>*that can be sexy, not slutty.
*that can be made with items right out of your own wardrobe
*that no-one else at the party will be wearing (though I make NO guarantees)
*that are of super-cool women
*that will make for better small talk than, “So you’re a sexy policeman/traffic cop/firewoman/Elmo, when’s my stripsearch? Bwahahahaha!” and other terrible come-on lines.
That being said, there’s nothing bad about sexy Halloween costumes bought from the shop – they’re just so damn boring. Life is too short to be a member of the armed forces for Halloween when you could be almost anything else.
Here’s my list, in no particular order, of costumes that are easy, quick and won’t result in pictures of your bum being circulated on Facebook (hopefully). This post is damn long and took ages to put together (hence there only being two posts this week) so there’s much, much more after the jump.
1. Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist of Hungarian extraction who lived a very modern life when it was unacceptable to do so. She was married to muralist Diego Rivera, but had many affairs, including with Leon Trotsky, Josephine Baker and Nickolas Muray, who would spend years taking iconic photographs of her. She posed for American Vogue and other magazines in her uniform of traditional Mexican clothing; full skirts, embroidered blouses and ostentatious colours, almost always with fresh flowers in her hair.
|Both pictures by Nickolas Muray|
Frida in your wardrobe - maxi skirts, florals, short sleeved blouses, shawls, hairbands DIYed with fake flowers.
Further reading - Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida’s Wardrobe.
More after the jump!
No, not this Cruella.
In the original novel Cruella de Vil is not a middle aged harridan with gigantic flat feet and a slightly deranged look in her eye. Cruella de Vil is actually incredibly cold and detached, like an evil Grace Kelly. She also gets expelled from school for drinking ink, which already makes her a hero in my eyes. She may be a villain – but being bad has rarely looked this good.
Below are some preliminary character sketches for the original Disney film, drawn by Marc Davis, that show that, at first, Cruella was one hot wannabe furrier.
Cruella in your wardrobe - Mink fur coat (faux or otherwise, I’m not judging), anything sweeping and bias cut, preferably in black and strings of contrasting jewels. Add a bucket of bleach to really top off the look.
Further reading – The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith
I’m kinda cheating here, because I chose two female flight pioneers. The uniform is pretty much the same, but the women couldn’t be more different.
Aviatrix A – Amelia Earhart, who disappeared in 1937 while attempting to fly around the world.
Aviatrix B – Pancho Barnes, who has to be the most interesting aviatrix EVER. This may have something to do with that fact that she didn’t die a premature death and so had more time to do interesting stuff…
|Pancho Barnes is on the far left, Amelia Earhart holds flowers|
Pancho Barnes and Amelia Earhart knew each other and flew together in races. When Earhart set the women’s world airspeed record, Pancho broke it. Pancho (real name Florence) was born into a wealthy family, got married young and left her husband in 1928 to dress up like a man and travel across Mexico. She was one of the first test pilots for weapons manufacturer Lockheed and established the union for film stuntpilots. When she retired, she set up a dude ranch in the Mojave desert, which she called ‘The Happy Bottom Riding Club’. Best name ever. She also looks incredibly jolly in every photo of her that I can find, which is always nice to see.
Amelia and Pancho in your wardrobe - Masculine tailoring; chino, jodphurs, flat boots, brogues, white shirts, ties or scarves, aviator jackets, shearling
Further reading - The Happy Bottom Riding Club: The Life and Times of Pancho Barnes
Alternates - Sabiha Gökçen (the first female combat pilot), Amy Johnson (the first woman to fly from Britain to Australia) and Bessie Coleman (the first black person to hold an international flying license).
4. Peggy Moffitt
|Photos (and slightly insane video below by William Claxton)|
It’s great to dress up as Twiggy or Edie Sedgwick, but the real 60’s icon has to be Peggy Moffitt. With trademark five point Vidal Sassoon haircut and possibly the best Op-Art make-up around, Peggy was muse to designer Rudi Gernreich. I’m very biased, as I’m picking her based on her eye make-up, which is far superior to the Twiggys and the Edies of this world. I also love that she still has the Sassoon haircut and wears the Gernreich clothing, even though she’s now in her seventies. Now, that’s what I call being consistent with a look.
Peggy Moffitt in your wardrobe - a truckload of eyeliner and jewel coloured eyeshadows, sharp minis in bright patterns, your best awkward poses.
Further reading - Pretty Pretty Peggy Moffit by William Pene Du Bois (now out of print but so worth it if you can get a copy)
So there you have it. Who are your female idols? Suggestions on Twitter so far include Jane Tennison, Jo from Little Women, Lara Croft and April O’Neil (who is totally kick-ass and was my inspiration to become a journalist – I kid you not). Any additions or amendments to make? And who are you dressing up as for Hallowe’en?
