Sunday, 9 September 2012

Another Beauty Rant

I was chatting to my dad today about making my own soap (see above, my slightly squishy Lavender and Sandalwood Bathing soap) my allergy to regular shampoo and the chemical make up of beauty products. He was still surprised that pointing out to his female friends that he wouldn't use their products to clean his car, made them hate him. Poor man!

What he didn't realise is, is that 99% of the meaning of a beauty regime is a ritual, that forms part of a woman's daily confidence build up (including getting dressed, eating things we don't like but are healthy etc, etc). Most beauty products have a mystique of science and luxury that make a woman feel like they are spoiling themselves and value themselves (completely moronic, I know, but we are weak), or we are tackling our innate ugliness, because basically society has taught us to hate ourselves.

So, even if he thinks he is being completely helpful by pointing out things like this, he is actually just making women feel stupid about something that they quite enjoy/ are psychologically chained to and builds their fragile self-esteem. SO HE IS THE DEVIL!!!!

That's why one of the cleverest marketing ploys is now exploiting concerns about Parabens and Sodium Laureth Sulfate in products (love yourself, protect yourself against harmful stuff, blah, blah, blah), to make women pay even more money for what they could make in the kitchen at home in an Ikea saucepan (one of my most valuable soap-making items). YES YOU, LUSH, WHERE DO YOU GET OFF BEING SO BLOODY EXPENSIVE!!!

I was never really that interested in what was in beauty stuff before (beyond being concerned, but not actually certain what was tested on animals, and what is destroying the rainforest and I'm still confused about it), because I never had any negative results from what I was using. I didn't buy into the hype of anti-aging this and that and just bought what seemed to work and smelled good (and was relatively cheap). Now I seem to be getting spots and eczema (back in a hard water area, so have to use more product to get it frothy and then it doesn't rinse out so effectively), I am actually looking at what is in things. Now I really resent having to pay more money for stuff, just so I don't have a nasty reaction, just because it is 'natural', when the ingredients still are really cheap.

It's quite sad really, because if we ignored the hype and just looked around the garden, went on more country walks, even to our local parks, we would find loads of things that are great for our health and skin. We could create a more satisfying ritual to be part of (i.e. making it yourself, or getting a keen friend like me to make it from things you find), rather than just opening a pot of cream with some gold writing on it, or using a deliberately 'home-made' looking soap bar from a shop, that has a 500% mark up.

Women in the olden days were just as obsessed with beauty, but then we were more in tune with things that were naturally available, so it seems like that the ritualistic part of things, were not so imbecilic (e.g. enjoying packaging) but actually quite practical. Really, being able to buy beauty products, was all linked to status and wealth and women gradually got shamed into buying, instead of making (as well, as time constraints). A lady of leisure does not make her own soap! A weird man with lamb chop whiskers does it for you!

I saw an advert yesterday that talking about a product being so good that it had a 'spa-like' feel. Uuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. What does that even mean? I had a spa treatment once, that involved an algae wrap that smelt like Hastings Fish Yard. Oh yeah, and a sparkly 'sulfate- free' shampoo ad that was particularly nauseating. What are they putting in a shampoo that makes your hair sparkly, that occurs naturally and benefits your hair? Fools Gold?

Friday, 4 May 2012

Neuro Stylistic Programming- Style your Mood

Dorothy Perkins- S/S 2011 I'm afraid!
I made this term up and it has no scientific basis, but since I have Neuro Stylistically Programmed myself into a self-loving, ego-maniacal state, I don't care.

'How's that?', you say with your eye-brow raised. It is because today I am wearing a coral coloured, full skirted white polka dot dress and therefore feel frivolous and charming and 'devil-may care' about everything.

A few years ago, I went on a training course called the 'Art of Being Brilliant,' where I was talked at about Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) by a Grand-Wizard Practitioner. On that day I also made the decision not to sell training courses any more, due to moral outrage and too many stale sandwiches. What I took away from the course however, is that it is surprisingly easy to influence yourself, by some totemic phrases and self-obsessive mantra droning. I have consequently decided to use this technique in a manner more relevant to the fashion conscious, by incorporating it into the much more fun, theory of 'Neuro Stylistic Programming.(NSP)'  

That stale old theory, NLP, used by Paul McKenna and Derren Brown, is described by Wikipedia as  ''a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behaviour." 

