Thursday, 31 May 2012

Silk and angry pansies

Are these not the most discontent flowers you have ever laid eyes upon? I was just having a cup of tea - the first in days, due to the recently fled warm weather - in the back garden, and I spotted their furious faces glaring up at me. I find them hilariously endearing.

'Silk' is actually a colloquial term for a fancy senior barrister, a member of the Queen's Council. It's also the name of a BBC 1 courtroom drama, of which I caught the third episode of the second series this Tuesday at 9pm, which was quite interesting, though I didn't understand it fully, and the characters were strangers. Today I watched the first two episodes of the series on iPlayer, and much to my surprise, really enjoyed it.

From Ace Attorney I learnt what defence attorneys, prosecutors and defendants are. From Silk, I've learnt the meaning of barrister, solicitor and, of course, 'silk'. How very educational this all is. A 'courtroom drama' sounds soul-destroyingly dull, but it's really not.

The evil solicitor character I recognised as the taxi driver of A Study in Pink, series one of Sherlock. This correlates to my theory of a metaphorical BBC bin of British actors, from which at least one must be in every single BBC drama. The creator is one Peter Moffat, which made me do a double-take, but apparently he's not related to Steven Moffat.

Alas, I must wait until Tuesday for the next episode of Silk. There are those American and Chinese dramas which air so fast and for so long, but I suppose the quality and familiarity of British dramas make them worth the wait.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Victorian blouse

I've always been fascinated with Victorian fashion: the bell-shaped skirts, high necklines, fingerless gloves, pagoda sleeves, and the texture and layering of lace and frills and other such drapery. Its sophistication and elegance can't only appeal to me alone, as Victorian fashion is still prominent in modern styles like lolita (which is probably where I first discovered it) and steampunk.

While I don't dress in any of these styles, I'd really, really love a Victorianesque high-collared blouse.

|| one || two || three || four ||
As I'd just like it for everyday wear, maybe the bow on 2. is a little much, but I love the lace, frills and ruffles of these blouses. The only long-sleeved blouses I have at the moment are shapeless school shirts and a badly-fitting shirt from Primark, so these in comparison will be absolute luxury.

While chiffon is floaty and pretty, I prefer good old stiffer, thicker cotton. These ones are all white, but I wouldn't mind it being cream either, to get away from the school shirt idea. I'm sure they would all look amazing with a high-waisted skirt and my mum's Victorianesque button boots.

Boots: Clarks, mum's boot collection
I can drool and speculate, but I had trouble finding even these examples on the internet, and they are all from the most obscure sources, from China on eBay or from some obscure lolita-related source, a style mostly unseen in UK, and probably extremely expensive too. It can't be impossible, because I've seen someone at school in a blouse which isn't quite like my examples, but is gorgeous all the same. But where on earth am I going to find a blouse like that in a physical shop near me?

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Eurovision 2012

I can hardly bring myself to tag this post with 'music' because that's really pushing it, isn't it? However, I must admit that I do enjoy watching Eurovision if I've time. At the moment I'm watching it on iPlayer because I was busy playing Trine 2 and Jamestown last night with Mir and Cel, so I couldn't write detailed notes on what I thought of the acts like I did last year. But because I have a fashiony blog now, I couldn't resist writing something about the costumes.

Rona Nishliu
Dreadlock-wrapped spare brain, cable stuck to her chest, helmetless astronaut dress. Yep, she must be an alien from the furthest reaches of space. Even in a Star Wars or Doctor Who set, she'd look bad. As for the song, let's never speak of it. Ever.

Buranovskiye Babushki
I was frankly disgusted with the song, which was quite disappointing because I knew there was hype for Russia, but didn't know why, and unfortunately assumed that it was for good reason. They looked fabulous though. The patterns, warm colours and fishscale necklaces are lovely.

I suspect I may be going against convention, but I didn't like this dress. According to Norton, it's designed by Gaultier, but that doesn't mean we all have to like it - I'm not digging the corset, pants and transparent skirt and I think she looks stupid.

Nina Zilli
My first impressions are Amy Winehouse, and aluminium foil. Nevertheless, as I look a little longer, she doesn't look so bad. Yes, it's undoubtedly foil, but I think it's styled nicely with the red lipstick, shoes and earrings.

Sabina Babayeva
I quite like this dress... except the fluffy shoulder pads. What is it with Eurovision and shoulder pads this year? Bosnia's singer had awful shoulder pads too. Usually there's lots of all-white ensembles, but this year all-black seems to be getting a fair share too.

