Friday, 30 September 2011

Something Stripy for the Weekend

Nearly all my stripes seem to have arrived serendipitously this one was no exception. I invariably buy clothes from Zara on impulse, they are always displayed very seductively (a lesson GAP could learn from) I had originally bought trousers and a top, neither I really wanted or needed and so I took them back, standing in line I saw this top, which looks very unprepossessing in the photograph below but is actually a lovely glazed cotton. I wear over a pair of Full Circle dropped crotch trousers I picked up online from ASOS in the sale, I love them, they are much cooler than normal trousers.
The top is a lovely coffee and black stripe in glazed cotton and I guess it will be a keeper.

Talking of keeping cool, hells bloody bells it's hot round here, I was scrabbling on my hands and knees last night to find some linen to wear as I was dripping with sweat. The day starts and finishes coolish but midway it's roasting. Most women are now back in sleeveless dresses and bare legs, yet they say we will have snow by October!! Yeah right.

The very best thing about the weather is there is a wonderful continental feel when walking the dog, you know that smell you get in the South of France? Well it's here too. I love walking the dog when it's like this.

The other day walking through the park as dusk fell, I reflected that despite my petty moans life can be good. As I walked I became very tuned into the sounds around me, the thwack of a tennis ball, the shrieks of pleasure from the playground, people eating the remains of a treat on a park bench and dogs yapping. It was one of those cinema moments, a classic panning shot that captured a tiny fragment of time that will be stored away and revisited when the temperatures drop and the sleet rain is horizontal.

Oh and just in case you haven't heard from the other bloguettes, bloody COS have an online store, just bloody great, 2 ways to break me in one fell swoop, I currently have 2 things sitting in checkout le sigh, what is stopping me is the exchange rate. Not my self control, sad to say.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Does it get much better than this?

Dries van Noten, one of the very few designers whose clothes I would love to afford, any high street translation of these would just be a travesty.

images from

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Fianlly getting back to what really matters

Obviously teaching matters, well ish, but it's an undervalued profession and I refuse to be bowed into think it is my career, it will forever be a stop gap and now finally I'm moving on. Not financially, but I am working on my art again,
I have been helped by a heavy room schedule which essentially ejects me from this seat and all the distractions you bloggers put out there. My home life too is currently volatile and I find this can also help me focus as there is little worth rushing home for other than domestic drudgery and recrimination.

To avoid painting I'm revisiting a project that must be at least 3 years old using oil bars, they're very messy but eliminate that dangerous design streak I have which makes everything look like a design for a tea towel. I blame my tutors for that.

So I'm blurring the boundaries.

Just in time for college!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Less is more

Despite quite a complex show this year the lady herself walked out virtually unadorned. Very lovely she looks to.

I would love to see what she could do with just bales of black cloth!

I just wish I could wear a white blouse without feeling like a waitress!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Something stripy for the weekend

I have very clear boundaries between the clothes I wear at weekends and the clothes I wear for work. I also have dog walking clothes, they are the clothes I wear in the house to cook in and then walk the dog, I even have a dog walking mac! These clothes are the style free flotsam and jetsam that I can muddy up and splash with food and grease to my hearts content. They are clothes that machine wash and blur the boundaries between dressing down and dressing gown.
The problem is and it was a big problem this summer is that they are not too good when showing a public face. I needed something to bridge the gap and so relegated these two stripy tops from the premier league of my work wardrobe to the second division. I must say very successfully they played too.
First up my grey stripe from COS It is very light and so good when the weather climbed into double figures for an hour this summer, I liked it with a very, very old faded pair of trousers. They were once a deep blue but are now nearly white. I do like this look though.

Second up this lose and floppy number from Ghost in York. Bought on impulse, I never felt it worked, I always felt under dressed and then I decided that the stripy combination of grey and black did not work. The fabric however is wonderfully heavy, so it drapes really well.

But then I paired it with jeans and suddenly it rocked. Well for me anyway. So I guess the message today bloguettes is...if at first it does not work team it up with jeans instead.

