Archive for the ‘vintage’ Category

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Clothes recycling, swapping, and hand me downs

By Daisy Buchanan on June 3rd, 2013

Writer Janina Mathewson explains the rules of wearing something that has been loved before, and how a girl on a budget can avoid growing weary of the nearly new…

Peg pic 1396376_45972476Sometimes in our lives we find it hard to stretch to a new pair of jeans. Sometimes we find it hard to stretch to a replacement pair of three pound sneakers. Sometimes we’re startled awake by the realisation that we don’t own a single piece of your own clothing that’s newer than three years old. That you have more hand me downs than you do clothes you’ve actually bought.

Once you start accruing hand me down clothes it can be difficult to stop. There are two reasons for this. The first is because if you’re going through a time where you know you may not be able to have a decent shop for a while, you start losing the ability to turn down free things. Someone might offer you a dress in just not at all your colour, and you’ll take it because you’re not sure when you’re going to manage to buy a dress yourself. The second reason is that once people realise that you’re open to receiving their leftovers, they start running them all by you before they take them to the charity shop.

This is obviously lovely; it’s splendid to be able to sit back and reflect on the fact that your friends won’t let you go completely naked, but there is a difficulty to be overcome. Because when you’re trying to choose something to wear, you want something that feels like you. Something that shows the most and best of you. And it’s really hard to achieve that with a wardrobe stocked with other people’s leavings.

This is easiest combated with the smaller items. Your skirts and shirts and cardies. In this case, it’s like mixing paint – you think yellow is too jaunty? Mix in some blue for a vintage pea-green.  Think that shirt is a bit too prim and businessy for you? Chuck an old belt over it and wear it with a chunky necklace.

Dresses and such like are harder, as they’re kind of like a full outfit, but choice of boots and jackets can do a lot. It’ s all in what you do with it.

Yes, there will be some things that will always feel a little strange; like those boots you have to wear more than you want to because they’re the only footwear you own that keep out water, but you can still have a strong effect on the overall look. And if nothing else, you’ll learn more about what you don’t like to wear, for when your ship comes in and you can foist the whole lot off on someone else.

Follow Janina on Twitter @J9andIf

Fashion Tips, Features, Nostalgia, Opinion, shoes, Trend Alert, Uncategorized, vintage

Five 90s trends we would welcome back (and three we really wouldn’t)

By Lauren Bravo on May 27th, 2013

Cropped tops and tie-dye are all over the high street – so here are five more 90s trends we’ll be welcoming back with open arms

Studded bumbag, George at ASDA

Studded bumbag, George at ASDA


For years now, bumbags have been the sole preserve of paranoid tourists in too-short slacks and giant Reeboks, denied as a bonafide fashion item for anyone with an ounce more personal style. But when I worked on a stall in Camden market, I was obliged to wear a bumbag (black leather, pockety) and I quickly came to love it.

They’re hands-free, but unlike a rucksack don’t give you the look of a world-weary tortoise, plus they’re the ultimate defense against pickpockets because it would take a pretty brazen toerag to go for an iPhone you’re carrying just above your crotch. Opt for neon, metallics or studded leather and wear with warm-bellied pride.


Skirts with shorts attached underneath

So you can do handstands without showing your knickers! And a host of more practical reasons, including standing on air vents and avoiding hot weather thigh chafing. Also, they looked pretty rad when I was six.


High ponytails Clarissa Explains It All still

There are ponytails, then there are high ponytails, then there are ponytails so high that your hair hangs down either side of your face like a spider plant. These are probably the best kinds of ponytails, because it’s almost like just having your hair down, except three inches shorter and with a big ol’ scrunchie perched on top like a cherry.

Clarissa may have explained it all, but she never taught us the secrets of the high pony. Luckily we worked it out ourselves – flip your hair forward and tie it up at the point on your head where it stops looking like a unicorn impression.


Waistcoats (especially velvet)

When I was six, my birthday party outfit of choice wasn’t a frilly pink dress. Oh no. It was a pair of black velvet trousers, a white shirt, and a little velvet waistcoat in mottled shades of burgundy and bottle green, with gold embroidery. I looked vaguely like Little Lord Fauntleroy, but I thought it was the bomb. It was also much more practical for soft play adventure parties and jostling my way to musical chairs victory.

Sweet Valley High Season 1 dvd

Sweet Valley High: The Complete First Season, Amazon

I’d happily herald a return to waistcoats, because they are the ultimate unisex fashion item. Like all the best trends they’re ultimately pointless, unless you’re especially keen to keep your kidneys warm, but they show a certain flair for dressing that can’t be achieved with a humdrum jacket. As for the velvet, I’m sure I’ll meet little resistance when I say that it truly is the fabric of kings. To quote George Costanza from Seinfeld, “if it was socially acceptable, I would drape myself in velvet.” And hopefully soon it will be.


Coffee shimmer lipstick

Our Beauty of our Youth series has already tackled Spectacular glitter and 17 Twilight Teaser lipsticks, but there was another shade gracing the grown-up kissers of the 90s that is well overdue a revival.  We called it ‘Sweet Valley High lipstick’ (we also called snogging ‘Sweet Valley High kissing’, such was the Wakefield twins’ influence).

