Mending broken hearts

As I wrote yesterday, I am a big Radley fan. Their classic bags are well made and elegant and will last a lifetime. What I didn’t realise until yesterday when researching my post was they had a blog. Being the fan, and all round nosy parker, that I am I subscribed to the blog and received an update this morning.

What I didn’t realise was that Radley, in partnership with Laura Bailey, their first brand ambassador, are supporting the British Heart Foundation by releasing a limited edition version of their cross body bag with a heart tag mirror. The mirror is also available separately and profits from both items will be donated to the British Heart Foundation.

Radley BHF Across body bag

Radley's British Heart Foundation Across Body Bag £99 with £14.85 being donated to BHF

What is unusual for such a donation is that Radley have specified the actual profit they will donate from each item, being £14.85 from each bag sold and £2.85 from each mirror. In percentage terms this equates to 15% of the cost of each bag, so a significant amount, unlike the 10p or similar donated from the sale of each pack of charity Christmas cards.

The bag itself is simple enough that it would go with everything, and being cross body, it leaves your hands free to do other things, be that carry your shopping, a cup of coffee or push a pram. And the attached mirror is always useful for quick touch ups of lipstick, or just to check you haven’t got spinach stuck in your teeth.

The bag and mirror are available from www.radley.co.uk and are priced £99 and £19 respectively.

So, go on. Just think of it as guilt free shopping 😉

Average Josephine x

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Bag Lady

Some people are shoe people. I know the way to my best friend’s heart is through a pair of Christian Louboutin’s for example. And whilst I love shoes, I find spending masses of money on them quite difficult. I don’t mind spending a significant sum of money of a pair of shoes which, with a bit of TLC, will last for several years without going out of fashion. but the problem is even with the best will in the world, no pair of shoes will last forever.

But a handbag, a handbag could very easily last you the rest of your life. Granted, they need a bit of TLC, protector spray and keeping relatively dry, but if it’s well made they should last a really long time. So whilst shoes are the way to some girls’ hearts, bags are definitely the way to mine.

In a perfect world where money was no object I would have a small stash of Mulberry bags. They are gorgeous, well made and British (fewer fashion miles). What more could you want? Alas, I do not have a stash of Mulberry bags because they are a little , OK, a LOT, out of my price range. But a girl can dream…

Mulberry Love

That’s not to say that just because you can’t afford Mulberry you are limited to a life of crap handbags. There are a number of brands out there who make much more reasonably priced but still high quality bags. I am currently toting about a Ted Baker bag from about two years ago which has the most gorgeous soft leather (a random requirement of mine, bags should feel nice!) in a dark purple-y blue. I also have a nice selection (I’m up to three at the moment) of Radley handbags.

Radley is a company whose bags I love. They do sometimes go a bit overboard on the details but their more classic bags are wonderful. All of mine have been either Christmas or birthday presents although I am considering investing in another. My current favourite is modelled by Laura Bailey in one of their new adverts although I do confess I would buy it in my favourite purple rather than the cream advertised.

Laura Bailey for Radley

Laura Bailey for Radley

If not Radley then one option I have discovered recently is another British company (I like supporting British industry)  called Peony and Moore. One of Deborah Meaden’s Business Accelerators finalists and shortlisted for a Bath Life New Business Award 2012, this is a really up and coming company making classic but not old-fahsioned leather bags. There are two in particular, the Gilly and Lucia on my hit list and would be great additions to anyone’s handbag collection.

Peony and Moore "Lucia" bag

Peony and Moore "Lucia" bag

So if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach then the way to a woman’s definitely seems to be through her accessories!

Are you a bag or a shoe person? And what is your limit when shopping for these items?

Average Josephine x

PS. If you buy Easy Living magazine at a bargainous £2 this month (normal price £3.70) there is a code to get 20% off when shopping at www.radley.co.uk so go buy it!!

Dear Angelina

A polite request to Angelina Jolie:

We’ve never met. Nor are we likely to (thank God). But something has come to my attention which I feel I must share.

