Sunday, 30 August 2015

REVIEW: Wide-Eyed and Blind x MyLadyBug

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I don't remember the first time I got my period, funnily enough. Although I do vividly remember finding pads in my mother's bathroom when I was six or seven and demanding to know what they were. She replied that she would tell me in four or five years. Being both curious and highly impatient (traits that remain to this day) I wailed. How could I wait so long to know something? Yet, over time I forgot all about it.

And then, I was pulled aside for "the talk" around twelve. I had garnered much from television and reading but Mammy handed me a stack of books of varying complexity, gave me the run through and instigated an open-door policy. I think my experience of this was much less embarrassing and more easy-going than most. But, then, I've really never found it difficult to talk to my mother about most things. In fact, Mammy has acted as a source of information and guidance and support for my and my siblings' friends as well as us. The only awkward "talk" moment I've ever had was when Dad tried to make me give my little brother the low-down in lieu of him. Needless to say I refused to let him off the hook like that.

I knew what to expect, then. Unlike my mother and much of her generation - hell, even girls of my own generation that I've known and whose sex education was woeful by comparison - I didn't think I was dying when I first got my period. I knew what was happening. As I can't remember that first time, I don't remember my exact feelings but I know I've always scoffed as metaphors like "becoming a woman" or "gift". There's nothing poetic about it. I've always suffered bad back pains and cramps. Periods, for me, have always been hassle, embarrassment and inconvenience.

Two of my earliest and most vivid experiences of "being a woman" both pertain to utter embarrassment. In the first instance, I was surprised my its arrival, wearing white pants and at an all-day family outing far from stores. I spent the duration with a jumper tightly tied around my waist to hide the disaster, panicking internally that it would be noticed and wishing to be home. In the second, a backpack from a school trip was emptied by my brother and his friend onto our trampoline and I emerged from the house to see pads bouncing around the garden. I cried as I gathered them, still so unused to it all.

On another occasion, we were on a family holiday and my older cousin offered to bring us to a water park. As is often the case, my period had arrived the day we set off for the holiday. Unused to, and disliking, tampons, I had to turn down his invitation and said I would stay home with Mammy. In of itself, that was upsetting enough as I love water and swimming more than I could ever express. This wasn't the first time that I, the family "water baby", had uncharacteristically opted to not go swimming and my siblings began to annoy me endlessly about it. They said I'd become lazy as a teenager. It got to me. I got weepy. And, eventually, I shouted, "I'm menstruating!" Everyone looked shocked, the boys looked disgusted. I cried some more.

Oh, to be so wet behind the ears and upset by such things. Now, menstruating is merely an annoyance. Different things irritate me. The pain still isn't fun but it's how the hormones affect my skin that really pisses me off. The perfection resulting from rigorous and religious skincare is routinely destroyed by something I cannot really control each month. That still gets to me.

Other things, however, no longer bother me. I'm not embarrassed in the same ways. I don't blush buying pads in a supermarket and I'm not afraid to talk about it. Everybody poops and lots of women menstruate. It's merely a fact of life. Nothing more, nothing less.

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It's still no picnic, which is where MyLadyBug comes in. They're an online monthly subscription box service which not only delivers the pad and tampon essentials of your choice to your door but also pops some treats into the box to help sweeten things just a little.

Not only are they an Irish start-up (which I always aim to back up) but I admire that they don't pussy-foot (if you'll excuse the rather crude pun) around. They say the word period. They don't make it seem like something wrapped up in rainbows, candyfloss and kittens. They acknowledge that it's a pain and want to make life easier for you. Because like with toilet paper, milk and bread, (and ketchup, in my case) there's nothing more annoying than running out of pads or tampons.

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The process is really easy and tailored to your own needs. You begin by choosing if you want pads or tampons or both and then choose the brands (they stock Tampax, Always and Lil-Lets) and types of your liking. Then you input your address and details and they post it all out to you!

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Subscriptions are dispatched monthly on the 19th-21st monthly and you should allow up to 5 days for delivery. The re-billing period for your next delivery then takes place between the 31st and 1st after you receive your first box. You can opt in to pay month by month or pre-pay for three, six and twelve months with discount rates.

