Something For The Weekend

For the first time in absolutely ages I have managed to bag myself a weekend off, meaning that today I am bursting with a genuine, bona fide helping of Friday Feeling. Being a kind soul I am determined to share a drop of jubilation with all my lovely readers, so have found this montage of smart one-liners from one of my favourite films starring one of my favourite sass-mouthed heroines, Joan Crawford, for you delctation and delight.

This is The Women, 1939, featuring a cast of over 137 women including Norma Shearer and Rosalind Russel (not to be confused with the 2008 remake starring Meg Ryan and Eva Mendes). If nothing else I hope the hats alone cheered you up. I bought a hat for myself today and am still attempting to figure out how to get that ‘just so’ angle – how did they do it?! Anyway, have a great weekend all. I’ll be sitting at the top of the South Downs sipping a gin and tonic and watching some old school friends roll down the South Downs in an inflatable ball.

Peach xx

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Oops, Did We Have Too Much Fun Again?

Last night, I fumed. A knot grew in my stomach and my eyebrows crept higher and higher up my forehead until they threatened to to lose themselves amongst my be-rollered hair. Was I reading Blair’s memoirs? Was I considering the car-crash unfolding of the Hague affair? No, I was reading ELLE magazine in bed with a glass of wine.

Every month since I was a teenager I’ve scurried off to the newsagent for my latest fix of intelligent, grown-up style in the shape of ELLE, the more popular alternative to Vogue and my own personal, very private treat. My fondness for ELLE has increased in recent months with its focus on truly beautiful, interesting covers and Editor-in-Chief Lorraine Candy’s recent rallying cries for a new generation of feminists to wake up and get active.

Last night, like always, I got out the shower, put rollers in my hair and curled up in bed, ready to start at the very beginning. I quickly skipped over the cover, featuring, for the second time this year, lovely Kate Hudson (yawn) in the kind of make-up job I associate with the sluttiest of my Barbies back in 1987. I flicked longingly through the advertisements and came to the first really meaty bit of content, the Opinion column, which I always read, particularly when the title is a juicy and appealing as ‘Are You As Empowered As You Think?’. Am I? Roving reporter Craig McLean thinks not.

I could spend a week picking McLean’s argument into tiny, amoeba-like pieces, but the thrust is this: Western women are living in a fool’s paradise in which our fake boob-loving, heel-wearing, sexy dance-learning antics are pathetically misinformed attempts to commodify sexuality in order to gain power over men when really we should all just keep our heads down, work hard and then really nice men will just love us all for who we really are. Phew, thanks Craig, I can’t believe we never realised this without your guiding voice.

This is not just bad journalism, it is pitiful. For the sake of brevity I will focus on one pivotal point in his argument; his very telling confusion between ‘lap-dancing classes’ (of which I have never heard in all my life) and pole-dancing classes, which is what I think he means. ‘They strengthen stomach muscles and tone buttocks. And they put men firmly in their place: sitting down, supplicant, needy, desperate… No woman should need to bump and grind inches from a man’s crotch to show her worth or potency. And, ladies, any man who does need that from you, frankly, isn’t worth having. He’s not a keeper. He’s pathetic. And probably a pervert’.

I gasp at the sheer inaccuracy and male-centered bent of this horrible, damaging opinion. I have two friends who take pole-dancing classes, one who is an instructor and I know a very large number of training and performing burlesque dancers. Not that it is any of Mr McLean’s business, but every single one of these women is in a long-term relationship with genuinely lovely, although I’m sure utterly perverted, men. Two even got married this year, Heaven forfend. But more importantly, not one of these women has ever expressed any desire to subjugate men by pulling on a pair of frilly knickers and shimmying around a pole. In fact, I’d be willing to stake everything I own on the proposition that barely a second’s thought is given to the male of the species at these (covens) classes.

