Thursday, 5 April 2012

Brick Backlash

So there has been rather a lot of controversy surrounding a lady called Mrs Brick this week, an unfortunate name, which will shall come to later.

I, like many others, was left open-mouthed as I read an article by freelance writer and France-based expat, Samantha Brick, entitled '"There are downsides to looking this pretty." Why Women hate for being beautiful'.

I was more shocked when my eyes scanned to the photo of Mrs Brick on The Daily Mail website. I was expecting someone of Sophia Loren-like calibre (I believe her to be 'beautiful') but was met by an image of an averagely attractive blonde. Now I believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder... I think that for one person Kelly Brook is stunningly beautiful, whereas someone else would rate Kate Moss as their number one. It had to be said that Mrs Brick was not up their with the Bridgette Bardots and Gwyneth Paltrows.

So even before I read the article, I already felt that this lady had quite a high opinion of herself. Something women, I have to say, don't find attractive in other women when forming friendships. (Hint, hint Mrs Brick). But perhaps this is what The Daily Mail were trying to achieve with their use of photography next to the outlandish headline? The most odd choice of image being Mrs Brick with her husband, who looked like he had escaped from a dodgy porn set, very lightly touching her stomach.

Anyway, I digress.... back to the article. Well the first paragraph sealed it for me when deciding on whether I would side with the writer's point of view...

"On a recent flight to New York, I was delighted when a stewardess came over and gave me a bottle of champagne.

‘This is from the captain — he wants to welcome you on board and hopes you have a great flight today,’ she explained.

You’re probably thinking ‘what a lovely surprise’. But while it was lovely, it wasn’t a surprise. At least, not for me."

As a writer I know the opening paragraph is very important when writing an article. It needs to pull the reader in and set the tone of the story. For me, the last sentence - "But while it was lovely, it wasn't a surprise. At least, not for me." - instantly created an air of arrogance in her style of writing.

She could have led in with a tongue-in-cheek approach to at least allow the readers to warm to her or she could have occassionaly tried to be a little self-depreciating. Instead she goes onto list various episodes when men have been overtly generous because, she believes, of her looks. (Not because they are after anything, of course). Meanwhile, women tend to treat her with disregard and scorn, and believe she is going to steal their husbands because she is so beautiful.

I immediately typed in Samantha Brick into my Twitter search after finishing the article. I expected maybe a few comments here and there from Tweeters who enjoyed disecting The Daily Fail's pretentious features. However, I soon realised Samantha Brick was trending right at the top, Tweeters were suggesting she should change the B in her surname to a P, and there were already images of bricks with blonde wigs... oh this was going to be big!

Mrs Brick knew she was going to receive criticism for daring to announce to the world she was beautiful and that women hated her for it. However, I doubt she expected her article to go so crazily viral in a matter of hours and to receive so much criticism from the male species in particular.

Now, I think it is great for someone to have so much self-confidence. I certainly have episodes of needing plenty more of it and admire anyone who doesn't give a hoot what anybody thinks of their appearance.

The general British manner is known to be somewhat modest and the old stiff upper lip leads us to be a nation that isn't all that good at self-promotion. I agree with Mrs Brick that when a Brit receives a compliment about our appearance we tend to brush it off quickly and blush.

I also agree that women can tend to be each others worst nightmares... For instance, when you are dressed up for a night out and you're out having a good time and feeling confident when a girl walks past and gives you a bitchy once over. It does happen. It may be because you look and feel good and that could come across as acting superior - I'm not sure. I also know that in equal measure, you can be in a ladies toilet and the girl next to you will say how lovely your dress is or how nice your hairs looks.

I always go out of my way to give my friends, and female strangers in nightclub toilets, compliments on their appearance because I know that plenty of women, if they're anything like me, don't possess such high self-esteem as Mrs Brick.

So we must applaude Mrs Brick for being able to look in the mirror and believe herself to be beautiful. However, to state that women in general do not like beautiful women is absurd.

Mrs Brick says the backlash to her article proves she is right... I think she is kind of missing the point and continues to prove why some women in her life aren't all too friendly towards her.

Oh and as a freelance writer with a novel coming out soon, she has some VERY clever marketing ideas.

