Monday, 26 January 2015

Little Gem: Castle & Drury

Much as I desperately love Dublin, it sometimes feels like an overstuffed closet - full of things you like but don't love. The high street dominates leaving little room for anything else. Or that was the case until recent years. The Recession gave more and more people the impetus to try make their dreams come true - if there's no guarantees, you may as well take risks. This meant shops opened that might not have during the Celtic Tiger. 

Only opened in the past few months is menswear store Castle & Drury - one of several cool, independent menswear stores that have popped up as of late. Based at the corner of Castle Market and Drury Street, it's poised in the part of city centre that's a wee bit more off the beaten track and far enough away from Grafton Street to do more interesting things. They stock labels like Han Kjobenhavn, Libertine-Libertine, Mads Norgaard, Bleu de Paname, Wood Wood, YMC and more. 

You should expect to pay more than you would at Topman or Zara but a glance at how the clothes are made or a feel of the fabrics show the investment in quality. There's a serious streetstyle vibe and a bit of the Scandinavian takeover that's been steadily sweeping over the city with more Scandi brands being carried in SS15. And it's just a bit of a breath of fresh air to shop in. From the perfect decor to the enviable flattering lighting in the dressing room to the gorgeous bright space upstairs that's flooded with natural light.

A must for any fashion-conscious man in the city, really. 

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Seriously Super Smoothie

So, today I'm, again, doing something a little different on the blog. I've done a recipe just once before as part of a DIY with visually underwhelming but satisfactorily tasty results. That was more of a "give it a go" post but this is a "I know this is good" post. And it's my own invention. It's my matcha smoothie that's tasty, healthy and a serious energy-boost for the start of your day.

Here's what you'll need.

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1 Banana
1 tbsp of Chia Seeds
1 glass of Orange Juice (Not from Concentrate is best)
2-3 tbsp of Natural Yoghurt
2-3 handfuls of berries
A teeny, tiny amount of Sweet Matcha

1. Chuck the juice in the blender first followed by the yoghurt.

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2. Peel, break up and throw in the banana. Add the berries and Chia seeds (AN: Full of nutrients, antioxidants, protein, fibre and other good stuff).

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3. The next thing is what makes this smoothie special. Matcha was all over the place recently in its traditional form served in a matcha bowl at sixty degrees for immediate consumption and as a tea latte or teapuccino for a more pleasurable experience. While I love and utterly believe in the boost in energy that matcha (a powered green tea from Japan) can give (i.e. it's how I pleasantly survived a day in work after finishing my thesis and only getting two hours sleep), I just don't enjoy it. I don't think I ever will. However, thrown into this smoothie, you get all the benefits without the overpowering flavour. I chose to use sweet matcha as its flavour is less intense than the regular variety but, be warned, it's not actually very sweet. The rest of the ingredients here pull together so that you don't even notice the matcha. You need the tiniest amount, a matcha spoonful or a thin layer of a teaspoon. Don't heap loads in!

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Also, it will go everywhere. There is no avoiding this with matcha.

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5. You can probably tell that my fruit is frozen from the picture above. I like to do this to preserve the fruit for longer for use but also so the smoothie is chilled without the need to add ice. It does mean you have to blend the crap out of it to make sure everything is liquefied but it's worth it!


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And then you get this delicious beast! A great breakfast - filling, tasty, relatively good for you and with a caffeine kick!

What do you think? Up for giving it a try?

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Clothing Chats: Marc Jacobs fails to impress my brother...

Instead of doing a regular show review, I decided to start a new series where I record a discussion between myself and someone less knowledgeable about fashion or less interested in it or someone who isn't part of the target audience. Basically people with fresh, less biased opinions. 

Today, I begin with me and my little brother discussing Marc Jacobs AW15-16 Mens.

***

Me: So, I'll show you through the looks and see what you make of it...what about the first look?


Le Bro: It looks like a woman from the 1920s.

The 1920s? Do you not think the hair and styling is more nineties?

