Thursday, 28 May 2015

One-Piece

Bikinis aren't my thing (unless we're talking Bikini Kill, because I'm obvs down with that). See, I don't tend to lounge in a swimsuit. I'm either fully dressed and exploring or actually swimming.

I also have boobs. And a butt. Therefore, teeny triangles of fabric aren't going to cut it.

Even swimsuits that have seemed sturdy and reliable in the past have failed me. There was the one-strap one-piece that looked good on but invariably showed off more arse than I was comfortable with once I started moving. Worst of all, that lack of strap led to an unfortunate incident involving a nip slip that my little brother swears has scarred him for life. Ugh. As if I don't embarrass myself enough as it is.

Then there was the high-waisted bikini from American Apparel that I thought had cured my hatred of bikinis but is so complicated to put on that I haven't worn it in years. And then there was the one-piece with cut-outs that looked cute and innocuous with bows on the hips. On the almost entirely curveless mannequin, it looked sweet. When I walked past a window at the pool while wearing it, I came to realise that on a real body it was almost obscene.

Don't even get me started on string ties or entirely strapless swimsuits...

I mean, why are so many swimsuits and bikinis so poorly designed? Why are there so few options that exist somewhere between hideously frumpy and basically naked?

At this stage, I've come to the conclusion, that for me, at least, it's going to be one-pieces all the way from now on. I just feel more at home in them. So, if you have any of the same qualms as me, here's a list of guidelines I've devised to prevent repeats of my past horror stories and some examples that I think are pretty darn cute.

1. Don't go white if you're actually swimming. Trust me - transparency is not your friend.

2. Strapless + boobs = a serious no-go.

3. Cut-out placement should be carefully monitored as torsos are different lengths...be warned.

4. If you think you've found a good one, make sure to take note of the leg-holes. You might be down for it but, if not, be wary of Baywatch-style suits that can go from risqué to risky.

5. While we're talking nether regions (obviously), just check out the butt of suits. Is there enough fabric there for your liking or is it skimpier than you'd prefer?

6. Complexity isn't fun on the beach. If something requires careful placement or takes ages to put on, you may want to forego it.

7. Don't expect a swimsuit to do miracles. It's the sad truth but no matter how cute it is, you're not going to transform. Things you didn't like about yourself will remain. You either have to learn to live with and accept and try to like those things or change them.

8. Get your sizes right or don't buy. Seriously, even on sale. It's not a saving if you realise you can't wear the damned thing.

9. Maybe invest? Sadly, I've noticed that swimsuit selections are waaayyy better when more money is involved. High-end particularly. And, if you don't get to swim that often, maybe an investment in something you would wear for years is better than ten you never even look at. I have a tankini from far too long ago that still gets cracked out on a regular basis.

10. And, hey, if you like it, fuck what anyone else thinks. Fuck my rules/tips/whatever the hell these are. You do you.

Of course, feel free to disregard everything I've said, they are merely lessons I have learned over the years. All I'm saying is, don't go crazy because something is cute. It might not be right for you and if you have to put on your body and don't want to feel shit about it, it may be best to stop and think for a couple seconds first.

One Piece




Here, we've got a few good options.


1. Heatons, Floral swimsuit, €18

Underwire? Check. Not too skimpy in the crotch areas? Check. Cute as heck/dupe for Dolce? Double check. Also, this is a serious bargain.

2. Cos, Black reversible swimsuit, €55

Thick straps, streamline, minimal and chic and a two-in-one. Basically a classic without looking too much like you stole your grandmother's swimsuit.

3. Batoko, Watermelon swimsuit, €39

Cute, playful, good coverage. The one-piece option for someone who still wants to look fresh and young.

4. Modcloth, Sailor swimsuit, €87

Retro, great on the curves and adorable. A little more pricey but think of the serious Marilyn vibes you'd be giving of, ne?


(Click on the smaller images to shop items.)


So, yeah, that turned into a bit of a rant but I find swimsuits and swimsuit shopping rather a stressful thing. How about you guys?