It was not quite gold, not quite beige, but occupied a gleefully metallic spot between them on the spectrum. It was a bit reminiscent of the icing on coffee and walnut cakes, and applied just as liberally. Given we’ve worked our way through every rosy, peachy and berry shade in Boots over the last 15 years, isn’t it time we rediscovered a coffee shimmer pout? We’d have to call it ‘soya macchiato’ now, of course.


And three we really wouldn’t…

Heat-sensitive colour-changing t-shirts

Hey everyone, look where I’m sweating! You’d think just pits, but it turns out lower back and between-boob too, ain’t that grand?


‘Spice Girl’ platform trainers

They were giant, they were rubber, they came in either black and white or denim and white from Shoe Zone, and they were the only acceptable addition to your stretchy back bootcut trousers and Kappa top. A few months ago they might have made it onto the list above – but since Viva Forever flopped so resoundingly, our zig-a-zig-ah has jumped ship.



In a world where the oneside has been so thoroughly roadtested and vetoed, we simply have no need for the fleece. Carry on hikers, by all means – but the fash pack ain’t joining you.

Beauty, Beauty of our youth, Nostalgia, Opinion, Style Icon, Uncategorized, vintage

Beauty of our youth: The signature scents

By Daisy Buchanan on May 20th, 2013

Writer Janina Matthewson remembers her search for a perfect perfume…

In my life I have so far had two “signature scents.” Not rich person, custom designed signature scents, of course; that’d be cray, but perfumes I Quite Liked and bought multiple times.

Signature Scent the First

Janina effectively had no nose. But her spidey sense told her Provocative Woman was the one...

Janina effectively had no nose. But her spidey sense told her Provocative Woman was the one…

When a girl first realises there are smell options other than Impulse body spray there is just one place she turns: The Body Shop. For the portion of my teenage years in which I thought I was a grown up, I was committed to their Dewberry fragrance. It was the name that first caught me. I didn’t realise dewberries were an actual kind of berry and, firmly convince that it was a whimsically made up name, I loved the combination of the most delicious of all the fruit categories and a natural phenomenon that, although it’s a pain in the arse in real life, is romantic in imagination.

When they discontinued the line, amid dark rumours of animal testing, I was sure would never find anything to replace it. I would be forever destined to just smell like a human.

Signature Scent the Second

My second favourite fragrance (chronologically speaking) was altogether more difficult to discover.

I was heading to Australia with my family and we had big plans to go to a bargain perfume shop, a thing unheard of in little Christchurch.

The first sign of trouble was on the flight over. My ears popped to the degree of excruciating pain, a sure sign of sinus issues. Within few hours I was in the grips of the most violent cold ever to rock my feeble human body.

We delayed our shopping trip day after day, waiting for my nose to unblock, until we were a mere twelve hours from our taxi ride to the airport and home.

“It’s fine,” I said. “We’ll still go, I just won’t get anything this time,” but I was overruled. We would triumph, it was decided.

So I sat in the middle of the shop while my mother (something in Elizabeth Arden) and sister (that Calvin Klein one Scarlett Johansson advertises in The Island) waved little strips of cardboard at me trying to describe what they smelt like and why they suited me.

Eventually we settled on Provocative Woman. Fortunately when my cold abated, I was a fan. All that’s left to regret is that I finished my last bottle before I met the man I now habitually provoke.

Follow Janina on Twitter @J9lf

Beauty, Nostalgia, Opinion, Opinion peice, Top Five, Uncategorized, vintage

Instant Sex Appeal, Bottled – What To Wear To Make People Want To Get Amorous…

By Daisy Buchanan on May 14th, 2013

Some days, you just want everyone to want to want you. To see you storm the street with a bounce in your step and your head held high, and not to think “I bet she’s going to an important business meeting!”, but to have a sudden flash of you with your mouth open and eyes closed, hair piled on a pillow. To make them need to imagine you screaming their name because they have forgotten it. To make them forget that any other woman has ever existed – even if it’s for less than a second.

This is why we wear perfume. Everything else we put on our bodies might give a very cerebral message about our lives – an astronaut’s helmet here, a “world pie eating championships” sweater there – but perfume is pure sex and sensation. Never try to smell “like a meadow” when you could smell “like having it off in a meadow”. Scents react differently to everyone’s skin, and a really awesome fragrance will only warm and enhance the pure animal musk coming out of your pores – isn’t that the most carnal thing you ever heard?

But how, I hear you ask (which is odd because I have very poor hearing), how will I know that the people smelling me will be thinking ‘sex in a meadow’ and not ‘used condom thrown in a field’? Because if a perfume is doing its job, it will make you want to have sex with yourself. If you get a waft of something lovely on your shoulder and immediately have to throw your coat over your lap for some crafty self sufficient time, you’ve got a good thing going. Making strangers crave you is a hollow and meaningless exercise if you’re not already engorged with desire for your own genitals.

