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If Only: Outfit of the Day 19#

For all of my styling experiments, this outfit, here, is my ultimate style; this is when I am at my most comfortable, and my most confident, when the clothes I’m wearing become less of a statement and more simply, like a second skin. I’m all for monochrome and neutrals, modern twists on classic silhouettes, vintage influences and elegant simplicity. Yes, it is very modern Audrey Hepburn, isn’t it? I blame all of those old Hollywood movies over the years…

29-Aug

1. Preen by Thornton Bregazzi Everly Pleated Stretch-Crepe Skirt. £670. Available here.

2. ISSA Esther Off-The-Shoulder Bandage Top. £250. Available here.

3. CLU Silk and Lace-Trimmed Wool and Cashmere-Blend Cardigan. £430. Available here.

4. Jimmy Choo Walton Suede D’Orsay Point-Toe Flats. £395. Available here.

5. Marni Leather Tote. £1050. Available here.

6. Burberry Prorsum Printed Cashmere Scarf. £695. Available here.

7. Aurelie Bidermann Organic Feathers Gold Necklace. £920. Available here.

8. The Row Cat Eye Leather-Trimmed Acetate Sunglasses. £295. Available here.

9. Valentino Wool-Blend Felt Cape. £1915. Available here.

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Emmys 2014

Let’s face it, who doesn’t love to watch to see who’s wearing who and who looks great and who looks… not so great, at each red carpet event? There are certain big star events that will always be top of the list, such as the Oscars and the BAFTAS, but when it comes to TV, it’s the Emmys. As ever, I found myself caring more about the beautiful dresses than the wins. Not that I was entirely oblivious – I just don’t watch all that much TV. I was especially chuffed (is that not the most English word ever?) to hear about Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and Jim Parsons’ wins (though as for the latter, how many consecutive years has he won an Emmy for best comedy actor now? Six? It’s a wonder they bother going through the nominations at all anymore!)

But anyway, I’m here to talk about the fashion, you’re here to see the fashion… here are a few (slight under-exaggeration) favourites from last night.

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Allison Williams in Giambattista Valli Couture

My love affair with the colour yellow continues, it seems. For such a dramatic dress, it’s really so simple; the yellow sash is the final touch that brings it all together and ups the drama by about 1000000000x. Very elegant but fun… I can’t help but see it as a modern take on a Grace Kelly design? Does anyone else see that?

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Betsy Brandt in Olivia & Alice

This dress should be too much, but it works so well. The blue/purple shoes are also a great choice – it can be tricky deciding on a shoe to go with such a canvas of colour as this, and I think most would have made the mistake of black or white… or red. I have such a clear image in mind as to how I would wear this dress; I’d wear it with a simple, fitted black jumper, a white bead collar necklace, and black suede kitten heels (yes, I know that I just stated that Brandt teaming black pumps with this dress would have been a mistake but just go with it…). It would look amazing.

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Camila Alves in Zuhair Murad

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Kate Walsh in Stephane Rolland

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Claire Danes in Givenchy

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Heidi Klum in Zac Posen

 Even though I doubt I could really pull off this colour, this is probably the dress from last night that I would love to see in my wardrobe most! In fact, no, forget it being in my wardrobe! This is the dress that I would most love to see on me… but you know, in pretty much any other colour but this one. It just wouldn’t work. On Heidi, however… wow.

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January Jones in Prabal Gurung

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Keke Palmer in Rubin Singer

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Teyonah Parris

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Lizzy Caplan in Donna Karan Atelier

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Lucy Liu in Zac Posen

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Michelle Dockery in Rosie Assoulin

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Natalie Dormer in J. Mendel

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Sarah Hyland in Christian Siriano

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Zooey Deschanel, channeling Marilyn-meets Audrey in Oscar de la Renta. I know it’s not the first time, but I still can’t get over just how different she looks without her fringe/bangs. She looks beautiful, but… ordinary, and then suddenly, the bangs are back and it’s such a ‘wow’ look in comparison. I’ve never seen so much power held in one fringe before.