For a year or so I used to go to trapeze classes, and through my friends I am given to understand that the appeal of these classes is almost identical to that of a burlesque or pole-dancing class. Primarily the joy is in seeing what your body can do, putting it to the test and watching it move and change throughout the class and the term. Bruises are a badge of honour and seeing one’s own and other’s bodies in new, challenging situations only makes you appreciate your flesh-and-bone corporeality in a way Mr McLean could probably never imagine.

Secondly, radical though it may seem, I believe that a great deal of women attend these classes in order to meet and befriend other women; to be silly and laugh and talk and dance. McLean states that ‘it’s a sad reflection on modern society that some women still feel the need to commodify their sexuality to feel empowered’, I would suggest that it is far sadder that because of their own insecurities and psychological bindings most men will never experience the breath-taking freedom and camaraderie of classes based on bodies, sex and movement.

At best this article is an outdated, old-fashioned feminist relic of the bra-burning ’70s. At worst it is a damaging, pointless exercise in misogyny made all the worse as it is placed in such an ostensibly pro-female position. As a mere blogger I would never dream of telling the Features Editor of a magazine like ELLE how to do their job, but if I were in such a position I think I’d find a celebration, rather than a condemnation, of women (boobs, bums, burlesque and all) much more interesting and informative. This article is not controversial, it is conservative and destructive. Shame on you, ELLE.

Peach xx

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Caped Crusader

Fashion whinge warning: This blog contains mild whinging.

For a few years now I have been keeping my eyes open at flea markets and vintage fairs for a lovely tweedy cape that I can throw on over my shoulders on chillier Autumn evenings and mild Winter days. Sadly my search has been fruitless and while my sewing is so-so, ideally I would like a checked fabric and I just don’t have the patience to match up patterns. Also I am lazy.

You may imagine how pleased I was this spring to see catwalks full of capes of all shades and shapes, hoping that the High Street would have some tasty offerings to appease my capey appetite. Sadly every season fashion editors latch on to one hot item, slap an ‘On Trend’ label on it and flog the living daylights out of it. Invariably this practice diminishes the appeal of the item and encourages buyers for High Street chains into a sort of blinding frenzy. This season, it appears, is the season of The Cape. Sigh.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fashion snob and popularity does not put me off a style that I love. There is, however, the an unmistakable voice of sartorial doubt in the back of my mind that has recently been whispering, ‘will The Cape be the new Jegging?’. Oh cruel world.

My fears were not assuaged by the speed at which this halfway-house cape/poncho hybrid (remember the summer of The Poncho?) has been flying off the racks in H&M.

In spite of these anxieties, I have decided to soldier on with my search for the ultimate cape, and as the majority of the High Street’s offerings have been frankly horrid (in my opinion) military-style affairs that wouldn’t suit me in an aeon, I’m going back to faithful old vintage.

It was actually a re-watching of Fred and Ginger’s Swing Time that reminded me why I began hunting for a cape in the first place. To me they represent the marriage between practicality and glamour that sums up why I fell in love with Thirties design as a child.

Ginger's cape caught Fred's eye.

The best image I could find of Ging's great cape/blazer.

I’ve always had a fondness for a women in a tie and this elegant cape adds just enough femininity to the outfit to take off the stern edge.

I currently have my eye on an eBay jem (if I told you more I’d have to kill you) and will keep you posted, but if my search for real vintage is thwarted then I might just try TopRunway, an eBay store based in China who specialize in custom tailoring of vintage fashions.

Swing Time is actually crammed with great outfits (by Bernard Newman)  and is most famous for a certain plunging white dress worn by Rogers in one of the spectacular dance numbers. My own beady fashion eye was caught by a slightly more demure number that put me in mind of Pearl Lowe’s new collection for Peacocks (I know!).

Pearl Lowe for Peacocks, available September 5th.

Nice, izznit? Don’t tell anyone I told you, though, or we’ll have a The New Maxidress on our hands.

Peach xx

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Let Me Eat Cake

It has been many a long year since the time when a day off sick meant lying on the sofa watching Mel and Sue’s Light Lunch. Aah how I’ve missed it. You can imagine my delight when flicking around the channels one lazy Sunday afternoon to find that the duo have reunited and are hosting BBC2’s wonderfully silly The Great British Bake Off (watch it on the iPlayer, you shall not regret it).

