Friday, 31 October 2008

The Staple - Winter Colour

AW08 Thoughts #3

So this week I have been mostly putting on jumpers; where did that cold snap come from? Anyway, it has pushed me further into the recesses of the winter wardrobe and last year's jumpers. Luckily, I have quite a few; but unlike seemingly 95% of people on the tube, I am not wearing only greys and blacks. Yes, yes, winter is the time for hibernation, but that doesn't mean we all have to retreat into monochrome (though it can look pretty good). As many of my fellow bloggers have noted, the BBC2 series British Style Genius is currently rocking the TV schedules, and at its heart are the underlying tenets of British Style; individualism, subversion and classic with a twist. I have always felt that we Brits are pretty good at this in the Summer; the fleeting glimpses of sun seem to bring out the most inventive outfits, but once the ice appears, out come the grey hoodies and ugly trainers. This week, my Staple shoe has been some green Lacoste trainers which I bought at the end of summer in the Matches sale. They are bright, but that's what you need when you're getting up at silly o'clock to get into the office. On that note, I have stopped wearing smart clothes on the Tube, and am now changing at the office. This allows a comfortable commute, and then a smart change once I arrive. Perhaps not the most practical choice, but it's worked well over the summer, and I reckon Winter will bring out a creative side...Although I have been a little 'thoughts' rather than full-on Staples of late, this will be recitified next week as the challenge goes ahead. Step 1; set foot in the vicinity of shops this weekend and attempt restraint; the utility bills that arrived this week will be a solemn reminder...
This week's Staples:
Dressing colourfully in Winter
British Style Genius (Tuesday, 9pm, BBC2)
A black and white checkerboard scarf
Nokia MP3 phone - my iPod is now a distant memory
Plotting some Winter trips; Kendal, Berlin, Manchester...
Hot water bottles
Anthony & the Johnsons with the LSO concert last night

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Staple - Wardrobe Redux

AW08 Thoughts #2

Righto. I'm back. It's taken awhile to get myself sorted with the whole new house thing, and I've spent the last few weekends and available evenings doing wholesome, practical things like buying furniture, phoning gas suppliers and making lists. Now that practically everything is stored, shelved and in its new home, I feel like I can get things back on track. But it has been this mess and memory of two Transit vans of things that will be fuelling my next phase of blogging. Coupled with my credit crunch challenge idea, I'm gradually coming around to the notion that I have enough clothes and accessories for every possible situation (and many impossible & improbable ones). So my challenge for the next few seasons (I can't quite bring myself to say a whole year yet) will be bold and twofold:
First, to limit my spending on clothes/accessories to £100 per month. This may sound like a lot, but if you tot up the essentials, a couple of t-shirts and something perhaps quite extravagant, it's not that much. Luckily I have all the big purchases, but my frivolity will be carefully monitored, and any money left over from this at the end of a given month can be added to the next month's budget. No spending in advance, no 'borrowing' from a future time, fewer impulse purchases, a more planned approach to the shops. This will hopefully mean less wastage. Any money left over (I'm hoping there will be plenty) will be put into the bicycle fund, so that when Spring comes, I can treat myself to a beautiful Dutch-style upright bicycle. Who knows, maybe even a Pashley...
Second, to recycle, reuse and rediscover the things from the back of the wardrobe, those purchases I've made that have never quite made it into regular circulation, the things that aren't safe (I sit here in a grey Sisley cotton jumper, comfy cuffed Levi 501s and a red Burro/CBGB tshirt (with uberwarm red walking socks!) and the things that have been relegated to the 'archive' - AKA the big bag at the back of my wardrobe, or the bottom of the pile of jumpers. Over the next few months, I'm going to attempt to wear every item in my wardrobe at least once, those deemed unsuccessful or past their best will be going; there will be a gradual thinning-out until a big spring-clean and visit to Notting Hill Exchange and/or a charity shop. This might all sound quite radical, but if you'd seen the quantity of stuff that I have, and the proportion of clothes that I have which I don't ever wear, or haven't in the last 2 years, you'd be doing the same. I'm a horder; it's a compulsion. I always thing that something might come in useful. In fact, as I typed that, I heard a little voice say 'But it might!'. This includes getting old bags mended, and sewing buttons back onto coats and trousers which have been unworn since they broke.
In terms of new items, I am hoping to make statement purchases; one-offs or good-quality accessories which will update any old items I have. The only exceptions to this new regime will be specific summery items (basically, 3 pairs of shorts). That's it. Everything else is up on trial. I know my friend Martin, who is currently enjoying several old cast-offs (and if you're reading Martin, can I please have my Pucci tie back?) will be pleased about this. But anyone else reading this will surely have some stuff at the back of their wardrobe, or in a rarely-opened drawer that could do with getting rid of. The time has come for deciding what the Staples of my wardrobe really are. And that time starts now (well, at the beginning of November).
Other Staples:
A new regime for Autumn/Winter
Argos' simple, attractive and inexpensive shelving
Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes
A fresh batch of AW08 magazines
Friendly Fires' eponymous debut album
British Style Genius on BBC2
Home-made risotto