The song was disgusting, but especially combined with this tasteless ensemble. At least the plastic tassly abomination she's donning matches the trashy song. Also, I spotted at least three people with that hairstyle, one of which was the Azerbaijan singer.

Much to your disappointment, Jedward are unfortunately not going to grace my blog with their metallic Power Ranger suits. Sorry, folks.

On the actual songs, in no particular order I quite enjoyed Estonia, Iceland, Serbia and Spain. Though I've forgotten what they all sound like by now...

All the photos in this post are from the Eurovision website.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Gotta Lovett

Only when I  researched costume design for an art exam did I realise that the stunning outfit designs of characters in films like Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands and A Series of Unfortunate Events were of one American costume designer, Colleen Atwood.

Atwood's illustrations

I remember first watching Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd with my Wifey on DVD, who's a fan of Tim Burton, and since then it's become one of my favourite films. Stephen Sondheim's soundtrack is spine-tingling, the story is dark and harsh and tragic, and the costumes are quiet masterpieces. And then there's the sullen and angular Mrs. Lovett...

Mrs. Lovett is a grimy crow, subtle, moody, and gothic, and this is delightfully brought out by her beautifully detailed collection of dresses. Even as her financial situation improves, they remain low-key and controlled, but with a delightful touch of life in Burton's signature murky world. Atwood says,
"I thought she'd be attracted to a bit of obvious glitter. Underneath she had 
fantastic underwear you never see — great bloomers and corsets."

Don't you Lovett?

Monday, 21 May 2012


With deepest bitterness and suspicion, I handed in all of my art coursework before my exams started. I will never see them again until the end of this year. If for whatever reason the school cannot return the art to me, or if they have been damaged at all, I will flipping eat their babies.

Hatter-inspired design on DeviantART
This is drawing inks and watercolour on canvas. This beautiful emerald green ink I found in the art department decided for me the main colour of the costume design, which made things easier for me.

Based on Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, I tried to combine elements of the Mad Hatter's costume - pinstripe suit, top hat, spools of thread as belts (which I pretty much copied exactly because they remind me of bullet belts which is kind of cool) and bow tie - with elements of Victorian women's fashion. So out came the frills, lace and killer boots I've been doodling for years and years, with an eclectic mix of patterns and colours for the 'Mad' in the Hatter. (Ain't nothing like a bit of mercury poisoning.)

This piece was very much in my comfort zone, and it's probably the one product of taking art I value most. My other big painting was for my final exam so I never had the chance to photograph it, and never will for at least half a year. Until then, I'll just have to mope around with an empty space on the wall where my Hatter painting once hung.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

"Don't you dare look out your window"

I didn't think I'd be one to picspam, what with my nonexistent camera skills, but it was sunny one morning and there was a patch of that pale morning sunlight in the garden, so...

Coat: Barbour, TK Maxx, mum's wardrobe
Necklace: DIY
Dress: Parisian, New Look
Tights: New Look
Socks: Primark
Boots: Rockport, TK Maxx

I mentioned when I first bought this dress that the pattern was slightly misaligned in the middle, a defect my mum noticed. It annoyed her so much, one evening she sneakily whisked the dress away and fixed it! My mum is most definitely made from Minish magic.

My mum's posh coat, which has the royal arms inside it because the Queen wears that brand or something, matches my boots perfectly, as it's made from a matte material which compliments suede very well. I am currently on the prowl for a similarly-textured belt to go with my boots, short enough to go around my waist.

Boots: Rockport, TK Maxx
Socks: Primark
Tights: New Look
Cardi: Les Folies, TK Maxx, mum's wardrobe
Dress: Parisian, New Look

Contrary to what I may lead you to believe, I do, in fact, have a head. Hullo!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Frilly socks

Get a load of this: I, with the crafting dexterity of a swollen foot, DIY-ed something. Nevertheless, even my low-levelled sewing skills were sufficient to unlock this shiny new item in my wardrobe: frilly socks! Actually, perhaps it would be more accurate to describe them as a returning item rather than a new one. My clothes drawer was once awash with frilly socks, but alas - that was ten years ago and they have all been lost to time.

I do remember where one pair went. Once my sister was in a rush to go somewhere important, and was in dire need of some white socks. So, right in front of her, I deliberately ignored all the plain white socks as I dug around in my drawer, to obtain the silliest and frilliest socks to lend to her. Because making one's big sister wear frilly socks is Such Fun.