I have taught Kitty a sartorial lesson, if in doubt when undecided if something works when trying on clothes in the shop changing room, photograph yourself then walk away, and in the cold light of day decide. She did it last week and told me it worked to perfection. It is impossible to really see in such a small space and the camera gives you a much better idea of proportion and shape. Having completed over a year of doing just this with my daily outfits I now make far, far less expensive mistakes and dressing for work is now a breeze because if I have learnt one thing it is to pare down and refine. I have not made one mistake so far this term , and nor have I shopped for a month...YEAH

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Bellapais for Mater

As promised some photographs taken well over 10 years ago in Bellapais, (the village where Lawrence Durrell wrote Bitter Lemons.) the Greeks would have tourists believe this monastery has been desecrated by the so called Muslim heathens, yet as you can see it is primped within an inch of its life and very well maintained, as are all the vacated monasteries.
In fact much of Northern Cyprus was better off without the drunken tourist hoards that annually invade the south, including the turtles, and so instead of fighting to see the many architectural sites with the coach loads of tourists you can meander in relative peace.
Memo to self, we must go back when we are there this Christmas, for the day.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

What I would love to wear

I don't often like what Anna Wintour wears, much of the time the clothes wear her, so little of her personality comes through, much of it lies hidden beneath, but this outfit not only oozes lux but is also very lovely and very covetable, had I someone to cook and clean for me I too could waft around in such pale tones!


Yes, it was new York fashion week last week and London this week, although I think London has been compressed into a weekend now. I always have a quick skim and only ever copy and paste something I would actually wear or covet, hence the very pared down selection, the Y-3 I adore for obvious asymmetric reasons.

Tim Hamilton

Just LOVE both the zipped top and trousers. surely someone could rip this one off!


No, not the pink trousers, but the top I love, plus the image, in fact GAP is starting to look promising, only I find myself hand washing all of Kitty's uniform a) because she always chooses stripes, what the hell do you wash them with? and b) I still think their jersey shrinks in the machine.

Monday, 19 September 2011

The view from here

Another lesson observation is over, truly there is so much going on in this room it would be quieter to work in the corridor, sorry break out area, because in this business nothing is ever described in plain English when it can be dressed up with a pink bow and presented as something it really is not.

Well that was not what I would call a particularly relaxing weekend, not what I would have prescribed for myself at all. Friday started badly, the intention was to collect a print my mother purchased at the RA Summer Show. The email made it clear that my sister who works 10 minutes from the gallery was far to important and far too busy to be required to go and fetch it. No, I, who works well outside London was expected to fetch it, so I offered to go just before meeting Kitty to see the Degas. To achieve this I had to leave work on the dot to get the 15.38 train home before switching travel cards and bags to get back on the 16.10 train to London.
So I missed the train because a colleague decided that Friday of all days was the time to talk about work. I then managed to get Emin to meet me at the station to do the swap, so I could make the 16.20 train instead, this, was amazingly accomplished only for my best laid plans to die a death half way to London Bridge with the demise of my train, made worse by the driver locking us on the train so we couldn't change onto another train for 20 minutes. I arrived at Green Park just as the gallery closed. Joy. I then became really pissed off that it was I rushing not my effing sister. So I then waited for Kitty who was 20 bloody minutes late because she was trying on clothes after to work! By now I needed a drink so we went to the Kings Head round the corner and despite the hoards outside, inside was relatively calm. I still have to pinch myself how quickly Kitty has gone from a school girl to a working girl, we chatted as workers do and then went to the Degas, which is patchy but thoroughly enjoyable. Kitty in particular loved it and became surprisingly animated at how lovely some of the work is. I am not sure it was worth £14, I don't pay, for that price I would want a few more paintings and less fillers via the work of other artists plus Nijinsky spinning a couple of pirouettes around me.
I asked Kitty what she fancied to eat, bloody Chinese was the answer, I hate eating Chinese in town, unless you get to Hakassan it's laden with monosodium glutamate. I went for a cheap cafe where the lighting would make the most hardened member of the Stassi feel at home, the food was functional and pretty much thrown on to the table, but a dropped chopstick was replaced without asking, I was strangely quite touched by this.
All done until kitty spied M'n'M world. 4, count them 4 floors of M'n'M hell. Still, she was happy.

Saturday was spent decorating a room in a house we have bought to rent out. Sunday was spent helping my sister, (yes the really busy one) to sell her junk at a car boot sale. Why someone who gets a 4 figure bonus needs to stand in a damp field all morning just to sell tat is a mystery to me. One day boot fair next day 5* luxury corporate entertainment overlooking a beach in Monaco! I can see why it is I whole has to be mothers gofer!*
After that I painted some more before walking the dog cooking dinner and then going to the gym after which I sat down and had another pint, thus completing the circle.
It is very sobering too see your past wardrobe sat on a table selling for pennies, although much was worn more still had the price tag on, I wondered if she had learnt from this, Yes, it seems she had, hence the recent purchase of a house rather than living like a student at an age when she can afford the the luxury.