The packaging is designed to fit in most letter-boxes, however, my box happens to be a metal box affixed to a wall rather than in a door so it doesn't fit in. Hopefully, there'll be housemates to sign for it in the future! For most people, though, this shouldn't be a problem! The packaging is also both cute and discrete. So, if you're someone who is still a wee bit shy about periods and such, your postperson is unlikely to know what they're delivering.

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Inside, everything is neatly packed to fit into the slim box and alongside a note saying "hey", there's some sweets and tea. Sounds awesome, right? Just cute enough but not the irritating twee of tampon ads that make the whole thing seem like a fucking party. Comfort without being patronising.

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I can't recommend this enough. And given the popularity of monthly subscription boxes and the monthly nature of menstruation, this is such a smart and tongue-in-cheek idea that I'm down.

If you wanna try it out for yourself, head to MyLadyBug and use my discount code, "CBLOG", at the checkout to get 15% off! (Edit: This discount code is only applicable to the monthly plan. Sorry if there was any confusion!)


(This product was sent to me to review but all opinions expressed are entirely me own)

(PS Good luck to Maryrose in this venture! I'm sure it'll be a serious success!)


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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Heatons AW15

I swear, Heatons get immensely better with every season. They've been so on of late and AW15 is no exception. The homeware and women's collections, in particular, are absolute knock-outs.

Speaking of the women's clothing, expect utterly cosy, comfy pieces. There's lots of rich tan and berry tones and pastels with fuzzy textures, soft knits, (faux) furry accessories, sweet statement necklaces and a surprising number of florals for the AW season. However, it's not all uber-girly or overly twee or sweet with a carry-over of the boho and seventies vibes in prints, fabric choices and colours. There's also some killer workwear options at a great price point as well. Stand-outs to be on the search for are the clutch with a floral print that's reminiscent of 17th century Dutch still life painting, burgundy Chelsea boots, sleeveless blazers in white and black, pink fuzzy cardigan and loose turtle-necks.

The homeware also had me really excited. It's rather eclectic with the Scandi vibes that have been so popular in recent years and pops of rich autumnal shades to warm it all up. Those little side-tables below are calling out to me and will very much be on my radar. There's also lots of pretty pieces such as delicate porcelains and gilded mirrors and frames that have a very elegant classic French decor feel, if that's more up your alley.

The menswear offerings are, again, mostly cosy and simple. Although, as always, just a little bit more practical than the women's clothing. Think flannels, check, warm knits and reliable outerwear. Very lumberjack-hipster or oldschool country gent depending on the styling.

As per, the kids' clothing is SO CUTE. For girls, the pieces mimic the women's collection with lots of florals, pastels and prettiness with sturdy outerwear and fluffy knitwear and stompy boots to ensure they stay warm and dry. The pieces for the boys are all in primary shades and are very much sportswear inspired, with perhaps a touch of Americana. But, again, sweet, cosy and practical.

Basically, Heatons wants you to be warm and cosy as well as cute this AW and I'm totally down with that.


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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Sophie

In my series on subculture in Dublin I have previously interviewed and photographed two Lolitas thus far, Josie and Sarah. Continuing this trend, I met with Sophie and, once again had amazing chats about Lolita, subculture, clothing, gender, feminism and passion. Here's what Sophie had to say about the subculture she loves and life, in general.

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Moi: So, maybe the obvious starting point would be how you came to Lolita.

Sophie: Em, okay. So, originally, when I was younger, I was kinda big into drawing. It's always been something that I've been quite passionate about. And from there I found Japanese comic books, as many, y'know sixteen year olds do...and there's one called Paradise Kiss and it's based on fashion subcultures. So, they're all in this fashion school, they're looking for a model-

Oh, I've read it!

- yeah! It's still one of my favourites, out of everything. It's much more adult than a lot of them. But there's one girl in it who dresses in Lolita. And the minute I saw it, I was like, “I love that! I need to know what it is!” And there's Lolita elements in a lot of manga but it's never explained, whereas she's into the whole culture of Lolita and her older sister is a Lolita designer. Even the name of that brand is like, “Happy Berry” which is obviously a rip-off of AngelicPretty (A/N: One of the biggest Lolita labels). So, that's where I found it first. And I really felt like “What is this?! I need to know!” From there I started trawling the internet and found the Irish group back in the LiveJournal days...so, it's a long time ago altogether! It's kind of all history from there.