>A woman’s experiences with camel in all it’s permutations are usually interesting. It’s close enough to beige to be neither exhilaratingly good or mood-shrivellingly bad, but it’s far enough away from that perennially tedious shade to be just the right side of interesting. Yes, ‘interesting’ is definitely the word.
Like many girls of my generation, the first time that I saw a camel coat was a particularly sharp Jil Sander number on my mother as a toddler (I was the toddler, not my mother. Camel may be interesting but it isn’t powerful enough to implicate time travel). I remember thinking even then just how impossibly grown-up the long, double-breasted overcoat was – how the shape precisely delineated just how much of an adult my mother was, and still is, in my eyes. It was a world away from the one that I inhabited. I wondered when I would be the grown-up lady with the grown-up coat. I’m still waiting.
The second experience with camels was riding one by the ancient pyramids in Giza last year. As the slurping behemoth bobbed and juddered around unfenced tombs of the pyramid’s foremen and architects, little more than holes in the ground, I got the same feeling that I did when looking upon my mother’s camel coat for the first time. I was just not ready for the experience.
Even though the style reports tell you otherwise, a camel coat is not just for this season; it’s for life. The moment you become an adult is not when you turn 18 and legally ged drunk on lager shandies, it’s when you buy on of these babies. Unlike an actual camel though, a camel coat will not cost you money in food and stable fees. A camel coat will not earn you extra pocket money charging passing tourists for joy rides and it will definitely not spit on you when the going gets tough (but I promise nothing).
In fact, most camel coats aren’t actually made of camel hair but synthetic fibres that are dyed a uniformly dromedary hue. “Oh good”, I hear you sigh, “No animal has been harmed in the making of my new car coat from Oasis”. Bless you, for you are incredibly misinformed (but fair dues for worrying about whether your clothes are ethically sourced or not). Besides wool, camel hair has to be the kindest of all animal fibres, collected from the two humped Bactrian camel and not my stinky Egyptian friend. The best to be had is casually collected of the animals neck and flanks as it falls off during moulting, thus making camel hair harvesting the easiest job since the Arctic got it’s first weatherman.
Many people accuse camel of being nothing but a another word for the dreaded beige. For future reference, real camel is actually a shade of brown. It’s darker than beige, with a golden, honeyed tone. Camel hair also has thermobaric properties that NASA would be proud to develop, enabling the wearer to stay warm in Peruvian mountain snow and cool in desert climes (or just on a windy December day waliking down Patrick Street, if that’s what you prefer). See what I mean about camel being interesting? You can accuse it of being scarily grown-up or a bastardised beige, but it’ll never be boring.
>I’m totally contravening the laws of blog here but, inspired by this post from Diamond Canopy, I’m reposting some photos that I already put up on the blog some months ago . May I incur the wrath of Blog for my sins, but these pictures are way too nice to hide.
These are of my maternal grandmother’s family. A few months after she died, I found a plastic bag stuffed with her falling-apart address book and a ton of photos that she always had by her side. My nan was a formative influence on my life. I miss her a lot (even if she wouldn’t let me close the door whenever I had boys in my bedroom).
I won’t tell you which women is my nan, because my mother already thinks that having a blog means handing out my cup size and bank account details to strangers, let alone revealing who my family members are. But I will tell you this – pick the most stylish woman below and you’ll probably see her.
>I love this editorial, shot by Tim Walker for Vogue, which carries all the typical Walker trademarks of being utterly bonkers and utterly fantastic at the same time.
This editorial is inspired by the Ballet Russes and especially the Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes Exhibition at the V&A in London, which has garnered a lot of attention from the fashion pack since Erdem Moragliou has cited his work on the exhibition as an inspiration for his Spring/Summer ’11 line ( I talked about it here )
Here’s a few of my favourite shots.
Pics from Fashion Gone Rogue – click for the full editorial
Despite the title, I don’t think you’d be hearing moans but rather yelps of delight if I got my hands on one on Dominic Jones’ super-spiky, super-shiny rings. Inspired by Art Deco shapes, yet still retaining the ‘incredibly rich punk’ image (Alice Dellal is his business partner, after all) the collection is so covetable it should be made illegal.
