….. and I want the world to know.
When I wrote my last blog entry way back in December 2019, no one would ever have thought that within a few short months the whole world would be in lockdown, a new virus would kill over 474,000 people before the end of June, anti racism protests would sweep the globe, Kobe Bryant would die in an accident, President Trump would escape impeachment, bush fires would sweep through Australia and Brexit would be done. Yet, here we are. How are you coping? I am trying to stay positive, avoid TV news until I am mentally ready each day, and sewing my quarantined little heart out. I am also, like many people, reassessing my life. I am going to do more of what makes me happy, stop overthinking, live my life and stop beating myself up about things I can’t change. I am so thankful to be alive as there are many fit and healthy people who on January 1st as the ball dropped, fireworks lit up the skies and Auld Lang Syne ripped through the BBC studios courtesy of Jools Holland, thought they would make it to summer and didn’t. If I stop to think about it all it will overwhelm me so I am just going to “do”. This is day one of my resurgence.
Head wrap, face mask, skirt- Paree People
Tee- Fidem & Co
Shoes- Primark (last summer)
Belt- Ancient Evans
Specs- Cutler & Gross
Yesterday Asda launched its new plus sized range which goes up to a size 32 and I have to say I’m very……. underwhelmed.
Maybe its because its fashion week season and I’ve been looking at beauties like this…
….. that make the George Plus range appear doubly uninspiring by contrast. Of course, I wouldn’t expect high fashion from a supermarket line like I would from Asos or Evans, but I would expect a little bit more effort. Just a little bit. George Plus, you really do disappoint.
Any thoughts from you dear readers?
OH- And to add insult to injury- the range is only available online. But of course, you expected that didn’t you?
By far the coolest thing I’ve seen all week….
You can’t really tell from the photo as you can’t see all the cables that would be at the bottom of the pic, but the sewing machine is powered by the stationary bike. The person on the bike pedals away like a maniac while the artist stitches their portrait as they cycle, interviewing them and incorporating tidbits of their concise life stories into each piece. Its a fascinating process to witness and the skill and precision of the artist is mesmerising.
The artist is Harriet Riddell and the event is Craftspace. Now in its third year the event has grown from a one day event into a 5 day crafting minifest incorporating hand and machine embroidered textiles, jewellery making with cardboard and live music. It’s held in St Phillip’s Cathedral Square (more commonly known as Pigeon Park) and it really made me feel proud to be a Brummie.
I was so impressed. My beloved Birmingham used to get a lot of stick for being generally a bit rubbish, but my city has really pulled its socks up and is making its mark. It’s great for big brand shopping but it’s the independents that really make me beam. The vintage elegance of Agnes & Norman shoes, the eclectic homewares of Handmade Boutique, and the delicious eats at Yorks Bakery Cafe are among my favourite places to visit in the city centre. Not to mention our brand spanking library (which looks like a gigantic wedding cake) which is fast becoming my number one spot to relax. Oh yes, its a good time to be in Brum.
PS- I did consider having my own portrait stitched but I started to think….. Can I cycle non stop for 15-20 mins? Will I look like a sweaty heap? Will the bike collapse underneath me? OMG everyone’s looking. I’ll just watch….
********UPDATE, Dec 28th*******
The Marie Denee sale has been extended and the final day is now December 29th!
Do you ever have days when the kid in you comes out to play and you go window shopping in places where you know you can’t even afford the spare button yet alone the garment its attached to? Where you go through all the motions of looking like you’re trying to decide whether or not you’re going to make a purchase and even ask the assistant a few questions for extra fantasy credit? That was me in London last week.
Whenever I go to London the two stores I pretty much always go to are Liberty and Selfridges and while they are both out of my price range (although I did on this occasion stretch to some ribbon from the haberdashery dept) they are both within my comfort zone. I have a special love for Liberty with its beautiful period building and stately home feel. The small rooms make it cosy and friendly and just being there makes me want to spend money in a way that Selfridges- as much as I also like that store- doesn’t.
One place I never really go to is Harrod’s. I’ve only ever visited Harrod’s maybe three times in my entire life and the last occasion was at least 5 years ago as Knightsbridge isn’t somewhere I head for when I go to London as I prefer more offbeat (and affordable) destinations. This time however I thought I’d go a bit more upmarket, venture through those signature green doors and play rich. I didn’t even head for the young fashion floor, I went straight for the big money and sauntered up to the the main womenswear department like I was royalty. It truly is another world and the unadulterated opulence and grandeur kinda took me by surprise. It shouldn’t have really because I mean- its Harrod’s- its known worldwide for its luxury so what else would I expect?
The lights seemed to be slightly dimmed in some areas as museum lights are to protect the artifacts from being damaged by harsh beams, and the shoe boutique was pure theatre with the walkway straddled by parallel lines of shoes as beautiful as Cinderella’s glass slippers. Everywhere I looked I saw silk, leather, fur, gowns- a complete big girl’s playground. If I wasn’t pressed for time I would stayed there for hours and visited every floor. As it was, it was only a flying visit and what I was really looking for were the plus collections. They didn’t disappoint. Harrod’s has the best plus collection I’ve ever seen and it was great to be able to look around an entire room in a department store and know that everything will fit. I didn’t like everything but there was a whole lot that I did like and I cooed my way from one end of the department to the other. Marina Rinaldi, Elena Miro, Anna Scholz plus others- they were all there whispering my name and batting their long eyelashes at me. Did I try anything on? No. I was in a bit of a rush and I don’t think I would have anyhow because it would make me weep to have to leave it all behind. I did touch just about everything like a kid and picked up as many look books as I could find. My favourite looks from each are………
The reason I was in a rush was because I wanted to visit the Futurism exhibition at Tate Modern. However, when I got there there was also a fantastic Surrealism exhibition on and I spent so long poring over every piece that I ran out of time. Damn and blast! I will surely go back because my all time favourite sculpture is on display and I have to see it face to face before I croak.
