shirts in together but as they were made of different materials and were different colours, the results were drastically different.

The above shirt is a cotton/lycra blend, and was originally white with green hearts. The hearts stayed green but the white fabric became the quite bright purple you can see here. The stitching must have been synthetic as it stayed stark white. I really want to change the buttons on this so that they match the purple, because now the shirt is purple the white buttons look really stark and cheap.

This one is a polycotton, so the resulting shade is much less vivid. Originally it was light grey with dark grey stripes, hence the lovely heathery lilac it became.

I love the results but I think I'll use machine dye in future because I got so fed up of all the stirring, and even though I stirred it regularly and often, the result is still a bit patchy in places. I had to use the washing machine to rinse out the dye because it was taking me so long to do it by hand, so I think I might as well do the whole process in the machine!

Have you ever dyed an item of clothing or an accessory? It's really easy and a great way to make old clothes exciting again! Both of these shirts were looking a little worse for wear before I dyed them - the first one was from a charity shop and had a light brown stain on it which was disguised quite effectively by the dye, and the second was a hand-me-up from my sister that she used to wear to school.


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 15 - Nail art/your favourite polish and your nail varnish collection

Since I already took a photograph of my whole nail varnish collection to show you how ridiculous big it is, I thought I'd take pictures of my favourite polishes (sadly no nail swatches - I still haven't got the hang of taking decent photos of my nails) and write about them.

Left to right
1. L.A. Colors Color Craze in Tropical Breeze - if I made a April Favourites list this would definitely be the star! When I first applied it I was disappointed as the first coat is really sheer but after the third it's a really lovely lilacy purple. It also makes a great base for glitters.
2. Maybelline Colorama in Jelly Bean - this is such a brilliant turquoise. A tad streaky on the first coat but fine after the second. They don't make these any more but there are loads on eBay.
3. Bourjois So Laque in Bleu Violet - a beautiful blue that I don't wear a lot because I only have a few outfits that will go with it, but that applies and dries really well.
4. Revlon Facets of Fuschia - one that I shouldn't even need to name if you're a make-up blogger! The cosmetics blogosphere was obsessed with this one around last Christmas, people were getting friends to send them bottles because they couldn't find it locally etc. It is fab and I think it was limited edition (I haven't seen it since) so I'm making it go further by applying plain black polish (a super cheap one from Miss Sporty) first.

5. 17 Nail Xtras Matte Top Coat - a fantastic, cheap, fast-working, matte top coat. I love the way this can transform a polish, though I have to remember that they usually end up looking darker once they've been mattified.
6. L.A Colors Nail Lacquer in Plum Wine - an amazing deep red.
7. Barry M Instant Nail Effects black crackle  - the easiest nail art method ever! Also my secret weapon for avoiding nail varnish remover - if my polish is chipped I just fill the gaps of naked nail in and slop this on top and no one can tell I did a repair job.
8. Accessorize Purple Dream - the most beautiful polish my nails have ever worn. It looks like a purple base with pink sparkles it it. Or are they blue? It depends on which way the light is hitting it, which means that when I'm wearing this I spend a lot of time tilting my hands in the light.
9. L.A. Colors Nail Lacquer in Shocker - a bright pink with a blue duochrome effect, I think this is lovely. I've become a big fan of L.A. Colors polishes. They're only 99p in Beauty Base, despite the generously sized bottles. The brushes are a bit stubby but the polishes are quite thin in consistency so they're easy to apply, The thinness also means that they wear down at the tips rather than chip off, which is great as it means that I can just pop a fnew coat on top of the old one and the finish will be just as smooth as it would have been if I'd taken the polish off and applied a fresh coat.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 14 - The item that was hardest to hunt down/buy

Now this is an old one. I bought this top in 2004 or 2005. I first saw it in H&M Bromley and being a kind-of-secret wannabe goth I loved it, but either they didn't have any in my size or I chickened out of buying it, then returned later and there were none left. I can't remember.