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And the ones that missed a beat for me:

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Kelly Osbourne in Honor

Very few people can pull of this hair colour as well as Kelly Osbourne, and I love that she frequently incorporates similar violet-grey tones in her wardrobe, while the rest of us are still thinking about what works with our hair. Red heads should avoid pink (though I think The Little Mermaid proved that rule to be completely unnecessary), and stick with blues and greens, brunettes look great in any colour, and no one works pinks and reds better than blonds, etc etc. However, here, there’s too much lace. When your hairstyle is so out there, you should tone down the embellishments to an absolute minimum. Perhaps this would work on the right celebrity… but even then, I think a bodice would look much better, rather than this high necked, 3/4 sleeved top.

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Sarah Paulson in Armani Privé

The 1980s were a well known disaster, and it scares me how revived it has become in recent months on our runways. The spotted, tulle prom dresses were among the worst, and to see that one has managed to reemerge like this… do people never learn?

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Julianna Margulies in Narciso Rodriguez

I’ve seen dresses like this hanging in numerous charity shops; ill fitting, cheap fabrics, causing general confusion among staff and customers as to whether it ought to be displayed in the dress section, or the nightwear section. As for the visible bra straps at the back, it just makes the whole look tacky.

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Lena Dunham in Giambattista Valli

There are no words. I get that Lena Dunham is a big deal, especially in America, I get that everyone adores her for challenging celebrity stereotypes, especially regarding the ideal female figure, and good for her – so she should… there are too many dieting sheep in Hollywood, all conforming to the same rules, all fighting to look just the same as each other. She’s talented, she’s gorgeous, she’s humble and intelligent. However… far too often she just gets it so, so wrong, and this one is a doozy. The hair and eyebrow contrast, The weird grown-out bowl cut, the tattoo, and not to mention, that dress… which, by the way, looks amazing on the runway. Here, however, it’s frumpy, ill-fitting, unflattering, contrasts horrendously with that over-bleached ‘do, and basically gives her the appearance of someone who’s attending a halloween party dressed as an animated Pixar character… the story of a workaholic bird of prey, or something. I’m getting a bit bored of seeing her frumpy red carpet fashion again and again, if I’m honest. I’m just going to focus instead on her talents: acting, screenwriting, directing, producing… please, can someone take over her wardrobe, because Lena Dunham does not have a talent for fashion.

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Mayim Bialik in Oliver Tolentino

Mayim Bialik wrote for her official blog over at Kveller.com that she hoped that this year’s Emmy dress balances between ‘hot and holy’… while it’s not a bad dress, and I admire her for her strict rules on modesty in a world so set on showing as much skin as possible to gain attention, it just doesn’t… quite work. I feel like there’s too much lace (I’m sensing a pattern among the fashion police victims this year), which makes the whole thing too fussy, and tied in with that neckline, it’s all just too much.. way too much. The colour looks amazing on her though. Had she opted for satin, or something sleek, then I think it would have worked. I’d also love to see her with a sheer bateau neckline and sleeves, but would that be sticking with her modesty rule? Or is sheer fabric out?

(*Update, having just found this dress, I can confirm that she looks great with sheer sleeves and a wider neckline. She. Looks. Amazing.)

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Katherine Heigl

 I don’t know who Heigl is wearing here, and I have very little to say, except that it’s just too.. old.. too motherly.. too matronly. Much better things could have been made from this fabric.

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The 3 L's

Old Hollywood Age Gaps….

It seems, for a woman in Hollywood, you have to have buckets of talent and gumption to push through the typical end-of-career age barrier. Meryl Streep, Judi Dench, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor. Rightly so, I think – age seems to be the only thing that may stop mediocre-but-good-looking actresses like… Kristen Stewart. Lindsay Lohan. Blah, blah, blah.

The same can’t be said for men. Maybe it’s because men tend to age better. Look at Gregory Peck, Cary Grant, James Stewart. They have a ‘best before’ date too, of course – look at Harrison Ford now days, a great actor who has lost his sexy older man appeal and is now days simply… an old man with an earring and a penchant for canal boat holidays. My point is, male actors can go on being the leading man in a movie romance for decades longer than a beautiful leading lady easily can.

Example? Sabrina.

I haven’t seen the 1995 version, but the good old 1954 original; Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden.

Not to give much away to those of you who have not seen it, it’s basically about a young girl (Hepburn), who falls in love with her father’s boss’s son (Holden). She goes away to Paris for two years, and returns as this gorgeous and sophisticated European woman, complete with an enviously beautiful Parisian couture wardrobe and trademark Hepburn pixie cut. Pretty quickly a slightly complex, plot-twist riddled love triangle forms between Hepburn, Holden and his brother, Bogart.

