Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Vogue’s Best Dressed 2009: Alexa Chung

Vogue’s Best Dressed 2009 list has been published and Alexa Chung won the top spot, beating off fierce competition from Cheryl Cole, Emma Watson, Michelle Obama and Lady Gaga.

She has apparently won over the Americans since she set sail for the USA earlier this year (despite her TV show being cancelled after its second series) who like her “Brit-girl-abroad quirky sense of style.”

Alexa’s style typically includes a vintage tom-boy feel which is still feminine, pairing vintage items with high street and designer alike. For example, at the 2009 Emmy’s she wore a Topshop leopard print coat and dress (top center), whilst she is often seen in Chanel shoes and wearing her name sake bag by Mulberry (bottom right).

Although she often opts to reveal her legs, large jackets and blazers compliment her style whether she’s dressing up or down. Pairing a bold Jason Wu red dress with black flats at the Vogue Fashion Fund Awards (bottom left) is a refreshing take on red carpet style, steering clear of sky scraper heels which perfectly suits her signature look.

Whilst Alexa has been criticized for topping the Best Dressed list despite her skinny frame, I think she is giving a positive message about body image. The prevailing message should be that no matter what you size, large or slim, you can create still your own style and be comfortable it in, which I believe Alexa Chung personifies.

Images taken from It’s On Alexa

Monday, 5 October 2009

Stiletto Stoners

Smoking femaleIn this month’s edition of Marie Claire magazine in America, they discuss the trend for professional young women to smoke marijuana after work, a trend they’ve termed “Stiletto Stoners”. According to a study by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 8 million women admitted to smoking pot in the last year, one of five of which have a household income of more that $75,000 a year with professional jobs including lawyers, editors, TV producers and financial executives.

The young woman profiled in the piece lists off a reel of advantages, helping her relax, it’s cheaper than getting drunk on expensive, sugary cocktails, it helps her relax after a stressful day at work, it doesn’t make her fat, it doesn’t has the nasty consequences of a hangover, or the groggy feeling anti-anxiety pills can leave you with, she finds it easier to lose her inhibitions when high. So it’s win- win surely?

The article seems to be challenging the stereotypes that go with smoking pot, no longer for young hippies, or teenagers who don’t have a job and have nothing better to do but get high everyday. Almost a re-branding of the drug and the sorts of people associated with it. Pointing out that you’re not necessarily a bad mother, unreliable or a waste of space if you have the occasional joint, and for the most part feedback about the piece seems to agree.

Photocredit: NebulaskiN

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Glamour leading the way with real women

[caption id="attachment_101" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="From far left: Crystal Renn, Amy Lemons, Ashley Graham, Kate Dillon, Anansa Sims and Jennie Runk. Bottom Center: Lizzie Miller"]From far left: Crystal Renn, Amy Lemons, Ashley Graham, Kate Dillon, Anansa Sims and Jennie Runk. Bottom Center: Lizzie Miller[/caption]

In the September issue of Glamour magazine this photo caused a bit of a stir amongst its readers. The image of Lizzie Miller, sitting completely relaxed and unfazed by a little bit of belly hit a nerve with readers, who wrote in their thousands to congratulate Glamour on the image.

Glamour have followed up the warm welcome of that image with this image of the seven of the leading plus sized models, getting it all out to make a statement about what real women really are.

Hopefully this image and the positive attention it has received will lead the way for the rest of the fashion industry to finally take note that women are bored of looking at images of stick thin, air brushed and seemingly perfect women, and a more natural and real approach needs to be taken.

Congratulations to Glamour for leading the way, and I hope the rest of the fashion industry follows suit.

Four Kisses You, yes YOU! must Master, or else he'll leave you.

kissSo for a while now I’ve been signed up to the ‘Sex and Relationships’ feed, and for the most part it’s been complete drivel. What His Cuddling Body Language Reveals, 10 Things Men Don’t Want to Hear in Bed, The Body Language of Liars etc. But this morning an article entitled ‘Four Kisses You Must Master’ landed into my inbox and caught my attention. “Four kisses I must master? But I don’t know any!? There are four different types!? Since when!? Is this why I don’t have a boyfriend???”

