What Does Your Filter Say About You?

Remember when the view was just the view? It wasn't, say, slightly washed out like a pair of Victorian stockings? Or, say, as bright as a new drop at Opening Ceremony? I know, what a retrograde thought. Your choice of filter has become so indicative of both your visual aesthetics and personal outlook that filters have become almost political. If I'm being really 'digital takeover' about the whole thing then I would say that who you are and your choice of filter are intrinsically linked. (Except if you're a total filter whore like I am and jump from one t'other depending on subject.) So without further ado... which filter are YOU?*

There is nothing you hate more than a smiley selfie, or a PMA hashtag, than a picture of a goddamn cupcake. You are the anti-pretty of Instagram. You've joined it because you 'get' social media, you 'get' the zeitgeist - but you'll be damned if you're going to look perky. You'll Instagram weird cigarette packets from Asia; maybe some squashed roadkill and you'll overlay it with this dank and brown filter because you are basically really fucking uneasy about how easily you conformed to what is basically a MASSIVELY TERRIFYING MEDIA CONSPIRACY. *Exhales*. 

To say you're contrary is putting it mildly. You'll only wear something if no-one else likes it. You'll eat the thing that no-one else wants to eat. You took a job based on the fact that everyone thought it was the worst job they had ever heard of. Which actually, you've realised, is kind of true. You trade off being obnoxious (you call it 'being original') and generally that's OK, your friends love you anyway. Except when you upload a ton of photos from Friday's night's BBQ onto Instagram and everyone, including the dog, looks like they have a severe case of jaundice.

You're the leader of the pack, vroom vroom. Kidding. You're about as original as a pool slide. I say this without judgement, for Hudson's popularity is a no brainer. It's Instagram's purifying whitewash - like Amaro but less harsh. Everyone looks cuter, slash cooler in Hudson's baby blue tones. Just ask, like, erryone that went to Coachella. Ella. Ella. Ella. (You're totally going in 2015.)

The sun is always rising, the festival is always pumping and the cider's always flowing in your world. Toaster's the perfect filter to make the 7am after-party look arty rather rank. Plus, fringed suede, muddy hair and liquorice rollies look so much better when they've been churned through Toaster like a knob of Lurpak. It's speaks of seventies free-spiritidness and urban flower girls. You thought about toning it down to Valencia, with it's lighter warm tones. Then you realised YOLO.

Always one-step behind, little cherub. Way back when in 2012, everyone popped their Insta-cherry with Lo-Fi. Then they wised up, learnt the tricks of the trade and realised that Lo-Fi's aggressively saturated filter made everything look as rich as Henry VIII's banquet. You've always been about two years behind 'the trendy', though, which is why you joined Instagram in 2014 and didn't realise that everyone had moved onto the less offensive X Pro II for times when they needed a colour pop. You'll start watching House of Cards in 2016. You'll understand what Spotify is in 2021. And wait - what are Bitcoins? Are they like Pogs?

No Filter
Hi, smug twat. I'm kidding, but there's an oddity in the way people wear #nofilter like a badge of honour. For those IRL (not just IG) photographers who find the fact that Instagram has turned everyone into a 'photographer' physically painful - this is a small rebellion. Not only are your photographs good enough not to need 48 different filters, but you also see 'no filter' as something which marks you out as the elite. That said, nobody will know if you fiddle with the exposure a little...

*For the sake of brevity, I have taken 6 Instagram filters. Because there are 20 filters in total and I do have a life... maybe.


Cinch Up, Get Smart

I cannot believe that for many years I was terrified of anything 'waisted'. Rock on, Dita Von Teese, I thought - but good god, never was a defined waist for me. But for the last few months (like many other girls, let's not pretend this is original) I've been cinching anything and everything - and my new favourite thing to cinch is an unbuttoned shirt.

