Monday, 25 April 2016

The Yellow Mac

I really like this outfit. It's nothing special at all but I like it so much I thought I should share it with you. Luke snapped these photos of me on a lovely Sunday walking through Victoria Park, a particularly awesome day as I had managed to miraculously avoid any trace of a hangover from the night before! olive uniqlo yellow 1
Top - Olive
Coat - Secondhand
Trousers - Uniqlo
Shoes - Adidas Supercolors via ebay
Bag - Gift
Sunglasses - Michael Kors C/O Shadestation

Everyone seems to have this jacket at the moment! And why wouldn't you, it's bright yellow and makes you look like you're going on a school trip, all I really needed was a lunchbox to complete the look. They are selling yellow macs in Topshop for a pricey £55, but I found this one in a charity shop around the corner from me for a fiver! It's slightly too small for me and for some reason it's gone slightly red on one of the sides, but you can't really complain for a fiver can you? As jackets go it is super versatile and it would also look awesome with a stripy top and blue dungarees. I love all the primary colours in this outfit, from my blue trousers and yellow trainers right down to the bright red lipstick. I don't know if wearing lots of bright colours can make you happy but I swear that this outfit perked me up all day!
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Monday, 18 April 2016

Country Crochet

I have been so excited to share these photos! They were taken close to where I am originally from in Oxfordshire, at some particularly spectacular ruins in the countryside. Usually when I'm on a family walk I leave my fashion sense behind and plump for practicality over style, but this time was a little different. jessthetics vintage 6

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Coat - Vintage
Top - Primark
Shorts - gifted by Shop Jessthetics
Wellies - Office (old)

I've been mainly excited about showing you these crochet shorts! They were handmade by my wonderful chum Jess who runs her own excellent blog Jessthetics as well as her shop, where she sells vintage and handmade clothes, including these bad boys! Jess is really passionate about sustainability and it's amazing that she is able to create these pieces that are totally one of a kind. She kindly gave me these after I helped her out at a vintage fair as I fell for them the moment I saw them, and like who wouldn't?? I just love how versatile the shorts are, they're pretty warm yet the colours are ideal for Summer, and I've worn them on both a family walk and night out!
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The coat was from a vintage shop in Kreuzberg, Berlin (which I think is their equivalent to East London) and is probably one of the best secondhand items I've ever bought. I like slightly longer coats and this one is just light enough to wear all through the Spring, the pastel colouring is also very up my street. I've had these wellies for years and they are covered in Russian dolls, an example of my longstanding obsession with anything Russian. I like how this whole outfit is sort of a mismatch of different patterns!
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Also because I was home there is a special guest appearance from Davey! I'm blatantly using him to get more views, like when guys hold puppies in their Tinder profile pictures to get girls to swipe right. Davey doesn't typically fit into the Rags aesthetic but I can make an exception here because he's adorable, and perfectly complimented my look for this post. Imagine me walking through the muddy countryside in my wellies and cool shorts with my noble hound by my side, being dragged along the minute he sees a cat or a squirrel, or a horse, or well, anything really, he's quite excitable!
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Thanks to my mum for taking these photos of me!

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Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Value Of A Like

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So I'm about to publish a new post on Instagram, a tasteful black and white selfie. My finger dances over the 'share' button before I send it out into the world. Loading it up with hashtags (sneakily added into the comments) I admire my work and expect the likes to come rolling in.

Thirty minutes later I check again. 5 likes. I'm embarrassed, mortified, confused, I'm...on a photo sharing app having a breakdown? Nonetheless thoughts rush through my head, should I have actually hash tagged 'selfie' instead of leaving it out because I thought it was lame? What was wrong with me? Why did this seem easier for everyone else? My selfie just makes it to 11 likes (you know, where it just becomes a number and not a list of people's names).

Because I write a blog and am actively interested in social media, I often fall victim to the traps of social media validation. People can tell me 'social media isn't real' until the cows come home but the fact is that it has become a part of our reality. It is an immediate and effective way to validate things that you say or do, to encourage engagement. It's a great way to cultivate and show off the parts of you that you love, which should be celebrated, yet I also feel that it has its downsides.

Last week I found myself getting deeply frustrated about Twitter. Yes, the social media channel where even its actual freaking name denotes its rather lighthearted, often inane nature. If I posted something and it recieved no likes, I would immediately doubt myself. Every time I lost a follower I would take it completely personally. I would look at other people's twitters and their higher number counts would take on a life of their own, leering at me and confirming my ineptitude. It all begs the question, when did this stop being fun? Why is any of this important? Why am I desperately seeking the approval of a sea of people I don't even know? It's interesting to talk to people from the generation before and see their bewilderment at the importance of social media popularity, 'why does it matter?' they'll say.

It matters because that's how I, and many people, perceive success these days. With great power comes great responsibility. Also, free stuff and random people coming up to you in the street telling you that they recognised you from Instagram whilst you're halfway through eating a sandwich. This is what we strive for, and with every like and comment we feel a little better about ourselves. We get to milestones, maybe 500 blog followers or 100 likes on instagram, which we briefly celebrate, but it always leaves you wanting more. I really am a drop in the ocean when it comes to cultivating a successful online presence, but sometimes I find myself looking at my friends in envy, those who just use instagram because it's a fun place to share stupid photos of your mates, who don't really give a shit and are able to find satisfaction in other parts of their life.

