Sunday, 29 April 2012

Make-up: when red lips are too much...

Every now and then I like to kid myself that I'm a hard-nosed business-woman.  The truth is I work in publishing, which isn't exactly hedge-funding in the city.  However, the fact remains that I do need to look professional and as much as I'd love to walk around all day with bright red lips, that level of glamour would probably frighten/bemuse/annoy my colleagues.  Plus if you're wearing matte lipstick all year round you're going to destroy your lips no matter how much primer you put on - it's just too drying for everyday wear.

So what's a girl to do?  At first this girl attempted mixing her reds with balm and using them as a stain, but for some reason most of them came out quite pink when used sparingly.  Not to mention I went into work everyday with red/pink fingertips. And then I came across a new Revlon product (not a brand I usually buy)...

Introducing Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Candy Apple!

  • Good price at £8
  • Colour is just sheer enough for day-time and can be built up
  • Blotting takes the sheen off, leaving a pale matte red
  • Great unique packaging which lets you clearly see which colour the lipstick is - I have about 10 black cases rocking around my handbag at any given time of which several are identical and all of the writing has rubbed off, this is the only one that stands out
  • Not drying - not sure it's as moisturising as Revlon claim, but it's leagues ahead of my other lipsticks
  • This is an orange-toned red, which suits my warm colouring, although the hint of pink might mean it suits cool-toned ladies too
  • Amazingly good at transferring onto everything
  • Colour could stay on a bit longer
  • Slightly tacky feeling (but I've dealt with much worse and blotting seems to help hugely)
  • Bleeds ever-so-slightly
And here it is on, although it looks a bit pinker here than it does usually.

Ready for work!

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Monday, 23 April 2012

Shopping: Go Indie

There's not much I like more than finding a new independent shop - whether it's clothes, home stuff, second hand or stationery - I love the thought that I've bought something that lots of other people won't have.

I'm a huge fan of Topshop and I love Urban Outfitters (I used to take one and a half hour train journeys to London JUST to go to Urban Outfitters), but whenever I buy clothes from those two stores, it's pretty likely I'm going to see someone else wearing what I'm wearing.

The downside of the indies is that not many of them have websites... but luckily for you, a few of my favourite well established independent stores do, and I'm about to share them with you. (You're very welcome)

By far my favourite independent clothing store is Dahlia.  They have a boutique on Carnaby Street, right here (just around the corner from Liberty - errr, swoon!):

Dahlia is great for kooky girls, which I'm told I am.  They have a beautiful selection of dresses that flatter all shapes and sizes, and give you styling tips for giving your pretty feminine dresses a bit of an edge.

Here are a few of my favourites currently in stock:

Bow Button Sleeveless Dress £65
Applique Flower Babydoll Dress £64
Dobby Glitter Collar Blouse £45
Some people may think that the prices are quite high - but it honestly is worth it. Dahlia's clothes are such good quality and I'd pay extra for the little details that they concentrate on.

Another favourite of ours is Tara Starlet. This, like Dahlia, is a family run business with a vintage inspired fashion line. The thing that draws me in with Tara Starlet isn't just the amazing clothes, but the very cool models and the styling! A few favourites currently in stock...

Make do and mend dress £80
Sleeveless sailor blouse £42
Again - worth paying extra because it's unique and you're supporting independent designers!

Vintage and Homewares
If you're a craft lover like me, Etsy and Folksy are probably you're go-to websites when searching for inspiration.  When I was looking for vintage inspired crafts, I came across an independent vintage homewares shop called Little Byrd Vintage. I absolutely love their carefully selected collection of vintage glass... And they have books too! (Cici and me love old bookywooks!)

A Field Guide to Butterflies £12.76
Vintage Display Dome £19.14
Vintage Glass Bottle Collection £15.31
I am obsessed, yes, obsessed with Leah Duncan's beautiful prints. I'm gradually trying to build up a Leah Duncan cushion collection. Here are a few of the best (it's so hard to pick a 'best' design - you need to check out her website for yourself!)
Feathers cushion cover
Outer Space tea towell
Buffalo print
Prices are all in dollars, but you can order from the UK via her Etsy store online.

I thoroughly encourage you to seek out some independent stores and see for yourself what fun it is discovering new talent and supporting independent designers.

Marie ♥

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Book review: Wearable Vintage Fashion

Wearable Vintage Fashion
Although most of my reading these days is done on my trusty Kindle, I still have a penchant for illustrated coffee-table type books, particularly those about clothes. It's hard/dull to read about fashion without colour images - as good as Amazon's e-ink technology likes to think it is.  So, presenting my latest purchase, Wearable Vintage Fashion by Jo Waterhouse and Clare Bridge (owners of a vintage clothes shop Second Hand Rose), just out in the UK.