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Staple - Comme des Garcons wallet

So Much for the Credit Crunch...

So last night I went to the Liberty shopping event with my lovely friend Janine, and it was the busiest I've ever seen it. They'd laid on extra events, and got rid of the slightly frustrating one-coupon-per-glass-of-wine trick, and there was even a fashion show and a prize draw (we came so close to winning Mulberry bags!) Anyway, it seems that the buyers of luxe goods couldn't be less numerous at the moment. Totally in contradiction with the spirit of last week's post where I vaguely mentioned a 'Credit Crunch Challenge', I decided to splash out on a new wallet. My old red suede APC one had gotten pretty filthy, and I'd been coveting the Comme ones for ages, so it seeme the perfect time to grab myself a bargain, with 15% off and a £5 voucher to blow. Apparently, red wallets are lucky (I think this comes from the Chinese red envelopes of cash thing), and the star-print is pretty cool. I also feel less embarrassed when flipping it open, as it is both clean and unstained. While the crunch challenge is a good idea, and having seen just how much stuff I've got (moving involved 2 Transit vans jam-packed full!) I think a monthly budget/saving for essentials would be a good idea. Or at least reusing stuff from the back of the wardrobe (I found a bag full of old college Tshirts from the first year of uni - any ideas what to do with them?) and wearing old favourites in a new way. We shall see. I'd like to cultivate a smarter look, and move away from the coloured canvas trainers, but I'm not quite sure whether I can handle wearing smart shoes all the time. Anyway, once I've got my house sorted, and a bed that doesn't collapse, and a working shower and a million other home 'essentials' (aside: Habitat's fabrics are really floating my boat today) then I'll be back with some more ruminations. This week's other Staples:
A red leather Comme des Garcons wallet
Cha Cha Moon (just by Carnaby St.) for delicious noodles
Cracking out the Paul & Joe trenchcoat again
Fantastic help from Martin, Dave and Alex
Cassette tapes & a Walkman (my iPod's broken)
M&S Red Grape and Pomegranate juice
Civilised evenings; Art London, Liberty, dinner...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Moving On Up

A shameless steal of M People's brilliant song (I wish I was being ironic here), but the last few weeks have been rather hectic. What with the Paris trip and moving house to the other end of Cally Road, as well as a pretty frantic time in the office and attempting to have a social life, I spent any free time cramming piles of magazines into boxes and waiting until the very last minute to pack my shirts. No blogging, but I did manage to fit in a quick haircut at the brilliant Aveda salon on Upper Street. I've been going here for awhile now, and it's always such a great experience. As well as a brilliant cuppa, they give a 10-minute head and shoulder massage which is - without fail - the most relaxing thing to happen to me every quarter (quarter?! this finance-speak is starting to invade my everyday life...) Also, you get a brilliant haircut; somehow the guys there just know what I want, and always come up trumps. I've gone for clipped very short on the sides, with a longer top and swept side fringe. Paired with my new moustache 'attempt' I'm looking like a new man. And £35 for an hour relaxing rejuvenation is well worth it in my opinion. Though I have been thinking of some sort of credit-crunch challenge ideas, hopefully I'll get back on track ASAP with some Staples. Maybe even a photo of the 'tache...