Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Before Christmas, how things in my life are progressing...

Overdraft total = £914. Not bad but nowhere near target. But aside from a little indiscretion in Primark last weekend I really have been very good. New target is by end of March at the very latest.
Health = I have been suffering from a cold for a week (a whole week! Unheard of in my land), I have eaten my entire weight in Quality Street (in fact, I reckon I look like a Quality Street right now) and I have done sod all exercise for a fortnight. I am going to become fat and spotty and horrendous.
Crafty/web design progress = I have made nothing and I have learnt nothing new about how to web design.
Improving punctutuation = Errrrrrm...
Lovelife = I refuse to answer this.
Job = Actually going quite well! However, just one hour and 39 minutes and then I won't have to worry about that for a whole week and a half. WOO HOO!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Cutting down...

Check out this web page from NHS Choices:
I took part in this little test about alcohol consumption and erm, I'm terrified by the results. Apparently "drinking at this level could lead to you developing health and relationship problems."
WHAT?! So I'm on a one way street to liver disease and being alone forever?! 
I don't even think I drink that much, yeah I go out, I'm a young person, but I don't have a drink problem, I drink just as much as everyone else around me, and I only drink socially, I don't need a bottle of wine on a night in while sitting in front of the telly on my own. So, with that in mind I actually drink probably a lot less than some people. So I'm ok, right? 
Well apparently not.
Anyway, I'm now shit scared and I'm going to cut down. This also helps me towards my healthier lifestyle resolution.
This is not an easy task in the festive season but the NHS have kindly given me five tips:
1) Work out a daily limit and stick to it. Wow, this is like AA. Hmmm, shall we say 1 maximum during the week and then three maximum on a Friday or a Saturday?
2) Do more activities that don't involve drinking. Like Hula Hooping? Or maybe I should take Flamenco dancing classes, I quite fancy that.
3) Eat before and while you are drinking
4) Don't let anyone 'top up' your drinks
5) Tell your friends you're cutting down - Friends! I'm cutting down.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Hula hooping across my bedroom.

Hula hoops are fun right? Hula hoops can't cause you any pain. They are just something you played with in the playground at school. Nothing hardcore about a hula hoop.
Well, that would be a very wrong assumption. Hula hoops cause PAIN.
Last night I put on some dance music, some Justice, some Prodigy and some pop too, Girls Aloud is somewhat fun to hula hoop too! I grabbed my new freebie hula hoop and I hula-ed. For an hour. And I can honestly say it was the most hardcore workout I have done in ages. My back, thighs and even my arms are literally killing me today. And my stomach was killing me last night. This is good. When hula-ing in a little crop top last night I could see just how imperfect my stomach was. With a bit more hula-ing,  I am so banishing the belly wobbles. And, according to some nutrition and fitness experts I know, I probably burned about 550 calories, that's nearly five milky way bars!
Ok admittedly I wasn't constantly hula-ing. My abs aren't that amazing. Initially the hula spent more time on the floor than it did twirling around my waist. And there were a fair few times everything went a bit tits up and the hoop smacked me in the face (see, hula hoops cause pain). There was also a bit of a space constraint issue - my room is large but it's not that large. I very nearly sent two glasses of water and a bedside lamp flying.
However, as the hour went on I got better, lots better. I went from barely doing one turn of the hoop to being able to walk/sort of jig around my room keeping the hoop up. Oh my daydreams now, I want to be like Yulia Pikhtina from La Clique who can hula 50 hoops at once, who can hula two hoops on each arm and who I must say is a very firm and pert bottomed lady.
Hula hooping: the future of my fitness regime!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

The Salmon Bake went well...

so here's the recipe!

Preparation and cooking time:
40 minutes

Per serving:
Calories: 468kcal
Fat: 10.5g
Salt: 1.6g
5 A DAY: 2


(serves 2)
    150g/5½oz macaroni or other similar pasta 180g/6oz can salmon 1 teaspoon mixed herbs (or a handful of fresh basil) 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes Freshly milled black pepper 30g/1oz low-fat cheddar, grated 50g/2oz wholemeal breadcrumbs 25g/1oz pine nuts (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas mark 5.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling water according to the instructions on the packet.
  3. Tip the drained salmon into a mixing bowl, break up with a fork, checking for and removing any large bones.
  4. Add the mixed herbs (or shredded basil) to the salmon, then add the chopped tomatoes.
  5. Drain the pasta and combine with the salmon mixture. Season well with black pepper and place in an ovenproof dish.
  6. Sprinkle the cheese, breadcrumbs and pine nuts (if using) over the top. Place in the oven to colour the top and heat through for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Top Tip

While the tomatoes in this recipe do count as two portions of your 5 A DAY, it is worth remembering that consuming a variety of vegetables and fruits is important.

