Vanity Feed

Kate Moss for Topshop

Everyone with an even remotely fashion-minded blog is talking about Kate Moss’ new Topshop collection, and of course, I felt it only right that I join in. It’s been eagerly awaited since it’s announcement last year… probably longer in fact, as I think many die-hard fans have spent the last three and a half years with cramping crossed fingers for a return of their favourite fashion model-slash-designer. Thinking about it… has it really been seven years since her first Topshop collaboration??

One thing that I have noticed, however, is that my personal ‘top picks’ from her long awaited new collection, seem to differ from the top picks of most bloggers. It is a gorgeous collection, for sure, but no matter how many fashionista models or designers try to persuade me otherwise, I won’t be joining in with 2014’s cow girl trend. Not even Chanel can convince me otherwise. Nor am I a fan of seventies inspired fashion. I’m just not one for fringe.

Kate Moss Topshop collection 2014 preview

Kate Moss Topshop collection 2014 campaign

Nevertheless, it is a stunning collection, and no doubt it will remain on rails for all of five seconds. I think I’ll have to avoid Topshop for a while unless I wish to be trampled to death. I’ll stick to online shopping for my favourites. Maybe I can just about squeeze the gorgeous black jumpsuit into my suitcase.

My Topshop Top Picks:

Also, who was the photographer for her collection?? Brilliant.

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Wanderer

Bypassing Airline Limits

It’s fair to say, no matter how much I cut down the contents of my suitcase, no matter how strict I am with myself or how many hybrid items I buy (note, an IPod Touch and all-in-one makeup have saved me so much space and weight), I always struggle to remain within the 10KG weight limit of certain airlines.

The reason is simple: I’m a photographer. If I were not, I would not have a bulky camera, with its heavy lenses, and those little items that build up fast; chargers, spare batteries, blah blah blah. If I were not a photographer, I would drop the laptop, and all of the extras that go with it – again, charger, external hard drive, mouse (how some people can use Photoshop sans mouse, I don’t know). I could get by with a tablet – an IPod Touch, even. Camera – check, access to WordPress – check, email – check, the ability to show off to the world via various social networking sites – check. Kindle’s app – check. And then I swear, my travelling ways would be much simpler. I would not have been forced to swap a backpack for a suitcase to save myself from having to carry my life with my limited upper body strength… by limited I mean, barely existent, it seems.

Nevertheless, I am a photographer, and while my ‘kit bag’ is way more limited than so many that I have seen on the road, being an equipment minimalist, I did the maths last night, and the results were scary. I calculated exactly how much weight my camera, lenses (and extra snappity-snap related bits) and my laptop (and extra clickity-click related bits) take up alone.

My basic equipment comes to a grand total of 4.5KG. 4.5KG – that weight comes from a grand total of the following list:

1x 5D MKII

1x zoom lens, e.g. 24-105mm

1x 50mm prime lens

Camera charger

2x batteries

Several CompactFlash cards

A couple of filters

Camera bag

A teeny tiny cleaning kit

My Dell Ultrabook – aka – the working man’s MacBook Air.

Laptop charger

External Hard drive

Mouse

Laptop sleeve

IPod touch

IPod charger

Phone

Phone charger

Portable charger (because something always loses charge just at the wrong moment)

Various camera-to-laptop, laptop-to-screen, charger-to-blah-blah-blah cables

And that 4.5KG total is not including the bag in which I weighed it all. Had I included my tripod, the total weight would have included an extra 1.8KG. So that’s 6.3KG out of 10KG used up on equipment alone.

That doesn’t leave much for clothes, even if I do try to select the lightest fabrics, and minimalise my makeup bag.

Sure, I could merge my IPod and Phone and just get an IPhone – I know that that’s the obvious choice, but I’m not about to pay for an insanely expensive phone contract, nor do I want to buy a PAYG IPhone. Most of the time, I’m seriously considering just leaving my phone behind entirely, I use it so rarely.

