22 July 2012

Northern Pride

Hey everyone,

Yesterday I attended the fifth annual Northern Pride event in Newcastle, and it was absolutely awesome.
I remember Pride 2010 having quite mild weather, but last year was a complete wash-out - so much so that me and my friend Sam went straight to Newcastle scene for drinks, instead of slipping around Leazes Park.

However yesterday, in the new location of Exhibition Park (which was much better in my opinion!) the sun shone and didn't go in all day.
Here's what I wore:

(Yes, I am indeed holding a bottle of beer. Keepin' it classy, folks!)

DRESS: Dorothy Perkins
JACKET: River Island
BELT: Dorothy Perkins
EARRINGS: River Island
SHOES: Primark
POINT OF FASHION: Bright, colourful and mismatched.

I honestly don't know how girls who get 'street snapped' at festivals manage to look glamorous in a field whilst holding some form of beverage - so I do apologise for the awwwwkward posing! 

But hooray for a location shot, right? 
Especially in front of bunting - blogger cliche! More about this below.

You can only really see in the second photo that for the occasion I wore rainbow eye makeup.
It was surprisingly easy to do - and you can see a better close up at the bottom of this blog post, where I was rehearsing! 

I am also a bit obsessed at the minute with false nails - these were only £1 from Primark. 
I preferred to use my own nail glue, which I know works well (Nailene), but these are wonderful quality for the price - and I had lots of people comment on them during the day, which is always a good sign.

Instead of rabbiting on in a big block of text, I figured I'll share some of my favourite photos:

I attended for the first half of the day with my friends Natalie and Marie.
Lots of chilling and drinking happened. 

Improv group The Suggestibles had an awesome set in the Women's Tent, with an all-female line up. 

See the bunting in the outfit shot? During the day, artists collective Radical Threads invited people to write affirming messages to stick into the bunting, to then take around workshops with young people.
This was my contribution.

Later in the day I switched my hairband for my favourite pink bow from The Pink Life
(I adore the owner, Miss Lexi Bee!)

My favourite couple Sarah and Libby, who kindly allowed me to third-wheel with them watching the acts on the main stage.

With my old boss Tony, watching Diva Fever
We both used to volunteer on Pride Radio, which was originally Tony's brain-child.

Ding ding, all aboard - it's Pimm's O'Clock.

A few people on the Facebook event were complaining about the amount of bars as for the first time, visitors were not permitted to bring their own alcohol on site - which personally I preferred, especially as there were a lot of underage people enjoying the event.
Also there were hardly any queues!

Overall I had an amazing day. 
There were lots of stalls selling everything from offensive t-shirts to body jewellery. 

Natalie bought a "Closets Are For Clothes" mug and I bought a new septum ring. There were of course countless charities, good causes and sports teams (some of the boys from Newcastle Pathers and Newcastle Ravens were cuuuute!) as well as regular companies in support of their LGBT employees. 

There were lots of different tents including men's, women's and cabaret as well as the main stage hosted by the ever marvellous Miss Rory

It's a shame I couldn't on my usual night out around the scene afterwards, but I was spent up from the night before as my sister Nadia passed her driving theory test so and I treated her to a few drinks and some nachos at The Salsa Club.

However there is always next year - and in the meanwhile, I'll have Sydney Mardi Gras (OMG!OMG!) in early March 2013 to tide me over until then.

Muchos love,

16 July 2012

Animal Stars

Hey everyone,

I wore this over the weekend for a cheeky date with my friend Daniel.
We went to Zizzi's (he ordered their new Italian tapas which looked amazing!) then 2 4 1 cocktails at our usual haunt - The Charles Grey.

I've only worn this dress twice - once when I went to London, then somehow I convinced myself I didn't like it and even stuck it on eBay.
But I'm glad it didn't sell, as I think I rather like it again!

Is anyone else as flaky with clothes as I can be?

DRESS: New Look
BELT: New Look
RINGS: Various incl. c/o Tiny Hands
BRACELETS: Claire's and New Look
SHOES: Primark
POINT OF FASHION: Leopard and gold.

This hairband was sent very kindly by Georgie at BeauXOXO.
I'd been admiring her shiny glittery creations for while, so was delighted when she asked if I'd like to feature something on the blog.
I absolutely love this - anything gold and glitter is amazing in my book, and pulled the rest of the outfit together perfectly. 

I bought this MUA lipstick (shade 3) for just £1 and I can't believe how creamy and pigmented it is.
One of my new favourites!

(In these photos, can you tell when the sun suddenly came out...?)

I was also recently sent this amazing waffle ring from the lovelies at Tiny Hands.
It's even scented, and smells exactly like warm butter waffles and maple syrup! 
I don't know if I've mentioned before, but I collect jewellery (specifically rings) that look like confectionary (typical fat girl!) - I'll have to give my full collection a write up sometime.

