Sunday, 27 May 2012

Summer in Suburbia

The English sun has finally made an appearance, and I am taking full advantage of the opportunity to take each of my summery sundresses (the ones that have been wilting sadly in the back of my wardrobe for the last 12 months) out for a well deserved stroll. A back garden BBQ provided the perfect excuse for me to give this floral 80s number an update with dark lipstick and 90s-esque glasses. Hope you like...

Monday, 12 March 2012

Winter Beach/ Pastels on the Pier

 Image from Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind 

The idea of the beach in winter is one that has always captivated me. I think most people would agree that beaches are strictly summer territory, no question about it. And I, eternal child of all that is summery, have placed the idealistic scene of warm, gleaming rock pools and lolly-sticks on sandcastles high on my personal pedestal of Special, Sparkly places. Beaches are places for feeling sunburned and sandy and windswept, with salt in your hair and the sun in your eyes. For most people, that eternal, golden setting of the sea side in summer will live on forever in their minds, as it does in mine, as the stuff of sweet summer childhoods spent playing in the surf, and adolescent flings on grassy campsites by the sea.

I'd always thought of the beach in winter, therefore, as a sort of forlorn, forsaken landscape; almost post-apocalyptic in it's state of eerie desertion. The sand looses it blinding, sunlit glare, and dims to a dull, pale, yellow, while the sparkling sea becomes iron grey and choppy, not to mention freezing. But in a way, the beach in winter is also sort of beautiful. There is something almost calm and reassuring about it's ghostly emptiness and the softer, less harsh hues of a murky, glass green ocean, and a pearly, clouded sky. I think it was actually the film Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind that gave me this new appreciation of windswept, winter beaches, not lit up, arcade-like, with the brazenness of a bright, summer's day, but bathed in the gentle tones of soft grey sheet rain gathering on the horizon, or smooth, blue pebbles hidden in the shadows of clear, shallow pools. The film opens with Jim Carey's dejected and jaded-looking character suddenly deciding not to board his usual train to work, and instead running flat out to jump on a train heading to the seaside town of Montauk.

The scenes of him walking the shores of a deserted beach complete with rickety wooden windbreakers and long dry grass dancing in the wind made me start to think of the beach during winter not as a sad, forgotten place, but as a place of recovery and escapism. There isn't really anyone around, and feeling like you are alone with something as vast and powerful as the ocean has got to be the ultimate place to think things over and take deep lungfuls of fresh, salt-flecked air if you're feeling a little down in the dumps. The film then continues to revisit the beach via the character's memories of his now-ended relationship, one time at night as the couple break into a deserted beach house, one time when it is covered in thick blankets of snow, and one time during a surreal scene that involves the couple waking up in bed on the open, windy shore. If you haven't seen this truly stunning, unusual and generally amazing film, then you really, really should, but I wanted to mention it here because the idea of wintry beaches, blustery air that requires snuggly layers, and the muted, soft colours of a dully lit beach cocooned by a soft, shell coloured sky is exactly what is inspiring me sartorially right now.
           Image from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

The reason that I am suddenly feeling all these beachy, windswept, freezing-cold-winter-merging-into-sightly-less-freezing-cold-spring vibes, is partly down to my new magazine collage wall. Let me explain: my boyfriend and I have currently just moved into our new place together, and much to my surprise and delight, he was all for my 'lets decorate the walls in millions of pages from all my old Glamour magazines' idea. Well, he was all for decorating one wall in them, which was good enough. Therefore, whenever I sit in our shiny new dining room to eat my lunch/attempt to do some writing, I am now surrounded with all of my most beloved fashion and beauty moments from the dog-eared copies of Gamour I've been collecting for absolute donkey's years.

Several of these images are from my absolute favourite ever Glamour fashion feature, entitled 'Have a Pretty Day', which is from a few seasons back now, I think. Anyway, the pictures were shot at Brighton Pier, which is one of my favourite places in the world. It was a spring shoot, but, unusually for a fashion magazine, the stylist had actually taken note of the fact that spring in England isn't all sunshine and blossom and clear, blue skies, and had dressed the model in a series of sugary, sweet outfits in soft creams and muted pastel tones, compete with coats, jackets and opaque tights, albeit in pretty spring hues. Not only does this whole 'Winter Beach/ Pastels on the Pier' look perfectly embody the current trend for pretty ice-cream pastels, but it also packs personal connotations to my love of beaches and fascination with the muted, soothing beauty of the sea side in crisp, early spring and deepest, darkest wintertime. Not only this, but the images in this shoot are also rather sixties inspired, making me fall in love with micro minis, swing coats, shift dresses and big, Bambi eyes.

To achieve this sweet, pier-worthy look, think pale muted colours, and work with a palette of cream, white, mint green, powder pink, toffee and palest lavender.Team a snowy-hued shift dress with white opaque or semi-sheer tights, and wear with light tan lace-up brogues and a powder-blue swing coat. Blend in with the fairground carousel with pastel separates or sugary vintage dresses in floaty fabrics, and pick your way over the pebbles in elegant Mary Janes with a metallic sheen for a spot of mermaid-esque shimmer. Team the look with gently tousled waves, nude or chalky lips and long-lashed Bambi eyes for a nod towards sixties chic. 