Social media has given us an amazing outlet to share our creative work to a much larger audience than we could have ever thought possible, and I am truly grateful for that. Yet with that comes an expectation of immediate validation and a very concrete measure of our success. I used to write blogs just for me, because it was fun, and it makes me wonder whether we can ever truly find satisfaction and worth in our work as separate from this culture of liking, commenting and sharing. Part of me always feels frustrated that I'm not progressing, and how that progression is often reflected in a number. A niggling worry in me also knows that even those who break through and are successful aren't necessarily happy, or at least not for that reason alone.

The other day I genuinely considered doing an Essena O'Neill. Giving it all up, deactivating Twitter, packing up my stuff in a hanky on a string and living in a cave as a hermit. The pressures that I put upon myself whilst using social media, and the way I correlated likes with my own self esteem, just seemed exhausting and unhealthy. I don't think I will actually do that, but it seems important to remember what a 'like' actually is, really nothing more than a brief nod, something that holds very little significance in and of itself (unless someone you have a crush on likes your selfie in which case, wahey)! The internet should be used for cat videos and not for a damning analysis of our own self worth. I know this, deep down, but it's hard to remember in a society where social media is so prevalent.

Sometimes the appeal of becoming anonymous, of making stuff for me, however insignificant, really speaks to me. To say 'fuck you' to Facebook likes, analytics, algorithms and forecasts. We have such an incredible resource available to us but it seems important to not let its influence overpower us and make us lose perspective of what's important. Occasionally someone who has read a blog post of mine reaches out to me, or just tells me that something I wore inspired them to try something different,and that small voice amongst a sea of social 'likes' feels so significant. I suppose that's a good reason to do it, to make those small connections with people that you might otherwise have never spoken to.

I wonder whether, with my own personal use of social media, I'm assigning value in the wrong places. In the midst of comparison and growing numbers I'm forgetting what brought me here in the first place, to have an outlet for creativity and a place to make friends. Having any kind of audience whatsoever feels like a huge privilege, but I hope that the pressure of growing on social media won't discourage me from achieving my own creative goals.

I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts. Do you agree that social media validation can be pressurising or do you just use it for fun? What does it mean for you when something you post gets liked?

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Monday, 4 April 2016

God's Own Junkyard

The greatest attributes to living in London aren't necessarily having all the tourist hotspots just a short tube ride away. I've lived here for four years now, but the thought of doing the Central tourist trail on a Saturday afternoon gives me the shivers and I haven't been on the London eye since I was 8. I think that as you live here longer you gain a lot of pleasure from finding the hidden parts of the city, and a sense of satisfaction that you're really experiencing something those visiting on a weekend may not be able to see. My friend Luke told me that he'd like to visit this place he had heard about on Time Out, a warehouse of neon signs in uh, Walthamstow? Not exactly Oxford Street then. God's Own Junkyard sits within a residential area, which is quite a hilarious contrast to the exhibition (I guess that's the right word?!) itself, which is unashamedly bonkers. It feels as if it would be more at home somewhere like Brighton rather than E17. junkyard 4
As you walk into the space you are inundated with neon, and you'll begin to notice many peculiar ornaments and objects including religious figures, telephones and creepy dolls. Neon signs are typically associated with tackiness or sleaziness, hidden corners of Soho that you probably shouldn't go down, yet as you enter this space the effect of having all of these signs together is beautiful. It's certainly garish and overwhelming, but as you know these are the sort of adjectives I tend to be drawn to!
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The space also benefits from a cafe (charmingly called 'The Rolling Scones') so you can sit back and soak up the atmosphere, and frankly if there's anything that's going to get me out when I'm slightly hungover on a Saturday, it's a unique combination of neon and cake. Basked in a neon pink glow, Luke and I took it all in and talked about which signs we'd actually like to have on our walls, and just how damn aesthetically compelling it all was!
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The exhibition is free, which I have to say I found quite surprising due to the sheer amount of electricity they must have to use to light this whole warehouse up! I couldn't recommend it enough, it would be great for someone who wants to explore a bit further out in London or wants an alternative venue for coffee with a friend or a date!
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God's Own Junkyard is open from Friday to Sunday each week, visit the website here!

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Monday, 28 March 2016

Belmer The Elephant

Well folks here I am again in the fair and beautiful Oxford, bringing my rather East London sense of style back to my hometown and as a result, looking like a nu raver that got lost and ended up at Hogwarts.
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I love this shirt SO MUCH. I found it in Edinburgh at a vintage fair for £9, and it gives off serious Elmer the Elephant vibes. The first time Jess pointed this out to me I thought she meant Elmo from Sesame street, which is interesting because the coat I'm wearing here makes me look like I am acually wearing Elmo. As I said in my previous post, my aesthetic now seems to be children's tv characters, but only accidentally.
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Coat - Topshop
Shirt - Vintage fair
Trousers - Asos
Shoes - Adidas Supercolor (via Ebay)
Bag - Gift
Sunglasses - Unif via Depop
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This look is rather low key for me, I picked up these rather unremarkable looking jeggings from Asos because I really hate how restrictive proper jeans are. They are so so comfortable and haven't lost their shape at all (my trousers always have to be super skinny as a rule) so I would reccommend! This was a great outfit for wandering around town in, I tend to come home maybe once every three months for a few days so my time here is certainly precious.
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Also I hope you've noticed that these pictures have gone up in quality, I'm finally getting to grips with my 50mm 1.8 lens which has confused me for so long. It means I can't really shoot my own photos anymore on self timer because it's too difficult, but it is a sacrifice I'm willing to make for better photos! I feel like a real blogger now instead of a bum.
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Credit goes to Cara for inspiring the name of this post and my mother for being a very patient and skilled photographer!

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