Sunday, 28 June 2015

Outfit: sunhat sophistication

So, I'm back from Marseille - it was amazing. The weather was perfect, we did exactly what we wanted all week (largely picnics; we love picnics) and we got lots of nice pictures of outfits. However, before I sit down to edit these and other holiday snaps, it occurs to me that I still haven't posted these photos... Remember how I went on holiday to Valencia last year? No, me neither, it was that long ago. I did though, way back last year and I even got one outfit post up somewhat soon after. And then there's this one... 

Ironically, I've been itching to put up this one for months because it's one of my favourite outfits I've ever posted here - possibly that I've ever worn. It just made me feel like a goddess - probably due to the combination of the big floppy hat, the heels, the off shoulder top and wiggle skirt... I wasn't the only one who loved it, B was a huge fan - he even took unprovoked selfies of us this day, rather than me insisting on them every five minutes to keep my Instagram updated (heh). 

The reason I've been sitting on them is because I have a thing against posting weather-inappropriate outfits. Which is really, especially ridiculous as I live in the UK and two days in a row can feel like they belong to different seasons (like yesterday: sunny and warm; today: cold and raining). Somehow, regardless of this undeniable fact, I still can't bring myself to post a summery outfit in autumn, despite the fact I happily read blogs from ladies around the world and have no problem seeing winter clothes in summer myself (go figure). Anyway, it's late June now and I feel if I keep waiting for the UK's sun that never comes, it'll be a whole other year before any of my summery outfits appear here (supposedly we're getting a heatwave in a few days, mind you) - so, as I'm fresh from the memory of what warm weather feels like...

I really hope you all love it as much as I do - the suspense has been killing me!

Floppy sunhat, bardot top, polka dot pencil skirt

Black and white floppy sunhat and bardot top

Floppy sunhat, bardot top, polka dot pencil skirt

Black and white floppy sunhat and bardot top

Floppy sunhat, bardot top, polka dot pencil skirt

Black frame bag and polka dot pencil skirt

Black and white floppy sunhat and bardot top

Floppy sunhat, bardot top, polka dot pencil skirt
Hat: Oasis (via ASOS - similar)
Top: ASOS (colours still available)
Skirt: Collectif (old)
Belt: Marks & Spencer (similar)
Bag: Primark (similar)
Shoes: Clarks (last year's)

Now come on, English heatwave...

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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

My top 5 vintage style life hacks

If all has gone to plan, I am currently sunning myself in the south of France and this has posted in my absence... I was too impatient to wait to share this one!

Over the years, I've come to accept that wanting to look the way I do often throws up the same handful of tiny, but nonetheless irritating problems, such as 'Oh, I've drawn my eyeliner wing at an 80 degree angle on one eye, but a 30 degree on the other, making me look like a Picasso' or 'Ah, I've once again created 'scraggly birds nest' and not 'Veronica Lake' with my curling tongs'. I've come to realise that I'm probably sharing the same frustrations about things just not looking right with many others and while I think there's probably enough eyeliner and curling tong tutorials in the world out there (that I'm clearly ignoring), I have picked up a few other tricks that I thought might be worth sharing, particularly when dressing vintage. 

So here's some of my favourite vintage style life hacks! Note I hate that term ('hack' is such an ugly word and what does 'life hack' even mean?), but nothing else seemed as appropriate...

Tame a wayward waist belt with a hair band

Tuck the end of a waist belt with a clear hair band

Everyone wants an hourglass shape - but I often think none more so than those of us trying to emulate 50s styles. Key to this outline of perfection can be a trusty waist belt, but sometimes they're not so much trusty, as downright pesky. Particularly if they're of the hip-or-waist belt variety that a lot of high street shops are trying to convince us are a good idea now. They would be if it wasn't for the fact if you put something on a tight hole you end up with a lot of belt on the other end of your buckle. And if you don't have a loop, it's a lot of belt flapping around and generally looking all untidy and ruining everything. There's a simple and cheap solution - buy a bag of clear plastic hairbands ('snaggies') and use them as a makeshift beltloop. Believe me, taping the underside doesn't work - it peels right off. But these - these work. From a distance I would bet no one even notices it...