Lucky for me, my birthday is coming up next month, and I'm hoping that my boyfriend will whisk me away to the quiet, secluded shores of Brighton on a blustery spring day, to share huge clouds of pink candy floss and throw pebbles into a foamy, wind-whipped sea. Therefore, my head is currently full of the dancing images of lilac vintage day dresses, little candy-coloured knitted tops and sweet white mini skirts worn with sixties swing coats and pale, dainty plimsolls. Here are some of the images from the oh-so-pretty Glamour shoot now adorning my dining room wall, along with some of the sweet, sixties-inspired items that I am just longing to fling on for a skip through the whirring lights of amusement arcades. Be inspired to dip a toe into the not-so-chilly sea of cute, transitional winter-to-spring sea side chic, and remember to, above all, have a pretty day...    

  Images from Glamour magazine (on my magazine wall!)

Keep the sea breeze at bay with these snuggly vintage coats from

Look like a stick of Brighton rock in these pretty pieces from

Stock up on shoes, socks and iced gem tops from

Monday, 6 February 2012

Lavender Love- get pretty in parma violet shades of lilac, lavender and palest dusky mauve

Anyone who has even the mildest interest in fashion is probably well aware by now of the fact that pastel colours and pale, ice cream hues are just about THE biggest trend for SS12. As you cannot have failed to notice, glacial shades of spearmint green, palest pink and powder blue were all over the catwalks from Meadham Kirchhoff's living raggedy-ann dolls with their towering pastel-tinted beehives and frou-frou skirts, to Louis Vuitton's frothy fashion fairy tale show complete with fair ground carousel, dolly mixture mules and La Moss in a twinkling tiara. Therefore, at the risk of regurgitating the words of every fashion magazine I've read in the last two months and indulging in all things saccharine and sweetie-inspired (as much as I would love to- I'm all about the candy colours) I have decided not to bore you with repetition (no matter how pretty it sounds!) and instead focus on the one pastel shade that is tempting my sartorial sweet tooth right now more than all its pretty competitors.

The shade I'm talking about, is in fact, lavender. It is a colour and fragrance that I once associated with 'old lady-ness' (if I can coin such a term) due to it's old English associations and the fact that a gift set of lavender-scented soap was just about the only Christmas/birthday present that my granny couldn't seem to find one million and one objections to. As a child, I thought of lavender (the colour and fragrance) as the sort of thing one might find in Marks and Spencer's giftware department, or adorning the bathroom of a fussy, elderly lady with a weakness for lace and frills. However, what with the recent explosion of all things pale, pretty and pastel hued, I am feeling a real lavender love that reveals just how much I've been seduced by the lovely lilacy shade and its connotations of delicacy, softness and old-school femininity. What with my love of vintage, I find that in recent years I've developed a new appreciation for lavender's traditional English connotations, and that the pale, pretty colour is surprisingly and quite stunningly flattering when teamed with the dream combination of pale skin and red hair.

In fact, just about any faded pastel hue looks perfectly pretty against pale skin, but I'm loving the off-beat quirkiness of lilac, being a colour that you would have thought would clash terribly with red. Well, okay, it does clash, but that's what I think makes red hair and lilac apparel such a unique, surprising and therefore flattering dream team. Back in the summer, you might recall a post I wrote all about my rediscovery of the colour purple, and how I was loving its magical, mystical, sultry-night-sky-in-the-summer vibes. Well, this season, it's all about faded, powdery shades that evoke hazy summer memories and strolls in the park under the shade of a pretty parasol, so I'm ditching deep purple for a paler shade of plum. Think parma violtets and the lilac-coloured iced gems when it comes to this look, opting for cool shades of palest purple and duskiest mauve. Here are some images to get you inspired, and which capture the romantic mood of my current lavender love..

Pastels, pastels everywhere...
The SS12 catwalks were a beautiful watercolour wash of palest lemon, glacial blue, spearmint green and dusky rose.

Parma violet pin-up: The stunning Dita Von Teese whips up a sartorial sweet treat with her sugared-violet dress, pretty vanilla skin and cherry-red nails and lips.

Deborah Ann Woll (who plays Jessica Hamby in True Blood) once again proves that scarlett locks, snow white skin and lilac are a match made in fashion heaven.

Christina Hendricks is yet another porcelain-skinned redhead working the lavender look

Me, modeling a floral lilac vintage dress for Bohemian Rose Vintage last Spring
I adore this delicate lilac slip dress from Team it with cream or nude heels for a summery tea party and you'll look as sweet as a (Louis Vuitton) sundae.

Louis Vuitton's SS12 ad campaign featuring aforementioned sundaes. Yum ;-)

Have a Louis Vuitton-style fashion fantasy and fly away on a fairground horse with this designer-esque collar from Rokit Vintage. The pretty lavender ribbon gives the prim cream lace a touch of parma violet sweetness.   
Lots of love,

The Porcelain Princess