Visit for lots more :) 

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

On day five, five ways in which I have started to get my life together...

1) I got paid yesterday and put a whole hunk of cash into my overdraft. I am now only £749.52 overdrawn. Not so bad!
2) I have got my mits on a hula hoop (for free) and tonight plan to hula hoop my stomach into oblivion.
3) This morning I did half an hour of yoga instead of being a lazy arse in bed.
4) I actually bothered to shave my legs
5) This lunchtime, I got all my food for the week and spent a tiny weeny £9.33. Tonight I shall make a recipe from the World Cancer Research Fund's budget bites cook book: Salmon pasta bake, which should last me four meals. If it's good, I'll post the recipe tomorrow.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Looking to the future...

I have a small confession to make.
I am not doing as well at the whole paying off my debts thing as I had previously stated. In fact, I haven't even looked at my overdraft for a fortnight because I'm really scared that all my hard work will have evaporated into dust/been given to all the shops on Oxford Street.
I blame Christmas. I was doing alright, I swear financial guru, I really was. I was following your well thought out plan, I was saving money, it was torture, but it was tolerable torture and I was doing ok.
Then I went to Westfield. My mum took me to buy me a coat for Christmas. Then I planned to put the rest of my Christmas money into my overdraft. Yes, you read right, I planned to put Christmas money into my overdraft. HA! Have I met myself for fuck sake? At the end of the day laden with bags I had spent every penny. And you know what? It was damn worth it. I really did need a faux fur coat, a jumper with a tiger sequinned on the front, a black knit jumper dress, a floral clutch bag, two shirts, two round neck black T-shirts, a black and gold suede belt and a floral scarf, I really did! I was on such a high when I got home. The shopping had made me quite drunk. And then I went crazy and spent fuckloads of money on Oxford street, Spitalfields Market and drinking rum in a bar. And then I went to buy a perfume and ended up buying three because I couldn't decide which smell I liked best and they were on a 3 for 2 deal. It was at that point I knew it had all gone hazardously wrong.
Not only is my cash situation a problem, I have to admit something else. I haven't been very healthy lately. In fact, I have been a total carboholic who hasn't worked out for a week or two (it's been so cold in the mornings!) and my hard worked for abdominal muscles are well, jellified. And I'm getting quite spotty. If this is what stuffed pasta does to your skin I'm not so sure it's much of a comfort food anymore.
So, it's about time I stop being a lazy moany cow and get my life in order. And I am going to be a bit more crafty (A great way to save money I'm told). And more web savvy. This is the third blog I've had and I still can't work out how to create hyperlinks. Oh and I've been a journalist and a PR for four years, I've got a first class degree and I still can't use apostrophes. So any punctuation tips would be good too.
So, this is no longer a blog bemoaning my lack of money, this is no longer a blog lusting after things I can't afford (but if you still want to read that, you can go to my simpleblog this is a turn my life around blog, a postive improve myself blog. Where I will share my hints, tips, recipes and ideas to make me a better person. A person who does things rather than buys things. I have 365 days, starting from tomorrow, to get my act together. This time next year I will be a far richer, craftier, web savier, healthier, better punctuated woman.
I just need your ideas! So please send them to me at and I'll make sure I feature as much as I can.
And going back to the overdraft. Right, time to be brave. Let's have a look: £1,137.60 Oh shit fuck shit rubbish fuck shit shit bugger. Worse than I thought. :(

Monday, 23 November 2009

Frocks of the future?

At the fashion party I mentioned the other day I got chatting to this lady called Alice Wilby. She had a very nice broach on her coat, I told her I liked it and things went from there.
Turns out she is a stylist who runs an online eco lux fashion magazine called Futurefrock ( created to 'feed your fashion fix without compromising your ethics.' 
It's a pretty slick affair, with lots of beautiful on-trend photoshoots and and environmentally-friendly fashion items, all sourced ethically. There is a range of prices from £400 for a pendant to £40 for a skirt.  
I wanted to share this website with the world, and basically, get your thoughts! 
So what do we think? Pretentious rubbish that just makes those of us on the breadline feel guilty because we can only afford a £6 Primark skirt rather than a £40 People Tree one? Or a refreshing beacon of hope that fashion can be planet friendly? 

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Is cheap Jimmy Choo a reason to break the shopping ban?

