Monday, 26 October 2009

Rules for my unborn son

Have just come back from a lovely weekend in Istanbul, which coincided with our 1-year anniversary. It's my second time in the city and it gave me the chance to check out the asian side (the European side is the bit with most of the sights) and as per last time (my first in Istanbul) I loved the city and feel like it's the kind of place you could visit 100 times and still not really 'know'... anyway, more of that later, as there's so much to say about Istanbul that I wouldn't know where to begin! I just wanted to post this cool blog 1001 rules for my unborn son, by Walker Lamond, in which he shares the little tidbits of advice that you wish your dad could have given you (if he hadn't been so busy earning a crust, stressing, whatever...) like rule 395. Be mindful of what comes between you and the earth. Buy good tires, good sheets, and good shoes or rule 393. Never eat lunch at your desk. He's published a book of the same title which would make a lovely gift for any father-to-be, or man, or even woman... It's funny, but it's come accross my mind time and again that I ought to write down all the little but important things I learn in life, partly as a reminder to myself to stick to my principles and maybe to even share with others (but not in a pretentious way :-)), and reading Walker's blog I think that's what my next post is going to be; 1000, well maybe just 25, rules for my unborn daughter (and, boy would I have a lot of rules for her!)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Birthday weekend in the UK

This weekend I went on a surprise visit to Nottingham (UK) for my mum's 60th birthday and she certainly was surprised! My brother walked into my parents room (his was a surprise visit from Bournemouth too) which was shock enough, and then I appeared 10 minutes later resulting in tears from my mum and a 'you could have given us a heart attack!' from my dad who was undeniably pleased but just doesn't cope well with surprises (it's a control thing :-))... Well, we had a lovely day of birthday fun with mum, and I managed to do some bridesmaid dress shopping (I need a frock for my sister's wedding next month). I found my perfect dress (I felt just like a princess in it - strapless with a full floor-length skirt) but unfortunately it could not be made with such short notice, so I've semi-opted for a silk nightie type affair from Pierce Fionda at's very flattering, but a bit sequeny and beaded for me, which makes it all feel a bit 'footballer's wives' (photo above, purple is the offical wedding colour). Anyway, I've got said dress on reserve, whilst I have one final look round Madrid this weekend. I have found some amazing dresses here in Spain to be fair, the only problem is that they cost over 1000e. A couple of weeks ago I decided to look in the shops near my house on Calle Argumosa (Lavapies) where there are a couple of quite fancy looking shops, run by people of gypsy origin I think... Well, I truly had my prejudices slapped in the face; for some reason I had decided to equate gypsy with low price. How wrong could I be? These shops were run by perhaps the most glamourous women I have ever seen (gypsy or otherwise) and sold beautiful handmade designer oscar-dresses in silk at a start off price of 1000e (700e for me as a 'special client', ahem), so for the moment I'm back to the drawing board, or at least back to the chavvy suburban shopping centre, La Vaguada...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

I rate... Korres lip balm

When I first heard of Greek natural beauty brand Korres a few months ago my initial thoughts were 'beh, how many well-known cosmetic companies come from Greece' and 'double beh, I don't believe all this natural product b*** s****, bring on the science!' But, on a recent stroll into their Calle Fuencarral shop in Madrid, I was proved oh-so-wrong; a) their products are based on scientific research, and b) they sell the tinted lip balm I have been searching for all my life (Quince lip butter, with a texture and colour to die for, and it smells amazing too). And perhaps the best thing is that it's not ridiculously expensive.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

5 worst summer fashion faux pas (most of which I’ve committed myself over the years)

Now that summer is officially over, I’m taking a few moments to reflect on some of the lows of holiday fashion.