Waist belt with hair band loop

Keep your shoes (and hair!) on with doctored half heel inserts

Trimming a leather heel insert to help keep shoes on

A little while back, I posted about my annoying feet that slip out of all shoes over on Amber's Shoeperwoman blog. While my feet are especially narrow, I know even those of us with less troublesome tootsies can have this issue too, particularly if you're wearing a lot of court shoes or ballet pumps, as us vintage-loving girls often do. I mentioned this idea of cutting up a heel insert in that post and the commenters reacted like it was the best thing they'd ever heard, so here goes nothing... You know those leather inserts that are really sticky and everything, but they've got an awkward ridge that just pushes your foot further into a shoe so your heel has even more chance of falling out? Cut them above the ridge (make sure the paper is still on or it will be too sticky and your scissors will get stuck), so the ridge is at the top of the insert and therefore the heel of your shoe when you stick it in. You'll hopefully find there's now something raised trying to stop your foot slipping out (just make sure you leave the insert to set as the pack directs). Combine this with half sole inserts and you might find that pair of shoes just about stays on.

Trimmed leather heel inserts to help shoes stay on

Curl your ponytail the easy way

How to curl your ponytail with hot rollers

I've already mentioned I am useless with curling tongs; I frazzle the ends of my hair and can't seem to create uniform curls no matter what I do. I'm also baffled by pin curling, sponge rollers or anything else that requires patience and overnight setting. It's probably partly because I have very long hair which isn't very well suited to these things as it never. dries. This is a conundrum, as I love the look of a cute, curly ponytail. Eventually, a tool in my beauty arsenal presented a solution - hot rollers! And the trick is to curl the pony once it's already in place, so you've got a nice smooth base on your head and the curl is all in the tail where it's easier to control. It's taken me a few goes to get the hang of placing the rollers to get the curl I want, but essentially I roll them in roughly horizontally as per the above, tending to use medium curlers on long strands of hair and big ones on anything that's shorter (because of layers or where it just happens inexplicably). I avoid the small ones as they give too much curl for this really. You can whack them in in 5 mins, leave them to set for 20, take them out then brush the curls together and voila! A curly ponytail. Tuck any loose bits underneath the pony, spray in place and you're done. This is so much easier than trying to tong hair that's all sitting on the back of your head!

50s ponytail curled with hot rollers

Smooth out a wobbly waistline with a long cincher

Smooth your waistline with Rago Waist Cincher 21

This tip is especially useful if you wear wiggle styles, separates with fitted waistbands and/or strapless bras with excruciatingly tight bands as per the above example. Unless you're in the gym most days or are naturally tiny-waisted, chances are that clinging anything to your waist might make you feel self conscious of it not being defined as it could be or the fact it's attractively spilling over a waistband. I'm a size UK 8-10, which is by most people's standards pretty slim, and yet I get a sizeable muffin top as I'm demonstrating here (ugh, can't believe the internet is seeing that!). Step up the most glorious piece of shapewear to ever come into my life: the Rago (Waist Cincher 21). I've tried a lot of shapewear to combat this problem and this is so far the only thing I'd rate. They key to its success for me: 1) it's not too severely tight and uncomfortable, as it will shrink your waist by 1-2 inches max 2) it finishes roughly where your bra band is, skimming over all of the bits where we have excess flesh meaning nothing can spill over the top and 3) it doesn't move. So the result is a more defined waist, no overspill and a smooth outline that looks great in vintage styles (even with the strapless bra doing its best to push everything south). Added bonus: removable suspenders.