It's been otherwise a bit of a quiet week for me - except my sister and I have been helping Italian Catholic Mother pick out furniture for the house for after it's been renovated (right now we're pretty much living on a building site). 
However, we had some good luck in the Next sale today - she got a ceiling light for the dining room for £30 down from £70, and also a new table for just £120 down from almost £500 because it is ex-display!

Take that, Kirstie Allsopp!

Muchos love,

14 July 2012

I am a Vine, all twisted and frayed...

Hey everyone,

It's very rare I open my blog up to anything not fashion/beauty/lifestyle-ish related - but I think I can make an exception today, as ten years ago today (well, the official release date flits around from 8th-16th so let's take a guess!) - my all-time favourite album from my all-time favourite band was released:

Highly Evolved by The Vines

Like every relationship, me and The Vines have had our ups and downs.
But it's been a belter ten years.

(Warning: Coming up is a bit of an essay - but there are some great videos at the end, so feel free just to check those out, if you'd like!)

In the beginning was the word. And the word was "mothaFOCKah".

Once upon a time there lived a girl called Carla, who lived in a working class town in Northern England.
It was 2002, she was aged around 13 and into girly metal bands such as Jack Off Jill, Kittie, My Ruin etc.
Then one day, she was doing her usual Saturday routine of walking around Music Zone, spending her pocket money on posters and cds.

She was flipping through the poster section, and came across these four unfamiliar faces:

Now although it is bad form to judge people on appearances, the didn't-know-better teenager thought the boy centre-right with his floppy hair, huge eyes and pouty lips was a cutsey-cute cutie.
She noted down their name, went home and trawled through the internet for examples of their stuff.

She didn't like it, and soon forgot all about them.

However a few months later, someone in a music based Livejournal community (where I discovered most of my favourite bands in my less-than-tortured youth) somebody linked this:

And that was it.

"I'm feeling happy, so Highly Evolved..."

Within weeks, I had thrown away my spiked collars and black hair dye.

I started wearing ripped t-shirts, holey jeans and vintage t-shirts with sports jackets. I cut my hair short and wore it messy and unwashed.
A severe case of Nicholls-itus had begun - and it wasn't just me: They were on the cover of Rolling Stone, The Face, NME and countless others.
The press called them 'The Saviours of Rock and Roll' and hinted at the second coming of Nirvana.

Stories about the seemingly erratic lead singer/guitarist/songwriter began to emerge, painting a character from everything from a tragic artist, a prima donna to someone on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In one infamous NME interview, he didn't like how the line of questioning was going - so he tore the tape from the dictaphone before locking himself in the bathroom for hours.
Sometimes he simply fell asleep in the middle of an answer.

Some called him a pothead, others a musical genius.

To a 13-year-old fangirl, there was nobody cooler than Craig Nicholls.

However, the good times couldn't last forever.

"The Winning Days are gone."

In 2004, The Vines recorded and began promoting their new album Winning Days. With the hype surrounding Highly Evolved, it was always going to be a tall order to follow and reviews for the album and their live performances were mixed.

At their peak, just before they were due to support Incubus on an extensive American tour - what happened was what Vines fans refer to as 'The Annandale Hotel Incident.'

Craig lost it on stage, insulting the audience after asking them not to talk during their set. When a photographer tried to snap a photo, he kicked out and broke her camera.
Bassist and original member Patrick Matthews walked off stage, and would never play with The Vines again, Triple M radio station removed their songs from playlists, the band fell off the Incubus tour and charges were pressed.
The Vines ceased the promotional tour and went home. The winning days were gone.

On my end, (Notice how I stopped doing the third person thing? It stopped being cute two paragraphs in, didn't it?) I had followed all of this in slight disbelief.
In just two years, the poster boys for the new wave of rock and roll had seemingly lost all their credibility.

"Through the Vision Valley, waiting to be found."

As a fickle teenager, when news of the band began to run dry - so did my interest.

By 2006, I was 16-years-old. I'd left school and went to college.
I had changed from the shy goth girl to someone quite loud and borderline obnoxious.
I started wearing bright neon clothes, and wearing glitter to classes. I started listening to electro music such as Robots In Disguise, Freezepop, IAMX, Hyperbubble, Client and YMCK - plus sneaking into electro nights in town.

Guitar music didn't interest me at all.
I got my first boyfriend, and stopped obsessing so much about boys in bands.
I bought The Vines' third album Vision Valley, gave it a spin, then put it on my cd rack to gather dust.

One day, my dad gave me a copy of an Observer newspaper supplement featuring their first UK interview in years. I found out that Craig had been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, the assault charges had been dropped and was seemingly healthy, which made me incredibly pleased.
But when tickets to a London show went on sale, I didn't buy one.

And nothing much changed for the new few years.

