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the curse of the body-con dress

A few years ago people didn't wear body-con or bandage dresses to clubs. There just wasn't the trend for simple or patterned pieces of stretchy cotton, or the more advanced versions with embellishments and cut outs. The high street just didn't sell the skirts or dresses. Now check out any high street store and they have every sort of stretchy piece you could wish for, from stripes to florals to abstract patterns. And go to a club and the majority of girls are in body-con with cute tights or worn with bare legs. I think we've reached the point of no return, like skinny jeans, where you can't imagine it ever going out of style since you realised they're the most flattering thing ever.

My forays in body-con started when I was an innocent fresher and I bought the American Apparel U-Neck Dress in purple, as shown here in my Uni halls in 2008, and woah did it change my wardrobe forever! Maybe before I actually was, but I'd always considered myself to be a boyish shape as I was skinny and had a very small bust. I couldn't see past this but in a body-con dress somehow I found I was very hourglass with enough junk in the trunk for people to come up and tell me all the time and hey, still the small boobs. I realised that the American Apparel models always have this figure and found the cut of their dresses, from the neckline to the sleeve length to the total length, were perfect for me! So I got a black one too and soon the long sleeved black version and then original pink version, and I wear them constantly!

During a debate in a global economy class last week, a German girl was arguing her point and said, "Take American Apparel, they say they're ethical but their clothes are such terrible quality," and I was like I've had dresses from there that have lasted over two years and are still in great condition, and she said, "Well you must not know anything about quality then." I did think wow, no need to be mean and personal, but I mostly felt quite defensive of my body-con saviors. I've tried other shops since and own a number of other body-con numbers, for example the Motel Matilda leopard dress above that I originally got on ASOS. I always end up buying a new body-con dress when I feel in the need of a new night-out outfit, but they never make the grade and my AA dresses stay in heavy rotation. Motel would be second in my preferable BC (body-con!) brands as I've got another one of the 3/4 sleeved dresses with white roses, and they're much more forgiving! I certainly don't want a Don't Show-cha Your Chocha moment so I'll always be wearing tights with them; in fact most of the photos I took before I went out on Thursday night made the dress seem much shorter than it is, so apologies that this one is slightly blurry! I also wore Topshop bow print tights. I can never buy BC dresses from Topshop though because they just don't fit! The Topshop 'girl' seems to have a fuller bust and less hips and ass than me so I don't buy from there very often at all. H&M's versions aren't small enough in the waist and the necklines aren't cut as rounded as the AA version.

The thing is though now, I can't not wear a body-con dress out. Sometimes when I don't fancy wearing something that shows my body that much, I'll change it up and wear my tiny blue I'm Your Present playsuit, but even then that's very short!  But I'm under the curse of body-con now, and I wonder if other girls feel the same? It feels like there's no point in wearing any other style of dress as I don't look nice. When you go on a night out, it's a chance to go all out and you want to leave the house looking your optimum and leaving no stone unturned. If I forget perfume or don't have time to put on false lashes it really bugs me, like the night is not as good as it could have been. When I feel good about myself, I'm much more comfortable, so have a much better time. If I don't wear a body-con dress that is a good cut for me, I feel I'm not doing myself any justice. In a sea of hundreds of girls at the club, I'm not showing my best assets or looking nice at all. Me going out in a flared skirt is almost like me going out in a plunging top; there's no point! I wouldn't wear something that doesn't suit my body shape so should I wear something that doesn't accentuate it? I'm certainly not saying you must always flaunt yourself around as I wear whatever I like during the day whether it looks 'attractive' or not, but when I go out I want to look as fabulous and attractive as possible. I am single so that does partially come into it; I want to project my true self out there and by wearing a body-con dress I'm saying hello, this is me! If someone talks to me I feel they like the parts of myself that I like best, so I am more confident.

So body-con is really the only way I can accentuate my hourglass and I feel I'm tied to them because nothing else has the same effect! I used to wear seriously padded or gel bras to balance out my top half a bit but since putting on a bit more womanly weight than when I was 19, I've filled out a bit more so can throw away those bras! I'm also not saying I am Hotty McHot when I wear these dresses, in fact I've perfected the art of constantly breathing in; especially important when wearing a non-patterned dress of all one colour. BD dresses also tackle the annoyance of tops for me as I never find tops that suit me. My shoulders end up looking very broad if my waist looks smaller and I'm never excited about tops anyway; they always seem like an empty purchase that can be worn once and then not again for a few weeks. So if I feel my Facebook photos have a serious case of déjà vu after the 20th wear of an AA dress, I have the conundrum and confinement of only finding a body-con dress. I could try on a perfectly nice dress in a different style but despite being a nice dress, it wouldn't be nice on me. I wouldn't do it justice and it wouldn't do me justice. Frankly though, I'm wondering if I have to wear stretchy cotton for the rest of my life? And also will I ever find a more flattering dress for myself than the AA long sleeved dress?