You are 36 years old. In other words, old enough to know better. Your partner was nominated for an Oscar and is widely considered to be one of the best looking men on the planet (I will confess, I don’t see the attraction myself). So it’s not like you’re looking for a bloke. You have children (many, many children) who will see these photos reproduced every time Oscar season comes around who will wonder “what on earth was she thinking?” and probably endure a certain degree of derision due to them.

More than any of this, you are a well-respected, Oscar winning actress and widely acclaimed humanitarian in your own right. You regularly top the sexiest women in the world polls run by lads mags such as FHM. So, why, please, why did you need to stick your leg out of what was a very nice (although somewhat dull) Atelier Versace dress like a ten dollar hooker?

Due to the split in the dress a certain degree of leg-flashing would be expected but to make sure that every time you stepped in front of the camera you were flashing your right leg (which now has its own Twitter account) was just tacky. In addition, whilst I understand that when working in the industry you do a certain degree of self-promotion is to be expected, to stand there when called to present an award, effectively saying “hey, look at my legs, I’m going to take up more of the press tomorrow than half the winners of these statues will” makes you look incredibly cheap.

So please, look up the word “elegance” in the dictionary. And next time you think about trying a stunt like this, remember it. PLEASE!

Thank you and I hope to never see so much of your right (or left, for that matter) leg ever, ever again.

Average Josephine

The land that style forgot

Vivienne Westwood has done it again. She has proclaimed that Britain is the worst dressed nation on earth and actually I’m not entirely sure I would disagree with her. Certainly if you look at the dresses on show at the Brits on Tuesday night they don’t exactly reflect well on the UK considering these people will have a significantly more to spend and thus a much more extensive range to select from than the ordinary woman on the street.

Jessie J seemed to have forgotten the bottom layer of her dress given that you could very easily see her underwear through it. I am absolutely not against flashing a bit of skin but given that the, erm, vital parts of her boobs were only covered by discreet embroidery, a more conservative bottom half would have made her look a little less like she’d stepped out in an Ann Summers nightie.

Jessie J at 2012 Brit Awards

Jessie J at 2012 Brit Awards

The definitive example of how the sheer look works best harks back to 2002 (I didn’t realise when I first thought about it that it was ten years ago) when Halle Berry wore an Elie Saab dress with a sheer embroidered top and voluminous silk skirt to collect her Oscar for Best Actress for her part in the film Monster’s Ball.

Halle Berry at the 2002 Oscars

Halle Berry at the 2002 Oscars

If you compare photos of the two, one looks classy and the other rather trashy and whilst Jessie J’s make up and hair are amazing, the dress seriously lets the side down.

As for the X factor competitors who have made it as far as being invited to the Brits, Alexandra Burke, Little Mix and Cheryl Lloyd… Oh dear, ladies, the only thing I can say is “why?!”

Little Mix, and, in particular, Jesy, have experienced a certain amount of backlash about how they look and their weight but the issue isn’t with their size. These aren’t big girls; they may be bigger than the average size 2 waif that passes for an actress these days but they are normal girls who just happen to be able to sing quite well. They haven’t been groomed by the industry that weighing more than your average 12-year-old is a fate worse than death and look all the healthier for it. Their problem is not their weight but their styling.

Little Mix at 2012 Brit Awards

Little Mix at 2012 Brit Awards

Working from left to right, the dress sense goes from “quite good” to “not too bad” to “oh dear…” to “what on earth were you thinking?!” Snake-skin leggings are only flattering on legs that actually need a bit of visual enhancement and whilst neon may be in, that yellow and black number may be designer but stylish, hell no.

Seriously girls, sack the stylist.

The final offender is Alexandra Burke and the problem with her dress is that whoever designed it (whoever you are, shame on you…) started with a draped, Grecian style dress in cobalt blue which, had it been left alone, would have been gorgeous. But for reasons best known to the designer, they decided to top it off with wooden armour plating over the shoulders. Whilst this is probably wonderful for the posture (not exactly conducive to slouching) it looks, quite simply, weird.

