This photo caused great merriment amongst my friends. A few days ago I went into H&M to try on a few things, and this dress look so awful on me that I had to document it.
Obviously, they didn’t have the dress in my size. It looks great in the advertising campaign, and I love the embroidered flowers – what I’m poking fun at is how badly it suited me. But it did get me thinking more about high street dress sizes. I had chosen four things to try on that day and they were all different sizes.
It’s very important to understand your own body shape. None of us are the same, and none of us should feel bad that we don’t fit into the specifications prescribed by fast fashion. I know that I will need to go down a size if I’m trying on a dress that has a fitted bodice and waistline; if the dress is more of a shift, I will go up a size because my hips are slightly bigger. What we choose to wear will also be affected by our mood; there are those days when the only thing to wear is the biggest, baggiest jumper in existence.
I didn’t buy the dress pictured above, but I did buy a black lace dress with a leotard to wear under it.
I had no intention of using the leotard, even when buying the dress. One of the fasteners in the gusset was busted, and I knew that I had a black jersey dress at home that would look better under the lace. But I really like the leotard’s low back and I wanted to find a use for it. It was the perfect thing to go with some jersey fabric that I had bought for a few dollars a while ago, which had been sitting on the top of my enormous pile of fabric, waiting to be used.
I cut a simple, A-line skirt from the fabric and stitched it to the waistline of the leotard. When I was happy with its position, I cut off the bottom of the leotard. I’m pleased that I’ve found a use for the leotard, which I had seen as just something that came with the dress I wanted to buy. I hate throwing anything away, which is why that pile of fabric in my sewing room is so large.
Spring has arrived and it’s hotting up in Sydney. It’s already 28oC on this glorious Sunday and it’s not yet 9am. I’m looking forward to some warmer weather, but I’m less ecstatic about the high UV warnings. Living in Australia, I battle daily with keeping cool and avoiding skin cancer. With this in mind, I’m bringing back peddle-pushers.
Does anybody even remember peddle-pushers? Very popular in the 90s and early 2000s. I had a trendy older cousin who gave me her cast-offs when I was 10 years old and I can still remember the excitement of trying on those patterned shirts and crop-tops and knee-length trousers. Growing up with brothers, it was wonderful to receive something that wasn’t ripped or that boxy boy-shape. My cousin’s clothes were pretty and fashionable.
When it got too hot last summer, I bought a pair of black beach-trousers to wear to work and sweltered through those recurring heatwaves. My manager looked at me pityingly and said that I could wear shorts, but all my shorts were ripped denim, and far to short to wear to the office. This time around I’m going to be well-prepared.
A few weeks ago I went into Topshop and got yet another pair of black jeans. I now have three pairs: one plain, one embroidered and now one pair chopped. I also took my scissors to a pair of jeans from Brandy Melville which I’ve had for a few years.
I’m leaving a raw hem on the black pair. I’m going to see how they wear for a few weeks, but if the fraying gets out of hand I’ll run a stop-stitch 1cm from the bottom. The blue jeans had a wider leg, so I have been able to re-use the bottom hem which is wide enough to sit just below my knee.
We went to Ikea on the weekend and bought the biggest shelving unit we could find. I call it our hobby chest, and about a third of it is taken up with my sewing and knitting paraphernalia. I made these fabric buckets to hold my knitting projects.
Here’s how to make a fabric bucket:
- Choose an outer fabric and a lining fabric and cut a circle out of each, and a rectangle with width that is equal to the circumference of the circle. The height of your lining rectangle should be double that of your outer fabric rectangle, so that you can make a border at the top.
- Pin the rectangle to the circle as follows:
3. Do the same with the lining pieces.
4. Slot the lining bucket into the outer bucket, fold the lining rectangle over the top of the outer rectangle and sew together:
Choose relatively thick fabrics for your buckets like denim, cotton twill or furnishing fabrics. You can even stitch metal rods inside to make the bucket stand up on its own. Three rods are best, evenly spaced around the edge. I haven’t used rods, but I find the buckets stand up nicely when they are stuffed with skeins of wool.
One of the things I’ve missed since moving to Sydney is London Fashion Week. So, when I got wind of the dates of Fashion Week in Melbourne, I booked my flights! I had been warned how cold it can get in Melbourne so I went armed with my pink fur coat.
I went for three days and crammed in as much as possible. I went to the opening runway show, featuring designers from Victoria, and had the chance to chat to some newly-emerging designers about their business models for sustainable fashion.