I only ever wear my purple AA dress on certain occasions as it solicits many responses from random people on how I do have more junk in the trunk than most, and if a drink is splashed on it by others it's more noticeable because of the colour. I did wear it to a club in Birmingham when I was home but I was really tired that day after a night out in Warwick the night before and the one girl in the group I was going out with was wearing flats. She is my bestie and I don't like towering over her anyway so I wore flats, and it just wasn't the same. With a body-con dress you must go all out and heels make you stand taller and prouder, thus you look better and are more confident in your body that is quite exposed. My sister somehow got lucky with huge boobs that sadly aren't in my genes, and she likes a good body-con dress too (often mine!). But she doesn't like her legs as much and can wear a dress with a flared skirt that highlights her amazingly small waist and great bust, and she'll look fantastic and feel great. It's all about what aspect of yourself makes you most confident. I hope this post isn't taken in any other way than how I mean it, as I hope it's a positive thing if you flaunt your favourite parts of yourself and what you think are your best assets, be it great hair, legs, ass, or even smile, and forgetting your flaws or insecurities, be it hair, legs, ass, or even smile, haha! I could go on for even longer about the parts of myself that are terrible but it's much healthier to focus on things you do like. But I feel by now that I've found my own perfection that is the AA dresses, so I can never find anything better. I would gladly wear them forever more but after two years, it's getting a bit much. Am I stuck in a rut or lucky I've found something I like so much? I made this post because it seems SO many girls out there are turning to body-con dresses for their nights out and I'm wondering if they're under the curse too. Could you part from your body-con dresses?


alert the press

Phew, my computer is back up and running! Or for now at least. It was touch and go after a few days of hitting the library for as many hours as possible and then finding any way to pass the time in the evening. But I hope it lasts all week as I come home on Saturday! That's insanely scary and I don't know where to begin to organise and tie everything up, but it's OK, there's time! Also time for one last Gothenburg trip, even though the £20 per kg excess baggage charge is inevitable and also very, very scary.

Luckily there's been some parties and some nights out recently so I feel I've done everything this term that I might have missed. On Friday there was a Spanish party in the sauna, well specifically the common room next to the sauna. As I only have classes around once a week, most of the time I don't even need to get dressed! So when there's an actual party that everyone will be at, it's a chance to get dressed up. My kind of dressed up is to choose a youtube makeup look, pick some false lashes, pump up the hair, and wear something I couldn't wear in the day but don't necessarily want to wear to a club.

This dress has such a history! There's a huge vintage warehouse in Birmingham now owned by Cow Vintage but before it was just the 'yellow vintage shop' due to the ambiguous yellow sign. I don't remember how I heard about it but I was there on the opening day in my college lunch break. Among the naff 80's tea dresses and musky polyester (the stock has improved immensely by now), I found a red strapless boned prom-style dress with a bow at the waist and a shirred back, so it was the perfect fit. It had a very light tutu underneath so it wasn't overly huge but it went in at the waist and out over the hips, so it was perfect! I remember it was priced only £12 and I had £10 cash on me and a £2 prize on a scratch card haha, but the owner sold it me for £10. I folded the hem under a few inches in random places and secured it with some simple tack stitches so it was a bubble dress, and I wore it to absolutely every club I could get into with my fake/borrowed ID. I was 17!

This was in 2006, and I was just getting into fashion and was a big ebayer, and back then there wasn't the trend communication that there is now. No,w if I have the urge to try or buy something, guaranteed I'll find some kind of inspiration on a blog somewhere or be able to find references or examples of it. But back then if I wanted a certain style or trend, there were no fashion networking sites like Lookbook and no blogs that I knew of or any street style sites. So I had the idea that a dress of a crazy fabric would be really cool and started trying to make my own clothes. When you're on a pre-student budget, i.e. in UK college/school, you have to be extra thrifty and every buy must be significant, so I got some comic strip fabric on eBay from America and haphazardly made the top part of the bustier. I traced out the shape including the sides and tacked it onto the red dress by just wrapping it round and sewing it at the back, either side of the zip. Then I took a red buttoned sash belt from another dress and sewed the skirt onto it just by bunching up and overlapping the fabric as I went around. So the skirt part of this dress actually comes off! It was a thrifty way to keep wearing my favourite red dress that fit so perfectly and get a new outfit on a student budget; I think the fabric and postage was about £7 in total.

I remember one night my cousin, who had just started studying in Birmingham and was a total rocker/goth, invited me to a rock club, and I wanted to wear this dress but the hem kept falling down. The last time I'd worn it to a club it had basically fallen apart on the dance floor, and I even blogged about it! Oh my God, that was January 2007! That post is sooo old, just look at the mirror shot! In a drastic move, I just took some scissors to the bottom of the dress, and as you always do, I cut it shorter than I would have liked. Later I was really cut up about it because I felt I'd ruined a perfect vintage find by altering the length permanently and clumsily.  But that was so long ago, and I wore the modified dress to lots few places! I still go to the rock club so it's especially suited to there and always gets loads of comments. I remember wearing it with a chunky fake gold chain when nu rave came into fashion. I also wore it in my fresher's week in 2007 and then on one night out in 2008 on a whim. I remember after a few months of being at uni I felt my super long, ringletted hair was really brash and childish and the dress was just too bright and attention grabbing. I was a bit insecure and felt that I didn't look good enough to attract that attention, or that it just clashed with my equally attention grabbing and different hair. But that was a long time ago and in 2008 I wore it again when I started to style my hair like I do now, but it was much longer. I really want to grow my hair again this summer though! I've left those previous insecurities behind and actually my sister started wearing this dress for the past year. I also made one of bright purple fabric covered in rainbow numbers, it was so crazy! She started wearing that one too but ripped it at a club!

