Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Catch 22

In fashion, shopping on January 27, 2011 at 10:03 am

According to ‘research’ released yesterday, the average woman has 22 items in her wardrobe that she has never, or rarely worn, and never will wear. Like, I suspect, many other women, felt the need to investigate this and hotfooted it upstairs to check out my wardrobe and find out if I was – gasp – merely an average woman.

Aha: instantly I spotted a pair of smart grey trousers that I really like, but that I made the mistake of buying when I was wearing flat shoes, so that I have probably worn them three times. I’ve removed them and given them to my mum, she’s six inches shorter than me and more inclined to alter clothes than me.

A backless Mango dress, one of three I bought for a Christmas party in 2009 and felt massively self conscious in. On closer inspection, it’s actually lovely, so perhaps it was more to do with the very unpleasant company I was in – I seem to recall leaving said party at the earliest possible opportunity to escape. I’m keeping it for now.

A long red Whistles dress, cut to make me look voluptuous and hourglass, but in reality makes me look like the biggest pear you ever did see… duly consigned to the charity shop bag.

Two pinstripe skirts – can’t recall the last time I wore either – so one for me, one for the bag.

Two (very expensive) TM Lewin shirts in black and purple,, bought during a month of hefty pitches. It’s been at least 18 months since I wore them… but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them due to the sheer cost. I might seek the services of stylist Emma to get more wear out of them. Come to think of it, the four suits taking up valuable space haven’t been worn in months, but I’m loath to dispose of them and then have to spend another £200 when a crucial pitch arises.

I’m beginning to see why I have so many clothes and yet always grumble ‘I have nothing to wear…’

The denim skirt that I wouldn’t dream of wearing at home, but seems to become a staple piece of holiday-wear when it comes to something to pull on over my bikini… maybe one more holiday?

I have (had) 11 pairs of jeans, only five of which I ever wear… and any number of identical, albeit in a rainbow of colours, cami tops.

After stashing my handful of clothes – 16 in all – in a bag I cast my mind back just four months when I moved house… I seem to recall giving three sacks of rarely worn clothes to charity then too, along with six pairs of shoes.

But then I opened a whole new can of worms. Am I dull?

On closer inspection, I do seem to lack imagination at times. Apart from a few exceptions, I do seem to have a whole host of tops, all identical, in four different colours, rack upon rack of jumpers with the same detailing but in myriad shades, and tons of forgiving tunic tops to wear with leggings and jeans.

That explains why I always feel a bit blah, a bit dull. The really ‘wow’ clothes in my wardrobe – and there are tons of them, gorgeous dresses in different shades, different styles, different fabrics, different lengths, aren’t really everyday wear. But that’s my decision – when did it stop Miss Carrie Bradshaw?

Hmmm… Maybe I need to reinvent myself and become The Girl With The Great Dress. Even if it is only Thursday.


Lay off Claire!

In gym, health on January 25, 2011 at 1:57 pm

I was annoyed to see a vicious newspaper report today attacking Claire Sweeney for putting a little weight on. I’ve met and interviewed Claire a couple of times and a more pleasant, friendly and down-to-earth lady you could not wish to meet.

Claire Sweeney - lovely as she is

Claire bravely took part in a TV experiment a couple of years ago where she ate whatever she liked for six weeks and assessed the damage done to her figure, her health and her self confidence. I caught up with her after the experiment as she struggled to shift the last half stone, and she was shocked at how awful she’d felt, and the way the press had gleefully reported on her shape as she conducted the diet investigation.

She admitted how disciplined and strict she has to be with herself regarding her exercise and her portion control, and it bothered me that someone so gorgeous and talented could feel so judged and bullied. We live in a pretty vicious society and much as I, and other women, feel rubbish when we’ve put a couple of pounds on, at least we haven’t got to worry about some snapper hiding nearby, keen to grab a shot of us oiling ourselves up on the beach or tucking into a burger once in a lifetime.

Claire’s just lovely as she is. Lay off.