The Daily Mail must also be rubbing their hands with glee... the article has had 1.5 million hits and counting!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Kate The Queen to be Of Style...

As the world continues to struggle its way out of the economic crisis, consumers continue to be hesitant to spend. Gone are the days when you wouldn’t think twice about treating yourself to a whole new wardrobe for your summer holiday.

It didn’t surprise me to hear a report last summer that said women spend more on their holiday wardrobe than the actual holiday itself. But I doubt that these figures still stand with people being hesitant to even go on holiday this summer, and are instead choosing a stay-cation.

Believe me - I love nothing more than the thrill of buying a brand new dress and wearing it for the first time, waiting for the compliments to come my way. However, I have recently told myself that I have more than enough dresses, skirts, t-shirts, flip-flops (you get the idea) and I don’t actually need another maxi dress.

Even our royals are being thrifty with their fashion. Princess Anne was recently seen in her favourite beautiful canary yellow coat dress at Ascot, and we know it’s a favourite because she has been photographed in the coat at numerous events since she first wore it back in the 70s. Now that’s what you call vintage.

The newest addition to the royal family, Kate Middleton, has been lauded for her thrifty fashion sense since becoming the Duchess of Cambridge. The Duchess could of course have her pick of designer couture but has instead relied on old favourites for first official engagements.

Once upon a time, it was a cardinal sin in the world of fashion and celebrity to be seen in the same outfit twice. However, Kate has been seen in various outfits more than once. She was recently photographed at Prince Philip’s 90th birthday in a blue coat and dress ensemble, which she, shock horror, wore for a friend’s wedding a couple of years ago.

And most recently, on her first official royal visit to Canada, the Duchess wore the same elegant white dress (from high street shop Reiss), which she wore for the official engagement photos with her Prince. This time she teamed it with a fabulous red hat and an apt Maple brooch borrowed from the Queen, no less.

The Duchess is sending out a clear message that she intends to be frugal and will not be taking her new royal standing for granted in this time of economic downturn. She reportedly said that she does not want to be a “clothes horse”.

The Duchess is already under scrutiny for her fashion choices and will be an ambassador of British fashion and style, whether she likes it or not! And we should be taking tips from our savvy future Queen, who has seen theimportance of accessories and how they can transform an outfit into a whole new look.

Take that black maxi dress in the back of your wardrobe fromlast summer. If you teamed it last summer with gold flip-flops and bangles for a glam look, why not add a fringed waistcoat and peacock feather earrings for a bohemian look? Or if you’re brave and a lover of colour, why not try this summer’s neon trend and wear a neon-pink, blue or yellow blouse over the top of the maxi and tie it at the waist to add some structure. This will also act as a cover-up when it gets sunny or for the top of your arms.

So invest in some key accessories that nod to summer trends – a string of pearls, a fedora hat, vintage sunglasses, an embroidered cover-up, a statement necklace, a brightly coloured belt and a fringed-hand bag. Add any of these to a tired-looking little black dress, a pair of jeans or your favourite sundress, and you will instantly bring your outfit bang up-to-date.

Monday, 20 February 2012

A Guide to Sale Shopping

I always like the thought of sales but that nice thought is quickly extinguished when I attempt to even get to the rails of half-priced clothing.

I don't cope too well in crowds and there isn't a scarier crowd than those at the sales! Give me a crowd of football hooligans any day - they're pussycats compared to the hoards of women with their claws out clambering to get a bargain. Add Image

The crowds are filled with certain types of sale shoppers that must be avoided at all costs in order to have a stress-free bargain hunt.

The worst sale shopper is that really annoying competitive type that is on one hell of a mission. You know the one, she has to get her hands on every coat hanger, shoving them so fast along the rail you wander if she has actually looked at the dress or skirt that is before her eyes. It is a major competition for her - she must see and claim the bargain before anyone else.

The everywhere-you-go sale shopper is another stress inducer. She is responsible for that irritating tug you'll feel on the hanger, which the amazing bargain dress you have finally found is hanging on. You'll peer over the clothing rail, and yes, there she is! She wants your bargain. I suggest a raise of the eyebrow (to show you mean business) and a swift, firm tug. Hurry away to the queue with your head held high.