But when I came home for Christmas I nicked the dress back off my sister as I knew it would be perfect for the flat parties that happen here. I probably wouldn't wear it to a club now as I usually wear body-con dresses out and I feel a bit old for it now. But it's the kind of thing I'd wear on a whim, and Friday for the Spanish party was an opportune moment. I even accompanied it with rainbow eyes! I went down to the party with some people from my floor, and you know when someone will say 'oh... you're wearing ----...', but it's not actually a compliment, it's just a comment hiding their surprised or other reaction? Well the people were like 'oh... you're a comic...!' haha. But the red sash in the centre is quite tight now so I felt really pulled in at the waist and puffed out in the skirt, so I felt really cool! In the end the party was pitch black because the lights were off the entire time but it didn't matter. As usual everyone else was in normal day clothes anyway but I myself took great pleasure in wearing a piece that is quite historical to me, or at least my style. It's the only thing that I can say I made myself! I like even more that it's held together with safety pins and the hem is incredibly wavy and wonky because it signifies a time when I was just getting into fashion and really dressed truly to my own tastes and impulses, and I was so young and carefree, it was the best time!


let's play dress up

I couldn't help but notice that Aldo have a superbly cute campaign for spring 2010. Jessica Stam hasn't been around for ages, maybe because she apparently put on 5 pounds, shock horror! Maybe she discovered Ballerina biscuits?! Well of course she looks unbelievably stunning and her feline face lends so well to the kitschy pictures shot by Terry Richardson; or the guy with the glasses as I tend to remember!

By the way, as with all posts, this content isn't sponsored, I just really love the campaign! I also love/hate how at the beginning of spring you make all these plans of how you will dress during the summer. Sometimes this is great because, if you have a vision, you end up buying things you really love and impulsing. But as I found last summer, I just didn''t have enough cool places to wear my planned outfits! Things tend to fall into a super casual meet ups with friends or a night out, I never seem to have the inbetween daytime events that daily-outfit-photo bloggers flounce around in heels for. Then again it seems some girls wear 5 inches to the supermarket! This isn't really the norm around my little high street but in the summer I do get a lot wear out of vintage dresses. And I realised why I go off vintage in the winter; because a vintage dress is light and airy but I don't want to be snuggled into something that's thick with the second hand smell. Do you feel the same? Thankfully eBay is inundated with cute 60's, 70's and 80's summer dresses; Brits should utilise the US site!

  

But back to Jessica, these shots are totally things I want to wear for summer. There's nothing especially new but the hair is very cute and it's a reason why I don't wear accessories ever. I've tried but it's so weird to have something gangling around! The vibe here is uncluttered and carefree. I also like the way the polka dot cardigan is belted and put with little shorts and ankle socks. We all own a cardigan right?

This isn't even all the pictures! I've chose the most retro ones, but check out the video above for more and the Swedish Glamour magazine site for them all. The sandals worn with the ankle socks aren't really that mary-jane inspired, but maybe that's better because they're much more versatile? Although you do feel like you need some summery heels, but then when it's hot and sunny, I never want to clomp around in uncomfortable heels!

From excessive watching of The Hills (funny research for fashion job interviews, haha remember Stephanie's for People's Rev. in The Hills?), I'm a bit obsessed with bare legs for summer. I always wear sheer black patterned tights if I go on a night out, mostly heart or bow print at the moment. But I feel like you can wear even more makeup and have even bigger hair if you cut down your outfit, so just a dress and amazing shoes would be very cool. My go-to Topshop platform heels bit the dust a while ago and I only have the bright pink pair I randomly got from Dorothy Perkins, which aren't always practical. So while browsing the Aldo site I saw they'd made some trend sections and one was for nude shoes. Ah how great would fabulous makeup and big hair and a fierce but cute dress be with nude heels and bare legs? Hopefully would look totally cool but in a very effortless way, like you've just put on such a plain pair of heels but they're actually very cool. And I always read in magazines that nude heels are really flattering as they lengthen your legs.

The Aldo pairs are £70 each and seem quite high, but the shape is faultless. On a totally different wavelength, how about fabulous makeup, big hair, a fierce but cute dress, and some statement shoes? The Irregular Choice shoes on the right are on the  Schuh site right now but wouldn't the bows drag on the floor? If you had to remove them it would be such a shame! But I found the shoes on the left in the Irregular Choice webshop and they look hottt! The peep toes is a worry for incoming stilettos of other dancing girls but I love a chunky heel with a platform.

 

I just had to show you this pair I also found while browsing, hahaha! Imagine if you were on a bus or something and someone got on with these. Undoubtedly fabulous but I think these could be too much on the kooky side for me! I thought the white part of the wedge was cut-out at first!

 

P.S. OFFICIAL BLOGGING NOTICE:

Disaster struck on Saturday night when my laptop suddenly went to battery power so the power cable seems to have broken. Or at least I hope it's only the cable! Therefore I have no internet access, no way to call home, no way to do work, no way to listen to music or watch films/TV, nada! I'm utilising the school computers all day for school work but for the past few nights I've had literally nothing to do... nothing! Like I've got about three books here and one is a Swedish tour guide, I've reread all my magazines, and there's no more to buy despite them being about a fiver each too! I'm flying hope in under 2 weeks now so there's not long to wait. It's not the end of the world! Or at least that's what I'm trying to tell myself... now I've been sat at this library computer for four hours and must take a break, but I can't go all the way home and come all the way back again. But we must always look on the bright side, so at least this is a way I can check out all the cute Swedish students for the final time! The boys here have the best complexions and cheekbones. Have a nice week!


