Monday, 22 September 2014

London Fashion Week - The British Red Cross Take Over

We all pour over fashion magazines thinking about what to buy next, grieving over what's missing from our wardrobe, wishing we had a spare pile of dosh lying around to splurge on the look of the season. But the clothes on the catwalk are unachievable for many which is where fast fashion comes in with its catwalk replicas made by exploiting workers and the environment. Not so win win. 

But. Something AMAZING happened on Saturday in the British Red Cross shop on Buckingham Palace Road. Something that deserves a mighty, huge fanfare and deafening applause: the case for shopping second hand, vintage and charity shop clothing just got a hell of a lot stronger. Emma Slade, a personal style favourite of mine, took catwalk looks direct from the shows at London Fashion Week and recreated them using clothes from the rails in the charity shop - no mean feat when a fashion show lasts less than 5 minutes and looks disappear in the blink of an eye. 

With the intention to

"prove that you don’t need a big budget to be on trend, that fashion is for everyone, and that shopping sustainably by buying charity shop and second hand clothing is cooler than you ever imagined"

Emma Slade created and styled a series of phenomenal looks which in my eyes are WIN-WIN for all. Not only does it show you that style doesn't come from splashing loads of cash but that charity shops can have the latest trends even quicker than the High Street, you've just got to have a bit of imagination to put the looks together. 

You can even purchase the items on eBay with all proceeds going to The British Red Cross: 

Emma, I salute you. Now where can I get one of those IMMENSE black head bows???

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Pushing my fashion boundaries with Boho

Boho? Bo NO!

I was in a charity shop the other day browsing through the dresses when my hand struck upon a full length Boho inspired maxi dress. Clearly lovingly handmade, the pattern matched at the seams (a sign of proper fit) and the zips were concealed. I turned to my mate, clutching said dress, and said

"I don't know why but all I want to do is waft around in full length maxi dress and wedges."

Ok, a warning bell should've started ringing LOUD then and there. Here's why:

1. I HATE maxi dresses. At a statuesque 5'3" they swamp me. In fact, I SOLD my 2 remaining maxi dresses on eBay earlier this summer.
2. My style has changed rapidly since I started The Wardrobe Angel. I used to conceal my textbook hourglass figure in all manner of oversized shenanigans but now I can't deal with a lot of excess material encasing me, it makes me feel cluttered. I'm all 

"Pencil skirt? Form fitting dress? Why yes! get in my wardrobe."

3. MY LEGS ARE MY BEST FEATURE. Why the chuff would I want to cover them up in a maxi dress that, quite frankly, was a bit wench (empire line, balloon sleeves - you get the picture). 

Image courtesy of The Tudor Shoppe - oh yeah, its real. 

After bidding my puzzled friend adieu, I headed home, put the kettle on and headed into my office. Something wasn't right with my earlier statement to do with the wafting. And shock horror there was the answer lying face up on my desk: I'd been the victim of brainwashing via The Observer magazine. Cripes. 

I did Boho the first time: I distinctly remember my white tiered maxi skirt and hipster belt. Sienna Miller was my early 00's icon and I've still got the cowboy boots to prove it but now my style has shaped into something more dramatic, more fitted and distinctly more vintage. I love the power dressing influences of the 1980's: sharp shoulders, bodycon and strong statement jewellery and it has taken years of hard slog for my style to settle here. To be thrown off kilter by one maxi dress was a pure shock but it just shows how easily you can be influenced by what other people are wearing and what's 'in fashion' when you don't know your own style. This can then lead to a wardrobe full of nothing to wear, a whose who chronology of dead fashion trends that don't represent the true authenticity of you. 

Fashion is wonderful when it pushes your boundaries but when you have a distinct sense of style that stops you buying s**t, you know which boundaries you want pushing and which you don't.

And just an aside - on looking closer at those boots with bits missing - My first thought? 

"Wouldn't your feet get cold wearing them?"

I rest my Boho? Bo No! case.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

How I get my locks to look like glass (thanks John Frieda)

I had finished presenting a WI (Women's Institute) talk when a hand shot up and the owner of the hand asked

"How do you get your hair to look like glass?"

My response was

"Erm....(uncomfortable pause) I don't drink, I don't smoke, I eat prettily healthily (another pause and I began to wring my hands)....erm...and Moroccan Oil."

It really threw me to be honest. I know when I do talks about my business I am the centre of attention but the fact the lady had been eyeing up my hair made me feel a bit off kilter. I'm not a beauty expert, a beauty blogger, a hair fanatic, I just use what I use and have luckily found the products which work for me.

Before I start this blog post in earnest, I would like point out that over the years my hair has been all shades of colour under the sun: orange, blonde, a brief flirtation with black, light brown, dark brown and red. Growing up I was never satisfied with my hair. With eyes skewed by the ideal set by the beauty industry, rather than what I saw with my own eyes in the mirror everyday,  I fell for all kinds of 'promises' from the marketing of such products such as SUN-IN only to have my heart, and hair, broken. You 90's teenagers will remember that ghastly spray (which I pretty sure was just bleach in a bottle) that promised sun kissed locks. I wanted sun-kissed locks and since I didn't live in California where all the models in the adverts seemed to reside, I bought the Sun-In and sat on the back doorstep of my mum and dad's house using the pale rays of Yorkshire sunlight to enhance my dark brown hair. You know what you get when you mix dark brown hair with SUN-IN? Orange hair. Bright. Orange. Hair.