What attracted me to this book?  Its blurb promises it is an 'insider's guide' to 'recreat[ing] the looks of each decade in a new and fun format.'  Particularly, it makes it quite clear that the book is packed with illustrations - and as such the promise is of something enjoyable to dip in and out of while hopefully learning about past fashions.

On the whole, I'm happy that the book is what I wanted it to be. My favourite aspect of the book is the different 'Look Book' sections which tackle everyday looks such as 'Eveningwear' or 'Daywear' and offer double-page spreads of beautiful vintage (and a few reproduction) pieces. These give a really good idea of styles, materials and colours across the decades.

Split into decades starting from the 1920s, up to the 1980s, each section starts with an introduction and then a couple of pages of broader description of typical styles of clothes from the period, like this one for 70s maxi dresses.

I also like the 'Get the Look' sections that feature old photographs as inspiration for creating similar outfits and to describe more about the styles from the era, however some of the photographs could have been blown up a bit larger to make the most of them.

The only thing I'm not so sure about are the 'Icons' spreads, where the authors use a 'fashion icon' who represents a particular look from the decade and tell you how to dress in the same way.  These parts are informative on how to exactly recreate the looks, but I'm not sure about the choices for the icons!  For example, this one for the 40s, Carmen Miranda. Do many people want to look like this, unless for a fancy-dress party..? This is perhaps the intention, but I'd have personally preferred something more realistic from a 'wearable' fashion book.

It's also worth noting that the photographs of the models in these sections aren't as high quality as the images of the clothes - although this might not bother those who don't work in publishing like me!

The second part of the book is dedicated to 'Vintage Street Fashion' and features lots of images of people today, often bloggers, who incorporate elements of vintage looks into their own styles.  This ranges from those who fully immerse themselves in period dress to those who mix vintage with modern.  I think it's a nice touch to make the book more personal and I enjoyed reading about how other people 'do it,' but again the image quality is quite inconsistent so you'll need to overlook this!  I was pleased to see my favourite blogger has a whole double-page to herself.

Wearable Vintage Fashion will be in prime position on my bedside table for a little while yet - I'll definitely return to it, particularly to gaze at those stunning 'Look Book' spreads.

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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Vintage style: beautiful dresses on a budget

It finally happened, after years of waiting and appearing in public in dubious outfits, ranging from Madonna to Medusa (complete with plastic snakes), someone I know had a 50s themed party.

The best part of this event for me I'm sorry to say was probably the opportunity it presented to both search for and then wear a delightful new dress.  My hunt this time turned up a couple of websites I hadn't come across before, selling their frocky wares for bargain prices.  I realise you're paying for different levels of quality and cut, but sometimes if I'm only going to be wearing a dress a few times for a summer or two, I can't justify a big spend on this publishing salary.  Of course, if I needed a dress for a wedding or work event, that throws an entirely different light on the matter.

So, this is my very own splurge or steal guide to typical vintage dress styles!  It's worth noting that these are all reproduction/new and therefore more widely available than vintage finds.

40's shirt dress

STEAL - LAFrock 40's shirt dress, £54.99
SPLURGE - Tara Starlet utility dress, £75

40's hawaiian sarong dress

STEAL - Collectif sarong dress hibiscus, £50
SPLURGE - Tara Starlet haiwaiian sarong dress, £75

50's plain halterneck wiggle dress

STEAL - Sirens & Starlets fitted wiggle dress, £24.99
SPLURGE - 20th Century Foxy 1950s wiggle dress, £110

50's floral halterneck circle dress

STEAL - Sirens & Starlets Hell Bunny swing dress, £42.50
SPLURGE - Vivien of Holloway 50s halterneck floral dress, £79

50's satin halterneck wiggle dress

STEAL - Sirens & Starlets 50s pencil party dress, £29.99
SPLURGE - Vintage Allure Marilyn dress, £69

60's peter pan collar a-line dress

STEAL - Retro Vixens Dolly black dress, £54.97
SPLURGE - Atom Retro Sabrina dolly dress, £69.99

Happy shopping!

PS If you're wondering what dress I went for, it was the Sirens & Starlets halterneck wiggle dress in polka dot for a bargainous £24.99...

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Sunday, 15 April 2012

How to: Playing tailor

I am a classic pear. (damn my baby-bearing hips)

My hips are massively disproportionate to my waist and it makes my love for playsuits an unrequited one. Every time I go shopping I pick up a lovely dress only to find it's not a dress, it's joined at the crotch and my dreams of summer style are dashed. 

One day, I'll have a tiny toosch like these 6ft, size 4 models and then I can rock one these little beauties...

Urban Outfitters
Mara Hoffman

Until then, I decided I need to get creative and work with the skills (and bum) that I've got.

I finally gave in and bought my first playsuit from Topshop today and decided to attempt to turn it into a dress, and I succeeded! So I thought I 'd share it with you, step by step... 

You can buy the original online, here.

First of all, you need to unpick the culotte section, so your playsuit end up looking a bit like a nappy...