And why do you think people are drawn to it?

I think that a lot of people...like, I've always been into frilly clothes ever since I was a really little kid. My mum always used to joke that when I went to pick my Communion dress, she had to go to the store beforehand and had to pick the less garishly frilly dresses and hide the garish ones. And she said she knew before I even arrived that I was going to pick the frilliest one. And I did. She knew exactly which one I was going to pick. So, obviously there is a certain thing where you're just drawn to certain styles from a very young age. And, for me, when I saw it in Paradise Kiss, it was kinda like, “That's exactly what I want to wear. This is finally what I want to wear and love.” Instead of apathy towards what was in fashion, this was passion.

And that's a big thing I've noticed a lot. A very passionate community. It's obviously more than an aesthetic so why do you think people are emotionally drawn to it?

I guess it's slightly nostalgic...I mean, it's not childish but it has elements of childhood in it. And I think a lot of people, as they grow up, are taught not to be creative, to dress the same as everyone else, that you can express yourself but in a controlled way. I found for me, Lolita was kind of a way of saying, “I don't care if people judge me. This is how I want to look.” And it was a very deliberate choice of this is how I want to look. It's freeing...I mean, people will stare. But the thing is, I don't really care because I like how I look.

It's entirely for you.

Exactly. It's very much dressing for yourself and not caring about other people at all.

There's two things that I think are interesting there. One being that, I remember discussing this point with a friend. People found it strange that we'd been picked on in secondary school because they thought we seemed so friendly and normal. And he was a metalhead as a teen and I was a punk and we both said that we feel like a lot of people come to these sorts of styles, subcultures because if you're going to be judged it's not about you but how you're dressed.

Yeah, it's like how people joke that you're putting on your frilly armour. Because people are going to stare and comment and you know it's because of what you're wearing and you're kinda like...there's no pretense about it. Which is kinda nice because if people are giggling or whatever, you know, it's not because you have something on your face or your hair is a bird's nest or they know a rumour about you. It's like, “I know what's going on here,” and, therefore, I can just let it go.

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The other thing that I think is interesting there, is the idea of ownership. I think it ties into the idea of women increasingly taking ownership of their appearance and bodies and how they display them.

When I went to Helsinki for a Lolita groupmeet of international Lolitas and one of the girls there did her thesis on feminism and the Lolita culture and one of the things that she was taking about and that I read about a lot is that, Lolita, as a fashion, is very...it's almost the opposite of male-centric. It's not sexual. It's not supposed to be sexual. People will read into it what they want but the whole idea is not to be provocative, to not show a lot of skin. A lot of people don't find it particularly attractive. Particularly, men. It's freeing as you're dressing for yourself and other women. You go to conventions and people compliment things you've made or your hair. It's very female-focused. There are some male Lolitas but it's quite uncommon and a lot of those dress in the female fashion rather than a male version. It's very female-focused and, as I said, most men don't find it appealing.

So, it's a good barometer, then.

Exactly, it's freeing that you're not dressing for the male gaze. You're not even trying. There's no underlying thing of “Is this sexy?” or “Oh, is this showing too much?” It's not for anyone else. It's for you and other Lolitas.

The Lolita community seems particularly progressive and feminist at large. So, where do you think the connection between Lolita and feminism comes in?

Well, I guess, the big thing is taking ownership of your look. Like, say, arguably, a lot of mainstream fashion is run by men. And even in instances where they aren't personally interested in women in a sexual way, the male gaze is still presented that way and sexuality is still prominent. In Lolita, it's almost the exact opposite. If you look at the ads...most of the owners and designers are female...and the ads are innocent and with no underlying sexiness.

Which is interesting with the name...(A/N: i.e. the connection, or lack thereof to the novel, Lolita)

Well, apparently, it doesn't have that connection at all in Japan. The book isn't as famous there. It's only in Western culture that we have to deal with, “But, really, deep down, it's got sexual undertones.” That doesn't seem to exist in Japan in the same way.

I should point out that we're not judging women who dress sexually, however.

Oh, no, of course not!

I just wanted that on the record when I have to type this out!

