Style Chameleon: Society Sorcerer

It’s a tea party at Miss Havisham’s manor and you’re all invited. Unpack your fingerless lace gloves, costume jewelry, and best ruffles because the dress code is your best gothic finery. It’s girlie and dark, a tinge of the Elegant Goth Lolita Harajuku look but more understated and wearable. Don’t shy away from jewels or hats, and more is more when it comes to tulle and lace.

Society Sorcerer

There’s a fine line between girl and woman, which the Society Sorcerer look tiptoes along. A debutante in her mother’s art deco finery, heirloom pieces and ruffles. I love the idea of a coven having a debutante ball, with innocent silhouettes in rich fabrics and gems. Look to Helena Bonham Carter, Vivienne Westwood, and Art Deco for inspiration – even some Tim Burton movies have that fancy darkness to them (especially Corpse Bride!) and even some old fairy tales too.

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Style Chameleon: Barbie Barbiturate

Barbie Barbiturate is not here to glamorize drug addiction like its inspiration source of Valley of the Dolls, but rather give a sad and tragic counterpart to the perky pinup look. 

A retro 60s housewife bored with life and tranquilized to hell, but her cat eye makeup is still flawless. She’s the kind of woman who can cry without ruining her makeup, and she does not ‘ugly cry’ but instead looks benignly tragic. 

You do not (and should not) develop a drug habit to emulate this look, but we shouldn’t ignore the missteps of the past by pretending that oppressing and overmedicating women didn’t happen. Doctors are trained to believe we are exaggerating our symptoms and need to be calmed from hysteria, which is tragic enough without you developing a habit. Lana del Rey, someone who embodies this style so well, medicates with weed and that is a much better alternative. 

Barbie

Tease your hair up high (pun intended) and setting spray is integral. Feminine clothes, layered to perfection but probably not quite in keeping with the season. Accessories are a distraction, and you can ignore Coco Chanel and let them overwhelm you. Costume jewelry because you’re acting your way through a sad life – are you a Neely or an Anne? – and don’t forget your signature scent. Something classic like Shamilar, perhaps? Wear sunglasses and a big hat to avoid the sunlight, and lots of silk to drown in. 

It seems too gauche to cite or show inspirations from the long list of women who died from barbiturate overdoses, but I recommend you learn about who they are and what led them down that path. Instead, watch Valley of the Dolls (or read the book because it’s better!) and lust after everything the gorgeous Sharon Tate wears. Watch Lana del Rey music videos, and channel any woman who made the mistake of falling in love with Don Draper on Mad Men because that’s her. 

Style Mood: Swamp Witch / Romantic Witchcraft

Did you watch American Horror Story: Coven? Witches, Stevie Nicks, New Orleans, and voodoo are all obsessions for me, so squish them together and I am on board. The glam and impossibly talented Jessica Lange made goth look chic, with Stevie Nicks and Misty Day on board to bring some floating scarves to the mix too. In my mind, this is a classic look that never goes out of style!

romantic witchcraft

Like Glitter Trash, it’s harder for me to incorporate this type of lewk into my workwear. The most I can really get away with is a chiffon shawl or wearing all black (which was much more subtly in NYC compared to LA!).

You don’t need to be a witch or practice witchcraft to embrace either of these styles. As with most looks that are a bit ‘extra’, they do tend to work best when not worn as a costume. This isn’t Halloween, and I don’t recommend wearing a witchy-inspired outfit if you aren’t partially into the lifestyle. Nobody likes a poser.

swampwitch

That said, I think witchy women (and men!) are some of the most welcoming people out there, so do not feel daunted about going down that path. Each culture has their own slightly different take on witches, so why not do some investigating around if you’re interested? The witches and druids of the UK, the witch doctors of the Caribbean, the witches and their familiars of Eastern Europe, the voodoo witches of Haiti, (to name a few) all deserve individual attention if you’re intrigued!

Floaty shawls, burn out velvet, lace, headpieces, black, dark hues, ribbons, layers, dramatic swishes, pointy toe shoes, layered jewelry, inspired by nature (like spanish moss, thorns, storm clouds), unique pieces, natural materials, animal inspired jewelry (to represent your familiar!). Who are your style icons? Marie Laveau, Baba Yaga, Mortia Adams, Stevie Nicks, AHS: Coven, The Craft (obvs).

Please respect the culture, and do not treat this like a costume.

 

Expat Existence: Sizing Up

There is this perception in America that if something exists here, then it exists everywhere else too. There is a almost always a look of disappointment of their faces when they discover I grew up with biscuits (or “cookies”) that weren’t Oreos (and were IMHO better than Oreos), without Target or Walmart (ASDA was the closest thing?), and most of our kids TV shows were completely different.