Recently I went to a fashion party where these two new designers, Julia Smith and Joanne Stoker, were opening a shop in Connaught Village.
There was this one pair of very splendid heels by Joanne Stoker that I quite loved: black velvet, covered in zips and with a solid silver heel.
I asked how much they were... £700. (There was also this beautiful, beautiful pink netted strapless corset dress with a little pink net train designed by Julia Smith, which did not even have a price on it. I moved my champagne away quickly.) In a month £700 would pay my rent, all my bills and my travel. That one pair of shoes costs my entire living expenses for one month. And this wasn't even a well established designer, this was a new designer. And you know what, I am so jealous of the posh girl who could afford those shoes (and dress) and then drink a £13 daiquiri in Chinawhites. It's a whole other world that an average girl such as me (who turned up to said party in a £35 dress from Dotty P) will never be part of.
This is why I am very cheered by Jimmy Choo's new H&M collection, out this Saturday. And these are really nice. I especially like the zebra-print strappies (my sister is desperate for them) and the red strappies showcased in Stylist magazine today.
Just as an aside, I've heard Jimmy is a very nice man, I do have a shoe drawing of his alongside an autograph stuck on my wall.
But sadly I won't be queuing up outside H&M for hours and then hitting some women over the head with my brolly to get my hands on a pair. Forgive my lack of dedication, (if they were Christian Louboutin I probably would, despite the ban!) but I have to stay true to the ban. I have to get these debts paid off, I'm so close. That and the whole, can't afford Christmas presents for my family so really shouldn't be buying shoes situation.
So instead, I shall just put a shoe pic on my blog and that will just have to suffice. *Sob*

I've just realised... I can't afford Christmas

Ok, so I'm on track to be debt free by the end of the year. Apart from one tincy wincy problem.
Christmas. I have no money for Christmas.
I initially thought I would have some cash in my contingency fund to pay for Christmas pressies. It seems, I do not. Unless of course I am somehow going to buy eight presents with twenty quid.
*Sigh* I do tend to buy everyone really nice clothes at Christmas (I like clothes, I'm good at clothes... you may have noticed this fact), sadly this year I can barely afford Primark. Oh no, disappointment for all abounds.
Help me! Please comment with lots of suggestions on how I can make fab presents for my family without spending too much/anything!
There are my two sisters, my mum, my dad, my bloke, my nan, my mates secret santa, my work secret santa.
I read an article in The Daily Mirror ( with some ideas but they all seem rather cheap... oh yes, that's the point.
However, I particularly like the tickets to BBC shows and the personalised calendar ideas (points 13 and 21) and there is a huge possibility my family might be getting a load of 'I will do this for you when I have some money' vouchers.
I don't like it though. My parents are always so generous and I love playing the big sister who can spoil her two student sisters.
But what I can't give in money I can give in time. So please people, comment with your ideas! I'm creative! I can make things!
Oh dear, Christmas this year is going to be funny.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Someone save Luella!

It's a sad day for quirky British fashion. Luella has ceased trading:

Such a shame, her current ready-to-wear collection is very cute. With all the bows and heart cut outs. Who is River Island going to rip off this season now? Luella is the reason I love River Island so. Will they crumble without her? Or just go a bit chavvy again?
Oh, I hope it doesn't go all horribly wrong for Luella, I hope they get another financier and start trading again. As I have shown in previous posts, ( I have so always wanted to own my own Luella piece, you know, one day, when I could afford it. You always think such brands, especially those with a £9m turnover, are invincible. But the recession has put us all on shaky ground it seems.
If Christian Louboutin goes before I can afford a pair of his heels, I actually will cry.

Dressing my sister...

After reading about some of my combination talents on this blog. My sister asked me to clear out and reinvent her wardrobe and offered to buy me dinner for the privilege.
Let me think, spend the day doing something I love and then get bought dinner for doing it... well, how could I refuse?!
My sister has a fabulous wardrobe and a lot of beautiful things she doesn't wear enough, she admits she often buys things and then isn't sure what to put them with, so she never wears them. Or items get stuck in one particular outfit and she doesn't know how to mix and match, to get more wear out of them.
This was my challenge. To take the items she wasn't sure how to combine and make up some new outfits she may never have thought of before.
To be honest, I would be very keen to have someone do this for me and my wardrobe. A fresh eye is always a good way to mix things up. And if you feel like you have a whole new refreshed and reinvented wardrobe, then you are less likely to feel the need to buy new stuff and thus, you will save money. Hurrah!
For the next few days I shall post my favourite outfits that I put together for my sister.
Day one is this lovely frilled cream and black spotty twenties style flapper top. Nic loves it but rarely wears it as she has no idea how to. I admit, it's a difficult top to wear. It looks like a shirt, so a skirt won't work with it. Black jeans are the only thing in Nic's wardrobe I see working. Along with these cute glittery pumps from River Island, some clashing animal print hoop earrings and a black Carrie Bradshaw corsage gives things a little lift. It's a very 'meet his parents' kind of outfit but would also work for any low key work do.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Other ideas...