So I eagerly clicked the link, desperate to learn these four different types of kisses which will mean that I will never again be left wondering what I was doing wrong, and will be able to keep the attention of men for longer than 30 seconds.

But thankfully as I was reading the rational part of my brain which had been absent for the previous 30 second made a welcome return and I realised, this is bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit.

“Expert” Shelley Hess tells us that kissing is crucial, and in her book, Pucker Power: Great Kissers Make Great Lovers, you’ll find out the best secrets to make any man powerless to resist you once you’ve planted one on his lips. What??

And here I was thinking a kiss was a kiss, fairly straight forward, no complicated tongue, lip, or mouth maneuvering, just simple kissing. Apparently not.

And it doesn’t stop there, oh no, then there’s the handy link directing me to “30 New Blow-His Mind Sex Moves” (oh Lord) where I’m expected to eat peanut butter off his chest to keep him coming back for more. Or fiddle with his back door to “double his pleasure.” Really??

It seems like an unfair amount of pressure to be putting on Cosmo readers. To think that you have to do all these weird and wonderful things to keep a man from cheating seems ridiculous. And if you’re not willing to do them, another woman who is willing is just waiting to pounce on your man and whisk him off into the sunset, where he can enjoy as much teasing, blindfolding, spanking or light bondage as he wishes.

And the wording, “Four kisses you must master.” It just seems a bit exploitative of the impressionable girls and women who might be reading.

To quote the words of the wonderful John Devore over at The Frisky,
“And here I was, thinking there was only one, 100% guaranteed way to drive me wild, and that was to touch my penis.”

Photocredit: Pedrosimoes7

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mark Fast to design a Topshop Range

[caption id="attachment_93" align="alignleft" width="199" caption="Mark Fast"]Mark Fast[/caption]

Whether Mark Fast’s decision to use Plus Sized models on the catwalk at London Fashion Week was a stunt or not, it’s done him no end of favours. Now Topshop have recruited the designer to produce a range for them.

With his collection going down a storm, with help from added press coverage due to the whole Plus Sized issue, he’s landed himself a job designing for one of the biggest names in female fashion on the high street.

His ethos of designing clothes to flatter a female figure has done him a world of good and his combination of feminine and edgy clothing seems perfect for Topshop. I’ll be intrigued to see what he comes up with when his range hits stores in February of next year.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Plus Sized Models Cause Walk Out at London Fashion Week

[caption id="attachment_89" align="aligncenter" width="168" caption="Plus Sized Models on Catwalk at LFW"]Plus Sized Models on Catwalk at LFW[/caption]

This week is London fashion week, and imagine the surprise that plus sized models have been spied gracing the catwalk showing Mark Fast’s collection.

Apparently the girls were friends of the designer, and had inspired the collection so were put on the runway. Even if it may only be by connection, nonetheless models who weren’t a size 4 or 6 or less were on the catwalk during London fashion week, with the world’s eyes upon them, and that can only be a good thing in my eyes!

However, Fast’s decision to use plus sized models didn’t go down well with everyone. According to the Daily Mail after “creative differences” arouse over the use of the fuller figured models, the stylist and creative director of the collection walked out just three days before the event, leaving Fast in an awkward position.

Fortunately, two freelancers came in to save the day and made sure the show went on without a hitch. I’ve got to say I respect Fast’s decision to stick to his guns and keep the curvier models in his show. Putting them there demonstrated that his clothes aren’t just for the slimmer models but can be worn by bigger women as well, which would have done him a world of favours, as opposed to buckling under the pressure to only use exclusively slimmer models.

[caption id="attachment_90" align="aligncenter" width="168" caption="Plus sized model on catwalk at LFW"]Plus sized model on catwalk at LFW[/caption]

So is this a sign of what’s to come? Fast has been working with Caryn Franklin, (presenter of The Clothes Show back in the nineties) on a project which intends to encourage designers to produce clothes and styles which suit different sized women, as opposed to the straight up straight down girls you universally see on the runway.