But I’m not here to knock on the “if it’s in America, it’s everywhere in the world because America IS THE WORLD!” mentally that is hopefully waning due to the Internet informing them Hershey’s is shite, and WTF is an Olive Garden.

I’m here to explain shopping is tricky when you move here, not just because all the stores are different, but because the US uses an entirely different sizing structure. Hopefully, my explanation and conversions can help anyone else new to the country or even any American heading off to Europe themselves.

First, the shoe sizes are totally different and annoying not consistent. I made a little chart based on my experiences, but there are a few caveats.

shoe sizes(women)

So, I was a size 7 in the UK which always translated nicely to a Euro 40. This meant that I was a size 9 in the US in “mall brands” like Nine West, Steve Madden or Jeffrey Campbell. However, some department stores translated a Euro 40 to a US size 10 (so adjust everything up one notch) which meant shopping online could be a bit of a crapshoot when they just listed the US size.

Sites like Zappos have ‘sizing converters’ like the graphic I made, but it doesn’t take into account that some of the brands they stock do the wacky size down move. The best advice is to get familiar with the brands IRL so you can shop online more easily. Note to the ladies: if you are buying shoes from the mens department then the Euro sizes are the same and the US mens size will correspond to your UK size. So I’m a US 7 when shopping in the mens section (a good place for sneakers!).

Where the shoe sizes wanted to sound bigger in the US compared to the UK, the opposite is true for the clothing. I can not even attempt a size chart for this since no store is consistent (true in both the UK and US!) and even jeans sized with numbers like 25 to denote a measurement aren’t always reliable either. Is it also my imagination, but are more clothes sized using XS, S, M, L these days?

General tips:
1. UK people, size ‘up’ for shoes and size ‘down’ for clothes.
2. Sales tax is added AT THE TILL (cash register) so remember that little addition to the total.
3. Sales associates are way friendlier in the US. I know this feels like they’re getting up in your business, but just tell them you’re browsing if you want to be left alone.
4. As always, if someone was helping you do mention their name to give them the commission. It’s just common courtesy.
5. High end department stores are usually the best for consistent shoe size calculators.
6. Yes, even your bra size is different. I’ve not purchased a bra in the UK for many years so I’m not a good authority. Just try a bunch on, ok?

 

Style Mood: Glitter Trash

glitter trash

Some people have a style uniform, an iconic style that they hone over many years. I am… not one of those people. I am a messy closet owner who just goes with the mood they’re in that day, or hour. Those of us who are stylistically phrenetic life are a Marie Kondo nightmare, with bulging racks of clothes that are all necessary but match nothing. However, despite embracing many aesthetics, we likely have a few different styles we group our outfits in to match our moods.

Glitter trash is one of mine. This look doesn’t necessarily require an outfit to have glitter, but rather the outfit not look out of place if you were pulled into a retro coke-fuelled fashion photoshoot at a motel in America. It’s the equivalent of the smeared lipstick at the end of the night that still looks cool, it’s unique, and it’s “totally from some awesome little vintage store you’ve not heard of” but the glitter trash girl will absolutely share the name of it, and invite you to go shopping next week. She’s not a manic pixie dream girl, but this is not an outfit for your office day job.

Chunky high heels, show off those stems, too many accessories, yesterdays wavy hair, sunglasses inside, brightly colored bra straps, lots of eyeliner. It’s boho, it’s punk, it’s a clutch purse you keep losing. Paint each nail a different color, dye your hair in a avocado green bathtub, swap bracelets with your friends, dance all night. She’s a modern day Studio 54, she is an Andy Warhol fever dream.

I don’t get the chance to rock the glitter trash look as much now that I’m older, but it certainly holds a very fond place in my heart and in my closet.

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Mutton Dressed As Fabulous

Do you ever wonder if you’re too old to wear something? That thought is a milestone unto itself since I never wondered such things when I was 23. Society is keen to point out what is age appropriate to wear, via shaming articles dressed up as sartorial self-help pieces. When I started thinking about these standards, the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ sayings, I began to notice that it’s always aimed at women. Not once did I find an example of a man being told to dress his age.
(Although if you can find one, I’d very much be open to seeing it!)

Regardless, it cannot be argued that ‘dressing your age’ is a female-focused topic. The subtext is sexual, as most subtext tends to be. ‘Dressing your age’ translates to “nobody wants to see that!” and sometimes removing sexuality from women society deems too old to be reproductively ‘useful’. At other times, the ‘do’s and don’ts’ seem arbitrary and rooted in outdated norms: why should we care if people over 40 want to wear distressed denim?