I’m getting off track… so I’ve given a lot of thought over the years as to how to sneak through airport security with much more than I ought to be carrying. I’ve looked into the recommended methods of others, for example, Benny Lewis of Fluent in Three Months has made a few videos talking about ho he carries more than the weight limit. There are jackets and cargo trousers and magic handbags that turn into cardigans with seven-thousand hidden pockets, such as the Jaktogo, and if you want to go for that method, great, good for you. It’s definitely a clever design, as are the many other similar products, but I’m just… I guess, if I were to be honest with myself, I’m too vain to walk through any airport wearing something that resembles a Mr Potato Head fancy dress costume. Nor am I about to buy an old jacket just to tear a ‘pocket opening’ into the lining and strut through the terminal with a Kim Kardashian bum and boobs because I’ve stuffed the lining with my possessions.

Filling my pockets with items would be my go-to solution, but I don’t really buy clothes with pockets very often. My winter coat has sewn-up pockets for detail only, my jeans are jeggings… I have one fairly new trench coat with pockets, one jumper with pockets, and one cardigan with pockets… that’s about it. Ooo, and my new chinos! Ok, I guess the number of pockets in my wardrobe is growing. If pockets are available, stuff them with as much as you can.

Next – and quite obviously, I think – I layer. I wear as much of my wardrobe as I can get away with – as much as can be worn as an outfit without looking like this:

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I’ll also make sure that I wear my bulkiest item of clothing – my favourite pink skirt, with its 100 layers of tulle. Not only does it take up a lot of space, no matter how carefully I roll or fold it, but it’s quite heavy, so I almost always fly while wearing it.

I also realised that a waist belt over a baggy shirt can be a great way to hold a few items. Purely by chance – this is the sort of discovery one makes while juggling my passport, boarding ticket, wallet, a novel, my IPod/IPad, my camera, and whatever else I’m trying to carry all at once. The waist belt makes a nice little pocket of space, and I’ve been known to shove a few things in there discreetly… though of course, emptying your shirt in the middle of airport security would be rather annoying.

These aren’t my main methods for slipping past strict weight limits though. The combination of a knee-length trench coat and a discreet shoulder bag is my best friend when flying. I’ve learnt that when passing through security, no one questions how many bags I have – I can be carrying a handbag as well as a suitcase, and even if my boarding pass clearly shows that I’m flying with an airline that won’t allow two bags, I need not actually put the handbag away until I’m about to board. And then, rather than shoving it in my suitcase like I see everyone else in line doing at the last moment, I chose a bag with a ‘flat cut’; you’ll need something stiffer than a tote or canvas bag, which will just bulge out rather than holding the contents flat and upright. I bought my particular bag in a small boutique in Budapest, but you’d need something like these:

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Nette’ Leather Goods. Olivia Laptop Case. £185. Available here.
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LK Bennett. Karina mini leather tote. £225. Available here.


Wear it beneath your coat, and no one need know that it’s there. I use mine to hold my laptop, external hard drive, a novel, my travel journal, passport and wallet, which immediately removes about 2KG (1.37 being the laptop) from my suitcase. The second I’m in my seat, I see everyone else awkwardly opening up their suitcases to pull out their handbags, or trying to balance their wallets, books, IPads and phones on their fingertips while pulling along their case behind them. Instead, I sit down, take off my coat, the bag goes under my seat, and bam, done. As long as you don’t fill it with anything bulky, no one can see that it’s there.

I’ve heard people talk about stuffing possessions in their socks, bras, even using safety-pins to attach socks to the linings of hats or folds of scarves. Bypassing airline limits comes down to creativity, and just how silly you’re willing to look in public. But if you’re as vain as me, buy a flat shoulder bag.

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Wanderer

Climbing the Pyramids…

I remember seeing these images this time last year when they were plastered all over various newspapers and on my Facebook feed. A group of Russian ‘pranksters’ somehow managed to sneak by security to scale one of the Great Pyramids.

Yes, I know what they did was illegal, and they were very bad for doing it and blah blah blah, especially giving how old the pyramids are – you can’t just trample over such an ancient and important structure as you please… but seriously, looking at the view.. it’s hard to keep that in mind.

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In this day and age, with travel such an easy an affordable thing for so many, many of us have or – in my case – will see the pyramids before we die. It’s on many a bucket list. Mine included. It’s a pretty standard part of tourism. And yet how many people have ever stood atop the last of the seven great wonders of the world and seen that view? Especially how it looks today, with the lights of Cairo in the distance. Not too many. Though judging by the graffiti on that bottom picture, so clearly security hasn’t always been so tight.

