So I’ve been back from Paris for a week now and I still can’t stop thinking about the dreamy three days I spent there with my friend Maisie. This was probably the least ‘touristy’ holiday I’ve ever had and I felt like I experienced local life as much as was possible in three days. We spent most of our time eating, shopping and going to different exhibitions and found so many gems, so I thought I’d share what we got up to here, ranking the things we did categorically! I’m not going to talk about where we stayed because, honestly, that was probably the worst part of the trip. We stayed in an apartment just outside of Montmartre, the location was fine but not as central to Montmartre as we would have liked, that had no real bed (we slept in a mattress on the floor) and a fridge that either made a loud buzzing noise or leaked. Our accommodation by no means ruined our experience though as we spent barely any time there. So anyway onto the recommendations! Oh and just a heads up, I’m vegan so all the places we ate at are either vegan or vegan friendly.
1.Shakespeare & Co
This shopping recommendation is the only one that isn’t fashion-based but it has to be my number one because I loved everything about this bookshop. It’s been a dream of mine to go here for some time as an avid book-lover and it did not disappoint. The location right next to the Seine is dreamy, with second-hand books for sale outside and the interiors are even better- they even have a resident cat! They stamp any books you buy with a ‘Shakespeare & Co’ stamp which was such a nice touch and they also had really beautiful copies of all the books you could conjure up. If you’re a reader, or even if you’re not, you have to go here.
I found Killiwatch on the premise that it was a vintage clothing store but it’s even better. Not only does it have an amazing, curated selection of vintage clothing but it also stocks clothing by independent Parisian designers. When I visited there was construction work going on inside the store which, I must admit, tarnished the experience a little bit. But not so much as it’s still sat at number 2 on my list purely because the amount and the quality of the clothing in there. I ended up picking a vintage scarf that I’m using as a hair scarf and a jacket by an independent brand, Tinsels, that is 100% linen & cotton- what a dream. If you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already seen them but if not I’ve posted a photo of them here.
3. The Frankie Shop
Number three on my list was a close competitor with Killiwatch but I’ve decided to rank it lower because of the price points of The Frankie Shop, which I couldn’t really afford. The Frankie Shop stocks designer clothes plus some of it’s own-brand clothing and 100% of the pieces in there are beautiful. The prices are reasonable (eg. around the €130 mark for a good quality jumper) but were out of my price range on this trip. However I did end up picking up a perfume which has such a unique smell to it for only €35 which was a bit of a bargain. If you have money to spend on good quality, beautifully designed clothes then definitely head to the Frankie Shop but, if not, it’s still worth visiting as it’s a beautiful store.
Merci really does have it all. I would probably design it as a concept store but it has everything from furniture, to clothing to a half cafe/half vintage bookstore. I didn’t buy anything here but it was a lot of fun to walk around and we did sit outside to have one of their homemade lemonades as well.
Sezane is a French brand that sells clothes for the Parisian woman and everyone who aspires to be like her. The clothing is beautiful, classic and it’s all made sustainably. The Sézane Apartment in Paris is seriously beautifully designed and, with citrus infused water available as you walk in, it’s definitely an enjoyable and relaxed shopping experience. I didn’t buy anything, not because of lack of want but lack of money, but, as they’ve opened their first UK store in London, I definitely hope to in the future. The only think I didn’t enjoy about this shopping experience is the fact that I did think the staff there were a little bit contemptuous, but maybe this was just a bad experience on my behalf.
6. Mona Market
Finally for my shopping recommendations is Mona Market. This is in the same area as The Frankie Shop and Merci and we actually just stumbled across it. It’s a concept store stocking furniture and trinkets that are basically what my interior dreams are made of. It was wicker heaven and I’d honestly trust the visual merchandisers of this store to design my perfect home with no guidance.
This is known as Paris’ first digital art museum and it is an incredible experience. Artwork from various different artists, modern and classical, is projected all over the ceilings, walls and floors of a warehouse-like room. It’s a completely immersive experience and something that I’d 100% recommend doing if you’re in Pairs.
2. ‘Les Magasins Des Petits Exploratuers’ Exhibition at the Quai Branly Museum
This exhibition is all about the post-colonial idea of ‘the other’ and after studying this in depth during my first year of university I found it so interesting. It looked at literature, film and other ways in which the Western world has presented the Eastern world as ‘other’, especially for children, and the effect this has had. Whether you’ve heard of this concept before or not it’s a really educational and interesting exhibition. Plus the exteriors of the Quai Branly are incredible as they have planted an immense amount of greenery all around the museum.