Anyway, I ended up going to H&M Croydon with my mum and my sister, and they didn't have the top at all. I remember this day particularly well as I was feeling really sorry for myself, having spent the day at home off sick from school (I was in sixth form at the time). As I was wandering around the Whitgift Centre on my own whilst my sister tried on clothes and my mum waited for her, this guy with really long hair came up to me and announced he was going to cheer me up, and he pulled out a pop-up book and did funny voices in an attempt to make me smile.

I did end up laughing but being a self-conscious, easily embarrassed teenager I didn't really appreciate his efforts while he was actually standing there, but after he was gone I felt really bad and have always regretted not saying a proper thank you. I even used to google appropriate word combinations in the hope that somebody knew who he was and that I could somehow send him a message to say thanks!

Anyway, a week or so later H&M Bromley must have restocked and my mum found the top in my size there. Not the longest period of searching I know but I don't get obsessed with an item of clothing very often! The last thing I was obsessed by was a dress I saw in a charity shop which I didn't buy then but went back and got a few days later.

I loved it but it is quite bad quality and when I lent it to my sister the elastic went in one of the straps so my mum had to sew ribbon to the backs of the straps to stop them unravelling. Because it looks pretty much like it should be underwear, to compensate I used to wear it with black jeans and later with an almost-knee-length floaty skirt. I say 'used to wear' as I haven't worn it in quite a while! The ribbon on the front really needs replacing because it's looking a bit worn, but mostly I just forget it's there and the last time I wore it was probably when I was in second year of uni, which was the last period of time when I went clubbing regularly. Now whenever I go out clubbing it's either for a special occasion and I have fancier things I can wear, or it wasn't planned so I'm going in what I was wearing that day anyway!


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 13 -Your lazy day at home with style outfit

I don't have a lazy day at home with style that often, as most of my friends don't live close enough to me to just be able to pop over and hang out. On the one hand, I miss the times at uni when I could just turn up at a friends house or they'd turn up at mine, but on the other, I know I'd get so much less done during my days if people were more likely to come round!

However, one of my best friends lives a bus ride away from me, so every now and then we just hang around the house for a few hours. She is an incredibly stylish lady, so I know I can't just slob around in pyjamas, but if I'm not going out I can't be bothered to make too much effort!

My lazy day at home style basically consists of jeggings + long top or t-shirt, plus a cardigan. I have three pairs of what I term 'house jeans' (jeans that I used to wear outside or that my sister used to wear outside, but that are now faded and worn and out of style) and sometimes I wear the nicer pair of those but my jeggings are much smarter though they're not as worn. I have also chosen the cutest t-shirt I own - the unicorn pegasi t-shirt! So cute I couldn't resist this top despite it being brown and green.

Jeggings from Topshop, t-shirt from Papaya (several years ago, family holiday to Orlando). Here is a close up of the t-shirt! Look at the lickle winged unicorns! They are so cute!

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 12 - The outfit you've had the best times in

I don't actually have an answer for this one. I don't think there's one outfit that I particularly associate with 'the best times' - when I think of the times when I've had the most fun in the last few years, I'm sure I wore different outfits for every occasion!

I think the most fun 'nights out' were summer balls (when I wore evening dresses, obviously), Halloween (when I wore costumes!), and friends' birthdays. I always try to wear something 'new' (usually just new to me rather than actually knew, being the charity shop addict that I am) for friends' birthday celebrations as well as my own, and if I haven't got anything 'new' to wear then I pick something that those friends haven't seen me in before. I'm not sure why, although it's quite common for most other people at the party or dinner to be wearing something new!


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 11 - Your spring essential

Photo by ljcybergal

I'm going to be unoriginal and say that my spring essential is an umbrella! With all the rain we've been having in the UK, I've been putting mine up almost every time I leave the house.

I have a fairly sturdy automatic umbrella at the moment courtesy of a charity shop but it's quite big. I usually borrow my mum's compact umbrella if I'm carrying a smaller bag and making a short journey.

Both of them are plain black but I was disheartened by the short lifespans of my last two cute, purple umbrellas (to be fair only one broke, I lost the other). The last umbrella I owned before my current automatic one was a black compact one, also from a charity shop, and it lasted quite well until I broke it on New Year's Day hurriedly getting off a bus in Ealing. Caught it under the seat next to me and tugged too hard :(

My post Layering For Spring features outfits matched to umbrellas!

