Friday, 29 August 2008

AW08 Thoughts #1

Credit crunch, credit crunch blah blah. No-one has any money, and as you'll have read countless times, this means everyone is buying less. Fashionwise, it's classic rather than crazy time. New accessories rather than entire outfits. With that in mind, I've been pondering the following purchases in order to update the wardrobe without any major investment (not that I actually need any clothes, in fact I'm due a clearout so if anyone knows of the best way to dispose of clothes (ideally with some financial recompense) then please do let me know.
First, I've been very tempted by several black patent leather belts - I know patent is not exactly a fresh idea, but I think it might give an interesting edge to old jeans, and replace the metallic ones I've been rocking seemingly forever. Dior has some nice ones (credit crunch alert!) but I reckon somewhere a little flash/nasty (like Massimo Dutti or Zara) may be a little my budget.
Second, paisley seems to be appropriate somehow - it's been all over catwalks, and the unusual retro-print is a pretty rare sight these days. Especially with "summer" now ending, I think a new scarf may be in order. My flatmate returned from Thailand with a gorgeous IKB-coloured scarf for me, and i reckon my dear mum might have some paisley material tucked away that could be ripe for conversion.
Third, some new trainers are also needed - I'm pretty much over my coloured plimsolls, but had no idea where to head next, until I saw a spread in the latest 10+ Men for patent hi-tops. I've got some gorgeous Marc Jacobs for Vans lo-tops from a few years ago, but I think something in a black or grey/silver might be the ticket. Perhaps these from Topman?
Finally, a good, structured jacket. This I think may be a sale purchase come Winter, and as with the belt, a hankering after designer (think Bottega Veneta, or McQueen) may have to be replaced with highstreet - Topman again has some good ones, but for £100. We shall see. Biding time will be key, as will be trying to avoid those impulse buys..

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The Staple - Good Homewares

The Importance of Being Furnished

After two years of King's Cross living, it's time to move on. And the strange thing is that this is the first time that I've wanted to stay put; it's taken me a long time to make this space genuinely my own, and like any man with a vague interest in a home rather than just a house, this is all down to making your mark on the space. Not just covering a wardrobe in wallpaper, or camouflaging hideous chairs in ever-increasingly inventive ways, but actually buying nice homewares. For years now, I've had hand-me-down furniture and bedding and make-do items. But with the purchase of these cushions (yes, there is another) I feel like I'm entering the adult world. They represent a slightly extravagant homewares purchase (from Urban Outfitters' interesting but necessarily selective range of trimmings) which is symptomatic of needing to have a sanctuary rather than a squat to come home to. But more than this, they represent a maturing mindset, and a willingness to invest in that. Despite their cartoonish appearance, these cushions with their crazy day-glo patterns and kitsch leopard design will look equally at home in my bedroom at the moment, or a more civlised living room. For me, their youthful exuberance shows that I'm not quite ready for the full pipe and slippers just yet.
Other Staples this week:
Patterned cushions
A "Bob's" cocktail from Lounge Bohemia
Cycling to the park for a picnic
Making Bestival preparations
Starting to wear a (lightweight) coat again
Paul Auster's 'In the Country of Last Things'
The G2 crossword

Friday, 22 August 2008

Actual Staples

My 100th post was a little caught up in the ethos of what is is to be a Staple, that I managed to forget to include any Staples. So just before the Bank Holiday weekend takes over my life, here they are:
Lykke Li's album, 'Youth Novels'
Unity Day in Leeds
Magners Pear Cider
A lightweight silver summer scarf from French Connection
The Matches website, and it's brilliant Sale section
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
Digitalism's Kitsune Tabloid compilation

