Autumn trends

Falling for Autumn

Autumn has always been my favourite season. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy basking in the sun's glow on a hot summer's day, laying in the park sipping an ice cold cider. And I love curling up under a duvet with a hot chocolate and a box-set, watching the snow fall on a crisp winter's afternoon. But for me, there's nothing better than the autumn. Cold enough so that you have to cover up (I'm talking to all those girls whose staple wardrobe this summer consisted of butt-bearing hotpants - I saw more cheek on their behinds than on their faces), but not so arctic that you get frostbite everytime you step out of the door.

Even though I am no longer a student (cue emotional sobbing as I mourn my lost youth) I still get that nervous excitement that used to come with starting a new school year. New classes, new timetable and, best of all, new stationery! Everything is fresh and unblemished, and there is always the promise that anything can happen; this year can be whatever you decide to make it.

Then there's the beautiful, rich colour palette. The vibrant greenery that has surrounded us all summer transforms as if ablaze, into burning embers and glowing golds. There is such simple joy from traipsing through a park littered with fallen leaves, the crunchy snap as they pass underfoot and the warm, earthy smell. I am so besotted with this transient element of nature, that I once filled a whole page of a sketch book with examples of the prettiest autumn leaves I could find, adorned with some of my favourite seasonal poetry. This may seem laughable as an idea for a university project, but as the lecturer in question was completely mental, I thought she'd fully appreciate it (which she did, thanks for the 1st!).

But the best aspect of my favourite season has to be the clothes. Covering bare legs with thick, coloured tights, enclosing feet in sturdy boots, and layers, layers layers! Not to mention the colours: bye bye pastels (which, as a walking disaster, I could never fully appreciate) and hello to the darkness.

This Autumn I'll be on the lookout for anything in the daring new shade of the season, ox blood. An intense cross between red and brown with a hint of purple, this tone screams luxury and glamour, as well as having a morbid draw for the comparison to its name sake.

I'll also be embracing the great outdoors with smatterings of military chic, in the form of camo-print. I was lucky enough to pick up an army-style coat from a vintage fair recently for the bargain price of £12, a snip compared to Topshop's £75 version.

Something which I may have to turn to Topshop for are a pair of tartan print trousers. I actually picked some up while in store recently, but when I realised I would be parting with £60 for a dress, I sensibly but solemnly put them back on the rack. These bold checks are back on trend again, but with brave injections rather than subtle hints on scarves or bags. Don't worry about being mistaken for a bagpipes player, it's fashion darrrling!

Oh, and of course I'll be needing a new winter coat. There was a definitely chill in the air this morning, and my trusty leather jacket just wasn't cutting it. I've got last year's fur but as it's short, I can't wear any of my lovely long cardies with it, so I need something which I can layer up with. I'm thinking of a classic parka, another nod to the military trend, or a boyfriend style mohair, the bigger the better.

I can sense a huge dent in my bank balance approaching...but hey, it's Christmas soon! Presents anyone?


Cakes to die for

As my family and friends are all too aware of, I have an undying love for, well, the undying. Zombies - to use the correct term. While the masses will be driven into a widespread hysteria when the zombie apocalypse arrives (and it will), I'll be the three c's: cool, calm and carrying a very large gun. For I have prepared myself with all the appropriate zombie-related literature, quenching my never-ending thirst for all things ghoul-related.

And it isn't just zombies I've got a morbid obsession for, give me anything with gallons of gore and you'll have a happy camper on your hands. The sad irony is that the sight of a mere paper cut can turn my stomach, and has too often sent me crashing to the floor, whimpering like a child.

Anyway, I digress. What inspired me to declare my creepy cravings was a website I came across after glancing at the latest copy of Grazia. With The Great British Bake Off having recently returned to our screens, flour fever has once again swept across the nation. Cue reels of column inches dedicated to this recently resurrected pastime, which has see men (and young, handsome ones at that – I'm steadily developing a mammoth sized crush on James from TGGBO) dusting off their rolling pins and donning their pinnies to get busy in the kitchen.
I come from a long line of bakers. My mum, who bakes near enough everyday, is now a pro at making all manner of sweet treats, and for as long as I can remember, my nan has always served freshly baked bread and home-made pies. Since starting uni, I found I had an unfathomable amount of time on my hands, but not a lot of dollar to go on fancy jaunts to fun places. I also discovered, since having no restrictions bar money when it came to food, that I had developed a common student problem of ALWAYS being hungry. I had been craving Debs' (my mum) chocolate brownies, so on my next monthly food shop I stocked up on all manner of ingredients with the aim of conjuring up my own culinary creations in the kitchen. And for the remainder of my time at uni, that's exactly what I did. In my third and final year I was often joined in the kitchen by my house mate Eveey, and we spent many a Friday night cutting some shapes...in cookie dough, rather than on the dance floor.
Since finishing uni (sob) and returning home, the baking responsibilities have returned to my mother, and I have become sadly redundant in the kitchen. But I still keep a keen eye out for any baking news, and am constantly hoarding recipes for the time that I find my freedom again.