Sorry, I have been so busy I haven't had a chance to blog my other ideas for the dress!
Well, I have two other outfits I really like. Here they are:
First up, I figured out a way to make the summery outfit with the blue skirt a bit more winter-esque. I have replaced the open toed sandals with shoe boots and black tights. The butterfly belt with a little black bow belt and put a white shirt underneath the dress. Marvellous!
Another idea is to put a whole other dress like this floral skirt poplin dress over the top of the dress, so cute!
Other ideas suggested by friends include wearing various multi-coloured tights and also, focusing on hair and make up to change your look rather than clothes. This, I feel, is clever as make up and hair is far easier and cheaper to change.
So in all I have created 13 different looks with one dress. Admittedly that is nowhere near as many as Sheena Matheiken ( who is wearing the same dress (she has seven different versions to avoid the stinky/ruining the dress issue) for an entire year and is raising money for the Akanksha Foundation for the education of underprivileged kids in India. She has already raised more than $28,000 and the project has only been going since May. And my lord this woman looks cool! I especially love the different coloured socks she seems to favour. My only concern? How the hell would you wear this dress on a big night out to somewhere glitzy? Don't get my wrong, it's a cute and obviously very versatile dress. But it doesn't really scream glamour does it? I saw the outfit she wore for her 6 months of the dress anniversary party and... just not that fussed. However, the whole ethos of the project I especially love. We don't need lots of clothes! Just buy some really good quality black staples and lots of colourful quirky accessories!
Right, where can you buy colourful socks?

Monday, 2 November 2009

Project: Abort

A disaster has occurred.
My dress has a hole in it. At the armpit join, a hole I tell you! I have whiffed so much it has blown the stitches clean away! Or maybe Febreeze erodes the cotton? It's not too much of a problem. I can sew it up for future wear. But it has made me realise the outcome of my project. You cannot wear the same cheap dress solidly for days on end. You will ruin it! I barely even lasted a fortnight. 
This is why Maureen had to go to LK Bennett and buy a super expensive dress. This is why she had to fork out on expensive four hour dry cleaning. My £35 jumper dress is most certainly no longer in a nice condition. And I'm sorry, I'm not going to work with a hole in the armpit of my dress. Not a professional look. 
This is a damn shame as I did have many more ideas! But do not fret because I shall showcase them to you in a blogpost very very soon. And on the plus side, I feel the project has already proved that with just a little imagination and a lot of layering, you can mix and match to have a whole variety of different outfits from just one dress. I've already shown eleven and I have a few more to come. So that old 'I have nothing to wear' adage when you have a wardrobe bursting with clothes will most certainly no longer wash with me! Stop shopping people and get creative! I feel a quote from Maureen's article here would be appropriate: "Style, which is personal and depends on self-awareness and self-assurance, is much harder work than fashion, which just requires you to read magazines and spend heaps of money."
In short: In times of economic hardship, let's all give up fashion and go crazy for style.

Oh and good news I would like to announce. My overdraft is currently only £827!! Just a couple more months of being super careful and then I am free of immediate debt! (Student loan doesn't count.) And I have a saving plan. Once my overdraft is paid off I shall put this saving plan into place. By the time I'm 35, I shall be able to afford a house! 

Friday, 30 October 2009

Day Eleven - clashing animal prints.

I'm all about the animal prints today. Somebody suggested wearing a nice scarf with my dress and some jeans. And I am doing so today. It was a good idea, I never wear any of my rather extensive scarf collection.
It's once again casual Friday so the dress is over some black skinny jeans with black ballet pumps, an animal print scarf (only £2.50 from Primark) that coordinates with my leopard and then a slightly clashing animal print bangle. Ooooh.
However, in the last couple of days I have begun to get fed up of the project. I'm fed up of this dress. I want to wear something without sleeves again. I want to wear some straps! I know it's to be expected and I am pleased with the amount of variations I have already (and can think of many many more) but just right now, rather fed up. The dress is going a bit baggy too, it's no longer slim fitting. Boo. But I shan't give up. Must keep going!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Day ten... and I have been so radically different. Sort of.

