Thursday, 15 September 2011

Scottish Farmer Fashion

I'm not sure why we're all meant to be dressing like we're heading for a wild moor to birth some lambs, but there it is. Fall (if you're American) has arrived, and the style consensus?

Argyle. Knit. Cable. Scratchy wool jumpers, with batwing sleeves, big holes, and so much static you could potentially give yourself a nasty electric shock.

He definitely isn't happy about this situation.

Now this works if you can pull it off the ironic, Marc Jacobs way: with 8ft long legs, an oversized knit sweater with a short skirt comes across as cheeky, rather than mad. On a lot of women, however, the chunkiness of knit doesn't translate well when draped heavily across the torso. put bluntly, it makes you look very wide.

Good idea in theory, but hard to pull off

The solution? I'm bringing out all my old blazers from seasons past, along with parkas, bobble hats and huge scarves. I'm loving the fur lined parka from River Island:

But at £90, I'll be needing to save for a bit. Cruising around Oxford Street in Topshop for a full hour at the weekend, I can definitively state that the only jumpers have bat wings, some sort of itchy wool, or are the regulation plain hoodies that, while cheap, don't really cut it for anywhere outside the park. Where should I be looking for jumpers that have style without the scratch?

Friday, 9 September 2011

Why Pretty Little Liars is the best thing on TV

There’s something about female-led mystery dramas that America just does really, really well. Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, Veronica Mars, and now, Pretty Little Liars. Maybe the girls aren’t quite accomplished at sleuthing as Nancy Drew, nor have such a grip on phone tapping as does Veronica Mars, but the four girls manage to convince, shock and intrigue in their efforts to find out the identity of their dead friend ‘A’, who is threatening them from beyond the grave.

At first watch, this was run-of-the-mill, Desperate Housewives for pre-teens. Yes, there are negatives; the girls are all white, thin and incredibly glossy of hair (seriously, they’re like seals), but the writing, music, and plotlines, together, manage to elevate it beyond a typical teen drama.

Separately, (confusing, but bear with me) there is not much there. The plotlines attempt to push the four girls out of the mainstream: Aria is dating her teacher, Emily is gay, but using homosexuality and student/teacher affairs feels played out. To contradict myself yet again, I will say that the plotlines are not played for salaciousness as they well could be; Aria shares a more chaste relationship with a 23-year-old man than half her classmates do with their 16-year-old boyfriends, and Emily’s lesbianism is not titillating or played for a male gaze.

Another high (if shallow) point of the series is the fashion. Good god, the fashion. The Fug Girls ( have raved about it, and there are several trends in the show that seemed to have swept along. The feather earring, which Aria wore, was the beginning of a trend which is probably peaking right about now (Kesha adopting the feather headdress probably didn’t help either)

The girls all have individual styles and their style pretty much stays the same throughout the series (with the exception of clothes getting slightly upgraded as more people started watching and fashion probs caught on and started giving better samples)

Emily is a swimmer, an athelete, and prefers luxurious sports-wear – think silk jerseys, off the shoulder tees and track pants that look very soft. Hannah is the epitome of girly – little dresses, heels, made-up. Lucy is also girly but a little more daring – thigh high socks, plaid skirts and knitted caps. Spencer’s style is probably the most interesting, as she is so gorgeously preppy: think buttoned up shirts, berets, tailored kilts. All four of the shiniest hair I‘ve ever seen, I had to state that again as it is slightly mesmerizing, if not very realistic.

Yet, rather than concentrate on fashion – the girls barely allude to clothing or makeup – or boys, the show centres around four high school students attempting to find the identity of ‘A’, a cruel mimic of their dead friend Alison who is attempting to ruin their lives. I think the biggest reason for Pretty little Liar’s appeal is its recognition that teenage girls, teenagers, people, everyone! – wants to feel significant. You want to be the one with the secret, you want to be the one with more important things on your mind than school. And if it involves opening gift boxes full of broken mirror chards, or getting run over after discovering a secret that you shouldn’t? So be it.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Ten tips for a future career in journalism

How to survive and succeed in the world of journalism? Here's four tips for ya. There'll be more forthcoming just as soon as I get one of those ergonomic chairs (see 1))

1) Take up Pilates

A tip that I have not taken up (the money! It’s hard to think about finding your core when you can’t pay a measly council tax bill) Ok, so if you don’t do this, at least get a good office chair. Can’t afford that either? Steal a co-worker’s when they’re on holiday, and pretend not to notice when they wonder why their chair is so squeaky. Get up a lot. Go and get water. Do the coffee round. Offer to run everyone’s errands.

Back pain is a bitch, man. 10 hours plus hunched furtively over a computer screen does wonders for your posture if your aesthetic ideal is that old paedophile in Family Guy. From taking up smoking, I have reduced the sting in between my shoulder blades to a persistent ache. Granted, I’ve probably taken 15 years off of my life, or guaranteed a fun throat box-thingumajig, but tomayto/tomahto, right?

2) Schmooze like a mofo

Well hello, random beardy man from News of the World! So good to meet you! Yes I will take that proffered glass of warm, opaque champagne! No, I didn’t water that plant with it for fear that you had slipped a roofie in it! No, it hasn’t horribly missed the potted plant and is now dribbling all over the floor onto an irascible photog’s cable!

You get the drift. Be nice to everyone, with a couple of exceptions. Scottish workies who are severely regretting paying for a Travel-lodge for a miserable week of steaming clothes can probably soak up your misplaced anger. They’ll go back up to Scotland, and everyone knows there is no culture there.

3) Learn the lingo

Go to press. Running copy. Contacts and collects. B2B. Hack. Learn all these terms, and drop them in at random throughout your career. If you still don’t really understand the difference between ATL and BTL advertising, try not to worry too much, because no-one else does either.

4) Cop an attitude

In journo world, every PR is a pain, every real-life is difficult, and all rival magazines are idiots. Every phone conversation should follow with a long sigh, a cried expletive, or putting the offender on speaker so the whole room can hear their ignorance. You should be casually blasé about famous-people interviews, and always make disparaging remarks about them not looking quite so luminescent in real life. For any celeb couples, he is always gay, and she is always a bulimic beard.