My brand new and stimulating theory of NSP ,is really just a statement of what intuitive people know already e.g. It's definitely a good idea to dress to what you would like your mood to be, not how you feel in the morning.

I also would like to make an unsupported claim that if you are wearing something colourful, people tend to notice it less when your every second word is demonstrating that your entire being is a cesspit of stinking negativity. Whereas, if you wear black you've had it, and people avoid you for sucking the soul out of the room.
For example, people tend to assume that Existentialists are profound in a heavy, intense sort of way. However, I guarantee you, that should people not associate black polo neck jumpers with Sartre and if he had instead worn Hawaiian shirts, they would have focused on the drinking, music, dancing and sex in his works of fiction, and realise that he was just a bon viveur in the style of Peter Stringfellow. It could be that Sartre was actually a fairly typical intellectual egoist having a mid-life crisis, who occasionally had guilt trips about his selfish life decisions, and tried to cover his self-disgust with existential smoke and mirrors and inky clothes. 
Not only can dressing to improve your mood and work to lift your own spirits but also makes others feel better too. Life can be a hive and if most of us are boring worker drones, a little bit of colour to settle our eyes on, is going to make us feel more positive and productive. It is also true that if you want to be taken seriously, then wearing black and grey shows brevity- however, adding colour to your ensemble may show personality that will distinguish you from the competition.

Anyone that ridicules a person's love of fashion, colour and sartorial matters, doesn't really understand the power of dressing as a mood influencer, to oneself and others. A form fitting suit, with shoulder pads and statement heels give architectural proportions, menacing and aggressive. You can easily con yourself that you know what you are talking about, when you feel like a skyscraper. Neutral colours and knits may give a feel of bland comfort, showing flexibility and openness- a tactile sort of brain, responsive but not threatening. The success of the makeover show, is not a demonstration of the shallowness of the general public but the strength of the psychological response to visual stimulation via dress. If it has been proven that people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, how simple to argue that we can be  positively influenced by colour, light and change in the way we dress, and should knowingly exploit this to our advantage.

This can also be subversively used to an advantage if you want to deliberately produce negative impressions. In my last job, I wanted to minimise the amount of work that I was given, so I wore navy blue often (unflattering, made me look tired and sickly), mid-thigh dresses (made me look youthful and irresponsible) and a pair of brothel creeper shoes (confuses your regular office worker, as they cannot work out why you would consider them attractive and therefore are dissimulating). No-one would entrust me with their boring typing on those days, it worked a treat. Go on, Neuro Stylistically Programme yourself, or someone else!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

My ideal work uniform in a parallel universe

I have written before about 'uniforms', minimal wardrobes and practical dressing but as I potentially move into a job where I will be wearing an actual uniform, five days a week, I feel the need to distract myself from thoughts of polyester trousers, day-glo and teflon. To humour myself therefore, I have picked out my ideal summer uniform for patrolling the streets (note that I have said patrol, as opposed to walk, I managed to disconcert my mum by informing her I would shortly be walking the streets and it was much better paid than my current position).

First of all I would need a practical pair of heels for stomping my beat. Heels are essential, to give one a sense of power and authority and I would pick a wedge for maximum height and comfort. The weight of a wedge is also useful, as if you have powerful enough legs to lift them to testicle height at high speed (and my calf muscles are of wrestler proportions), they can be useful weapon when your authority is being questioned. These neon accented KG by Kurt Geiger wedges in animal print are an amazing statement and tick all the high-vis safety boxes while being perfect for the Urban Jungle...

