Just a short post from me today. I’ve spent the weekend in full on hostess mode and to be honest I’m still a bit on the shattered side. So while my brain reconfigures itself for the week ahead, lets all take some time out this Monday morning to do some serious shoe ogling. I mentioned in an earlier post that these Charlie May x Hudson beauties were next on my to buy list, and the other day an early bird postman dropped them off in my arms. Perfect pure white leather brogues, the partner for all the spring outfits I would wear if only this rain would stop.
You guys know that I’m a huge fan of Charlie May; her website is top of my payday browsing list, and the blue velvet tee from last year’s spring collection remains one of my favourite wardrobe pieces. When I saw these shoes in catwalk images from last September it was instant love, and I crossed my fingers that they would be brought into production. This for me is the perfect shoe: some might describe it as ‘androgynous’, but I would argue that the style is unmistakeably feminine, but without the need for all the frills, ribbons and other adornments that frequently earmark a shoe as being ‘for women’. This is the kind of shoe that makes you feel like the very best version of yourself.
So any time rain. You can stop any time. Like now would be good.
On a pre-Christmas jolly to Edinburgh I determined to buy a wool tartan scarf, because tartan is gorgeous and my puritanical mind decided that only tartan purchased in Scotland itself would do. While lasciviously fingering the cashmere in a shop on the Royal Mile, improbably named “Thistle Do Nicely”, and wondering how much of my holiday budget to blow I spotted a modest display of tweed clutch bags hiding at the back of the shop. Specifically Harris Tweed clutch bags, which (temporarily) put all thoughts of tartan out of my mind.
What other fabric can successfully unite disparate fashion factions more effectively than Harris Tweed? From my father, the epitome of University physics Professor (emeritus) in a brown scratchy jacket, to the runway creations of clothing industry giants Paul Smith, Margaret Howell and Celine; they all share a common interest in this hairy piece of Hebridean heritage. The Harris Tweed brand is protected by an act or Parliament, dictating where and how the cloth can be manufactured, and which techniques can be used.
Today all Harris Tweed is still woven on treadle looms in the homes of weavers living in the Outer Hebrides, as it has been for centuries. The resulting product is, to my eyes at least, astonishingly beautiful. This charcoal coloured tweed can appear plain at first glance, but further inspection reveals flashes of vivid blue, green and even a speck of purple. Examining this fabric up close reveals the incredible artistry of the weaver in constructing the pattern of colours.
All this I explained to Chris with my nose pressed up against one of the bags to better see the colour patterns, all the while cooing like a deranged pigeon. I get terribly excited about beautiful design and fashion history. Speaking of which, payday finally came and I finally got to purchase the Charlie May SS14 brogues that I’ve been lusting after since they first appeared on the catwalk last autumn. So watch this space for more fashion rhapsodising!
Welcome to my mush-wrangling station. It’s changed a bit since I last blogged about it. For one thing I’m now not confined to the top of a shared chest of drawers; I have my own custom-built unit. So fancy. Well custom in that I picked out all the bits from IKEA, and then built it.
I do love a good Expedit – they’re so freakin’ versatile with all their baskets and bells and whistles. The unit was £20 and the glass door cupboard inserts were £14 each; the baskets are the real kicker at £15 each, but the whole thing comes in at £78 for a deceptively spacious vanity. Perfect for a low maintenance girl like me.
The little glass jars came from a pound shop and originally contained some rather sickly £1 scented candles. But I scooped those out, gave the jars a hot wash and now they are perfect for storing tubes and cotton pads within easy reach. And while I’m not much of a make-up girl, I keep my three most regularly used bits – Soap and Glory Solar Powder, Kick Ass Concealer and Lid Stuff neutral quad palette – within easy reach in case I have a sallow morning. The rather beautiful glass container was from a charity shop, one of my favourite places to find unusual and unique home wares.
Inside the glass cupboards one houses a stash of moisturising products and a modest collection of nail polishes, which sadly I’m not using at the moment because my nails are so badly chomped; the other has my various jewellery bits and bobs, housed in the small antique chest of drawers that my Granny gave me for my 18th birthday.
The baskets underneath have un-opened products on one side, and washbags and my hairdryer on the other. The hairdryer arrangement is something I am particularly proud of: there is a plug socket behind the cabinet, so the dryer is always plugged in. I can just pull it out of its basket in the morning, give my hair a blast and then tidy it away again. Because the secret to true tidyness is making sure that no one can see your clutter.