Socks: DIY
Trainers: Converse, some sports shop
The crisp white lace is very good at showing up how off-white my Converse are!

Socks: DIY
Heels: Hush Puppies,
I had two lengths of these frills from the haberdashery in the market, which were just perfect for sewing onto these ankle socks, which are from Primark. It took a little practice trying to get the tensions right, because I underestimated the difference in elasticity between the socks and the frills, but I am immensely proud of myself for sewing something on my own.

I quickly whipped up an outfit with my socks and tartan dress (which, one day, I will stop harping on about,) but that's for another day. In the meantime, feast your eyes upon the crisp white lacy frilly socks LB has to offer. I really love them with ankle boots and brogues.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

"I need everything I see"

In summer, Ginge and I have lots planned: video games, shopping, and general artsy-fartsiness. (Which is a word now.) For my birthday she got me this super interesting jersey dress, with eyes all over it. I also seriously don't wear those grey boots enough; they're surprisingly comfortable, for heels. They're just another example of the hidden gems in the clothes departments of ordinary supermarkets!
Necklace: Claire's
Cardi: TK Maxx/mum's wardrobe
Dress: Drop Dead, birthday present from Ginge
Bracelets: Primark
Tights: New Look
Boots: Tesco

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Tartan dresses

I am just dying to wear my new tartan dress I bought last weekend, but unsurprisingly, exam season offers little opportunity to go out and dress up. In breaks between revision, however, I found some pretty cool tartan dresses.


If you are expecting me to launch into a deeply intelligent artistic analysation of McQueen's work and his effect on the world of high fashion, prepare to be disappointed in three... two... *zzzt*

Helena Bonham Carter receiving her CBE
Bonham Carter is such a babe. As part of an upcoming series on Victoriana, I've a post on Mrs. Lovett waiting for you in a dark corner somewhere. Now, back to physics...

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Pre-exam haul

It was deceptively sunny this morning, when we set out to the Sunday car boot sale we've been meaning to have a poke round for weeks. Good thing I brought my measles trenchcoat to keep me toasty. I bought two very simple metal rings for 30p for sticking buttons and other such oddities onto, so I can pretend to be crafty.

And on an impulse, I found this little TARDIS money box for 80p. It's about 18cm tall, made of plastic, and will look great somewhere in my room with all my other useless crap! I also recently stuck up some Doctor Who pics, of Pond and the Doctor, to fill the gaping hole on my wall, along with a couple of amazing Zelda posters from a Ninty magazine I bought specifically for the freebies. I'll show you one day.

TARDIS money box from the car boot sale

After lunch, we had a mooch around New Look, just for fun. After four months of not buying any clothes worth more than £3, I came out with two new items I found in the sale racks. To try and make my resolution of shopping abstinence realistic, I set the finishing line at my birthday, which was two months ago so I'm still satisfied.

Jumper: New Look
Dress: Parisian, New Look
On the left is a massive mint jumper which I am wearing right now because it is super cosy and comfy. I found it in the children's section's sale rack for £7 from £17. The tartan dress on the right I picked up the second time I walked past, and I'm so glad I did because it looks wicked. Unfortunately it's 100% manmade material and my mum pointed out that the chequers don't quite line up perfectly in the middle, but it was £11 from £23 which I think is not too bad for a nice-looking dress. It's a bit above knee-length, the seam between the top and skirt is passable enough to go without a belt if I'm not feeling very belty.

Yesterday in the shoe warehouse I found these gorgeous Clarks boots. They looked fabulous, though they were a little narrow and had a completely redundant zip up the side. What is the point of a zip when the boot is only seven holes high anyway?? Oh yeah, and they were fifty flipping pounds. If they were less than £40, I might have considered buying them. Oh well.
The Clarks 'Orinoco' boots which are stupid expensive, much to my dismay
And, my exams start next week. ...Yay?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Backpack art

Ginge brought to my attention an article on Stylist about a fantastic collection of backpacks, a product of Eastpak's collaboration with over a hundred artists around the world. Not only are they spectacular works of art, but their proceeds will also go towards HIV and AIDS awareness.

I can't stand handbags. It must be a remnant retained from my old tomboyish ways, but I find them immensely inconvenient, since they often take up a hand holding them in place on my shoulder. While I do own a few, I definitely favour my shoulder bags over them. Whenever I go on a serious  day trip, however, it has to be a backpack - large volume and weight capacity, and hands-free.