hubbly bubbly pink

Bit of a random post with a few outfits I snapped for no purpose at all! Remember that photo shoot I had to do a while ago and I was going to go all cute and kawaii? Well I finally got time in the studio and saw one of my flatmates at the bus stop and realised she has a veeery photogenic face, great for makeup! So now it's going kind of Pocahontas-y. I can't think of any native american style editorials in the past though ever so I'll have to improvise. This outfit was from a Mexican Party, literally the only party this term, that was so busy that when we got there you couldn't even get into the room. You just sort of had to stand behind the crowd in the doorway and slowly get emerged deeper into the room. It was OK but I knew it wouldn't be anything spesh as sometimes parties here are a bit of a popularity contest and students are really obsessed with really old indie songs like The Killers or White Stripes and it's a bit cringey! Also because alcohol can only be bought in one shop that closes at 2 on a Saturday, most people have little so will just try to drunkenly grab yours! So I wasn't really bothered about wearing anything exciting and made one of those choices where you lay out any random items that are OK and then pick some from there that go together. Hence I wore a New Look lace top with a H&M black skirt that are only £3,Claire's Accessories heart tights and Schuh velvet flats. And I had to wear fake eyelashes because heartbreakingly I must have lost my recent regular mascara, the pink Rimmel one that Lily Cole advertised, and then left my second Gosh go-to out of my plastic airport security sandwich bag when I got ready the morning of my last flight. So I only have a really old Bourjois one that has totally ran out and dried up and does basically nothing. I've been surviving on bright lipstick instead.

I would wear this Monki sweat shirt top forever but I fear people might judge me haha. My plan is to wear AS MANY ITEMS OF CLOTHING AS POSSIBLE to the airport when I leave in two weeks, as Ryan Air are so strict and I have a lot of stuff. This probably means as many pairs of sheer tights as possible all layered up with leggings over the top, heavy docs, all my thin tight skirts with tutu and flared skirts over the top, strappy tops, tshirts, jumpers, sweaters, hoodies and a coat and scarf. Once I get through security checks I'll strip off a few hundred layers and put them in hand luggage, yesss it's a plan stan. Would it be bad if I tied tights around my waist under my clothes? Or stuffed my sleeves with socks? Desperate times people!! Ooooh I could wear allll my accessories too! After all I probably weight a bit less than the average passenger so can afford to make it up with a couple more items. I really want one last shopping trip to Gothenburg but can't fit anymore stuff in my cases!

Hey ho for including all random outfit snaps as I don't even remember wearing this! I think it was one of the first days back and I'd done my hair how I used to when I slept with it all pin curled so it's extra curly. I'll wait until it's a bit longer to go back to that, I'm growing it this summer! I wore a random Miss Selfrigde boob tube dress thing that I bought a few hours before my birthday night out, a H&M crop tee, Henry Holland alphabet tights, and purple docs.

Now I must get back to finishing  a report, but I can say my working life has changed dramatically because of one little thing! I realised I can work and work throughout the day when it's light, but as soon as you make dinner and go back to your laptop when it's dark, it's reeeally hard to work! So I spend the morning and afternoon thinking 'Oh, I'll be done in an hour, and I'll just fill in that form I meant to and reply to that email,' and then the more you do, the faster you can stop and relax all evening, or in my case catch up on blogs. So next year in my final Manchester year I'm thinking of spending all day, every day in the library and then having evenings free, to limit insanity or all-nighters when an essay is due.

I'll probably have a little dramatic cry in the airport but I'm quite excited to go home and carry on with the rest of my life! And since I gave my brother my old bedroom and spent the past few years in the spare room, my Mom finallllly organised painting it and she sent me this pic and message yesterday...

>Well it's sugar mouse pink, sherbert pink soda pink and chewed up
> hubbly bubbly pink . I hope yr gonna like it and we need to shop for a
> nice vintage dressing table ! X

Ahh it looks like the perfect pink, you did good Mom!! OK back to the project from hell, only one week to go, must... carry... on...!


Mius, shoes, and substitute socks

 

A beautiful day in snowy Sweden!

Anyway, did you watch the live stream of the Miu Miu AW10 show? I held my breath after the first stumble but the cut-outs reign on! I posted my lustings over the SS10 collection last week and despite being a few weeks behind on my Google Reader, it seems the blogging world has developed an intense love too. An INTENSE love. Every time I see bits of the collection pop up here, there, and everywhere, I start to get a little crazy. The collection is scarily good. I might have found a happy substitute though, along the theme of yesterday's post... Thank you for all your thoughtful and interesting comments! Seems you only live once but should still have self restraint in your back pocket.

Lucky Alexa Chung tweeted 'Congrats Miu Miu, you've created the perfect shoe.' Not all of her followers agreed (are you blind?) but if Alexa can get hold of them, can I?

'The Miu Mix' has got to be one of the most stunning editorials of the season, and another reason to buy Abbey Lee's pink streaked cover of Australian Vogue March 2010. The model Samantha Harris is SO GORGEOUS. Those lips, those eyebrows, that skin! Check her out in the TV campaign on I Like Tweet, thanks for putting a name to a face Clare! Pics from tfs. I have no idea where to buy international Vogues now Borders has gone hmmmmm. Any ideas Brummies?

 

And then there's British Vogue's nod to pin up in their April issue, with the editorial 'Private Dancer'. Love the trendy side plait but without a parting, but not so inspired by the sequined granny pants; a bit last year? They feature some of the SS10 shoes though, and they look unbelievably good. The shoes attract me so much because they look sturdy. We know the Miu Mius I own will break if you tap them! But this time they look so chunky that you could navigate cobbles and stairs quite easily. Pics from Fashion Gone Rogue.

  

Today I finished a report at lunch and then paid rent in the bank and returned something to H&M. I popped into good old Gina Tricot and happened to spot these socks in the boxes in front of the tills. Oh my, oh wow, straight away I thought 'Miu Miu!!!!!'. If I can't get the shoes (heck, since when did I have £360 to spare!), I will pay some sort of homage to them on my feet anyway!