The silk shirt in question is by Marina London. Unlike Emma Watson, I do not find the ageing process to be a beautiful thing; but what is joyous about getting old and gradually more leathery of skin is that the talent of your friends really comes to the fore. Marina Guergova, doyenne of silken produce (her diamonds, if you will) is one such talent. If it wasn't for her, I'd never have known about the life expectancy of silkworms (um, not great) and I'd certainly had never the opportunity to combine the unexpected pieces that is a chic-as-shit silk shirt with some gingham and fringed suede, for her I Wear MARINA series.

Photographs by Marina Guergova.


Is A Man Really A Mansumer?

'I've had enough!' my boyfriend exclaimed last weekend, whilst reading an article in The Sunday Times about the rise of the 'mansumer' (male consumer, fyi.) 'Who seriously uses that word? It's total bollocks.' Well, quite. For whilst I understand the credence of 'mansuming' as a social trend - female consumers have statistically spent much more than men, so it's an interesting development - isn't the word slightly... odious?

'It is a made-up, nonsense word' affirms journalist/active mansumer Andy Jones when I spoke to him. 'Why do male consumers need their own separate word? I even heard about a 'mandigan' last week' he says, sorrowfully. THAT'S A MALE CARDIGAN, FFS. This isn't the first time men we've awarded men with an icky nickname because they've chosen to, I don't know, buy a new shirt. Men who wax go for 'boyzilians' - which somewhat unfairly sounds like a procedure fit only for a Ken Doll, rather than a man who might just happen to maintain a neat bush. Then there's broga - the energetic form of of a man 'who would previously opt for tennis', practising yoga. This manages to offend both men and women, rather winningly, as it suggests a woman's teeny limbs are not suitable for high-octane yoga, whilst making a man sound like a total dick every time he clears his throat and announces 'I am off to BROGA, my merry men.'

This need to engender every word is patronising (and I would assume, emasculating) and I lie the blame entirely at the feet of the media. Every tiny change warrants a fresh lexical contraction. The need to award a social trend with a nonsensical moniker - like that of male shoppers (moppers? I mean, we might as well go the whole hog) - has become as cliched as the omnipresent accompanying picture of a chiselled David Gandy. 'The media is full of such odd words' says Andy in exasperation. 'No-one would ever use them in every day life, yet they always appear in print. Kim Kardashian 'pours herself' into a dress, a football manager has a 'transfer war chest.' I like 'sexting' [oi oi] because those two words fit together so seamlessly, but the others just feel like ugly surgery.'

We shouldn't be surprised. Ever since the 'metrosexual' neologism was coined in the early noughties to describe a heterosexual, metropolitan man - with a saronged David Beckham as the poster boy - things were only going to continue this way. I actually described my boyfriend as 'metrosexual' the other day - because he's well kempt and likes shopping and enjoys my own mash-up style - and then slightly hated myself for doing so.

I personally think it's great that the stigma of a man going shopping has largely been removed. The only concern I would have if my boyfriend began to spend as much money on clothes as I do, would be that he may want to divide the shared closet 50/50 (we're operating with an 80/20, right now.) That a man can pluck his eyebrows if he wants; do yoga; spend all day fingering fabrics in Liberty is great. Whatever dings his dong. But do we need to invent a new contraction for every single thing a man does, as if we were eagerly encouraging an incompetent oaf? Because, really - that's no more conducive to sexual equality than it is to comment on the tits of a female footballer. 


Pelvic Corsetry

IMHO, there really is nothing sexier than lace-up detailing. The recent Dior show sent me into paroxysms over its unexpected lower back and side detailing and I've long been a fan of lace-up blouses. I am also, switching over to my other passion, obsessed with suede mini skirts. Isabel Marant's Margaret skirt has always been at the forefront of my mind - which is why I was thrilled to find this lace-up suede mini skirt via ASOS Marketplace.

