Clear clothes sizing campaign

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Ages ago I wrote about the horrors of maternity clothes shopping if you have a, ahem, vintage figure (see What would Betty Draper wear?). And I admitted to being rather more of a Joan.

Since having a baby, I have discovered all kinds of strange things. Dresses fit much better, and for some reason I can fit in size 14s (a skirt from GAP and a dress from Laura Ashley). But then in other shops I take in lots of stuff. My favorite black – very Joan – dress is from Monsoon and is an 18. WTF? I’m fairly sure my dimensions aren’t shifting about on a daily basis.

Retrochick has noticed this too, and has started a campaign for clothes to be labeled clearly with measurements rather than the opaque mysteries of sizes. She brings together all the consumer survey stuff, and why making people who don’t have beanpole-like measurements feel bad is, you know, bad.

So I’m adding my voice. I’m 5’9″. In 2009 I was 36-30-42. I’m currently 38-34-44 (baby-weight, people, baby-weight). There is NO WAY I can be both a size 14 and size 18. Bring back labels in inches, not sizes. Make trying clothes on fun again, not a game of sizeist Russian roulette.

What would Betty Draper wear?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

This time last year, I was enjoying the chance to wear a 1958 pattern. This year, I’m struggling to find maternity wear I can enjoy. My first thought was, of course, what would Betty Draper wear?
too much pastel...
OK, let’s forget that idea.

I have what the trade calls a vintage figure, with a difference of 12″ between hip and waist (rather more Joan than Betty). That’s why vintage shapes work. I normally scour high street shops for something that suggests vintage but can still go through a washing machine. A favourite last year was a grey scoop-neck dress with cap sleeves, cinched waist and full skirt. It was from Next, hardly a shop noted for cool vintage originals.

Scouring the shops for maternity wear that looks vaguely vintage is, well, impossible. Maternity clothing is designed to be non-descript, to suit broad taste of the vast majority. Every range is filled with stretch jersey in boring shades. You’ll want work trousers in that wierd shiny material and boho cotton print tops and dresses. And jeggings. And wrapround jersey dresses. No, no I won’t. And chatting to other pregnant friends suggests I am not alone in my struggle to retain something of my own style as I balloon out.

I don’t do boho. The addition of a baby is not going to suddenly turn me into it. And jersey wrapround dresses gape on vintage figures. I like print dresses, yes. I like silk tea-dresses in abstracted floral patterns and things with polkadots. Like this maternity dress, that lurked in the Mama & Papa‘s spring catalogue. I wore it the other Thursday with opaque black tights and a black cardi.

I don’t do shiny work trousers. I wear tweedy ones with turn-ups. Like Katy Hepburn would wear.
What would Katy wear? I also like pinstripe straight trousers in grey. I favour purple cords over jeans but do have a pair of ‘boyfriend’ jeans. JoJoMamanBébé supplied some purple cords and a black full skirt that covers most work situations and isn’t that vile black shiny stuff. I’m just about getting away with my existing blouses for now as several are very loose but I’m going to be living in that dress, that skirt and a comfy pair of jeans from New Look.

I’ve considered making my own from vintage patterns, but it comes back to the problem of how long it would take me and how the styles simply aren’t that stylish. I’m no Betty Draper.

Hitched – fripperies and frou-frous

Saturday, 25 April 2009

being part 2 of 2 on the whole getting married business. Part 1 involves food, cake and design stuff. This involves clothes.

I’ll do the smaller bits first.

The flowers and buttonholes – the white roses of Yorkshire – were made by Chivers in Charlotte Street. The bouquet survived being gripped very hard by me during the ceremony, and also had a good balance to it so the throw went precisely towards a target. Heh heh heh.

The rings were from The Wedding Ring Shop in Hatton Gardens. We’d previously got the engagement ring from The Victorian Ring Company down in the Gardens, and the shop did a good job of matching it.

The chap’s suit was a classic dark Ben Sherman, worn with equally classic  Dr Martens shoes. Cufflinks from one of the various gentlemen’s outfitters on Fleet Street.

And then there was my outfit.

Quite simply, the day could not as gone as well as it did without the sterling and fabulous work of Kelly Hale.  She took an initial idea – that I wanted something like a Dior New Look suit – and made it totally real. She sourced a 1958 pattern (So Vintage Patterns) and some red wool fabric, customised the pattern to suit me, made a test version in cotton and then got the final version to me in time to be hemmed and pressed over here.  Because we did the entire work on it via t’internet. I truly wish she could have been over here with us to hear the many, many compliments and admiring looks the suit got.