RMIT fashion students’ final collections
I made this fur coat over a year ago but never wore it. Every now and then I would take it out of the wardrobe and try it on, but it looked so large and awkward that I would put it back again. I have 2 rules for wearing strange and outlandish clothes. The first rule is, wear it regardless – wear it with everything, all the time, and very soon it will become your favourite item. But my second rule is, if you still haven’t had the courage to wear something out of the house after a year, then alter it.
I love the process of sewing so much that I have a very large collection of clothes. And I tend to feel guilty if those clothes languish in my wardrobe unworn. Altering clothes can be scary because you run the risk of ruining a garment. But, as I took the scissors out of my sewing box, I reasoned that I wasn’t wearing the coat anyway, so it was worth the attempt.
The first thing I did was cut the bottom half off, so that the coat became a jacket. Then I added a dart in the back to nip in the waist because a neater, fitted finish worked better with the new length.
I wore it out for the first time last night. At first, I felt a little silly, standing at the bus-stop in a yeti costume. But, after a lovely dinner and a walk around Sydney Vivid’s light displays I started to feel more comfortable. Back to the first rule: wear anything with confidence and it will look stylish. Plus, it was a cold evening and faux fur is super warm!
Berlin Syndrome is the story of Clare, an Australian back-packer visiting Berlin, whose romantic encounter with Andi very quickly turns into a nightmare.
A lot of the criticism for this film has centred on the opinion that the female protagonist’s actions are unbelievable. ‘Women travelling alone are supposed to follow certain rules,’ runs the first line of one review. I take issue with this argument on two grounds: firstly, it’s fiction and if the protagonist did nothing then there wouldn’t be a story. Besides, one look at Max Riemelt and, wouldn’t we all go? But, more importantly, isn’t it disturbing that society has such a strict, moral conduct code for women?
On Wednesday evening I went to a talk at UNSW: ‘What’s Feminism got to do with it?’ and sat for an hour entranced by Roxane Gay, fantastic writer and self-styled ‘bad feminist’. Never has there been another movement more self-criticising than feminism, she pointed out. She said a lot of great things, but I was particularly struck by her comments on sexual abuse. If a woman comes forward seeking justice, she is barraged by questions, mostly about what she did and what she should have done.
Berlin Syndrome has echoes of Bluebeard. From the male protagonist’s point of view, the woman does something wrong, she ‘takes the bait’, and must be punished for it. We can watch this film (or read this book) and understand that this is not normal behaviour. But, what makes this story so captivating, is the possibility that Clare is just as messed up as Andi. It’s a disturbing thought, and it’s not for everybody. Which is why three people walked out of the cinema in the first thirty minutes.
Went into Topshop yesterday. The denim and sweats were a riot of colour – everything was embroidered with flowers. I bought a new pair of black jeans and, when I got them home, I thought I’d jazz them up a bit.
Mollie Makes has a fantastic library of embroidery stitches:
I spent a bit of time practising, then went to work on my jeans.
I got this idea from Wool and the Gang (first picture) to decorate one of the many jumpers I knitted this year. I used a crochet hook to make some woolen chains and spelled out my message of choice.
I’ve put on weight. I blame it on all the avocados I’ve eaten since moving to Sydney. I’m still on the skinny side, so that extra inch around my middle is going to see me through the winter, but I didn’t take it into consideration when I bought a new pair of jeans.
I’m still buying my clothes from UK stores online and when the jeans arrived I realised I should have gone up a size. I didn’t want to go through the bother of organising an exchange, so I did the next best thing: an alteration.
The stripe came from a pair of leggings. I have four pairs of black leggings and haven’t worn any of them since moving to Australia, so cutting them up wasn’t all that painful. I snipped up the seams of the jeans and sewed the stripes in. I had to cut through the waistband, which was nerve-wracking, but I folded the striped over at the top to match the rest of the waistband, and at the bottom of the jeans to continue the hemline.
Happy International Women’s Day!
To celebrate, I’ve packed up a few items for the clothing drive at UNSW ‘Dress for Success’. The charity provides work-appropriate attire ‘to improve the employability of women’.
I think this is a great idea because a good first impression can make all the difference. And a great outfit is a real confidence-booster for any interviewee.
My tips for dressing for job interviews:
- Think about the type of job you are applying for and dress accordingly. A suit is not always necessary, sometimes smart-casual is enough.
- Wear clothes that fit properly, that are comfortable and that make you feel great. Poorly-fitting clothes will change the way you walk and sit, and will be a distraction without you even realising it.
- Wear something that’s memorable. I included a pair of bright blue trousers in my bag for ‘Dress for Success’ and I really hope somebody picks them out! A flash of colour amongst all those black-suited candidates will be hard for any interviewer to forget.