Monday, 18 August 2008

The Staple - Individuality

Choose Your Own Adventure

So here we are, 1 year and precisely 100 posts on. How much has been learned in that year? How many Staples have been picked out and highlighted? While a retrospective would be nice, I'm not sure that there's much point - for while this blog has served so far as a record of stuff to do, stuff I like and stuff I think I essential - that is an ever-changing subject. However, in the spirit of a centenary party, I'll take the theme of my first blog and expand upon it.
Since the inception of The Staple, what I wrote standing in my kitchen still has echoed in my head, namely the idea that "everything you need to know about a person is in their shoes". I still stand resolutely by this. Having worked in the City for over a year now, I am still surprised by the number of men who wear cheap, nasty shoes. These men earn a fortune, and can well afford a good pair, yet so many end up in clunky slip-ons from Next. I kid you not. While the City may have the reputation and imagery of men in bespoke suits and Berluti hand-made shoes, the reality is much more mundane. On those rare days when a man in this combo does appear, he is the envy of Cannon Street. The correct pairing of a navy suit with just the right shade of tan lace-ups is so subtle, like the amount of collar to show, the size and type of tie-knot, or the interplay between shirt and cufflinks, that when done right, has made me (and others) stop and stare. It's not hard guys, it just requires a little bit of thought of a morning. Though I suspect that most of these guys have had other things on their minds lately - "credit crunch", anyone?
But the same subtlety also applies to streetwear. The recent trend of rolling up sleeves and trouser legs demands a critical eye; the right length, the right width of cuffing, the right number of rolls. While black slim jeans are an easy match with a plaid shirt, this look is inadequate in today's Topman-saturated market. Individuality comes in the styling details, rather than in the clothes themselves. Any fool can log on to and have a little read and then recreate at the local branch. It takes someone thinking a little differently to make it stylish, individual, and sexy. It is this subtlety and individuality which I wish to make the focus of next year's worth of Staples; brash bars and frenetic festivals are unbelievable amounts of fun, but in order to become a Staple, they have to be tackled with an element of individuality. This means not just seeing bands at a festival and complaining at the sound levels, but taking matters into your own hands and playing a little Jenga if the mood takes you. Not just wearing a tshirt because you've seen it it in a magazine, but because you want to wear it in a particular way. Not just doing things for the sake of it, but because you genuinely feel it will improve your life. This may have gone a little philosophical, but so what? It's important to think about more than just the little things and take in the bigger picture when you can. So with that in mind, the Staple this week is not an item, a place or a person, but individuality. Essentials are what you make of them, and are personal to everyone - it is individuality which is the true Staple, in fashion in as much as music, or any other means of expression.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Guilty Pleasures

Having just been home and cleared my childhood room of things deemed 'not exciting enough to bring to London', I rediscovered an old stack of CDs from my teenage years. Over the last few days, I have (while my flatmates is away on holiday) been indulging in both this and this. If ever there was a guilty pleasure, it's early noughties proto-funk and breathy girl-band pop. Although I feel a little sheepish about these tracks, they will clearly be getting an airing at the next Club Rees.

Monday, 11 August 2008

The Staple - Cycling Culture

You're Better Off by Bike

Of late, I have been obsessed with cycling. It may seem odd, but let me explain: The current vogue in menswear of rolling-up trousers and t-shirt sleeves, coupled with a heightened sense of ecological awareness and the ol’ “credit crunch” all seem to coincide with the bicycle. This fashion stems from two influential points.
First, the bicycle courier; a utilitarian yet very individual figure who is enough of an outsider to convincingly rock a Mohican haircut or a radio headset without looking like a prat, but still prevalent across urban cityscapes, literally cutting a dash through the city. It is the independent, maverick nature of these couriers which is appealing; while they do not have a uniform per se, they are instantly recognisable (even without the bikes), and their daily play with death or serious injury in urban traffic combined with honed physiques and undeniable confidence make them attractive.
Second, the East London fashionite. As the quest for affordable housing in London pushes people much further from the centre, East London’s relatively affordable ‘studio’ and ‘warehouse’ spaces have become the de rigueur place to reside for a good few years now. While trendy in an edgy sort of way, fashionable types working centrally have realized that travel costs are eating into their Beyond Retro budgets, and thus invested in retro bikes in order to commute more easily. As cycle lanes have sprung up, so has the popularity of this method of transport, and now Bethnal Green Road is positively bursting with pretty girls on Pashleys in pastels and pointy shoes.
The convergence of these two scenes, coupled with a particular excitement bubbling up from within my peer group for this mode of transport has seen an influx of courier-inspired fashion details. From mutlicoloured cyclecaps, to the aforementioned cuffing of trousers; fashion spreads in transport/fashion hybrid magazine Intersection and endless photos of our buffoon of a mayor cycling to work, cycling is everywhere. Time to get on the saddle. For me, this t-shirt embodies this scene. Meeting a group of couriers in a central London pub, we got to talking, and one of them was selling these t-shirts. Turns out he'd been involved in an altercation with a Merc, which had run him over. In anger, he'd picked up his bike and chucked it through the Merc's windscreen. Ordered to pay damages, he took the inventive approach of making these t's and selling them off, thereby easily recouping his losses. Hotheaded initially, but with the support of not only the courier community, but the wider public also, this for me was a tipping point into cycling culture. Send in the bikes...
Other Staples this week:
Embracing cycling culture
Field Day festival
Rediscovering Mario Kart & GoldenEye on the N64
M&S Scones
Relaxing on a sofa

EDIT: Just as I was about to publish this post, a TfL adfor cycling appeared on the telly; thus inspiring the title. Fate...?