Scrapbook of ideas, including the pattern:

fashion collage

Final outfits:

me & the chap | me and carrie (big magpie)

To support the outfit, I also used the following people…

  • The Cloth House for buttons and Borovicks for both hat netting and the silk used to repair some of the vintage items I found elsewhere.  Both shops are on Berwick Street in London and are places I could lose hours browsing.
  • The Real Macoy in Exeter for a original 1950s cocktail hat of black velvet and raffia.
  • Wow Retro on Drury Lane for an original 1950s petticoat. Twitter followers may have spotted I spent a lot of time repairing it but it was worth it for the way it held the skirt out. Modern petticoats just aren’t as layered or complex.
  • What Katie Did in Portobello Road, for various underpinning items which held things in and created a more classic 50s posture.  I’m not saying which items but this faux vintage is lovely.
  • Damian Carberry, the alteration tailor in Exeter who hemmed the skirt in less than 24 hours.
  • Valentino Dry Cleaners off Shaftesbury Avenue for within the hour pressing of the one-off suit (and the chap’s shirt). What’s good enough for Paul Smith is good enough for a Kelly Hale one-off!

Oh, and for those final details: the shoes are my favourite work shoes from Office 18 months ago, the top under the suit was from Monsoon and the bag is from Top Shop. The earings (never seen) were a present from Carrie who did sterling work as the maid of honour all the way through.And clearly enjoyed dressing like Tippi Hedren.

Again, there are no words to really express how grateful I am to Kelly for the suit. I had backup dresses, I had an anxious wait when it got stuck in customs over Easter, and I had doubts and fears over having picked red wool, but all of those things vanished when I put the suit on and danced through the day in it.  Ta, pet.

Scissors, paper, rock

Saturday, 29 March 2008

I may be facing a unique dilemma: how do you pick between two good hairdressers. Not how do you find a good stylist: every woman knows that is done through demanding to know who cuts a friend’s hair and then switching to them. And switching hairdressers is normally easy: you go to the new one, the one you’ve poached from a friend, and forget the previous one existed. I’m in the different position of having to chose between two equally good – but different – hairdressers at the same salon.

I’ve been with K for a while, having loved their work on a friend. A few weeks ago I had to have a cut and K was on holiday. With massive amounts of trepidation, I accepted the salon’s suggestion of J. When you have a thickcut fringe bang on your eyebrows, a new stylist is terrifying: they’re going to put scissors right next to your eyes. And a new stylist also means explaining your current cut instead of saying “about an inch off”. K and J are very different personalities. K is that most blissful of things: a silent stylist. J is camper than John Barrowman. K knows my cut and dries it messy or neat depending on my need. J changed the style a bit but did a lovely job of drying it so it was pure Manga cartoon. I sort of want to continue with J but I also want to stay with K. I need my hair cutting this week, and Tuesday is the only free day. But both J and K work on Tuesdays so I have to choose between them….argh!

Meanwhile: Sébastian’s new kill count:

  • Rodents:
    Rats – 1
    Mice – 35 36
    Voles – 11
  • Birds:
    Sparrows – 5
    Dunnocks – 1
    Robin – 1
    Wood-pigeon – 1
    Uncertain – 8
  • Other:
    Frogs – 1
    Unidentifiable remains – 3

A handbag?

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.
(one of Oscar’s)

Last year, I realised to my alarm that I was sitting on a train rummaging in my handbag in exactly the same way as my mother. I even have stuff in it which causes double-takes, such as a roll of zinc oxide tape (good for when strappy sandals start to rub, or for pretending to be Charlie from Lost*). This uncanny new behaviour means that when I decided that the perfect gift for a milestone birthday was a handbag, I could not merely pop into Acessorize and grab the nearest metallic thing (that link is to wind up Annie, btw). I instead had to find something with:

  • the right length handles for shoulder or arm wearing, tricky when handles have gone short again
  • a zip (oh, the zip was important)
  • pockets of some kind
  • the right colour
  • the right volume
  • a flat enough base so that it stands
  • smart enough to be fashionable, stylish enough to be good for years

After days searching every single shop in Santa Cruz, because really you do expect to find good leather in Spain, and another week back home, I eventually found something. And she likes it, even announcing that the weight was right. Which is great in terms of “finding the perfect present” but more alarming from the “turning into one’s mother” perspective.

*and, btw – by the bloody way – how come his watch has changed this season? Eh? Last season he was wearing a leather cuff watch and now he’s sporting a standard man’s watch. Phht.

A Perfect Ten

Saturday, 1 April 2006

I have a post about living out of suitcases, and some vague news re writing, but this morning, I got all distracted. Not by whoever it was who texted me to claim “Tennant is quitting at end of season 2!” because I’m not going to fall for that Fool’s Day trick. No, I was having breakfast and, as I do, flicked to the fashion session of the Weekend magazine from the Guardian. “Damn, it’s menswear,” I thought. “Those eyes are kind of famili—bloody hell! It’s Tennant doing a fashion spread!”

brideshead geeky uber geeky

So, let me get this straight…the Doctor has mainstream fashion types swooning and getting him to model clothes? It was one thing to be in the Glamour spread, where all he had to do was look pleased to have a woman on either arm, and anyway he was one of three featured “A-list eye candy” men. But he’s even in Man at C&A style geeky fashion – with no female models but with a “David wears…” breakdown of his clothing? The Doctor is so hip he gets fashion spreads? What kind of mixed up crazy bizarro world is this!?!? And can I please stay here?


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