3. The Louvre
A visit to the Louvre was probably the most ‘tourist-y’ thing we did and the best thing about it for me was the architecture of the Louvre itself, as I’m not a big fan of classical art. I’m glad I went but the tickets were pricey so unless you’re particularly interested in classical art or you’d like to see what the pyramids look like from the inside, I wouldn’t insist that you go to the Louvre.
I’d heard amazing things about this little vegan cafe and was highly anticipating eating there and it did not disappoint one bit. Everything from the aesthetic to the food was incredible! It had a typical French cafe feel and we sat outside in the sunshine to eat. I went for the Nutella waffles with a vanilla milkshake which completely satisfied my sweet tooth and Maisie had the pizza, which I also had a slice of and I can quite confidently say that it was the nicest vegan pizza/cheese I’ve tried. It’s also super close to lots of the shops I talk about (Killiwatch, Sezane and more) so it’s the perfect place to eat lunch in between shops.
2. Le Pain Quotidien
I’m told that this is a chain that has branches in London too but this little bakery/cafe felt so very Parisian. Plus they have great vegan options! They have branches all over Paris but we stumbled across the one in Montmartre for some afternoon fuel in the form of cake. I had their vegan blueberry muffin which was delicious.
3. Hank Burger
This vegan burger place is really relaxed, kind of like a nicer version of a fast food place and fairly affordable. The vegan burger I had was really good and they even had vegan mayo on tap (I’m not a big mayonnaise fan but if you are this is probably a good place for you). They also have a bakery and I sampled one of their cookies which was also delicious.
4. Cook n’ Saj
This little cafe serves middle eastern food, has great interiors and very friendly staff. Maisie and I both had falafel wraps which were really nice and filling. It was really chilled out in the cafe itself and this is a great place to go if you’re looking for a guaranteed good meal in the middle or at the end of a busy day.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed this post and have found some useful recommendations. I created my own Google Map for our trip with all the places we visited and some others that we didn’t quite make it to, which also might come in handy for you if you’re visiting Paris too. You can take a look at it here. Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to Paris before and if you have any other recommendations, as I’m looking for any excuse to go back, or let me know, if you do end up going to any of these places, what you think of them!
It really feels like the end of summer now. As much as I’ve tried to drag it out, it’s now usually necessary to wear a jacket when leaving the house and I have no more trips booked. But I can’t really complain, I’ve had so much fun and made so many memories this summer and I’m glad I’ve made the most of what is my penultimate ‘official summer holiday’ as a student. I’ve also been working quite a lot and making some money, most of which I’ve spent on decorating my second year university room. Anyway, I wanted to write this post to commemorate and look back on this summer and talk about why the summer months really are my favourite part of the year.
As a January baby, you might not expect me to be such a summer lover, but I am renowned for always wanting what I can’t have. I do love Christmas but apart from that, the winter months just don’t do it for me. So many people talk about how much they love winter fashion, and I must admit I am getting very excited about buying some new knitwear, but, generally, in the UK it’s too cold to wear anything remotely stylish and so I end up wearing the same outfit with the same ugly coat all the time. The thought of snuggling up by the fire in a blanket with a book also appeals to me but honestly this actually happens to me three times at a push and most of my experiences of winter involve waiting for the bus in the freezing cold/rain and dreading leaving my bed in the morning. But enough of my complaining about the winter, let me tell you about why I love summer so much, and why this summer was one of the best.
I guess I always associate summer with time off, time off from education that is. Summer is the time when I can do all the things that make me feel like myself and this always leaves me feeling so reinvigorated. It’s also associated with travelling, which is one of my favourite things to do, and, this one’s not always a given in the UK, sunny weather, which is inarguably better than cold weather and I refuse to dispute this with anyone. My happiest place is probably lying on a beach in a bikini with a book and I don’t think there’s a time when I feel more relaxed than this. Summer for me isn’t an excuse to be lazy though. Despite taking time off education, I always make the most of summer to allow me to be creative, travel and really make the most of the free time I have to spend with friends and family. I think pretty much all my favourite memories have been made in summer and I was worried that this year because I have been working pretty much full-time that this wouldn’t be the case, and summer just wouldn’t be as good. But, as much as working has exhausted me, it has by no means ruined my summer and this one has still been one of the best ever. I think this proves that it’s not just the time off that makes summer so great for me, it’s the ease that comes along with it, whether that’s simple dressing, spontaneous plans or the fact that I find it so much easier to be happy when I’m woken up through the sun shining through the gaps in my blinds.
This summer I have travelled more than ever before. I feel so unbelievably lucky to have been to so many incredible places and if you’d like to hear more about them in detail then head to the travel section of my blog here to catch up on travel guides and my travels documented on 35mm film. I thought in this post what I would do is share some of my favourite memories from this summer, home and away, so I can always remember to be grateful for everything the past few months have had in store for me.