With some difficulty keeping the number down to something managable for this post, I picked out some of my favourites from Eastpak's website.

|| Ozlem Kaya ||

|| Al Giga ||

|| Maico Akiba || Maria ||

Thursday, 10 May 2012

"When the forest turns to jade"

Sometimes winterfying dresses intended for summer is quite difficult, but if the neckline is high enough for me to layer long-sleeved cotton tops underneath it, bung on a cardigan, layer up some tights and socks, and it's ready for UK's traditionally drab and chilly weather, still drab and chilly even in May.

Dress: Yumi, TK Maxx
Cardigan: Matalan, mum's wardrobe
Bag: 'Made in Italy', mum's cupboard
Tights: Tesco
Socks: Next
Boots: Safiya, China

This babydoll dress I think is still my favourite dress for summer, even though it's at that awkward length which is too long to make it a top, but long enough to completely cover the shorts I always wear under it. Nevertheless, due to the style of the dress, it never looks remotely risque despite its short length, which is excellent.

Last Saturday I discovered a silk granny scarf belonging to my mum. It is the perfect colour to match all my leather tan-coloured stuff, and my orange tights. And I like matching. Finding new things in the family wardrobe rewards me with a similar feeling to buying new clothes, except it doesn't cost me anything, which can only be a good thing.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Briar Rose: Megan McMinn

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to have a platform (and an excuse) to get to know my favourite Lookbookers and bloggers a little better. The blog which is now called Briar Rose was, and still is, a major inspiration for me.

Consequently, I am absolutely delighted to interview the lovely Megan McMinn, who is unlucky enough to be at the top of my hit list. A fellow British blogger, Megan is friendly, articulate and immensely real, without that aloof distance some people have on the internet.

Megan's style is ethereal, whimsical and sometimes a little elven, I think - she would look too out of place in Rivendell. If you'd like to judge for yourself, you can find her stunning collection of outfits on her Lookbook.

So without further ado, let's go!

1. Hi Megan! What are three things we should know about you?

Hi! I suppose first off you should know that my heart lies not only in fashion, but in writing. I have loved creative writing since I first learned how to hold a pencil, and as a child I would rally my family up in the kitchen and force them to listen to my stories. I've completed three magic realism novel manuscripts, and following university I hope to be a fashion writer until someday I get a novel published.

Secondly, I met the love of my life aged fifteen. We've now been together for four years and he means the world to me. We've put down the deposit on our first flat, and neither of us can wait to start our lives together.

Thirdly, I absolutely adore cats, but I'm also allergic to them - it's a cruel twist of fate.

'Cornish Cream Tea' on Briar Rose

2. How has your style developed into what it is now?

I moved to Cornwall when I was twelve, and in a bid to fit in I adopted the generic surfer-style uniform of board shorts, printed tee shirts and hoodies. It never sat well with me, but in those days I would have sooner blended into the wallpaper than made any kind of statement. My friendship group eventually dispersed, and as I made other friends I embraced my new freedom by dying my hair red (one of the best decisions I ever made) and becoming a little grungy and emo (not such a great decision). However it gave the confidence to be more experimental with style, and I went through a phase where one day I would look like a grungy Victorian doll, and the next have neon bows in my hair. During sixth form I became more devoted to the doll look, with subtle lolita influences. There were plenty of puffy skirts, knee-high socks and lace trimmings.

Over the past year, and since starting uni, my style has evolved more organically and become more relaxed. I'm not so fixated with creating a certain 'look', and try to strike a balance between what I feel comfortable in and what I think looks 'pretty'. I suppose my style nowadays roots in the ethereal fairytale look, simply because that's what feels the most natural to me.

Lolita fashion can sometimes be stunning, but it's not very wearable on a day-to-day basis, is it? Incorporating elements of the style, however, I think is the perfect way to get in touch with one's Victorian doll side.

'Cherry Red Girl' on LB

3. Tell us about your fabulous signature red hair.

The red hair was born when I was going through my grungy phase. I'd just started to embrace my fair skin and wanted something more striking than my natural mousy dark blonde colour. I immediately loved how it looked against my pale complexion and dark eyes, so I continued to dye it varying shades of red. At about this time also I decided I was going to grow my hair, and visualised myself going to university with red hair down to my hips. Perhaps that was a little ambitious, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually!

I get asked so many questions about my hair, therefore recently I made a hair FAQ post on my blog.

