Dressing up for Spring

Tomorrow the temperature is forecast for 14 degrees!

(Yeah all you Southerns who scoff about Northern weather! Suck it!!!)

Over the past few weeks I’ve been biding my time, getting ready to unleash my inner lady. I’m looking forward to being able to wear dresses in the day, not just in the evening when the public love to throw JD and cokes on me (like someone did when I was wearing the white dress pictured below).

White dress, £22.99 by Forever 21, Bambi necklace also Forever 21

I had to wear this dress with a modesty-sparing nude camisole underneath because the fabric is so unwearably sheer! To protect my lower half I donned tights and a tutu that I bought from the kids section of H&M a few years back. It makes the skirt look huge, but I quite like how that takes the outfit from overly demure into something curious for the evening.

Bag from Tynemouth market, tights by Topshop

I also love the detailing on the dress. Lace is still big for this season, with coloured lace being tipped for popularity, but I like more interesting and/or subtle alternatives such as the netting on this dress (and this ‘teacloth pattern’ shift dress I own from Topshop, who currently stock an amazing array of shift dresses).

The only issue I have now is finding a slip short enough to go under the dress! M&S slips I’ve tried thus far have been woefully long so I’m considering a trip to BHS sometime soon. When I wore the dress before (to a Little Comets and Vinyl Jacket gig), it was with the tutu underskirt, biker jacket and lashings of smokey eye makeup. Next time I want to take the look in an entirely opposite direction, with a fresh face and girly accessories. (Tips for slips much appreciated!)

Today I took my first ‘Spring look’ out on the street, hitting the BALTIC in Newcastle to check out the new exhibitions by George Shaw and Lindsay Seers. I thought I’d match the everlasting Summer staples – florals and nautical inspiration. I also thought I’d cling onto the Mad Men trend before the hysteria dies down.

Rose silk alice band by Stone Bridge, sailor cardigan £10 by Primark, Bag from Tynemouth market, Dress and shoes by Peacocks. Necklace handmade by me!

I’ve done ‘Mad Men’ with the demure nude kitten heels and vintage bag, nautical with the cardigan and necklace (which I made from an old keyring) and florals with the dress and the beautiful rose silk alice band that I was sent by the lovely Melissa and Claire from luxury hair accessories company Stone Bridge. I wouldn’t normally throw so many things together, but I haven’t yet found a jacket to go with the dress so I settled for the cardi and thought I’d try and – in the words of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn – “Make it work”.

I’ve decided to try and get other people to take outfit pics for me when possible so I can get some shots outside – and out of my room. The other day my manager Kevin said that my tripod shot photos from my room ‘made me look like a kidnap victim’. Volunteer photographers out there get in touch!

Oh, thought I’d post this picture because it made me giggle. The BALTIC shop has tons of amazing cards, including designs by cult T-shirt shop Lazy Oaf (and some similar independent designs that the latter also stocks online).

Card, £2.50 from the BALTIC shop

Heehee!

Jazzy Lemon saves the day!

I’d meant to take a picture of my outfit for The Prison Library single launch at the Cluny 2 last night but headed out the door without thinking.

I don’t take a picture of every outfit I’ve worn, but I wanted a picture because it featured a few items I picked up from the Metro Centre on Wednesday. (I’m also having a wardrobe clear out and am in the midst of deciding what looks good and what would be best placed else where!)

Luckily Newcastle’s staple music photographer Jazzy Lemon was out in force and happened to take a few snaps of me at the gig (which you can see below). You can check out the full album (amongst literally hundreds of thousands of rock and roll moments) here. There’s plenty of great shots of all the acts; this Sunday’s Amazing Folk Roots Show guest The Lake Poets, Let’s Buy Happiness in disc jockey action at the decks, soulful Indie four-piece Grandfather Birds and headliners The Prison Library, who managed to put fears about the departure of brilliant Frankie & the Heartstrings guitarist Mick Ross totally at bay.

Blazer £29.99 by H&M, cropped t-shirt £9.99 by Zara, skirt £11 by Primark, headband by Stone Bridge

I saw this t-shirt on Zara’s website and experienced one of those “HAVE TO HAVE THIS” moments where I wanted to leave my desk and flee to this shop for immediate purchase. I didn’t notice I’d picked up a larger size until I got home but I think it will still work tucked into skirts or with faux leather skinnies. The blazer is one of the comfiest I own and was a complete impulse buy when a band practice was cancelled last-minute.