Wait...is that a woman or a man?

A man.

Oh, it looks like a woman cross-dressing in the 1920s.

So...you're saying the clothes are like something from the 20s but the hair is throwing you off?

Yeah...heh...

Okay...what about this one?


He just looks like he doesn't give a shit.

(Scrolls)



Okay, so, it's a bit of a jump there. Throwing in an animal print.

Oh, that's interesting.

Would you wear animal print?

No. And it looks like he does't want to wear it either. He looks pretty disgusted with it, to be honest.

....


Okay, the styling is a bit funny because...y'know...fashion. But look at the entirety of the look.

I don't approve of the hat. Even if he was wearing it right. It's just an ugly, ugly hat.

Oh-ho-ho-kay. There you go, Mr Jacobs!


Em...so that's a bit more normal.

What about the hem-length? That's where they're changing it up a bit.

Is that the shirt? (Points to end of shirt at the back, peeking out from under the jumper)

Yeah.

Oh. I don't like that the back is longer than the front.

'cause that's something that's been a thing in women's clothes for quite some time now.

It looks very rigid. It looks like he's wearing cardboard. And the shoes are very clunky looking.

Em, I think everything's just been pressed to look very sharp and stylised.

...


He looks like a Death Eater or something. His handbag is certainly interesting. His coat's nice though. I'd probably wear that. Again, I wouldn't wear the hat...that one's not ugly, I just don't like that sort of hat. The other one was just plain ugly. I don't know what he was thinking with a white hat...Fucking manky...

(Muffled laughter) White hat... (Laughs again)


Oh, I'd wear that. Not with that shirt but...


Just no. It looks like a mix between a bathrobe and an Aran jumper.

Well, I think it is going for an Aran jumper and I think the whole collection - what I'm getting from it - is trying...

Is it Irish?

Maybe not Irish but kind of fifties, sixities, classic pieces. So, this is like the way men used to dress. But the styling is a bit more nineties.


...they seem to all be kind of a similar theme...

Well, yeah, that's what they do with collections. They try to make them cohesive as if they've all been inspired by the same things. So, this is the print you liked before in the suit.

I like that coat.

Yeah, it's a good classic trench with a twist.


No, I don't like that.

What about it?

Anything. I don't like the mix. I don't like the colours. I don't like how it all looks together. I don't like the leather jacket.

Yeah, I'm not sure about it either.

I'm very picky when it comes to leather jackets.

I just don't think the cut of it is very nice. It's kinda cheap-looking.

That pocket looks stupid. Actually, it makes him look fat too.

I think that might be the stance.


Okay, now he's just trying to be a pimp.

(Laughing)

Em...no. It'd be too warm. I know there'd be an awful smell. The boots are kind of nice.

Well, I'm assuming it's probably faux.

Yeah, well, even if it's faux you're just asking for smell-collecting in that.


(Laughs) He looks like a bird.

Again, this is something that's been around in women's clothes...that kind of fuzzy fabric.

Oh...it's kind of like...what was I watching? Charlie Haughey's (Former Irish Prime Minister) mistress used to wear a coat kind of like that. I can see a French woman wearing that, to be honest.

A French woman...I see.


Oh good lord! It's like a massive scarf.

...yeah, that's what it is.

Looks like he's a thumb.

He looks like a thumb?!

(Both laugh)

Huge scarves are coming in next AW - why can't capes come in? - They were already in for women this AW. Capes? Capes are kind of always in when they're done right.

No, I mean cloaks that go around here (points to neck and shoulders) and is a big wintery one (stands and gestures wildly) that goes down to here (points to floor).

Em. Well, that's a hard look to pull off, I have to say.


That's kinda cool.

Yeah, I like that.

That looks like something Joey Ramone would have worn.

Who? 

Joey Ramone. 

Oh. Eh, maybe too much colour for him though.


Ehhh...not a fan of any of that really. The scarf's okay but the rest looks like he went into a vintage shop and picked out the least fashionable stuff possible...No, not least fashionable but looks like he picked out the smelliest stuff possible. 

