Fashion, Lifestyle

My never-ending love affair with January sales

Anyone who’s friends with me will know I have a slight shopping problem. Once a week or so my debit card will slip out of my pocket in exchange for a piece of clothing that, at that moment, I just need.

This time of year is the worst for it, as one of the few people who love January (thanks to my birthday being smack bang in the middle of the month), I don’t have that spendthrift attitude that 95% of the world has realised is necessary to finally implement, instead I’m channeling the ‘treat yourself’ mantra. I deserve it… right?

I look forward to the January sales as much as I get excited for the festive season that precedes it. It’s not just a matter of buying a nice new pair of shoes or top, it’s a battle of tolerance, courage, and willpower. The seasoned shopper will know that once November comes, the current season is well and truly in place, and in the space of one short month- well, that pair of boots you’re coveting? It’s gonna be half price. Now, this is where it gets interesting- do you:

A. Buy the shoes, and just hide under a rock come sale time to avoid the financial crushing that is to come?

B. Leave them, and risk it all– assuring yourself that you will be the first one in that sale queue? (N.B. You won’t.)

C. Consider A & B whilst walking around the shops, decide on B- then panic as soon as you get home and end up ordering online and suffering the daylight robbery that is a delivery charge.

Decisions, decisions. I can’t lie, I’m definitely more of an A than a B, but there’s also a magical secret category D I haven’t mentioned. The undiscovered items that appear in your life once final clearance arrives. Some may think that final clearance is literally everyone else’s unwanted crap, but that my friends is where you are wrong. I have picked up some absolute gems over the past couple of weeks at just a third of the price that I never would have noticed on the shop floor- my favourite being a pair of M&S jeans for TEN POUNDS FIFTY. My Pret lunch costs more! For every regret of overspending for an item I’ve had I can now say I’ve purchased an absolute steal to match it. Maybe my next shopping decision should be the art of the capsule wardrobe- although the likelihood of that happening is slimmer than my wallet after my January sales spending.


The season of glitter is over, but I still want to sparkle in every way possible

It was all over in a flash. The build up to Christmas this year felt like the longest period ever, yet the event itself was a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ situation. Now, the festive season is over, 2018 is upon us, and the weather is hideously grey, as if facing the reality we’ve all ignored over the past week and a half wasn’t already punishment enough.

The fact of the matter is that everything is just better at Christmas. We’re at least 10 times more cheerful, although that may have something to do with the constant flow of mulled wine in our bodies, but in truth, one of my favourite things about the month of December is how glamorous everyone is.

The art of dressing for Noel means that all bets are off. Want to wear a Macklemore-esque fur coat at 9am on a Tuesday morning? Go for it. A red lip 5 shades bolder than anything you would ever normally wear? It’s festive. The confidence of Christmas means that people will wear garments that spend the other 11 months of the year hidden in the depths of the wardrobes as they’re ‘special’. And you know what? I refuse to become one of those types.

Many people think that buying clothes doesn’t count as a legitimate hobby, but I think they’re wrong. Practicality does of course have to come into (some) fruition, I’ve caught far too many colds from a lack of layers and injured myself due to unsuitable shoes to argue otherwise. But, one of the beauties of having what some would call ‘far too many clothes’ means that whatever I choose to add will go with at least 3 things I already own. I also like to try and wear everything in my wardrobe as much as life allows, which means packing lightly is pretty much an impossibility (especially when you spend as much time as I do living out of my suitcase.) I also keep up the mantra that if something is just ‘average’, or that disgusting word… ‘nice’ then I won’t buy it. Why should hard earned cash go on ‘meh?’ Now that does mean I frequently may be the most overdressed in the room, but hey, someone’s got to do it.

I feel like more people should adopt this mantra. I’m all for a comfy jumper and jeans if that’s what makes you feel best, but why not go for a sparkly or brightly patterned jumper, one that would normally be reserved for a ‘special occasion’ to brighten yourself and your routine up? If that doesn’t make you feel fabulous then the compliments you most definitely will receive will do the same job. Just keep the Christmas jumper out of bounds until December- even I would say that’s a bridge too far.