* I should point out my sister did collect mother from the airport recently, when mother came out of arrivals she insisted Lucy allow her time to get a coffee, what she failed to understand was every minute spent queueing was another £10 on the car park meter, That would have to be a bloody good coffee.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Brrrr Cold

This is not the actual image I wanted to post of what has to be the best dressed of all the fashion editors on parade at a fashion week near you, no the image I wanted was from the web site shot by Tommy Ton, but it was a 'print screen' only and I'm just way too lazy for that so bear with me.

What originally caught my eye was not the dress (which is hideous) but her hair of course, just to ram home a point I love the way she frequently ties it up, it was after that I realised the incongruity of the scarf. Giovanna does do good scarf, but with short sleeves? Then of course you see the raging nipple erection and realise the scarf is really needed before hypothermia sets in, as her body fat must be below 15%.
Then I did some research and she is really very good with a scarf, I now covet some heavy silk numbers to tie closely like this too.

This is even more of a contradiction when you realise her dress skims her bum! but I love the Turkish style wrap, plus warm ears = warm butt.

One of my favourites of her, both these illustrate a nice tidy scarf, and both illustrate the early days when practicality won over fashion, and to be honest she looks better for it.

OK sandals plus scarf?

Friday, 16 September 2011

Something Stripey For the Weekend?

The long and short of Primark.
Both my Primark cardies have been serendipitous purchases, it is not a shop I choose to go shopping in for various reasons, but it ticks Daisy's boxes and the sleep wear is great for Leyla. Walking through last year I spied this cardie, if you can grab the largest size the clothes are fine, this is a lovely stretchy cotton so it goes over most t-shirts and is perfect for the seaside.

This too is from Primark only this time I was waiting for Daisy to appear from the changing room, standing bored witless I started to look around and could not believe this shining beacon of taste and style. Again cotton, but this time loose and soft, this too goes over most things as I managed to procure a size 20.

I love wearing shorts, I do wish we had the climate for them, I love playing around with layering different lengths with them. These shorts have a story too, I bought them 8 years ago for a holiday to Turkey, the summer was unusually hot and so I wore them before we went, of course I washed them and hung them out to dry the day before, and there they stayed until my return.... I could have wept. I have worn them every holiday since, although they are a tiny bit tighter now, but they are the perfect length for me and will, I hope go on for another 8 years, until I retire!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

When class is defined by a pony tail

These images were in the Times recently, and although I have never seen the programme the girls have become famous from I did love the two images for the message they send.

Above poor taste is defined by shiny fabrics with lace detailing or a frill or 20, or a shed load of ruching, a la knicker blinds.
Best of all the message is big hair = low class.

Here class is signified by matt fabrics, muted shades, judicious pleating and folding, and best of all the ubiquitous pony tail. Basically no matter what you look like or what you wear, instant class is obtained by a slick back pony tail.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Be still my beating heart

Have you ever seen such a beautiful cardigan? Grey, with the perfect sleeves. The only tiny little problem? The price. £155! Which if you think about the money I fritter on cardies barely worn.... then in that case it's a bargain. No? From Toast

Flicking through last weeks Stella Magazine I fell in love with this image, well the whole dam lifestyle actually. I coveted the apron so much I went to order it, but it was sold out...sob.
I really do need an apron, I am so fussy I can't wear any old thing, I like the idea of neutral tones in linen. I will now keep an eye out for something similar, and yes I know I could make one, but really where is the fun in that?

Oh the cardie is pretty lovely too. Looking for aprons I tripped over this school uniform on the John Lewis web site, is it not divine? I want one!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The view from here

One of the fringe benefits of having girls as opposed to boy is that it is possible for me at least to upcycle my clothes.This summer I managed to achieve this not once but twice.
Daisy has taken a big bag of all my old silk camisoles that I failed to off load on eBay plus my treasured but languishing collection of Jigsaw thermal cardies, she looked so lovely in them that I decided to let them go and begged her to hand wash them and under no circumstances were they to go near a tumble drier. And yes, I am the worlds biggest optimist.
The more surprising upcycle was a bag of cardigans that had eaten away at my guilty psyche, it had been a couple of years since I had bought them. On impulse I spent far too much money on some cotton cardies from Kew, I really though they were the answer to all my problems, great colours, lovely shapes, etc, etc, in fact the colours were faded and really belonged on the beach and really the shapes were a little boxy and they lacked the fluidity of my COS cardies. So they sat unloved and unworn. Then recently Kitty adopted some Uniqlo cardies of mine and I thought maybe she would like them. She loved them, and what is quite sobering is that despite the fact that they are L & XL they look lovely on her, they drape so much better draped over her tiny frame she is an 8! So really they were probably not big enough. Now she is happy and I am happy especially as she wear them a lot, and now they can be machined washed without fear of loosing a couple of crucial millimeters.