Well my dress doesn't smell today, I did manage to give it a good wash. However, I am noticing bobbles on the knitwear. Bobbles! How can wearing the dress ten times and washing it twice make it start to bobble? I am ruining my beloved dress! In fact, I think I may buy a whole new one when I finish this project. Or, does it count if I buy a new one half way through? It's still technically the same dress. Even though that is kind of against the whole money saving ethos of the project a little bit.
Thanks to friends and such for your comments and ideas. I shall definitely put some of them into place. And my lord do some of you have faith in me. You think I am still going to be doing this come January?! Could I last that long?!
Anyway, today I have layered the dress with a... cardigan. Revolutionary huh?! Just a long grey cardie belted over the top of the dress. The red bow belt is so cute, I love it. Some black tights and my lace up shoeboots finish the outfit. It feels a bit short for work, and I was beeped twice on the way to work this morning (I even got a wa hay hot stuff! from one bloke) so I'm concerned I am giving the wrong impression. Maybe this look would be better for the bar rather than work... good to know I look hot though!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Day nine... and I still smell.

Went out last night so didn't get a chance to wash my dress. I still stink. It's kind of like curry. Nice. So tonight I MUST wash the dress. Febreeze just ain't cutting it anymore.
Anyway, today I have gone the leggy route. Red tulip high-waisted mini skirt, black diamond tights (I still have to be fairly respectable for work) and black court shoes.
But enough with the skirt layering, I've done it to death. Tomorrow I am going to attempt something a bit different. What it will be I'm really not sure! Any suggestions? I refuse to run out of ideas already!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Five fashion websites I wish I could afford to shop in...

A slightly different post to go alongside my outfit of the day post. (Don't want anyone to get bored here, especially me.)
I love internet shopping. With not being able to afford magazines, it's the only way I can keep up with what's hot, what I love, what I wish I could afford to buy and which trends I will wholeheartedly ignore. I just thought I would share my five favourites.
1. Well of course, the best online fashion store in the country. Everything looks wonderful and is certainly affordable. Just check out the great dress my sister is wearing in the picture. I love the buttons on the top and as you can see, it's great for summer but can also be styled for winter.
2. This is a new launch but I see great potential. The store links with the fashion editorial content from The Guardian and The Observer. The stuff isn't cheap but it's certainly aspirational. So in short, scope this site out for great stuff and then find a rip off on the cheap end of the high street!
3. You only need to see previous posts to see how much I love these people. They don't have many stores across the country and their stock in store can be rather minimal. So internet shopping from Bravissimo is most certainly the way to go for the busty lady.
4. When my overdraft is paid off I will certainly be coming here. What a fantastic makeover for Littlewood's Direct. AND it's affordable. I love their celeb ranges (especially Dita Von Teese's uber sexy underwear selection for Wonderbra) and fashion advice from top fashion journos like Louise Roe.
5. Now, I know there are stores all over the country, but I felt I had to include an online shoe shop. And Faith wins, it wins everytime. Before I gave up shopping I would spend my lunch hour perving at the shoes on the site and then I would go into the shop having selected my favourites... the money this place has made out of me is terrifying. Anyway, I digress, it's an easy site to use and postage and packaging is currently free for orders over £40.

Oh and I have just realised, I haven't given an overdraft update in a while. It's £1,210. Not great, but still on track to be debt free by the new year.

Day eight and I smell...

Yep, the dress definitely smells today. Which is weird because I went crazy with the febreeze last night.
Also, the outfit I have picked today is, well, wrong. It's a summer outfit. I am wearing a spring/summer outfit in the deep dark days of late October. Navy blue open toed heels do not work when it's raining. And although the navy skirt over the dress does work, the patent butterfly belt just makes me think of summer. The fact I have rolled up my sleeves (to show off some pretty pearl bracelets) is just making me rather cold. I want to pull my sleeves back down.
And I can definitely see stains on the dress. Parts are also going a bit thin from the overwear. Oh, this is not hardwearing durable knitwear I have purchased. But then, what do you expect for 35 quid?