Oh, of course. It's not like...I mean, there's provocative trends I like. I'm just not comfortable with it on my own body. Especially as I'm quite hourglass-shaped and it drew unwanted attention when I was younger.

Yep, got boobs at fourteen and then it's like...

...suddenly have to deal with sexual attention when you're not ready for it...

...from much older men who think it's okay.

Exactly. So, ever since then I've dressed more modestly for my own comfort levels. Which is also probably why I was drawn to Lolita. It's so non-provocative-

-or provocative in a different sense.

Yeah, it's very pretty and girly-

-detail-orientated.

Which I would be in general. In everything in my life.

I think that kind of connects to feminism and Lolita as well. It's mostly women in the fashion, designing it, behind the brand. And traditionally, clothes-making and interest in and interesting clothes have been feminine or seen as feminine (A/N: throughout much of European history). That knowledge and understanding of clothes. Like, I love talking to Lolitas about clothes because they know about hems and silhouettes and fabrics. That's what they want to talk about. And it links up with the history of people, and especially women, and their relationship with clothing.

I think that women, in general, have a much more personal relationship with clothes. Women tend to express themselves more with clothing. And they would be expected to. If you don't put some effort into clothing you're seen as laid back or a tomboy or this sort of thing. I work in a software company and I wouldn't wear Lolita to work because it's very male-orientated and if I were to dress up, it's made a big deal of. “Where are you going?” Like, there has to be a reason to dress up.

Because you're not doing it for yourself, obviously.

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Yeah, you must be going out. I can't just want to look nice. It's easier not to do it. I wear jeans and a t-shirt to work and I'm seen as a tomboy but really I'm not at all. It's just easier.

That is the uniform of guys around our age.

Yeah, especially in computers. It's like “Jesus, could you put some effort in?” I get it. But come on.

So, a word I always hear with Lolita is passion. And I feel like passion is something that can be discouraged a lot like it's dramatic or emotional or childish...especially as you get older...

Well, that's it exactly. Like, I work in IT but I studied computer games and that's another very passionate hobby. I've met a lot of Lolitas who also like gaming. I think it's because “geeky” hobbies allow for a certain amount of passion anyway. People really get into it. I think the two cross over for me. I think passion, in general, is a really good thing. As you get older, you're told to be more apathetic about things.

“Realistic”. “Logical”.

“Realistic.” “It's not that big a deal. Relax.” You can enjoy things but don't put too much energy into them unless you want it to be your career. I don't agree with that. I enjoy computers but my passions are other things. It's a good job, I enjoy it but it's, in no way, my passion. It will never be. And there are some people in my company for whom it is their passion and they love it and they go home and do more programming. I think it's great to meet people who haven't lost that kind of love of something, who can be passionate so freely, they're not holding back. They're enthusiastic. I've noticed, as you get older, lots of people lose that and I'm a very enthusiastic person about...most things. Meeting other people who are enthusiastic about life brings me great joy. When you meet a group of friends and they're all complaining about work and you ask about a movie and they're like “Oh, yeah, it was alright”...and you're all like “That was the best movie ever, what's wrong with you?!” It's nice to see people who aren't afraid to be enthusiastic and positive.

I guess you need the odd bubble of positivity now and then.

Exactly. I'm a very positive person and I think the Lolita community is generally quite positive. Not just about Lolita. I find a lot of Lolitas I meet tend to be positive people because if you're passionate about one thing it tends to bleed into the rest of your life. Having something you're crazy about makes you more enthusiastic and a joiner and Lolitas are good at that. They want to be a part of things. I think it's because it's less about the fashion and more about the people. People who are passionate are drawn to the fashion because you need to be really into it takes up lot of time and money. People who are passionate tend to be drawn to Lolita fashion and then, as such, Lolitas, in general, tend to be passionate people.

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(Thanks to Sophie for meeting me, posing and waiting the TWO MONTHS it took for me to transcribe this interview...Apologies. I just HATE transcribing!)

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Friday, 21 August 2015

WhatSalon App


I heard about WhatSalon maybe a couple of months ago when I first got a press release about the app. Thinking it seemed like a good idea and something you guys might be interested in, I decided to try it out. However, the stars obviously weren't aligned that day and my appointment fell through. After that, I forgot about it for a while.