With support from designers such as Hannah Marshal, David Koma and Cooperative Designs, hopefully this initiative will bring about a flurry of plus sized models, and I hesitate to say plus because they mustn’t be any bigger than a size 14. But never the less, anything more normal and realistic than the current clothes horses will be an improvement.

Although designers argue that clothes hang better off skinnier models than they do on more curvaceous ones, this cannot be true for all clothes. And in half of the cases the opposite will be true. Some dresses need curves to cling to; others don’t, and if the people who will eventually be buying these gowns aren’t all the same size as the models, why not cater to the majority of women out there who are a little larger?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Nick Jonas Diabetes Conference

[caption id="attachment_81" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Nick Jonas speaking at the National Press Club in Washington DC"]Nick Jonas speaking at the National Press Club in Washington DC[/caption]

Browsing through youtube earlier today I stumbled on some videos of Nick Jonas of Jonas Brothers (or Jo-Bro) fame speaking at a Diabetes Press conference in Washington D.C. from Monday morning to raise awareness about childhood diabetes. Turns out that Nick was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005 and has been doing lots of charity work to raise awareness of the disease, and give support to other young people diagnosed with the condition.

Talking as a diabetic diagnosed when I was 8, way back in 1998, I think he’s giving out a very positive message. In the press conference he talks a lot about how he struggles with the disease on a day to day basis, having to check his blood sugar levels 12 times a day, and how he wanted to use his position in the media to turn something which is really quite negative, into something positive by giving support to other young people who are struggling with the disease.

Whilst I would consider myself to be have good management of my diabetes on a daily basis and a flexible regime which doesn’t affect my life too much, I admit that I am guilty of not giving it the attention it deserve sometimes, possibly because of lots of the misconceptions there are about the disease.

I’ll often avoid telling people about my diabetes, with lots of my oldest friends not knowing and slyly slipping out to take my injection. The reasons for my reluctancy to talk about it are because of the misconceptions about the disease. I assumed that if I told people, rather than being able to help me if it were to be go wrong, they’d assume that I got the disease because I was over weight or had an unhealthy lifestyle. (It was actually more genetic from my Grandfather)

Hopefully Nick Jonas will be able to use his fame and presence in the media to be able to educate people about some of these misconceptions, and give other kids with the condition the confidence to be more open about it, not to be embarrassed or let it hold them back in any way.

Part of his work for this cause is the “Nick’s Simple Wins” web site, where young diabetics are invited to send in a 30 second video showing how their diabetes hasn’t hindered their ability to be creative or slowed them down in any way. As well as donating lots of money to the cause and selling a dog tag he designed with half of the money going to the Change for Children Foundation.

To my knowledge he’s the only person in the media who openly talks about his condition, and when I was younger, if there were someone like him giving a positive message about the disease I think it couldn’t helped. He also comes across incredibly well, talking to thousands of people and journalists at the press conference extremely well, given that he is only 16 years of age.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


Sequin trend

Yes, sequins appear to be everywhere at the moment. From the catwalks of Balmain and Gucci, on celebrities including Lindsay Lohan wearing a pair of Gryphon gold sequinned shorts and  Amber Le Bon modelling a pair of sequinned harem pants for River Island. Jessica Simpson's wearing a Gucci sequinned jacket on the cover of America's Glamour magazine, they're just EVERYWHERE!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Sewing Machine Sales Increase 500%

Sewing MachineRecessionista: A person (usually female) who manages to look fashionable during a period of economic hardship by being more prudent with her money to still be able to wear the latest looks. E.g:

“Wow, that dress is gorgeous, how did you afford that after you lost your job?”

"Well, I am a recessionista.”

It looks as if in these times of the credit crunch and when every penny really counts, savvy fashion lovers are turning to a more DIY approach to getting the latest looks on a shoe string budget.

