Friday, 30 September 2016

Am I The Death Of Style?

I'm just a girl standing in front of you, in a ripped skirt that I bought for a fiver off the internet, ready to express her frustration at the recent news story regarding Vogue's disdain for fashion bloggers. In an interview, Vogue editors discussed Milan Fashion Week and made a number of comments about fashion bloggers, suggesting in no uncertain terms that their presence was not wanted in the high-fashion world. Most significantly, they describe fashion blogging as ‘heralding the death of style.’

I could not have been less surprised. This is the sort of viewpoint I would naturally expect of a publication dedicated to tradition and elitism, trying to find its uncertain place in a world that is relying more and more on digital media to be inspired. It represents a deep fear of becoming irrelevant in this world, and having their own special brand of snobbery compromised. 
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Top - Lazy Oaf
Skirt - Secondhand via Depop
Shoes - Charity shop
Bag - Daisy Street via Love The Sales

The recent BBC documentary on Vogue touched on their uncomfortable standing in an ever-changing world. It felt as if Vogue was just picking up on internet culture, like a parent reluctant to try out new-fangled technology. They disregarded Kim Kardashian then decided to invite her to talk at an event just a few months later, they use social media but explicitly ban the use of emojis. With this in mind it’s unsurprising that fashion bloggers represent the worst nightmare for Vogue, young women so fiercely in tune with social media that they are carving out fashion careers for themselves. And it's not just fashion. Many share intimate details about their experiences with mental health, sex and their bodies, a sort of confessional "oversharing" culture that contrasts against Vogue's rather stiff upper lip.
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Of course,when they are talking about fashion bloggers, they are not talking about the kind of blogger I perceive myself to be and the community I have found myself in. They are referring to a vapid, sleek haired caricature who lives off daddy’s trust fund and totes the latest handbag, who calls themselves a blogger but really only updates her Instagram account once a day. The truth of it, which Vogue knows full well, is that regular blogging takes a lot of time, digital media insight and fresh new ideas, which they seem to be all out of. When you tar all bloggers with the same brush you’re inevitably going to create some backlash from young people who are able to find a voice through blogging, who find satisfaction through self publication and who treat every new purchase like it’s gold dust. 
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It leads you to wonder what exactly Vogue’s problem is with fashion bloggers, and I think it’s a bit deeper than they’ve tried to imply. To refer to young women as ‘pathetic’ and ‘desperate’ for daring to walk on the same Somerset House cobbles as them each fashion week reeks of misogyny, perpetuating the idea of the stupid vacuous girl who lives for fashion, exposure and money. But you're not like the other girls, right Vogue? Yet this is the magazine put the rich sons and daughters of famous people and the Royal Family on a pedestal, who only feature the most expensive of clothes in pages and pages of advertorials. The sentiment is clear, your prestige does not come from what you are able to make of yourself, but who you know. 
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The classism is pungent too. In the interview they talk of bloggers ‘who preen for the cameras in borrowed clothes.’ Vogue would clearly like to see the fashion world go back to better, classier times, when everyone who could afford to wear beautiful expensive clothes did and everyone who couldn’t kept their mouths shut and fawned over the richer women preening for the cameras. But now it is an emperor in new clothes situation for foolish bloggers who are supposedly not intelligent enough (or rich enough?) to appreciate them. 
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It’s a far cry from the blogger’s world I know, one that certainly has its dramas but also thrives on supporting each other, championing creativity and finding empowerment in sharing your words with more people than you ever thought possible 30 years ago. A community that loves style but who are also mindful of what is going on around them and aware of feminism, politics and ethics. It’s certainly not perfect in terms of diversity and accessibility, but the days where only the richest, whitest and skinniest are given the opportunity to appear in stuffy fashion publications are over. We are taking it upon ourselves to create our own fashion idols, playing dress up with borrowed clothes and sharing our experiences on social media.

This is a society where anybody can become a star and make a name for themselves, where you don't have to wait to be picked up by a fashion publication to have your work seen. There is so much empowerment in that. Having spent much of my childhood cutting out scraps from fashion magazines (that my mum would often fish out of the local communal recycling bin) I pray that print media can hold on even as digital takes over. But an awareness by fashion publications of the ways in which things have changed is so crucial, and an ability to offer something other than snide comments even more so. 

To wear elitism and classism as a badge of honour, whilst also expecting the younger generation to embrace you with open arms, is asking too much. You cannot have both, Vogue.

(Thanks to Freyia for taking these photos).


