Tuesday, 12 April 2016

STYLE DISSECTION: JESSA JOHANSSON AND MICKEY DOBBS


I'm cheating a bit today and covering the style of two women at once.  Two girls one post (sorry).  But there's a reason for it!  I am a fan of women being portrayed as messy, flawed and complicated.  We don't see enough of that, it's still the case that a lot of female characters in film and TV shows are foils for the male lead's dysfunction.  He has to change so he can win the girl, because she's a prize.  Or the kooky, yet completely morally and emotionally sound, lady is there to coax him out of his more troubled ways by playing a weird flute she got in Guatemala, or by dancing in the rain to his favourite song.  If the woman is the lead (and I'm mainly talking about in romance or comedy films here) she's got problems, sure, but they're more of the "Why can't I keep a man?" "When will I have a baby?" "Why can't I stop falling over and bumping into things?" "Look how much ice cream I eat when I'm sad - I'm the worst!" type.

Jessa Johansson and Mickey Dobbs are not those women.  They're both addicts in varying stages of recovery.  Now there is a point to be made that possibly the only progress we've achieved is the introduction of a new flaw a woman on TV/film can have - addiction.  So we're still seeing women who aren't outright dysfunctional all on their own, there's a clear cause for it which leads to the idea that all they need is someone to "fix" them and then they'll be manic pixie dreamgirls, but still, it's a bit of progress.  And if you do want to see women who are immoral and do messed up things while not under the influence of a substance then I can sneakily point you to this piece I wrote about unhinged fictional women for Vice.

Aaaaanyway.  If there is a petition doing the rounds for a spin-off from Girls that just shows the lives of Jessa and Adam, I want to sign it.  This season in particular I've been loving her so deep and so strong, and also I feel like her pared-down-earth-child-look is spot on.  She's lost a lot of the floaty styles she was into in previous seasons and instead seems to be dressing a little more simply.  Which I guess makes sense as she's a bit less chaotic.  Although in the first episode she did deliver the line, " I just bathed in the stream and then I ran through the field to dry myself".  But it's been uphill from there (although for the record I've always loved her look).  

I'm gonna start with Mickey Dobbs though.  I actually wanted to watch Love because my buddy Laetitia had written about the style of Gillian Jacob's character on her excellent blog.  In fact if you want you should just go read that instead of the waffle I'm about to lay out for you.  I think it's the first time I've wanted to watch a new show to see the clothes someone is wearing.  Luckily Love didn't disappoint.  I actually felt a bit weird and icky in my feeling place (what a disgusting sentence) after finishing it.  

MICKEY DOBBS 


This outfit is the best way to introduce Mickey - a red swimsuit worn with jeans (agree with Laetitia that they're probably the Levis wedgie ones, or maybe some Reformation 501s) with clogs for when she's going out, and then a big plaid shirt and Adidas sliders with socks when she just needs a coffee the next day.  

What I like most about the outfits for Mickey (and Jessa too) is that they're so easy to re-create or be inspired by.  You probably already have a pair of high-waist jeans in your wardrobe, and if you don't then there's probably a reason for that and you can just ignore this style completely.  Thanks to the excellent work of Patricia Field et al, fashion on TV in the 90s and 2000s got seriously serious.  Even on shows like Buffy or Friends where even the most average looking maxi skirt was probably way out of most of the audience's budget.  Then we got into batshit territory with shows like Gossip Girl, and even Mindy Kaling's character in Mindy, were mainly wearing designer and carrying Chanel.  I have no problem with that, it's cool, but it's even cooler to be able to go online and find the actual shirt your girl is wearing in a scene and then actually be able to afford it.  





A couple of things here.

1. The letterman jacket.  I am a collector of these, and then I feel a bit weird when I wear them in the US as I'm British and bad at sports.  So I like seeing Mickey in one.  I also like that she's wearing it over a denim jacket with the sleeves cut off.  Do people call that a denim vest?  To me vests are thermal and you wear them under  your school blouse. 

2. The rings.  As a person who likes rings and wearing a lot of them all at once, I applaud her fingers.  With my fingers. 

3. The ankle boots.  Mickey wears these with most outfits (except when she's in her clogs.  Love a girl who loves clogs).  Again, this goes back to the point above - it's so nice to see a character looking cool and stylish but not just because an amazing wardrobe person has sourced a new pair of Miu Miu heels straight off the catwalk.  

4. Andy Dick.  He was so good in this episode. 



 

It's just a vest and some frilly shorts (which I think could be these ones from Topshop) and some Minnetonka slippers, but it's perfect for hanging out.  And now we're on the subject, why DO women in TV shows always wear high heels and body con dresses when boys come over?  They've put those high heels on just to walk around on their carpet?  I'm seriously questioning everything I've ever seen on telly shows. 