A bit too black for me…

In cinema, Hollywood on January 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm

The critics are raving and slating it in equal measure and I’d seen it described in equal measure as a thing of beauty and a chilling horror, so I was somewhat tentative when I went to watch Black Swan on Sunday.

I still have the reflex action of curling up my toes and fingers when I think of it now, such was the violence in the film – and I’m referring to the violence Natalie Portman’s nutty Nina the prima ballerina inflicts on herself, not her arch rival Lily in this movie.

Portman as the white swan consumed with producing the perfect performance

I never had any desires to be a dancer as a child (this is a good thing, considering my lack of coordination) and this film makes me grateful for that. While ballerinas the world over are snootily dismissing Portman’s poise and performance – she’s an actress, ladies, and a damn good one, not an ACTUAL ballerina – and others sniping about the clichēs within – eating disorders, bitchiness, obsessive jealousy, bullying, sexual experimentation and cloistering mothers – and how obvious they are, it doesn’t change the fact that this compelling and chilling thriller does affect the viewer and has them gasping in admiration for Portman’s spectacular performance.

As the evil black swan

She is utterly believable as the obsessive ballerina who will stop at nothing to give the perfect performance. I think she needs to start dusting her mantlepiece to make room for the raft of awards she’s sure to scoop this season.

On the subject of amazing, award winning actresses, I also watched Conviction, the true story of Betty Ann Waters, who spent 18 years putting herself through law school and qualifying with the sole aim of proving that her brother Kenny wasn’t guilty of the murder he was given a life sentence for.

I was expecting to be blown away by this because Hilary Swank was cast as Betty Ann, and given her outstanding performances in Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, I’d actually have had her down for the Oscar, but somehow, though moving and thought provoking, the film failed to live up to my expectations.



A little sparkle goes a long way

In cinema, fashion on January 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Since January’s shaping up to be such a bleak month so far – cold upon infection upon virus for my part – it’s difficult to motivate myself to make the effort. One of the problems with working at home is that unless I have a meeting, it’s too tempting to layer up my leggings and cosy knits.

And since the only place I’m going is the cinema, it doesn’t exactly call for skyscraper heels and slinky dresses. As a rule it’s jeans and little tops, or a jersey dress and boots if I’m really pushing the boat out. But if there’s one thing guaranteed to dress it up a little, and to attract more than a few compliments, it’s this necklace:

Caritaz clover pendant

The piece was a gift from my client Caritaz – the business created it to raise funds for victims of domestic violence, and 25 per cent of the cost of the pendant is donated to Refuge to support the charity in its work with abused women. So not only is it a glittering fashion statement, it’s also a symbol of support for those women.

It’s a great cause, and one that everyone who admires the piece is really impressed with.

The reason it attracts their attention in the first place of course is because it looks familiar… they’re always sure they’ve seen it somewhere before… and isn’t it like the one…

Carrie Bradshaw

Oh yes – it’s Carrie Bradshaw’s accessory of choice in Sex And The City 2.

As it happens, SJP isn’t wearing Caritaz’ piece; her necklace is gold, but she was the inspiration for this necklace, and being a silver gal, I much prefer it.

Based on the amount of attention and compliments I’ve received, it should be selling strong.

If you love it, buy it here.

Green with envy

In cinema, fashion, Hollywood, Uncategorized on January 18, 2011 at 10:45 am

In the style stakes, the first quarter of the year is always a great way to launch the year – January sees the stars shrug off the blues to strut their stuff at the Golden Globes, closely followed by the BAFTAs in Fenruary and the all-important Oscars in March.

I was thrilled to bits to see that Colin Firth, who I raved about last week, deservedly won his Golden Globe for best actor in recognition of  his portrayal of George VI in The King’s Speech this weekend – and has today been tipped for a BAFTA on February 13th, one of 14 awards the movie’s been picked for.