Whenever a woman decides to shun the subtly imposed uniform of the aged, and reclaim her body, the response is most likely to be of the “Put it away, lady” variety. The uniform, often unique across cultures, races, and economic status, shares the underlying theme of muted, covered up, and invisible. The uniform should be optional, with Iris Apfel and Baddie Winkle leading the way of advanced style.

real estate in the city
Advanced Style, Baddie Winkle

When we are also told that 40 is the new 30, and “you’re only as young as you feel”, what does ‘dressing your age’ even mean? The Advanced Style publication showed us that fashion and style has no age limit, and that we aren’t all destined for Chico’s. Happy, healthy and comfortable always look good, whether wearing orthopedic shoes or thigh high boots.

We don’t think twice about these helpful guides online, telling us to throw out our miniskirts when we reach our 30th birthdays, or toss our glittery eyeshadow when we leave our parents Obamacare plans. Magazines and stylists tell us how to dress our body in an ‘age appropriate’ manner, and banning us from certain stores. I’ve counted too many articles chastising me for owning graphic tees, sheer dresses, and a Hello Kitty purse. Well, excuse me, but fuck your articles.

While we focus too much on 30-something women reclaiming a youthful style; we need to look older. Can we stop nagging women over 60 who want to wear fast fashion or light up sneakers? Can we just focus on encouraging the exploration of personal style, regardless of age? I’m sure I won’t have exactly the same style when I’m 70 as I do now, but I would hope that wherever my style goes, I’d be free to wear it without the fashion police tutting at me for not dressing my age.

Fashion in 2017: 10 Trends I Liked + 10 Trends I Did Not Like

It’s that time of year when we reminisce and ponder on what has transpired, for good or for bad. I like to look back on the notable style and fashion trends from the year so I can make some guesses about where things might go. So we can end on a positive note, let’s go the bad stuff out of the way first!

Trends I Did Not Like in 2017

  1. Mules and kitten heels, or the dreaded mule with kitten heels, were definitely a trend I did not like. They are no made for walking, and look so darn silly. I didn’t mind the mules with block heels, but it’s certainly not a shoe style that I love.
  2. White boots (some with kitten heels too!) are a latecomer to the year, only really cropping up in articles now. They are not going to age well, and should have been left in the 80s, with the perms and over use of blush.
  3. Cropped bootcut flares seemed to cover the legs of influencers and the pages of fashion blogs, but I don’t remember actually seeing them in the wild. Could it be because this is not a very flattering style of jeans?
  4. Mom jeans also seemed to creep back as some 90s normcore came back in style, and why don’t we learn from the mistakes of the past?
  5. Collaborations got a bit bananas in 2017, with the Supreme x Louis Vuitton being the most gauche. Hypebeasts need to chill the fuck out in 2018.
  6. Straw purses and bucket bags are pushed upon us every year, and I have no space in my life for Wes Anderson twee picnic purses, or bulky sacks designed to swallow my car keys.
  7. Oh, you think that dress is cute? Haha, gotcha! It has no back and no sides so good luck wearing a bra with it.
  8. I think the issue with the “cold shoulder sweater” is in its name.
  9. Super distressed jeans with fishnets underneath? We’re doing this again? No thanks.
  10. Zips in illogical places, designed to snag and be annoying.

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Trends I Liked In 2017

  1. Sneakers! All the sneakers. So many choices, and because they are ‘fashionable’ they are now more acceptable at work.
  2. For all the shitty styles of jeans, it was nice to see thick, good quality denim become more easily found in stores.
  3. Athleisure is not going anywhere, and I’m cool with that. Being able to find a diverse selection of leggings and hoodies is very useful.
  4. Politics made some brands take a stand, which was great to see. Lots of smaller brands who donated via purchase, and inclusive messaging are the way to go.
  5. I actually like millennial pink. It’s universally flattering. Don’t @ me.
  6. Dainty jewelry made a comeback, which is a welcome change from the bulky ‘statement’ pieces that screamed tacky to me.
  7. Socks got a bit more attention, which was unexpected. From the sheer ankle socks to Stance x Rihanna, I was psyched to see it all.
  8. Faux Fur is not only cruelty free, but delightfully fun to wear. I love standing in the corner and stroking my arm without having to be high. I’m glad this trend has stuck around.
  9. I actually liked the exaggerated sleeve trend, within reason. I liked the bell-shape or flared sleeves, but the big bell batwings can go away.
  10. That whole “silk jammies but worn outside and as clothes” was pretty neat.

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