1. Boob tubes/strapless dresses with ‘armpit overhang’. Sarah Jessica Parker on Sex and the City never has this problem – does she use some sort of transparent ‘armpit bra’?
2. Canary/carnival colours. A lime green top is ok, but matching it to lime green shoes and handbag just screams ‘Lilt lady’ (above photo - does Lilt even exist any more?)
3. Themed fashion. Summer seems to provide the perfect backdrop for ‘I’m Esmerelda the gypsy princess’ / ‘I’m Meryl Streep in out of Africa’ outfits and head to toe jangling ‘ethnic’ accessories. It’s all good clean honest fun, but as Jackie O said, ‘look in the mirror before you go out and remove one accessory’ (I struggle with this sometimes, but hey, I was never a first lady :-)).
4. Strappy high heels on sweaty days. Chafing is never sexy, and neither are plasters. I personally spent a small fortune on Compeed transparent gel plasters this summer. Next year I promise to stick to comfy pumps, honestly.
5. And finally, too much flesh on show. Come on, we’ve all done it.

I’ve just looked back on what I’ve said, and think I’m starting to sound like a disapproving aunt! So to provide a bit of balance, here are what I see as the 5 best things about Autumnal fashion.

1. Wool. Real wool (with no acrylic blended in) seems to be a rarity in high street shops these days. I spent all of last winter searching for the perfect black pure wool jumper to no avail, and the same seems to happen every year... Why is it so hard to find plain, chunky knit sweaters with a bit of edge that won’t bobble at first sight? Search as I might, nothing can match up to my ‘favourite jumper ever’ which I shrank to Barbie-doll size in the washing machine 6 years ago, but refused to throw away till last year (perhaps I was hoping to dress my future babies in it?). It was from Karen Millen (back in the day when Karen Millen was actually a decent place to shop), a fine grey merino wool knit with matte finish steel clasps at the shoulders. I bought it 11 years ago, but it still would have been perfectly wearable today (if I hadn’t decided to risk throwing it in the machine).

2. Sexy shoes. Let’s face it, feet aren’t always all that pretty, and cool-weather footwear provides the perfect cover up (and eliminates the need for pedicures). One of the best things about dressing up in Autumn and Winter is the footwear - the fantastic brown riding boots, the sharp black heels, the garçon brogues. I am particularly coveting a pair of those hoof-like ankle boots. Time to get out the shoe polish; I love that smell!

3. Scarves and fauxminas (my cheapo take on pashminas). After a childhood of constant winter throat infections, one day I finally woke up and took my mum’s advice, ‘wear a scarf’. And now I love them. Perhaps it’s something to do with living in Spain where people are never far from their scarves (even in summer, my ex-students would have a little piece of cloth tied round their necks ‘because of a sore throat’, I’ll elaborate on this hypochondria in a future post) but as soon as the weather gets even a little bit cool, out come my scarves. For me they not only provide a form of physical protection against the cold, but they also make me feel fortified in other ways, a sort of armour against the outside world.

4. Crisp white shirts. Need I say more? No garment speaks confidence, style and ‘togetherness’ more than this one (who the hell do I think I am, Anna Wintour?!)

5. Tweed. I have loved tweed ever since my picking up my first tweed jacket from Oxfam when I was 15. Charity shops are something that just don’t translate well in Spanish ‘you bought something second hand?’ people will say, looking at you as if you just ate a peanut you found in a public toilet! To be honest most charity shops in the UK are probably filled with tat, but living in the newly prosperous ‘between the commons’ area in London as a teen, these shops were a hunting ground for Chanel and Dior cast offs at teen-friendly prices... (though I think mine was a hunting jacket, some old school British brand).
6. I know this list is meant to have only 5 items, But I had to add another; trench coats. So many classy ladies come to mind - Jackie O, Julie Christy, Audrey Hepburn, just about any Hitchcock blonde :-)

For amazing autumn style check out The Sartorialist. ¡Viva Otoño! But really sorry for all those people suffering nightmare floods around the country right now :-(
p.s. The Lilt Ladies were used to advertise refreshing 80s tropical drink, Lilt.
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