I actually did have one moan – I tried on the ring above at the NEWGEN area at LFW and said, “Ooh, it’s very heavy” only to be told, “Well, that ring is mostly for editorial purposes”. Does that mean that it’s not going into production? Say it ain’t so Mr Jones.
|Getting my makeup done by the L’Oreal make up lady, who managed to apply liquid eyeliner ON A SWAYING BUS. This is a life skill which I have yet to learn.|
|“Listen Sarah, I know you think you’re tiny, but it’s just the camera angle”|
I get home and measure myself, and he’s right. I’m just half an inch off the average height for women. As it turns out I barely know what I actually look like, let alone have the capacity to accurately imagine myself after a makeover. To others, my flaws are probably not as exaggerated as they are to me. People don’t see me through a warped lens as I (and many women) do. They just see me. With red hair.
>Not content with releasing photographs of impossibly young, slim and beautiful people, Hedi Slimane, former Dior Homme designer has breanched out with a small film about two, eh, impossibly young, slim and beautiful people.
Titled, ‘I Love USA’, it’s somewhere between fashion and art, in that the emphasis is on beauty and movement, but it’s also abstract. In short – I have no idea what’s going on. I mean, I’ve read the press release, so I know what it’s about, but I think that it hardly amtters because it’s a simple joy just to watch the product of Slimane’s discerning eye (on a par with Tom Ford, I think). To quote:
The great thing about fashion film is that it’s so young that is has yet to develop distinct characteristics like the need for a storyline or even clothes to promote. The brief is totally open. What do you think – is this a fashion film? What makes a film ‘fashion’?
Photo by Gavin Watson
If you happen to be in London on the 29th of October, you could do much worse than to pop along to a party held by Vice in a super-secret venue to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. Martens. Cheapy-cheap booze and free tickets, which sounds a damn sight better than my dad’s fiftieth. Click here to register for tickets.
On a side note, does anyone know why we call them Doc Martens and not ‘Doctor’ Martens? This is the kind of unnecessary stuff that floats around my head on a Friday afternoon.
>Last week I was privileged enough to be asked to contribute a blog post for an international charity, which I’ll admit is somewhere outside of my remit. If my comfort zone was Planet Earth, this piece that I was writing was newly-discovered, Earth-like Planet G; 20 light years apart, but not so different when you think about it.
The post concerned girls and women in developing countries and the plights that they face in all aspects of life, from education to pay equality to personal safety and security for the future. My first thought was that of how lucky I was to be living in a country where I could sue the pants (or skirt – when it comes to litigation I’m all for equality) off anyone who discriminated against me because of gender. The second was a slow, dawning realisation of the type only seen in bad soap operas, when the protagonist finally emerges from the dim veil of improbable amnesia. I write every week about the only industry in which men get the fuzzy end of the lollipop.
Like most businesses, the fashion industry is male-dominated, from CEOs to designers, but it is decidedly female oriented. In every fashion week, only one day is devoted to the stronger, less fair of the sexes. Yep, I’m referring to the dudes.
I’d be committing a generalisation of a broader stroke than Michael Phelps could ever achieve if I said that fashion was just not made for guys. So, I’ll tentatively declare that fashion only appeals to a certain type of man (and I can pretty much guarantee that, if you’re thinking of Mark from Ugly Betty, then you’re way off the, uh, mark).
Your typical ‘fashion guy’ is more Dapper Dan than Screaming Stereotype. He is driven by the kind of compulsive thirst for knowledge that drives other men to dismantle the engine of a car or categorise thirty years of League Cup stats by year and commit them to memory. He needs to know how the proportions of a shirt work, he knows what colours go together, he appreciates great craftsmanship and draws inspiration from fashion movements past and present. He isn’t a particular size or shape. He could be any race, have any sexual preference.
He could be any man who is concerned with how they look has a vested interest in fashion, whether you’re label junkie on a first-name status with the staff of BT’s or a careful shopper like my father, who is meticulous about his impeccably proportioned, made-to-measure suits.
Yet men don’t have the breadth of choice that women do. Go sit in a busy part of town on a Saturday night and count the amount of men with identikit short-sleeved, checked shirts tucked into unflattering high-rise faded jeans. Then weep for humanity.
The boyfriend however, thinks I’ve got it all wrong. He thinks that all these beshirted studs actually are concerned with fashion. They just have no style. “Style is like a signature”, he preached to me in between bouts of Grand Theft Auto. “Fashion is just what’s available in shops”. Apparently, these guys are making the best of what’s available and doing a terrible job.
“Fashion is for the herd”, he says. “Style is for the black sheep, who hangs outside of the group.” “And what about stylish men who are into fashion?” I enquire. “Does that make them grey sheep?”
“No”, he concludes, chewing a potential pearl of wisdom. “A sheep that is both fashionable and stylish is just a sheep that’s caught on the fence”.
If you want to read the post that I wrote for Plan Ireland on gender inequality, you can read it on the Because I Am A Girl blog here.