The start of summer for me feels like my holiday in Corfu with my sister and my mum- this was the ultimate girly, relaxing holiday from spending our days by the pool to our nights on the balcony in our pyjamas dancing to terrible ABBA tribute bands. I was still in the midst of my exams at this point but managed to really put them to one side and enjoy this holiday, which was so important for me in my process of remembering that academic excellence is not the be all and end all of life.
When my exams were over I headed to Parklife Festival, which, as a weekend, is one of my favourite memories from summer. I met up with new and old friends and danced the weekend away and I still have the remains of glitter dotted in and amongst my belongings to prove it. Parklife is also an amazing memory for me because I remember every single bit of it because I was more or less sober for the whole weekend! I’ve talked about this briefly before but as someone who deals with anxiety and chronic stomach issues, me+alcohol = bad news, so to be able to enjoy this festival without feeling judged sober was a big feat for me.
Then came a period of about a month that I spent at home and at work and enjoyed the UK’s glorious heatwave. My favourite memories from this period mostly took place in beer garden’s with friends and also in the garden soaking up the sun (and attempting and mostly failing to put up a paddling pool) with Sam. This is what I mean about summer weather making seeing friends so much easier and spontaneous! Everyone wants to go out in the sun when it’s there so everyone generally does.
The main event of July was my trip to Barcelona, a city I absolutely fell in love with and an AIRBNB that was my dream home for when I’m a 20-something. I fell in love with the city, the people and, more than anything, THE FOOD. Oh the food. I will never stop talking about those vegan Nutella donuts. I consider booking a flight over there almost daily just to grace my mouth one more time with those heavenly creations.
The first week of August for me was spent in Bath with Sam’s family, a beautiful city and a really relaxing trip, proving that you don’t need to go abroad to escape everyday life. Note to self: must go on more UK-based holidays. I came back to a week home alone as my family flew out to Fuerteventura a week earlier than Sam and I so I could get some shifts in at work but it seemed like no time until I joined them out there. This felt like a quintessential family holiday for me, with all the good bits and the bad…but mostly good. I got through three books (relaxing holidays like this are always an excuse for me to read as much as possible) and spent some quality time with my family and Sam and also ate a lot (that’s definitely a theme of this summer).
I got back from Fuerteventura and within less than a week I was in Paris, on my final trip of the summer with one of my closest friends, Maisie! I’ve been to Paris before 4 years ago but I fell in love with it even more this time. There is a mini guide to Paris coming your way very soon so I won’t go into it too much but let’s just say that Paris truly has my heart.
So yeah this summer has been pretty amazing to say the least. And not just because of the places I’ve been but because of the people I’ve spent it with (sorry for the cringe). During the academic year I am a hectic mess so I am so grateful to have these summer months not only because of the weather but because it reminds me how important spending time with the people in my life really is. But I’m still going to try and stay positive for the autumn/winter months, however hard that might be for me. Not to wish my life away but I feel like I’m already making plans and counting down the days for summer 2019, I just can’t help it!
I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for a while now and have been really excited about it, hence me posting it in the middle of the week as a bit of a bonus post. The reason for this is the incredible top I am wearing in these photos. I picked it up at a store in the Gracia region of Barcelona, called the 8pm Store, conveniently situated just next to the apartment we were staying in, off my cousins recommendation. The 8pm Store is an independent concept, fashion store, stocking clothes all of which have been designed sustainably in Barcelona as well as an art exhibition. The clothing in the store was so cool and being in the store itself was an amazing experience. Plus, the owner was so friendly, explaining to me more about the idea and logistics behind the store, also gifting me a free postcard from their last exhibition, which was such a nice touch and really made me feel happy for the rest of the day.
This experience got me thinking about why it is so important to support independent fashion. I would never have had an experience like that in a high-street store and because fashion is a really creative thing for me, it’s so inspiring to have a shopping experience like I did in The 8pm Store. Another really great shopping experience I had was also on my travels this year back in March when I went to Edinburgh at Armstrongs Vintage. I was also recommended to this shop by a friend, this is definitely the best way to find places to go when travelling from my experience, and it was probably (definitely) the best vintage shop I’ve ever been to. It was huge and the choice was incredible, from costume dress to the most incredible vintage denim. This is where I picked up the jeans I’m wearing in this photo, they’re by YSL and cost me a mere £20. I have pretty much always been looking for the perfect pair of white jeans and these are them. I had to get them taken up, which wasn’t expensive, but altering is definitely always worth it as a piece that fits you properly will mean you want to wear it more often and longer.