Waist with Rago Waist Cincher 21 on

Get a vintage hair roll in a minute

Create a quick faux victory roll

This is slightly cheating as I've already posted a whole tutorial on this, but it's still one of the quickest, easiest things I do that adds a vintage touch to my look without the lengthy faff of victory rolls. It honestly now takes me about a minute to do this. It can also be adapted to create two rolls on either side of your head, using the same basic principles of minimal back combing for hold and shape, then twisting and pinning into position. So please go watch it - if only to validate the hours it took to put it together ;)

An easy faux victory roll

So there you have it, some of my favourite style tricks, which while simple, have in some cases saved hours of my life or the life of clothes that would otherwise have ended up in the bin!

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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Outfit: gloriously girly (+ video)

This year I've had a bit of a floral awakening. Can you believe that before 2015 I only owned one item of floral print - itself purchased only the year before? It's weird, I'm probably the most ridiculously girly person I know in my dress-sense and yet I somehow still felt that flowery prints were too girly for me. If they're too girly for me, who on earth can wear them?! I've always had a slight thing about going 'too far' in how I look though and I guess I feel like my hair + my make-up + me generally + florals = obscene levels of girliness.

And, let's be honest, they do! But what I've now realised is... who cares? What's wrong with being a total girl about clothes and how I look once in a while? Thus, the girliest outfit you might ever see was born and paraded at a sunny picnic. Where I was definitely given some (many) funny looks, probably because I was prancing around in a summer dress and heeled clogs when everyone else was in running or rambling gear... However, one woman passing by with some of her friends yelled over 'You look beautiful!' and even if she was being sarcastic (I've no idea, you tend to think the worst when you're being yelled at), I don't care. I'll take that because I did feel beautiful with my inner girly girl on full display.

Voodoo Vixen Fauna floral dress

Voodoo Vixen Fauna floral dress

Voodoo Vixen Fauna floral dress

Voodoo Vixen Fauna floral dress

Voodoo Vixen Fauna floral dress

Voodoo Vixen Fauna floral dress

Voodoo Vixen Fauna floral dress

Voodoo Vixen Fauna floral dress

Voodoo Vixen Fauna floral dress
Hair flower: Accessorize (old)
Bag: Primark (in stores now)
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens (similar)

If anyone likes this dress enough to buy it, it's worth mentioning I shortened the straps by about an inch - they were a bit too long for my petite frame. The sizing is pretty true to the size guide, but my short torso meant the waistline didn't sit quite right - in some of the photos the shirring (yay, shirring) is a bit bunched up. Also, the website mentions there's 'covered buttons' on the dress - if there are, they are very sneaky invisible ones! 

Onto the video... So, not only was I prancing around in this dress in front of B and the camera, as usual, he also had the camcorder simultaneously trained on me to get some footage of what it looks like when I'm posing for one of these shoots (believe it or not, one of you lot asked me to show this!). And now I know: a little bit silly with lots of head movement. Also, I have spent a lot of time blaming B for taking photos at the exact moment I blink - I mean, how inconsiderate! But now I've seen for myself that sometimes I'm blinking more than once a second. Huh. Who knew. Sorry B.

And this feels like a wonderfully summery post to end on before I go away in a couple of days to the south of France - can't wait to wear the rest of the summer clothes I've been stockpiling at long last! If I have wifi in my apartment I'll stay in touch, but if not, I'll see you all on the other side...

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Thursday, 11 June 2015

Makeup: Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red

Oh, I do love a Nars product. As do many of my readers I suspect, as my review posts for these products always seem to be well-read. This may be, however, because these products are high end and the commitment to buying one takes a bit more consideration and, dare I say it, research, than your average under-a-fiver beauty buy. I know that when I hear about a new high-end product I want to try, I get on Google's image search and look at every picture of every person alive who's ever worn it before me like some kind of creepy makeup stalker... However, you definitely end up more confused than when you started and my caveat for all of these reviews is you're never going to know what it looks like on you until you try, but at least I can tell you if the texture's rubbish ;)

So, another day, another red lipstick review. I hope I'm not boring my regular readers to tears with what must be the 50th one of these, but I just can't convince myself I have enough red lipsticks in my life yet (surely nearly 20 isn't enough?). You'd be forgiven for thinking I just really enjoy taking pictures of my face... But actually, taking photos for these posts is one of my least favourite things, but what's the use in a make-up review if you can't see what the person's talking about? So I'm afraid we're all stuck with my face until I think of a better way to demonstrate this...