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 10 - Cute tights

Got behind again! First I was busy, then the weather was dire, then I forgot, then I was busy again, but now I'm back and going to post twice each day until I've caught up.

As I already posted about my enormous collection of hosiery, I decided to create a mosaic of tights in action for this post.


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 9 - The item at the top of your wishlist

Galaxy dress!

I'd seen galaxy print leggings before but I hate all leggings - what is the point? Just include feet and make them tights.

I think I'd also seen galaxy print 'bodies' before (ffs people, they're leotards. Bodies are those things we can't take off).

I'd seen galaxy nail art.

But this is the first time I've seen a proper, floaty, pretty, galaxy dress, and I think it's amazing and want to experiment with bleach and dye and try to make my own. I would wear it all the time and feel like the queen of....well...the galaxy.


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 8 - Something you forget you have but love

I actually have an old photo for you this time!

In July 2010 I was unemployed and bored, so obviously I took to wearing strange outfits around the house, and that explains the mismatched socks over fishnets with polka dot shoes.

No, I was just being silly and trying to break in these shoes a bit more. I've had them since the last time I went to the USA (they're from a Nine West outlet) which was several years ago now.

They're yet another victim of the short, cold, and rainy summers we've had in the UK since 2007. They sit in the back of the wardrobe and when it's warm enough to wear them, I forget I have them. But they are adorable and I love them.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 7 - A special occassion outfit

I am really bad at getting decent pictures of my outfits on their actual special occasions. I usually focus on taking pictures of my friends and family and unless someone else has a camera too, there won't be any of me. I trawled through all of My Pictures trying to find a decent photo of any outfit I'd worn on any special occasion, but to no avail.

This is the second time I'm typing this because Blogger randomly ate everything except the first paragraph just now - but yes, all I have for you today are photos taken against my wardrobe. Again.

I wore this dress (Phase Eight, but obviously I got it from a charity shop for approx £10 because that's how I roll) on the evening before my birthday to the V&A for their Bright Young Things themed Friday Late event. It was divine. We took part in the scavenger hunt (though we weren't very good at it) and made badges.

I also wore black tights, black shoes, black cardigan, black coat, red cloche hat and red and black 20s style make-up despite the dress being more 30s. 20s make-up is more fun. I don't know why I didn't make sure to get a photo of it. I usually take pictures of my eye make-up even if I forget to photograph my outfit.

Below is a close-up of the dress so you can admire the pattern and the velvetyness if you so choose, and also a picture of my hand holding the red cloche hat.


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 6 - Something out of your comfort zone but you love it

This dress. Oh. This dress.

I'm pretty sure that it's out of most people's comfort zone. If it were black it might be in Zoetica Ebb's, but other than that...

I'm convinced I got it so cheap because it's so weird. It's not really pretty, despite the colour. It doesn't give me the illusion of curves. The construction is a bit random. To be frank, it looks like it was made by a drunk pixie. A genius drunk pixie, but a drunk pixie all the same.

I have yet to actually wear it because on which occasions is a dress like this appropriate? I feel like it might be the kind of thing for book launches and evening talks at the V&A, where I can be a bit formal without feeling like I want to be feminine. I don't go to either very often, and having never worn it, it's easy to forget that I even own it. I nearly wore it to a book launch last year but then forgot and wore something more normal.

But I love its quirkiness. I think most of it is cotton but the darker bits of fabric are some magical super-soft stuff. It's such a nice colour. And the label says Sportsmax Code, which means that for less than £10 it was probably another great bargain.

I've decided that I must wear it within the next month. Even if it's just to go to a pub or to the library or something. I've got no excuse for saving it, it's not even dry clean only, the label assures me that hand washing in cold water is fine.

Tomorrow I'll hopefully post twice for the last time in this challenge! Yay!

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 5 - Your best bargain

When I saw the topic, best bargain, I immediately thought of this, my best 'bought new' bargain.

This is the dress I wore to my Sixth Form leavers' ball, and to my first university summer ball. Original price - £160. I paid - £48. Thank you, Monsoon 70% off sales.

