Licentiate Column 24/01/12: Me Dress Sexy One Day

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The search phrase ‘dress sexy’ brought up too many depressing options so here’s a picture of a kitten that looks like Ed Sheeran instead.

I’ve been single for almost a year. For a serial monogamist like myself, it’s an interesting, if slightly alien feeling. I feel as if I should throw a party – but, then again, ‘party of one’ has been the leitmotif of my 2012. There’s no point in dragging it out into 2013.

It also seems pointless to divide progress and setbacks in as arbitrary a timeframe as a year. Why should the last day in December mark the end of one regimen and the start of another? And why (I shout at no-one in particular) should the start of a new regimen be marked by the coldest month of the year?

It’s bloody freezing. I want nothing more than to stay in bed, slurping Ovaltine and developing an insulating layer of blubber while the vibrations caused by my younger sister as she pounds on the treadmill directly below send me to a reassuring sleepytime.

Being single is a positive thing. It has taught me the wonder of mid-heeled shoes and t-shirt dresses as well as the wonder of sleeping smack bang in the middle of a king-sized bed, surrounded by books yet to be read.

However, like my secondary school math skills, both my flirting and sexy dressing skills have atrophied. Gone are the plunging v-necks and pencil skirts. The last time I wore a pair of high heels was in May. As I type this, I am disturbed by that discovery. I love heels and pencil skirts and plunging v-necks. I make no bones about this love or how ridiculous it is to reduce women to ‘slutty’ stereotypes on the basis of how much skin they choose to reveal, bobble-fleshed, into the cruel January air. It’s all a matter of choice and consent.

I suppose I started really thinking about sexy dressing today, when I described a denim shirt with pictures of Bart Simpson all over it as a ‘man magnet’ on my Facebook profile. Of course, the only men who would be attracted to such a shirt would be either ten years old or still living in the nineties, which would make me either a time traveller or a paedo. I am neither, by the way.

So, why, if I love sexy stuff, did I stop wearing it? When did I stop with the sexy? It’s a question a lot of women ask themselves as a new regime begins – it’s also a question women ask as we commence the rather annoying march towards Valentines Day. Bring on Lent, I say.

There are many reasons we do this, and none of them have anything to do with ‘letting go’ or whatever new phrase glossy magazines have invented to make women feel bad about themselves. They are the following: 1) It’s too cold. 2) I’m not very interested in looking sexy at the moment. 3) I deliberately dress like this to deflect unwanted attention. 4) Binding clothes are uncomfortable. 5) High heels are sore. 6) I’m doing a Sarah Silverman and am only slovenly in order to properly wow people with my designer clobber at awards ceremonies.

I’m going with reason No.6.

Licentiate Column 27/09/12: In Praise of Pockets

Helmut Newton’s iconic photo of the YSL Le Smoking tuxedo. Would this be half as cool if the model didn’t have her hands planted louchely in her pockets? I think not. From French Vogue, 1975.

I had a singularly unpleasant experience today. It started like any other Autumn day, with the promise of another sinus headache hanging in the air, drifting dangerously close to my nose and eye socket. I got dressed; black and white sweater, black pencil skirt. I sat down at my computer, popped my headphones in and started the day’s work.

So far, so innocuous. I stood up to go and get a glass of water and had the feeling that someone had pulled, sharply, at my earlobes. My iPod had fallen out, dragging at my headphones like an obscure new trend in body jewellery. I picked the offending device up. But I had nowhere to put it. Nowhere. I did not have one pocket on my person.

There’s a phenomenon called ‘White Girl Problems’, in which people moan about trivial, fluffy roadbumps that are a consequence of asset-rich, racially privileged lifestyles. Having nowhere to put your 160G iPod Classic (save, perhaps, in your bra) is one of them. The sublime horror of not having a receptacle for all the stuff you need to walk into the kitchen for a glass of water is not a typical concern of female sweatshop workers in Pakistan or the children who sift through dumps for broken computer circuit boards in Central Africa. It is one of those little problems that reminds us of how lucky we really are.

