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 bête 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. 


'Those Shorts Make You Look Like A Whore' - Welcome To The World Of Outfit Trolling

A version of this article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Last weekend, I posted a picture of my midsection (riveting, I know) wearing a striped shirt and a polkadot neckerchief. Not to everyone's taste but not hugely polarising, in the grand sartorial scheme of things, I thought. Not like last week's piece about 'finding my own normal'  - where I actually try and combine a faux fur turtleneck with culottes and pool slides. Anyway, with this #ootd scenario, the sad but true fact was that I just wanted an excuse to write a witty caption about Alexander Wang. Shortly after posting the picture, I checked back in and one of the comments underneath, 'hässlich', grabbed my attention - mainly because it was written in German. Two seconds of Google Translate later I learnt that it meant 'ugly'. All I shall tell you about anonymous troll is that her profile picture was Rihanna. (Course it was a her. Would a 'him' really give a shit about girls style? let's hope not.)

I wasn't terribly fazed. I'd have been more upset if it was written on a full-length look that I'd spent most of the night before cultivating from my floordrobe. It's to be expected, to an extent. I am a nascent fashion blogger after all, with a modest Instagram following and therefore more prone to image abuse than others. But it did make me think about a depressing new echelon to social media abuse: outfit trolling. With fashion-sharing at an all time high - at the time of publishing, Instagram has had 25million #ootd (outfit of the day) posted - and with Twitter trolling receiving so much airtime, perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. After all, my experience is hardly a one-off. 

Aussie blogger and photographer, Zanita Whittington recently posted a picture of herself on Instagram in a snakeskin print tracksuit from Stella McCartney's SS13 collection (sidenote: if anyone would like to buy me the shorts from that collection, then that would be marvellous.) 'I've always felt that if you're dividing opinions on your personal style, you're doing a good job!' she wrote cheerfully underneath. Turns out that was in response to a recent bout of outfit trolling. 'I posted the picture on Instagram after I received a criticism under the picture on my blog,' she told me. 'A reader had written, "Too baggy with little more to offer than the print."' Was she upset? 'Not at all! It was pretty constructive rather than offensive' she replied, reminding me that I should probably grow up and interpret criticism in a similar manner. It's a similar story on my absolute favourite blog, Leandra Medine's Man Repeller. 'I fall victim to outfit trolling every single time I put anything on any social media outlet,' she tells me. Just 4 days ago she posted a picture of herself in a Thakoon cropped shirt and Sally La Pointe tailored shorts on Instagram. 'She looks like a whore,' someone called @yousefams wrote underneath, before hundreds of Repellees slammed him for slut-shaming.


What Do You Wear On A Date - That Might Not Actually Be A Date?

This shoot I styled for The Debrief deals with a common, ever tricksy scenario. We've all been on one. The date-you-aren't-sure-is-actually-a-date. You've texted like 40 times in the last two days and you feel like you know him intimately. But you still haven't actually even snogged. And now you're hanging out this Saturday, but... is it a hang out, or a hook up?

It's tough. And it's so easy to make the wrong call. 'I bet he's not into me so I will just wear my boyfriend jeans and Converse', you think. Then he takes you to some totally suave upside down, back-to-front, reverse lit bar where the cocktails are served in ancient pieces of lava and you feel like a total nerd for getting it wrong. Or, on the flip side, you dress up like the proverbial dog's dinner, all bodycon boobs and trembly stilettos. Then he takes you to a gig and spends all his time flirting with the girl he just met, whilst you miserably fail to stop the drunk dickhead next to you spilling his tinny all over your boobs. 

Let me save you from that pain and misery. Strike it from all angles, folks. Look kinda smart, kinda relaxed, kinda cool, kinda sexy. It's not easy alchemy; but I've done it for you.


Can I Even Call This A Fight Against Normcore? Or Am I Just Finding My Own Normal.

Normcore. It's the Hot New Media Thing that's already been exhausted to death. Probably before you've even heard or understood it. Seriously, how much have we grown to love a trend with a buzzword at it's sticky center? We've already learnt that Bear Grylls is normcore's poster boy (it's very 'male') - oh, but that we've actually got the wrong end of the stick entirely. It's not about  Larry David - wealthy people who could afford, say, a seriously ritzy wardrobe but instead wear cheap 90s-esque togs non-ironically - LA-based 'normcore' creator Christopher Glazer argues with gusto, it's about the adaptability and empathy that comes from belonging. (Although that would insinuate that not standing out and ergo, assimilating, is the ideal - which seems to me a similar message.) There's also been some really brilliant thought pieces in riposte, about the culture of the norm in relation to class.

All that has happened in the two weeks since I shot these pictures. I thought I'd turn up in my zippy little pool slides and chuck in my two cents worth of anarchy to this brand new 'normcore' thing. But then time passed - don't cry for me or anything but I've been working my trapped-nerve arse off - and when the time came to writing this, at 1.30am on a now-Friday-morning, the whole 'normcore' thing had already been through a million different washes, like a teenager at a Boots make-up counter and suddenly we aren't really sure what any of it means (although we've been told that contrary to popular opinion, it's not really about fashion, which I'm going to largely ignore, for the sake of writing a blog post about my fucking outfit, okay?)

The one certainty is that a total can of worms conversation has been opened up about what 'being normal' means. It's tedious to break down an aesthetic into what's 'normal' and what's 'outré' - as if Jeremy Scott and Anna Della Russo were sipping Sherley Temples in one corner of the room whilst throwing Birkenstocks and Breton tops at Phoebe Philo and Calvin Klein - but there's no doubt that we all have a concept of what's de rigeur daywear and what's, say, a little more off piste. Call it the Inditex army, but there's a definite sense of fashion 'uniform.'

There is, of course, nothing wrong in not giving a shit about what you wear and emulating everyone else. I wish I could, often. My boyfriend regularly returns home at 1am to me wading blindly around my bedroom, which is now a shit pit of my own creation, with pom pons and leopard print hanging from the rafters. What this whole 'normcore' thing tossed up, like vomit in the after-party toilet bowl, is staying true to my own version of normal. For better or for worse, the standard uniform thing has never been one that I wear well. On one hand, you could applaud my individuality (not saying you have to, chill hombre); but on the other, you could look at the facts - or shall we say stats. The New Balances and the distressed denim is re-pinned and Instagram hearted as many time as it is, because it's the popular choice. Which is why it can be hard to resist the lure of my trust Topshop Jamie jeans and Chelsea boots, over the tank top and tartan skirt with heels that look like actual strawberries (pics coming soon) that make me feel like the truest version of 'me'. In a sartorial sense, at least.

As Leandra Medine recently discussed, you can opt for a all-singing and all-dancing style (all in favour say 'aye') and be dedicated to your cause (all in favour of actually not being able to leave the house in a crew-neck t-shirt, a pair of jeans and some Converse, say 'aye' again) but still feel yourself wavering. But c'mon, stay strong. I'm not saying force yourself to wear a boob-less onesie made of peacock features (if you're a jeans and a tee girl then just own it) but you have to allow yourself to embrace the thing that may not court approval, or subscribe to a popular trend. This outfit - at last! I get there! - is my normal. The jumper is hot as hell, lending credence to the bare shins and pool slide situation. And culottes are my favourite thing ever. If they're yours too, you're in luck; the shops are now full of them. Oh shit - does that mean I'm....