Monday, 26 October 2009

7 Days, 7 ways. Day seven of the Maureen Rice project.

Well, I have an apology to make. On Saturday I went to a party, I drank too much and ended up sleeping at my sister's house (There is an attractive photo of me sprawled out on my sister's hall floor. Amazingly I am not going to put it up here.) Then on Sunday I was, erm, in a bit of a state. And then, as I am indeed so very cultured, I had to meet a friend at the National Portrait Gallery and didn't have time to go home and get myself into a new outfit.
So technically I have cheated. I wore the dress in the same way for two days running (and underwear too, eugh). But I am going to make up for it. Despite the febreezing I am actually quite enjoying myself. So I have decided to continue my challenge until I run out of ideas. Everyday I must wear the dress in a different way, even if it's only slightly different, the outfit must be different in some way. I could last just a few more days, I could last for months on end. Admittedly by then I'm probably going to be wearing some very weird shit.
Anyway, today I wore a variation of my much loved forties theme to cheer up my Monday morning. The big gray skirt again (can you believe this was only a fiver from Primark?) but no shirt this time, instead a big chain pearl necklace (again, only £2.50 from Primark) and some bright pink frilled T-bars, a bit like the Yves St Laurent ones Carrie wears at the end of Season 4 but mine were only £10 from New Look. And the bloke liked it too, and my housemate commented on how nice I looked. A result I think!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

7 Days, 7 ways. Day five of the Maureen Rice project.

OK, It's Saturday. Day for casual dressing. I am just hanging out with my sister today and then we are going to a thai restuarant for dinner.
So for the day I am just going to wear my dress as it is. With some thick opaque tights, some very, very cute snowboots (with pom poms on them!) my tuxedo jacket from Top Shop, my envelope necklace and a patent red, chain, quilted shopper. And when it comes to going to the restaurant I will change my boots for some red and gold platform open toed heels (see pic two).
I washed my dress last night, it's still not quite dry if I'm honest and I have to be at my sisters soon. The only solution I can see? Pull out the hairdryer and dry it that way! I'm going to feel bloody stupid doing it, but needs must.
Oh and I do have some news. Maureen Rice tweeted me last night! She said: "HI.Have just been alerted to your Project. Early days, but looks great. You are more creative/stylish -way better than mine. MRX" And there was me thinking no one read my blog. Wow! I am humbled.

Friday, 23 October 2009

7 Days, 7 Ways. Day four of the Maureen Rice Project.

Today is dress down Friday. So my new challenge, how to make the dress semi-casual. (Because you're still at work, so still have to look kind of smart.)
So I have teamed it with some black skinny jeans, black ballet pumps, a chunky red belt and my envelope necklace.
I quite like this look. I feel the chunky red belt may be an accessory too much but I wanted to keep with the colour, I feel I have been wearing too much black this week. And Gok Wan tells us you can totally change an outfit with a belt.
But my lord did I have some hygiene issues last night. I was kipping round the bloke's house so went home after work and quickly got changed into today's gear. However, I felt the need to febreeze the underarm material of the dress, just to keep the whiffs at bay. Would that febreeze dry? No it god damn wouldn't. I was pretty late to get round his house so ended up just putting the dress on and dealing with the soggy pit feeling. Now my underarms have had a good febreeze too. The most annoying thing? I got to his house and he had only just got home from work. I could have taken my sweet time! Oh and he said: 'your dress doesn't look any different from the other day, have you changed it at all?' !!!!!!
Can I just put this down to men not getting it rather than my failing at my task?
I'm sure little stains are starting to appear on the dress as well, and the material at the elbows is starting to feel a little thinner, just from four days wear. It's not feeling baggy anywhere yet though, I am pleased to announce that the knitwear is staying firm, which is an unexpected delight.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

7 days, 7 ways. Day three of the Maureen Rice Project

As promised, I have added a splash of colour to my dress today. In the form of some very cute forties style pink high heels from faith. They have a red sole too!
I am much happier with today's combo. It's very nun crossed with naughty schoolgirl. I like it! And have had some positive comments from colleagues.
I have layered my dress with a white shirt and a very tight, stiff, flared, gray, high-waisted skirt. Despite wearing more clothes I actually feel slimmer, possibly due to the tightness of the skirt and the shirt has made me realise just how itchy this dress is on my back. Today, no itchiness!
Also, due to the sheer amount of clothes I have on, I feel no need to wear a coat.
To accessorise I have added a single pearl necklace and I wanted to show you a back image as well, so you can see my seamed tights (so love!) and the exposed zip (very on trend) of the skirt. There's a little glimpse of my red hair too, woooo.
The febreeze is admittedly working on overtime but I don't feel *that* disgusting or smelly. People don't seem to be standing far away from me on the tube. I am also working very hard to keep myself clean by showering a lot more than usual so even if my dress may whiff a little, I, on the whole, don't.
Also, another oddity, men seem to be discussing my project with me far more than women do. Admittedly, some have just looked at me as if I am rather odd. Women have just generally said 'great idea! Let me know how you get on,' whereas men seem to consider the concept extremely fascinating. That is until I talk too much about the clothes. Then their eyes glaze over.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