Lots of retailers have been reporting an increase in sales of sewing machines, with Tesco’s sales growing by 198% compared to this time last year, and sales of Argos’s cheapest machine have risen by a whopping 500%

It now seems as if home economics teachers and your grandma aren’t the only ones with sewing machines. Possibly attracted by the prospect of being able to replicate designer labels at home on the cheap, or being able to customize clothes from the high street to stand out from the crowd, everyone seems to be putting their sewing skills to the test to create unique clothes for a fraction of the price.

However, it’s a very difficult skill to master. Having endured textiles at school, even managing to get an entire GCSE in it (A*, might be a hidden talent) let me tell you, making anything from scratch which is wearable is very time consuming and requires a great deal of patience and dedication, which is maybe where I fell short.

My opinion would be that rather than trying to make something completely from scratch, possibly adding unique flourishes to items from the high street would be a better plan to save you money, create something which stands out from the crowd and show off your creative side.
Photocredit: Dynana

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Agyness Deyn pays hommage to Michael Jackon in Terry Richardson shoot

[caption id="attachment_62" align="alignleft" width="234" caption="Agyness Deyne in Michael Jackson inspired shoot for Harper's Bazaar"]Agyness Deyne in Michael Jackson inspired shoot for Harper's Bazaar[/caption]

Since Michael Jackson’s passing the high street has been in-undated with items paying tribute to his signature style. From his trade mark loafers to vests and tees, die hard fans can now wear their feelings on their sleeves (literally).

The latest to do so is Agyness Deyn in a shoot for Septembers issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Photographed by celebrity photographer Terry Richardson, the shoot sees Agyness dressed up in the style of some of Michael’s legendary videos, including a version of his red get up from the Thriller video and his trademark white glove.

They do say that fashion industry is reflective of the current world mood, and this seems to be the perfect example of it. The cynic in me wants to suggest that it’s just retailers and Agyness trying to “cash in” on his death, using it as a way to promote themselves. But for the moment I’ll reserve judgment and say that Michael Jackson will be sorely missed by people all over the world, and if you want to pay homage to him across your chest, go for it.

I think that Agyness does manage to pull of Michael’s look successfully, in a way I couldn’t image more curvaceous stars like Beyonce being able to. Maybe it’s because of her rather androgynous figure and look, but I think her look shows that in the same way naturally curvy women are praised for not falling fowl of the pressure to be skinny, a woman with no curves who could be criticized for being un-feminine, seems comfortable in her skin despite it not being subject to same type of admiration the likes of Scarlet Johansson and Jennifer Lopez receive.
Photocredit: Terry Richardson for Harper's Bazaar

Monday, 10 August 2009

Teen Choice Awards 2009- Miley Cyrus Pole Dance?

[caption id="attachment_58" align="alignleft" width="231" caption="Miley on stage at the American Teen Awards 2009 with said pole."]Miley on stage at the American Teen Awards 2009 with said pole.[/caption]

Last night the Teen Choice Awards took place in Hollywood, with anyone who’s anyone attending and playing host to its fair share of controversies, including a spot of pole dancing from young starlette Miley Cyrus. The big winners of the night included Britney Spears, Twilight and Miley herself, who won a total of six awards.

Miley’s performance has yet again landed her in hot water with the P.C. brigade after a pole was used as part of her routine during her performance of Party In the USA. I’d like to stress, the performance looks to me to be as un-raunchy as possible. She’s hardly doing moves you’d expect from your standard pole dancer and it seems more like she ‘danced with a pole’, as opposed to ‘pole-danced’.

Miley is no stranger to controversy, after she appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair with just a sheet covering her modesty, and pictures she’d taken of herself in her underwear were leaked onto the Internet, with parents claiming that she wasn’t a good role model for her young fan base.

In my opinion it seems like she’s done absolutely nothing wrong or worthy of controversy at all, merely putting together an entertaining performance that happened to include a pole. And if any parent is worried that their child is then going to go off and get a job as a pole dancer to try and emulate the star, they should first question their parenting skills before they lay the blame at Miley’s door.