The humble puffa jacket

It happened earlier this year. I resisted for so long, with references to Arsene Wenger in the back of my mind. Then, one day, in a Calvin Klein store, I spotted it. Something so beautiful, I had to have it immediately- and I risked getting dangerously close to my student overdraft just to do so. In the space of ten short minutes I became the owner of my very own puffa jacket, something that I never thought would happen. To many, this may seem petty- but as a girl who doesn’t wear jeans, for such a casual item to become one of my main wardrobe staples is actually a bit of a plot twist.

The combination of the words ‘fashion’ and ‘convenience’ is one that often escapes me, and maybe it’s the fact I’ve had one too many colds, or…. shock horror, I actually may be in need a of bit more practicality in my wardrobe, but it has to be said, that puffa; the one that weeks before its purchase I would have turned my nose up at,  reader, it’s well and truly become a mainstay.

Now, it’s as if I’m a woman possessed. As this years puffy, tempting additions began to grace the shop floors, I convinced myself that I needed more. Gold, pink, blue, all these extra coats that definitely have no place in my wardrobe- (and this comes from the girl who owns 20+ coats, and that’s just the ones I wear regularly). If I actually bought the amount of puffa coats I tried on, I’d have bankrupted myself 10x over. So far I’ve managed to resist, but come the January sales- when Christmas money is fresh in my hands and the feeling of festive overindulgence is still my excuse for absolutely everything, I’m pretty sure that gold M&S coat I’ve been coveting will find its way into my shopping basket quicker than I can say ‘puffa’.


The Rise of the Slogan Tee

As soon as we saw the now infamous t-shirt on Dior’s Spring 17 runway informing us ‘we should all be feminists’ the slogan tee confirmed its identity as the must-have piece of fashion in our wardrobes right now.

It’s not as if this trend is entirely a new concept, as we all remember our angsty teen years wearing tops that said ‘attitude’ across the centre. Yet, these t-shirts have been established as one of the most essential items on the UK high street right now. You can grab this must-have garment anywhere you want, and if you don’t have a spare £430 to spend on the high end takes there are lots of alternatives on the high street.

One extremely clever UK-based designer was way ahead of the fashion game and formed her own, celebrity collaborated brand of t-shirts and sweatshirts named Virgo Seven. The creative genius behind the brand is Rachael Boye, 28.

Back in 2014 when first established, the company was called Naked Boutique. Rachael first started her enterprise when she realised her job as a concessions manager at Dorothy Perkins was nothing more than a dead end for her. Rachael says, “I just thought there must be more to life than what I was doing back then!”

This epiphany left led Rachael to research how to create an income by doing something she actually enjoyed. “I’ve always loved fashion, so I just decided to try and make a go of doing something with that.” She laughs, whilst adding, “I wanted my own fashion brand for as long as I remembered, however I’m no artist!” After a co-worker mentioned how funny Rachael was, she realised she could make a trade out of it.

A success story

As the popularity of the business began to grow, Rachael had a change of heart about the name, and decided to change it from ‘Naked Boutique’ to “Virgo Seven”. Why? The new name was just so much more personal for her. “My birthday is in Virgo territory, and when I think about the traits of the star-sign, and how there are so many strong female Virgo icons like Beyonce, the name just seemed to fit!”

It has to be asked, is there a niche in the slogan t-shirt? With a genre that’s been ‘done’ so much in the past, is it even possible to make a whole career of it? In spite of this, for Rachael this doesn’t seem to be an obstacle. In fact, her brand seems to be on the up and has even attracted celebrity attention.

In January 2017 celebrity personality and model Nicola Mclean was seen in the jumpers on Celebrity Big Brother. The viewers LOVED the sweaters, and a collaboration between Nicola and Rachael was born. Rachael and Nicola are now firm friends and are even in talks of expanding the line. Rachael says: “Nicola has been a fan of the brand since we pretty much started which has been fantastic, I was thrilled when i was contacted about working with her.”

Fashion and Feminism

We know that over the years fashion has been used to send a message and what we wear is no longer a matter of just choosing a pretty outfit, people can learn a lot about our beliefs and personality from our attire. Even though the slogan tee can be seen as a ‘fun’ piece of fashion, it can also be topical. As the fourth wave of feminism begins, we can campaign it simply by wearing a t-shirt. This is right in Rachael’s target demographic, and she says, “My brand is all about girl-gang vibes which is super important, especially when we’re living in such a crazy world like we are right now- I mean, Donald Trump is President(!)”