 

To return to the Luella debate, they're obviously inspired by Miu Miu but I think it's quite a nice idea to make the print into socks. They seem the perfect pair to wear with bare legs, sandal wedges, and vintage dresses in the summer without looking too twee. And I must add, I've been getting lots of emails throughout the year about buying Swedish things for people, and while I'd like to do that, it's impossible to get to the post office. It's a miles walk away up and down hills, through a forest and over a bridge, and with the snow and ice it would be even more impossible. Plus I have no idea of the postage and tracking system here. Sorry guys!

Also I've been meaning to say for days, I found myself on ASOS!! This photo must have been taken by the lady who said she was from Elle, maybe she changed clients, as I think this is the photo taken near the Hilton just before I got a cab up to Victoria House. I'm so pleased to find an actual full outfit photo from London Fashion Week!! The shoes are cut off but at least you can see everything else and it's obviously a good camera as I don't look this in tune usually. You know photos on the posher street style blogs always seem to capture people whose colours always seem to work together? Like the Sart always does closeups of colours and textures, and I always think wow, that person is so organised and pristine and must have spent ages picking out the perfect colour combinations. But really, it's just the camera!! And I was carry a mess of invites and maps until the lady held them during the photo haha. To think I saw this coat so many times during last term and only really considered buying it when it was in the sale. And now it's one of my favourites!


why all the frills?

 

I was tempted to title this post 'Why all the crap?' but it sounded quite crude! But it's been brought to my attention lately that this year I've really indulged in frivolous things. I'm starting to get really nervous about packing all my things up as I'm sure I'll be over the flight weight limit. Weight isn't even the worry, it's fitting everything into two suitcases! I'm not sure that's accomplishable right now and I won't be able to take home the mementos I've collected or any beauty products that could be re-bought. What a waste! But with each time I came back to Sweden, my tables and shelves got heavier.

If I compared my spending to last year, my second year in Manchester, I spent more on clothes from the high street, mainly from H&M or on bigger shopping trips, I went out more, ate out more, maybe bought a newspaper or magazine on the weekend, I went home often so bought presents and went on those nights out. Generally they were lifestyle spends. But this year things are different because there are price shifts. I feel bad every time I food shop because things are insanely expensive, so that feels like an overspend each time I eat! It was the same in the first term when I had to buy a hairdryer and pens and hairspray and found there was no choice, and what was on offer was really pricey. I spent £15 on hair serum once?! So I can narrow down my purchases to food, going to the one club maybe once a month now (almost every week last term), and then that one trip to Gothenburg I had this term. There's no worse feeling than when you have money worries and I'm determined not to fall into that, so I've been watching what I spend carefully this term and it struck me how most of my outside purchases have been on random, almost useless things. By these I mean cute things. If you've read here for a while, have you noticed this? An influx of cuteness in recent months?

 

This is slightly planned because a while ago I made a vow to have a better life. A better aesthetic life. I have gossip threads on Facebook with my friend abroad and at one point we joked that we'd just forget our life dramas and concentrate on achieving the perfect hairstyle. Have you seen sometimes on blogs there are 'what's in your bag' posts, and the blogger always has a cute little mirror and maybe a designer purse and a nicely patterned umbrella and a few choice, expensive items in a cute little makeup bag? Does it make you think of your bag with your three year old purse stuffed with receipts, a mangled bus pass lurking at the bottom, half a munched cereal bar, and maybe a Superdrug £3 umbrella a few spikes short of shelter? Well I know I thought of the latter! It felt like I always had a boring biro in lectures and made do with a Sainsbury's own body lotion. Boring!

 

So I made a little vow to start thinking about purchases more and investing in something more memorable. I found that if I ever plumped for a high street mascara, for example, that I'd always go back to the amazing designer one, even though it was £15 more and eyelashes are such a small part of yourself! Surely if you have nicer things, you look after them more and they last longer anyway? And also doesn't it make you feel that bit better when you buy a really cute revision notebook? Don't you feel that little bit more inclined to revise?

I've also developed a love of Tumblrs after finding out you can subscribe on Google Reader. There's a constant pop up of high quality, bright photographs of makeup, accessories, nails, or bedrooms that just fill you with the need to have sparkly, special things in your life. I've always almost prided myself on the fact that I love fashion but everything else I'm not really material about. I didn't need a cool phone or suitcase or bedroom. I gave my brother my old basement bedroom and spent last year in the brown and green spare room, but I'm returning now to a pink room, woohoo! I've been onto my Mom for ages to paint the room because it just seems life is better when you surround yourself with an excess of adorable things in a nice environment. But is it?

 

Last year I did develop a sudden love of everything pink and girly, but that was mainly clothes. Remember I bought girly shoes and pink trousers? And coming to Sweden was a real chance to nurture that. If I'd gone to a lecture in Manchester with 200 cool, young women, wearing heart print tights and a Hello Kitty hair clip, well, subconsciously I don't think I ever even would have! There's a pressure to look more sophisticated than that. But here there are people from all over the world and an absence of strong Western, or at least British, culture. I was entering a place, or an entirely different country, where no one knew me, so it was freedom to wear what I liked and be who I liked. Yes there were many English girls last term, but we were all from different places and studying different things too. I had all my Taiwanese friends too who were extra cute, so it was quite natural to embrace this side of my likes and be extra girly.