The advantage with being a plus sized vintage shopper is that I can slowly meander my way through any vintage or charity shop safe in the knowledge that if there is something special on the other side of the store, by the time I get to it it will still be there because all the other customers are tiny. This has always been my advantage without me even having to give it much thought. Until today.
This morning I went to the huge vintage emporium, COW in Digbeth, Birmingham where as usual, I was the only person bigger than a size 14. Now, please understand, I don’t normally enter a shop and survey all the customers taking note of what size they are, I just notice if there is someone in there who is a similar size to myself. So there I was looking through one rail of dresses, starting at the very end and working my way along right to left, when in my peripheral vision I can see a woman to my right who is around two sizes smaller than me, also looking through the dress rail. (FYI the dress rail is at least 5 metres long) I ignore her and carry on. I spot a dress that I kinda like the look of, pull it out, inspect it, I’m unsure if I like it, put it back and carry on. I then see said woman overtake me, start looking from the left end of the rail and what has she got in her hand? The dress that I was eyeing up a few minutes earlier. WTF?!?!? Not ONLY has she got that dress but she also has several others that she may or may not have picked up from the side of the rail that I hadn’t yet rummaged through. The point isn’t that I was unsure about the dress I saw her with, the point is- I had competition!
I quickly devised a plan. I whizzed through the remainder of the rail and saw her head off in the direction of the separates. Aha I thought, she hasn’t looked though the sparkly dress rail yet so that’s where I went, trying to stay one step ahead of her, keeping one eye on the sparkly dresses and the other on my new nemesis. The sparkly dresses offered up nothing so she MUST have looked through that already as that’s the only reasonable explanation in my shopping strategy filled mind. So I too went off to the separates and saw that the pile of clothing on her arm was growing with every step she took. I knew I should have got there an hour earlier. Yes she was maybe a couple of sizes smaller than moi but a bit of Lycra or jersey can make all the difference. After a few moments I saw her slink off to the fitting room. If I was really ruthless I would have hung around to see if she put anything back but I was too busy laughing at myself to really pay any more attention to her. I managed to uncover a few gems of my own and came away with three dresses for a total price of £27. Arch nemesis if you’re reading this maybe we can work something out. Maybe put together a shopping schedule- alternative Saturdays perhaps? Otherwise the claws will have to come out 🙂
PS- COW has a lot of dresses in sizes 16 and 18 so if you fit this size range and can get to the store it will be well worth it. There are also masses of accessories and a large selection of menswear. There is a website advertised on the carrier bags (www.cow-uk.co.uk) but it isn’t up and running as yet. Hopefully it will go live soon so then I can shop from the comfort of my own home even though of course, nothing beats the excitement of entering a shop and seeing rails upon rails of potential goodies.
Lane Bryant are offering its customers a money saving weekend- March 7th and 8th! Print this coupon (click on the image to open in a new window and hit print) and use it in store to get 30% off your entire purchase (except SPANX) and you can also earn $25 Real Women Dollars for every $50 dollars you spend instore.
You can redeem this coupon online by using the promo code when you make your purchase. Online shoppers have the added bonus of also being able to use this coupon on March 6th.
Credit is crunching everybody apart from the super rich. I’ve heard that even the queen is suffering as shes worn the same outfit twice in the past two years(!!!), so even the rich are having to tighten their belts on their budgets and say no to a second holiday home in Malibu. Retailers are feeling the crunch, profits everywhere seem to be falling and whole companies are collapsing. Its all so depressing and I just want to curl up in bed until its all over. I read this article in the guardian last week and it has got me thinking about how the crunch affects fashion. Not high street fashion which has always been price conscious, but designer fashion and the portrayal of fashion by high gloss magazines such as Vogue and W. The piece makes a valid point about high fashion magazines being escapist tools not shopping guides(to the average person anyway), but I know my conscience would be forever niggling if it was my job to promote £3000 coats in these times. In the past a similar argument has been raised to justify the reason you don’t see models who look like the majority of women, that fashion is fantasy and magazines exist to perpetuate the fantasy image of the ultra tall slender woman with perfect skin. Apparently no-one wants to see representations of themselves in all their short, love handled glory. Apparently.
Anyhow, I’m going off on a bit of a tangent here and will resist the temptation to get on my soapbox (although I already had one foot on it). The whole point of todays post was to show you two cheaper pocket friendly alternatives to gorgeous designer items that I’ve found online. We still need to look good, non?
I love every single piece from this oriental bird themed range by Anna Scholz especially this jacket, but alas (turning out pockets) I am too poor. So I will just have to look at it every weekend and sigh. Sigh.
I managed to get all my photos taken and images uploaded ahead of schedule so the shop is…….