Shoes by Office, socks by Primark

I decided to brighten up the muted colours, ‘chic-up the geek’ and raise myself off the floor by a good five inches with my Office platform heels. I got these in 2008 when I was paid for my performance in Days of Hope by Howard Goodall at Birmingham’s MAC theatre. Although most of the money went on student rent and a new electric piano, I just couldn’t resist these. They made me at least as tall as most of the audience which meant that I could comfortably see the bands for once!

Satchel by New Look (all photos by Jazzy Lemon)

I’m starting to get rather impatient for Spring to arrive now. I’m resisting hiding in big coats and layering cardigans and my unlined parka in an attempt to be ready lest we be treated to a sunburst or two. Tomorrow I’m heading off to Tynemouth (a bit of the coast to any Southerners reading this) so I’m hoping to find a treat or two. I’ve never been before, but I’m gagging for some good ole seaside chips!

Thanks again to Jazzy Lemon for letting me use her photos!

Faceless.

I just watched Cycle 15 of America’s Next Top Model in two days.

This cycle was called ‘ANTM Elevated’ due to the incorporation of more top fashion houses (such as Versace and Roberto Cavalli) and a prize that included a spread in Italian Vogue.

Rather than ‘make like a model’ I thought I’d have a gleeful dig through my wardrobe and mix old and new bits and pieces together. I’ve been to the shops a few times since Christmas but haven’t found too much sales wise – I’ve still got Zara and Top Shop vouchers to splurge – but I’m biding my credit ’til I see something I “simply have to have, darlings!”

Trousers £14.99 by Zara, Shirt and shoes both by H&M

One joyous miracle happened recently on my 22nd birthday when I found a black version of my favourite camel trousers reduced in Zara to £14.99 from £19.99. Anyone who knows this blog at all will be aware that I’ve been trying to find ‘cigarette pants’ for an absolute age so to find them for such a bargain was rather pleasing! (Particularly as I used a Christmas voucher to buy them so it cost nada – thanks Tony!)

Jumper knitted by Deb, leggings 'freecycled', shoes by Dune

I borrowed this jumper from my Dad when I was cold at Christmas and his wife Deb gave it to me ‘because it suited me more’! I’ve wanted an oversized jumper for a while (thanks Deb!) but it doesn’t belt well so I have to wear with leggings to avoid looking too shapeless – I think it works though. The American Apparel style leggings were a free find at a Friends of the Earth Freecycle event I went to before I left Birmingham. Although I was primarily there to offload old clothes I couldn’t carry, I couldn’t resist these! The heels are also a thrift from my shoe hoarding mother. All in all a budget-free look.

Shirt from Oxfam, skirt from Cow Vintage, headband £1.25 (sale price) by Peacocks and boots by Melissa for Anglomania

I held out all holiday season for these boots by Anglomania (one of Vivienne Westwood’s diffusion lines). They arrived as a last present miracle from my fabulous sister Charlotte. Weirdly enough they smell pleasantly fruity so I lay around with my nose in the boots for an alarming amount of time! I shortened and hemmed the skirt so it was of more wearable length but accidentally burned a hole in it… oops! And I’ve not yet worn the shirt out of my room, so I should probably start getting more use out of it!

Dress from PDSA, heels by Office

I got this shift dress for about £3 in 2008 when I was doing work experience as a BBC Blast reporter. I had no money but a desire to spend it, so the PDSA charity shop was a good place for me to browse! The heels were my extravagant purchase from my short spell acting at Birmingham’s MAC theatre during a break from University. They are rather high so I don’t wear them out much, although I wore them for graduation. There were concerns that I’d fall over in front of everyone, but actually it was my oversized mortarboard hat that caused the issue.

Now… to the Top Shop sale! (Suggestions of what to buy, anyone?)

The perfect LBLD?

I’ve always dreamed of finding that ‘perfect Little Black Dress’

I thought I found it for a mere £9.99 in H&M today but when I got to the dressing room it just didn’t fit right.

I had places to be so had to leave the strapless, shiny black pleated bargain behind with the shop assistants. Feeling down I moved to leave the shop but stopped in my tracks near the exit… By Jupiter! I had found it!

It was wrinkly, not in my size and made of fake leather! I had to buy a size up but it means it will be perfect for casual winter layering (for the Amazing Radio office) whilst not being a too tight and ‘fetish’ looking. Once off the hanger and on my body the wrinkles disappeared and gave an almost smooth look.

Faux leather dress, £14.99, white shirt both by H&M

Faux leather dress, £14.99, white shirt both by H&M

It’s the perfect day-to-night dress too. Here I toughen it up a little with my Peacocks grey hiking boots.