(Unlike other Vines albums, there isn't a song on which shares the name of the album. 
Though it was originally rumoured to be called 'Braindead', for which there is an adjoining song. Watch the video anyway just for the adorable interview at the start!)

In the summer of 2008, freshly single and with a new look (I'd wiped the glitter off my face, grown out my asymmetrical fringe, and started using fake tan. This was my 'serious' phase...) I shot off to Virginia to visit my friend Jessica.

The age of social networking had arrived, and while travelling I used MySpace (and it's new-ish frenemy, Facebook) to communicate with my family.
In the bulletin board (remember that?), was a notice from The Vines who were releasing their fourth album - Melodia.
Signed copies were available directly from them, so the fangirl still inside bought it and shipped it to the UK where it was on my return. I'd recently bought my first iPod, so put it on there along with Vision Valley when I got home.

I started a new job working in Sunderland, which is a good 30 minute metro journey from where I live. So I thought I'd finally give it a listen one day.
And to this day, I still remember that all the funny fangirly feelings came rushing back! I was even five minutes late to work as I had True As The Night on repeat.

I was back in the game!
And that's how it's been ever since.
Ta-dah, so now you know the story!

And what's occurin' with them now?

"I'm a Future Primitive, I came from the sky..."

Well last year they released their with album Future Primitive. It was their first without producer extrodinarie Rob Schnapf, and has a very psychedelic sound which they've only previously touched upon before.

Sadly, the self-funded album didn't do very well and there has been a few lineup changes - notably the departure of drummer Hamish Rossier, and original guitarist Ryan Griffiths.
But in interviews they seem the happiest they've been in years and the sets have been more consistent - at least there are no longer any on-stage punch-ups.

Personally I think their performance at last years' Splendour In The Grass is the best they've played in years!

Although unconfirmed, it is assumed that The Vines now consists of...er...just Craig.
In a very sweet reply to a fan letter, he confirmed a solo project (fans did some digging and apparently it's in cahoots with  Nick Littlemore of Pnau/Empire of the Sun) and new Vines material early next year. Hoorah!

I apologise again for this essay, but I promise to only do one every ten years!

In the meanwhile, (and for most of you who've rightfully just skipped to the end) I'll leave some of my favourite Vines 'moments' from the past decade:

 An awkward and unintentionally hilarious interview on MTV Germany. 
(Parts 2 and 3 also available)

 The "barking seal" performance on Jools Holland. Uhhmazing.
(Feel free to skip to around 2:10. I know - wow.)

 An advertisement for a Vines special.
Only 30 seconds long and pretty much sums them up perfectly.

 One of my favourite songs which they sadly don't play enough live.

 Craig's guitar goes AWOL at the end of a gig...

 And finally, my favourite ever interview - everyone is just plastered, haha!

"Songs have a beginning, middle and an end. Well, when we're lazy they don't have a middle."
- Craig Nicholls.

How about you guys? Do you have a favourite band? 
Have you always followed their career or have you had a break too? 
I'd love to hear your stories!

Muchos love,

10 July 2012

Not Photoshopped

Hey everyone,

A little while ago I was contacted by Feel More Better (previously Off Our Chests) an online magazine - who are launching a collection of t-shirts called StoryTees.
They are called StoryTees, as every t-shirt has an empowering message, and also for every t-shirt sold - Feel More Better donates a book to an underprivileged girl.

One in particular is the Not PhotoShopped shirt, released alongside the proposed Media and Public Health Act, which hopes to pass federal legislation requiring advertising and editorial that meaningfully change the human form through photoshopping or airbrushing to carry "Truth in Advertising" labels.

You can find t-shirts here and are available in a large range of sizes.
(The one I'm wearing below is a size 3 and it's huge on me!)

Here are some shocking statistics:
  • 42% of girls in grades 1-3 (7-11 year olds) want to be thinner.
  • 51% of 9-10 year old girls feel better about themselves when they're dieting.
  • 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their bodies; by the time they're 17, 78% of them will be.
  • By the time they're 17, these girls have seen 250,000 TV commercials telling them they should be a decorative object, sex object or a body size they can never achieve.
  • 7 million girls and women under 25 suffer from eating disorders. (myNEDA.org
  • 40% of newly identified cases of anorexia are in girls 15-19 years old. A rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 in each decade since 1930. Anorexia has the highest rate of mortality of any mental illness. (myNEDA.org)
  • 80% of women feel worse about themselves after seeing a beauty ad. 
  • $20B is spent on beauty marketing in the US annually. 
  • Nearly 25 million people - male and female - are suffering from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. (myNEDA.org
  • 3-12% of teen boys use anabolic steroids in pursuit of a lean, muscular ideal.

Now the campaign is going guerrilla:

Today on the 10th June 2012, 30 girls (including myself) are going to wear their shirt, styled as they wish and post it to their blog - hoping to reach potentially tens of thousands of people.