Here are some fragrances that will make you want to throw your knickers out of the window and lock your bedroom door for a week:

Marc Jacobs Femme

Marc Jacobs Femme

Marc Jacobs Femme

This is the one to put on when you’re wearing nothing but white broderie anglaise, and you’re at the mercy of someone else’s wandering hands in a verdant, deserted park. This smells like cool cotton sheets on sunburn and kissing that went too far. This is what Nicole in Tender Is The Night would have worn during her affair with Tommy. It’s the gardenia. Gardenia is what good girls smell like the moment before they fall.

Hermes Kelly Caleche

Hermès Kelly Calèche

Hermès Kelly Calèche

It’s the scent of a girl on girl teen MILF porn trope, albeit one with very high production values. There’s a powdery hardness to it – it’s all a bit gilt and marble, ‘do me in the Trump Tower’, but when it stops just sitting on your skin and yields to it, there’s a sensory rainstorm. You might smell it on your best friend’s mum’s scarf as you lean in to kiss her cheek, and then spend the rest of the day squirming with guilty, horny confusion.

Versace Bright Crystal

Versace bright crystal

I suspect this is what Marissa Cooper was wearing when she lost her virginity to Luke in The O.C. You know, before she went massively emo and probably started wearing something manly from Creed, or motor oil. It’s joyfully, trashily, irresponsibly adolescent, sparkling and smouldering simultaneously. If you’re giving your first blow job at your boyfriend’s parents’ beach house, spritz some on your hairband before you tie your ponytail. Use your Jersey trust fund dollars for multiple bottles you can keep in your car, bag and any bedrooms you wind up in.

Thierry Mugler Angel

Thierry Mugler Angel

Thierry Mugler Angel

This is an odd one. On me, it smells like a Magic Tree that has been hidden in an old trainer for reasons that probably seemed sensible at the time. But on some ladies, it’s a superpower. A force of nature.

During my first term at university, I befriended a girl called Alison. I thought we’d be pals because we both had our Reading wristbands on, and she decided I was a good prospect because I was carrying a bad pink Dior handbag. (I was wearing Pink Crystal at the time). Alison had attended a very minor public school and thought she was posh, and inexplicably spoke in a high pitched fake Australian accent. Despite claiming a connection with the Rothschilds, she had the most suburban highlights I’ve ever had the misfortune to lay eyes on. Anyway, after about three days of misery I decided to distance myself from this whiny, human chihuahua, but bumped into her at a social event and ended up snogging her. All night. (I’m pretty much straight, and I wasn’t doing it to impress any boys – we were locked in a cleaning cupboard.) She was wearing Angel, and it was as potent as LSD laced MDMA. It made her irresistibly fanciable. If this one works on you, it could be someone else’s Kryptonite.

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So you want to look like… Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby

By Lauren Bravo on May 3rd, 2013

Pour yourself a mint julep and swing those pearls – thanks to Baz Luhrmann’s new release, the 1920s are roaring straight back into our wardrobes

Zelda-dress-frock-and-frillAre you a flapper? Do you flap? Not the type you do when you’ve got hot food in your mouth, but the fashion type, currently dancing its way across the silver screen again – on Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio and Isla Fisher in The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece of jazz age ennui.

Decadent, libertine and eternally gorgeous, flapper style is the smart lady’s fancy dress era of choice because it’s more original than the 80s, less polyester-flammable than the 60s and less restrictive than the 50s, all those roomy waistbands allow for far more fun at the buffet table.

In normal life, though, it’s a trickier one to integrate. Unless you work in the kind of office where kooky feather headbands are tolerated round the coffee machine, the look is a more obvious choice for evening, when you can drape yourself in sequins and hit up a speakeasy* (*Wetherspoons). It’s also not an ideal look if you’re prone to spills – pastels and muted neutrals abound, as does Daisy Buchanan’s signature summer white.

Plus there are two other big obstacles to pulling off the 20s trend, and they’re bobbing about on your chest. As Thoroughly Modern Millie showed us with her beads that wouldn’t hang straight, those drop-waisted dresses are friend to the flat-chested gal, but a couple of cup sizes can take you from the beautiful to the damned. Or at least the ‘damn, that dress be hanging off her like a valance sheet’.

But hey – we ain’t about prohibiting here. Just find an embellished deep-V instead, or flap it up with accessories. Mid-heeled T-bars and Mary Janes have a fashion ‘moment’ so often you may as well stock up now, and there’s no desk-to-dancefloor situation (we have those ALL the TIME, right?) that a sequined cape can’t solve.

We’re also rather taken with Gatsby style as bridal inspiration… but one thing at a time, yeah?

Eden bib collar necklace, £19 Accessorize

Picture 1 of 15

I know, I know – you already have twelve ‘statement’ necklaces and you can barely afford the chiropractor. But look how beautiful this one is! Stick it on with a t-shirt and you’ve got downtime Daisy, the look she favoured for schlepping around the morning after all those gin gimlets.

Christmas outfits, dresses, Features, vintage, Wardrobe stories

Wardrobe stories: The fairy dress

By Daisy Buchanan on May 2nd, 2013

Shiny fairy 691817_74668070

To fully explain my feelings about fashion, first I must tell you about my mother.