Smelliest? (Laughs)


Poorly styled lecturer.

(Laughs)


That's slightly better. I still don't like it though.


That's a funky coat. He seems to be wearing the same trousers in everything.


(Leans forward and squints) What kind of cardigan is that?...I think there's too much going on there, to be honest. It looks like he's wearing a zoot suit with a cardigan from the sixties.


He looks like something from an anime. I like that. 

It's very streamlined.

I don't like double-breasted jackets though.

I don't normally either. I'm not sure about the colour as well but I like the whole look.


Now he looks like a PHD student who's trying to be a lecturer but knows he shouldn't dress exactly like him but he's failing in every respect.

Wow.


That's probably the worst thing I've seen so far. White jacket? I'm sorry but that's just not something anyone can pull off. 

I have a white jacket.

Sorry but no.

Ooookayyy.


I like that. I like the blazer.


That just looks like it doesn't fit right to me. 

The whole thing looks like - you know those little boys that would be forced to dress up for dinner in the early 20th century?

Only with shorts.

Yeah. It looks really uncomfortable and like "Ohhh, bring me hooome."

It's just...it's open too high.

You shouldn't be able to see his shirt.

Yeah, the button should be lower. 

He looks like he hates it.

So, overall, what are you taking away from Marc Jacobs AW15?

Em, is this high fashion?

It's Ready-to-Wear. Couture isn't really a thing for men.

Well, I was thinking if it was high fashion, it was really low-key. It doesn't seem too bold except for that weird scarf thing.

So pretty safe?

Everything seems like a re-hash of things that have been going around for 300 years.

Well, that's kind of fashion. It's just whether you can put the right new spin on it.

None of it's new.

Well, few of us have truly original ideas.

Still, I was expecting a dress or a half-dress or a silk handkerchief or something.

So, what you expect from a fashion show is that they put a man in a dress? To innovate?

No, just something new

***

Quite a harsh review of Marc Jacobs AW15-16 from Le Little Bro but entertaining and interesting to get the opinions of someone outside of fashion at length. I might not agree with much of what he said but I think it's good to be pulled back from the unquestioning enthusiasm show reivews can sometimes lull me into. It's good to be aware, to think more deeply, examine our reactions.

What did you think?

(Images via vogue.co,uk)


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Sunday, 18 January 2015

My New Shopping Rules

I can be a bit of a hoarder - a trait I get from Daddy - and while I once dreamed of an overflowing wardrobe, I've now come to realise how little I actually want that! I mean, it's a bit of a nightmare really. You end up having lots of a things you never wear that hide the things you're actually looking for. You forget about half the things you own and you get overwhelmed by how stifling too much choice can be. Most of us have lived the cliche of pulling everything out of a closet and still feeling like you have absolutely nothing to wear.

I've also been becoming less satisfied with the contemporary relationship with clothes, material goods, shopping and wastefulness. Don't get me wrong, I'll still always love the shows and new collections but I can admire without possessing. I basically just want to invest in good, long-wearing pieces I adore from now on instead of amassing an abundance of things I could very much live without. I don't want to weigh myself down with things anymore and I'm rather concerned about my carbon footprint. "Less is more" has been my philosophy for a while when styling and I want to make it apply to obtaining as well.

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In accordance with these feelings and going in to a new year, I've had two clearouts of my wardrobe - one before Christmas and one after all the new items received as gifts etc. I donated much of what I took out of there but I plan to sell higher-end pieces in order to create that investment fund for future purchases. I was going to use ebay to do this but Ciara O'Doherty's post on de-cluttering your wardrobe reminded me of Siopaella, a designer consignment store in Dublin that buys pieces to sell on. You could also keep a bag of stuff to one side for a clothes swap event or use an app like Depop. I just like the idea of being able to drop stuff off when it suits me and do a transaction without the muss and fuss of posting. I think selling items makes it much easier to part with them and the combination of donation and earning cleans out your wardrobe while giving your soul a bit of a polish and replenishing your bank account.