Women are conditioned to carry their lives about with them. On a typical day I will carry around a battered black leather sac containing the following: wallet, bulging coin purse, umbrella, passport, two books, a notebook, a pen, about twelve million bus, train and Luas tickets, concealer, mascara, lipstick and a small pharmacy of over the counter remedies. And a pocket mirror. And keys. And, for some reason, things that I definitely don’t remember buying, like antacids, nail art pens and an assortment of plastic lighters in every colour of the rainbow.

We didn’t always have the option of pockets. Up to the nineteenth century, women wore external packet/handbag hybrids, which would be attached to the belt and were easily liberated by pickpockets and cutpurses (a ‘cutpurse’ is an excellent insult to fling at someone if you want to bewilder them briefly in order to run away, just so you know).

It wasn’t until Chanel that pockets became cool. It could only be done by the woman who made jersey (then popular as material for men’s underwear), tweed (for stuffy sportwear types) and androgyny (which until the twenties was a sign of serious sexual transgression) into the stuff that couture dreams are made of. Chanel made pocket on jackets and dresses to liberate women from the tyranny of handbags, but not, unfortunately, from the tyranny of being perpetually trendy.

A well-placed pocket is more than just function; it can transform a look. It’s ot just a key holder, it’s also a place to put your hands while you’re being all nonchalant and stuff. Putting your hands in your packets says ‘Look at me, I’m so cool that I don’t need to carry my life with me at all times’. It also says, ‘I’m so cool, I don’t have time to worry about bag-related shoulder or back injuries’. Think about it.

Licentiate Column 02/08/12: I Swear I’m Not a Prostitute

Furtive, shameful hand shandy in the back of a van, not pictured

A funny thing happened to me on the way from the post office today.

Maybe that’s not the best way to start a story, but the rest of said story is sufficiently entertaining that the mediocre introduction can be forgiven.

It was a drizzly day, the former part of which I had spent in my pajamas. I had to go run a few errands, so I threw on a pair of black jeans with salsa stains on the left thigh, a ratty t-shirt, scraped my hair back in a bun and popped on my twenty nine euro Specsavers glasses. The post office was only a few hundred yards away, so I figured that it wasn’t a big deal.

I was standing outside the post office, sipping from a can of pop and waiting for the drizzle to make up its mind about whether it wanted to be a downpour or not when a man in a white van pulled up and nodded at me. I ignored him the first time, then the second, then on the third go I gave a tentative, confused nod back, because in my hometown any middle-aged man who nods at me is more than likely to be my second cousin.

Gentle reader, I married him. No, that’s not true.

I decided to stop the nodding and crossed the road behind his van, heading in the opposite direction. Terrifyingly, he did a U-turn, parked right in front of me and tried to initiate a conversation.

To cut a very long, very creepy story short, he mistook me for a prostitute. An actual prostitute. The women who have sex for money. And not the ‘high-class’ kind of prostitute; the ‘furtive hand shandy in the back of a van with a man who looks like Onslow from Keeping Up Apprearances’ kind of prostitute. I ended up doing an increasingly panicky speedwalk home, terrified that I was going to be abducted.

There are outfits that teenage daughters wear that can worry their parents. And then there are outfits that are more dried tomato and herb than actual fabric. My ensemble was firmly entrenched in the second camp. Encrusted, even.

I have gone out in more than my fair share of provocative outfits and never received a backwards glance. I have gone out as the sartorial equivalent of a bin near a Mexican restuarant and been mistaken for a hooker.

The proof is in the pudding. It’s not what you wear that makes you a slut (for pay or otherwise) – you’re clearly a slut when another man decides, often baselessly, that you are one. It’s total and utter tripe. Whoreishness is in the eyes of the beholder, and the beholder who judges you as a slut based on your appearance clearly leaves something to be desired in themselves.