For Mum, the seventies weren’t sexy, the eighties weren’t excessive and the nineties were about shielding one end of the family from their own raging, surging oestrogen levels and the other from their own baby sick. She grew up in an era when we were reacting to the structured, the rule based, the shaped. She was born to go braless, to wear jeans (because they help you move faster), and I think she had to be persuaded to wear make up on her own wedding day.

Perhaps because of her Catholicism, and the idea that vanity is sinful and sexiness is worse, Mum seemed to be born not to care about clothes. Also, she did a lot of her growing up when Thatcher was on the throne and money was tighter than Britney’s cervix circa 1999. And she arrived at the tail end of a big, boisterous family, and her confidence took a little while to blossom because, had she chosen to wear clashing clogs and look-at-me-neon, her brothers would have made her life insufferable.

Then she got married and birthed a daughter who seemed to share genetic make up with Ru Paul and Lolo Ferrari – not with her.

I believe every mother who claims they tried and failed to ban Barbie, because I was that kid. I pouted and strutted like a tiny version of Emily Howard, the Little Britain transvestite, in a hot pink cardie, pale pink tights, a fuchsia frock with my M&S vest over the top, because it had lace on and was embroidered with pink top hats. (My younger sister had the ‘seahorse with the sparkly eye’ vest – I was too big for it, and I hated her for it.) They either had yet to invent tiny plastic pretend heels, or I was forbidden from wearing them for mysterious reasons of ‘suitability’. Either way, I popped a couple of Brio building blocks down each socks and staggered on, just like a grown up.

At four, I was entirely secure in my own aesthetic. I knew what I liked, and I never wavered. And what I really liked was fairies.

Tinkerbell, who has dispensed with her fairy dress and is now wearing a fairy bathing suit.

Tinkerbell, who has dispensed with her fairy dress and is now wearing a fairy bathing suit.

Admittedly, it was probably Tinkerbell lighting up the Buena Vista logo with her wand that did it. But then, Tinkerbell was more promising a proposition than Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Ariel. I had no interest in being a princess. It was obvious they were just fancy WAGs. Palaces were places where one had to keep one’s bedroom tidy. Handsome princes would invariably grow up to become arsey, put upon Kings. So Menalaus nagged and Helen cried. Even the kit was a bit whevs. Crowns looked heavy, and you couldn’t run around in a crinoline. Fairies dressed for comfort and speed. They wore clothes to make and break rules in, because they could do anything. To wish to be a fairy is to wish for infinity wishes. And so I wished for a fairy dress.

I put my order in early. “So, Mummy, I was thinking that maybe Santa could bring me a fairy dress at Christmas?” This was August ’89, and ninety degrees in the shade.

“Darling” replied my mother, thinking quickly, “I’m not sure Santa can get those. You probably have to actually be a fairy,” (My lip wobbled and I blinked defiantly) “which I’m sure you will be, if you keep practising, but for some fairies it takes years and years. Why not ask Father Christmas for a nice…” she looked around wildly “paddling pool?”

There was no more talk of fairy dresses. But I practised very hard, and when I shut my eyes before I went to sleep at night, I saw a vision of pink ribbon and tulle. Something for jumping and soaring. A spell casting dress.

The heat shimmered and faded, autumn’s crunch came and gave way to wintry Radio Times covers and hot chocolate, not milk, before bed. I had a dim idea that Christmas was coming, and it was so exciting I didn’t know what to be excited about first. Nan and Grandpa were on their way! The Snowman was on telly! We were getting fish and chips! (I was given a battered sausage and told the crunchy part was essentially a giant Quaver. It wasn’t.)

On Christmas morning, I woke to a stocking full of promise. I decided the giant tube of Smarties would double as a wand, and was possibly a message from Santa – he was saying ‘hang on in there, kid’. I also acquired a pink parasol for my tiny drag act, an enormous encyclopedia and a Tinkerbell make up set – fairy endorsed. I set about applying pink lipstick to my chin until my father suggested I might like to read my encyclopedia.

It was a great day. There were plenty of presents, dinner was delicious and nobody wet themselves. It wasn’t until the evening, when I was starting to get sleepy, that Mum smiled and told me about the gift Santa couldn’t fit in my stocking.

She produced two boxes – one for me, and one for my younger, seahorse vest wearing sister. And we pulled out two dresses – visions of pink ribbon and tulle. Proof. Proof of glorious, unpredictable magic. Proof we were worthy of the powers those dresses would bestow upon us.

Looking back, I know the dresses were proof of a love even more potent than magic. Mum, who was taking care of a very young family, running a household and hated sewing even more than she disliked clothes and vanity, had been staying up, sometimes sitting in the dark when everyone else had gone to bed, stitching and cutting and pricking her fingers, because she wanted her daughters to believe in something mysterious and amazing.

I’ve spent my adult life searching for another fairy dress. Something to make me feel equal parts powerful and pretty, that I can jump and soar in. But then, maybe I don’t need a specific frock. Perhaps the fact someone loves me enough to have once made me one is what transforms all my dresses into fairy dresses.

Beauty of our youth, Nostalgia, Opinion, Opinion peice, vintage

Retro scents remembered: Vanilla Musk

By Daisy Buchanan on April 26th, 2013

Writer Caroline O’Donoghue knew the secrets of womanhood were lying at the bottom of a bottle. A bottle that could be acquired with the advice of a helpful friend, and some Boots Advantage points…

The scent. The legend.