4. Which of your looks is your favourite at the moment?

Either 'Little Bow Peep' or 'Tea with Sergeant Fox'. They're both outfits I feel so at ease in, and I feel they're very raw, honest representations of my personal style. Whilst I was editing those photos I really had that feeling of, "Yes, this time I've nailed it!". Other times I'm not quite so certain - it's not unlike me to go back to an outfit a few months later and wonder what on earth I was thinking when I styled it. Thanks to blogging my personal style is forever evolving.

'Little Bow Peep' is one of my favourite looks of yours too - the hair bow is so delightfully charming!

'Little Bow Peep' on LB

5. I've read that you've been doing some work with Company magazine and Dahlia fashion. Congratulations on your success with the Company casting call! How have you found your modelling experiences?

This time last year I never would have believed I would be modelling now. I have the height to model, but I also have a fairly large chest and a few too many inches around my waist and thighs! However I have loved every experience. I loved the Company shoot in particular because I felt like the magazine was sending a great message to girls everywhere, promoting real, healthy, attainable body shapes. The upcoming Dahlia shoot has the most wonderful concept, and I simply can't wait to share the final product with my readers! I have two more photo shoots in the planning; one later this month with a lovely young lady from Bristol who has just finished the second year of her photography degree, and another in July with a more experienced photographer in Cornwall. I really love working in collaboration with photographers and stylists to create beautiful images.

I can't explain quite what it is, but I simply love being in front of the camera. I was such an insecure teenager and received nasty comments about my appearance and shape on several occasions, so the modelling has really helped me overcome that and realise that people who say those kind of things really aren't worth your time. It's also helped me come to terms with the fact that I don't need to look a certain way or conform to an ideal body shape to be considered beautiful.

6. Who are your fashion icons?

Florence Welch, Dita Von Teese and Karen Elson - I love how they're all a little bit quirky whilst still looking perfectly put together and stylish. Florence masters kooky cool and her stage ensembles are like something from a fairytale. Dita is the most glamorous and sophisticated woman alive today, and Karen is a vintage goddess.

'Sense and Sensibility' on LB

7. What do you think of the street fashion where you live?

Bath is a real melting pot of different styles, although overall it isn't my cup of tea. The majority of people come across as uninspired in their wardrobe choices, wearing outfits that wouldn't look out of place in the basics sections of New Look or Dorothy Perkins. There are the TopShop/Urban Oufitters slaves, who really buy into trends but have nothing at all unique or creative about their outfits, then there are those who live by leggings, flip flops and a Jack Wills hoodie whatever the weather - where's the fun in that?

I prefer the street style back home in Cornwall. People are more liberated, and there is far more of a vintage, thrifting and 'make do and mend' culture. A trip to Falmouth or St Ives can be so inspiring, as there are so many people who are completely at ease with their style and have no problem making a statement with their wardrobe. There's so much more colour, texture, innovative layering. I love the rural style there in it's own rustic, bohemian, eclectic way.

I also love admiring the street style on my visits to London. People there take fashion to a whole new level, and I always see so many flawless, inspiring outfits.

8. Where do you like to shop?

I feel most at ease in a bustling sale corner or amongst rails at a flea market. I do buy from places like Urban Outfitters and TopShop, but never at full price. The Urban Outfitters sale corner is one of my fail safe shopping destinations - there is always some gem hiding away there. I buy my basics, and most of my shoes, from New Look. It's one of the few places where I truly believe the price is a fair representation of the quality.

Back in Cornwall, Falmouth is a great stop for vintage shopping. There are some wonderful flea markets, vintage boutiques, and quite frankly some downright wonderful second hand shops.

I also love discovering new brands and shops online - Sergeant Fox has to be one of the best independent vintage collections I have come across in a long time.

'Becky B's Wadrobe' on LB

9. As an aspiring writer, what do you love about English literature?

Every one of my creative writing lecturers has made the point that the more you read, the better your own writing becomes. I've always loved reading, and as a writer I feel it's of the utmost importance to study and appreciate the work of other writers. Inspiration hides in the funniest, more unexpected of places, and with English Literature I seem to find myself drawn into the most bizarre books and passages. By analysing and appreciating past works, it somehow keeps my own writing fresh.

I'm hoping to take English literature along with maths and the sciences - thanks for further assuring me that it's a good choice!

Megan, it's been a joy and honour interviewing you. It's so nice to be reminded of how interesting real people are, and to acquaint with someone over the internet whom I admire. Stay stunning, and thank you!
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