I've only worn it twice though, which means it has a cost per wear of £24. Not so bargainous. I have bought two ballgowns since for less than £15 in charity shops so if you still have balls to look forward to, I would strongly recommend you go round the formalwear racks in charity shops and save yourself some moolah!

If I ever wear it again I'm going to have to get it dry cleaned first as there are blatant cola stains down the front. Goldsmiths' summer balls are dress ruiners - to get drinks once inside the Students Union, you have to queue for ages in front of the bar squashed like a sardine. Imagine a mosh pit where everyone's in formal wear and the people at the front are buying drinks for twelve of their friends and passing them back over the crowd. Then you go onto the dancefloor and that's really crowded too, plus you're drunk and so is everyone else and you keep having to bend to hug people or go sit on the sticky stairs by the fire exit for photos. I tried to be careful but my drink of choice for dancing is rum and coke. Should I have switched to something that won't stain dresses, e.g. vodka and water? Probably.

Yes, it's been hanging in a wardrobe for six years with brown stains down it. What can I say? Dry cleaning is expensive! I buy dry clean only clothes from charity shops all the time and then proceed to hand wash them and it's fine but it's not as big a risk when it's a top you bought for £4.99. I'm not going to try it with a ballgown I actually bought new.

Out of my secondhand items, for cheapness, I'd pick the dress on the right, originally from Almost Famous London, that I wore on New Year's Eve. About £10 and so pretty (also, so hard to photograph, being black and sequinned). I really want to wear it again but need to find the right occasion.  But it was probably over £100 new judging by the prices on the brand's website, so it's still a bargain even though so far I have only worn it once!

For low cost per wear + original cheapness an easy pick is the dress on the left, which was originally from H&M but again I got it from a charity shop for less than a tenner. I have worn it dozens of times since I got it. It's so good for the winter - I've got three long sleeved black tops I can wear underneath it because the cowl neck of the dress hides their necklines, and with fleece-lined tights and a cardigan it's really warm. Unfortunately the sun went behind a cloud when I took that photo but I did tweak the brightness and contrast a bit so you can see the cowl.

What makes you consider something a bargain? Original price, cost per wear, or a combination of the two?


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 4 - Your favourite print

I'm not really a print fan. As I've said before, I don't like most prints. I'm really really fussy. They've got to be just right for me to like them. Sometimes I go off clothes I've owned for ages and worn loads of times just because I've decided I can't stand the print.

I'm especially fussy about florals. Tiny flower prints are often too cutesy-girly for me, and I don't like the bold Hawaiian-style prints that feature on summer dresses practically every year. I want the middle ground. Something pretty but not too delicate.

I found it in this dress.

I got it from a charity shop the year before last, and it was originally from Warehouse. It's really well made - fully lined, concealed zip - and its one of my favourite things to wear in the summer. Here's a close up of that print. Sorry for the slight lighting fail - stretching it out with one hand whilst taking the photo with the other was really difficult.

I love that the background is black, as I feel that partly compensates for the girliness of the flowers. I tend to wear it with black opaque tights, or fishnets, or lace tights and my black Doc Martens boots to toughen it up even more. I also love the colours - they provide me with so many options for make-up - pink, blue, green, gold, and, of course, black.

The only way it could have been improved is if they'd actually lined up the print properly when sewing the sections of the dress together, because it looks a bit sloppy as it is. You can't really expect prints to be properly lined up on high street dresses though and I think I lucked out finding this one because there's one of these dresses on eBay right now where it's even more obvious.

May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 3 - Something you're wearing for the first time

Two posts for you today as I try to get caught up!

I've had these - my Dr Martens' Marlenas - since I went to the warehouse sale on Brick Lane in March. I queued for three hours, during a mini-heatwave, looking enviously at everyone who passed carrying bags and trying not to think too much about food, water, or going to the loo.

It was totally worth it though because once I finally got inside, the size nine section was still relatively tidy. The sections for smaller sizes were a complete mess, boxes and boots everywhere, Hurray for big feet!