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Honestly, I would happily get myself arrested just to see that view. I’m probably being naive in saying that; Egypt isn’t ‘slap on the wrist’ England. How would they react to a woman climbing a pyramid? Maybe being a woman wouldn’t matter, but then again. I don’t know.

These guys were lucky enough that they were not caught by security. In fact, no one would have ever known that they had climbed it at all had they not posted their images online. Of course images like these are going to go viral immediately.

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I for one am go glad that they did, though.

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The 3 L's

HIMYM finale…. not a happy bunny.

I’m not a big fan of TV shows. There are very few that I make the time to watch – I’ve always preferred movies and books to TV, but HIMYM is one of the few exceptions, and I admit, these past few weeks I got sucked into the finale frenzy, and I sat up until 2am waiting for a decent quality copy of the big finale to appear online, despite my early start this morning.

It’s pretty clear from a quick glance at Twitter that the HIMYM, like all sitcom and drama finales, has divided opinions. You can’t just have ‘liked’ the HIMYM finale – it’s a marmite situation. I myself came away bitterly disappointed, but not at all surprised. I was, I guess, ‘team Swarkles’ (actually, I was team ‘why does Robin have to end up with someone?’), and Ted pissed me off from day one. Ted pissed me off so much, that while I first saw HIMYM back in about 2007-2008, it wasn’t until last year that I finally got into it and caught up in time for the final season. I hate his whiny, self-absorbed, snooty personality clogging up an otherwise great show. I also can’t stand Lily. She’s a bitch.

Then again, I can’t deny that it’s a great show. Blatantly inspired by Friends, it has all the same base characters; the couple (Monica/Chandler, Lily/Marshall), the will-they-won’t-they couple (Ross/Rachel, Ted/Robin), the slightly adorable comedy gem (Joey – and Chandler too! And in HIMYM, Barney). And I always found Phoebe ridiculous and unnecessary – and a complete bitch. So I’m glad that she, as a character, has not been re-imagined.

Don’t read any further if you haven’t yet seen the finale. Spoilers!

Last night’s finale answered a lot of necessary questions including the big ones: the mother’s name, how they meet and of course, who gets a ‘happily ever after’ ending.

Barney and Robin get a divorce within the first half of the finale. As much as I prefer her with Barney than Ted, I saw this coming as soon as it was revealed that Robin becomes a successful news anchor who travels around the world, I just though… Barney doesn’t seem like someone who would want to travel the world. And yes – her travelling drives them apart after just three years.

Reverting back to his womanizing ways, it’s revealed that the only girl he ever truly falls for is his accidentally conceived baby daughter, Ellie. I didn’t anticipate this, but when it happened, it made sense and suddenly seemed obvious that this is what they had been building to all along.

Nothing surprising happens with Marshall and Lily. They have baby number three, Marshall becomes a judge and later, a judge of the Supreme court (lovingly dubbed ‘Judge Fudge’ and later ‘Fudge Supreme’ by the gang). With three kids in tow, they of course have to move out of the apartment – minus the big Friend-esque ‘goodbye house’ scene.

As for Ted, we learn that his wife’s name is Tracy McConnell. They take a surprisingly long time to get married, their fairy tale wedding being indefinitely postponed on finding that she’s pregnant with Penny. They do eventually get married, though. And then… Tracy gets sick. Very sick. Those fan theories were right – the mother is dead.

It had been hinted at, of course, and thinking about it now, it was pretty obvious throughout. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t piss me off, all the same. Purely because of the inevitable Robin and Ted ending that followed – the kids give their blessing for him to ask out ‘Aunt Robin’, and he arrives outside her bedroom window with the blue french horn, just as he did back in season 1.

I’m not a fan of corny, and that is undeniably corny. But more so, why does Robin have to be with someone? Earlier in the series, Ted said that Robin was ‘never alone’, and yet, during the ten years or so between divorcing Barney and finally ending up with Ted, it’s made clear that she’s pretty lonely, despite her successful career and slightly nomadic lifestyle. She distances herself from the group because, as she points out to Lily, the gang consists of a married couple who are about to have their third child, her ex husband who is back to his womanising ways and ‘the guy I probably should have ended up with, with the beautiful mother of his child’. That’s life – people drift apart, life choices drive us away from each other. Why couldn’t Robin have lived happily, independent and successful, travelling the world but still making an effort to be there for ‘the big moments’, as she was in the first half of the finale. Why does she have to be lonely? Lily seems to spend the duration of the show selfishly complaining that she’s never around anymore, as she does.