Boots £20 by Peacocks

I quite like it with my red heels too; there’s plenty a pair of shoes that would work with this dress which is why I adore it so.

I have a gig with The Union Choir in support of The Winter Hill Transmission’s single launch next Friday (19th November) and I’m not sure if I should wear this or the Primark dress below…

Dress £15, by Primark

The flash of my camera has made the underskirt of this dress look a lot shinier than it actually is. It reminds me of a Peacocks dress I saw in a magazine (but it’s a lot nicer in the lace detailing department and £8 cheaper.) I have to wear it with a belt because the empire line design into the full skirt is so unflattering I was tempted to take it back. The swift addition of the belt made me have a sudden change of heart.

I think that the leather look dress might be better for The Union Choir gig, and the crochet dress for my first Get Frank gig on the 25th November – but again, I’m not sure.

Help me out? Which one for which occasion?!

Anchors and flowers

I’m having a bad face and hair day today…

There are some reasons why this is extremely bad timing, but I won’t bore you with those.

I seem to be having a great run of bad luck recently – like the world has said to me “right, we’ll let you record with Get Frank after two and a half years of desperately trying to organise something, but we’re going to have to compromise on everything else.”

For example, last Saturday morning at approximately 2am (I went to bed before 11pm in the hope of being ‘refreshed’ for my Halloween gig with The Union Choir), I woke up with severe stomach ache which was followed by vomiting etc… I got food poisoning on the morning of the night of the gig I’d been looking forward to for six weeks! And I’d missed the previous gig with tonsillitis. Wonders never cease.

Top by Gap £7.99, Shoes by H&M £14.99, Capri pants £19.99 by Zara, Bag £16.99 by Interacionale

Yes, in this picture I look distinctly unhappy with the universe. I’ve decided to try and cheer myself up by wearing red heels in the daytime. I’m not standing very well here and something distinctly nappyish is going on with the trousers… I attempted to iron them. (It’s not my strong point, ironing.) The trousers are a bit big on my legs but they’re one of the best fits I can find. I really love the Gap t-shirt though. Gap t-shirts are the best quality I’ve found on the high street, with a nice comfy fit.

Hair flowers £1.99 a pair by H&M, 'Frankie necklace' bespoke by ladyluckrulesok.com

My mum gave me the cherry earring after one of her many fancy dress events (she’s a fancy dress genius, and I do not use those words lightly! She is incredible.) I only have one ear pierced so always get people being ‘helpful’ and telling me I’m missing one etc… The necklace is from Ladyluckrulesok.com. I followed the site for seven years before designer Leona Baker decided to move onto a new project. The shop was hugely successful so maybe she wanted to feel more independent again – who knows?

The light is deceptive in this picture too (thank you attic sky lighting!) My hair and face are both messy today. I appear to have developed acne at the late age of 21. The flowers are a desperate attempt to look like my hair is deliberately big and ‘fizzy’ (I hate that word but feel it’s appropriate here. Vogue may get away with it, I do not.) ‘Rah’ girls spend ages backcombing, hairspraying and boofing up their roots to get ‘just out of bed’ hair to match their uggs and jogging bottoms. Again, they and their Jack Wills jumpers are part of an exclusive club that I just don’t get.

Thank goodness I’m off to the cinema, at least!

Also, Get Frank recordings are just having final touches and changes made and will be online very soon. Our first gig in Newcastle is at the Northumberland Arms on the 25th November. Hope to see you there (details to follow.)

The perfect white shirt

I’m always seeing articles about ‘the perfect shirt’ in style magazines, but I’ve never been able to find one that suits me.

On an impromptue window browse yesterday I came across a rack of reduced shirts and went crazy in the changing rooms. (H&M let you take in a whopping seven items… I had eight.)

In the end I bought a peasant style loose blouse and a shirt dress, both white. The only issue is that they’re both a tad see through – so it’s going to be a case of nude underwear and leggings for future outings! I thought I’d have a go at ‘styling it up’ like an article I read in a back issue of Glamour magazine.

Shirt dress £7 (was £14.99) by H&M

Leggings (£7.99), shoes (£14.99) both H&M

I saw these shoes on the same trip and fell in love with them instantly. They’ve got a suede texture, and are of a comfy height so I’m not scared to wear them out during the day as well as the evening. I also like the casual ‘beatnik’ look of the leggings and shirt – it’s probably a bit too flimsy for Autumn, but September isn’t always too bad for the cold (not that I’m aware of Newcastle’s climate yet!)

I’ve heard talk of pub tonight so might take the look on a test drive!