In the latest Grazia, there was a profile of several hot (but in no way cross) new things on the baking scene. One of which, was Lily Jones AKA Lily Vanilli. After several seconds too long spent gawping at the picture of her delicious looking chocolate ginger cake, I was intrigued to find out more about this interestingly named lady. I headed to her website and, after scrolling though the design gallery, immediately realised that I had come across a kindred spirit.
Nestled among a delectable display of unique and modern baked goods, which have filled the stomachs of such fashion royalty as Lulu Guiness, Alexander McQueen and Henry Holland, lay a true taste of the macabre.
Shattered glass, bloody body parts and rancid roadkill; these are just some of the morbid creations that Lily has crafted for her London-based bakery. When I recognised the zombie bite design, I realised that this was the very same grim genius who had authored one of my highly-coveted baking bibles, A Zombie Ate My Cupcake. A wonderfully chilling combination of the sweet and the truly sickening, these are definitely not cakes for those with a weak stomach, and are a far cry from the sweet fairy cakes we all recall from childhood.
My personal favourite has to be the bleeding heart, featuring an anatomically accurate heart made with red velvet sponge, cream cheese frosting and lashings of blackcurrant and cherry blood. The perfect valentines day gift don't you think?
For more images of Lily's wickedly lavish creations, head to my tumblr or check out Lily's blog. Whoever said baking was girly?


Book worm

Hi my name is Seoana and I am a bag addict. 
Big bags, small bags, satchels and clutch bags - you name it and I'm sure to have it. Even the plainest outfit can be instantly injected with a shot of style with the right tote, and until I have the funds to afford my dream designer carrier, I take a 'more the merrier' approach to this most useful of accessories. Until fairly recently that is, when I took the brave decision to cull my collection and whittle it down to a few essentials. 

Since being at uni/employed I've been rotating three options, all big enough to accumulate the daily clutter necessitates; diary, make-up, umbrella, kindle, kitchen sink etc... 
What I haven't had the opportunity to use lately are my favourite type of holdalls; that stunning little ensemble that completes an evening's attire. Clutch bags - or any small bag that is pretty enough to be worthy of working alongside a killer dress and heels - are just big enough to fit in cash and keys, and most definitely could not to be mistaken for a common 'day-bag'. However when I started thinking about outfits for my birthday next month (I like to plan ahead) I realised to my horror I had left myself with a very limited choice.

Since moving out of my student house, there is no longer the option of three wardrobes to raid. I have to make do with my own sorry collection, which is shamefully small. So when I had a flick through the latest issue of Company, my heart skipped a beat when I saw these little beauties. 

I'd seen a handful of celebrities sporting these novel (HA, get it) clutch bags, including Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Emma Roberts. Taking geek chic to a whole new level, these cute clutches take famous stories and use their covers as decoration. Options I've seen include Lolita, The Great Gatsby and Jane Austen's Emma. Being a self-confessed book worm I was keen to get my hands on one, however when I saw the price tag attached to the Olympia Le Tan designs, I knew that until I had published my own successful story, there was no way I could afford one.

And so, the charming handmade creations from P.S Besitos are just what I need to satisfy my kitsch craving. From children's classics like The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Alice In Wonderland, to classic cook books, there are enough literary purses to fill a library. And at only £40, it's definitely tempting to do just that. I'm left to wonder how long it'll take before some clever crafter fashions a Harry Potter version, and whether I'll be able to decide between the seven books...

Book bags


Bird is the word

Swooping onto the catwalk again this season has been an invasion of all things feathery. Once again, wings are the in thing, as all things birdy have been seen across apparel and accessories. 

From parrot-like brights, to soft and ethereal feather prints, this look has been countlessly interpreted to provide a flock of choice in both the designer and high-street stores. If head-to-toe print isn't your thing, there is a wide range of dainty accessories to channel your inner nature-lover.

As I researched the fashion further, I was overwhelmed with the gorgeous decorative accessories that were available to feature in your home and crafting. Wall stickers, stationery, fabrics, magnets, tea-towels...it's easy to inject a touch of fashion into your everyday life. www.notonthehighstreet.com, my new go-to site for quirky gifts, feature tons of unique home accessories that will set your heart a'flutter. www.willowandstone.com offer a range of pretty prints and birdy stationery, that will make writing lists much less of a chore. I for one am eagerly awaiting the day the magazine goes to print, so that I can 'sample' some of the cute little post-it-notes. Perks of the job and all...

Bird print


I am a one man band

The New Year is always an exciting time, and I'm not talking about fireworks and false resolutions. With each new month comes the promise of new aural action, and so far 2012 hasn't been disappointing.