I realise I’ve spent the first half of this post gushing over these two shops, they’re seriously worth the fangirling though, so I’m going to move on to what this post is actually about, why shopping sustainably and independently is important. We all know the horrors of fast-fashion, from horrendous factory conditions to the colossal environmental effect, so I’m not going to guilt-trip you with any statistics. Especially because I still very much buy clothes from fast fashion retailers, it’s the most convenient and affordable way to shop and as much I’ve tried to avoid it, I just can’t at the moment, partly because financial reasons and partly because of selfish ones. So, instead, I’m making a conscious effort to support sustainable and independent shops and brands more often as well.
The most expensive sustainable fashion tends to be the brands who have built themselves on this ethos because it’s expensive being ethical in every single way and that’s just the way it is. I’m talking about the likes of Reformation and Everlane. The 8pm Store falls into this category of store though and although it’s more expensive than your average high-street store, it’s still really affordable. The top I’m wearing in this photo, which is handmade and of incredible quality, cost me between €35-40 (I can’t remember the exact amount), which is definitely more than I would spend on a piece like this at a high-street store. But I was willing to pay not only for this top that I love, but for the experience of being in the shop and the sustainablity behind the piece. This is something that can be hard to take into account when you put a similar piece from an independent, sustainable designer next to a Topshop piece for a fraction of the piece but I personally think, if you’re able to, it’s 100% worth supporting the former for the reasons I’ve just mentioned.
However, most of the time I’m just not able to buy expensive pieces, which often means I resort to the high-street. But another option is something that I love and have found some of my favourite pieces I own from, charity shops. They’re so unbelievably cheap AND you’re supporting a good cause by buying from them. My favourite pair of jeans cost £2 from a charity shop and the cost per wear is definitely in the minus’ now. Although charity shopping can be time consuming, I’ll often set out an entire afternoon or morning to go and look around the charity shops, it’s so rewarding and can help you save so much money that it’s 100% worth it. I know people are sceptical of charity shops but you won’t believe the gems you’ll find in there and most of the things haven’t been worn or have barely been worn so there is no need to worry about that aspect of it. Obviously, as well, it’s by far the most sustainable way to shop.
Moving on to the second part of the title of this post, shopping independently. This is something that I am very good at whilst travelling but pretty poor at when at home. At home I’m all too temped to revert to the trusty high street but on holiday, shopping independently is an amazing way to get to know the place you’re in. The predominant way that I shop independently at home is through charity shops and vintage shops. Both of the places I am based, Liverpool and Manchester, have a great array of independent clothing stores that don’t fall into the categories just mentioned and are a little more expensive but I think it’s just getting into the habit and mindset of shopping there.
Nevertheless though, I still try and make an effort to shop independently because, as I mentioned, there’s nothing better than having an amazing shopping experience and independent shops definitely offer that more than chains do. Plus, they give a place character. Whenever I go away, whether it’s in the UK or abroad, I always try and steer away from what I’m going to call the ‘chain area’ of the city and venture out to the areas that actually feel like you’re in a different place. I’d hate anywhere I live to not have this feel at all and if we don’t support these independent businesses then they’ll no longer exist.
Here’s a list of some of my favourite independent stores, from fashion to all sorts of other things with links to their websites/social media:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it’s given you some encouragement to head down to your local independent clothing store, or try and shop a little bit more sustainably! You won’t regret carving some time out to visit your local charity shops or vintage shops to grab a bargain. Even if you go high-street shopping afterwards, you’ve probably saved yourself some money by buying something second-hand and you’re helping to save the world a little bit at the same time, so it’s a win-win. I’d love to hear your favourite independent shops or the best ways, in your opinion, to shop sustainably in the comments or on social media! As mentioned, I’m by no means perfect with this and am not claiming to be so any tips and recommendations are very welcome!
Top- Dreamers Not Allowed
Jeans- Vintage YSL, Armstrongs Vintage
Hair Clips- Accesorize
Necklace- Alex Monroe
Today on my blog I’m introducing a new series called, as you can probably guess by the title, ‘Girls on Film’, where I interview girls/women in my life about themselves. I have so many amazing female friends in my life and I thought this series would be an amazing way to celebrate them. I personally love reading posts getting to know random people with a series of (slightly invasive?) questions and I hope you enjoy it too. I also wanted to do something more with my love of film photography so with these interviews will be photos of the girls in question taken on my film camera. The first interview is with one of my closest and longest friends, Natalia. We actually did this interview well over a month ago (maybe even 2 months ago) so apologies for the lateness. The photos I initially shot of her were lost in a roll of film that came back empty so there has been some delays. But without any further delays, here is the interview…
A: What are you currently up to in life?