EDIT: 28 bloggers ended up taking part - you can see all the photos and blogs by clicking this link!

SKIRT: Red Herring
GILET: Dorothy Perkins
SUNGLASSES: Vintage Foster Grant (my dad's from the 1980s!)
NECKLACE: Urban Outfitters
SHOES: Office
POINT OF FASHION: Not Photo Shopped

One of the real joys of reading blogs for me, is seeing how pieces look on a 'real' body - and yes, all bodies are 'real' bodies - whether that body is a size 0 or a size 32+! 

Sure, it's lovely when some retailers have handy 360 views, or even a short video of a model sashaying down a catwalk - but there's something about seeing how an outfit hangs on an everyday person you would see in the street that I personally find very inspiring.

I think that some big names in UK fast fashion are quite rightly jumping on this idea, and just a few of these include: 
  • AX Paris has a very successful campaign showing their clothes on bloggers of all shapes and sizes (you can view the girls on their Facebook albums here and here - plus a lot are also intergreated into their website).

It's all happening!

And I hope today you're all feeling more better. Because you're made of awesomesauce. 
All of you!

Muchos love,

PS: Apologies I've been AWOL the past week - the building work on our house has begun, and although the contractors seem friendly enough, I don't fancy posing in my yard while they stare at me slightly confused, haha! 

I also stayed with Lauren in London this weekend for Unskinny Bop - and also to hang out with my friends Sam and Hattie who currently live in Radlett. 
I planned on posting lots of pictures from my time there - mostly of delicious food - but my phone got caught in the rain and unfortunately I've lost most of the photos, which I'm a bit gutted about. But rest assured, a marvellous time was had!

DISCLAIMER: Shirt sent courtesy of Feel More Better. I was not paid to blog about this campaign. All words and opinions are - as ever - my own.

1 July 2012

Let's Talk About...Underwear!

Hey everyone,

This is a post I've been planning for a little while now - I believe that no matter your shape or size, having well fitting underwear is key!
Not only does it make you feel more confident, but it also compliments your clothes, making them fit better.

Confession time!
Until I was 18-years-old, I had never had a well fitting bra. Ever.

I lived in plain, white sports bras, as I thought they were the only kind that stocked my size.
It used to make me so depressed going shopping with my friends in specialised lingerie boutiques on the high street, and see them buy such colourful, interesting and versitile pieces - when I knew that my own underwear came in a box (I remember it being the same shape as the ones you buy tights in), in the sportswear section of a department store.

However, things have come leaps and bounds in the past few years - with new brands offering extended sizes (And yes, I mean both cups and backs!) for us to fall in love with.

Like I said, I've been planning this post for a little while - in which I discuss my favourite places to buy underwear.
However as if right on cue - Plus Size Lingerie got in touch with some of their pieces, and I couldn't resist giving them a shout out!

Here are some of my favourites from the website:

Simply Yours
(Back size: 32 – 48 and cup size B – H)

Well, Simply Yours have certainly gone out of their way to combine my favourite things - cupcakes, pastels, lace and beautiful underwear.
This is so sweet and dainty, so will feel wonderful underneath a clean, crisp summer dress - and since there are cupcakes on the straps, who care if people get a glimpse of them anyway?

Joe Browns
(Back size 34 – 46 and cup sizes B – G)

Yet again I'm featuring a bra with a beautiful design - they're umbrellas! It is also a balconette, which means it is cut slightly lower than regular bras, which is perfect if you want to wear a lower cut top or dress in the hot summer months (fingers crossed!)
Balconettes also lift your bust, taking the pressure off the delicate shoulder straps. 

Gok Wan
(Back size 30 - 46 and cup sizes A - G)

I have this bra myself, and I absolutely love it! The cups and cushioned without adding extra weight, the longline shape makes me feel very 'tucked in' and secure. The straps also also detachable, if you require a strapless bra for another look.
Personally, I think this bra is just too pretty to be kept hidden - and it's definitely possible to make it part of your outfit with a sheer top or blouse. Black for a more reserved look, and a lighter shade if you're a bit more daring! 

I know that opinion is split when it comes to shapewear.

Personally, I do have a few shapewear pieces, but I don't wear them a lot of the time. 
However, when I do want to wear something particularly close fitting - especially my favourite black bodycon party dress - it does give me extra confidence whilst wearing something outside my comfort zone. It's just another stepping stone in my personal journey to complete self acceptance.

But I digress - back to the undies!
With the large range in cup and back sizes, the Gok range has been a winner for bloggers during the past few years. Check out Lauren's review here, and also Em's reviews here and here

As to not overwhelm this post with lots of pictures and information, please consider this part one or two as I have so many more brands to talk about!

Muchos love,

DISCLAIMER: This post is in collaboration with PlusSize-Lingerie, however all words and opinions are - as always - my own!