The scent. The legend.

A musk is a smell with layers. A smell with atmosphere. A fourteen year old boy does not smell of sweat, he smells like a combination of sweat, unwashed football jersey, Linx Africa and the ink from burst ball point pens. That is his musk.

By all accounts, nobody should want to be associated with a musk, but when you’re twelve and your babysitting money doesn’t quite cover J.Lo Glo, you have to make ends meet somehow. (FYI – I still think Glo is the best smell of all the earthly smells. Damn J.Lo, when you get it right you get it right the first time.)

I started buying Natural Collection Vanilla Musk when I noticed a bottle of it on my friend Jaclyn’s dressing table. As the friend with the biggest boobs, she had appointed herself the trailblazer of our friend group, and was always the first person to own Woman Things. She was the great educator, and without her, I would still be sticking fanny pads to the inside of my thigh.

The bottle of Vanilla Musk was large, plastic, and had a picture of a daisy on it. I shook it: the liquid inside and both the colour and frothy density of pee.

“What’s this?”
“That?” she paused for dramatic effect. “That’s my musk.”

The second she said it, an image conjured around me. Musk meant warm nights, with the scent of jasmine filling the air. Heavy, purple silk curtains and sheets as soft as jasmine petals. Princess Jasmine’s bedroom.

Spraying the musk into the air, I was overwhelmed with the smell of stale Victoria sponge. It was heavenly.

The next Saturday, I bought 500mls of Vanilla Musk, and what followed was a two year love affair with Musk in general. The fruity, slightly acid sting of Strawberry Musk. The wintry, anonymous mystery of White Musk. All of them rolled around in the bottom of my school bag, collecting sandwich crumbs in a fine crust around the sprayer’s rim.

These days, I can afford the whopping £25 it takes to smell like J.Lo, but a part of me still longs for those lost desert nights, shrouded in musk.

Follow Caroline on Twitter @Czaroline

Beauty, Beauty of our youth, Fashion Crush, Nostalgia, Opinion, Opinion peice, Retail News, Uncategorized, vintage

Beauty of our youth: Boots 17 Twilight Teaser

By Daisy Buchanan on April 26th, 2013

Writer Becca Day Preston remembers when the coolest girls had frosty faces…

Yes, it was really that purple.

Yes, it was really that purple.

I don’t remember exactly when my makeup love affair began. It was a trickle effect, with a couple of eyeshadows pilfered from my mum’s makeup bag here, a freebie lipgloss or glitter gel from Mizz there. Without mascara or eyeliner, I was essentially a taupe-lidded, sparkle-cheeked, grease-gobbed monster. I didn’t really see the appeal, but I slapped on my make-do go-tos for school discos. And then, when I was 14, I went into Boots to stock up on Natural Collection Vanilla Musk body spray and there it was, the Boots 17 stand, resplendent in navy blue and silver packaging.

Not for me the American Girl sheen of Maybelline or the pre-Kate Moss Rimmel. And certainly not for me the mumsy maturity and sky-high price tag of No.7. I was firmly, hopelessly devoted to Boots 17.

Until I stumbled across this beacon of teen beauty that day, my only experience with lipstick had been the deep purples, bright reds and confusing browns on my mum’s dressing table. She was so enamoured with that particular 90s makeup palette that I never even realised there was a whole other palette out there. The palette of the 90s teen girl: all pale this and frosted that. Oil-eliminating pressed powder. Sparkles in everything. Lilac eyeshadow. I don’t want to be melodramatic, but the day I first slapped on Twilight Teaser lipstick was truly momentous.

It was followed by other items in the Boots 17 line: glittery pale pink eyeshadows, a rather too zealous application of blusher from their Pot Of Rose (blusher balls, basically, but to me they were MAGIC BEANS or something), clear mascara for the brows, concealer in beige, yellow AND green, and of course a thick black mascara to fully tarantula-fy my lashes. All those items had a place in my black and pink makeup bag, but it’s Twilight Teaser that still has a place in my heart.

Would I wear a mid-mauve lipstick shot through with enough ‘frosty’ sparkles to fill a snowglobe now? Of course not. But then, I wouldn’t wear clompy court shoes and fill my Rachel ‘do with those weird hair springs nowadays either. Twilight Teaser wasn’t so spectacularly important because of what it was, but because of what it represented: growing up and making my own way in the makeup world.

I am now 26, I don’t have a Rachel ‘do, and I enjoy a full-time, committed relationship with makeup. Oh and I never leave the house without my lippie. So, thanks, Twilight Teaser. You taught me well.

Follow Becca on Twitter @Becca_DP

Beauty, Beauty of our youth, Celebrity Style, Movie fashion, Style Icon, Uncategorized, vintage

Beauty of our youth: ‘The Rachel’

By Daisy Buchanan on April 16th, 2013

Writer Janina Matthewson recalls her relationship with the most coveted hairstyle of the nineties…

Janina's "Rachel"

Janina’s “Rachel”

Summer drew to a close. The new school year approached. I, a new teenager embarking on that mysterious era known as “high school,” was getting my first real haircut. 