Mel and a scone.

Featuring in-depth histories of the nation’s favourite baked goods, and a team of enthusiasts as serious about a good cake as anyone should be, and a healthy dollop of really, really good cake.

Throughout the programme they are also promoting Get Baking for Children In Need, asking the British public to raise money by hosting bake sales. Mmmmm. Here’s a little inspiration to get you started/salivating:

Birthday cake I baked for The Mister last year featuring all his favourite things.

Peach xx

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The Tuesday after a Bank Holiday is always an odd little day; much further through the week than you thought but still imbued with that heavy Monday feeling. The crisp autumnal sunshine is giving this particular Tuesday a real back-to-school feel which always makes me panic a little, feeling that I need to squash as much into the remaining summer days as possible before they evaporate.

I’ve always had an attraction to stories that cover just one day in a person’s life, and on this particular morning I keep thinking about Tom Ford’s A Single Man.

I’m also loving this Miles Aldridge editorial in Italian Vogue, based on Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (via I must be having a faded beauty kind of day.

Peach xx

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Check my credentials

Having recently bleached out years of black hair dye in favour of a decidedly dirty shade of blonde, I have been presented with the challenge of matching my usually demure, ladylike attire in with my trashy new ‘do. As is so often the case, help has come in the not-so-unlikely form of Ms Beyonce Knowles (stand close enough to me when I’m facing a tricky conundrum and you’ll just be able to make out the words ‘what would Beyonce do?’ muttered repeatedly under my breath), coming to the rescue this time with her gloriously hyper-trash video for Why Don’t You Love Me.

Trashed-up, glammed-up ladylike chic stomps all over the girl-next-door wallflower stylings of Prada and Vuitton in a pair of badgirl stilettos and a bra so pointy it’s in danger of blinding passing midgets and children.

If, like me, you spent all your savings on your barnet and you can’t afford Dolce & Gabbana or Louboutin, head to Topshop for this cute polka dot jumper and this naughty-but-nice longline bra. If underwear floats your boat then head to What Katie Did for this gorgeous corselette:

Josephine Corselette by What Katie Did.

Josephine Corselett by What Katie Did, £65. Image by What Katie Did.

And this supremely sexy 1940s style bra:

CC09 Bra by What Katie Did

CC09 Bra by What Katie Did, £30. Image by What Katie Did

Throw on some Vivienne Westwood Anglomania for Melissa slingbacks

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania for Melissa

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania for Melissa slingbacks, £110 at ASOS. Image by ASOS

And accessorize with oodles of mismatched jewellery, candy-coloured nail laquer, red lippy and a dirty martini.

Peach xx

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The nights are drawing in… (part deux)

Met the mister from work last night for a most civilized dinner and movie date (saw Up. Cried throughout. Am loser), and took the opportunity to debut my new super-snuggly snood. Felt fabulous but my little ears were still exposed to the arctic winds, so I’ve sniffed out the most stylish vintage hats available now so that you can avoid the same fate. Enjoy!

Ok, so it won’t keep your ears warm, but we lose 99% of our body heat though our noggins, don’t you know? Make like a lady in this chic little number from Natasha, £40

Always fancied myself as something of a turban wearer, but never mustered the courage. Love this 1940s one from Barton and Barton, £45.95

Absolutely love this 40s tilt hat, reminds me of the ladies waiting to be interviewed at the magazine in Cover Girl. Couture Allure, $85

Another one that’s more pretty than practical, but the warm glow you get from knowing that you look amazing is better than any bobble hat could offer, non? Dear Golden, $56

If only I had the lifestyle to go with this chic cocktail hat, with snowy ermine trim. Metro Retro Vintage, $49.95

Couldn’t blog on cosy vintage hats without a bit Dr Zhivago style fur. Kennedy Holmes, $30

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