Then, last week, I got another email from the company, this time personally inviting me to try it out. Still intrigued, I jumped at the chance.

WhatSalon is basically an appointment booking app which finds affiliated salons near you and lets you quickly and easily book an appointment for the time and day that best suits you. You also attach your card to the app, paying a small amount of the total ahead of time to reserve your place, meaning that you only have to pay the remainder on the day.

I was told to pick a salon and book a blow dry, also being given €10 credit on my account to cover the booking fee. After a little deliberation I chose the Whetstone Aveda Concept Salon on Parliament Street as it is on my way home and I love both natural and Aveda products. It took probably three minutes to book and the app also allowed me to set a reminder which messaged me the day and also an hour before my appointment. The whole process is just so quick and well thought-out and the app is well-designed and very easy to use - however, I did film a quick walk-through on how to use it above, to help illustrate this post.

The Whetstone was also amazing. Upon arrival I got handed a stack of magazines, a damn good cup of tea and an adorable chocolate cupcake - as they said, you kind of "need one with a cup of tea". I was then introduced to Ronan, who was taking care of me for the day (thanks!). Not only did we have great chats but I was given more magazines and a really decent glass of Prosecco. The end result was also great - perfect for a Friday night of going out with my best besto. It's definitely the place to go before an event to treat yourself and your hair and just the right amount of decadent to make you feel pampered without being embarrassingly fawned over.

The whole experience of both the app and salon was great and I'd recommend it for all the tech-savvy beauty-lovers based in Dublin, or visiting the city. And, wonderfully, I've got a little something to help you give it a go yourself. If you input the unique code WIDEEYED5 into your "wallet" on the app, upon signing up, you'll get €5 credit to use when booking your first appointment!

Hope you guys like it too!

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(I was approached by WhatSalon to review their app and the expenses incurred were covered by the company. However, I have not been paid for this review and all opinions are my own.)

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Transitional Trends SS15-AW15

It's an awkward time of year for dressing, right? Especially in Ireland where the rain is torrential one day and the temperatures are the hottest of the summer the next. I can't say I get it right even most of the time but with fashion, much is about fantasy rather than reality. And in an ideal world I get it right 100% of the time and look perfect while doing it. Goals, amirite?

However, just because getting transitional dressing down is hard, doesn't mean we should just fantasise and give up on reality. We can struggle to not melt or freeze while maintaining a sense of style and a semblance of having your shit together.

Over the past few seasons, I've done trend reports on my own trends rather than regurgitating things you've seen everywhere else. I'm here to do that again today. Of course, I'm picking items that are in stores and I'm not immune to outside influences, ergo these trends aren't a million miles off what is currently in. All the same, it's my personal take on things, bearing in mind the things that are influencing me and that I'm digging in a major way.

1. Denim on denim on denim.

(I've now typed that four times and the word "denim" has lost all meaning to me) Denim is everywhere. Always a staple, it's been especially visible in the past couple seasons and this doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I've also made it a trend I was obsessed with before. However, this emphasis means that the high street also is offering some seriously chic and cool options which has bolstered my obsession. Gimme.

Plus, the last outfit with the flowy lyocell shirt and black Jamie Jeans from Topshop is one I've been wearing alot, being both breezy and loose enough for warmth, and warm enough with a jacket in the evenings.

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2. Dapper AF.

Being dapper is great. You get to walk around feeling fancy. There's also a gamut of dapper for all weather variations from just a good shirt and pants (or structured leggings if the shirt is long enough), to a suit, to a big, elegant, tailored coat. Basically, this look has got you covered no matter what the weather. Plus, layers! Layers are your friend.

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3. Boyish Korean Style.

Last but not least (but favourite, actually), is Boyish Korean Style. My fascination with South Korea this summer has gotten pretty intense. I haven't listened to English-speaking music on more than five occasions in the past four months, am exclusively watching Korean shows and my interest in their cosmetics and clothing brands has intensified. They're just so damn stylish. Especially, in my opinion, the male population. Think skinny jeans, stripes, oversize sweaters and cardigans, funky prints and pops of colour and a blurring of gender lines by Western standards. Right down my alley and comfy as all hell. It's kinda the ultimate transitional way of dressing.

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So, what do you guys think of these trends? Any you're interested in?

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