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Staple - Music Festivals

Vive les Festivals

So here's what I've been up to in July. Basically, the festivals have taken over my life. I was planning on keeping this summer a little more low-key; last year I made it to eight festivals in all. This may seem entirely bonkers, and I suppose to some extent it is. But when your passions are live music, partying and dressing up in improbable combinations of clothes, there is no better place to combine all three. As July unfolded, I took the first Eurostar of the day to Brussels, where bemused business travellers sat amid huge rucksacks, cagoules and tents, the zzcchhvvip of fastenings sitting uncomfortably next to their pink shirt-and-tie combos. Rock Werchter is Belgium's answer to Glastonbury, and it showcased many of the same bands, but for much cheaper, and with the added bonus of a 24-can crate of beer costing just €13. Crowdsurfing to Justice, being awed by Radiohead for the second time in a week and rocking it up to everything from Kings of Leon and Beck to Duffy and Digitalism; the whole weekend melted into a blur of music, beer and good times, the photos marked only by the differing outfits. A favourite was using an old orange mountaineering cagoule over a tshirt and shorts, cuffing the sleeves and belting it in at the waist with a gold braided belt and accessorising with the gold visor and some purple canvas shoes. Sounds ridiculous, and it wasn't until I got back and spent the first half of the week marvelling at Facebook that I realised it was. The following week was party central, no time for recovery - Simian Mobile Disco, Jamie Lidell and Rockfeedback at the Cross Kings flashed past, all bleeps, sax and dancing on tables. Just a few short days of work (and some very civilised jazz in Stoke Newington) intervened into this party schedule as Latitude loomed into view. Another chance to see the majestic Sigur Ros, and experience the fabulous Joanna Newsom, as well as catch Interpol, Blondie, Midnight Juggernauts, Shortwave Set and Lykke Li. Unlike RW, Latitude was a tad more civilised, but that didnt stop the backstage forays, beer-filled breakfasts and ridiculous dressing; a highlight here was an outfit of 1980s CITV presenter pullover with burgundy jeans, blue shoes and a multi-coloured silk cummerbund patterned with New York theatre tickets; it looked as though a rainbow had been sick on me. Post-Latitude, a couple more gigs followed and a triumphant night of DJing at Club Rees @ the Fly rounded off the week. All that remained of the month of festivals was a quick day trip to Secret Garden Party (guttingly missing the inimitable spectacle of Grace Jones), and then a Leicester Square premiere (natch); here I managed to pull off gingham shorts on the red carpet, pairing them with grey bstore round-toe lace-ups, a black polo shirt, silvery scarf, belt and sunglasses. This sort of month barely leaves time for work, and I think, one month (or perhaps two if you feel like pushing it) of the year should be reserved for this sort of partying. With a veritable glut of festivals across the globe all summer, from April right through to September, it's important to be able to let go, follow the music and just go and have a damn good weekend (or 4) with your mates. Festivals are a Staple, but more important is your approach; push where you need to, rest where you need to - there is no place more suitable constructed for a week of hedonism. Bring on Field Day! Amongst this festival of a month, other Staples comprised:
Festivals (Rock Werchter, Latitude, Secret Garden Party)
Estelle's infectious single, 'American Boy'
Patterned cummerbunds
Warm cans of lager
The feel of grass constantly underfoot
The magic of Facebook's photo-tagging
Home-made lanyards and line-ups


It's been over a month since the last Staple, so I guess I should at least give an excuse for the lack of posting. Unfortunately (well, not really) a hectic schedule of partying and festivalling took over my Monday evenings, and the delicious habit of Channel 4, a good meal and a blog that I had worked so hard to develop disappeared. Quite a few times this month, this lack of blogging has hit me, and I've actually had a great number of things that I've been meaning to Staple. Starting from now, I'm going to try and blog at least twice a week - potentially without including the "enduring leitmotif" (as termed by a great friend of mine) of a oven photo - in an effort to rectify this oversight. As a bonus, along with my fantastic DJing partners The Brothers Rees, there is a new blog for all your DJing needs, essential songs and general banter. OK, back to business with another Staple...