I have found that by just not going into these shops saves repeating my mistakes, but I confess that despite all my very best laid plans my fingers have twitched in GAP recently. I did not succumb but really there are some lovely jumpers in there!

My favourite fashion writer has thankfully jumped ship from the Times and gone over to the Telegraph, Lisa Armstrong is such a good writer and now you can read her on the brilliant Telegraph website. Her description of hair disasters is identical to mine and the book she describes I have ordered on amazon, any book that recognises the style of Nancy Cunard will always be welcome on my bookshelf.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Screen Saver AKA Sanity Saver

My computer at work somehow managed to host a virus on Friday, so everything was wiped and reloaded fresh, this meant I had to reload my screen saver which was a particularly vibrant image of blossom. Now it is this, when I look at this my karma re-boots itself and I think to myself, not long now.

Autumn most defiantly has arrived along with gale force winds, i'ts quite humid so we sleep with our dormer windows wide open along with the bathroom window, it's like we're camping in our bedroom, but I love that feeling of a breeze whistling past me whilst wrapped in my duvet.

I broke my first resolution yesterday and bought a Vogue, primarily because there was a lengthy interview with Tacita Dean who is creating the next turbine hall instillation at The Tate Modern. I am also very much looking forward to the Rothko opening at The Whitechapel Gallery, plus I have tickets for the Degas coming to the R.A. on Friday, so whilst day time is grim playtime is looking good.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Wishing I was here ..a few more

Above is my dream house, I wish I could dare climb the wall to take a closer peek!

Everywhere you go there are wetsuits drying

And exotic birds too!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Wish I was still here

One of the sights that seers into your psyche is that of the huge flowering agapanthus profiled against the blue of the St Ives sky.
I also love sneaking a peek into the backyards on bin day!

Some of the gardens are very lush and of course this being England very green.

And laden with fruit, I was soo tempted.

The colours when the sun finally emerges all be it very briefly create stunning images.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Something Stripy for the Weekend?

The first in an occasional series clearly featuring the most wonderful of patterns, Stripes. I have always had a bit of a thing about stripes, I can remember iconic knitwear from when I was a teenager featuring 'hoops' as someone once described them. Later I particularly loved a grey marle/blue combination and one particularly treasured item was a jumper knitted by Margaret Howell's sister which I wished I had kept to pass on to Kitty, who too loves stripes to bits.

So I decided to photograph all my stripes on and off, the first few will be from the holiday, before effortlessly moving into more winter modes. Some people bring back a stick of rock from their holiday, my treat to myself was this fisherman's smock, purchased from a fisherman's co-operative on the quayside of St Ives harbour, I love it, clearly not great in town but each and every year it will will be lovingly worn back in the town of its birth. And best of all it only cost £15! a bargain, and very comfy too.
Worn here with some cut off shorts, I live in shorts on holiday, nothing better than some brown pins, sadly no one gets to see them once I come home as it is bloody freezing now.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Just say NO

Out of the Bag calls it wardrobe equilibrium, I call it having WAY too much stuff.

Us academics...well I try to be one, it sounds more learned than plain old teacher, so yes, us academics generally see the year differently to most. My New Year is actually September, this is when I try to turn over some new leaves, maybe try and make a little time for some painting, or make the effort to make my biannual marking schedule a little more frequent.
Also it's the time when checking the bank balance that the cheap staycation suddenly is not so cheap, add to this heady mix new shoes for the kids, well kid,as the others are no longer school bound, but yes, all the shit they need, plus the pain of a new travel card and my poor bank balance is already weepingly overdrawn. So after a particularly profligate bout of retail therapy in COS and then a brutal wardobe shuffle, I wrote down the following notes.


The thing is you can't get a sense of scale or quality, and yes, I may have scored some occasional hits, I do wonder that without the hassle or filling in a return slip whether I would have even made tit o the till with most of my mail order purchases, so that has got to stop.


Yes, yes, yes I know I have bleated on and on about this before, but I have once again become increasingly disengaged from periodicals, I hauled a shed load to St Ives and barely looked at them, and as for my stupid weak willed attitude to Grazia, that HAS to stop too, it's not like I don't have enough books to read.


Notice the very subtle caveat there, so it's fine if it costs a lot.. well actually I've found if it does it's generally more versatile and looks worth the money, recent cheapies look just that, and 4 cheapies are not that cheap. So no more crapola.


