Thursday, 31 October 2013

Witch 2

Will you be doing anything this Hallowe'en? While I love its aesthetic, and the really awesome pumpkin carvings some people do, I can't say I really participate in it. Like last year I've rounded up some witchy looks I really like - you don't have to be in costume to look like a character.

I'll leave you with some pumpkins from deviantART's contest in 2010.

Toothless, by Nemesis-19
Ghost trio, by johwee
Cannibalism, by Roses-to-Ashes

Saturday, 26 October 2013

"It's where my demons hide"

Jacket: River Island, Asos
Necklace: Clothes Show Live
Jumper: mum's wardrobe
Shorts: New Look, DIY
Tights: China
Boots: Clarks

Right now I'm in a hunt for interview clothes. I didn't want to buy anything new, but we've been through both my mum's and my sister's clothes and we haven't been able to cobble together a whole outfit that's respectable enough. It looks like I'll have to buy some kind of set from scratch.

I have orchestra all this week and I'm pretty tired from just one day! Hope your half term has got off to a good start.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Ways to wear a qipao

Originally wide and baggy, the modern 旗袍 (qípáo) as we know it originated in Shanghai during the twenties. It's the most recognisable style of Chinese clothing, with its form-fitting body, high Mandarin collar and leg slits.

If you've ever seen someone wearing one, it was probably at some formal occasion, worn with skin-coloured tights and heels. Provided you have the hourglass for it, a qipao really does look stunning. I saw an employee at a swanky restaurant in China who wore a floor-length qipao as her uniform, and she looked divine. I don't own one though. How can my British friends have qipaos and I don't??

What I would really love is a short linen qipao for everyday wear, because let's face it, no one wears a qipao casually in the West. Why not? It's just a sheath dress with a high collar and, as long as it's not silk or velvet, it is utterly wearable, just as a dress, or, with some clever layering, even as a top or a skirt.

as a dress

as a skirt

as a top

Tapestry fabrics go really well with a linen dress, and motifs like butterflies and fans match the qipao thematically without being costumey. Jade (玉) is a traditional Chinese material for jewellery. In my house, hidden away in cupboards, there are quite a lot of jade things, like Buddha necklaces and perfectly circular bangles.

Whether you are Asian, African or European, maybe look into traditional dress. There will always be something for you to reinvent.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Liebster Award

I don't usually take part in chain awards like these, but one of my favourite readers, Monica, tagged me with the Liebster Blog Award. I'm sorry I'm not continuing the chain, but I'll at least answer her questions because they look like fun.

1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I thought this would be a really easy question but now that I've read some definitions and started thinking about it hard, I'm really not sure. Having always thought I was introverted, maybe I actually lie more in the middle of the scale. I don't really say much to people I don't know and I don't make friends easily, but when I'm with people I know and like, I'm very involved and chatty.

In my previous school I had a couple of very close friends, but now in my current school, I have a much larger circle of friends. Though I haven't had (and unfortunately won't ever have) the time to get so close to these new friends, I like and respect them all a lot, and having a big group of people to hang out with has a lot of advantages. I don't mind it either way.

What I do reject to, however, is pigeon-holing yourself into introversion or extroversion. Someone I know did that to herself - she saw herself as an introvert and seemed to be so obsessed with this, she gave up on trying to socialise and make bonds. Labels are convenient and useful, but if used in the wrong way on others or even yourself, they can be very harmful.

2. What is the thing you're obsessed with now?

At the moment I'm very much in a Pokemon phase. Pokemon is like some kind of virus that once you contract, you can never get rid of it. After getting over it the first time, you'll think you're immunised, but then it will come back and consume you all over again. I don't play competitively or anything, but I get really emotionally attached to my Pokemon. Earlier this week I was rocking out to those ancient and inconceivably cheesy Pokemon songs from a decade ago. They're hilarious, but despite this, I actually find the (awful) lyrics quite inspiring, because they're all about being ambitious and trying your hardest to become the best. It's a lot more relevant and motivational to me than songs about fancying a girl or having a crazy party... not that I don't listen to those too.

on deviantART

3. What OS do you use?

90% of the time I'm on the desktop computer in my house (because it has my school files and music on it, has decent speakers, and I can type at my fastest on its keyboard) which is Windows 7. There's a laptop with Windows 8 on it, but we had to install loads of mods to make it more like Windows 7 - like, a start menu. You know an OS is failing when people are making stuff to make it more like its predecessor. Now I never have to see that stupid start screen. A laptop is a laptop and a phone is a phone. I'm not very techy but I think it's inappropriate to make us use an interface designed for phones while we're on a laptop.

4. Do you like the place where you were born?

I don't remember a lot about the place I was born, as I lived there for four or five years. It was cold and grey, but there were also many family friends we visited and went on trips with. I've had - or rather, I'm having - a relatively blissful childhood and I have this excellent habit of not thinking about and sometimes eventually forgetting bad times. I think this leads me to be a happier person, because I know someone who only remembers the worst of her childhood, and it only leads to bitterness.