I tried on a pair of high heeled patent leather boots. As I picked them up I wondered about their practicality, and when I put them on I felt, as I anticipated, a weird combination of excitement and shyness. I wasn't sure I could walk down the street in these boots unless I was on my way to Slimelight. It's not often that I'm in the mood to be as overtly sexy as these boots would force me into being, for lack of a better way of putting it. I usually dress quite demure. Even when I was 18 and used to regularly wear this one lacy top that basically looked like underwear, I wore it with jeans 90% of the time. I don't own a single body-con dress.

And yet they were amazing. High heeled patent leather boots! They were only £25, so even if I only wore them once a year to a goth night, I'd get my money's worth out of them, eventually, I reasoned.

Then I tried actually walking in them and it was obvious pretty quickly that the arch wasn't quite in the right place. I have another pair of shoes where the arch isn't quite right and it's really annoying. So I reluctantly left them for someone else to claim.

Instead I got the Marlenas, which are nice, practical Mary Jane style shoes - with a big enough heel to make me over six feet tall. Mwahahaha. They're pretty comfy but they need breaking in, and I haven't had the time to wear them around the house for the last month. Now I've got some holiday time between jobs, so I can get them broken in.

I put them on today for about an hour and hopefully will get to wear them for longer tomorrow, and soon I'll be able to wear them everywhere and feel awesome!


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 2 - I have the most...

This post is three days late, it's true. I was ill when I posted the first one and then got more ill. But I'm getting better now so today I took some photos and hopefully I'll get caught up, double-posting over the next few days if I have to.

When I read the title of this challenge, I immediately thought: TIGHTS! But when I saw Selina's post I was reminded that I actually have more nail varnish.

To be fair, lots of these are more than half used up. I only buy a couple of bottles a year, but I've been a fan of nail varnish for over ten years now and won't throw any away until the bottle's empty.
Over fifty bottles. Also pictured: nail varnish thinner, tubes of glitter, my backup bag mirror (which I rarely use, I usually keep the same one that I've carried for probably 10+ years now in my bag), and a bottle of hand soak.

With the ice cream tub stacked on top of the box and the gift set tucked behind, they fit easily on to a third of a shelf in my cupboard. My tights take up much more room. Also, I have several pairs that I haven't actually worn yet. Shameful, I know.

Thing is, I love tights. I really love tights. I don't like most prints so most of my clothes are just one colour, and therefore I rely on tights for colour coordination. You know how so many style guides say things like 'don't be too matchy-matchy'? I laugh in their faces and stomp on their words. I love matching. I feel great when I'm wearing, say, a black skirt with a purple top that is the same purple as my tights, and probably purple nail varnish and eyeshadow too.

Another reason to love tights is that buying a pair of tights is much cheaper than buying a dress or a top and skirt, even bearing in mind that I buy most of my clothes in charity shops. Also I think that there's almost a subculture of hosiery fans. Most people prefer trousers and those that do wear tights often stick to plain black or navy opaques or sheer tights that match their skin colour, so when I meet someone else wearing colourful or patterned tights, I often start a conversation about how wonderful tights are!

My box of coloured opaques! It looks like there's five pairs but that's just the top layer! On the top right is my fishnets box and bottom right a box of various lace tights. I've also got a box just for black opaques but it just looks like a black box filled with black fabric so I'm not posting a picture.
I got into coloured opaques in 2006 when they first started becoming fashionable. The pairs I've had the longest were found in fairly obscure locations - a pink pair that I think were picked up in Allders of Croydon, and a couple of lilacy pairs that I think my mum found in BHS. I still have all three though they are a bit battered from being worn to so many students' union club nights when I was an undergraduate! I also got a pair of purple opaques, though I don't remember where from, that I wore everywhere - club nights, lectures, family dinners - and so often that I wore through the toes and had to sew up the holes because I didn't think I'd find another pair! I still have them, mostly for sentimental reasons because I have a few other pairs in similar shades of purple that are much more comfortable and less worn out, but occasionally I'll find that all my other purple opaques are in the wash and put them on!

The next few pairs of tights I got came from Accessorize during a sale. I got a pair of fishnets with a back seam, which are really sexy but really fragile, made worse by the fact that they're 'one size' and therefore too small for me. It's also really hard to pick shoes that they look good with. At the same time I bought two pairs of mesh tights with embroidery-style sections, and I think I've only worn one of the pairs, and only once, because the summers have been cold and short since and again it's hard to pick shoes that they'll look good with. However, I also got my second pair of purple opaques, which meant that I didn't have to worry about wrecking my original pair any more!