And if I really, really have to, (+J) then it cannot be below the kneee. Two of my poorest choices this year were narrow skirts that sit on my calf, when I photographed them FRUMP is all I saw, no ironic post Mad Men look for me, no sireee.


I don't know why but I've always thought I liked this colour, but on reflection I've decided that blue is a better colour.


When you pick up a dress in blue because the only other two colours it comes in are puce and putrid obviously you will embrace the blue, but really, ask yourself this, if it came in black what colour would you choose? Yes, I thought so. So NO to blue. Unless it's soooo lovely and I just can't say no.


No, I thought not, is it black? do you have 10 already? Put it down.


Come ON really, is there not a combination you don't posses? Don't answer that as I could be a serial stripy purchaser, but now summer is over I must rein myself in. (I have a small series featuring stripes starting on Friday.)


OK 10 plus which may not seem much but that is just the ones in the wardrobe, there are another 10 waiting in the wings.

So yes, I guess we have 'wardrobe equilibrium', but the minute I say "no" I crave, so in order to assuage that feeling I have decided to focus on the following:
They all work for me, those that fit may be thin on the ground but they are must have in my wardrobe.
On the rise, my love of these negates the stress of trying to co-ordinate a top, although at this time of year the layered look works best, especially with the odd hot flush, but jumpers are green lit.
They must not crease and they must look lovely, but scarves too get the green light
Can I do it until Christmas? A half term spent in Istanbul will help I hope, and there is little opportunity to gallivant up town, so watch this space!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

I heart Jil Sander

Well of course I can really only afford +J Uniqlo and of course Jil Sander no longer designs for...Jil Sander, so in fact for the last few years the collections she has produced for Uniqlo have been the nearest thing you can get to her.
I love what she does, it is a severe dress code and not one I could probably stick too, yet it has much to recommend. Sadly my shoulders have been a little meaty for her designs, but I have acquired some trousers and skirts in the sale that have all been very successful, and my black rain coat I can't imagine ever not owning, so if you can, do invest.

On my wish list from her grand finale are these two divine pieces, neither available just yet, but hopefully I will be successful if they go on line soon. They of course break all my new years resolutions, more of them tomorrow. But what are resolutions for if not to break?

This scrummy coat will go online at 1am tomorrow, but I would struggle to justify the price tag, and will regret doing so if it snows continuously from October onwards.

These trousers are being worn today, reduced by 70% they are so lovely, if a little roomy, they have the perfect cuffed bottom as well as a seam down the back which makes the fit superb.

You can read more about the collection here

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Finally getting it right.

I had one pleasurable day last week going through my wardrobe. The weather has changed dramatically and I don't really hold out much hope for an Indian Summer, so back went all those light airy pieces that saw me successfully through the 3 days of summer and back out came the darker tones.
Without a doubt the most influential piece I have posted this summer was the Joan Burstein images. Those photographs of what she wore have seared themselves onto my brain and has had, by far and away the most dramatic influence on the way I put outfits together.
So since my return to work I have outfit wise been riding the crest of a wave.

(Work shows no signs of becoming even remotely enjoyable, the mantra is to entertain and enthuse the students whilst we are bullied into submission. Someone is not seeing the bigger picture here and the ride is no fun either. That is all I will say on the matter as this blog is to keep me uplifted and sane.)

So let me firstly introduce you to one of two summer bargains. I know it is impossible to photograph black successfully, but these are the most gorgeous black trousers purchased for a song from the Uniqlo sale, they are +J, and cut to perfection. I love them particularly for the high waist which corsets me securely. They are pleated around the knee so very flattering especially with a range of COS tops of which this is one.

Second up was this grey marle top bought from would you believe, St Ives, I was covered in sand in full holiday mode when I spied this in a boutique along the harbour front. I had to dig deep to think if I was not duplicating a work top, but risked it, with these jersey trousers it was the perfect way to ease into work mode, and perfect day to night wear.

I met my sister to see a production at the National Theatre of Arnold Wesker's The Kitchen, I studied Wesker at school but despite the best efforts of the actors this play has not aged well and needs serious updating. The first half was excellent, but the second half was gauche and laboured to the point of embarrassing, so I doubt the reviews will be good. It was lovely to see little sis' though.

And layered with a cardie it still looks great, you can just see an impulse buy, it was a gilt necklace that is a tad scratchy, but very lovely. I waited all summer for it to be reduced in the Jigsaw sale, and lo, it came down to £19..SOLD