Late Summer

It's easy to forget what season it is when you live in Britain and spend a lot of time reading fashion blogs. I'm anticipating a full blown autumn any second now, although, as my boyfriend and the calendar keep reminding me, it is the middle of high summer.

So keen are we to jump into autumn that I worry about forgetting the warmth of late summer as we dash towards the delights of tights and other such warmers that we can't wait to shake off at the first hint of spring.


This editorial for Shufti magazine, shot by Kalle Gustafsson, is a perfect portrait of late summer. The sun is lower in the sky, but the light is still warm; the leaves are becoming crisp, but are still green; and the atmosphere is of making the most of what is left. These photographs seem to capture all of that, particularly the light, and combine it with great vintage styling – I particularly (as ever) love the yellow polka-dotted dress, which just fuels my ill-advised addictions to yellow and to polka dots, neither of which suit me very well.

I always feel like I need to get away and go to the south coast of France or Italy around August and September; I think to try and make the best of the late summer last that little bit longer. The landscape images will have to satisfy me for this year; perhaps next time.

(Photographs via Skarp Agent and Dustjacket Attic)


Here is New York

I recently finished reading E.B. White's essay Here is New York, a tiny little book that I feel quite conflicted about. On one hand I can't find enough people to recommend it to but on the other, I really want to keep it to myself. It's so beautifully written that I'm going to have to read it all over again to see if I can soak up some of the skill contained in it.

As a consequence I've just taken The Elements of Style out of the library to pour over – it's essentially a book about grammar, which, as Ben pointed out, most people would consider to be the driest subject matter in the world, but I am actually finding it laugh-out-loud hilarious. Perhaps it's because I just finished editing the actual driest book in the world – the third volume on the political wrangles faced by British airlines.


Beautiful Wednesdays

Everything in the Chloe Pre Fall collection is very nice, despite being too expensive and mostly too impractical for any actual person. It's so easily copyable though that it has me rooting around in my wardrobe to find my old school kilt (posh Scottish boarding school, kilts required, don't ask) which I think just happens to be in that exact tartan. I love a felicitous coincidence.


Images from Style.com

It's so vintage Chanel, 1920s and 1940s all rolled into one that I can't help but feel that they pilfered all of my fashion influences and made them into a collection (of perfectly wearable shapes) that I can't afford on purpose. Still, it is lovely to look at, no?

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Skirts n Shirts

It has been quite a hectic week, one way or another, which is my way of excusing myself for not posting since last Sunday. I had a very long, very dry edit to finish which I had intended to do while I was on Islay, but somehow forgot that it was meant to be a holiday and that consequently I really wouldn't want to go near it. So last week was spent indoors (I'm not sure I've been outside since we got back) editing like crazy and fighting the author's semi-colon addiction.

Happily, no matter what I'm working on, I'm always thinking about something else, and in this case that something else was the important issue of skirts with shirts. I'm not talking about any prissy, straight-edged, corporate pencil skirt and cheapo shirt combination here, but lovely floaty 70s a-lines paired with lovely crispy open-collared tailoring – a perfect balance.

Marc Jacobs AW10 – Margaret Howell AW10

Threadbearer (my new favourite style blog) – LiebeMarlene (my general favourite style blog)

I love what shirts do to necks and what high waist a-lines do to waists and calves. I love contrasting floaty with sharp. I love wearing a good balanced outfit. This pairing cuts such an unusual vintage figure and is perfect for the last of the summer days when it's too cold for short sleeves and too hot for tights. As someone who is always cold, I try this a lot in the summer as I think it suits my figure – see here and here. I think though, especially looking at Margaret Howell's AW lookbook, that it's a shape that can adapt amazingly well to any weather and any season.






Islay is extremely windy today. The wind whooshes right off the sea and swirls around the house making the trees look stressed. I worry that they might lose all of their lovely green leaves a little prematurely. They are more used to the wind than I am though, so they seem to be surviving. You don't get wind like this in the city. For some idea of the atmosphere, you can garner a sense of it from this Russian animation. The sun is shining on Islay though, which makes the whole thing very difficult to dress for.

The beach is always windy, and well used to it. The reeds on the sand dunes dig in their roots and wave around in the swirls. This beach is Kilchoman, yesterday, when it wasn't so windy. It is said you can sometimes see a mythical island on the horizon, if you are lucky. I was always convinced I could see one when I was little, although I rather suspect myself of wishful thinking. We walked Jock, the very photogenic Westie, all the way to the end of the shore – he was exhausted afterwards, especially as he has a fear of water – he's very sweet.