People are really wary of ASOS Marketplace - and people are DUMB. Think of it like an affordable (no designer items here), fashion-forward/vintage-fuelled eBay with much less guff to sift through. I find it particularly great for suede skirts (I'm also really into A-Lines with poppas all the way down, which The Reformation do really well too, if you're not into vintage.) I was very happy that my new skirt could join my other favourite piece of the moment, my silk pyjama blouse. Which has the best name a silk pyjama shirt ever could: Gavin. Obviously it looks like a Gavin. Gavin came from possibly one of the coolest new e-stores on the block, the LA-based Shop Super Street. Check them out. Also want to get my paws on this; oh and these, too. Obviously.


The Rules of Engagement

Emoticons, hashtags and an avalanche of apps: the social media landscape is a confusing terrain. And whilst gender stereotypes may be outdated, but there’s no denying that when it comes to social media, the do’s and don’ts on how to keep your cool vary hugely from men to women. Her dispensing floaty hearts all over Twitter? Not so bad. Him slamdunking a pink bevy of them? Very bad. Website, Social Media Today recently questioned, "Are women from Pinterest and men from LinkedIn?" As my rules below will testify, quite possibly. That said, when it comes to social media, one rule remains a fundamental for both sexes: sharing is not caring. 

Rules for men

- Do marvel at the googly-eyed turd emoji and miniature jugs of beer, but do not use them when wooing. Ever. Especially when dumped. There is no bigger turn off than a man who ends a dolorous tweet with a crying face and a thumbs down. Oh and never turn up in a t-shirt covered in them.

- Do be aware of typos. Showing the hot girl in the office a funny YouTube skit will massively backfire if you type RedTube into your nav bar, instead.

- Do watch your Whatsapp slang. “Fancy sum drinks 2nite?” may be cringey coming from a teenage girl, but it’s downright unedifying from a grown man.

- Do seek titillation via Tinder and Grinder. But don’t let the horny 13-year-old in you resurface. S/he is not a KFC bargain bucket.

- Do tweet your sporting heroes, but don’t try and start a brouhaha with [insert your hated footballer] and his 4 million fans, after an 8 hour pub session. There will be tears and they will be yours.

- Do avoid being the Spotify douche who becomes a playlist princess at every Christmas party.

- Don’t update your Facebook status about how good the party is, when you’re still at the party. No-one will believe you.

- Don’t lie on LinkedIn. When you’re head-hunted by a Spanish-speaking scuba diving school, you’ll feel just like you did when you were busted for tweaking your GCSEs during UCAS.

- Don’t make sexy, sultry videos on Vine for potential paramours. Google Drake Hands guy and you’ll see why.

- Don’t channel Rihanna (applicable to both sexes, tbh) and post Instagram pictures of yourself smoking a spliff. People stopped being impressed by your ganja skillz aged 18.

- Don't join Pinterest unless you are of the creative or visual orient. Pinning pictures of cupcakes and sunsets during your lunch break is not the work of a great man.

- Don’t use pet names on Instagram – no one wants to read about "cocktails with your baby", or "country walks with your boo". You know who you are and it’s unseemly. Yes, it's unfair that women can get away with calling absolutely everyone "my babe" and "my girl" but life sucks a bit like that sometimes.

Rules for women

- Do take advantage of social media’s casual flirtations. Dawn and Chris O’Porter met on Twitter, after all. But do be aware that Tinder is a raging horn fest where 98% of it's applicants are looking for IRL boning rather than magical, long country rambles.

- Do self-edit. Your Instagram followers need 10 near identical pictures in a row, like they need an #aftersex selfie. If in doubt, slap an Instagram filter on it: Hudson or Walden are always delicious.

- Do be pithy and tell Twitter about the time you called your boss ‘Daddy'. Why do you think that Twitter is now the stomping ground for pretty much every awesome female comic out there?

- Do follow hilarious Insta-animals such as @harlowandsage and @tunameltsmyheart (trust us) on Instagram, but remember to ration the kute kittie pics.

- Do watch your hashtags. The sccharine #blessed and #love will endear you to just about no-one. Yes, VS Angels, I am talking to you.