 

But I started to wonder if I'd just replaced my normal purchases that I would make in England, with anything cute available. For example, last week I had an awful lecture day which involved a 'factory' using lego bricks, where the class was in two teams and had to change up the logistics and supply chain to produce lego cars faster. Sure I get the message but at this age and stage in my education, I'd rather read about techniques in a journal or something! And people in my class were very, veeery enthusiastic and thirsty to win. I think I let my team down with my unenthusiastic attitude five hours into our game but really it was painful! So if I were in Manchester (not that we would do that at Manchester!), I probably would have hit the high street for a relaxing browse at all the new things (not necessarily buying) or maybe picked up something nice for dinner or a magazine. But on the bus home from class here in Sweden I thought argh hated today, hmmm do I need any food? And I realised how I had to use buying food as a possible treat to brighten up the day. Not necessarily to eat (although I have consumed a worrying amount of biscuits recently), but just to buy something. A purchase almost means a new things to enrich your life with, a new thing that belongs to you and you use for enjoyment or fulfillment or improvement. Some nice new food would mean something tasty and a fuller fridge so more options the next day and generally picking familiar brands and treats that were an out-of-the-ordinary purchase.

 

I think everyone uses food as treats, but if I wasn't buying food, here in Sweden I've cultivated a new comfort area. I've made my bedroom here, my one place in the whole country that's my own and safe and has access to my family and friends at home, into a cave of cute. Each time I went home I brought back more eyelashes and nail varnish with me, almost to make my life a little more colourful and glamourous over here. On my first few days of this term when I came back after the lovely Christmas holidays, I went to see what was new in the shops and bought a hair bow, kid's Hello Kitty hair clips, and some overly frilly knickers. I also went into the Make Up Store and bought a glitter eyeliner. There was absolutely no need for it because I own a perfectly good glitter liner from Urban Decay that I barely use, there are a million other products that I could have bought and had more use out of, I have an excess of makeup, and, also, I didn't even know if the glitter suited me and hadn't got a night out planned to wear it anyway!! But the glitter was so shimmery and lovely, just the right kind of hologram glitter that reflects a rainbow of colours, that I just bought it for about £14. £14 on glitter?

I walked out the shop and thought why the hell did I just buy that, but maybe it was the ultimate hit. A cute, glamourous little thing that wasn't scary and was guaranteed to make you feel prettier and your makeup collection look nicer. But I didn't need it, I could function and survive without it. Well, we only need water and air right? So maybe in Sweden all these cute things are just comfort. It's my way of showing there's fun and glamour in my life, as Sweden can be pretty calm and dull, or especially where I live can . I wanted to order some heart print tights from ASOS and ended up throwing in some sale lip glosses, a bath set, the heart bag from a few posts down, and some leopard print courts into the basket, although they sadly didn't fit (boo!). Collecting the package was quite distressing and the content possibly didn't cancel that out as I had to trek across snow and ice to a post office two miles away and then carry a typically huuuuge ASOS box all the way back, but ordering new, pink things all contributed to making my life a bit sweeter.

Then again, aren't we all after things like this? We buy nice things not because we need them, but because they make our lives that little bit better, or at least we feel they do for some time period. I mentioned before that in London I met a girl who was on the programme Snog, Marry, Avoid, and if you're not British, that's a programme that 'make-under's (instead of a make-over) girls who wear an insane, and sometimes disgusting, amount of makeup, fake lashes, fake hair, fake nails, and go out in thongs and bras. One girl wrapped a bit of black duct tape around her boobs as a top! Haha you can find it on Youtube. But my friend's housemate's friend who was on the show was a stripper (no judgment here) so she has a lot of money to spend on the finer things. Hats off to her, she had an insane saving account too, but her and her stripper friend had incredible LV and YSL clutches and amazing clothes and phones covered in Swarovski crystals. They'd almost perfected every part of their life, or at least their aesthetic life, and made everything that bit more fabulous. They were totally the inspiration when I covered my new phone in Paperchase stickers!

 

Does it make you seem more interesting if you own interesting things? For instance the international students on my floor say I wear 'party clothes' all the time. In fact the other day one girl said 'why are you wearing these clothes, they're so big!?!' I was like whaaat? Have all these biscuits made a difference?! But she said 'your clothes is sooo big, you should wear something to show your figure!'. She is Thai and maybe that's an example of the difference between manners in cultures as I would never pick out someone else's clothes, not that she meant it in a mean way at all, but she said it because I was wearing my oversized Monki dress, which I happen to love! But did it make it wrong that I wasn't all dressed up in my usual tights and flirty skirt combo? Was I a worse version of myself? That's also an example of why I'm getting a bit exasperated with not being able to get just some toast in peace without running into a nice Spaniard (while being makeup-less and having just woke up, eek!) or another exchange student picking out what you're cooking, what you're wearing, what time you woke up. I swear one Indonesian girl yesterday was like 'Oooh Selina, did you just wake up?? Or are you sick?? You look sick! Yes your eyes look sick, are you sick??'  in front of everyone, I was like argh, I just woke up, I just want to get a drink, can I do that without the third degree! Haha at 20 years old, I can't live in student accommodation anymore I swear!

 

But back to the topic at hand, does buying an excess of 'things' mean you have an underlying addiction or insecurity, or you just want to invest in better things? Maybe a casing point is when I was about to get the first flight to Germany when I came back to Sweden a couple of weeks ago after fashion week. I knew I had a long, boring and tiring day ahead, I really wasn't keen to come back to nothing but work and snow, and I was thinking about missing my friends and guys and I'd had a great week with my Mom and brothers. So is there a reason that I hit the Claire's Accessories concession in duty free and bought a Coca-Cola flavoured lip balm, some heart print leggings, Hello Kitty false nails, and a Hello Kitty bag destined to house my phone. One sort of practical purchase, the rest totally random.

