Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Braids are Back

According to the humble plait is the hairstyle de la saison. Whether creating an intricate up-do or a simple braid, we should all be giving ourselves arm ache as we weave up a storm.

I've never mastered how to do a proper French plait (or wanted to, beyond the age of 10) but I can do small braids going back from the temples to form a 'half-up, half-down' style, as one of my friends calls it.

I'm not so sure about the 'rope' plait, as seen at Alexander Wang. For one, a plait on mid-length hair just smacks of low effort school teacher. It won't be hanging Rapunzel-style down my back; it will be sprouting like a pig tail over my shoulder. Not really the same appeal.

Hair that's plaited and pinned up off the neck has always appealed to me. Just as long as it's steered away from Jane Eyre severity by freeing a few loose tendrils.

Monday, 26 April 2010

City Shorts: Only at Vogue HQ?

Fashion magazines always suggest 'city shorts' as a viable workwear option. Maybe if you work in London, at a fashion magazine, but in the Cotswolds, at an environmental firm? Nat so mach.

I bought some smart linen shorts during my Matalan spree at the weekend (the dresses fit me! Generous bust but slim hips! REVELATION!) but I think they're more suited to a night out than a day at work. I'd pair them with heels and a long-sleeved blouse, tucked in loosely.

They cost £14, are made from a linen/viscose mix and have a zip at the side to undo them; aka no faffing about with all those buttons.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Summer in the City


Having found myself working in an office for the first time in a while it has been interesting to try to rustle up enough smart clothes to wear. I've been playing a little game (with myself) called 'how long can I go without wearing the same thing twice?' So far it's nine days. I've mainly been wearing dresses, as all of my skirts are too big (following the diet). I also find throwing on a dress way easier than trying to coordinate separates.

My search for the perfect shift has yet to bear fruit but this one from Full Circle is pretty swish. I like the tight fit and modern detailing. It's 100 per cent cotton but I cannot establish whether it's lined or not. It's available in blue, black and (vom) pink and costs £55.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Award-winning Lipstick

New out this month, 'all for eve' has teamed up with makeup maestro Daniel Sandler to produce a special lipstick, with 100 per cent of the profits going to The Eve Appeal.

Eve Red gives a fantastic slick of bright and moisturising blue-red colour. The lipstick has also just won a prestigious CEW (Cosmetic Executive Women) Beauty Award for Best New Makeup product! In fact, 'all for eve' swept the board, picking up four awards, including Best New Brand.

Your purchase will not only benefit you as you strut your hot stuff; the money raised will fund research into gynaecological cancer. Eve Red is available from 26 April at and at Harrods from 1 May.

Monday, 19 April 2010

I Choose Your Shoes

One of my work colleagues showed up in these shoes today. Obviously I noticed and complemented her on them immediately. She told me they were from Miss Selfridge and I was a trifle surprised. See, in the flesh they look rather nice, even, dare I say it, expensive?

I haven’t yet crawled under her desk to study them at close quarters (I’ve only been there a week; mind you I’m only there for two more… it could happen) but I have found them online. I'm not above copying someone's shoes; I just won’t wear them until I’ve left! They cost £35, are made from 100% Polyurethane (aka plastic) and are machine washable(!?). 

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Will You be Wearing Power Shoulders?


Ever since Balmain showcased power shoulders on almost every piece in their Autumn/Winter 2009 collection, exaggerated shoulders have been edging their spiky selves onto the high street.

When mainstream retail shops latch onto a particular trend like this, you can pretty much wave goodbye to any clothes that don't feature it. When it comes to power shoulders, if it's a simple case of shoulder pads you can always snip them out. However, if it's the actual cut of the fabric that's creating the shoulder detailing, you're in a make or break situation.

Do you love or hate the power shoulders on this cream French Connection dress? I quite like the angular shape, but I'm never crazy about cap sleeves; they're so unflattering on the potentially flabby armpit area! I also wonder if you can actually lift your arms in this dress. To be honest, I'd prefer it without the shoulders, because it wouldn't date as quickly.

If you've got the gorgeous armpits required to make this dress work and cash to splash, it costs £85 from French Connection and is available in cream and black.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

No Wool or Wellies for Suri Cruise

Something that's been bothering me for a while is the tabloid media's obsession with high-heel wearing brat-in-training Suri Cruise. Why on earth is anyone interested in the daily activities, and worse still, outfits, of a child?! 

While googling her to find out her age for this post I was horrified to stumble across a little something called the 'Suri Cruise Fashion Blog'. Yes people, that's a blog dedicated to the fashion of a three year old. This 'fashion blog' has had 577414 visitors, plus one disgusted sane person. Excuse me while I just dedicate a blog to my toenail. 