Simple enough. I love this movie, though it’s been a few years since I last found the chance to sit down and watch it. But there was one particular line that strikes me each time.

Spoken during a scene between Hepburn and Holden, in which they are discussing their first kiss, Hepburn points out that they have kissed once before – which Holden has long forgotten.

‘I was nine, and you had your arms around me because you were teaching me to skate backwards. Suddenly, you kissed me.’

Note, at the time of release, Hepburn was twenty-five years old, while Holden was thirty five, and as he plays a man thrice-married, how much younger could his character be? He definitely looks like a man in his thirties.

Which means, nine year old Sabrina was kissed by nineteen year old David. And then there’s older brother, Linus (Bogart). Older as in, there’s a twenty year age gap between big brother and little brother. That’s thirty years between Linus and Sabrina. Creepy, creepy.

The same can be said about so many old movies, though

Rear Window. 25 year old Grace Kelly alongside 46 year old James Stewart.

North by Northwest. 55 year old Cary Grant alongside 25 year old Eva Marie Saint.

High Society. 26 year old Grace Kelly alongside 53 year old Bing Crosby, 43 year old Frank Sinatra and 45 year old John Lund. If you haven’t seen the film, I won’t tell you which one she ends up with.

 I just find it bizarre. Yes, women want men – we don’t want boys who are still living with their mothers, rolling around in yesterday’s boxers and the latest notch in their bed post, hungover, perma-tanned and full of steroids – the only way they can realistically achieve those bubble muscles. But surely the other alternative isn’t just wrinkly old men with borderline pedophilic tastes in fresh-from-school young women?

Well, according to old Hollywood, that’s the choice.

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Not the best wardrobe for backpacking…

When it comes to fashion, I think the 1950s were the best time for travelling. How on earth they managed to so perfectly pack those huge Grace Kelly skirts without completely ruining them, I’ll never know… how they managed to find the space to pack anything other than those space-hogging petticoats and skirts, I have no idea. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve tried in the past to be ‘sensible’ in what I pack for my travels. Jeans were banned (in the summer, anyway), my love for big midi-skirts was ignored, and I’d stick to a boho, mix and match, Free People-esque capsule wardrobe; lightweight, fold-resistant fabrics that take up minimal suitcase space . You’re mocked if you’re a girl with a big suitcase (especially one like these), full of the latest trends, which is definitely flared or pencil midi skirts right now. People – guys especially – roll their eyes out if they catch you applying lippy, or straightening your hair (though that last ‘backpacking offence, I am entirely innocent of, despite the cowlicks). You’re supposed to wander around with a grubby backpack (been there) – something ‘serious‘ (aka, ugly), or if you’re fashion conscience, vintage and canvas, which therefore feels like a bag of bricks hanging from your shoulder blades (done that).

I prefer to step off every plane, train and bus like this:

Minus the pin-perfect curls. I really don’t care that certain people who I meet on my travels openly presume that I am a) rich b) spoilt c) a bimbo and/or d) ignorant to the reality of backpacking. I’m not about to climb mountains in a pair of stilettos! Especially as I can barely walk down a perfectly flat and even pavement in stilettos without falling flat on my face… needless to say, while stilettos are pretty to look at, I never take anything higher than kittens abroad.

Fashion and travel don’t always work well together, of course… take the second Sex and The City movie. There were some great outfits in that film – I love the Dior tshirt-and-big-skirt combo. But equally, sometimes it was like a car crash headfirst into the wardrobe department. For example:

Personally, I think people have become lazy when it comes to fashion when travelling. I get that when travelling, people don’t want to spend hours and hours getting ready each morning. It takes me half an hour. Bam.

I think this is an expansion on my RSS… my fashion style is definitely ‘settled and working in the big city’, while my passion is to keep on moving, moving, moving. I’m molding the two tough, into something that works well for me.

Now days, besides making sure that I have one or two practical outfits for things like rock climbing, long, long, long walks or anything else that can’t be done in ballet pumps and kitten heels, I pack whatever I want, and just keep my fingers crossed that it will all fall naturally into a perfect capsule wardrobe. I seem to repeat the same go-to fashion habits again and again when it comes to colours and patterns, so generally, my entire wardrobe works well together. I guess in a way, I’m not particularly imaginative.