7 Days, 7 Ways. Day two of the Maureen Rice Project.

Today I put a black high-waisted pleated skirt over the dress, some uber high black courts and a burgundy beaded necklace.
I am pleased to say that it does indeed look like a completely different outfit. I am not so pleased to say that I feel a bit fat, and hot. Layering isn't something I do often as 1) I don't tend to feel the cold and 2) I don't like to add bulk to my body, generally because it makes me feel, well, bulky. But this proves that layering is a surefire way to completely change an outfit.
I also feel rather, boring. I'm very black you see.
It's funny, I honestly thought I would love this combo, the shape is so flattering, the colour so slimming. But what this dress needs tomorrow my friends, is a splash of colour.
However, if you ever feel the need to look very conservative, this outfit is the way to go.
P.S. I hope everyone enjoys my pink starry dressing gown in the background here. It's seriously a wonderful item of clothing!
P.P.S. Thank you Matthew1471 for the shoe whore terminology, I shall definitely use in future!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

7 days, 7 ways. Day one with The Maureen Rice project

Day one and already I have spilt some cream sauce down my dress (it was ok, got it off with some enthusiastic rubbing) and had to crank out the febreeze because my underarms are a bit whiffy. This is what happens when you wear jumper dresses on the tube.
However, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my new dress. I wore it very simply today, just black diamond tights, black cage lace up shoe boots and my favourite gold envelope necklace. Perfect for work and going to lunch with a friend at The Guardian offices (they all look very cool there, I had to dress appropriately).
And you know, I feel good about styling this dress for the next few days. I've had a little sort through my wardobe and I think I can do a lot with it. Layering with skirts and shirts, playing with big belts and clashing shoes. In fact, I'm confident that some people at work won't even notice I've been wearing the same dress for seven days running.
And yes, I'm sorry I've cut my head off in the picture, but it's about the clothes people, not my face/inept photographic skills.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Maureen Rice Project.

 Last week I read an interesting article in The Daily Mail. A journalist named Maureen Rice wore the same dress every day for an entire month. A whole month! Every day she styled it in a different way to make it seem like she was actually wearing different outfits. She called it 'fashion rehab.'  You can read the article here:
Now, despite Rice saying she is 'broke', I couldn't help but feel how financially comfortable she obviously is. As a successful journalist and editor (and before I get negative, I would just like to say, I really enjoy her work) I don't feel she actually needs to give up clothes in the same way some of us do. For a start she went to LK Bennett to purchase her everyday dress at an eye-watering £195 (this is a hell of a lot more than I have ever spent on a dress in my entire life) and who can afford four hour dry cleaning?
Despite her good intentions I'm not sure this is actually feasible in real life and doesn't actually help us poverty stricken lot who can't really afford clothes. (And I mean from Primark, not LK Bennett.)
So I am going to do a mini version to see if the Maureen Rice project actually works. But I'm doing it from the perspective of someone who actually doesn't have any money! The same dress every day for a week. That's 7 days and I'm including the weekend. And I will take a photo of my outfit everyday and show you the 7 different ways I am wearing the same outfit. And I will purchase nothing new. I'm going to do all of this with accessories I already own. However as Rice purchased her everyday dress, so will I. However, unlike her heading to LK Bennett I will go to Dorothy Perkins. 
I know I'm not technically allowed. But I've seen this great black jumper dress with a leopard on the front in Dorothy Perkins for only £35. It would be so versatile, I could wear it casually and for work. 
In the place of pricey 4 hour dry cleaners, I have Febreeze and handwash detergent.  
So tomorrow is day one. I know a Tuesday is a silly day to start a week long project but you have to start sometime. I will monitor how I'm feeling, the state of the dress, people's reactions to me and if I really feel this way of dressing is actually going to save any money. 

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Top tips for the monetarily challenged

Since my last post I have recieved a whole host of ideas and advice from concerned friends to help me construct a winter wardrobe with no cash what so ever. (They have all seen my wardrobe, I feel there is some concern that I might actually freeze to death when it gets really cold. Or worse, be forced to belt my duvet round my waist and go to work like that. Not only is this impractical but it's also totally unflattering to any girls figure.)