N: I’m off to a Sports Ball tonight, which I’m looking forward to! I study Drama & English Literature (at university)…yeah.
A: I obviously already knew these things so I didn’t really need to ask them but… (laughs). Do you have any plans over summer?
N: Just chilling (laughs), I’m going on holiday in July for a week to Spain, near Gibraltar. We’re not going on holiday this year (with family) because we’re going to America next year.
N: Well, either that or we’re going to Bali because it’s my Dad’s 50th next year! So Bali or America but we’re not going on holiday this year because of that. We’re leaning more towards Bali but (if we went to America) we’d go to like the West Coast, because we really want to go to California and stuff.
A: Amazing! Where do you feel most yourself and/or what’s your favourite thing to do?
N:I prefer being at home and I come home from UNI quite a lot. You can’t talk about things at UNI that you can talk about at home.
A: Yeah if I’m ever explaining anything to friends at UNI I have to provide back stories to everything. Ok, so if you were guaranteed survival and were given basic needs, what 5 things would you take to a desert island?
N: My dog, to keep me company. I’d want to take my phone but only to listen to music. I’m not sure what else…
A: Well think of it as if you’re going to be on your own for the rest of your life… if you were going to take one book?
N: The Girl on The Train, I love that book. The book’s so good, it blows your head off more than the film. You’re shocked and then shocked again and then have to retract the first experience of being shocked…. I’d also take a bottle of wine! And a speaker, can I have a speaker? That’s it, I’m done!
A: So what was that? Your phone, your dog…
N: Phone, dog, speaker, wine and the book.
A: Who or what inspires you the most?
N: Probably my dad. My mum does too actually! But my dad ever since he was was 14, when he’d work, he’d get up at like 4 in the morning to do jobs since he was 12, because they didn’t have enough money or anything so he’s built it up for himself. And he works really hard now, I barely ever see him because he works away so much. He’s always in Scotland or in Lincolnshire he’s never at home, he has to get up at 4 in the morning every single day and he just plods on with it. And I don’t think I could do that.
A: Me neither, especially for his whole life!
N: I know! But both of my parents are really inspirational to me.
A: Where do you hope to be and what do you hope to be doing in 10/15 years time? So, what I mean is when you’re ‘settled’?
N: So I’d be 35!! That’s not okay. My mum had had me and Ben by then.
A: But on HQ (trivia) last night it says the average age that people get married is 35, so people are doing it a lot later now.
N: People are waiting till their older now aren’t they. When my mum and dad got married my mum was 21!
A: That was the norm though!
N: She met my dad when he was 19 and they got engaged 6 months later (laughs).
A: But if someone met someone when they were 27 and they got married to them when they were 29, that wouldn’t be unusual! The norm has just changed!
N: 35… I would want to be married by then, I don’t know if I would have had kids by then. I feel like I’d be about to be settling…
A: Where do you think you’ll be?
N: Down south, London.
A: Like city centre?
N: Yeah, hopefully acting on the stage. But I’d probably do another job first to save money because acting isn’t a solid job.
A: What would be your dream show to be in?
N: Anything on the West End, I’d love to be in Wicked! And only because it’s amazing… West Side Story.
A: Yes that would be the best one! Especially if you were one of the Puerto Rican girls, that would be so much fun! What about kids, do you want them?
N: I want 3. But I feel like I’ll have one and be like… NO MORE (laughs).
A: Okay I just have one more question, what are you reading or watching or listening to at the moment?
N: Hell’s Kitchen! Me and Joe are obsessed with watching Hell Kitchen, it’s hilarious. I’ve been watching baking shows, I have no interest in baking. Nailed It, Great British Bake Off, just started that yesterday, Hell’s Kitchen. Nailed It is hilarious because it’s people who can’t cook or bake for their lives and they make awful cakes and compare them to really extravagant, professional ones!
A: Oh that’s amazing, I’d love that! Are you listening to anything good or anyone knew at the moment?
A: Oooh… I’m just checking that it’s recording because I don’t think I’ll remember that name (laughs). Are you reading anything? I was only going to ask for one out of the three but I’m just gonna go ahead and ask them all…
N: Not leisurely, but I’m reading The Lonely Londoners (by Sam Selvon) for my course about race in the 1950s.
A: Oooh, is it good?
N: Yeah! It’s good!
A: Anyway Nat I’ll let you go because I know you need to!