I think you have seen this skirt before, but it has been reprised. I like how 1940s rationing this outfit looks. Woollen jumpers and floral skirts – the 1940s are a favourite decade of mine, although I think it has more to do with the can-do attitude and the general atmosphere than the clothes necessarily. The jumper is a Ralph Lauren boys' one that a friend of mine fortuitously (for me) shrunk in the wash. In fact this is probably one of the most high class 'labelled' of any of my outfits, although it is almost exclusively from charity shops.

Skirt: Handmade, thrifted
Shirt: Yves St Laurent, thrifted
Jumper: Ralph Lauren, shrunk in the wash


Gingham, Bowlers and Holidays

We are driving up to the Isle of Islay (where I grew up) next week for a bit of a break from the city, and to visit my mother, sister and hilariously noisy cat. I have lots of good blog plans for the trip, which I'm quite excited about. I hope they work out. There should be lots of good photographs at any rate. The weather is going to be awful though if the forecast is to be believed, so maybe I'll be heading for autumn slightly earlier than anticipated...

This Week...

... I have mostly been ... well, baking actually, and not in the American East Coast heatwave kind of way either (I wish). I love baking cakes not least because creaming sugar and butter by hand seems to be quite a workout for me (I am one of the generally weakest people I know) but just because if it works out, it's fun to share the spoils.

It was Ben's birthday on Tuesday, and although our current frugal living regime doesn't stretch to much, I decided that it could stretch to a slightly pricier cake – his favourite – carrot cake. This is a recipe that I have made before and hilariously won a cake competition with (long story) and although it does take exactly forever, it is worth it. If you fancy making it, the recipe can be found here. I usually miss out the orange peel and orange juice though as I think the mixture is moist enough already and I squeeze the grated carrot to death. The icing is absolutely amazing but the candles come separately – why do they only make them with holders enough for twelve?!


I've also had a hankering for Empire Biscuits. They are relatively old fashioned fare I think – as you can probably surmise from the name – but I used to eat them when I was little, or buy them from grannies who baked at village sales of work. They are basically two pieces of shortbread with raspberry jam in the middle and icing on the top, with a glace cherry in the middle. As I don't know anyone who likes glace cherries, I just put a dollop of raspberry jam in the middle. The recipe can be found on my Tumblr.



I always see clothes and think: 'Oh but that's so expensive – it would just be so easy and so much cheaper to just sit down, draw the pattern and make an identical one myself...'

I'm quite an impatient pattern cutter/maker of things however and, as a consequence, do things like try to draw a summer dress with a waistband without any reference to the book that has all the instructions in it. And then I run out of pattern paper.

I always do this, and pretty much always fail and get frustrated. By the end of last night, I had rather rashly decided never to cut another pattern, buy an item of clothing or read another fashion blog again. Happily this was completely ridiculous as I just can't help myself with fashion blogs and looking at clothes, and through this lack of conviction, today I stumbled upon Lauren Moffatt's spring 2010 collection.


Both images from http://shop.laurenmoffatt.net

There is such a lot to say about this that it's hard not to just hammer the keyboard, but here goes. First of all, the shoot was styled by Kate Lanphear, who is a fairly well-known and mainstream fashion name, but seemingly styling in a not so common Lula-esque way – quite whimsy (whimsy now my new Etsy search term) and playful and young and really very sweet. The styling also ties in with the unusual names that are bestowed on the pieces: my favourite of these is the 'Tunnocks and Teacakes' dress, which is a given, given my Scottishness, but other good ones are the 'Somewhere in Stockholm on a Bike Romper' which is pretty much as you would expect, and the 'Being Courted in Corsica Ruffle Dress' which is reminiscent of L'amant (The Lover), the film set in French Indochina that I mentioned here. Incidentally, I watched it, liked it and thought it very beautiful, although it is quite a raucous one.

So, although verging on the saccharine and kind of jumping on a bandwagon of Lula-ness, this fun, jolly collection has, somehow, renewed my confidence in the possibilities of making my own. Perhaps my silly, badly balanced dress doesn't actually look quite as bad as it did last night... I'll let you know.