Slogan t-shirts can be more just a lighthearted fashion statement, they can send a message. Rachael doesn’t want to just dress women, she also wants to make them to feel empowered through her pieces. “I think women have a voice which isn’t always listened to and I think the slogan tee is a perfect statement for the independent, sassy female that wants to be heard.

What does the future hold?

On a slightly more negative note, and as we know in the fickle world of fashion, ‘one day you’re in, and one day you’re out.’ We’ve seen so many trends disappear from existence over time, (acid-wash jeans, please stay in hibernation- forever), so does that mean there’s an expiration date for the slogan t-shirt? We fear for the day where they’ll be sent to fashion exile and worry for what that will mean for Virgo Seven. Thankfully, Rachael assures us that she has a plan for the future, and also thinks we should have faith. “I don’t think slogan tees will ever die to be honest. They may not always be at the forefront of fashion, but they’ll always exist in the background, it’s just like denim!”

Whilst her slogan t-shirts will always remain a focal part of Virgo Seven’s core collection, Rachael is currently expanding her brand, and with this, broadening her demographic with a Children’s range, aptly named ‘Virgo’s Child’. Rachael says. “I wanted to take some of our most popular slogans and adapt them to children. So far, I haven’t seen any other independent brands achieve something similar yet, I like to be ahead of the game”.

For this designer the future seems bright, and we’re glad she has everything all planned out. But in the ever-changing world of fashion, we wonder if our own days of wearing our new favourite tops are numbered, and when the time will come for these t-shirts to be reserved purely for the pyjama drawer. Until that time comes we’ll be taking any opportunity we can to show off our favourite snappy slogans.


It’s more than just a handbag, it’s a memory

Hi there, my name is Maria Loizou and I’m a handbag addict. Check me into rehab, throw away the key if you like, but it won’t make a difference- this is one affliction that can never be fixed, and you know what? I don’t even want it to be.

From the moment I began to walk I carried a handbag, God knows what I even put in it… dummies? As a fashion conscious toddler I ensured that I always completed my outfit, and of course, no look would be whole without the humble handbag. I specifically remember having a Disney one, ironically it probably wouldn’t go amiss in something similar to the new Missguided Barbie range, or even a Moschino campaign! Perhaps I actually missed a trick getting rid of the bags, I could have been ahead of Anna Wintour…

I remember my first ever designer bags. One of them, a Mulberry messenger, I still use all the time. The other that doesn’t quite get the same affection anymore is a Juicy Couture bag. Despite the fact I probably will never use that bag again, I could never give it away, it’s a memory! There also may be a chance that Juicy Couture could have a major resurgence… you never know hey?

My 18th birthday was the pinnacle of my handbag career, it was when I bought myself my pride and joy- my Mulberry bayswater bag. However I actually had the money for that at the time is now news to me, as three figures in my bank account right now is a luxury… but at the time I wanted it, and I got it. I even went the whole way and bought it from the Knightsbridge Mulberry branch, gave myself the full, high-end experience. When I left the store, I was thrilled. It sounds pathetic, but there’s nothing like the rush of a big purchase of a bag.

There have been many, beautiful bags since that- a few that are shown on the featured image, and a couple of them have stories of their own. The Louis Vuitton one was my mums- (yes, my handbag addiction is hereditary), and as my mum decides she no longer wants a designer bag, she passes it down to me. I’m now a proud owner of a Louis, Gucci, and Moschino to name a few, and they haven’t cost a penny- so thank you Linda, let me know when you’re fed up of that Chanel…

The bottom left bag, my orange Longchamp has so much more significance to me than I ever thought it would at the time. It was a gift I bought myself as my 23rd birthday present from my Dad, I always had to choose my own gifts as although I love the element of surprise, my poor pa’s tastes weren’t quite up to scratch. Yet, less than a month after my birthday I had the sudden loss of my father. I don’t want to go into that too much, but it now turns out that this handbag is actually the last gift I ever received from my Dad, and I never knew how important that simple handbag would become to me. I knew, like my others I would treasure it, but now it will have more of a significance in my life than ever.

There’ve been bags since, a few too many I may add, but each and every handbag has had a special significance and an individual sort of joy when I’ve had them, and I will continue to see the purchasing of a designer bag as a ‘special moment’ in my life, because they aren’t just handbags, they’re markers of my past. Now I’m going to think about the Prada bag I have my eye on for my next graduation present… to myself of course.