The other irritant you may find in the sales is the slow-pacer. You walk into a shop and you eye up the rails of treats before you. Your breath becomes short, the adrenaline inside you rises... Hang on, how can the person in front be moving so slowly? This sale shopper thinks this time of year is like any other, where you can have a leisurely stroll round the shops. She's obviously not a bargain hunter and can afford the full price, next season collection - even in broke January. Does she not realise there are bargains to be had? Does she think those rails of 75% off will hang around? MOVE!

I ventured into the sales with my best friend Deb and her baby, Grace (i.e pram issues). Probably not the easiest accessory for the narrow aisles, which seem to get even narrower when the floor is piled with garments flung from their hangers during the sale riots. I am usually one of those shoppers that get impatient if I am confronted with a pushchair when shopping, but since pushing round baby Grace in a packed out Primark on a Friday afternoon, I have found a whole new sympathy for stressed out mothers laden with children and shopping bags.

We found out that the pram was a fantastic way to get some crowd control. We just so happened to place the pram innocently across an aisle of clothing we rather liked. It was heaven to have some space to look at the clothes and luckily baby Grace is absolutely beautiful so anyone who looked annoyingly towards the pram was soon gushing!

It has recently been revealed that women will spend £71 on items of clothing they will never wear during the sales season.

To avoid having a wardrobe full of 70% off bright orange dresses a size to small or sequin tops you won't be able to wear until next Christmas, it is best to look ahead at what is 'in' next season.

Take a look at the trends in fashion magazines - Instyle has fantastic style guides along with Glamour, Elle and Marie Claire. Look the at the key colours, the shapes of dresses that will be fashionable and the style of trouser that will be hot.

I would also recommend buying classic pieces in the sale. These are items that will never go out of style and will always have a place in your wardrobe. A trench coat, wide leg trousers, a shift dress, an A-line skirt, a white blouse and a good court shoe.

I know (too well) how hard it is not to be fooled by the 50% off price tags on something you wouldn't normally dream of buying. The best thing to do when thinking about buying into a bargain is to stand back, look at the dress, trousers or top and think... "Would I even dream of buying it, if it hadn't got half the price knocked off?"

Everyone loves a bargain. You feel a real achievement when returning home and announcing proudly that the dress was originally £100 but you got it for £20. The thing is... you have to think why it wasn't so popular the first time round. Shops tend to pile up the sales rails with last summers unwanted items - rails of embellished, garish vest tops, leopard print fur, white leather jackets, capes...

There are, however, some amazing sales out there... and if you stick to a list of what you want to find in the sales, and try not to be led astray, then you should have a successful sale shop. Enjoy bargain hunters!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Fashion Crunch

Is it just me or do you feel guilty for spending money on clothes during
this time of economic downfall? If I’m completely honest I still don’t fully
understand the ‘credit crunch’ and I don’t think I’m alone! I know, however
that at present we need to start being thriftier and stop being so spontaneous
with our pennies.

The pull of the bargain, especially at this time of year, can lead us
into buying clothing that we honestly do not need. How many wears do you think
you will really get out of those leather leggings? And really, how long do you
think this trend will last?

There was a time not so long ago women would only buy what they really needed.
My grandmother would buy one coat and make it last for a good few years. She
would also spend a good amount of money on it to ensure it would last and look
good through many wears. However, with the present trend of fast-fashion on our
high-streets you can spend a tenner and come away with a fabulous new coat or
dress. Why not?

Look in your wardrobe – how many items in there could you honestly say
that you have worn for many years? Are there clothes in there with price-tags
on? Is there a Primark swing jacket that looked good on the hanger but when put
on made you look double your actual width?

Recent scientific research has proven that women actually only wear 30%
of their wardrobe. This is true in my own case – I have lots and lots of
dresses in my wardrobe that only come out on the odd night out. But even then I
go through fazes of having a ‘favourite’ and will only wear that dress on a
night out because I know it makes me feel good. Why would I want to risk
wearing that old little black dress and feeling rubbish all night when I know I
have my ‘favourite’ dress that I can always rely on to have a good time?