The conversation then inevitably continued for 5 minutes before she left but it’s nothing that’s relevant to this post! But I hope you’ve enjoyed this post as there are more ‘Girls on Film’ posts to come! I actually interviewed my friend Ellie at the same time as interviewing Nat so expect to see that very soon. I’d love to hear your feedback on this series and be sure to let me know of any more questions you’d like me to ask in future! Do you want it to be more personal, more about a specific topic? Let me know in the comments or via social media! Thanks for reading and you can follow Nat @nattiewilliams on Instagram.
The ethos behind my favourite ever website/blog/publication, Man Repeller, is ‘where an interest in fashion never minimises ones intellect’, which is one of the reasons why it’s one of my favourite places on the internet. For a long time, an interest in fashion and/or clothes has equated to being a little bit dim, to put it nicely. After all, the most intelligent people don’t care about what they look like, right? Steve Jobs wears the same clothes every day! Wrong. Being interested in fashion, whether it’s fashion styling, writing or simply shopping, has nothing to do with how intelligent you are. In fact, some of the people I admire the most because of their intelligence (cough, cough Pandora Sykes, my ultimate dream girl in every area of life) have built themselves or their careers through fashion, or use it to define a big part of themselves.
I’ve always wanted a career within the fashion industry, but as my life took a more ‘academic’ path and I really started to care about my academic performance, which also led to a boost in my grades, I began to doubt whether this type of career was for me. This was almost sub-conscious, perhaps partly because I know it’s a competitive industry, but I think mostly because I thought I should do something more by the books, and, as an English Lit student, something specifically to do with books. Maybe I still will end up going down this path career-wise but I’m definitely more open and more interested in a career within the fashion industry, thinking of it as something that will allow me to reach my full potential in so many ways and something that I would be proud of, not ashamed of.
Many people think putting outfits together and photographing them is a waste of time and vain but, for me, it’s a really creative process. It provides me with a space to be creative and, although I’m not always completely comfortable in front of the camera, it’s something that I really enjoy altogether. It’s not something that everyone can do, whether that’s because they don’t enjoy it/don’t have the patience for it or because they simply are not good at styling. I’m not trying to say that I have a talent for putting outfits together or anything but getting dressed in the morning is a creative process for me and, especially on days when I’m glued to my desk doing UNI work, I really appreciate and enjoy this moment of creativity.
Wearing school uniform was something I absolutely hated, and wearing the same clothes for work at the moment has a similar effect on me, and unlike other peers who would say that they missed the ease of their uniform, being able to choose my own outfit every day, as little of a thing as it seems now, was so liberating for me. I don’t have anything against Steve Jobs, or anyone else who wears the same clothes every day, and I’m not saying he’s not creative (he definitely is) because everyone is creative in different ways. But just because I spend 15 minutes (sometimes much, much longer) deciding what to wear in the morning, that does not make me any less of an efficient or intelligent person and it is not something to be looked down on and I think it should be seen as creative as writing and drawing and all of the other generically creative acts, because it feels that way for me.
I carry absolutely zero shame for having an interest in fashion anymore and that’s why I wanted to dedicate this post to Man Repeller. Because Leandra (the founder of Man Repeller) has created a space where women can have intelligent and important conversations, whilst also writing and reading about the phenomenon of gym shorts as a ‘thing’ (this is a real, and good, article currently on the site).
I try to create a similar space with my blog, but obviously in this case it’s just me talking to myself. The posts vary from fashion-based, discussion-based to many other things and I feel just as confident in writing about them all. Man Repeller also allows me to feel justified in writing about more than one thing on my blog and not having a niche, something that I’ve tried to create and failed. I want this blog to be a reflection of me and because I am a multi-faceted human being, that means I am going to write about lots of different things, usually uniting them with posey photos of me, such as these ones taken in Liverpool’s St John’s Gardens.
Anyway, I ran off on a bit of a tangent there (what’s new?) but I just wanted to write this post to try and dismantle the stigma around fashion . I hope I’ve helped you to shatter any negative perceptions of those who are interested in fashion you might have had, and I hope that if you are a fashion-lover (that sounds so 2012) that you embrace it and feel proud of it! It means you’re creative and gives you an amazing way to construct your own identity in whatever way you want… But that’s a different post all together! Maybe next time!
Skirt- Miss Selfridge (old, similar here)
Faux Leather Gilet- Topshop (old, similar here)
Shoes- Primark (probably still available in store)
Photography by Ell Field.
