I’ve managed to snag myself a six month internship at a rather prestigious architecture firm based in the Netherlands. Somehow I’ve got to find accommodation, register as a Dutch citizen, buy health insurance and set up a Dutch bank account in just four weeks. It’s scary but exciting. I needed something to shake up my mundane life in London and here it is, I guess. Along with my long list of things to do, comes the wardrobe packing which I’m quite looking forward to. I plan to take the bare essentials and little else.
Apologies for the silence. Going off the grid for a while whilst I devote all my time and energy to finding a permanent job. Until then, enjoy this.
Forget - Lianne La Havas
During a series of reunions with old university friends, I found myself being constantly asked, “So what are you into nowadays?” At university, I guess I was the girl who was a little obsessed with self-image. As a Londoner, I think that preoccupation with the way you dress is inherently instilled just because you are a just an inhabitant of the city. Like any cultural capital, New York, Tokyo, Paris, I guess. So as the only native Londoner in my dorm, university friends thought I was a little weird. All this preening, styling, keeping an eye on the latest trends for what? 8am starts on dreary winter mornings? No. It was just who I was and still am, to some degree.
Long-time readers of this scrapbook of a blog will probably have noticed my penchant of crumpled oxford shirts and, for want of a better phrase, “geek chic” attire during my academic years. Since that area of my life is over (for now), I’ve found my wardrobe morphing into something that is considerably stripped down, full of simple yet more refined pieces. Whilst I was once a fan of pairing shirts with merino pullovers with elbow patches, thick frame reading glasses, the obligatory arts major scarf with well-worn ballet pumps and brogues - I’ve noticed that I now favour a very minimalist look, usually composed of nothing more than a pair of well cut black jeans with a good quality scoop neck tee. I guess my tastes no longer care for the frills. Give me the most basic items in very flattering cuts and a good quality material and that’s it.
I’ve even noticed a change in my footwear. During university I remember splurging out on a fantastic pair of tan Russell & Bromley brogues, sturdy real leather with all the detailing of a traditional mens brogue. Really beautifully bookish. They took a month of bloody cuts and blisters to fully break in but even after, they were always a little uncomfortable. The image-obsessed me, of course, wore them everyday for six months. Nowadays, I switch between a very comfortable pair of black leather Nike Metro’s and black leather Converse hi-tops.
I no longer care for discomfort for the sake of fashionable trends or fashionable trends altogether, I guess. I just like to wear the very basic.
During my extended break from this blog, I became accustomed to purchasing new items of clothing and jewellery nearly every two weeks. I think with the stress of graduating, working pro bono and simultaneously job-hunting, I needed stuff to make me feel happy, to detract from my horrendous ten-hour working days. So I developed this horrible obsession of checking Net-A-Porter and La Garconne nearly everyday and splurging out on things which I did not need and, to some extent, did not want. Take, for example, a set of rose gold Margiela rings. I like Margiela but get this - I don’t even wear jewellery.
Being stressed out was not really an excuse for over-spending - I also think it had something to do with these websites continuously updating their sites with new stock and sending daily emails which exclaimed ‘NEW IN!’ or ‘EXCLUSIVE!’ Admittedly, La Garconne does this in a quieter and much more subtle way than NAP but ultimately they both convince you that you need a new sweater for the upcoming cold weather or a new YSL ring for the upcoming Christmas parties or a new whatever else for the next big event you may have.
The persuasive nature of fashion retailers is nothing new; this is not a revelation to me. But I guess I’ve only just realised how sinister the psychology behind these websites and emails really is and how detrimental it is to give in to these manipulative messages. I can understand how people develop shopping addictions. It’s a slippery slope, from occasionally checking Net-A-Porter to ending up with morning emails from them on your iPhone and checking out new stock daily.
This probably sounds very much like a preach. But if anything, I’ve written this post for myself as a reminder to not give in to mindless commercialism and to instead, focus on what I already have, to focus on things other than the new.