- Do go wild on occasion with a selfie, but….

- Don’t ever post a belfie, unless it happens to be your most profitable marketing tool. See: Kim Kardash’s bodacious swimsuit-clad derriere. That said, belfies from men are are actually pretty funny, on account of it's being near impossible to sexualise them.

- Don’t do an Amanda Bynes and have your epic meltdown via cyberspace. Save the tears for your 3D pals, not the largely unknown bunch of people that you are ‘friends’ with on Facebook. This quite obviously goes to men, too, but, you know, given that we are already touted as as 'emotional women' by society you should wish to avoid that even more so.

- Don’t get touchscreen happy when inebriated. The gut-wrenching realisation that drunk you has left sober you with a litany of creepy new pals and misspelt, Pinot-soaked Whatsapps is far more nauseating than your hangover will ever be.

- Don’t share ‘breaking news’ on Twitter before you have comprehended it, like TOWIE’s Jess Wright, who compassionately to Twitter to wish Kim Jong II a ‘Rest in peace’.

- Don't get angry when you find out that your boyfriend is also following Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Who's going to turn down that open door invite?

- Don’t comment “HUNKY” under his mate’s Facebook picture of them at Oktoberfest, either. You will remove his cojones and his dignity in one fell swoop.


Little Bo Peep? She Got Urban

When the very awesome French fancies behind Claudie Pierlot's new Flirt collection sent me a sweet-as-a-sugar-mouse smocky dress to style up ahead of the collection's launch today, I was plunged into some rather intense deja-vu. When I was at university, I lived in babydoll dresses, like lesser versions of this one - though they had the added bonus of having particularly flattering (irony) empire lines. I would wear them with tights and puffa jackets and in larger sizes as I thought they made me look slimmer. 

DEAR GOD. Now you know when people ask, with so much trust in the very basis of your profession, 'have you always been interested in fashion?', that someone like me can reply with 'interest, yes. Aptitude? Barely.' Anyway, point is that I've outgrown the girly dressy phase - though I'm still obsessed with anything pared back, grungy (The Reformation is my guilty habit) and backless. 

Which is where this Claudie Pierlot number comes into it's own. The backless detail hooked me, but I knew that for me, it would be just a little too girly to be worn on it's own. But... with some epic Alice + Olivia leather skinnies and not-so-boxfresh Reebok Classics, they had the necessary edge. Add the silk scarf that I stole from my dad and worn ever since and you've got a pleasant riff on a bucolic dress. Nice one Claudie. Just the way the lamb likes it.


Because Who Said Personal Style Was Immutable?

I don’t really have a leg to stand on. As much as I hate my own personal style being defined (when asked, I normally trill rather grossly ‘I like having fun with fashion!’) I do it to others. As a journalist I frequently summarise personal style, for the sake of the reader, like a one-woman style strait jacket. ‘Sporty with an abstract edge!’ I might parrot gaily, or, ‘laid back SoCal with a luxe boho underscore!’ God I’m a pretentious twat. But anyway, there we go, I am a hypocrite. Because every time someone calls my style ‘cute’ (damn you, beloved strawberry shoes), or ‘tartan’ the only print in my wardrobe (I do love a tarty party but it’s just one of my fads of the now) I think, hmmmm – but what if they saw what I was wearing today?

For better or for worse, I like to experiment. Sometimes it works and sometimes it really doesn’t. Just last week I paired a button-down Oxford shirt with high-waisted cropped Girlfriend jeans and black Chelsea ankle boots. I thought I looked very Clemence Poesy meets Caroline de Maigret, but I actually looked like I had outgrown my flares; slash taken on the form of a Home Counties mum in her slightly skewiff pedal pushers (everyone knows the ‘clamdigger’ should hit the middle calf tightly, rather than flare out.) Anyway, it’s quite put me off my Girlfriend jeans, which in fact looked great with heels. I’ve shat on my own Girlfriend denim parade and I only have myself to blame.