Dior

Bottega Vetena

Rochas

Fashion week still fresh in my mind, I’ve been thinking about my packing wardrobe of the season… Yes, the skirts are staying, along with tuxedo jackets – buttoned and bra-less… or maybe a cute lace bustier…hmm…), big petticoats beneath midi-skirts, patterned pencil skirts and amazing shoes.

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Look One: BlazerPetticoatSkirt. Shoes. Bag.

Look Two: BustierTrouser. Bag. Shoes. Belt. Necklace.

Look Three: Top. Skirt. Shoes. Bag.

Look Four: TopSkirt. Shoes. Bag.

Basically, I travel Audrey and Grace style.

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old animated GIF

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Wanderer

Why my perspective towards RTW packing changed overnight…

I have 9 days left in England, and so I’m already well into the throws of packing, storing and selling my possessions. The memories of my aching back from last summer convinced me to buy a lovely little 1.6KG 55x40x20 suitcase to replace my quaint little 46x32x15 canvas pinstriped backpack. The only reason I upgraded in size was because I can stuff so much more into a backpack than a suitcase – do you find the same? I began by buying a suitcase that was almost identical in measurements as the backpack thinking, ‘ok, same size, just on wheels. Lovely.’ This suitcase, in fact.

Well the suitcase was almost fine, it easily fit my laptop (case and charger), my camera (lenses, cases and charger), about three outfits… and not much else.

So I went and bought the larger (but still suitable for a Ryanair flight) suitcase, and said to myself that it doesn’t matter if the case is bigger, I’ll still pack exactly what I packed last summer; as little as possible.

That was a week ago. Things have changed a little since then; I’ve realised a few things. I’ve always been a big believer that if you are travelling for three weeks, three months or three years, there is very little difference in how much you need to pack. I’ve never understood people who say ‘well I’m travelling for a whole summer, so I need 200 outfits. But then I started packing… and I realised, as much as I love backpacking, and I’ve always loved having just a tiny backpack (except for the backache) to carry all I need for a few months, I don’t want to do that for longer than a summer. I want to live out of a suitcase.

This realisation started with a skirt. This skirt, actually:

Image from here.

This is my absolute favourite skirt, bought at H&M about a year and a half ago. Every time I travel, it gets left behind simply because it’s made of 10000 layers and would take up half of my backpack. I can deal with that, it’s only a skirt, it just means I wear it as much as possibly for a few months when I come back to England to make up for it. Except that this time, it managed to sneak into my suitcase… closely followed by a pair of black kitten heels. I bought them back in March, broke my foot in April, and so I’ve never worn them besides a few times to break them in around my apartment. And they are just too beautiful to be a waste of £20. And besides, I plan to stop and teach English when I start to run out of money.. I need a suitable outfit for work.

I do need to watch myself though; it’s easy to get carried away and start finding any excuse to justify everything in my wardrobe. A New Look LBD is trying to sneak it’s way in under the same excuse as the kitten heels; work clothes, but so far I’ve been stern and said no; a LBD can be bought anywhere if necessary.

I think my suitcase wardrobe is fairly finalised.

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  1. Pink Midi Dress. H&M A/W 2011. £20
  2. Green Skater Dress. Primark. £10
  3. A trusty black tank top (with lace trim)
  4. Satin cream 3/4 blouse. New Look. £16.99
  5. Nautical Striped top (mine is 3/4 and backless)
  6. Roll sleeved dusky blue t-shirt. New Look. £4.99 (I’ve ripped up the back of mine)
  7. Baggy waterfall pink thin jumper. Vera Moda. £18
  8. White 3/4 Cardigan. H&M £6.99
  9. Black floral bralet.
  10. Brown tweed shorts.
  11. Black suede kitten heels. New Look. £6
  12. Cream/black pointed flats.
  13. Black brogues.
  14. Black waist belt.
  15. Pink scarf. New Look. £7.99

It’s all a bit more chic than my usual backpacking wardrobe, which consists of summer tea-dresses, gladiator sandals and short shorts. But then again, I’m not backpacking this time, I’ve living out of a suitcase, and so why can’t I bring one or two luxuries?

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