And pregnant and perfectly formed Natalie Portman was awarded best actress for her performance in Black Swan. I was keen to watch the movie until I read a series of comments on Twitter yesterday, with the Telegraph’s Hilary Alexander describing it as ‘Saw on Pointe’ and any number of other fashionistas referring to it as dark, demonic and very, very scary. Yikes.

But Portman didn’t just win in the acting stakes, she well and truly stood out as one of the most fashion forward ladies of the red carpet. Her beautiful draped Viktor and Rolf gown was elegant, flattering and different to a whole line of stunning, sparking and stylish pieces.

Natalie Portman = Perfect

The competition was fierce, and I was pleased to see a whole rainbow of colours – scarlets, sunshine yellows, pretty pinks, and beautiful blues. For me, though, the gorgeous greens had it – Catherine Zeta Jones, proud as punch of her husband Michael Douglas, who recently announced he’s beaten throat cancer, looked stunning in her dark green Monique L’Hullier gown, while Angelina Jolie’s slinky green Atelier Versace number was simple but stunning.

Black Swan’s Mila Kunis was radiant in an emerald Vera Wang creation and Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss looked gorgeous in her green Donna Karan number.

Perfect accessorising for Angelina

I want one! (The Monique L'Hullier, not the veteran actor)

Vera Wang proves a hit for Mila Kunis

Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss working Donna Karan

As a rule, the stars shied away from the tried and tested black number, though Olivia Wilde’s and  Eva Longoria showed how it should be done. Wilde’s sparkling Marchesa gown was the stuff of fairytales, and Longoria’s Zac Posen backless fishtail creation was unusual and a perfect fit for her perfect frame. I’m not so sure about Halle Berry’s corset-based Nina Ricci sheer skirted number though.

Olivia Wilde looked like a fairytale princess

Simply stunning

Not my bag

If there was ever an excuse to book a posh night out and try and channel a little red carpet glamour, it’s right here. I’m dusting off my Louboutins as I type!



Retail resistance

In fashion, Holiday, shopping, Travel, Uncategorized on January 15, 2011 at 11:37 am

I’m struggling…

Two weeks have passed since I pledged not to buy any clothes until the end of February. I realise now that the key to this is wearing a blindfold at all times.

It began because I have a £79 credit note from Phase Eight (from one of the returned new year’s eve rejected dresses) so I thought: ‘Free money. Must be spent.’

Sadly, the goods I’ve come across come to around five times that, kicking off with this fabulous ensemble:

Look how cosy. Look how pretty. Look how practical.

Unfortunately, I fear that my dreams of looking like this stunner would be left in tearful tatters given that I’m not 6ft and oh-so-slender. Plus, I keep telling myself, I can’t use my credit note online anyway…

However, one website leads to another, and after falling for a cute and very wearable top on, which is barely an extravagant expense, especially in light of the 15% limited time discount the site’s offering, I wavered, but so far have insisted to myself that it would, nontheless, be cheating to indulge.

And from there, it was just a hop, skip and a jump away to Next, where I found these infinitely less practical and less seasonally appropriate dresses: a white, floaty maxi dress which I think epitomises effortless chic on a balmy summer evening (yes alright, probably not in this country, and my thoughts will stray to holidays pretty soon…), a shorter, sexy, summery little number covered in butterflies for special nights out, and a stylish layered LBD that would look amazing with the OTT Louboutins that Adam bought me for Christmas.

And now, how I long for them…

monochrome chic

layered and lovely

floaty and flirty

Sigh… time to step away from the computer…


In cinema on January 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

Like most of the British female population, I first took an interest in Colin Firth when he emerged, white shirt dripping wet, being all haughty and sexy in Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Pride and Prejudice back in 1995.

In Pride & Prejudice

Since then, he won us over again and again with his brilliant portrayal of Mark Darcy in the movie adaptation of Bridget Jones’ Diary, his performance as the now gay former lover of Donna Sheridan in Mamma Mia! and a wealth of other roles.