So there you have it, a lightening tour of my modest vanity set up. I realise that many people would want a lot more space than this to store all their different bits and bobs, but this works so well for me, and finally giving me a little woman-corner in our shared bedroom that I am really happy with.
How do you store yours? Are you a minimal Ms like myself, or do you need something more substantial?
Longer ago than I care to contemplate (ok, a year), the splendiferous Hannah, primary school chum and author of The Old Jaw Jaw, pinged the Liebster tag my way and I, like a moron, never got around to answering the questions. Around that time my blog was in the process of grinding to a slow inexorable halt, but that is a pathetic excuse. So today I finally got my flamin’ arse into gear and answered me some questions…
1. Favourite book?
Oh, start with an easy one why don’t you. I don’t have just one book oh super specific question. Anything Margaret Atwood has ever written definitely makes the list; also Dracula by Bram Stoker, the original and still the best in vampire fiction; and Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, because studying it for GCSE somehow made it better, not worse.
2. Do you read real books or ebooks?
Real books, all the way. I have tried ebooks, but I just don’t get the same satisfaction as I do out of a really chunky piece of freshly-pulped tree. Sorry planet.
3. Which art form offers the truest expression of yourself?
Reality tv shows. Oh, you wanted a serious answer? Well in that case I’d have to say probably my dressmaking – haphazard, freestyle and the results are either brilliant or terrifying.
4. Favourite genre?
Victorian horror and dystopian future post-apocalypse but without spaceships.
5. What makes you laugh?
Some of the most inappropriate things you have ever heard. Also kittens.
6. What makes you cry?
Oh lord, EVERYTHING. This question made me cry. Hitting my head really hard also makes me cry as a kind of weird reflex, does anyone else get that?
7. What is the one thing that you can’t do that you’d love to be able to do?
Convince stupid people not to be stupid about things that are really important.
8. If you were given an opportunity to spend on more day with a friend or family member who has passed away what would you do?
I would have a day of knitting and honest conversation with my two Grannies, learning their mystic yarn-charming skills, hearing all the amazing stories that they used to tell when I was too little to understand, and during which I would also get to explain to a captive (and bizarrely willing) audience what the hell my PhD was all about.
9. Do you write?
Nope, never. I’m more of an interpretive dance person myself*.
So apparently now I have to pass this along to some unsuspecting people… So in this grand digital playground I tag Polished Penny, a superb lady whose creations in nail polish are actually breathtaking, and With Bells On, the loveliest mother/daughter crafting blog duo that you will ever come across. This is the internet ladies, we have no secrets here.
And also any of you reading who fancy joining in, I tag you too. Enjoy!
*I lied, of course I write. This is a blog, nor am I out of it.
So just in case you missed my ecstatic mug shots yesterday, last night was the first episode of the second series The Great British Sewing Bee. This is the show that Project Runway failed to be for me, catering for the dressmaking enthusiast who wants practical tips and inspiration, not just Klum knocking the stuffing out of some over dramatic and over dressed “designers”. In honour of the best and only home sewing programme on telly, I dedicate this post to May Martin, and pray that she never sees how wonky my stitching is.
The idea for this top occurred to me at 6.30am on a Saturday morning: a simple black vest with open sides held in place by fixed straps. Once an idea takes hold I find them very hard to resist, and getting back to sleep is almost impossible. So within half an hour I had wriggled out of bed and was foraging through my fabric stash. A light, super soft charcoal grey wool turned out to be just perfect.
I didn’t bother with a pattern; I started with two rectangles of black wool plus a few scraps, and began pinning and positioning on the mannequin until I was happy with the shape. Cutting the front and back was straightforward enough, but fitting the side straps was a little fiddly in order to get the front and back to hang nicely when worn. But the end result looks great over a simple blouse, and adds an unusual touch to any winter outfit. I love working with this kind of felted wool fabric, because you can leave the edges raw and un-hemmed without worrying that they will fray and unravel.
It wasn’t until I put the top on a hanger to photograph that I realised how much it resembles a riot vest. Well, in my role as a fashion innovator I have to tell you that this is law-enforcement chic May, and you saw it here first.