In 2007, the first series of Mary, Queen of Shops went on the air, and Mary Portas wore coloured opaques virtually all the time. Then Marks and Spencer started selling them, and the rest is history. Almost every time M&S produce a new colour of opaque I end up buying it! I've also bought several pairs of fishnets, lace tights, thermal tights, fleece lined tights (amazing!) and both versions of the amazing woolly polka dot tights they sold last winter. Unfortunately, I have yet to actually wear some of the lace tights because last summer wasn't warm enough, so they languish in their packaging. I just can't resist lovely lace tights, as impractical as they are 90% of the time.

Oh dear...
That's seven pairs still in their packaging. Two of them are actually the same as pairs I already owned but I couldn't resist the bargain prices on offer at the M&S outlet in Lewisham! The mesh flowery ones at the back are casualties of the crap summers we've had the last few years. I don't really have an excuse for not wearing the grey with black polka dot pair, I need to get to it! The bright blue ones I love and they were a must-buy as soon as I saw them but I've yet to get them into an outfit. I really want to wear them clubbing as part of an outfit that's at least vaguely reminiscent of the outfits I used to wear to club nights in 2006 but almost every time I've been clubbing since I bought them I've either gone straight from work (where bright blue tights have never been appropriate - purple and teal are pushing it) or from what I expected to be a casual evening in a pub wearing my jeggings!

Almost all of my tights are from M&S because until very recently, most other retailers only sold one size. I'm over 5ft 9in and have size nine and a half feet, so I'm too big for 'one size'. M&S make every style in at least two sizes. Most come in four sizes - small, medium, large, and extra large - but some of the 'fashion' tights have two options,  small/medium and large/extra large. Other companies have started to cater for different sizes more recently too which is great but basically means I can't go shopping because I find it so difficult to stop myself buying hosiery! I know I have to try to wear out some pairs enough to throw them away before I buy more because I just can't store any more, so I banned myself from checking the M&S website.

Unfortunately the ban now has to be over because yesterday I tore a tiny hole in the thigh of a pink pair of opaques that I absolutely love. Stupid bag buckles! I'm sure I can still get several more wears out of that pair by wearing longer skirts, but I'll be eagerly checking the M&S website again in the hope that they'll bring it back. Also, M&S have started making lots of their tights in a UK factory and it would be great to support that...;)

Even more tights! The lilacy pair at the top is one of the pairs I got in 2006. Six years of style! The pink ones are the ones I made a hole in yesterday. Sad.
The theme for the tenth day of the challenge is 'cute tights', so then I'll be taking close-up photos of my prettiest pairs. If there's anything I've described that you'd like to see, leave me a comment!


May 31 Day Fashion Blogger Challenge: Day 1 - My Wardrobe

As I'm sure you've noticed, I've been updating this blog very sporadically for the last couple of years. I even described it as being on semi-hiatus in a few blog threads on forums and other communities.

I love this blog, and have many fond memories attached to it, but the idea of posting again has become such a huge deal in my mind, like planning to run the marathon (love how I say 'the marathon', because if you are from London, there is only one) or climbing Mount Everest or something. A couple of weeks ago, Amy of Stripy Tights and Dark Delights linked to one of my old posts and I clicked through to read it myself, not recognising the title particularly well. My reaction was pretty much - 'I wrote this? How? When?'

I suppose excuse number one is that I haven't been buying a lot of new clothes or make-up for the past few years as I've been what-I-call 'sporadically employed'. However, I have still bought a few bits from charity shops and I have received some hand-me-ups from my sister. And this excuse really shouldn't fly for the person who wrote post after post about reworking your wardrobe and followed Tricia's wardrobe remix posts religiously back in the day!

Excuse number two is that I've been focusing on my book blog, and it has paid off as I now have actual followers over there. But, I actually still have about three times as many subscribers to this blog! I have a whole audience I've been neglecting.

Excuse number three, which is slightly true, is that I've been really busy: firstly with my MA, then with job hunting and volunteering.