Love Island, on paper, isn’t my type. I was adamant about this last year. I don’t really like reality TV, or TV in general that much so I didn’t see why this daily reality TV show would be for me. All of my friend’s watched it and were trying to convince me to join in but I wasn’t even willing to put one of my eggs in the TV show’s basket. For the first few weeks, I stayed loyal to the fact that I’d never really liked reality TV and I just KNEW that it would be the same with this TV show. But I well and truly mugged myself off. After seeing snippets of it last year through my sister and boyfriend watching it, I slowly became interested. That interest grew and now I would call myself a dedicated fan of the show and I am so happy that my friends’ grafting in trying to convince me to watch the show paid off, because I love it so much. Ok, I’m done with casually slipping Love Island lingo into this blog post (for now…), so please carry on reading, especially if you don’t watch the show and were very confused by that introduction.
Despite the show gaining popularity like no other over the years, I’ve spoke to so many people who still have reservations about it, oh hell, I was one of them last year (ok ok I promise that was the last reference, especially to Dr Alex who I am not a fan of). These reservations are usually/always based on the fact that watching it every night for 2 months is a waste of time, which from an outside perspective is a valid point. But in this post I am going to explain why watching Love Island, and the show’s existence in itself, is not a waste of time. With the show’s final being aired tomorrow (*sobs*) and the fact that I am wearing a dress that was worn by Liverpool’s very own Hayley on the show which is now part of Missguided’s ‘Love Island Collection’ (even though I bought it last year before it was part of it but let’s just ignore that), I thought this would be an apt place and time to express my love for the show and explain why I am annoyed at my past self for refusing to watch it until half way through Season 3.
The first argument against Love Island that I want to talk about is that it’s a waste of time to watch it because it’s a waste of time to watch any type of TV, but especially this kind, every night for 2 months, because this is the one that was most valid for me last year. I’m not trying to say that watching Love Island every night boosts my intelligence and makes me a better person because, quite frankly, it doesn’t. But it provides me with a form of escapism like no other. In fact, watching the show is my ultimate escapist activity, switching off from my own life completely and becoming engrossed in the lives of others for an hour. As someone who can become obsessed with doing work and being productive, Love Island is the best method I’ve ever found for switching off, and the fact that it allows me to switch off every day for an hour just before I go to bed, is perfect. Not only this but it happened to start this year on the day of my last university exam, meaning it really got me into the swing of taking time to myself over summer. For people who can switch off and relax easily, this might not be a big deal. But for many, I think Love Island provides an hour a day in which they can stop thinking about everything else going on in their lives, which can be so beneficial for many and I think is a reason why so many people love the show.
The second main argument against Love Island is that the content of the show is vain and contributes absolutely nothing to our society, expect perhaps perpetuating negative attitudes. As I briefly mentioned earlier, you are not going to get the same benefits from watching Love Island as reading an encyclopedia but that’s not why anyone watches it. But despite the fact that Love Island is an escapist activity for me and for many, the issues that are inherently wrong with the show itself and that arise from the activities within the villa provide important societal discussion points. For example, the TV show does have a body image issue, this one is non-negotiable. Everyone in the villa has the ‘ideal body’ and, of course, this can have a negative effect on more vulnerable viewers. But the fact that this is the case has started a huge discussion on the subject, on social media and beyond and perhaps brought the issue to the attention of those who might have dismissed it in the past. I hope Love Island rectifies this issue in the next series by recruiting contestants of different shapes and sizes, reflecting the real world in a real way but, as much as I don’t like to use this as an excuse, no TV show, or book, or anything is perfect and sometimes being able to use something as a point of discussion and criticism can be irrevocably useful.
Love Island has incited some really interesting conversations this year, from body image, to race, to female friendships and other feminist issues. A weekly podcast that I’ve loved listening to is ‘Under Cover Lover’, an unofficial Love Island podcast that dives deep into all of these issues and that has encouraged me further to watch Love Island critically, something I can’t really help but doing anyway. The fact that I can watch something in this way, having these interesting conversations about it whilst also still living my escapist dreams is the perfect scenario and the main reason why I think Love Island is so brilliant.
If you have been watching Love Island, I hope you’re not too sad about it ending tomorrow. If you are, do what I’m going to do and go back and watch the previous series on Netflix and/or send me a message so we can chat about it (I could do this for hours). I’d also love to hear who you are rooting for to win! I’m a loyal (no Georgia-reference intended) and die-hard Jack & Dani fan but I was shocked to hear that more than one of my friends is rooting for Kaz & Josh, so I’d love to hear your opinions. If you haven’t watched Love Island this year, you’re probably a bit late to start. But I hope this blog post has convinced you that it’s not a waste of your time, whether you’re looking for something to calm you down or if you love partaking in a bit of critical conversation. There’s always next year to start watching it… or ITV Hub but don’t say I didn’t warn you of the binging that will take place if you go for the second option.
Bag- Very (No longer available, similar here)
Photography by Ell Field.