Luckily, my playsuit had a geometric pattern, which made it easy to line up the material so that it was symmetrical and I knew it was in the right place to create a skirt.

Next, pin the material in place and iron it so that it stays where you want it. Trim off any excess material.

I cheated and used wonder-web to stick the material into place (you can get wonder-web from most craft shops or haberdashery departments in the bigger stores like John Lewis or Liberty - you just cut enough to cover the edges of the fabric, place it between the two pieces of material and iron it down to stick it in place. As it gets hot, it gets sticky and acts like a glue) 

I then finished it off by sewing the edges together by hand - I'll need to go over it again with the sewing machine in order to ensure it won't fall apart in the wash. But that's pretty much it - easy peasy!

Et voila!

Love from a happy little pear.
Marie x

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Monday, 9 April 2012

Bake: Drizzly Bank Holiday Monday

Today was a pretty drizzly bank holiday Monday, so I made lemon drizzle cake - geddit?!

This is a recipe from a book my nan gave me - 'Grandma's Best Recipes'. And it is yum, yum, YUM.

To make this yourself, here's what you will need:
  • Greaseproof paper, or butter for greasing
  • 200g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 150ml soured cream
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 150ml sunflower oil
For the syrup:
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

1. First of all, put on your baking soundtrack, or borrow mine...

2. Next, pre-heat the oven to 180*c/350*f/Gas Mark 4 and grease or line an 8inch loose bottomed round baking tin. (I don't have one of these so I used a loose bottomed brownie dish... which did result in my cake being a little bit flatter than it's meant to be).

3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and then stir in the sugar.

4. In a separate bowl, whist the eggs, soured cream, lemon rind, lemon juice and oil together.

5. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well until evenly combined.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 45 - 60 minutes, until risen and golden brown.

We're not finished yet! So put on another song...

7. Next, you need to make the syrup, and try to avoid eating it all (the biggest challenge). Mix the icing sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and stir over a low heat until it starts to bubble and turn syrupy and translucent.

8. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick holes all over the top of the sponge and brush the syrup into the cake whilst it's still in the tin. Leave the cake to cool in the tin to allow time for the sponge to absorb the syrup.

Ok, now you can sit down and wait for the cake to cool before devouring it all in one sitting. Yummy.

Enjoy! Marie x

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Make-up: Rockalily Hot Rod Red lipstick

Like thousands of others, I have spent years looking for my perfect red lipstick.  Some women might claim that there isn't a red out there that suits them and I was inclined to believe this at the start of my search, but now I think you just need to understand that if you pick the wrong one it's going to look hideous and probably put you off for life.  If at first you don't succeed...

To achieve a 'vintage' look you ideally want a matte lipstick, which rules a lot of brands etc out immediately.  Mac probably has the series of matte reds that are most beloved by those trying to achieve retro makeup looks, but not only are these lipsticks incredibly drying, the two best-loved, Russian Red and Ruby Woo, look damn awful on those of us with warm/olive undertones (I'll prove this another time!)

I came across Rockalily lipsticks while reading another blog.  It's owned by ReeRee Rockette, who started up and ran this independent lipstick brand - truly inspirational. Unfortunately for me and many other devotees out there, ReeRee has recently decided to shut her cosmetic business down to focus on setting up a hair salon.  Within hours of announcing this she'd sold out all of her shades apart from one as she was besieged by panic buyers (I'll admit I was among them), but my personal favourite Hot Rod Red remains at the time of writing this today in stock.

Hot Rod Red - Rockalily

Why is this red not as popular as the others in her range? Probably because the website states this suits 'olive skins and darker skins beautifully' - being a UK-based brand, there are probably many pale customers of ReeRee's that wrote it off immediately.

Now, I am almost as pale as it gets.  But the blue-based reds that are favourites of most other girls just don't work on me - I don't have any rosy pink undertones to my skin at all.  In photos with true English Roses I look decidedly yellow-tinged (this may be because of Indian relations on my mum's side.)

Left - Hot Rod Red, Right - So Chaud (Mac)

Hot Rod Red is orange-based, but it is not an orange red.  The above picture shows it next to a red I do think you'd call an orange red, So Chaud by Mac.  You can see the Rockalily lipstick is more pink than orange.  Both lipsticks suit me but look very different on.

Hot Rod Red in natural light

So, why should you buy?

  • A great true red for warm-toned skins, pale or dark
  • Non-drying formula
  • Strong pigment - using a little works well as a good stain
  • Good staying power
  • No nasty taste or smell
  • You support an independent company by buying one
  • Transfers easily (although still remains on your lips somehow!)
  • Not as matte as other matte lipsticks
  • Slightly pricey at £14
  • Limited stock left

I'd definitely recommend anyone who's struggled with other reds to give it a go - it's worth noting that most reds you find in standard lipstick ranges in the UK tend to be blue-based.

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