5. When was the last time you wrote a letter?

Sadly, I don't ever remember handwriting a proper letter. Maybe I have in the past, but I've forgotten. The last letter I typed was an email to some dental practice begging for work experience, but I don't think that should count.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy the physical act of writing something on clean lined paper. I have a posh A4 book I've had for some time, which sort of acts as my physical journal. I only write in it a couple of times a year, and when I do, it's very much a therapeutic exercise. I started the book so I could have something to read and laugh and cringe at when I'm older, and it's already working.

6. What is your favourite entertaining web site?

That would probably Awkward Zombie, the web comic by Katie Tiedrich. She is hysterical. Every week she posts a comic about whatever video game she's playing. In my life I have probably spent several tens of minutes laughing at her comics, which are mostly but not all about gaming. Also, she looks exactly as she draws herself.

7. What would you do if you woke up and realised all your life was a dream?

I would be very much disappointed, because I have put a lot of effort and worry into this life, but also because I got lucky with it in the first place. I'm always thankful that I was born into such a comfortable, stable and developed environment. I do wonder what other life I would wake up into, though.

8. What is the last place you visited?

My last day trip was to a university open day. On all the open days I've been to, the weather's been great. I attended a talk on life sciences and talked to dentistry students and admissions people, but while waiting to go into the dentistry talk, I decided that I would not be applying to this uni after all. So we went to the talk as planned, and then hit the shops for the rest of the afternoon. It was a good day.


9. If you had to choose between 20th and 22nd century where would you live?

I would rather live in the latter half of the 20th century because it's more familiar and less risky - who knows what's in the 22nd century? But if it was a choice between the beginning of the 20th and the beginning of the 22nd century, I'd definitely go for the latter.

10. What is the last quote that touched you?

"Men are as the time is" - Edmund from King Lear, Shakespeare

My English teacher can hardly stop raving about how cuttingly insightful this quote is, but as usual, he's right. Most people go along with whatever is the norm at the time, and I'm one of them. If I were born in a dystopia, would I stand up or speak out and risk my life? Hell, no. I'd keep my head down and try to survive like everyone else. Maybe that's cowardly but I think, in that circumstance, survival would be my priority.

I think being 'normal' is underrated - there are many advantages with going along with the crowd, as there's safety in numbers. I'm not trying to preach conformity but some people try too hard to be 'different' for the sake of feeling unique. There's no need to lie to yourself - there's nothing wrong in being ordinary.

11. Do you believe in aliens?

I think that in the universe(s) there will be other stars with planets at just the right distance from it and just the right composition to sustain life, simply because statistically, with mind-boggling numbers of stars and planets in existence in the past, present and future, surely life will pop up a few times in a few places.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Far East

While I've seen oriental prints and the odd kimono-style cape, I think fashion inspired by the far east could use some more loving on the high street. My mum and sister have loads, but I don't own a single qipao and I hope to rectify that one day.

Four flowers that often appear in Chinese art are 梅兰竹菊 - Chinese plum, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum. Plum has spiky branches and small flowers. Orchid has long, thin leaves. Bamboo have straight stems and no flowers. Chrysanthemum has large, ball-shaped flowers.

From 潇洒辛格
Next time you look at any Chinese art, or spot an oriental print piece of clothing, see if you can spot these flowers.

Dress: Cozy
Jacket: Asos

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Links à la Mode: 17th October '13

My uni applications are being considered right now. I hardly dare to think about it - the fear of immediate rejection and the fear of having to go to an interview are both immobilising, but I know which one I'd prefer. But then I think of my classmates and all the other people in the country going through this, and it feels a bit better. Have a pleasant week and don't catch a cold!

Fashionista Problems Solved

No one is immune to fashion problems. So why take them so seriously? Cue side-eye and say, “Puh-lease, as if!” No really, whether it’s what your friend says when you’re trying on a new trend, or determining if you’re a good bitch or a bad bitch, heck, even if you’re trying to make those jeans work with heels, it’s all here this week. Plus a couple of cute ideas for Halloween! Even if you need to fix your brows, this is the link list to browse.

Links à la Mode: 17th October '13

Instructions for Submitting to Links à la Mode:
1. Read the clarified rules and submit your links on this page: Links à la Mode.
2. If your link was selected and you need this week’s code, visit this page: Links à la Mode Code.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

How to add lace trim to a skirt

I love skirt layering. Most of the time, when I'm wearing a skirt or dress, I wear some kind of underskirt, either to give it a certain shape, or to add a trim detail. As well as looking nice, adding a trim also gives the skirt extra length, which is exactly what I needed for this full floral skirt from Matalan's kids' section.

By sewing on a lace trim onto the attached slip under the skirt, I can get a poofy shape thanks to my petticoat, and the detail of a trim. Otherwise I would have to wear a total of three skirts at once to achieve the same effect, and even I draw the line at a maximum of two.

You will need:
  • skirt with a slip attached (mine is shown in the picture above inside-out)
  • wide lace trim
  • tape measure
  • berry pins
  • needle and thread
  • scissors
Measure the circumference of the skirt's slip so you know how much lace to buy. It might be tricky finding lace trim wide enough - I was only able to get this eyelet lace - but I think crochet lace would look even better.