It seems like they decided to give Ted his perfect happy ending. He always wanted Robin, but it was just impossible – he wanted kids, she didn’t. He wanted to raise his kids in the suburbs, she wanted to live in Japan or Argentina or wherever else took her fancy. So, easy solution, give Ted a wife to have kids with in the suburbs and spend a decade or so together, polishing pennies and admiring NYC’s architecture. Then kill off the wife. Bam. Ted finally gets the girl.

Surely Ted and Robin are impossible at working as Robin and Barney? Even more so, considering that Swarkles divorced because of her travelling for work, which would surely be an issue considering he has two kids in school to think about, as well as his own career and his general dislike for travelling far. Or would that problem be neatly resolved too with an early retirement for Robin at the tender age of fifty?

No, had I been the writer of HIMYM, I’d have done things very differently. The mother – Tracy – would not die. She and Ted would live happily together, as they were perfect for each other. They would live in the suburbs with their kids, and no doubt Marshall and Lily would live nearby with their own trio of kids. Barney would have his daughter to dote on, and Robin would simply be alone but happy, dropping by whenever she was in the neighborhood. There’s Skype, right! Or the 2030 equivalent… I’d cut out all of the ‘lonely Robin needs Ted to be happy’ crap.

And there was me thinking that the inclusion of a strong, independent, feminist character like Robin in the show was a big leap forward compared to the ‘everyone gets married and has children’ endings of so many past shows – including my favourite, Friends.

Ah well… I wonder how Big Bang Theory will end, when its own finale finally comes. I really hope it’s not a Shamy wedding…

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April Wish List

Springtime is (almost) upon us… or so I keep whispering to the beautiful floral tea dresses that have been waiting impatiently in my wardrobe for far too long. There’s nothing worse than wet tights in the rain, after all. Every change of season, I try to resist the inevitable style stereotypes of dark colours in winter, brights in summer, neutrals in autumn and, of course, florals in spring. Every change of season, I succumb almost immediately. It’s a weakness of mine, I know. I’ll work on that… In the mean time, however, I have been perusing the current sales and new gems of the best online shopping hubs to find my spring ‘must have’s’ for you to enjoy.april

1: Christian Lacroix. Naked Life Cushion. £95. Available here. Do I need yet another cushion? Probably not. Would it go with my current decor? Definitely not. But, oh, to own a cushion featuring not only such a true sentence for any English person (it’s struck a definite cord of recognition, like an acknowledgment of our ongoing struggle with the need to wear clothes when in the privacy of our own home), but to own a cushion that says naked… I can’t think of a single person I know who wouldn’t be compelled to comment as soon as they saw it.

2: Floral Vintage Style Watch. £7.33. Available here. I don’t know I’m always looking at watches, seeing as I have never worn a watch but for during my secondary school exams. I have my phone, that will do… but this one is so pretty. I am a bit of a sucker for collecting pretty things that I will never use.

3: Ciate. Best Sellers Nail Polish. £9 £6.50. Available here. I know they say ‘never judge a book by its cover’, and that should apply to packaging too (how often have we been duped by promising looking merchandise only to find a 99p store quality mess inside?) but my hot pink nail polish as now dried up and separated and clumped together beyond all help, despite the best efforts of our good friend Mr Polish Thinner… I could buy the same, usually trustworthy Topshop varnish… or I could allow myself to be tempted by this equally pretty, but different bottle. Yes, this is a big decision to make on a Monday evening.

4: French Connection. Feather Light Yellow Trouser. £75 £29. Available here. I once dated a guy who declared that no one could pull off the colour yellow, and for about a year after we broke up, I avoided the colour like the plague. His words were seered across the front of any sunny hued garment like a bad DIY-Punk shirt. Lately, however, I’ve been venturing into the most upbeat colour that it is possible to wear, and I should never have allowed him to convince me that it such an unflattering no-no. Especially as he never even saw me wear yellow. It was around about the same time that I spotted in an online Zara sale, the last few (plus-sized) pairs of a yellow, tailored suit trousers. Had it not been for the sizing issue, I’d have snapped them up straight away, regardless as to certain opinions. I searched for a similar pair for months and months, to no avail, but now, finally, I have spotted a style that trigger that same over-excited, ‘I must possess you’ feeling. Yellow trousers will be my Summer’14 look.