I could put this outfit together in five seconds without spending a single euro, dollar or pound.  It would involve stealing one of my husbands T-shirts which I think he's actually wearing right now, but he'll get over being topless in public.  Also, the boots again.  And look how dusty they are - she loves those boots, she wears them every day, she'll be gutted when the soles inevitably crack and then she can't find another pair in her size.  The hours she'll burn on ebay trawling "buckle boots chloe inspired black ankle boots" on her phone.  I also really like how Mickey is pale as fuck.  I am also pale as fuck.  But this isn't about me.




So simple, so perfect.  Just some Carharrt dungarees and a white T-shirt.  I also love how her hair is a bit slick, we all get a bit of grease, it's nice to see it on TV.  And it's actually something she has in common with Jessa.

JESSA JOHANSSON


From one pair of dungarees to another.  And look, clogs!  It's so easy to find a pair of navy dungers or overalls these days that I can't believe babies aren't just born wearing them.  I love her plait too, and the ribbed olive roll neck is one of those things I would never think to get, but if I had one I'd probably wear it all the frickin' time.


FYI Alexa Chung's collection with M&S went live today and there's a dress for sale that's a bit like this one.  I like how Jessa (and Jemima Kirke IRL) wears button down maxi dresses like this and then unbuttons it so it's got quite a substantial split.   I dunno, I like when I see how people wear their shiz. 


Jessa and Adam, be still my heart.  And look!  They're both wearing worn out worker boots.  Like Mickey Jessa is a fan of high-waist jeans and an overload of rings.  Oh and it's another ribbed top! 



And it's yet another ribbed top with jeans!  Off the shoulder though - very on trend J J. 

Below is my favourite of Jessa's outfits so far this series.  I had to screengrab it, so apologies for the low quality, but it's SO IMPORTANT TO ME THAT YOU SEE THIS MAGIC. 




It's so simple, just jeans with a bit of kick flare, a yellow and white striped top, and them clogs again.  But damn I love it so much.  No wonder Adam is kissing that denim, it's perfect.

I'm gonna end on a pic of Jessa in a kimono, just to silence all the pre-season 5 Jessa fans out there.  And apologies for the fact I'll be leaving my hair a bit greasy, wearing high-waist jeans, rib tops, clogs (my current favourites are these ones from Funkis, and these ones from Clarks), and letterman jackets for the summer.  Red lipstick too, naturally.


Tuesday, 22 March 2016

WORST NAME FOR THE BEST JEANS + MY DREAM CLOGS


  



I got me some wedgie jeans.  Just typing that word in relation to an item of clothing makes me shudder.  Why would you want to associate a piece of clothing with the idea that it's uncomfortable? The crazy thing is these jeans are the best jeans I've ever owned.  They're designed to fit tighter on your waist and looser on your thighs, then they, um, lift up your bum.  They're also mainly cotton so they don't stretch.  Too many of my jeans have to be washed every time I wear them because they've got baggy in the space of one tube journey.  It's the most I've ever spent on denim in one go, but they're worth it (for me).  Just why that name?  To get more clicks?  What other names did they consider? Vomit Slacks?  "They're so good they'll make you barf with love".  Or Fart Mufflers? "They do wonders for your bum, and the smells that come out of it". 

Also got to talk about these clogs.  I have this thing about clogs.  They're so comfortable and go with everything, and I like that they're a clunky chunky shoe.  The wooden soles make them feel sturdy, and the leather is kinder on your feet in summer heat (that rhymes!)  These ones from Clarks are my absolute favourites.  They're clogs with the added benefit of the great work Clarks do for all their shoes - padding like pillows, soft leather, and you can also wear them as slingbacks.  Very versatile.  And the name!  Just clogs!  Not Stinky Feet Holders or Toe Blockers. 

Saturday, 12 March 2016

PEANUT BUTTER AND CHOCOLATE CAKE





If you, or a loved one, or a friend, or even an enemy, likes the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, then this cake is for you.  After doing some very important peanut butter cupcake research at Mike's Pastry in Boston I made this monster for Jeremy's birthday a couple of weeks ago.  It's very rich so lasted a long time - always a good thing with cakes.  Who wants a cake that's so boring you can easily gobble it up in one sitting?  In other news I'm still not very good at piping.

If you make this please send me a picture and make my day.