Monday, 26 September 2016

The Mum Dungarees

You know what they say, paint some houses pretty pastel colours and you'll see a flock of fashion bloggers rushing to the scene, desperate to take some upgraded OOTDs. Far as I know nobody has ever said that but it is the cast iron truth, and I'm certainly one of them. If you're a London based pastel house fan you've probably had tip offs about all of the prime locations,whether it's that candy painted street just off Portobello road, or this beautiful street 5 minutes away from Camden market. As usual I was rocking a frankly absurd amount of yellow so it made sense to take some snaps outside a house that reflected this aesthetic. lovethesales camden 1
I'm wearing these amazing dungarees from Monki. I don't wear dungarees that often but I really love this pair, I felt like a cool mum who likes to paint in her spare time. They remind me of an anecdote from my own mum about her obsession with wearing dungarees when she was pregnant, I guess they give you that extra tummy support right? Not that I need that. I'm not pregnant mum I promise.
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Top - H&M
Dungarees - Via Love the Sales (Monki)
Shoes - Nike via Asos
Sunglasses - Unif

These were kindly gifted to me by the lovely people at Lovethesales. They curate sales from hundreds of online shops, so that you can shop them all in one place, including a Barbour sale and a Michael Kors sale. I always get really excited by sales and and can often be found rummaging through Topshop sales racks and elbowing anybody who gets in the way, but it was nice to be able to shop from the comfort of my own home. I immediately made a beeline for the Monki at Asos section because I've never been disappointed by any Monki items I've bought, and it's always nice to convince yourself you're a cool Scandi girl (like Tove Lo) rather than a slightly buffoonish English person.
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Thanks to Leigh for taking these photos!


Sunday, 28 August 2016


For a Londoner (or an adopted Londoner like myself) the idea of getting out of the capital city is always bliss. Despite the fact we've chosen to live in one of the most incredible cities in the world we're always talking about the need to get away from the smog. Alongside London and my hometown Oxford, the other place I often visit in the UK is Bath. It's a beautiful little city famed for it's Georgian architecture, Roman baths and Abbey, and also manages to be the most painfully middle class place you could possibly imagine. Seriously, I'm called Belphoebe (after a character in an Elizabethan epic poem) and even I'm going to lose my marbles if I see another Emma Bridgewater plate, patchouli ginger hybrid candle or child named Reuben in this blinkin' place.  vintage bath 6
Outfit wise, I manage to clash quite spectacularly with the Bath architecture. I actually found these trousers in a charity shop here, they're the exact kind of style I love and could only really be described as 'jazzy' or 'snazzy' or 'Bel could you please wear some more sensible trousers because these ones are hurting my eyes'. Coupled with my favourite coat, this little number that I picked up for about £6 in Berlin, I have managed to transport myself straight back to the 1980s. Seriously I look like I'm about to present an aerobics programme which if you know me is a pretty hilarious prospect.
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Shirt - H&M
Trousers - Charity shop
Socks - Blackwells
Shoes - Converse
Bag - Kanken
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Thanks to dear Mumpo for taking these pictures for me!


Saturday, 20 August 2016

On Body Positivity

TW: This post talks about body image, eating disorders and food

Whilst writing this post I've almost felt as if I've been intruding in a place that isn't meant for me. Body image is a ubiquitous and controversial topic, one that can often be subject to extremes and seeks to exclude rather than include (such as the narratives of 'real women' or damaging phrases like 'real women have curves'). I've been fortunate in my lifetime to not have significant body issues, but I have had my fair share of insecurities and self hatred, some of which have been tied up with the way I look. I don't want to be perceived as brave, rather I would just like to talk about my own body, because it's mine and I can do that, and because it helps me to make sense of it when I feel it is revolting against me, on those days when I don't feel so pretty or so healthy.

I originally wrote this post as a sort of body confidence journey, from the negative to the positive, but recently, after a swimming trip with friends, I was struck by how I wasn't quite as confident about my body as I had thought. I looked at the pictures taken on the day and felt anxiety about how my stomach and my thighs looked, that I was somehow misshapen. This signified to me that our relationship with our bodies can change over time, and I wanted to talk in some part about how my perception of my body has changed since I was a teenager.
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I have always been tall, and for that I'm really lucky, but I'm not wiry. I've referred to myself as 'big boned' so many times that I've lost count. As I grew older I felt that I was different from the other girls in my class. I was taller than most of the boys back then, and I felt out of place, both lanky and dumpy, not as small, graceful, feminine and elegant as my friends.