One of my most favoured reads belonging to the blogosphere is Tomboy Style. Not only is the visual material beautiful and inspiring, but I also really enjoy reading the Q&A features that Lizzie facilitates with those of the tomboy style persuasion. With a hint of Proustian influence, Lizzie’s questions are thoughtful and interesting, leading to answers which are always insightful and sweet-natured. As a self-proclaimed “tomboy”, I thought I would shamelessly borrow these questions for myself, hopefully leading to a more interesting post than my usual spiel of ‘I really want this item of clothing!’
If not in London, I would live in… India. Probably in Delhi. There is something about the hustle and bustle of that city which is just mesmerizing.
My dream holiday would be… a road trip on the west coast of America, complete with desert stop offs, spending nights in cheap motels and Bruce Springsteen blaring through the speakers. I always find living out of a suitcase quite appealing too.
My current obsessions are… perfecting my banana bread recipe; listening to the Tron Legacy soundtrack on loop; Human space by Bollnow; retro Nike sneakers; silk polka dot pyjamas from J Crew.
I channel my childhood self when I… get through a huge novel in just a couple of days. As a child, I liked to delve into books that were lengthy and required lots of concentration.
The fictional character I most relate to is… This is difficult. Until recently, I would have said Holden Caulfield - despite nearing my mid-twenties, I think I’ll always have a little of my teenage rebelliousness! Having now finished The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand however, I’d say Dominique Francon. Dominique’s part in the novel is essentially about her learning not to care what others think about her and her work, to let go of chasing “success” as determined by others. I know what it is like to be consumed by the thought of how other people perceive you, to be so self-aware that you just decide to close yourself off. And I know what the process of letting go is like and how unbelievably refreshing it is to just not give a damn.
If I had to be outdoors all day I would… buy a cup of coffee and go for a long stroll in the city.
My favourite quality in a man is… There are so many! A little geekiness. A beard. A sense of humour. And a cute accent. Basically all the good signs in a man as determined by Luella’s Guide to English Style.
My favourite quality in a woman is… a sense of sisterhood. I like to think that my female friends are the type of women who would not let men or exes get in between our friendship.
I’m terrified of… clowns.
My dream car is a… bicycle. Give me a Pashley low rider over a car any day.
My cocktail of choice is… not a cocktail. I like a Corona beer with lime.
My celebrity crush is… Jemaine Clement. He’s probably the human embodiment of my perfect man - hilarious, beard-y, has a cute accent.
My friends and I like to… cook elaborate dinners for one another. My dishes are mostly known for their exotic nature. I like to source new ingredients and try them out.
My beauty product of choice is… Chanel’s Sheer Illuminating Base. For someone as low maintenance as me, it’s perfect for just applying over the cheekbones and the curve of the forehead in the morning to get that glowing look.
If I could go back in time for one decade it would be… the seventies. The fashion wasn’t as great as it was in the sixties but there was so much going on in the development of subcultures. Through an anthropological lens, the seventies would have been enthralling.
As a teenager I was totally into… the Red Hot Chili Peppers, channeling the Californian “grunge” scene and Star Wars.
I tend to splurge on… gifts for friends. And good coffee.
Despite being into fashion and pretty things like crafts and flowers (peonies are my favourite), I think my low-maintenance nature …is what makes me have Tomboy style.
Image: Becky Howe roller skating with a sling at the Venice Pavillion in 1978 via San Diego Songbird.
This rather disappointing summer in London has got me anticipating the upcoming autumn and winter. My wishlist so far is compiled of just three items - a Brook & Lyn agate necklace, a well cut blazer from Phillip Lim 3.1 and a pair of not very practical heeled leather ankle boots. Note that these items are all black. Colour is just not my friend.
I think I’ve complied a post like this before. If I were fiscally comfortable enough and perhaps in full-time employment, I would try and buy a place for myself. Currently, I am residing in my parents house, tucked up comfortably away in the loft. I can’t complain about the situation for I pay no rent, but the thought of owning my own place with just my stuff and my sort of decor, excites the hell out of me.
Mostly all taken from the wonderful From Scandinavia With Love blog.