I find it repulsive that she wears heels; there's nothing like sexualising a toddler! There have also been pictures of her wearing makeup. What's wrong with those kits of peel-off nail varnish and plastic lipsticks I had when I was little? That stuff was awesome! Plastic fluff-topped heels for tottering around the house were also highly fun. 

Most little girls love all that 'grown-up' women's stuff, but that doesn't mean you have to indulge them! Suri's going to be one spoiled, self-important madam at this rate. Maybe the contract Katie signed (you know it was a business deal marriage, right?) was only for one kid, I don't know, but Suri could really do with a little brother or sister to steal her thunder, because at the moment it's pretty clear who rules the Cruise household with a pudgy iron fist.

Anyway, I was way cooler than Suri Cruise...

Monday, 12 April 2010

Avon Calling – Anyone Listening?

I've always heard good things about Avon products. As I understand it they use high quality ingredients and surprisingly sophisticated formulations (for the price). 

I've tried a few products over the years and all have been good. 

Rumour has it that the original Skin So Soft range repels mosquitos and midges; the reviews over at the Avon website certainly support this. They're going mad for the Original Dry Oil Body Spray

Since the sun came out I've been using Skin So Soft Soft & Glow Satin Glow Daily Body Moisturiser for fair skin tones – catchy name huh! Mine is an old tube I had lying around. The new version is Skin So Soft Soft & Glow Ultimate Body Moisturiser SPF15 – Fair/Medium. I believe that it's the same product but with added SPF. A customer who reviewed the product in February 2010 explained that she's been using it for a couple of years, so it must be pretty similar. 

I really rate this product. In fact I'd say I prefer it to the other gradual fake tans I've tried, which include Johnsons, Dove and St Tropez. Those products all made me feel like I might slide out of bed in the middle of the night as my skin was so wet-feeling and disgusting. This actually dries to 'feeling moisturised but I can put my pyjamas on right away' rather than 'I will just perch naked on my towel for 40 minutes, freezing cold and angry'. 

The colour is warm and convincing, and you can actually see it after one use, unlike many gradual tanners. It has the old fake tan smell but it's not particularly strong. I always use these products at night and wash them off in the morning, so I wouldn't benefit from the SPF but it might be useful for some.

Having had a look on the Avon website, the prices are very reasonable; for example this fake tan is on offer for £2.50 for 250ml. To me it feels strange to consider ordering my run-of-the-mill cheapo toiletries online, rather than popping to Boots or Superdrug. But supposing you actually get better products for your money? It might be worth being a bit organised and getting your basics delivered to your door. Standard delivery is £3.50. 

If only UK Avon would start doing Mark cosmetics as advertised and worn by Lauren Conrad, you know I would be on board! With an already highly successful e-commerce site, and the recent acquisition of Liz Earle, whatever your thoughts on Avon, there are exciting times ahead. 

Friday, 9 April 2010

Sex and the City 2

It's time to get excited ladies! Here's the new Sex and the City extended trailer as premiered at the ShoWest Film Festival last month. It caused a big furore (among people like me, aka those who're a bit sad) because it features none other than gorgeous Aiden! I always liked him best. But he wore double denim and had a kid in a papoose?! Where's Tate gone? We will all have to wait until May 28 to find out...

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Not Hitting the Spot

There are two types of people; those who get spots and the bastards that don't. I'm in the former camp. Here in Camp Spot you're never truly free of spots, even when you have none, because you know that one might rear its ugly (white) head at any moment. I started suffering in my teens and went through the gamut of treatments offered by my GP, which went something like this...

Topical antibiotic cream 
Didn't work. Dried out skin. Bleached bed clothes.

Contraceptive pill (Dianette)

Didn't work. Caused tension headaches.

Tetracycline antibiotics 
Didn't work. Made skin sun sensitive for YEARS after.

I had to insist on being taken off Dianette (which is an old-fashioned high-dose pill) and have since discovered you're not supposed to be on it for over a year (I took it for two). After trying all of these treatments I also had to insist on seeing a dermatologist. The doctor would have preferred to palm me off with a few more useless treatments, while I suffered, spotty and self-concious. My experience is that GPs try to avoid writing letters wherever possible; it's so much easier to write a prescription.

Months later I attended my dermatology appointment at the hospital. I had in mind that I wanted Roaccutane, but I was persuaded to try another drug first. Can't remember which one; doesn't really matter as it didn't work. By this point I was either 19 or 20, in my second year at university and had suffered spots for about six years.