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red review

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red review

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Mysterious Red review

The colour above is fairly accurate, but I'd say it looks a touch darker in real life. It's more on the deep crimson side than the bright red. It also definitely has a cooler tone to it than a lot of my reds.

I really love these Nars pencils and I do recommend anyone who can try them to give one a go, even if not this particular colour, and here's some of the reasons why...

  • The most beautiful matte texture that is nowhere near as drying as the likes of Mac - these pencils probably have my favourite matte finish out of every lip product that I own
  • Easy to apply precisely as it's a pencil - I can't overstate this; I hate faffing with lip brushes!
  • I can get away without needing lip liner because of the two above points; this hugely pleases me
  • Stunning colour I haven't found reproduced in other products (yet!) - all of the pencils I have fit this description, in fact
  • Fairly long staying power (but will need touch up after meals)
  • Expensive! This is the biggest downside by a long way
  • As with any pencil, there's product waste when you sharpen, particularly if you don't use Nars' official sharpener (ain't nobody got money for that)
  • This particular shade is limited edition (although still on sale everywhere from what I can see), so there's a risk in getting too attached to it (but then, isn't there with any cosmetic product? The shampoo I've been using daily since I was 18 has just been discontinued! I'm not over it.)
  • There's no real way to wear it 'toned down' it's full, bright, high impact colour or nothing... I mean, that's what I bought it for, but don't buy it if you want to use it as a stain too

Next in this series is probably going to be Besame's Red Hot Red lipstick... I'm nowhere near done with these reviews! As amazing as this will probably sound, while I have several reds I really love (at least three of them are Nars in fact), none of them are my holy grail classic red yet. They lean too orange, blue, dark, light... Maybe such a thing doesn't exist? Has anyone else found THE red for them?

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Sunday, 7 June 2015

Outfit: (neon!) mint green, leopard and my future dog brooch

So, here I was, all set to grumble about the weather again and actually, it's sort of looking up for us now! We've had crazy storms, but we've also had sunshine, hooray! However, on the day these photos were taken spring was very much still in self-denial about its arrival, hence my hair has been blown out of order and I was pretty darn cold. The blogger life...

Now that my excuses are out of the way, I should also explain that this is another one of those instances where I've got my hands on something I thought would go with everything, but in fact, never seems to quite work with anything (remember that darn cherry cardigan?). Let me introduce you to my first and only Esrtwilder brooch, which is perfect for me, as it is a brooch of my future dog. Unfortunately, said brooch is a colour that doesn't seem to go with the rest of my wardrobe, despite being neutral. I eventually realised it would go with leopard print and this outfit came into being, with the help of the second thing in this post that hasn't got anywhere near as much wear as I thought it would: the mint green skirt.

If it had actually been a nice pastel mint green it probably would be making an outing every week. But it's not, it's somehow - and I feel like ASOS have created a colour here - neon mint green. It's not coming across as bright in these photos as it is in real life, but that's probably because I've turned the exposure down a bit, so as not to blind you all. Ok that isn't quite true, but the colours have been slightly altered as my camera settings were a bit off, and the result is it's toned the skirt down. Don't let the photos fool you; it's bright. And because it's so big as well as bold, every time I wear it it tries to wear me. Anyway, I'm going to have to keep attempting to pair it with things until combinations work that I wasn't anticipating, but it definitely looks wrong with the things I bought it to wear it with, so that's just great. Part of me wonders that if I get it taken up a little it might not be quite so swamping, but I resent having to do that as it's from a darn petite range!

Anyway, at least the frustrating brooch and skirt found each other. And to not end this on an entirely negative note, my beret matches my shoes. This makes me very happy. As does the fact that berets are hopefully off the menu for a few months, much as I love them. I love the sun more!