It’s a liberating but ultimately depressing thought. It doesn’t really matter what you wear, because people are probably going to get the wrong impression anyway.

Jean Paul Gaultier x Diet Coke Tour Bus Comes to Cork!

So, last week, I wandered along to the launch of the Jean Paul Gaultier x Diet Coke tour, had my nails did, quaffed some no-sugar beverages, snapped a bit of street style (I loved Roisin’s camo/denim combo, which you can see below) and had excellent laughs with fellow bloggers and my Diet Coke co-presenters, Ciara, Katrina and Sue.  You can see all the fun times we had in the video above.

If you want to partake in the fun yourself, the JPG tour bus is stopping in Cork at Mahon Point Shopping Centre this Friday (that’s the 27th). Come along, get a manicure (I went for red nautical nail wraps), some temporary tats (mine were anchors) and, if you’re lucky, some limited edition Jean Paul Gaultier Diet Coke bottles.

Here are some photos of all the fun.

Professional photos by Thinkhouse, incredibly amateurish Instagram photos by me.

Licentiate Column 14/06/12: Free Gifts in Magazines (and what they say about you).

June the first is a momentous day. Yes, it’s the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I know how much we all care about that. Yes, Forbidden Fruit is about to kick off the Irish Festival circuit and thus the official start of Irish Summer. And yes, these are all excellent excuses for total inebriation.

June the first is also an important day for frugal women the country over, for June the first is the day that Glamour UK comes out in Ireland – complete with free Benefit cosmetics. Every June Glamour will give away Benefit swag, newsagents will get incredibly annoyed at the amount of punctured plastic pockets and stolen face primers and beauty junkies will buy copies in bulk and leave the surplus paper in their local recycling bins. People will claim their luxury sample size primers, have a flick through a magazine which makes you worry if everyone is kinkier than you (short answer – probably not, it doesn’t matter as long as you’re happy) and hopefully not file it away for future reference.

Today I bought four, count ‘em, FOUR copies of Glamour. This is not reverting to type. I love magazines, but my shopping list usually consists of luxury biannual tomes, thick as the Book of Kells, usually full of Cindy Sherman pictures and chimpanzees in Prada (it’s conceptual, dahling). These magazines are usually called something like Blorft or Zip! and will invariably have a cover image of a supermodel or obese person in the nip or a slightly obscure but actually incredibly mainstream person like Bjork swaddled in cotton wool, diamonds and a smattering of neon pigeon shit.

I also buy hard-to-get foreign magazines where the editorials are populated entirely by beautiful transsexual women or frosty Scandinavians. The covers are clean, severe and as close to blank as a brand new A4 drawing pad as possible. The title will have a lot of umlauts or dashes through the letter ‘O’ and the contents will sometimes scare me so much that I’m glad that I can’t understand the text.

Sometimes I will just buy a magazine because it looks like it could be a prop in a Wes Anderson film (The Gentlewoman), or Sophia Coppola’s latest effort (Lula). Sometimes I will buy a magazine because it seems smart, but it is always just pretentious and a little bit sad. Once, I bought a fashion magazine that was about… drum roll.. people who write for fashion magazines. Proof that the fashion industry will one day eat itself. But the magazines really do tie the room together when you fan them out of a coffee table. Martha Stewart taught me that.

In a way, buying these magazines isn’t a measure in the pretension mentioned above, because they are often heavy and unwieldy, and so are totally unsuitable for reading on public transport. If no-one sees you being pretentious, then you’re not pretentious. You’re just being you, which altogether may be a much more depressing prospect.

Diet Coke x Benefit: Outfit Post

The very last Diet Coke x Benefit Get Glam event took place at Mahon Point last Saturday and I was there with the lovely Thinkhouse team to document the impossible, oh the impossible glamour of it all.

I’ll post the video (I’m praying that there won’t be a blooper reel including my incredibly feeble jokes about Special K being the Breakfast of Champions or the bit where I said ‘I’m Sarah Waldron from The Licentiate and I’m here to… completely forget what I’m talking about’) during the week, so this is just a quick outfit post.



