Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 27/06/13: Swimsuits, The Bane of my Life

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- My private jacuzzi, mine!

Here I am, in the Canaries, on assignment for The Cork Independent. It’s baking hot, so hot that the ground underfoot could make the soles of your feet sizzle like a cheap cut of meat on a disposable barbecue. Not that any of that matters – I’m in a private cabana overlooking Siam Park, one of the most interestingly-themed water parks in the work. I have my own personal jacuzzi.

If it sounds like I’m gloating, it’s because I am. This is the life. It’s not a particularly tough work week, but someone has to do it. And if it wasn’t going to be me, it’d be some other lucky gloater. For proper journalistic effect, I’m going to add in a ‘na nyah na nyah nyah’.

Ok, no more gloating – I’ve reached that fine line between smugness and losing my job.

Siam Park is interesting. It’s not your normal water park. The rides are more like rollercoasters and are spaced out like a theme park. It’s built on a gargantuan scale! There are actual seals in the reception area! Private cabana (with, for some reason, piped in Seventies disco music – Hot Stuff is playing now, Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel preceded it)! Private. Cabana. You don’t know what this means to me, you guys.

One snag. I don’t own a swimsuit. I don’t own a one-piece, bikini, monokini, tankini, mankini or burkini. Not a single piece of costume for swimming do I own.

This is not particularly surprising for an Irish woman who doesn’t go on holidays and isn’t really into swimming. I borrowed one of my mother’s one-pieces from Dunnes, which does the job of covering errant floating breasts quite effectively – so buoyant are they that I might hit myself in the face with one of them, knock myself out and drown, thus spawning joke obituary headlines that could, potentially, be heard around the world.

Buying swimwear is tricky at best, like buying all clothes is – only much more so. For women as well as men, it can often be fraught with self-loathing and insecurity as well as the overriding need to buy a small piece of cloth that covers your bits but bares your essential self to the world at large.

For what it’s. worth, 99% of the women at Siam Park are wearing bikinis and the other 1% are almost definitely Irish. Is it a nationality thing? Probably not. Correlation does not equal causation.
I will say one thing though. I wish that I didn’t leave my swimsuit in the hotel…

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Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 23/05/13: Alligators in the Canaries

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It is a rather balmy 22 degrees in Mogan, Gran Canaria and I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty hot where I am – conveniently and blessedly, I actually am in Mogan at the moment. The sun is shining, my shoulders have gone a stingy shade of emerging candy floss pink and I’m typing this column out on an iPhone, hoping that I’ll catch the autocorrect function when it substitutes the word ‘aunt’ for a different word mid-column.

I have been wearing the same t-shirt dress for three days (Christopher Kane for Topshop’s alligator design in case you’re curious). It’s pretty good. Great, in fact. I haven’t been on a sun holiday in almost five years.

In my family, I am known for being the lightest packer. One swimsuit, two dresses, a few t-shirts, a pair of shorts, a toothbrush, sunblock and six books compliment whatever I wore on the plane. The rest is incidental. Going on holidays is an opportunity to get away from everything, so it’s easy to make the choice to get away from clothes, which occupy a worrying amount of my daily thoughts. It’s also an opportunity to get away from the physical stuff – the sheer volume of the absolute shit we accumulate on a daily basis.

People buy multiples of the same types of clothes all the time. I have many, many grey Topman t-shirts. They fit really well. I also have rails of beautiful vintage dresses that I almost never wear. They are just too pretty and nice and impractical. It’s fashion, but for display purposes only.

Chatting with an ex online (there’s free wireless here and I get bored easily, OK?), he told me that his fairly extensive vintage football jersey collection was another example of such a ‘display only’ mindset. Clearly, these clothes, the jerseys and dresses, are meant to be worn. But we mean to keep them locked away, with the motivation of exclusivity or nostalgia. We love them. We are attached to them and we in return imagine that they are attached to us, becoming a part of our identities on the rare occasion that we put them on.

People buy multiples for two reasons. 1). The love of the item. 2). Because it suits them. My best friend has many floral a-line dresses because they look good on her and many many pairs of impractical shoes because she loves shoes. She doesn’t think these shoes constitute a ‘collection’ but they do, oh they do. Beyond the pleasure/pain of wearing them, she no doubt gets pleasure from just looking at them or having them on display in her room.