Alexandra Burke at 2012 Brit Awards

Alexandra Burke at 2012 Brit Awards

Ironically the sartorial highlight for me was Lana Del Rey who wore a simple, off the shoulder red dress which, by the size of her waist, had a pretty good internal corset going on. Looking at it, it could only ever have been designed by one person: Dame Vivienne Westwood. Whilst some of her clothes can be somewhat avant-garde and appear rather unwearable, when it comes to evening wear, she always pulls it out the bag. Beautifully cut and draped, her Gold Label evening dresses are on my list of “things to wear before I die”.

Lana Del Rey at 2012 Brit awards in Vivienne Westwood

Lana Del Rey at 2012 Brit awards in Vivienne Westwood

I’m not sure whether I would say that Britain is the least fashionable nation in the world but I think the least stylish is definitely up for grabs. People need to think more about whether they look good and whether an outfit actually suits their body type and less about what is hot off the catwalk as just because something is “in”, that doesn’t mean it will look good.

Would you call Britain the land that style forgot? And what do you think is the worst style faux pas?

Average Josephine x

Girls who are boys who like boys to be girls…

Andrej Pejic walking for Jean Paul Gaultier

Andrej Pejic walking for Jean Paul Gaultier

If, like me, you were a teenager in the 90s it is highly unlikely that you won’t recognise these lyrics as they come from one of Blur’s early hits, Girls and Boys from their ‘Parklife’ album. As a true Britpop girl, I had to pick a side; was I a Blur girl or Oasis? And there was only one answer as far as I was concerned. Blur, all the way. I mean, did you see Alex James?! Now, not so much but then?

What I don’t think Damon Albarn foresaw whe he wrote was the current situation where we have a male model being used, quite extensively, to model women’s clothes. The model is of course Andrej Pejic, who, when you look at his face, you’d never know he wasn’t female. This man is beautiful. He has slightly hooded blue eyes, high cheekbones, full lips… If you look at his face, surrounded by long, blonde hair, you wouldn’t guess he was male. His features are incredibly feminine.

Andrej Pejic_

Andrej Pejic. Source: http://www.browsebiography.com

And if he was being used to advertise beauty products, I wouldn’t have a problem. And I should make it clear that my problem isn’t with Pejic per se, he is simply taking advantage of the opportunities being offered to him. But when a man, who despite the work he has evidently put in to reduce his waist size, still has the broad shoulders and flat chest of a man, is being hired to advertise bras and bikinis, you have to wonder what exactly designers think women look like?

andrej pejic bra advert for Hema

andrej pejic bra advert for Hema. Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk

As a woman who has boobs and hips in abundance, I find it really kind of offensive that a designer thinks that his designs, aimed at women, will look best on a man. An oustandingly beautiful man, no doubt, but he still has a man’s figure. It’s bad enough that the majority of models have the bodies of pre-pubescent girls but to actually put a bloke on the catwalk? In addition, to have a man advertising bras is blatantly ridiculous. By writing about it, I have further achieved the company’s aims but I really feel strongly about this.

Women are under a ridiculous amount of pressure to look a certain way. Even before you take the body fat issue into account (because of the lack of boobs and hips their body fat is far lower than women’s) clothes will look different on a man than on a woman. The broader shoulders and smaller hips will make things hang differently and I think a lot of women are likely to consider how they hang on them as compared to Pejic, to be worse.

So to the designers out there, for the love of God, if you’re designing for women then use women in your catwalk shows and adverts. Why put clothes on someone who was never intended to wear them?

Would you buy clothes that you have seen advertised by a man?

Average Josephine x

Covered up

I confess. I regularly consult the Daily Mail as my source of gossip. I take anything that is actually written with a small mountain of salt as the paper seems to go with the “why let a small thing like the facts get in the way of the good story?” approach to journalism but you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words…

And unfortunately you can’t argue with a picture like this…

Alesha Dixon at BGT auditions

Alesha Dixon at BGT auditions. Source: Daily Mail

Girls, I have to ask, when did wearing a short, strapless dress in sub-zero temperatures become sexy? Seriously, you see girls wearing outfits like that out on the town every Friday and Saturday night, regardless of whether their dresses fit (a bit like the one Miss Dixon is wearing in this picture) or what they look like.