On my follow-up appointment I was finally given Roaccutane: from the moment I took the first pill I didn't have another spot for weeks. The horror stories of depression and terrible dryness never materialised. My skin and the inside of my nose became dry and I had a few more nosebleeds than normal. My eyes were sometimes a bit dry too. I would've put up with those symptoms and worse in order to have clear skin, and finally I did.

After a four-month course of Roaccutane I had relatively clear skin for several years. Once I stopped taking the contraceptive pill my skin got even better. Finally I could enjoy playing with makeup, rather than spending ages on foundation and concealer.

But that was then and this is now. Since January little tiny bumps have been mysteriously appearing on my chin. They're sometimes like small spots, and sometimes just red bumps. They are dry and red and look awful without makeup and awful with. I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something at first, but the only thing I'd changed was my diet, and that was for the better! After researching on the internet I diagnosed myself as having Perioral Dermatitis. A mysterious and little-understood skin condition. BRILLIANT!

I am back to square one and can't tell you how frustrating it feels. I went to the doctor (who was 12), told her what I had, listened as she suggested all the wrong things (and corrected her), explained to her the possible solutions and waited as she read from the exact web page I'd just looked up at home. 

The treatments are the same topical and oral antibiotics as listed above, except I asked the doctor to give me a different topical lotion than I tried when I was young. If this cream doesn't work I know I'll have to go through the exact same rigmarole as I went through in my teens. To all those of you with dodgy skin, I feel your pain. My mum and brother have similar skin issues to me so I guess it's hereditary. This spring/summer I'll be mainly wearing a very large scarf. 

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Shopocalypse is Upon Us

I popped into Aldo today and immediately fell in love with these gorgeous sandals. The shape is perfect, the heel is doable, and the colour is... Well, the colour is weird and I'm not happy about it. You know what I'd prefer? Plain.

Remember plain? You probably don't, but I'll describe it for you. Once upon a time shops sold stuff that came in regular colours. It was possible to buy clothes made of unpatterned fabric printed with neither floral sprigs nor nautical stripes. Tops came without ribbons, pompoms, lace or cut-out backs. Dresses had non-inherant belts and hips that didn't form a tulip shape. 

Clothes had a thing called 'structure' and were made of materials other than t-shirt jersey. It was even possible to purchase items that had lining and didn't give the wearer a pot belly. 

Shoes had heels that enabled you to walk, and were available in non-luminous colours that actually went with the aforementioned non-luminous clothes. It was even possible to buy shoes that didn't have a platform sole, if you can imagine such a thing. 

I realise that this rant makes me sound about 87 years old but is it too much to ask for some affordable clothes, made of decent fabrics that are not aimed at 12 year old chavs?! I just want a plain god damn shift dress and a bit of choice! Stop trying to make me buy TAT! 

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Scalpels

For me watching The Hills is one of my guilty pleasures. I know it's idiotic, I know it's fake... but it's a car crash and my eyes are glued to the scene. Obviously it lost a lot of its shine when Lauren Conrad jumped ship, and I wasn't sure I'd watch anymore. Needless to say I got sucked right back in and watched the whole subsequent series sans LC. Now the show's producers have finally called time and the upcoming season will be the last. 

In the parallel world inhabited by The Hills, no mention is ever made of the fact the characters are now celebrities, or that the crew cordon off roads to film scenes without ever-present paparazzi photographers. 

Another luminous pink elephant in the room has been the stars' blatant plastic surgeries. Heidi Montag had a boob job, nose job and lip injections in between seasons and not a word was said. It was tantamount to the episode of Roseanne where they brought in an entirely different actress to play Becky. Stephanie Pratt also had a nose job and lip injections and came back in season 6 looking all kinds of crazy. Both women are 23 years old!  

In a bid to retain TV ratings for the final season the trailer reveals the other members of the cast reacting in horror to Heidi Version 3.0 – the result of the reality star having undergone ten surgical procedures in one day including brow lift, second nose job, second boob job and chin reduction (how come it looks like a man-chin now then?). 

I'm pleased that young girls watching the show will see the appalled friends (including Stephanie, who I doubt will be piping up with any admissions of her own 'work') discussing Heidi's dramatic transformation from normal, pretty teen to bizarre, pneumatic alien. It's worrying to think that these blank-faced reality stars are the role models of a generation.

I may love Lauren Conrad's style but I also appreciate the intelligence, courage and ambition of many other esteemed women. I'm also old enough to know how ridiculous and unreal life according to The Hills is. We're in trouble if little girls want to be 'just like Heidi Montag' when they grow up.

I couldn't find a picture of her smiling for the final image in the series: I'm not sure she's able to.