But none of them compare to his spectacular portrayal of Geoorge VI in The King’s Speech. Firth, who was awarded a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame yesterday, is a forerunner for a Golden Globe award on Sunday and if he doesn’t get it, along with an Oscar in two months’ time, I shall fall off my chair shouting ‘Fix’ like all the X Factor viewers did for the last two months of 2010.

A true star

I knew that George VI had come to the throne all those decades ago due to his brother forsaking his role to be with his divorced lover Wallis Simpson, but I didn’t know that as Prince Albert – ‘Bertie’ to his wife and his speech therapist – he’d faced a life-long speech impediment and overcome it to become a great monarch in one of the country’s biggest times of crisis.

The movie was so beautifully executed. The careful addition of warmth and humour made what could have been unbearably uncomfortable viewing – I found myself clenching my fists and holding my breath at times as I watched Firth’s George VI tackle his phobia of public speaking – an absolute joy.

Geoffrey Rush as speech therapist Lionel Logue, Firth as 'Bertie' and Helena Bonham carter as Elizabeth

I read recently that the Queen Mother (who was played in the film by the excellent – and beautifully sophisticated – Helena Bonham-Carter) refused to allow a film to be made about her husband during her lifestime, and out of respect, it wasn’t.

I hope that her daughter watches it with pride.


In fashion, gym, health on January 12, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Losing weight? Losing motivation.

In gym, health on January 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

So my great intentions of January have been scuppered by some kind of ear infection. Instead of spending days pounding the cross-trainer and cycling, I have in fact spent days lying on the sofa with a hot water bottle strapped to the side of my head.

I’ve successfully binned any remaining Christmas chocolates and the too-tempting cheese plate has almost depleted now, so I’m hoping that the second half of January will see an improvement.

As it is, I’ve managed a tough body conditioning class and a few sessions with my fit-ball at home – ridiculous as I may look, wobbling around on top of it, there’s no arguing that the squats, crunches and push-ups do help. But I’ve not managed the body pump and body combat classes I’d signed up for with my friend Donna, nor have I managed to stick to the 40k distance training sessions I managed throughout December.

As a result, I’ve managed to put on four lbs in a week, after managing not to put any on over Christmas!

Such depressing stats immediately make me want to have a sandwich to cheer myself up, there’s nothing to make you more inclined to eat for comfort than discovering you’ve put weight on while not eating much!

Thankfully, I’m now able to stand up without holding on to something and I’ve managed not to take any painkillers today, so I’m hopeful that I’ll squeeze a couple of classes in before the end of the week and get back on track. I’m going to need to see some major results fast though to reignite my motivation.

I’m still determined not to buy any new clothes until March so I have plenty of time to focus on toning up and looking good so that when I do hit the shops, I’m spoiled for choice.


Project movie buff

In cinema on January 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

My unlimited cinema card has come and I’m fully determined to make the most of it. I kicked off my movie marathon by watching Russell Crowe in The Next Three Days. We didn’t get to see it until 9.30 and I was exhausted, a little worried I’d be too tired to enjoy it. As it happens, I was so tense by the thriller that I had terrible stomach ache throughout. A fantastic film to kick off my intentions.

I’ve been struck down with some kind of ear infection for days now, which has seen me watch blu-ray after blu-ray, but I’m sincerely hoping I’ll have made a sufficient recovery by the weekend as I want to take in Colin Firth in The King’s Speech, Cameron Diaz in The Green Hornet and no doubt, I’ll have to have the ‘please don’t make me’ discussion about 127 Hours and Tron. While I’m in no doubt that Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours will be superb, i saw today that Cineworld has issued a warning that perhaps, if you’re of a delicate constitution, watching a film where a guy amputates his own arm with a pen-knife might not be the best way to spend an evening. As someone who’s spent three days falling over every time I stand up, I’m thinking maybe not!

I’m also keen to see Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter and Natalie Portman in Black Swan, and that’s just for starters. I’m determined to have a weekend where I do nothing but watch movies and avoid the shops. In the meantime, I need to stay away from the internet for any non-work related purpose if I plan to honour my fiscal responsibility resolution… So far, so good.