Me, Blonde, You, shocked.
At Uni I went all Sonic The Hedgehog and had red highlights which eventually lead me to blonde highlights and a short urchin haircut that made me look like a boy. So much so, my friend marched me off to get my ears pierced. For a while I was happy with brown hair, I grew it out and started fashioning it into an almighty quiff. Then I got restless. A hairdresser caught me at a weak moment and I started the slippery slope into full blown blondeness.  Hard to maintain, even harder to find the money for the upkeep every 6 weeks and the hardest thing? Coming back from an epic holiday in Ibiza, we headed out to a club in Manchester where I was thinking "I look awesome. I woke up like this" when a woman in said club approached me and asked "are you ok? You look really ill." Bye Bye blonde. That was the last time I dyed it.

Now it is in its natural state - a deep chocolate brown - which I don't dye and love heartily, I have finally made peace with my hair. I use Brilliant Brunette Shampoo & Conditioner in the shower, Moroccan Oil on the very tips of my hair (otherwise we have an oil slick situation on our hands) after I have towel dried my barnet, then I blow dry and straighten the fringe and front section with GHDs.

I'm glad I wasted days of my life in the colourist's chair because not only has the first 30 years of my life provided me with loads of photos which are hair-tastically hilarious, but I worked out what suits me, what I like and what I don't.

I guess sometimes you have to make many shaped hair wrongs to make a right.

Til next time...x

PS - any hair nightmares you want to share? Pop 'em in the comments section below...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Wrong Knickers

I love Bryony Gordon. I know this is all terribly 'fan girl' of me but blame my Mum; ever since she pointed out that Bryony and I were of a similar and age and lead seemingly chaotic lives I felt I had a kindred spirit. 

Reading about her London life in The Wrong Knickers brought back memories of my 20's, chaos being the prevalent undercurrent: moving 10 times in 6 years, crashing headlong into dead end relationships, the all night raves, food poisoning, getting my drink spiked in Ibiza, watching friend after friend waltz down the aisle whilst I was the token class clown. Yet all the while I held down a pretty stressful job and built my career. 

There was a lot of magic in my 20's as well: a houseshare in Manchester which brought me lifelong friends, cooking my first roast dinner, awesome holidays in South Africa, Ibiza and America, completing a Fashion Journalism course. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change any of it. I'm just thankful that in Bryony Gordon writing about it I don't feel so bad about it. 

I admit I skim read some of the chapters, so close to the bone was the writing, that the words took my breath away. My carousel of lurching crisis came to a head after a move to Dubai and back after which I knuckled down, bagged my dream job, saved up and eventually started The Wardrobe Angel. If you've read Bryony Gordon's column in The Telegraph called How The Other Half Lives she used to be the pissed up lass roaring around London, the bones of which are brought to life in The Wrong Knickers. She now resides on the other side of the fence - married with a baby. 

A couple of years ago when friends were popping kids out all over the place I felt my future on this front was bleak: I was working on my business, a relationship was the last thing on my mind. But reading Bryony's story from single to shacked up gave me...hope. I knew the rest would come, and it did. 

Thanks Bryony. You utter legend. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

How you know when it's time to let go.

We've all got wardrobe favourites that, like a stubborn child, refuse to go anywhere. Mine is a sunshine yellow shift dress from H&M Trend. I bought it when I was the Visual Merchandising Manager of the flagship H&M store in London in the late 00's and man have I LOVED IT. I wore it with polo necks underneath and cardigans belted on top, I wore it on nights out and to work. It worked in winter and in summer, with flats and with boots, with bare legs and with tights. I think the only place I didn't wear it was to bed.

My happy sunshine H&M dress

You can just about see the ink spot 
Looks cool, non?
Then 2 things happened that should have sounded like a klaxon in my wardrobe-attuned ears. Firstly, I got black printer ink on front (to be honest, my Mum did such a good job of getting the ink out that the 'spot' left only a tiny patch of discoloured fabric. But once you know, you know) Secondly, the dress became mildly transparent due to so much washing. Probably around the time a bit of ink got on it....

To solve problem one I got some poppers sewn on so I could attach my fur stole which covered the ink spot - awesome - but this limited when and where I could wear the dress. I was still walking round flashing my pants so to combat the transparency issue I invested in some nude underwear. Now I really was flogging a dead dress. The dress somehow made its way to the back of my wardrobe where every so often I would take it out, remember the good times, and put it straight back. The thing was, even though I knew deep down that I would never wear the dress again, I didn't want anyone else to have it. Sound familiar?

Times move on and fashions come and go. Styles change around you and your personal style will never stop growing with you. I should've left this dress in my twenties where it belonged. This month I am moving into my new home and there is no place for this 1960's inspired see-through dress with its tarnished buttons, biro stained back (lord knows how that happened) and poppers sewn on to the neckline.

So - if you want it, it's yours. Tweet me @wardrobe_angel, hit me up on Facebook or message me via my website.  It's a size 10 and the biro stain is tiny, I promise.