I’d had my hair cut before, obviously, but it had always been a trim of the two existing lengths: “long” and “fringe,” so I didn’t resemble a child of the brethren. But now it was to be different. I had chosen a “style.” I had chosen “The Rachel.”

Not since Farrah Fawcett had a hairstyle been so universally desired, and nothing’s matched it since. Jennifer Aniston’s hair for the first season of Friends was where the proverbial “it” was at, and I wanted it all over my head.

Why It Was A Bad Idea For Me To Get The Rachel:

Reason One: I come from a Large Family and my parents had government jobs. That meant we were bulk buy, home brand, budget option people.

Reason Two: I have wildly precocious hair. It’s unpredictable, it gets everywhere, it’s practically sentient. In all my life it’s been successfully blow dried twice; if I go to a costume party all I have to do to it is nothing, and I’ll be a raven haired Hermione.

So I turned up at Mr Snips to get my ten dollar haircut from the latest graduate of the hairdressing school Old Man McCutty runs out of his basement, a beam just all over my face. “I’d like The Rachel,” I said, blithely. The hairdresser blinked. Her scissors wobbled. She hadn’t heard of the most popular haircut in twenty years.

Even then, I was unafraid. I was young, I was optimistic, I’d never been burned.

I explained the haircut carefully, and she said she could do it. I sat in the chair, watching ribbons of hair fall away, revelling in the new lightness, feeling the ends swish against my neck.

It wasn’t until I was home that I really took it in.

My first “layered” haircut had precisely two layers: a quite thin one, that stopped just short of my shoulders, and a very thick one, at the bottom of my ears.

My head looked like a mushroom cloud. Or indeed, like a mushroom.

Obviously I cried.

We went back, explained that it was all wrong, and they did their best to fix it.

They couldn’t, obviously, it was a complete disaster, but they tried.

And they gave me a mullet.


Follow Janina on Twitter @J9London

Beauty, Features, Nostalgia, Opinion, Top Five, vintage

On Fragrance And Memory

By Daisy Buchanan on April 16th, 2013
Image by Daisy Buchanan.

Image by Daisy Buchanan

Perfume should be a classified substance – it’s the most lethally evocative liquid in existence. Sprayed or unstoppered, it can trigger more unedited recollections than a bad cop who’s exceptionally good at their job. These fragrances make up an olfactory photo album of all my triumphs and disasters.

Tommy Girl, December 1997

I am grown up. Well, twelve, but still totally grown up! Tommy Girl smells like nothing and makes me feel capable of everything. Capable of flirting, capable of kissing, capable of walking down a street with my branded miniature kangaroo zip backpack hanging off one shoulder and having everyone say “Wow! She’s wearing a fragrance that cost £25 from Boots! She’s so cool.” Unfortunately I am still wearing velvet Alice bands, which ruins everything.

I use so much Tommy Girl that I go through my Christmas bottle and require replenishments for my birthday at the start of March. I use so much Tommy Girl that my Great Auntie Audrey takes a fancy to it, and obtains some in time for her next cruise, in order to facilitate maximum cabin boy harassment.

Tommy Girl makes me excited for the future, when I will live in North London and drink four Starbucks lattes a day and go to Babylon Zoo gigs in my long black leather coat. I also have the matching moisturiser and shower gel, which are used before very important occasions, like school discos and the time we had to go on the church coach trip to Plymouth with the nuns. The toiletries don’t smell anything like the perfume. They smell like washing up liquid. It must be a grown up thing.


Aqua di Gio, March 2000

The girl in the advert looks a bit like Phoebe Cates in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, which works well with my slightly sexier, soon to be boyfriend having, fifteen year old persona. I’m not eating, which sometimes makes me feel as if I’m flying. I spray this on my wrists and clavicles, admiring their jut and snap. I’m made of willpower and bone.

But then it’s Summer, and the scent warms on my skin and blooms voluptuously, and I’m eating ice cream and being caught climbing out of windows with bottles of tequila and taking my bra off and letting people see my nipples on the lower deck of a cross channel ferry. And my Gap zero candy pink jeans don’t do up any more and I’m not sad, I’m glad, I’m glad.


Paul Smith Rose, July 2007

I am twenty two, and I have never felt less grown up in my life. My pale grey suede court shoes are sinking into the grass, muddying the cream leather bows at the ankle. Someone, maybe Holly, maybe Beth, is forcing us all to stand in front of Heslington Hall – the only Brideshead-y, Oxbridgey building on campus. The only one that looks like it wasn’t built by an angry, colour blind Communist.

“And one, two, three, THROW!” We force our faces into whimsical grins, and toss our mortarboards into the air. I can’t have been the only one worrying about getting the wrong hat at the end, and facing the wrath of the hire people. But the hat already smells of me – uncertain, quicksilver, hope shot through with fear. I smell expensive. I should smell bloody expensive. My parents have invested several thousand pounds in this moment. Tomorrow, I shall return to my horrible graduate PR job, where my horrible boss smells of CK One. I smile gamely, toss harder, and plan to get very drunk.