Pin the lace to the underskirt all the way round, then put it on, trying not to stab yourself. The underskirt may not be the same length all the way round so now's the tricky bit of trying to adjust the lace so it pokes out under the skirt evenly. It's easiest if you do this adjusting while you're still wearing it.

Optional step: when you think you've got the lace's placement right, do a really wide rough stitch just to attach the lace. Wear the skirt out for a day. If the lace's placement seemed fine all day, then you're ready to sew it on more securely. Admire my beautifully even stitching below...

Finally, if you used eyelet lace like me, there might be loose threads in the corners. Snip them off so everything is looking nice and tidy and not as if you couldn't find any better quality lace.

Enjoy your layered skirt!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

"Whose face do you see?"

Necklace: Clothes Show Live
Cardigan: New Look
Vest: Primark
Skirt with DIY lace trim: Matalan
Petticoat: Matalan
Trainers: Converse, TK Maxx

Boy, it got really cold really fast, didn't it? I think this will have to be my last summery look.

My mum and I went shopping today and in TK Maxx we bumped into a family friend who made me think twice about my biochemistry back-up uni choice. So for now I'm just applying to the dental schools so I have more time to research back-up choices with actual job prospects by January, the deadline for non-medicine/dentistry/Oxbridge courses. And then I bought a red hat. I don't know what kind of hat it is, but it looks a bit like a tyrolean.

All this flapping about with my back-up choice makes me want to get onto a dentistry course even more. If you asked me two weeks ago, I'd tell you that if the dental schools don't want me, I'd immediately give up on that career and go into biochemistry instead. Now I'm not so sure. I hear good things from everyone about gap years.

Well anyway, educational anguishes aside, look out for a tutorial of how to add lace trim to a skirt that's coming soon, and have a great weekend despite the crappy weather!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Links à la Mode: 10th October '13

Check it out - my post's name made it as the title of this week's Links à la Mode. The introductory paragraph had some really dodgy punctuation, though... But you'll have to forgive me for my pedantry, because I just wrote an essay on King Lear that hasn't even been set as homework yet, rather than writing the more urgent essay that has been set. Some words I spelt wrong recently:
  • instable unstable
  • commiting committing
  • soliliquy soliloquy

Making the Effort

Making the effort every day has been on my mind lately. It’s autumn, the typical time for dressing up. Fashion Month opens the floodgates to trendy people. And life may have other things in store for you: unusually warm October, working at home, not working at all…, making an effort still matters. Yesterday I was just talking about how making an effort doesn’t have to be too much work. It’s just a matter of planning things a little. That’s what the links this week tell me: they peek into trends for next year, they organize the trends this year, and give a little inspiration for the upcoming holiday we all love: Hallowe'en!

Links à la Mode: 10th October 2013

Instructions for Submitting to Links à la Mode:
1. Read the clarified rules and submit your links on this page: Links à la Mode.
2. If your link was selected and you need this week’s code, visit this page: Links à la Mode Code.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Animal bags

If you're a sucker for animal bags like me - quirky and functional at the same time! - you'll be overjoyed to know that you can nab the bear shoulder bag for £7 from Asda. Whoever has been designing clothes for Asda these past few years has been doing really well, I think. My other favourites include the owl satchel, and the panda backpack. It's so cute! Though only other people will be able to appreciate it, seeing as you can't see your own back. Oh well...

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Making the effort

Now and again, my mother complains to me that I try too hard with my clothes too often. Sometimes I myself wonder why, at least three days out of five school days a week, I make such an effort.

Perhaps the quote that "you can never be overdressed" is debatable, but being a schoolgirl, what I wear every day is simultaneously trivial and crucial. It's not affecting my academic performance, but doesn't what you look like affect how others treat you?

So, why should you dress up every day for school?

  • You bought your clothes, so wear them and make the most of them - think about cost per wear. How can you let them live out an unfulfilling existence sitting in a wardrobe forever, never seeing the light of day?
  • Impress your peers: make them jealous because you look so awesome, make them look forward to your walking in every day so see what you've thought up of next.
  • Just a couple of minutes' thought and dressing each morning is a nice little creative workout to get yourself ready for four back-to-back lessons full of the fun-fun-fun of quantum physics... or whatever subject you take.
  • If you enjoy dressing up, take full advantage of the liberty of non-uniform. Not everyone's that lucky - think about schools in which the girls have to wear ankle-length kilts or vomit-yellow blazers.
  • Feel confident. Being well-dressed intimidates others, so use this to cut through the crowds in the corridors. Make those midgets part like the Red Sea to open up a path for you.
  • People always judge books by their covers, so control or influence what people think of you when they look at you by dressing like who you are. Feel empowered for it.

And, if you don't want do dress up... then don't. No one's making you. Wear whatever you feel your best in.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Animal jumpers

Whenever I wear my squirrel jumper to school, all my friends shout "SQUIRREL!" We all watch too many kids' films. It's a great jumper, though.

On some internet clothes browsing, there are plenty of animals to choose from if you aren't really into squirrels. (If not, may I ask why??) Over half of this selection of jumpers I found in supermarkets - Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's - so don't overlook the clothes section when you go grocery shopping.
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