 I have also recently been experiencing a delayed reaction crush on the jumpsuit. Now my one year old is whizzing around on his walker, the need for light and feminine attire that doesn't expose my knickers while battling the wind and racing around the park has meant I finally accept the the place of the jumpsuit in a practical wardrobe. A utilitarian style tailored jumpsuit would be also be perfect for my new job, belt loops and pockets being ideal for storage of pens, notebooks and other useful implements (sunglasses?). This version by Reiss looks decidedly Met Police Chic.

Now, although this is my ideal summer uniform, the British weather is notoriously unpredictable, therefore a light and practical cover up is essential. I am veering towards this highlighter bright Vanesso Bruno jacket, just for it's ability to inform the public I am there on the street.

I feel that for any officer on the street, a pair of standard issue aviators is essential. How else can you hide the fear in your eyes, as well as protect them from relentless sun exposure and potential missiles. This mirrored pair from Urban Outfitters are ideal for reflecting confused glances and aggression.

That was fun, now I must find something else to do to distract me from the thoughts of poloshirts and embroidered logos- yeuch!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Tan that does what it says on the tin

Anna Sui S/S 'll (

I love the British heatwave and I hate it at the same time. I am completely in awe of women who have the confidence to strip down to barely nothing, as soon as the sun pokes out from behind a cloud- they seem to make a miraculous transition from winter sexiness, to summer nubility- perfect mani/pedi, leg-hair free and with gently tousled summer tresses.

I seem to lack that particular gene and this, combined with cellulite, porcelain (translates as pasty) skin and a complex about my short legs, means that a heatwave gives me butterflies in my stomach of the most unpleasant kind. I started trying to layer up the fake tan two weeks ago, using dry tanning mist for pale skin every day to build up a bit of a glow. Today I switched to the medium-dark version, as two weeks of spraying has made literally no difference to my skin tone. Not only am I sun resistant (fortunately I don't burn either) but I'm stain resistant! I suppose I should be grateful that I'm not orange but I would like to look slightly less like a an extra from the 'Crimson Petal and the White'.

I haven't managed to have a successful professional spray tan yet either, last time I went for one, I got rained on and ended up on the bus with rivulets of dirty tea stain water running down my face and body, which was very amusing for the rest of the 390 bus passengers, but not for me. I used sunbeds for a few weeks when I was 19 successfully but self-preservation instincts, as well as deep-rooted vanity about wrinkles means that the risks associated with them long-term have stopped me trying them again, as I am older and wiser.

So what is to be done to overcome my wan appearance? Does anyone have any recommendations for a fake tan that isn't orange, isn't over £20 a tin and works? The fact is, everyone does look better with a bit of a tan but not everyone has the cash to blow on professionally applied 'sun-kissed' skin. Also, has anyone noticed that products like 'Holiday Skin' smell like fried potatoes? All the daily moisturisers with a tint, just make you smell like a holiday to Bognor Regis, hardly the desirable effect.

Anyway, if I don't solve this problem soon, the chances of me getting my legs out for more than 30 minutes in broad daylight are slim. I know I should be less vain and that half of beauty, is confidence and poise but I would like a little poise in a tin please, just to get me out the door in a pair of shorts (and so my baby son doesn't mistake me for a giant custard cream and try and eat me).

Monday, 18 April 2011

Bicycle Belles

The return of the trouser has been a welcome resurrection for those of us who favour the bicycle as a means of transport and for whom, thoughts of lycra and neon turn the stomach. However, interestingly, it is those that reference the belle on the bike as a source of inspiration, who seem to miss the mark the most, as to what is truly practical while whizzing along the road. I can only assume that male fashion designers aren't aware (or more likely are repulsed by the idea) that a) women sweat b) bike chains accumulate black grease c) wheels have spokes on them that don't mix well with flowing fabric and d) when you are on a bike, sometimes it rains. I know that fashion is about aspiration and luxury and therefore we should all aspire not to sweat and/or have armpit botox but I am still pretty certain that those who can afford to make a deal with the devil and ensure fair weather cycling in satin heels at all times, still wouldn't wantonly wear the below on a bike:

3.1 Philip Lim A/W '11
3.1 Philip Lim A/W '11
The 3.1 Philip Lim collection was inspired by sexy women who turn up at cocktail parties on bikes. I think that Philip Lim has never ridden a bicycle and might be confusing one with a Hummer Limo. Imagine the first dress, with two massive sweats stains and little ribbony bits where the fabric has got caught in the pedals and spokes. The second should be envisioned with a line of mud up the back from rain flicking up the wheel onto your bottom, (or dust, or pigeon poop, or paint, or beer). Also the snowiness of the white dress is an invitation for a bored child to throw their Creme Egg Mcflurry at you while you wait at traffic lights. I love both but I feel as if the designer was having a little smirk to himself in a room somewhere while he came up with his tag line?

I picked some more practical but still stylish options to inspire all you other bicycle loving clothes obsessives out there...
Basso and Brooke A/W '11- imagine this capaciously armed coat flapping in the wind, the pattern and colour means it would hide a multitude of spatters!

Holly Fulton A/W 'll- again, the cut of this coat and the fact it is tweed, which is brilliantly hardy, make it practical, while the colours are playful. The spikes on the trousers tell potential junk food assailants to 'f*ck off I'm a bit mad'

 Bodkin A/W 'll, these are the sensible options- trim trousers on an airy jumpsuit to avoid moving parts and granny shorts for modesty on the move

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Fantasy Outfit for Baby Boy's First Birthday

In honour of Baby Boy being a year old and to distract myself from the memories of the horrors of childbirth, I am fantasising about the ideal outfit for his birthday party this afternoon. This sartorial dream is necessary, because the realities of parenting mean that I have only just thought about wearing something lovely, as all my efforts have gone into cake making and instructing OH on why cut up bits of sausages are not a respectable offering at a party. Also, my wardrobe has been behaving very badly recently and I am convinced that all my best outfits are being hidden away in the style equivalent of Narnia. To recover these clothes would involve several days journey time on a sleigh to reach them and the only things in the front of my wardrobe, are the aesthetic equivalent of Miss Marple.

Therefore, after much day dreaming and web-adventuring I have decided that my ideal outfit would be colourful (so BB will like it), whimsical (so the mood is fun), comfortable (will need to crawl around on floor with BB) and washable at 40 degrees (no silks or satins).

I have decided therefore, that I could be children's party appropriate try and stylishly channel a clown and tick all the boxes, if I wore this jumpsuit  by and a pair of  Peter Jensen wedges, above, available at (like stilts you see, but super comfortable). I favour the culotte style, as I have short legs and never have time to get trousers taken up and although the colour blocking of the wedges might be taking it a step too far (brown leather wedges would look fine), they are beautiful!

(In reality, I will probably be referencing my inner clown by wearing peg leg jeans and smudgy make up from being cuddled by my cakey, sticky son. Love him!)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Electric Blue in the Office

On  my return to work, I was pleased to find that the temp that had been covering my post while I was on maternity leave was actually so eccentric and fruit-loopy, that my bosses are probably going to be over-compensating in relief at my return for about three years. This gives me plenty of time to make lots of sleep deprivation mistakes, let my temper get the better of me, swear a lot and tell the truth without being immediately put on a series of disciplinaries (it still takes a long time to sack someone at a local authority, even if you defecated in a photocopier, Occupational Health would still write you a stress sick note and then management couldn't get rid of you- brilliant!). Long live lunchtime drinking and falling asleep in meetings (the temp, not me) by setting new lows in ludicrousness and incompetence, she has put me at a new high in mediocrity.

Now I don't want to be a complete bitch and I actually admired a dynsastyesque electric blue suit that she wore to work, so that's what this is really all about. I thought that her style choice was actually very astute bearing in mind the amount of electric blue currently blasting its way into fashion editorial as a Spring trend. I think that I will be secretly paying homage to my characterful cover by wearing more electric blue myself and by lurching around and repeating myself extensively with a baleful look in my eye. On my 'if I was rich' list, this simple dress by Raf Simons for Jil Sander. Let the colour do the talking (and not the shoulder pads).
Jil Sander S/S 'll