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Little Gem: Folkster

Last year, I posted about the arrival of Folkster (and sister brands Shutterbug and Gild & Cage) in Dublin with much excitement. A friend worked in the Kilkenny branch and I had creeped on the store online for years but had never experienced it for myself. Ergo the joy when Dublin got her own branch!

It was only recently that I realised I had yet to dedicate a "Little Gem" post to the store.

And obviously that needed rectifying.

Based on Eustace Street, right by the IFI, the store is divided into three main sections. You enter into clothing both new and vintage, alongside jewellery and accessories, proceed through the homewares and gifts and end up in the more formal department where the changing rooms also live. As I mentioned last time, one of my favourite things about the store is that it caters for a wide range of women and budgets. It's somewhere to buy stompy boots and pretty dresses. To pick up a funny card for a friend's birthday or choose a wedding dress. Buy a whole wardrobe update or a statement necklace. Grab a new mug or rug.

There's lots to see and choose from but I never feel overwhelmed or panicky (Topshop Oxford Circus made me break out in a sweat) because it's all masterfully and artfully arranged and organised. You'll also be hard pressed to find nicer staff who have the balance of helping when you're lost while never over-crowding you so down.

If you're nearby and want to support an Irish company, get something a little different, find Fairtrade brands, vintage pieces or get items from labels such as Jeffrey Campbell and Miista (which can be difficult to get your hands on in Ireland), this is the place for you!

P.S. Dat light tho. All shops should be this airy and bright.


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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Lost In Summer

I have a bit of a thing for Western vibes though I loathe Westerns themselves - perhaps due to a childhood of being forced to watch them with my dad.

I guess it's a Hemingway-esque honesty thing. The materials are basic - cottons, denims, hides - and pure in a way. Ornamentation tends to be minimal and, even if it's not actually true, you get a sense that cowboy inspired clothes are made for doing things. And I do love me some menswear inspired pieces.

It's probably also the shoots that go with them. All stark, romantic landscapes. Barren bar one perfectly styled figure.

All of which being the reason why Penneys' latest lookbook had me immediately hooked. I do love a concept that relies purely on the context and setting. Also, the clothes just look amazing - especially for the price points. You gotta give them props, this shoot looks all kinds of perfect.

Bonus: this context is a great way to breathe fresh life into the whole boho, seventies thing that's everywhere at the moment. It was getting rather twee and overdone for a moment there but this is just rugged enough to refresh the palate. Delightful.

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(All rights belong to Penneys/Primark. Reproduced here with permission)

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Yes

I barely know how to begin. So, so many thoughts and feelings are swirling around inside of me. Last night, sleep was fitful, to say the least. I felt panicked, anxious but had no reason to be.

And then a friend on facebook said that this week felt like the run-up to the Leaving Cert to her.

That was it. It was dread. Nerves. Fear.

This Friday, the 22nd of May, 2015, Ireland votes. A referendum has been called for two things: to lower the minimum age for presidential candidates and to legalise same-sex marriage. While the first issue is one that deserves due thought, it's the second that's keeping me up at night.

The consensus is that this will pass. That equality will obviously be granted and justice will prevail. I want to believe this to be true but there are no certainties. Things do not merely happen - people make them happen.

I've spoken about the referendum with friends, family, co-workers, strangers, I've worn my support, promoted it across the 'net. And, yet, I haven't allowed myself to think about it too deeply because the fear is overwhelming: what would happen if it didn't pass? How would it affect the country and people I love so dearly? How would we all handle the rejection? The black and white declaration that we are not the same, not equal in some people's eyes.

Now I can think of little else.

This needs to happen. It must.

On a basic level, I think it insulting that two consenting adults, who have no reason to be kept apart, cannot be married. I think it distasteful that other people get to decide their fate. Democracy is obviously important but some things are sacred and so infinitely personal that it seems crazy to be voting on them.

A yes vote will change marriage - it will make it equally available. But that's it. That's where the change ends. It's already changed in the last couple centuries beyond recognition and those changes have been for the better. For much of the Western world, marriage is something two people in love do to solidify and express that love. Previously it was merely a contract, a way to strengthen business and familial ties, to control the lives and paths of women - change clearly isn't always a bad thing.