Critics have also been quick to suggest that her performance was part of a plan to market the start to an older audience and to lose her ‘Disney’ image, which doesn’t make all that much sense. Miley’s on to a good thing with her legion of devoted young fans, she’d be a fool to try and alienate the very audience who got her where she is and I’d hope she (or her management) would know when she was on to a good thing, which she certainly is given her massive celebrity status.

Friday, 7 August 2009

TUC Propose Ban on High Heels

high heelsThe TUC, Trades Union Congress, have proposed that high heels should be banned in the workplace as they pose a threat to health and safety and are sexist. They’ve even has the audacity to suggest that female workers shouldn’t wear heals which exceed an inch to avoid injuries and the development of long term back and foot problems.

The only thing sexist I can see about heels is the suggestion that women would be unable to do their job properly wearing them, and they lack the sense to not wear a pair of shoes which cause them pain or prevent them from doing their job.

Granted, seeing a waitress in a pair of stilettos, or a factory worker teetering in her Manolos would be impractical, but for the majority of office workers will only take a few hundred paces around the office in the day, so a pair of heels can’t possible affect their ability to perform their role, nor can it affect their health.

Heels have long since been a staple of the female’s wardrobe and far from being a symbol of female repression; rather, they represent female empowerment and the ability to take on males in the work place.

For shorter women, adding an extra inch (or five) in height gives them the confidence to walk with more pride and be more assertive, allowing the wearer to give the illusion that they are in charge and should be taken seriously.They elongate body, causing you to arch your back, lengthen your legs and stick out your bottom, resulting in, for many, a reminder of your femininity, which is handy in a workplace dominated by men.

As well as being used as an empowering tool in the workplace, the high heel is also a status simple for lots of women. Anyone flashing a red sole, trade mark of designer Christian Louboutin, is bound to get admiring glances, that’s a woman who knows the importance of good shoes!

A shoe is an item of beauty and wonderment in itself, and it’s something that men will never be able to comprehend. So until a man can truly appreciate what it’s like to wear a pair and experience the feeling of which Manolo Blahnik said, “You put high heels on, and you change.” Maybe the TUC should spend their time at least trying to do something useful, rather than debating the pros and cons of a woman’s footwear choice.

Photocredit: Lauren Close

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Brazilian Glaze

According to Scottish hair stylish to the stars, Simon Hill, who’s worked on the tresses of Lily Cole and Shirley Manson, the newest Summer hair trend is the Brazilian Glaze.

This look involves highlighting naturally dark hair with honey, creamy caramel and cocoa tones. According to Hill, the highlights should be of varying widths and placed randomly throughout the mid-lengths and ends of the hair to create a sun-kissed look, giving the impression that you’ve just strolled off the beaches of Sao Paulo. Well, in the muggy streets of West London you probably won’t be fooling anyone, but what’s the harm in having nice hair?

And celebrities are even at it! Recently to have seen with a more sun kissed look is our own Kelly Brook, Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and Transformers actress Isabel Lucas.

Apparently the best way to wear this look is big and voluminous. "Don't be afraid of the straightening irons either," advises Simon. "You can achieve this carefree, sexy look no matter what Mother Nature blessed you with. It isn't about perfection – this is unstructured styling, loose fresh and ideal for a hot dry summer.

Wide-barreled tongs are the new GHDs so get to grips with them.” Whilst the thought tossing aside the GHDs is enough to make me grind my teeth whilst curled up in a ball and silently rocking, wide eyed in the corner, having recently made my own switch from brown with blonde highlights, (I was doing it before those Brazilians!) to plain old brown again, this has brought back pangs of blonde envy.

What it would be to have those honey and caramel tones seamlessly slotted into my own hair again, I bet you wouldn’t be able to distinguish me from the likes of Kelly Brook and Gisele (in the right light…)

But, let’s face it, it’s a recession, I’m barely have a penny to my name, and don’t really want a hair (geddit?) today, gone tomorrow dye job.

Autumn/Winter Trend Predictions

With Autumn/Winter just around the corner I’ve decided it’s time to take a look at what trends will make it from the catwalk to the high street, so here is my look at the hotly tipped looks for next season.