Marie Antoinette had a fine life; was she just making up for her Queenly loneliness with pretty things? It's not a secret that this term in Sweden has been boring and uneventful, but just looking at my fake lashes and extensive Dazzle Dust collection reminds me that I have had fabulous times before and I do have plenty of friends and amazing nights out ahead.

 

So next year in Manchester when I return to finish my degree, will I continue buying hair bows and glitter? Or will I most likely be buying more sophisticated things for the 21 year old woman that I will be? Maybe all this cuteness just an aversion to a static environment or mood. Do you buy cute things? And is it because you want a cute life or your life is cute?

 


rip my heart out

Moral dilemmas all over the place here! First on the agenda are heart cut-out dresses. I am (was?) a huge Luella fan and the last SS10 collection was surely a prim and proper affair, but still in a sickly sweet way. I'd reduced the collection to bows and '50s dresses in my head and looking back it really was a good'un; what a shame it won't get the attention it deserves. But despite there only actually being 2 looks out of the 30 with heart cut-outs, those dresses were the most memorable.

The high street jumped on the trend though and the dilemma is whether to buy into it? Retailers are making money off Luella Bartley's creations and she isn't getting any return. Every high street trend is runway inspired but there's inspiration and then there's rip offs. The first examples are these dresses from Boohoo, the cheapie online retailer. They've hit a great market for fast fashion online at a lower price point, sort of the online Primark. But the models and the fits make me wonder about the quality, and quality worries usually mean ethical worries. The clothes being so trendy and so cheap probably mean they're made in Asia and as it's an online store, it's easier to scrimp on CSR policies. I'll email and hopefully find out how they produce. I'm not keen to spend money in stores that do not have sustainability practices and also rip off designs, which Boohoo might just be doing. I'm not pointing the finger of shame but their styles are certainly runway rips, and possibly too much so. Is it disloyal to Luella, a brand you admire and aspire to, to buy in Boohoo's copies? They are incomparable to the quality and cuts that Luella's dresses would have been and the low price does mean they'll come in synthetic materials or cotton. You have to think though, if you were a retailer, wouldn't you produce at least one item with a heart shaped cut-out, just because they're so cute and buyable?

 

My soon-to-be favourite UK high street store New Look is a great example of how to satisfy trends but respect designers. I did see a red dress with a heart cut-out at the front set for the teen department, and they've produced a number of women's dresses with heart cut-outs, BUT they're at the back. Ah ha! Inspired, not copied. They could have put the heart at the front but they chose the back, possibly making them more wearable and with better cuts. Some of the hearts on the Boohoo dresses seem to fit funny. New Look is also just as cheap and has good sustainability practices. I saw quite a few of these dresses at the Paris press day so I know they've been in production for a while rather than churned out quickly, causing more damage to the environment.

I'm really keen to invest in one of these dresses but I still don't know! I just think of Luella Bartley looking at girls walking past in dresses that are rightfully her design, from a company she put her passion into that's now gone (hopefully not for long). Of all the brands, Luella should not be missing, but we can't expect brands to survive when we invest in cheaper copies rather than the original. I've been waiting for the dress in the top left hand corner all season and can't wait to find it in store if there are any left! The cups look like they might sit strangely so I'll try before I buy, but the white floral dress is also gorgeous in real life. I spotted it on my trip home and it's made of stiff cotton so it sits well and looks more expensive.

In the end it will come down to a real life decision, although it's tempting to order online so I've got packages waiting for me when I go home. I'm thinking of coming in just two weeks! For good! That sounds crazy but I finish classes very soon and I can just hang around for a bit or save April's rent and come home. I can still travel to visit other Erasmus friends and work at home so it won't be a lazy five month summer; I've applied for lots of things that I'll hopefully be accepted for! There really are a lot of summer programmes out there, I didn't know my Uni offered so many, it's worth a look at. Leaving so soon is a bit unnerving as or one thing, I'll have to fit my whole room into 38kgs and I highly doubt that's going to happen. I don't know what to do with the magazines I've bought here; it's either be optimistic and try to pack them, or accept they'll account for way too much weight and cut them up to save the best editorials? I love to collect magazines so that will be a bit upsetting! Also I've collected a lot of 'crap', you know like the bits and bobs that you tack onto your wall as memories and even lots of beauty products,which all account for weight.

Along the theme of moral dilemmas, I'm a bit worried to leave so early before getting my course grades, as I need to make sure I've completed all my credits. The course I'm taking now is the course from hell, and after a group project including three reports, a final report and two presentations, then there's also a second group ten-page report and an online test. A girl in my group told me a few days ago though that she knows a boy who took the course last term and has the answers to the test, so you can get a least 80%. She said the test was impossibly hard and judging by the course so far, that's understandable. So if I take the test I don't think I'll do very well and I can't afford to fail the subject and have to take another course for two more months. And if I fail I can have no allowance because half the class will have done exceptionally well, so I'll just look like I didn't try hard enough. There's no way I'd use the answers because I'm only in a group with the girl and it's not fair on the rest of the class members if I join the people getting great marks, and also I don't take classes so I can cheat! I really don't want to be in the position of telling the lecturer people already had the answers though, they might have cheated but they didn't think they were going to get caught. Please tell me what would you do, it would really help! Sure I should sort my own problems out now but it feels like things like this will happen throughout your whole life! And what you think of the other dilemmas too, heart dresses are important in life too!


When's the date, mr leopard?