I've also set myself some new rules which I'm going to try and enforce from now on when shopping.

1. Replace rather than replicate.

There are certain pieces I love and live in - boyfriend jeans, massive coats, slip-on shoes, ankle boots. And as I rarely go a day without wearing one of these items, it makes me feel justified in having multiples of them. While I think it is actually fair enough to have two maybe three of these types of items, I've gone way overboard with coats and boots. Moving forward, however, I'm only allowing myself to buy these pieces when another has to be thrown out or replaced.

2. Try Things On (or, "If it doesn't look good' get rid of it").

I am atrocious for being too lazy to try things on. Which means I had a lot of things in my closet that didn't fit or look right. If a piece is worth it, I'm all about having things altered but if the basic shape or colour or length doesn't look right on you, chuck it. Wearing these items will only make you anxious or feel bad about yourself and ain't nobody got time for that. And for the love of God, don't buy items for when you lose weight. That one motivation dress is fine but half a wardrobe of things that don't fit will only weigh you down and discourage you - you are worth way more than that kind of nonsense. (This obviously doesn't apply to pregnancy) From now on, I'm trying things on and if they don't work, no matter how cute, I'm not going to waste money, space and energy hoping this will magically change.

3. Alter Your Outlook.

Conversely, I really do believe in alteration. Don't get me started about how ridiculous women's dress sizes are (I mean, at least use standardised measurements rather than numbers that forward the agenda of your brand) but the whole idea of RTW is somewhat preposterous. Yes, off the rack garments are handy but we're all so different that they rarely work. My advice is to have important pieces altered. If you've found the perfect white shirt but it doesn't fit your boobs right or the sleeves or hem are too long - don't leave it behind!

4. Don't Settle.

You've been after a leather jacket or the perfect cropped trousers or satchel or whatever for absolutely ages. You've lost hope that you'll ever find it. I've been there - I'm still hunting for a white shirt I really love. But unless you need the item right away resist accepting second best. I always see pieces vaguely like what I'm after but not quite right and because they're on sale or just because they're right in front of me, I buy them. A few times. And then I have two or three items like what I want but not what I want. If you have to save for a while or wait a little longer, it's worth it.

5. Shop with your eyes, hands, heart and head.

Increasingly, I'm trying to think more about what I'm buying - to use my head and my senses. I've been shopping with my hands for a while because we wear garments, not just appreciate them from afar so I don't want artificial fibres that create static or any materials that don't feel good against the skin. I also attempt to be more aware of where the garment is coming from and check the labels. I try to feel the quality and look at how the piece has been made. In other words, I try not to be blinded by how something looks and think about its origins, use and future.

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6. Avoid Sales.

Unless I've been keeping my eye on something, waiting for the price to be a little more reasonable. Otherwise, I'll avoid sales from now on. I know they're tempting but bargains are false economy if they're using up money you could save for something you really want and need.

7. Learn to Shop without buying or Just Don't Shop.

I often accompany friends or family members as their fashion eye for advice when they need an outfit for a occasion or general wardrobe updates - I've been known to do wonders for small budgets. But just because I'm shopping doesn't mean I have to buy something. Same goes for holidays - you may want a memento but can photographs and memories themselves not suffice? These are the moments you buy things you really don't want or need.

8. Want vs. Need vs. Can't Live Without.

Speaking of wants and needs - it's good to start distinguishing between these. I've always had a "standard" to shop by which was to only buy things I couldn't imagine leaving the shop without. However, I'm not always strict enough with myself on this one. From now on, I'm going to stick by all my above rules with the caveat that I can cheat if I absolutely adore something.