During my teenage years I would pour over women's magazines, following diet tips, convincing myself that I needed to lose weight to become someone better, believing them when they said that a celebrity had 'ballooned' from a size 8 to a 12. But I was a size 12-14, and this celebrity was the same height as me. Was I fat? I would quickly do the maths in my head, calculating BMIs and learning weight conversions. I became obsessed with the Jacqueline Wilson book Girls Under Pressure where the lead character Ellie suffered from disordered eating. I read the book Skinny Bitch whilst on holiday, a really foul publication that sought to make you feel as bad as possible about your eating habits. I would curiously visit pro-anorexia sites, where they would list reasons to starve yourself until your collarbones became more prominent, so that you would be light enough for boys to pick you up, so you could disappear almost completely.
I was a follower of the thigh gap craze. I would stare at my legs obsessively, trying to stand in a certain way so as to form the non-existent gap. For some reason, a thigh gap meant a better life. I was limiting myself, a very young person who didn't understand how to eat healthily and who was led astray by fad diets, a young woman who couldn't truly believe that her worth may come from things other than conforming to societal standards of beauty. It took me many years to learn that, and because it is so deeply ingrained I still slip up.

Now I look back at photos of me at the ages of 13-16, and I feel sad. I was much thinner than I am now yet I remembered how much I would torture myself about how fat my legs were. Now I love the fact that I am tall, but not skinny, not straight up and down, but curvy, with bits of fat I can squeeze when I'm feeling anxious (anybody else do that?) Truthfully I sometimes look at my stomach and wish that it had more definition, but the scar on my stomach from an operation I had as a child means I will always have an extra roll when I sit down. I have spots on my back and prominent veins on my legs. I have chicken pox scars on my forehead and acne scarred cheeks. I have always loved the details of people's faces and bodies because they tell a story, and what I love in other people I am trying to learn to love in myself, or at the very least accept.
I'm truly no longer interested in being the ideal body type, because I understand the lies fed to me by women's media, that my body isn't meant to be like that. Right now I am making changes with my diet and exercise to make me feel better about what I'm eating and generally feel more energetic and healthy in myself. The whole experience has taught me to look at my body differently, to not torture myself but to ensure my body is getting everything it needs and that I'm doing things that will make me feel happier in the long run. I've learnt to embrace the little things, like the way my muffin top looks in a pencil skirt, and the way my butt sticks out in joggers. Of course I do have those days, like when I'm wearing a bikini, where I get pangs of anxiety about looking a certain way.

I often think about this moomin quote when I refer to body positivity (I mean, what could be better than getting self confidence tips from moomins?) Accepting your body for what it is and how it makes you feel is a form of protest. As women we grow up being told that our bodies are not ours, that they must fit into labels and sizes, that they must be sexually attractive from the top of our heads to our toes. I love my body not because it is absolutely perfect, but because it makes me feel both strong and soft, it means I can walk up hills until my legs feel like jelly, and I can nourish it with food that makes me feel great (and I'm not just talking about broccoli kids). When you look at what your body does for you you realise there are so many more things to love than a flat stomach or a thigh gap, that so called 'imperfections', such as scars or spots or fat and bones, make you unique. I don't think body image is a linear narrative with a set conclusion, but with more compassion and understanding it is one you can have a great relationship with.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Glamour Clown

This playsuit is probably one of my best purchases. The print says 'about to perform in the circus' whilst the style makes me think of Old Hollywood glamour. It reminds me of a dress I wore to a wedding as a three year old that had a clown ruff and huge dots all over it, I guess I've always been quite invested in the clown look. Essentially it makes me want to swan around a party with a glass in my hand whilst telling stupid jokes whilst squeezing my flower badge at unsuspecting guests, or something, I went too far with the idea. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it in Monki on Carnaby Street (which is one of the prettiest shops I've ever seen) and I'm so pleased about the fit. I thought it might be a little more baggy than this but the fact that it's a little more shapely round the hips and thighs makes all the difference. I've paired it with a rather more daring bralet but I also think it would look good with a plain or stripy t-shirt. monki unif 7
Playsuit - Monki
Bag - Choies
Shoes - Converse
Glasses - Unif via Depop

I was really feeling this outfit and a woman even came up to me to interrupt mine and Luke's photo session to take a photo of me to take back with her to Los Angeles! That or I'm going to end up on Reddit or 4Chan as a dumb hipster stereotype, I don't know, you take any exposure you can get these days.
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Credit goes once again to Luke.



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