Birthday Outfit

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I got a box full of goodness from the US for my birthday this week. It had some great things in there, especially since I’ve been feeling like I just wear the same shitty tank tops over and over and over again (and said shitty tank tops have almost all been sweat through by Shanghai’s summer heat).

I put on my best 1950s pearls and a pompadour hairstyle, and the new cardigan from Modcloth. The perfect, pocketed skirt came from Hemetstore.com. Armed with vintage style, we went to the Shanghai soft materials market near Nanpu Bridge and ordered a 1940s-style custom suit. It cost just £93 for a jacket, skirt, and shirt. I’m going back to pick it up in a week, and I hope to show it off on this site soon. If it works out, I could totally see myself becoming addicted to getting clothes made.

More posts of some substance coming soon on RR. I’m working to be braver and write about experiences and such, but my laptop is also kaput as of recently.

Damn It, I Can’t Find Any Clothes

Last year a bit before this time, I wrote about how Spring 2013 appeared to be the moment fashion lost its damn mind. I used to spend a lot of time writing about style and consignment, about recycling and reworking my clothes, about transitioning my style as my body changed throughout the last two years.

I haven’t been writing much lately at all. The reasons for this are complex and will eventually come to light, but a certain aspect of it is a general lack of stylish clothing in my wardrobe, especially ones that haven’t been seen a billion times by anyone who follows this blog. I want to update my style. I want to be a new woman in the big City. I want to find ways to express my new outlook, courtesy of my MA programme (or perhaps find ways to repair my MA-damaged self esteem).

But…THIS is what I’m faced with:

Courtesy of Zarat

Courtesy of Zara

What. What? London, what the hell?

I want to go shopping today, because I have a reunion with folks from my partner’s university days over the weekend and want to appear a decent and generally non-dumpy human being. But this! This is what I see everywhere, in all the storefronts, even in the largest mall in western Europe.

I just can’t wear a leopard jumpsuit. For one thing, I’m too tall (jumpsuits’ short torsos = extreme wedgie issues). But more than that, it just doesn’t fit my style. I like to think of myself as classic, and modern. I drawn a fair bit of inspiration for my clothing from Italian women, especially the desire to look put together even if I’m going to the 99p store.

In London, I feel trapped in terrible fashion. I don’t have much money, as a grad student. I can’t afford to go to John Lewis for brand-name things, and ordering online is a pain in the rear because of the heavy import taxes imposed on even shoes.

Cheap fashion it is, I guess. I could try to wear this:

Courtesy of H&M

Courtesy of H&M

But that would look fairly trashy, frankly. Fair enough if others want to wear it, but modern and classic this isn’t. I could try this look:

Courtesy of TopShop

Courtesy of TopShop

But I’m fairly certain that’s me at age 11, and I’m a grown-ass woman at 26, thank you very much. What if I tried a slightly higher-end brand that I probably cannot afford?

Is that see-through?! I’m pretty sure that’s see-through. I’m pretty sure they buffed her nipples out with Photoshop. Thanks, but no thanks.

I just feel so disenchanted with the whole thing. I lived in the 90s, and I remember them. I don’t want my clothes back from elementary school, and I don’t want to wear midriff-bearing crop tops. Let’s be honest, they don’t really look that good on anyone. I had the stomach of a supermodel thanks to being 12 the first time around with this stuff, and nobody wants to see my craft beer belly in a tube top. Not me, anyway. Further issues are likely to come from the fact that in London, size L is ‘plus’ and therefore not carried in many stores (including the big chains like H&M). A size L/XL lady like myself is constrained even further.

I feel pretty awful with a cold today, so it’s unlikely I’ll get out to the shops anyway. I just wish that I could have some hope for fashion that fits, and that doesn’t follow trends blindly.

Spitalfields, Necklaces, Materialism, and Makeup

Found at Spitalfields Market near Whitechapel

Found at Spitalfields Market near Whitechapel

I don’t go shopping these days. With my master’s course and trying to keep up with the big city, it’s just too much to ask for time to spend looking at clothes and jewellery for myself. Not to mention the money scarcity almost all those in graduate school deal with. Thanks, I’d rather buy food an dust wear my years-old, hole-y clothing.

Now the first term is over. I cannot believe how quickly it’s passed. Everyone says that about time’s passage. We are an ill-equipped species when it comes to time perception. But already the bizarre double effect of time is apparent, in my early-onset nostalgia for the beginning of September. So fast, thank goodness. So slow, what an effort. I am deliberately avoiding my work for the start of term two this week. So I found myself at Spitalfields Market, near Shoreditch. It’s in the neighbourhood of my favourite pub in London, the Pride of Spitalfield (which I affectionately refer to as ‘The Cat Pub’ because of it’s lovely cat mascot, Lenny). 

Despite the occasional blunder, I’m not one to be much of a hipster. This is deep hipstering territory, complete with prints of John Lennon with LSD-induced colours splattered over him, pointless felt hats that all seem to be in tiny sizes, and a whole lot of ‘vintage’ stuff that’s actually made in China. Sadly, I bought a skirt and a necklace. But I love them. So, that makes it okay, right? Right? Ugh, I got caught up in the holiday maelstrom of materialism. So sue me.

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New bag!

I went to Collectif, a lovely little shop with non-vintage, vintage-style clothing. It suits my recent desires to go back in time, and be a bit of a pin=up girl. Wonderfully, they have plus sizes! They make no big deal of it, but include those
of us who fit a size 16-18 without qualms. For those of you in the US, that’s a 14-16 (isn). Yes, US sizes are a whole size bigger at the very least than those in the UK. I’m firmly in the plus-sized range these days. I went through a couple attempts at crash-dieting and cutting out all…everything (dairy, gluten, meat, caffeine, alcohol, and happiness)…this year. It made almost no difference at all. I’m slowly making my peace with a bigger body in favour of eating delicious foods and drinking beer.

I truly enjoyed shopping in the little store, and almost everything fit. Such a difference! I lusted after a skirt at French Connection for a few weeks, looking at it every day as I passed on my way to classes. Imagine my frustration when I went to buy it as a reward for the end of term and found they didn’t carry my (apparently too fat) size! My money is better used elsewhere.

Whole foods, all the way in London!

It’s a tradition of mine to go to Whole Foods occasionally, to spend a bit of money and enjoy the beauty of food there. All problematic aspects of Whole Foods aside, it’s like my food cathedral. I go ‘on pilgrimage’ only once or twice a year. That’s all I can afford.

It was wonderful to go to the Piccadilly Circus Whole Foods. I got some organic body wash and a bunch of beautiful food. And a fermented ginger ale. Money well spent.

As I get some time (ok, a lot of time) to sit around the house, I am messing around with makeup and hairstyles. Since I started messing around with Pintrest a few months ago, I’ve had a bunch of great ideas and no time to try them. On Saturday we’re going out for our yearly present to each other, a steak dinner in the city. I tried out a new look for it on Tuesday, hoping to perfect it by the weekend. The lashes and makeup are all fairly green and not tested on animals, even if one of the companies is named ‘Bourjois.’

Eyebrows filled in, for the first time ever.

It’s strange to notice that I wear far more makeup than ever before here in London. Might be due to how much I see on other women.

I plan on writing more about London (and better) soon. Sorry about this being such a disorganised post!