I’m back today with a more ‘thoughtful’ post (i.e writing about something that’s been on my mind that has nothing/very little to do with the photos I share alongside it). These types of posts, as opposed to posts about fashion and style, tend to be my favourite ones to write and tend to be received the best upon sharing so you’ll probably be seeing much more of them on my blog. I’ve even created a new category to my blog called ‘Thoughts & Musings’ to allow myself this space on my blog, so do head over there after reading this post to read more of these types of posts. Also, final sort-of disclaimer before starting the post, you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting on my blog as much recently, which isn’t down to lack of wanting to do so but a lack of time as I have been working A LOT. For now, my aim is to get up a blog post once a week on Sunday evenings but don’t be surprised to see an extra post up (probably on Wednesdays or Fridays) on the weeks when I’m working a little bit less.
Anyway, let’s move on to the discussion point of this post, something that’s very close to my heart, words. I’ve always been a reader and a writer, both in and out of school. As an English Literature student, I spend most of my time doing these two things during the academic year and as an avid reader and someone with a blog, I spend most of my free time doing the same two things. I simply love words (hence the name of this blog), whether I’m reading them or writing them. But in an age where most of our communication and entertainment is in the format of photos, videos and even voice-notes, are words simply unnecessary? As you can probably guess, I’d argue against this and although I love Instagram, Netflix and Snapchat as much as the next person, I get the most satisfaction through reading something that is above the 140 character (or is it 280 characters now?) limit and writing something longer than an Instagram caption.
This post isn’t designed to be an insult to anyone who doesn’t enjoy reading or writing because not everyone does, and I’m not going to act all high and mighty just because I do! To my shame, I’m really not interested in anything remotely science-y and I even find Blue Planet (maybe stop reading now if you’re a big fan) pretty boring. Everyone has different interests and they’re definitely not always as simple as preferring English to Maths or History to Science but sometimes people simply do not like reading or writing and that is fine. The problem today, in my opinion, is that many people don’t know whether they do or not because today’s fast-moving, visual-orientated society doesn’t give them a chance to find out. When I was listening to The High-Low podcast the other day (10/10 would recommend), someone sent a question in asking about how to improve their attention span in order to be able to read for longer, worried that social media had essentially shrunken theirs. The discussion that ensued following this was so interesting. Pandora and Dolly discussed how social media essentially provides quick-fixes to everything, allowing you to consume so much varied information in one go, which is perhaps why the ‘task’ of reading one book that is on one topic sounds like too much and boring for many people. After this, they thankfully assured their readers that it is impossible for our attention spans to ‘shrink’ and that, with practice, almost anyone can become an attentive reader. Despite this, it is still interesting to think about how social media is changing our habits and our ways of thinking.
Even as someone who loves to read I still find myself reaching for my phone rather than a book 90% of the time, a habit that I’m trying to change, and skipping through articles to the ‘important bit’ and ignoring most of what has been written. I think this is part of the way modern life is becoming more and more fast-paced and social media is obviously becoming such a big part of it. Since starting my blog I’ve found that I’m on my phone even more now but, because I use social media to promote and go alongside my blog, I can kind of count it as being productive. And it is a lot more productive and positive than it used to be, but I know that turning to a book or an article would be much more beneficial for my brain and my mental health than scrolling through Instagram for the 20th time that day.
Finally, I wanted to discuss how the gradual death of words is affecting blogging. I only started my blog a few months ago but it’s already clear to me that people would rather scroll through my Instagram than scroll through my blog, which is fine because scrolling through my Instagram is less time-consuming and probably a quicker way to get to know me and see what I’ve been up to. Does this mean that blogs are going extinct? I don’t think so. I think/hope that there will always be people who love to gobble up words as much as I do and therefore blogs will always be able to survive through them, if not on such a large scale as photos do on Instagram. I think there is an element of compromising as well because putting a blog post up without photos is pretty much a no-go, which is saying something in itself. This can sometimes be annoying for me because sometimes I want to discuss something and don’t have the photos to go with it but I also understand this need for a visual aid and enjoy it myself. I compromise with this by just adding photos to a blog post that are, more often than not, unrelated to the topics that I’m discussing. And this seems to go down with readers of this blog just fine!
So until words truly do die a death, which I know the book-lovers of the world would never allow to happen anyway, I will continue writing on this blog, whether anyone reads it or not! And if you are someone who likes reading or writing but perhaps has fallen out of it, there’s no time quite like the present to start again- you could even take a look at my blog post on the best holiday reads for some reading inspiration! I’d love to hear your thoughts on how social media is affecting our reading and writing habits and maybe even some ways to ensure that you still get your dose of words in the comments or on social media.
(yes, I really like Topshop)