Bulgari Jasmine Noir, December 2011

I am wearing this for a man who doesn’t care what I smell like, because he smokes approximately 60 cigarettes a day and probably wouldn’t notice if I shit the bed. I turn up, oiled, shaved, waxed and scented, to listen to what it’s like to be married and divorced and busy and successful and distracted. I am the most empathetic person to ever wear a suspender belt. I shower carefully before I see him. He showers carefully after he sees me.

I smell like a mistress, and I wasn’t built for that.

This perfume is bad magic. It has delivered me from the arms of someone who doesn’t care about me, and put me in the path of someone who cares even less about me. Even the bottle is shaped like an evil amulet – something to be hurled by someone with terrible intentions, who wishes to disappear. I am sinking, I am disappearing, and I will leave nothing but a tiny pile of silk and lace behind me.


Dior Forever and Ever, March 2012

Being, to all intents and purposes, a single girl, I have rituals. I buy myself flowers. I cook myself steak. I am undoing the damage that the one before the last one did by flinging money at the problem. Money I don’t have, but it seems to be working. I can tenderise a rib eye like no other. I don’t wake up crying in the night any more. And I really want to fall in love.

So I find a bottle of something that smells like falling in love – fearless love. Roses on a misty morning, roses still dark green and growing, roses that don’t know scissors and buckets and pollution from passing cars. Its sweetness comes from its freshness – it is without artifice. Careless hope that is not tempered by the anxiety that comes from youth and London living. And I buy it, as a birthday present to myself.

The very next day, I meet someone. And fiercely, fearlessly, we start to fall in love with each other.

Features, vintage, Wardrobe stories

Wardrobe stories: my grandmother’s fur coat

By Lauren Bravo on April 15th, 2013


The Made in Chelsea set aren’t the only ones who can pull off a family heirloom. In the first of our Wardrobe Stories series, co-editor Lauren Bravo explains how her grandmother’s old coat became her go-to for winter glamour

My grandmother was a glamourpuss in the old school sense. Always coiffed, always manicured, but not starched – instead she had that sense of joyful, playful style that you just can’t fake or teach. Silk scarves, lacy gloves, a flash of scarlet lipstick, a perilously high heel for an octogenarian after two hip replacements. She was still teaching a keep-fit class as an octogenarian after two hip replacements too, mind.

Nanny delighted in showing off her sassiest shoes and telling me, “you can have them when I’m dead, not before.” She was a size five, meaning I could never squeeze my hooves into the Bally stilettos anyway, but that wasn’t the point. She was all about ‘heritage’ before Christopher Bailey et al cracked out the tweed – she knew what it meant to covet something beautiful, and patiently wait to inherit it. Never mind that everyone else was in Sketchers and Punkyfish zip-ups; my Grandmother’s wardrobe was my holy grail.

The very last time I saw her, the day before she died of pancreatic cancer, she was asking hospital nurses for her hairspray. Her funeral was on the hottest day of the year, and I wore a fuchsia pink wiggle dress and seamed stockings – completely inappropriate and yet everything she would have loved. “I’ve come as Funeral Barbie,” I told the vicar, solemnly.

But even Nanny might be surprised that her legacy has kept me warm for five winters and counting. I pounced on this coat during the big, sad wardrobe clearout that followed her death, and I brought it back to life by hacking a foot off the bottom – sacrilege, perhaps, but it was 2008 and none of us had conquered ‘midi’ without feeling like Edwina Currie yet.

It’s a (fake) brown astrakhan swing coat with a furry golden collar so big that it’s a bit like walking around in an Aslan costume. There is nothing like throwing on an outlandish coat to make everything underneath it look immediately better – or completely irrelevant, because HEY look at your coat. I can wear it to Londis and I still feel a bit like the feisty mistress of a 1930s gangster. The lining is ripped in places and there’s a big hole in the pocket that I’m forever losing tissues through, but still it manages to make me feel like a queen.

This coat has probably earned me more compliments than all my other clothes put together, even if I suspect half of those people are simply saying “coat!” in the same way we say “haircut!” or “ooh what a large and vibrant tattoo!”. It’s massive, it’s ostentatious, it’s not for everyone. But it’s a tribute to my eternally glamorous grandmother – and really bloody warm as well.

Fashion News, Features, Gallery, vintage

Early 60’s revival continues – Banana Republic launches Mad Men range with MM designer Janie Bryant

By Ashley on March 4th, 2013

Banana-Republic-Mad-Men-Clothing-LineBeing a devoted MM fan and in desperate need for series six to come into my life, the news of a Mad Men inspired clothes range hitting our shores courtesy of Banana Republic (-or at least the US for now) presented fantastic promise – almost as good as the real deal. Everyone likes to own a piece of the action of something they truly love and consider a masterpiece in it’s own right. When it involves iconic and razor sharp tailoring and polished silhouettes, I’m definitely in the buying zone. And hearing that the clothing range is actually developed in collaboration with the series costume designer Janie Bryant, well – it doesn’t get much more of a promise than that!

Questions like: Am I going to recognise who this outfit is inspired by? Which characters’ style would be my ultimate dream outfit? (hmm – still torn between whether it’d be delectable Joan or doing-it-for-the girls Peggy), or I wonder will it include lots of beautiful accessories and all important finishes and detailing that really capture the period? spring to mind. So with all this souped up hope and in need of a MM shot of pure pleasure and indulgence I clicked onto Banana Republic’s Mad Men range which frankly left me feeling a touch dissatisfied (not something I’d normally associate with a certain Mr Draper).