5: Bea & Dot. Two-Steppin’ Out Dress. $109.99 $32.99. Available here. This one took me a while to figure out my feelings about… love it, hate it… hate’s a very strong word.. dislike it? Like it? I’m still not entirely sure, but it’s definitely adorable with a potential to be upgraded downgraded altered to adorkable.

6: Blessed Type. All You Need is Love Wall Print. Prices start at £6.11. Available here. No place can be home to me without lashings of creativity peppered across every surface. I think many of us are the same, no? For some, that means bookcases stacked high with beautifully bound, well-read books, collected lovingly over the years. For others, that would be their own gallery of their personal artwork on display, while some may prefer to collect the art of others. I would be a combination of the tree, and lately, my decor attentions have keenly turned towards typography artwork and ‘motivational’ posters. Luckily for me, Etsy is full of beautiful options for me to fritter away my hard-earned money on.

7: Paperchase. Garden Mix Hand-Stitched Notebook. £10. Available here. In this tech-mad world, while yes, I do spend about twelve hours of every day in front of my computer – leaving it alone only to pick up my camera – I do prefer to get my ideas down onto good old fashion pen and paper rather than using the thousands of note-taking, schedule-planning, mood-board-making apps, websites and software that we have to choose from. And at the end of each exciting day, I like to sit down, and write it all down in my journal, my deepest, darkest secrets, my ugliest and silliest thoughts. For this, I always need the prettiest notebook, and for several years now, I have been using Paperchase exclusively for this necessity.

8: Wu & Wu. Sweet Sweet Fawn-tasy Container Set. $27.99. Available here. I can’t imagine for a moment what I’d put inside these… all of my ‘bits and bobs’ already have little containers of their own, which of course means that I would either have to go out and spend even more money buying various bits and bobs for each container, or I could stock up on sweet treats and periodically refill each tin… or of course, I could use them as cake tins in case I ever decide to venture outside with a baked treat… which would never happen, in which case, these beautiful little tins would be bought purely to gather dust in a kitchen cupboard. When I started these Wish List posts, I never promised that they’d be practical…

9: J Crew Leather-Trim Faux Raffia Sandals. £270. Available here. Regarding the current weather, is this wishful thinking on my part? Probably. Is it too soon in the year to be contemplating buying sandals? Of course not! With the insane amount of walking I do during my summer travels, my sandals never last longer than a single season, and so every spring, I find myself thinking long and hard about which style I should go for this year, watching the trends, determining whether or not to break said trends, contemplating whether to go for something completely different than I have gone before. It has to be said, every year so far, I’ve resulted in buying an almost identical pair of sandals to those that I have bought every previous year, in black, white or brown, depending on which will suit the most outfits… but this year, I’ll say it again, I am determined to break my pattern and purchase a pair of bright, colourful sandals that are more restrictive in my choice of outfits!

10: Urban Outfitters. Fox and Badger Plate Set. £14 each. Available here and here. These gems are sold separately, but aren’t they gorgeous together? I would display them side by side, exactly as you seen them above, on a shelf in my kitchen, with a little cactus in a white pot thrown in there too.

11: Smalldrawing. Mysterious Tropical Island Phone Case. £25.54. Available here. Technically I’m displaying the wrong sort of case for my personal wish list here, as I own an iPod, rather than an iPhone, but let’s overlook that and focus on the pattern… how adorable is this case? How summery and happy and cute! I would buy it now, and use it throughout the summer, and autumn, until the last leaf falls from the trees, by which time I will have inevitably become bored and found a replacement, wintery case instead, because it seems that we live in a world where even out phones need as many outfits as we own. It’s only a matter of time before phone-and-her outfits are a reality.

12: Penhaligon’s Endymion Bath & Shower Gel. £25. Available here. One final treat… because I am running low on shower gel, and this one simply looks so luxurious and sophisticated (as far as shower gel goes) and it probably smells delicious.

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