Mint green circle skirt, leopard print accessories and an Erstwilder dog brooch

Mint green circle skirt, leopard print accessories and an Erstwilder dog brooch

Mint green circle skirt, leopard print accessories and an Erstwilder dog brooch

Erstwilder Goldie dog brooch

Leopard print beret

Mint green circle skirt, leopard print accessories and an Erstwilder dog brooch

Mint green circle skirt, leopard print accessories and an Erstwilder dog brooch

Mint green circle skirt, leopard print accessories and an Erstwilder dog brooch
Beret: John Lewis (similar)
Top: Topshop (similar)
Brooch: Erstwilder 'Goldie' (old range, but on sale here)
Belt: Marks & Spencer (similar)
Skirt: ASOS Petite (similar)
Shoes: Miss Selfridge (similar)

And this is my future dog, just so you know - the real life Goldie (sorry to bore anyone who follows my Instagram with this photo again - although, actually, sorrynotsorry). He is, of course, well trained to look cute in vintage cars.

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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Dressing for the temperamental weather + the pretty Peak District

So, I don't know if you've heard, but after months of crappy weather we've decided to make things simpler in the UK by having just the one season: eternal winter. Now that I no longer expect summer, I finally know how to dress in the morning and I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact I'll never see the sun again... As much as I'm exaggerating (I hope!), I do believe life would be better and warmer if I wasn't dressing optimistically/hopefully every day. To make matters worse, the weather and my bank account have hugely fallen out - insistent as my account is to just keep throwing away money on cute little summer tops I'll NEVER get to wear. I do have a week away to look forward to admittedly, but I've actually now got more new summer tops than I have days of holiday to wear them (I'm sure your hearts bleed for me).

60s style in the Peak District

Anyway, these first world problems aside, the little video in this post summarises the British experience of weather quite nicely. It was the first day of spring and in the morning, I was wearing gingham, pastels and peep toes (remember this outfit?). After 20 minutes of taking photos and the subsequent reality check, that was the end of that - out came the boots and faux fur collar coat (which are still on the scene in June, dammit!). So yes, this footage is from the same day, but at the start I was trying to convince myself that as it was technically spring, I could wear spring clothes (nope). The good news is that if you're here for my outfits you're getting two for the price of one - and whether you're in the Northern or the Southern Hemisphere there's something for everyone. You're welcome.

Bridge in the Peak District

It's not all about me either - if you like pretty British countryside and cute towns this is the video for you! The Peak District was stunning and a great place to spend B's birthday. I always imagine (hope) when people who don't live here think of the UK this is what they picture... Rather than London, anyway. London has its merits, but you're not going to see many acres of wonderful nature there. (Though you might see squirrels that steal people's lunch - I'm not joking.)

You'll notice I'm not just moving around awkwardly, painfully aware of being filmed this time - well, there's still some (a lot) of that, of course, but I'm also kind of interacting. I was trying! However, when B and I play this back we both laugh at the bit where I'm hiding my face and shaking my head. This may look cutesy and staged for camera, but don't be fooled - we've cut out about 107 instances of head shaking and hiding from the previous few videos so far. It's literally the only thing I'm a natural at on camera. Truth be told, there just wouldn't be videos on this blog if it wasn't for B wanting to flex his Super 8 faking skills (and isn't he doing well now? So authentic!).

60s style hair

When I was little there were two jobs I knew I would never do because I hate performing - actress, obviously, and teacher, as I couldn't bear the thought of having to speak in assemblies in front of a room full of 100+ children (which while influenced by my daily school experience and not knowing what many jobs were at that point, I stand by as children are the harshest critics!). I'm just not someone who likes being watched and it's taken three years to come to terms with taking photos for this blog, now I'm trying to get my head around being filmed. Maybe in another three I'll nail the video thing ;) Meanwhile, if anyone has any tips on being a video star, I'm all ears!

And on a final note, I kinda went 60s with my hair, boots and coat combo and I think I like the shape on me. Maybe one to try again soon?

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