[caption id="attachment_33" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Well, they do say fashion goes round in cycles! Alexander Vauthier, London, A/W 09"]Well, they do say fashion goes round in cycles![/caption]


Apparently power dressing is back! Hopefully not quite as garish as the outfits sported by Joan Collins in Dynasty, but none the less, shoulders and trousers suits are making a welcome return. This time around shoulders are a bit more structured and paired with a cinched waist creating a more feminine silhouette. Already seen on the catwalks of Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent and D&G this trend looks set to stay. Pair with 7/8 length trousers leaving your ankle exposed, or a longer length, structured skirt to perfect the modern take on 80s power dressing.

[caption id="attachment_25" align="aligncenter" width="140" caption="D&G, Milan, Fall 09"]D&G[/caption]


Things have taken a rather royal turn, with D&G showing a collection heavily influenced by the monarchy. Heavy fabrics, specifically velvet is set to be in, paired with broaches and corsets and embellished with ruffles and lace, taking style notes from Marie Antoinette. Whilst things may not be quite as lavish day to day, velvet in rich jewel tones is something to watch out for.

[caption id="attachment_26" align="aligncenter" width="140" caption="Louis Vuitton, Fall 09, Paris"]Louis Vuitton[/caption]

Thigh High Boots

These were all over the catwalks but translating it to everyday wear may be difficult, if they’re too high or the wrong fabric you could end up looking more like should be loitering on street corners waiting for a middle aged man in a Mondeo to give you the nod. If you want to play it safe maybe it’s best to stick to just over the knee styles in suede to avoid giving the wrong impression. I’m personally not to sure on these; surely anything over the knee would be impractical and difficult to walk in. Certainly anything too embellished like Louis Vuitton showed might be just a bit too OTT.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Tories propose a Ban on Airbrushed Advertising.

[caption id="attachment_12" align="alignleft" width="183" caption="Britney Spears as we're used to seeing her, and below heavily airbrushed in an advert for American clothing company Candies"]Britney Spears as we're used to seeing her, and below heavily airbrushed in an advert for American clothing company Candies[/caption]

Today Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats has launched an attack on advertisers who airbrush their models to sell products to a young and impressionable audience saying, “The focus on women’s appearance has got out of hand – no-one really has perfect skin, perfect hair and a perfect figure, but women and young girls increasingly feel that nothing less than perfect will do.”

The lib dems have as a result called for a ban on all advertising aimed at children where the models have been airbrushed, and in adverts aimed at adults, for the airbrushed images to be clearly labelled as such.

Obviously an advertisement for a skin product that airbrushes their models skin are using underhand methods to sell their products, nothing in a bottle can get you the same results as computerized airbrushing, as seen in Britney Spears images advertising children's clothing company, Candies, their clothes won't make you look that good. But banning airbrushing does seem a bit patronizing to the young people seeing these advertisements. Anyone with any sense can see that the models used in these adverts have been edited a great deal and common sense can tell you that no one really looks like that.

The vast majority of images seen in magazines have had some sort of digital editing done to them to make them look better than reality, and any one with any sense should be able to immediately know that what they’re seeing isn’t reality. Personally, if anything were to make me insecure about the way I look it’d be a picture of someone with perfect hair, skin and body who hasn’t been airbrushed. I wouldn’t be able to dismiss her flawless skin, shiny flowing hair or cellulite free body as the work of the Photoshopper cutting inches from her stomach and bum, and her entirely natural body would still be out of my reach. When they’re airbrushed you have that safety net, knowing that it’s fake gives you a weird sort of comfort (people must be so disappointed when they see her in real life, with an extra ten pounds on her arse, cellulitey thighs, and a spot on her chin)

What I do like however is Swinson’s idea that children should be taught “media literacy” in schools, so they can see the difference between what corporations are selling them and what really is attainable. The idea that they should be protected from themselves by simply banning the adverts seems like the easy way out, the result of a half baked and ill considered plan. Teaching children to make an informed judgement about what is attainable is a skill which could actually help them, rather than assuming that the only reaction possible to these images is an overpowering insecurity about the way you look.