INGREDIENTS
For the cake:
4 eggs
250g self raising flour (measure this out then replace 4 tablespoons of flour with four tablespoons of cocoa powder)
250g caster sugar
250g butter
2 teaspoons of baking powder
150g reese's peanut butter chips
50ml of milk

For the icing:
250g of butter
600g of icing sugar
300g smooth peanut butter (I used skippy as apparently is the best one for icing)
100ml double cream
About 100g reese's peanut butter chips

Pre-heat the oven to 180C, fan 160C.  Line and grease two 20cm cake tins.  Beat together the butter and sugar for ages until light, pale and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one by one, adding a tablespoon of the flour/cocoa mixture for each egg.  This stops the egg from curdling.  I have no idea what curdling is.  When that's all mixed in properly and is a bit more light and fluffy, sift in the rest of the flour/cocoa powder and the baking powder.  Add in the milk and the peanut butter chips to the mixture and then stir it all in a figure of eight motion so you don't knock the air out.  Pour half the cake batter in each cake tin and get a nice smooth level with the back of a spoon or a spatula. 

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, then check to see if the sponge springs back.  If it doesn't then back in for longer - mine can take up to 45 minutes so don't panic.  When they're cooked leave them to cool for a couple of hours then turn them out onto a cooling rack. 

To make the icing just beat together the butter, sugar, peanut butter and double cream.  It's amazing to have all of those heavenly ingredients magically mixed.  Truly a sight to behold.  Then when the cake is fully cooled ice it in the middle and on the top and BAM cover it with the remaining reese's peanut butter chips. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

SALEM


 


 








 



So let me start by making it clear that I loved Salem.  As someone who has been interested, nay, fascinated by witches from a young age, I've always wanted to visit the Witch City.  And in many ways it didn't disappoint - it's a beautiful place, set on the sea and it has plenty to do.  For example:

The Peabody Museum - when we were there it had a great exhibition about Native American fashion.
The House Of The Seven Gables - we were given a guided tour, the best of the trip, through this ancient Salem house that was the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne's book of the same name.
A&J Bakery - for the best sandwich of the trip.
Witch City Consignment - brilliant thrift store, especially for furniture.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site - fun to walk around and look at the boats.  You know, if you're into boats.

I haven't put any witch stuff on there because we didn't do any witch stuff, apart from taking a photo next to the statute of Samantha from Bewitched.  Oh and we did go and look at the Salem Witch Trial Memorial, which is in the centre of the city.  In truth I wish I could have separated Salem the Witch City - fun slightly witchy themed place with loads of interesting non-witch stuff to do - from Salem the location of that awful human rights travesty.  It's interesting how Salem has taken that event and embraced it as a positive part of their identity, you can't move for witch shops and spiritualists.  And I love witch shops.  (Spiritualists not so much).  Maybe it's a good thing they're using the past as a positive, but I felt slightly uncomfortable that the reason I wanted to go to Salem was because of The Craft and Bewitched and Hocus Pocus, which really has nothing to do with the reality that in the 1690s people were basically killed for being perceived as different.   But then it was a very, very long time ago.  But then things like that still happen all the time?  Don't get me wrong, I was still looking in estate agent windows at the houses for sale - apparently Halloween is amazing there - but I came back with a lot of questions, most of them directed at myself.  The best thing about Salem is that it's a great city if you're not interested in the witch stuff, it's a wonderful place and definitely worth a visit.
 
In other news, my dress is from Valley Of The Dolls, who I'm so into right now - their SS collection is dreamy, and my jacket was a gift from my friend Barbara.  It was her mother's and it's so beautiful I can't handle it, I'm wearing it all the time.  Even around the house.  Thank you Barbara! 

Monday, 7 March 2016

HOUSE TOUR IN PALM SPRINGS









 








Do you remember the episode of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' when Suzy offers Larry a tour of her new home and he turns her down?  Well I would never turn down a house tour, especially not when it's modernist real estate in Palm Springs.  We were lucky to be visiting during the week when members of the public are allowed to shuffle through two show houses designed by Christopher Kennedy, renowned local interior designer.  Kennedy works with the home owners and other designers to show off their talents.

A major draw is the fact the houses back onto the fairway of the Indian Canyons Golf Resort, a favorite of Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Walt Disney and Bob Hope.  They were built in the late '60s and so are ideal for any fans of architecture of that period.  AKA everyone.  I took many, many photos, although I don't think much of this decoration would work for my house.  I worry that I couldn't get away with having a bell for the pool boy on pink and green tropical wallpaper in my London bathroom.  And my family and friends would probably be concerned if I put a huge photo of a horse on our living room wall and painted the bedroom hot pink and neon orange.  However, it was very interesting to see the buildings themselves, so open and clean in design, and the colourful interiors were extremely Palm Springs, which is a good thing.

I also enjoyed listening to couples argue over whether or not they could have a huge white head with black eyes in their master bedroom.  It was a no.