Some ask why people need marriage, why civil partnership is not enough. Aside from the increased legal security and privileges that this term carries over the other, it is what it is and means that people are fighting for. Marriage is something most take for granted, some run screaming from and others spend their lives imagining. It is a moment that each life is not empty without but crowns many, where they stand with the human they like most in the world and celebrate their love and vow it in front of the other humans that they are fond of. It is one of the few moments that such groups come together for something so positive, where everyone is literally celebrating the fact that you've found someone you're willing to pledge yourself to forever.

While many marriages fail and many don't believe in them, there's something wonderfully human (and a little full of folly) about them. Something essentially human about them. Which makes denying marriage to people a little like denying their humanity.

I would never normally ask someone to vote one way or another but I am asking you now. Vote. Please, please vote and vote yes. Vote yes for the people you love and have yet to love. For the decency you would like to expect of your neighbour towards you. For love. For the very fact that it's the right thing to do.

I'm fairly certain most of my readers agree with me here and don't need telling to vote yes but I just want to remind you how important it is. Prioritise it. Don't forget or get too lazy. You will regret this in twenty years if you don't. This is a defining moment in our history - be part of it.

To those outside Ireland or who can't vote, I only hope that this passes and you get the right impression of my beloved homeland.

If there is any one thing in this world worth fighting for, it's love.

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Friday, 15 May 2015

Rachel Antonoff & Other Stories

& Other Stories really are killing it with collabs lately.

But, then, they always do.

Fresh off the back of the Vans collab, we have their collection with designer, Rachel Antonoff. And the promo vid is under the creative helm of Lena Dunham. And it stars Zoe Kazan. It's like a Trifecta of female empowerment all wrapped up in the sweetest (yet tailored and professional) pastel bow.

Seriously, though. Everything about this collab is charming and bound to win every girl over. You can't help but smile along with a sense of camaraderie.

The promo vid features Kazan canvassing the neighbourhood in the run up to an election. Sadly, the people who answer the door are less than receptive and laugh in her face, tell her to go away and slam said door in said face. In light of this abuse and negative reaction, she slips into a daydream, imaging a world where she has been made president. Which is where the fun really begins.



I have seen commentary online expressing dissatisfaction with a brand wielding politics and feminism in pursuit of financial gain, noting that the whole thing misses the mark and belittles women. People are, of course, entitled to their opinions but I strongly disagree. I think this video and collection and concepts behind it are right on the money, hitting all my nostalgia buttons. What woman can't relate to being a little girl and imagining being in charge and how good a job you'd do?

A point of contention is Audrey's (Kazan) announcement that she's here to talk about "women, children and small animals". People seem to believe that this is trivialising women's issues but I think the contrary. Not only does it evoke that same sense of childhood whimsy, it also bands together groups that have one important thing in common: they are often vulnerable and made powerless. Now, she could have mentioned LGBT, race or cultural issues but that would make the video into something else entirely.

This is a promo video for a collection. It has commercial interests so, to engage too seriously with hot-button issues would be somewhat shady and disrespectful. It'd be a little closer to when Chanel missed the mark with their protest show. This is referencing things the women buying the collection know and might have faced and intends to give context for clothes intended for women on the go. Not to teach us something or change opinions.

And what it does, it does well. It shows how these items might be worn, the contexts. It makes them seem cute and wantable. It riffs on girl power in a lighthearted way. It references feminism but is not intended as serious feminist discourse.

The clothes are sweet little skirts and collared dresses that could move from office to garden party, slogan tees and sweatshirts proclaiming, "It's Time," and "We Try Harder", suiting and co-ords in slightly off cuts or unexpected materials. It's the items we expect in a working wardrobe given a twist. It's playful. It's chameleon-like - similar to the women dressing in these clothes.

I say all this being previously not particularly well-acquainted with Antonoff's ouevre, not a massive fan of Dunham's brand of storytelling and neutral towards Kazan. But this has actually made me consider all three differently.

And I still love & Other Stories. Obvs.

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