Monday, 12 March 2012
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.
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...
Keep the sea breeze at bay with these snuggly vintage coats from Rokit.com