I'm trying to curb my spending as I've got far enough clothes to sustain me for a few years before they literally start falling off my back! And you have to ask yourself, do you need more than that? So if there's something especially attractive that I keep thinking about, I know it's worth buying as I'll actually wear it. One such thing are some leopard print lace-up wedges from Weekday. I should never have formed an undying love with Swedish shops because I have to love them and leave them so soon, but Elisabeth of Thrills and Frills posted the Weekday SS10 lookbook and the shoes jumped out straight away. I'm not really a shoe person but these would transcend seasons to come and look good with everything. Gothenburg is far away so I rang up the two stores on Skype to find if the shoes have arrived yet. This was last week and I've been ringing ever since, so hopefully they're not too annoyed by the girl that starts with 'Hiii, um, can you speak English, is that OK??? I need shoes!' Well it's not quite like that, but that's the gist. They have deliveries each day so I'm hoping they'll come in soon! I'll be straight down there when they do, the last wedge boots sold out so fast! These are very Chloe Sevigny for Opening Ceremony right?

I think I'll save them for England though because the blanket of snow has now become the blanket of ice; my tail bone has never seen so much ground! So embarrassing! I went to a Mexican party in flats and we were contemplating how to get up an ice hill when a random passer-by suggested walking across the snow instead of the path. I ended up knee deep! 


Procure Pink Pockets

When I was home last week, I popped into the Bullring with my Mom to check out what was left of the Sonia Rykiel x H&M collection, which was quite a bit minus the main jumper dress, and we hit Selfridges for birthday presents. I always buy my brothers boxers or some of the crazy American food from the Selfridges food hall like Fluff or chocolate covered ants. I wasn't ready for the full force of the high street after an absence of 6 months and my Mom's given up clothes shopping for the year (painful!) but I had to stop and swoon over the Paul's Boutique display of their new Barbie collection at the Selfridges second floor entrance. Oh my Godddd it's so good. REALLY good.

I'm not usually a Paul's Boutique fan, I always put them into the 'university student' category. I think their bags for girls who want to have the flashy logos of designer products but can't quite afford them so a Paul's Boutique bag shows you can afford a slightly more expensive bag and are super girly. But these bags are something else! Having a Barbie PB bag promotes the tackiness into a stratosphere that can only be good. It's like SO bright and tacky that it's somehow gone back round and it's OK again.

I've hearted my favourites as I'm not too keen on the major vinyl or the really big bags. I know a bigger big invites loads more things and I would end up carrying my life around! Right now I want a bag that fits enough stuff to be sorted for a day shopping or going to friends' houses but isn't so huge. I quite like the compact, small bags that remind me of ladies who might walk poodles on long leads, but my favourite is the pink and zebra print one. Pink and zebra print? What am I on?! It is just right though- so wrong that it's right!! I quite like the shimmery nude colour but I'm afraid that would get scratched, and I like the striped one but it's too soft. If you're going tacky, you gotta make it good!

Sadly there are two reasons why I'm not purchasing right now. One is that my sister was obsessed with Paul's Boutique bags over Christmas and was so smug to finally get one Boxing Day that she showed it to everyone and wouldn't stop talking about it and took it everywhere. So as it states in the International Code of Sisters, I would endure a lifetime of  'omg you copied me!!!' It's a bit like dating a boy your friend has, it's just not a cool thing to do. Also as if I have £80 to just spend on a bag. The thing with student loans is that yes, you have the cash right now, but then in a month you really won't! So if I buy now, I suffer later. Hmmm it feels worth it! What better way is there to celebrate Barbie's 50th birthday. Well I suppose you could buy a Christian Louboutin Barbie, now there's an interesting though....

Somehow though I've already had an influx of overly girly bags in recent months. The first is this ASOS Lipsy bag, where you can get the PB x Barbie stuff too. It was a sale impulse to add to an order and fits just the right amount of stuff inside for a night out, while having a satisfyingly heavy chain so you'd know if it somehow fell off or got swiped.

Also I was getting some bits from my local corner shop, Netto (ew), and I found this incredibly huge but incredibly amazing HK bag. It's enormous! Really, really wide too. I need to find an occasion to use this ASAP. I couldn't not get it!


Miu Miu streaming

Check out the live Miu Miu streaming at 6pm (GMT)  live on AnOther. I'm excited! I honestly haven't watched any show live streaming this month as the timings have always been wrong for me, but I'm just finishing a report after a focused morning and will be tuning in at 7pm (Sweden time!). In some ways it would be best if the show was horrifying and revolting and I could do with a few more shows being like that please! I'm currently plotting the acquisition of some Miu Miu ss10shoes so don't need any other distractions. Not an acquisition destined for completion ANY time soon... I'm a bit hesitant as it feels like all designer gear ends up in a sale in the end, be it online or at a sample sale or an outlet. But I feel like I would actually fork out over £300 for the beauties if the opportunity arose, I haven't found them online yet so haven't had the nail biting moment where your mouse hovers over the 'add to basket' icon. Not that I have £300 to throw at shoes I won't wear for a year, Sweden is bleeding me dry! It's my 21st in August so both parents and grand parents and birthday money might meet the dream! But then you must think of the multiple things you could buy for £300, such as a whole new autumn wardrobe. What to choose? I'm a big fan of collecting items and these would remain in your wardrobe forever, but I'd only wear them on VERY special occasions. Still, you don't buy them to wear, just to own. A little green envy over Alexa Chung who has hers sitting pretty in her closet. Could you ever forget this collection or these shoes? Also props to the 15 year old Lindsay Wixon modeling the SS10 campaign above who insisted on covering herself under a sheer blouse, go girl power! Oops I was on a role, back to the report!

p.s. This picture is from the blog Oh Elle which I just found, it's a goodie!