So I think it’s time to start being smarter with fashion. Believe me; I
am guilty of having the odd bargain-binge on the high street. However, I have also
started buying pieces that cost me that bit more but I know these are the
pieces that I will wear the most.

So what are these ‘pieces’ that you need in your wardrobe? Well to help
you here is my ‘capsule must-have wardrobe’:

If like me you are working girl you will know you have two separate wardrobes
in your life - one for work, one for play. When I come home from work I always
take off my work-wear straight away, it’s like I’m taking off my school
uniform. I want to be comfortable and relaxed after a hard days work but then I
also want to feel glamorous when I go out and have fun after a hard week. Here is my must-have capsule wardrobe with the
pieces that you will wear again and again:

ü Black
trousers – wide-leg fit
are a particular favourite. They are on trend, look elegant and will go with
blouses or sweaters. Be careful not to team black trousers with pale wish-washy
colours – it just looks tired. Instead go for vibrant prints or colours. Of
course, you can never go wrong with the classic monochrome which I don’t think
will ever date. Choose a material that will wear well and don’t feel bad for
spending that bit extra – these trousers will never date!

ü White
Blouse – A white blouse
will never date. It’s officially a classic. Go for a style that flatters you –
do not be trend led. The white blouse can be worn on its own, under a suit,
with a skirt or could be your backdrop for your new statement necklace. The blouse can also be layered in the winter
with jumpers or even underneath dresses. Make sure you buy a blouse in 100%
cotton or any other good quality material that will wear well.

ü Smart
dress – This is a dress
you wouldn’t wear to go clubbing. This is the dress that will instantly make
you feel elegant and smart – the shift. The shift can be layered in the winter
or they can go solo in the summer. A grey or black shift dress would be the
most wearable but if you’re brave go for a bold primary colour. If you want to
feel comfortable and less ‘pulled in’ a dress made of jersey is what you need.
A jersey wrap dress is another classic thanks to its creator Diane Von
Furstenberg and it has long been a staple in New York women’s wardrobes. The wrap looks
fabulous teamed with knee high boots in the winter.

ü Pencil
skirt – The pencil skirt
has made a big comeback – not that it really went away. This is the style I
would advise to invest in as yet again it is another classic. The pencil skirt
is very versatile and can be easily glammed up if you want to go straight from
the office to the bar! The skirt looks great teamed with that white blouse, in
the evening unbutton a few of those buttons, add a dazzling necklace and a
slick of red lipstick and voila you are ready for a glamorous night.


ü Little
Black Dress – We have Coco Chanel to thank for the creation that is a constant life
saver among women. That feeling that you have nothing to wear is diminished when
you catch sight of this gem in your wardrobe. The LBD is like a loyal old
friend – it’s always there for you when you need it most. So when buying a LBD
invest in one with a style that you know suits you – again do not be trend led.
Go for a material that will be wearable all year round. When you try it on, if
your face is smiling and you suddenly feel glamorous this is the one for you.

ü Statement
necklace – Accessorising
an outfit can instantly turn it into a more glamorous outfit. That black vest
top hidden in your wardrobe would look sensational against a sparkling pearl
necklace. Invest in a necklace that will have impact on an outfit. If you’re
brave go for a really bold coloured beaded necklace or for a more elegant touch
a few strings of pearls will add a splash of instant chic to an outfit.

ü Red
shoes- Yes - red! I believe every woman should own a pair of red shoes. Red is
surprisingly very versatile and they are very sexy. If you’re not in the mood
for your party dress adding a pair of red heels to your jeans and top combo
will instantly make you feel glamorous and sexy without feeling like you’ve
tried to hard. Also if you are scared of colour this is a great way to start
bring more colour into your wardrobe.


ü Cotton
loungewear: At home you
want to feel comfy but still feel good. Instead of your old tracksuit invest in
some loose cotton yoga pants and a cotton hooded top that can be layered with
vest and t – shirts. Velour is also a luxurious fabric to wear at home and is
very comfortable.

ü Cashmere slipper socks: I believe every woman should own some cashmere
and cashmere socks are definitely a must have. Your feet will feel like they
are wrapped in cotton wool. They are so
incredibly warm and cosy especially when you’re feet are feeling tired from
work or after a night dancing in your red heels!