Dress: Sister Jane, Boots: Topshop, Pendant: Penneys, Watch: Casio, Fred Perry barrel bag: filched from a friend.

Photos are courtesy of the beautiful Margaret from 4ng2.com.

Theasons Greetings

How do you make an outfit special after spending a week in bed? Slap on some sequins and lipstick with your novelty Christmas jumper and charity shop denim jacket.

A Shocking Life – ta for the recommendation Ailbhe!  Some Occupy Cork literature.  A cup of tea from Electric.

Denim – charity shop.  Sweater – Mercury Goes Retrograde. Dress – Rare.  Boots – H&M

Photos by Margaret, who is great.

Horsing Around

Last week, I said that I was going to start to do more outfit posts. And I am. As soon as I learn to use my camera. And learn how to use Photoshop. And find a great location. And but a new pair of heels. And lose some weight. And get a haircut. And wait until the weather is lovely.

But, if I waited to do all of those things, I’d be waiting a very, very long time. This might not be The Sart, but it’s a start. Please be kind if you’re leaving a comment. Don’t go breaking my heart now.

'But I don't wanna be in the outfit post!'

So, I'm dating a giant. Wanna fight about it?

These photos were taken a few months ago outside my flat. Myself and the boyfriend are just fooling around with the camera settings.

You know that feeling when you’ve been with someone you start to dress alike, a bit like a less attractive version of the couples from The Kooples lookbook?  That has happened to us.  It’s not always a bad thing, but it can be embarassing when you roll up to the cinema in identical tops.  I blame Topman and their deceptively versatile tees.  And the fact that I’m a laundry-dodging bum.

I'm just SOOOOO mysterious.

Squinty Mc Squinterson

I love this jacket.  Ever since I saw Ken Russell’s photos of Teddy Girls, I’ve been obsessed with contrast lapels and the effortless style and, to an extent, the ‘pony club’ vibe that runs through these jackets.  This is a vintage boy’s jacket.  If you’re petite, boys jackets are great for a masculine line without being swamped in the sleeves or shoulders. I can just picture a 60’s kid wearing this jacket for his Bar Mitzvah.

token blogger shoe picture

So, this is my first proper outfit post. Thanks to Alan for helping me along and being my guinea pig. And for lending me his tees.

Jacket – vintage
Jumper – Topman
Jeans – Primarni
Boots – Topshop

Alans clothes – ALL Topman. Seriously.

The Joy of Books

These books came in the post for me last week, with more to come. If there’s a Great Boyfriend Lotto, I’ve got a winning ticket.

Posting will be a little bit slow this week as said Great Boyfriend is otherwise occupied and probably won’t be able to edit photos.  You can probably tell that this was not taken by him.  D’oh.  I’ve got an interesting project coming up (more on that in a few weeks – mysterious, wha?) so I really should learn how to use my DSLR properly instead of using at as an expensive, fragile paperweight.

Above are a slew of fashion books, some on Lee Miller photography, a history of glamour, Frida Kahlo’s Diary, The Annotated Lolita (so I don’t miss any Nabokov jokes) a book on tattooed ladies, a history of the Bright Young Things and a guide to tying scarves.  Do you approve?

Expect lots of book-centric posts over the next few weeks.  Lots of ‘em. Lots and lots.

A little something for the weekend…

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If you’ve ever wondered what I wear on a day to day basis (unlike a lot of bloggers I’m not a big outfit poster) then click here to watch me ramble on about socks with sandals, fake J Brands and stealing clothes from your boyfriend.  The video is courtesy of RTE’s Red Radar blog, which houses some more posts by yours truly, so get sifting through the archives.

Yes, I do a Vulcan salute at the end.  I’m considering using it as a sign-off in all conversations from now on.

Have an excellent Bank Holiday weekend!