Sometimes covering up is a darn site sexier than exposing as much flesh as possible. Case in point, the guest judge for BGT while Amanda Holden recovers from giving birth, Carmen Electra. Famous for appearing in Baywatch and producing a series of aerobic striptease DVDs, you would have expected her to appear wearing even less than Alesha Dixon but she pulled a bit of a blinder. And she looks amazing.

Carmen Electra at BGT auditions. Source: Daily Mail

Carmen Electra at BGT auditions. Source: Daily Mail

I don’t know about you but I think she looks amazing! She looks classy, elegant and sexy. She has dressed appropriately both for the weather(as much as you can when you have to appear all glammed up) and her shape. There are no unsightly lumps or bumps. She looks like she has looked in a mirror!

You couldn’t put two women together who had dressed more differently for the same event. Unless one was wearing a gown suitable for the Oscars and the other was wearing a onesie. And I think so much of the difference is due to confidence. Carmen Electra comes across as a woman who is comfortable in her own skin to the extent that she doesn’t have to flash every possible inch of flesh to feel sexy.

But I don’t know to what extent BGT’s production team choose what the judges are going to wear so I may be completely over-analysing the situation but I do think that the translation to a nightclub on a Saturday night does apply. It doesn’t matter how much skin you show, if you don’t feel sexy, you probably won’t look it.

Who do you think looks better? And do you think that confidence, rather than clothes, is  what is more important when it comes to sex appeal?

Average Josephine x

To print or not to print

When I heard rumours of a model with a 20″ waist on Twitter, I was horrified. This girl must be anorexic, I thought, and how irresponsible of the Daily Mail (yes, the article was in the Daily Fail Mail) for printing it when the girl was so clearly ill.

Ioana Spangenberg

Ioana Spangenberg. Source in2eastafrica.net

Having read the article, I still think that the Mail has been irresponsible but not for the same reasons. The model in question is Ioana Spangenberg, who is Romanian, aged 30 and at 5’6″ weighs a mere 6 stone which would give her a BMI of 13.6. Whilst the BMI is an admittedly flawed measure, if you consider that 18.5 and below is classified as being underweight, there is no way that she can be healthy.

Mrs Spangenberg claims to eat three big meals a day and snack on chocolate and crisps. I am not a doctor and I don’t claim to be so whether she has an eating disorder or a metabolic problem I don’t know, but for her to maintain such a low weight her metabolism would have to be extraordinarily high. And I mean obscenely high. To a point where it’s unhealthy.

I still maintain that publishing pictures of this woman is irresponsible given she’s claiming to be healthy. If she was anorexic and admitting she had an illness and this picture was a warning to others about the damage she has done to her body that would be one thing. But she’s not. And she needs help rather than publicity.

The other thing that is irresponsible is that the Mail does not disclose that in their picture Mrs Spangenberg is in fact wearing a corset and that said 20″ waist is not natural but only achieved when wearing a steel boned corset. She’s still unhealthy but if her real figure were shown rather than the restricted version of it (the picture in the Mail is not good quality so I have used one from a different source), the story would not be nearly as dramatic. The world record for the smallest waist whilst wearing a corset is in fact a ridiculously tiny 16″ (about the size of a big jar of mayonnaise) so whilst 20″ is tiny, it isn’t as horrific as it sounds.

My big issue with this piece of “journalism” is two-fold. It does appear that this woman is being exploited for a story. Quite what her problem is I don’t know but she cannot be healthy with a BMI so low. She needs medical attention, not media speculation. As for the omitted aspect of the story that she is wearing a corset and her waistline isn’t actually 20″, they are turning a person into a freak show by implying that it’s natural. And whilst I can’t entirely blame the Daily Mail as they only cater to an audience, they should at least attempt to produce a balanced piece.

But hey, why would they let a little thing like the truth get in the way of a good article?

Average Josephine x