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!!

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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

Famous for the sake of being famous

I do try not to hate anyone but there is someone who seems to be high fashion’s darling, who can do no wrong according to every magazine you pick up, who I really can’t stand. I thought this was just me but a few comments on Twitter have shown that I’m actually not in the minority here.

The conclusion? Fashion designers may love her but Alexa Chung, I’m sorry but I really don’t like you.

Alexa Chung

Alexa Chung

My first issue is what does she actually do?! I remember her presenting some, frankly rather rubbish, music programme on T4 about a million years ago but since then has she actually done anything? Other than turn up to the opening of an envelope? There are a lot of jokes about celebrities who are famous for being famous, but Alexa Chung is famous for what exactly?

The second is that I don’t really see why all the fashion designers and magazines laud her as being this incredible fashionista! I’m no style queen and I don’t claim to be but I know when someone looks good and I’m afraid Ms Chung doesn’t. She looks scruffy most of the time and does she actually even know what a hairbrush is?! And as for the “ombre” hair trend? Sorry kids but I was rocking that look when I was at university… It’s called “I can’t be bothered to get my roots done”. She’s just lucky that her dye job was relatively close to her own hair colour or it would have been less of a trend and more of a faux pas.

Alexa Chung scruffy hair

Would you go to a Hollywood party with your hair like this?

And as for the Mulberry ‘Alexa’ bag? Unfortunately, I love it. Other than the name. It’s a bit vintage but without going overboard. An updated classic satchel. I just don’t get why Mulberry named it after her.

Mulberry 'Alexa' bag in oak buffalo leather

Mulberry 'Alexa' bag in oak buffalo leather

So to the magazines and the designers, I just want to say, she’s not all that. If you want a muse, choose someone who actually does something for a living and isn’t just a “celebrity”.

Do you agree with me or do you like Ms Chung?

Average Josephine x