9. Go Shopping When the Mood is Right.

This one's important. Just as I try not to buy just because I'm shopping, I try not to buy the wrong things because I'm hungry, too warm, bored, tired or not feeling good about myself. If you're not feeling it, take a break, have a coffee or tea and come back to it or leave it for another day. Try not to get too warm and don't let yourself get hungry. It's easy to just buy something because you're fed up and want to go home. And dressing rooms have some of the least flattering lighting and mirrors that can completely discourage you which can put you off point number two and leave you buying things you haven't tried on that don't fit.

10. Always Have a List In Mind.

Finally, I'm going to allow myself buy at most one item of clothing or an accessory a month but I'm going to keep a list of items in mind that my wardrobe needs - key pieces, basics, replacements, upgrades. This means that if I do have an urge to shop, it'll only be for something I really need and am going to use. Having a plan in mind makes it a lot easier to avoid buying pieces that are too attached to a particular trend or that you don't really want.


Okay! That ended up being a lot of words but I hope they helped some people out....not least of all me. Let me know if you have similar aims and any tips for staying on track!


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Thursday, 15 January 2015

How to feel about Galliano now?

I've put this post off for a couple of days as I wasn't really sure how I felt and I wanted to give myself time to think about it. But I did want to discuss Galliano's Margiela return and what I made of it. As kids we're told to forgive and forget - to move on and not hold grudges. Kids' movies are often sprinkled with messages about how we should give people second chances. Redemption is a theme all over every medium known to man.

But is this really true of adult life? Are there some things that are just unforgivable? I would argue that there are. Yet. is it even our place to choose whether or not to forgive people we do not know and will probably never meet?

It's not my place to judge the failings of others, their lapses in judgement. We merely have to trust that the structures around us (ideally) will deal with these indiscretions and make the legal judgement calls for us all. But I often struggle with these issues when it comes to artists or creators. Can you separate art and artist? Can you enjoy the work of someone who has done things you morally object to? My normal way of rationalising this is to consider how much of a fan of their work I am. If I find I can easily live without it, I do so and give the matter no further consideration. Otherwise I consider if their behaviours that I disagree with are continued, if they have apologised and if I am putting money directly into the pockets of a terrible person.

In the case of Galliano, I tried to judge how I felt objectively about his return to fashion. I tried to make sure I wasn't merely being wooed by his talent and forgetting everything I stood for. Of course, my liking his collection for Margiela (which I did) isn't going to impact him financially as a person as I won't be buying anything from it and that's not really the point of couture anyway. But, my having a voice (no matter how small) on the internet will have some teeny bit of an impact and I wanted to use it lucidly and fairly. Galliano has been missed - a rare and wonderful thing in fashion. To be so creative and impactful that your absence is noted is not something many can truly boast in the industry. The excitement his billing added to the season is not to be underestimated when so much of fashion is hype or ennui. To label him a genius is probably not to over-exaggerate. That he has apologised for the infamous incident that led to his disappearance for the past few years must also be considered and that he has returned to fashion with work firmly in mind and theatrics of old left behind. Much as we might miss that aspect of his shows - this just all seems so very respectful, if not remorseful.

Then there's the collection itself. The collision of two such big names. Two names that seem incompatible of paper. And yet, the garments speak for themselves. There's that whimsy and sense of romance of a different era that we've missed, made into a slightly different beast - more modern, sharper. You sigh at the beauty while also thinking, "Damn, that's a nice blazer. I could wear that". Wearable whimsy. Something closer to the lost art of couture that Cardin spoke of. That the pieces remind me of a fairytale with coiling, roiling beasts, jesters, warriors, witches and royalty present endear them to me further. There's something akin to storytelling present. I almost didn't want to like this collection but I cannot help it - I'm utterly enamoured. That Galliano can be so true to himself and his new house is no mean feat and that he is the first named designer for Margiela since the departure of its namesake says something. It speaks to his skill, his long servitude of fashion and the value still connected to his name.

So, where does that leave me? Somewhat conflicted still but unwilling to fight my love for what I see. Encouraged by how it was handled. Wanting to believe in second chances.

And dying to step into that fairytale on the runway.














(Images via vogue.co.uk)

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