This number is definitely the best of the collection – a silk dress with a striking cactus flower repeat print, with buttoned cuffs and tie front belt – a fine addition to anyone’s wardrobe. But minus a couple of other interesting prints and textures this is pretty much it people. After that, there is a melange of not so different wardrobe basics lacking in much detail or depth – sure there’s a distinctive nod to the 60’s, but overall comes across pretty sanitised and lacking in the MM essence any self-respecting fan would love to linger over, and pay the (not-so-cheap) price for. I would actually go further to question how much Janie had to do with this not particularly inspiring collection other than sign off the BR design prototypes.

Do I want to part with the best part of a hundred quid for a white dress with vertical stripe? Nothing is inspiring me to this, which is a shame as I think they have missed a trick here, particularly now with the fashion landscape totally embracing black & white, stripes and 60’s influences. As you might have gathered by now, this collection leaves me slightly cold and wanting to head for the nearest ‘Beyond Retro’ branch to make it all better again *and relax*….

You can see the collection here

Peggy Shift Dress $130

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A bold, modern take on the lively graphics and form-flattering silhouettes of 1960s style. Banded neckline and keyhole opening. Tie waist with crochet belt loops. 100% Rayon.

Gallery, vintage

Top iconic women from the 50s and why this era stands out

By Andrea Petrou on May 21st, 2012

The fifties has been named as the decade where women dressed most stylishly.

According to a poll of 1000 men, this era was the one where women were the most attractive.
The swinging 60s and stylish 70s came in second and third respectively in the survey by

And from a fashion point of view we can see exactly why this era is so popular. Home to iconic starlets such as Marylin Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, this era was all about Hollywood glamour. Red lipstick, curled hair and cute, revealing frocks took over from the stricter, duller post, war 40s.

Glam was back after a dark spell and celebrities and women alike were making the most of it.
And despite today’s hotpants, fake tan and faded jeans we all still look up to this era. which has carved out a name for its stylish looks.

See the gallery above for our iconic 50s starlets.
Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity Style, Gallery, Style spotlight, vintage

Style spotlight: Mrs Paul McCartney, otherwise known as Nancy Shevell

By Andrea Petrou on October 12th, 2011

Nancy Shevell has become one to watch in the fashion world following her wedding to one of the world’s most eligible bachelors.
The heiress who tied the knot with Sir Paul McCartney in a 40s style white frock designed by Stella McCartney, has caught the style crews eye thanks to her classic style.
Unlike many a superstar’s wife Nancy opts for understated chic. She’s a huge fan of the classic shift dress, which she dresses up with embellishments for a night out, while velvet is also a regular is her wardrobe.
However, she’s also a fan of the vintage trend, often spotted in a range of 60s and 40s pieces.

We’re sure with style like this she gets on very well with her designer step daughter.

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrity Style, Fashion Crush, Gallery, vintage

ShinyStyle loves: Urban Outfitter’s ‘Cobain Collection’

By emilyborrett on August 31st, 2011

Bitching & Junkfood Navajo Shorts

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No grunge girl would be without a trusty pair of 90s-style denim hotpants like this cool detailed pair from Bitching & Junkfood - plus they're reduced too. Amazing!

The first great love affair I ever had wasn’t with a person; it was with grunge. At the age of eleven, bored of pop-punk like Busted and Good Charlotte and wanting something more, I inevitably discovered Nirvana. What followed was years of sitting in my room listening to Kurt Cobain wail in my babydoll dresses, band shirts and clumpy boots while posting tiny pictures of his face all over my wall to make a tiny Kurt shrine.

And what’s more, everyone at my school thought I was weird to be so obsessed with a band that had disbanded when I was two years old. But I really, really loved Kurt Cobain, and grunge. Naturally as I got older I progressed to other less poppy grunge, but Nirvana still holds a special place in my heart.

Well, HA HA to all the girls who picked on me at school for wearing a Kurt T-shirt under my school T-shirt, because grunge is cool again now thanks to the likes of Erin Wasson and Leigh Lezark. It’s cool to use dry shampoo instead of showering (though it’s probably better to shower – it’s not cool to smell, guys), it’s cool to wear band shirts and old babydoll dresses you found in the charity shop. This is something that Urban Outfitters have cottoned onto, because they’ve released the “Cobain Collection” as a means of tribute to one of grunge’s most famous frontmen.

When I think about it this is probably exactly the kind of thing that Kurt would have hated were he alive today – putting the collection in his name is probably in bad taste, but the clothes are nice..

The Cobain Collection is a cool selection of easy, wearable pieces inspired by the grunge scene (naturally there are a couple of Nirvana tees in there) including spiky silver jewellery, shredded jersey T-shirts and buckled ankle boots. Our favourite piece has to be the tan varsity jacket from BDG, which we want to wear with a pair of Levis, high-top trainers and a band shirt.

Check out our favourite pieces from the Cobain Collection in the gallery above.

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