The BBC Sound of 2012 is the first port of call when it comes to discovering who is tipped for musical success in the upcoming year, with artists like Ellie Goulding, Adele and Jessie J topping previous lists. After you-tubing several of this year’s recommendations, I stumbled upon an artist who I’d heard on Radio One earlier that week. It was one of those awful moments where you hear a song you instantly become obsessed with and realise you didn’t listen to who it’s by or even what it’s called. Luckily my sleuthing skills served me well, and after listening to hours of podcasts I found my lost song, and have been listening to it repeatedly ever since. Then I saw her name pop up again on the Sound of 2012 list and decided to investigate a little further.

Lianne Le Havas had been making a bit of an online buzz, but it wasn’t until an appearance on Later…with Jools Holland in October of last year that she started getting noticed. With the British music scene currently saturated with strong female artists arriving straight out of Brit School, Lianne offers something a bit different from the usual ballsy pop track or gutsy ballad. Laid back and effortlessly cool, 2012 seems to be (hopefully) ushering in a new sound, stripping back music laden with electronic beats and synthesisers to just a voice and a guitar.

Her EP Lost and Found is on sale now, and her debut album is set to come out in Spring, when you can also catch her touring with Bombay Bicycle Club.

Visit Lianne's website for more music.


High Heel Hell

Today I am in mourning. For yesterday, my feet died a horrifically painful death at the hands of a pair of black suede wedges. Poor little things just didn't stand a chance. Thanks to a stricter uniform policy at work, in order to tie in with the swanky new suit department, not only did I have to shell out on a new outfit, I had to get the shoes to match. And pumps didn't make the cut this season.

These are the beasts in question. They may look innocent, nice even. That's what I thought when I first tried them on. In comparison to six inch stiletto heels they seemed the lesser of two evils. But an hour in to my shift and I was struggling. Having to constantly concentrate on not falling over was quite distracting. As someone who has never sought the services of heels on nights out, I am not an practised walker. Productivity levels were dramatically decreased. Whereas I used to scoot around the shop floor, getting tasks done quick time, now every movement is a careful one. Forget answering the telephone, if I'm on the other side of the shop floor it takes a good minute to get anywhere near it. "Can you nip out to the stockroom?" No, no I cannot 'nip' any more. I can stumble along at a snail's pace, juttering along like Bambi on ice. All the while I'll be silently weeping, wondering if my feet are leaving bloody trails behind them.

When heels first came about in Ancient Greece, they reflected the social status of the wearer. In Ancient Rome their reputation had dropped, as heels identified prostitutes of the time, which were legal. In the Middle Ages women AND men wore heels. The same was true during 17th and 18th Century France, where the nobility and members of the court would totter around on an original version of clogs. But equality never lasts long does it. While Cowboy boots have a chunky heel, you won't spot many guys sporting a pair in your local shopping centre. Tom Cruise may try and get away with a sneaky hidden heel but not many men are brave stupid enough to try this. 

Since the Second World War heels have gone in and out of fashion, with the 90's seeing a particular disdain for them. But with celebrity culture saturating the fashion conciousness this millennium, anything they do or wear becomes instant inspiration for millions. And seeing as many of these stars are spotted donning Louboutins, women everywhere grin through the tears as they stumble around the office in high-street knock offs. What the magazines neglect to tell its humble readers is that while the celebs may be pictured strutting round the shops in platforms, there is a chauffeur parked outside waiting to whisk them away to their next important appointment. These women may live in heels, but their lives comprise of very little walking.

After some research, and some very gruesome pictures, here is a list of all of the negative side effects of wearing heels:

  • Foot pain (For sure)
  • Increased likelihood of sprains and fractures.
  • They make calves look more rigid and sinewy.
  • Foot deformities, including hammertoes and bunions (Eww)
  • They can cause an unsteady gait (Definitely going to fall over)
  • They can shorten the wearer's stride.
  • They can render the wearer unable to run (What if there's an emergency?!)
  • Degenerative changes in the knee joint.
  • Foot and tendon problems as listed below.

As opposed to these reasons for wearing heels
  • They make the wearer appear taller (OK, true)
  • They make the legs appear longer.
  • They make the foot appear smaller.

According to my calculations, the cons outweigh the pros here.

As I limped around the store last night, the unjustness was hard to ignore. My male colleagues were having no movement issues, because they were all in flat shoes. Smart shoes, but FLAT ones. There they were, skipping around with smiles on their faces, not a care in the world. There I was, using the till point for support as I tried desperately not to sink to the floor and cry. There's no equality in this work place. Fill all of the guys' shoes are filled with broken glass prior to their shifts and then I won't be as bitter.

People tell me I'll get used to it. I don't believe them. I'm just going to have to accept that my time with my tootsies has come to an end. They've had a hard life anyway. It's probably for the best. At least now the tangy scent of blood will be the only smell coming from them...