But the truth is I haven't made time for it. I think it's a confidence issue. I know this sounds like pretentious nonsense, but when I started, there really weren't that many fashion blogs. I'm sure that when I started using Google Reader, I subscribed to less than a dozen. There were certainly only a couple of alternative fashion blogs out there. If I'd kept posting multiple times a week and put the effort in then maybe my blog would be really well known now! But truth is, I never had that much confidence in my ability to opine on the fashion world. So when I became busy for a while, I let it go, finding it too difficult, with everything else going on in my life, to keep battling the fear and keep posting. And then all these other people came along and made it look so effortless, and it took me a while to get over that.

Fashion and style is such a personal topic, and I was only just discovering how much fun clothes could be when I started blogging. Happily, now I'm pretty set in my self-assured ways. But there are still things to learn, and to think about.

A lot of blogs are all about the hauling and shiny new stuff now, and I got sucked into reading a lot of make-up blogs and bookmarking loads of reviews in my 'lemming' folder. But I still advocate not going to the shops/looking at online stores as the best way to save money and force yourself to think creatively about the clothes you already own. So maybe my niche is still there, waiting.

Only one way to find out, and I've been wanting to for a while. Selina of Flying Saucer, one of those half-dozen or so blogs I originally subscribed to and still enjoy even though her style is so different now from mine (No body-con dresses for me. Floaty for life!) is running a 31 Day challenge for May, so I thought, might as well!

Day 1's theme is: My Wardrobe. I have two. One for normal length tops and one for long tops, skirts, trousers and dresses. Both have a shelf above the hanging space.

The normal length tops wardrobe (above) also has three drawers, filled with tights, knickers, pyjamas, socks, vests and various rarely-worn stuff. Some of which is crap I should really get rid of, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to donate. For example, the spray-paint-and-glitter effect jeans I got when I was about 14, and thought would make me look like such a rock star. I don't think I even wore them out of the house before they went completely out of fashion, probably forever! I expect they're much too short for me now as well. What am I doing.

Bras are in a separate drawer unit. They were originally in the drawer with knickers and tights but then my collection of tights got so large I had to move them out and squish them into one of my tiny bedside drawers. More on the tights tomorrow.

The normal length tops wardrobe is alright, you know, apart from the whole hoisery addiction thing (in the photo above you can see two pairs still in their packaging - I have at least three more pairs that are entirely unworn in the drawers or on top of them) but the long tops wardrobe is dire.

Now, I know you're thinking, that looks much less crowded. But you can't see the shelf above. Or the floor. The floor contains my shoe rack, loads of bags, a magazine rack holding all my precious copies of J-17 magazine, and loads of wrapping paper from Christmas that I aim to reuse. And I don't even mean that it's from just this Christmas. Oh no. Some of it is from the year before. Plus one of my dresses has clearly been falling off the hanger, again.

But I don't want to focus on the negatives. Although there is a lot of crap I need to sort out/get rid of (e.g.. the spray paint trousers), my wardrobes are otherwise quite organised. Skirts are hung in order of size, shortest to largest. Then I've hung all the trousers, followed by long tops, dresses that can be worn as tops, dresses I can wear any time, and finally on the right are all the summer-only dresses that are too easily creased to be folded up and store in boxes (on top of the wardrobes) during the winter. I also have a really long evening dress in the middle. All the longest items are supposed to hang towards the middle so that I can put stuff on the floor and up against the sides of the wardrobe.

The normal-length tops wardrobe is in sections: cardigans/jumpers, collared shirts, long sleeved tops, short sleeved tops/t-shirts, and strappy tops. It's also organised by colour within those sections. I used to have it organised just by colour but I couldn't find things efficiently enough!

Maybe these photos will serve as a 'before', and will remind me to get working on clearing them out. There are so many things I'd like to rehome. I'd love to have a more cohesive theme to my wardrobe, but at the same time, I enjoy the eclectic range. Most days, I want to dress in my typical purple-goth manner. But others, I just really want to wear a brightly-coloured long top and some jeans.

Hopefully I'll be posting about tights tomorrow - the thing I have the most of!
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