How attached are we to our clothes, really? Recently, an opportunity arose for me to sell my vintage collection – not just the dresses, everything. If you knew that your collection would go to a place where it would actually be worn as well as loved – as it was meant to be in the first place – would you let go? I’ve deferred for the moment, but the money would be helpful – and at least now on holidays I know I can live easily with a diminished wardrobe.

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Art, Fashion

Hallowe’en Appropriate: Salvador Dali for Vogue Paris

Happy Hallowe’en everyone! I hope you’ll be having a spectacularly spooky evening, or at the very least having one that involves eating all the trick or treaters sweeties (I’m on my third funsize box of Smarties).

While not strictly frightening, this 1971 edition of Vogue Paris, edited by Surrealist supremo Salvador Dali, is just jarring enough to give you proper chills…





Vintage Vogue scans via Youthquakers, which is so fantastic I can hardly bear it.

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Fashion

Related #7: Holiday Dressing

Yesterday’s post was all about dressing for a sun holiday – which for a lot of us means leaving the normal clothes at home and running into the nearest high street chain for disposable slouchy basics. Free People has taken it up a notch this season with their lookbook, which was photographed on, yes, a beach.

I’m so suggestible, me.

Does anyone else notice that most people get their holiday basics in the ONE shop?  You’re just so desperate to get it done in one go that you have to get everything in H&M, even though there’s a Penney’s next door.

I quite like the easy breezy flow of these pieces, especially the first dress. Now I just need to get someone to bring me on a sun holiday…

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All photos via Fashion Gone Rogue

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The Jersey Shore Hits the Miami Beach
Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 23/06/11: Holiday Dressing

If January is the time to self-combust with jealousy over the amazing scores your friends make in the sales and May is the month to burst into flames with envy at friend’s amazing summer weddings then June is the month to be immolated over where they go on holidays (if you aren’t already figuratively burnt to a crisp).

One friend is in perpetually tropical Brisbane, one is in Crete, another is inter-railing around Germany. Me? I’m sitting here, writing this in a granddad-style navy knitted cardigan with dried ketchup on the sleeve. It’s a glamorous life. The green-eyed monster and I are very happy to live it. All this burning envy is doing wonders for my tan.

I would never begrudge friends or family a break from their hard work. But if there’s an equivalent opposite to begrudging a holiday (and if there isn’t there should be), I do that to myself.

Staying stylish on a sun holiday is an obvious oxymoron. As a rule, holiday clothes are very small (to stay cool and maximise tanning) or loose (for expanding bellies after too many Sex on the Beach and pizza dinners). Combine the two and you’ll look like you’ve gone to a costume party dressed up as a sexy circus tent.

There are some girls who just do summer well. They have long legs, bronzed skin, natural highlights and can rock denim hotpants like no other. These girls live in faraway places like Sydney or LA. They don’t live in Trabolgan or Bettystown.

Irish women have an advantage when it comes to mysterious, windswept, modern Wuthering Heights style. We can dress for changeable weather among the best of them. All-day sun? We’re just not prepared for that.

The average Irish women will not bring her own clothes on holiday. She will buy a brand new holiday wardrobe, which includes several pairs of Jesus sandals, shorts and cotton vests for daytime and thin cocktail dresses with wedges for night (because heels don’t hold up well when trudging through sand).

It’s a standard uniform. An excellently distilled uniform at that. The genius of the Irish (or British, our Ibiza/Crete/Majorca partners in crime) women’s holiday wardrobe is that it represents a complete break from reality. It is true to the spirit of a summer vacation.

It’s a break from work, from your everyday life, from obligations. Why not leave your own style sensibilities in the wardrobe, at home, where they belong?

Planning a wardrobe is stressful. Holidays are supposed to be stress free. It makes perfect sense to cull the stressful elements and take your existing outfits out of the equation.

Ridiculously floppy hat? Throw it in the shopping basket! Red, heart-shaped Lolita frames? No holiday would be complete without them.

Take a break from your style and invent a whole new way of dressing. And if you want to borrow a ketchup-spattered cardi, I just might know where you can get one.

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