The outfit that you see here, if I was putting on my journalist hat, would be described as sporty, with a nineties twist (extra points to the person that spots the retro boxfresh Reebok Classics and ribbed poloneck tank top.) Certainly not how anyone would summarise my general style. But let’s be honest, isn’t it really difficult to stick to a set style? In general, there are very few things in this world that I pertain that I would never wear – but who’s to say that I will even stick to those? For instance, I’ve always seen pastel pink skinny jeans as my bĂȘte noire. But if I woke up one day with tawny thighs the length and breadth of Alessandra Ambrosio’s then you’d probably see me looking Coachella ready in a tassled crop and pink skinny jeans before the day was out.

I guess it comes down to: don’t box(fresh) me in. ‘Cus I’ll only let you down.*


Is The Fitness Industry The New Fashion?

So many ways that title could have gone. But let's start with this. Yesterday morning I read about a new sporting activity in The New York Times called piloxing. My interest was instantly piqued; not because I wanted to start to ‘pilox’ (which sounds like a cross between a pillage, a pillow fight and a detox – which sounds like a completely riveting activity, to be honest) but because I was in the thrall of yet another hilarious hybrid sport.

Yogalates, Boxercise, Broga (seriously? Is men doing yoga worthy of it’s own moniker?) – the ridiculous names continue, with ‘piloxing’ referring to a combination of pilates, boxing and (jazz influenced) dancing. I’d pay good money to see a boxer whip out a twinkly pair of jazz hands instead of a right hook, but hey that’s just me. None of these sports are any that I’ve tried myself, mind. I did thoroughly enjoy zumba, but that’s not a hybrid sport and therefore irrelevant to this post goddamit. 

I’m not a great exerciser by nature; namely because exercising in London is SO EXPENSIVE. And I can’t run because I have trapped nerves in my bum. True story. I used to love running but I had to stop as my arse hurt so much. I thought it just hurt when I ran because I had a big bottom (proportionately speaking, it is considerably larger than the rest of my vital stats) and it therefore had to operate independently from my body, like a horsebox attached to the main vehicle – but I was then told that it was actually bad for my back and sadly had to stop.

So I write this from a position of blubbery non-smuggery (who can be smug about a body that’s not been boxercising?) but nonetheless, confusion. Because I fear that sport has become the new fashion industry. Creating hybrid jargon that is temptingly easy to ridicule. I have great issue with many modern fashion terms, which make me want to smother myself to death with my own bosoms. For example, ‘coatigan’, 'jeggings' and ‘skort’. Sometimes, in the interest of sartorial accuracy and in my job as a fashion journalist, I am forced to use such words and sit there with tears silently trammeling down my face in shame.


Pop It Like It's Hot, Pop It Like It's Hot

Pop socks! 'Ello 'ello. They've come to a foot near me (read: mine) like a five-strong boy band. Just call my feet 5ive. My favourites are these Topshop burgundy ones, as they seem to go with everything. No, don't tell me they don't go with my shoes. You're wrong. And I won't listen anyway. Everything goes with these decade old LK Bennetts. I used to find it weird that my dad gave me LK Bennett gift cards for Christmas, when I was about 20 years too young and five shades into something far dodgier, but given that I still have 2 excellent pairs in rotation (these ones, plus some yellow strappy sandals which you do up with ribbons. Ribbons!) I can only thank him for the forethought. 

Of course, this new obsession brings me one step further to becoming my mother - a trajectory which has been worryingly swift, if you must know. I mispronounce words, adopt terrible accents daily and have started to succumb to her sensible rule of shopping, "if it fits, buy 6!" Not 6. But you know, 2. That said, there is one rule to obey, in my eyes that stops the transformation completing. NO NUDE. Avoid flesh-coloured socks like I avoid eggs. There is no way you can ever jazz that shit up. All other colours are fair game, so go at it like Snoop Dogg.