Monthly Archives: November 2012

Apartment apparel

Apartment Apparel is the section of your wardrobe made up of things you rarely wear out of the house. Things you’ve acquired over the years but never really had the guts to wear out in public. Sale purchases that don’t actually work with your “look”, but you still love. For lots of people, knocking-about-at-home-wear relies heavily on sportswear, but proper Apartment Apparel is more like a dressing-up box. This is about the funnest things you can find to wear, which may not be for public consumption – just a select band of friends and family.

The most important thing is that they should be entertaining to wear, and not require proper shoes. My apartment apparel includes: garish tights with a broad-striped dress (which I’m told is essentially an oversized Hereford Town kit); an itchy wool cape worn with hologram or sequinned leggings; an American flag-printed rodeo cowgirl skirt; or any number of impulse-purchase novelty-printed jersey dresses, usually worn with a properly townie cropped D&G hoodie from the late 90s. Also with garish tights, usually… A full-length black ra-ra skirt from Wanstead Barnardo’s was the start of this indulgence, and I used to don it when working/procrastinating on my dissertation. My flatmate at the time had a gigantic powder-blue chunky charity shop cardigan which served the same purpose. Indeed, ridiculous knitwear or things that drag along the floor are excellent for Apartment Apparel. Or anything oversized or spangly or a bit “off”.

Of course, this season has brought more glamour into proceedings, and the festive period is the perfect time to explore Apartment Apparel. Top Shop’s velvet jumpsuit is a prime candidate, as are Zara’s pyjama-like trousers, or if you’re really minted, my former colleague Olivia Von Halle’s beautiful silk lounging pyjamas (above). The long trompe l’oeil dress from the H&M x Margiela collection is another excellent candidate – would be so ace with sheepskin slippers and oversized knits (I am trying to persuade my friend Colemans of this, after she impulse-purchased it last week).

There are few rules really – Apartment Apparel should just make you feel good without feeling slothful. As such, onesies do not count, but jumpsuits certainly do. As do turbans (Blame the Diana Vreeland documentary) or anything that feels a bit Grey Gardens-y. However, please do not confuse Apartment Apparel with loungewear – simple cashmere, drapey knits and heather jersey have no place here.

Although Christmas is the perfect time to get stuck into Apartment Apparel – due to cold weather, lots of time indoors, and being surrounded by friends and family who can’t really judge you – the pure entertainment value of wearing brill but odd things at home could change your whole outlook. Remember, Apartment Apparel is for life, not just for Christmas.

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Fashion x Feminism

For two things that interest women (such as myself) so much, it’s always baffled me that fashion and feminism rarely co-exist. Fashion is often dismissed as a frivolous occupation of shallow women, but it’s an extraordinarily prejudiced view. Loving fashion does not preclude a women’s ability to be a feminist, and vice-versa*.

Obviously, the unfair stereotype of the bra-burning, dungaree-wearing radical feminist casts a long shadow over the relationship between fashion and feminism, but feminism today is (or should be)  much more inclusive than that. Loving the thrill and glamour and fun of fashion shouldn’t prevent a woman being taken seriously as a feminist, any more than loving the thrill and glamour and fun of the theatre does. Yet somehow, an interest in the theatre marks someone as “serious” and an interest in fashion marks them out as “silly”. Like a woman in a nice dress is unable to hold any other thought in her head than OMG!! Dresses!! Come on sisters, we’re supposed to be past this by now.

The industry itself hardly helps. Fashion has collaborated with pretty much every cause i can think of over the years, every industry and every brand, yet somehow has managed to avoid any allegiance to feminism. More fashion types (like Tavi, below) and celebrities are “coming out” as feminists, but that’s still not enough. In a hugely female-dominated industry, why aren’t more fashionistas standing up in their metallic brogues or clumpy Acne platforms, and declaring, “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like”?!

Yes, many feminists revel in not having to wear uncomfortable or ridiculous trends to adhere to the current feminine ideal, but just because a woman chooses to wear a heel or a bright lipstick does not make her a bad feminist. Feminism today is a broad church, and we should be supporting other women’s choices and interests, rather than dismissing them.  I like nice things and I am a feminist and I am OK with that.  I adhere to a  feminism that means a woman can do whatever the fuck she likes, making her own choices on the reproductive, employment, sartorial, social or cultural fronts without judgement. Apparently others are practicing another kind of feminism – they’re welcome to it.
*If you’re interested, this post is a result of supporters of new women’s expertise advocacy group The Women’s Room UK claiming they had more right to the name than the well-respected 4-year-old The Women’s Room blog, because it is only a “life and style” blog and therefore not properly feminist. Update on the situation here and here

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Welcome to the gif party

From a geeky start 25 years ago, gifs have now become a favourite method of online expression. The low-res, repetitive rotating images still have an air of early interwebs about them, but art and commerce are co-opting gifs as a way to be Relevant and Down With The Kids, especially with all this New Aesthetic stuff knocking about.

Andy Ellison’s Inside Insides project features rather elegant gifs of his MRI scans of fruit and veg (see the broccoli above), while Lanvin’s S/S campaign took the budget jolty aesthetic to Rodeo Drive, baby.

They can be very beautiful and meaningful and stuff, but they’re mainly a satirical tool, whether practiced for political point-scoring, or just silliness (as preached by my current favourite gif partiers Jezebel and London Grumblr). They range from hugely powerful memes, to reminders of last night’s telly.

TV shows including Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Downton Abbey, The Thick Of It, Mad Men and Arrested Development seem to provide the best gif fodder.

But whatever their meaning, sometimes they’re just a far, far better way of expressing things than text or static images ever could be, like this classic:

Is there any better way to express “Yays”? Thanks, Kermie.

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Doing things properly

When I first thought about writing a blog, I wanted to do an advice one called Is It One?, based on an old inside joke ( ripped from Friends, I think) among onetime Wansteaders Kara, Rowan and I. To clarify, asking “Is It One?” is to check if something is socially acceptable. So, I thought it might be good to create a kind of modern Miss Manners for social queries and other dilemmas. Anyway, that didn’t happen, because I didn’t actually fancy being an imperious advice-mistress – well, not on the interwebs. As you can see, this here blog has ended up as a much broader collection of things that I reckon. But, this is all a long preamble to a blog which does this grown-up advice job far better than I ever could, called Adulting.

Adulting aims to help readers “become a grown-up in 387 easy (ish) steps”, through a series of posts inspired by everyday issues and dilemmas, and also readers queries. The funny and honest steps include everything from the seemingly-obvious-but-rarely-enacted rules of  If You Must Break Up With Someone, Be Decent About It to the no-nonsense Find Some Sort Of Physical Activity Or Exercise You Can Live With and Figure Out How To Take Care Of Your Yard or charming Create Your Own Traditions.

This pursuit of ways to do things properly has led the blog to be turned into a book, available on Amazon. And with the difficulties of becoming a grown-up demonstrated to great acclaim in Girls, this pursuit is sure to populate newspaper features for months to come. I could get into a whole socioeconomic thing about changing routes and boundaries to growing up, but I shan’t. Let’s just say, coming-of-age stories are always popular because they’re at the meeting point of awkward and hilair. Also, I think a lot of people worry that they have no idea what they’re doing (I certainly do), and it’s always reassuring to know that no-one else really does either! To prove the point, there are now rumours that Adulting has been picked up for development by JJ Abrams as a TV show for Fox.

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