So anyway, I have decided to post my top five ideas below:

1) Sell the clothes you no longer want. What am I doing going to the charity shop with my clothes and giving them away for free when there are women out there who will actually buy them off me?! I have already had two girls say they would like the biker boots mentioned in last post and will actually buy them off me so I then have the money to go and buy a pair that actually do suit me! AMAZING. Why did I never consider this before? Why did I never think about the whole selling your stuff on Ebay thing? Something to bear in mind after my next wardrobe detox methinks!

2) Trade is a charity shop in Brixton that has been recommended to me by two different women.
Apparently you can pick up clothes from Top Shop, Karen Millen, French Connection and more for just a tenner. That's where I will be going when I next get paid and have some contingency fund money!

3) For those who actually like the biker boot style (I'm thinking I can do it, I just need a heel. A big one.) Here's a tip from a friend on how she recreated some from an old pair of boots: "I have had the same pair of tatty old biker boots for... oh this is the 4th year! Well I have regenerated them with a new pair of odour eating insoles (nice). AND my genius is almost unbeaten.. I can't afford a new pair of the trendy 'lovely studs and buckles all over them' boots, so I bought two chunky studded belts from hennies and have simply wrapped them around the boots. £20 instead of £60-100 on new boots. I am very pleased with myself." And so she should be! This is credit crunch fashion at its best.

4) Mix and match, mix and match. I know I've said it before, but I don't think I have ever seriously gone through my wardrobe and done this properly. So last night, I did. I took every piece of clothing I owned and tried it with different items. Who knew a jumper dress could look so different if you just put a flared skirt over it or that you could turn a party dress into a work outfit, just by putting the right jumper and a belt over the top. Last night I created 10 new winter outfits with clothes I already have. Go me.

5) If you don't own a black high-waisted flared skirt, buy one. It goes with EVERYTHING.

Current overdraft total: Erm, same as the other day. I just don't want to look right now. It's a bit depressing.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Shoe Pervert and the need of a winter wardrobe

Just check out Shoewawa for a sneak peak at the new Dorothy Perkins 'Luxe' range. All named after fashionable cities throughout the world. Priced very reasonably at £55-65:
Particularly loving the 'Paris' Shoe Boot, the whole pirate style fold at the ankle is damn cute. An even cheaper version can be found in Primark, where I know the suede is supersoft, probably not real and will probably last about ten minutes. But considering that's how long my attention span lasts, that's probably not that much of an issue.  
Oh ladies and gents I have come to a realisation and it is not a good one. In the recent cold weather I have discovered I need some winter clothes. I have barely any jumpers, my winter coat is falling apart and the biker style boots I bought in a frenzy a few weeks back are not my style at all. Too clumpy and masculine at the shoe. I was seduced by the warm fabric top and the promise of biker style cool. I am not biker style cool. I'm a prance about in your pretty heels, skirt and lipstick kind of girl. I know this, I've known this for years but I won't bloody give up on the promise of 'I don't give a shit androgyny.' How I yearn to be Chrissie Hynde in all her husky voiced finery. Sadly, my boobs are too big and my hair too ginger. (I'm sorry La Roux, you don't pull it off.)  So fifties style little cardies, cute little shoe boots and Mac coats it is for me. 
Oh what to do? I can't afford any winter clothes but the situation is starting to get a little dire. I can't sit in my office in a tiny top wrapped in a pashmina to keep me warm for the next few months. I feel far too wanky, not to mention somewhat impractical. And my contingency fund for the next month is already spent on the dentist and a rather scarily large electricity bill... does anyone have any jumpers I can borrow? 

Current overdraft total: £1,376.22


Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Reasons to break the shopping ban

I am so being tested this week. I have come across two fabulous shopping websites and it's doing my head in.

First up, here is junk jewels:
This cute little website sells romantic pendants on necklaces and bracelets, including the infamous 'I Love You' envelope locket, now also available with 'Je t'aime.' Created by London based designer Zoe Jones, these retro, Parisian loving trinkets and charms have got me salivating like crazy. Not only does she supply to Urban Outfitters, she also sells her handmade designs at Portobello market and it's possible to pick up one off pieces there. I can honestly say it is taking every ounce of me not to get down to Portobello market this weekend. I want, I want, I want, I WANT!

Also, a twitter friend has tipped me off on this fantastic US site called Bettie Page Clothing:
Fantastic retro designs to flatter the fuller figured lady. I am particularly in love with their 'Curves' dress with the whole flight attendant feel and curved buttons. I LOVE it. Me n' this dress were quite simply made for each other! (My twitter friend who has recently purchased the dress is one lucky lady I must say!) The cheeky retro image T-shirts are pretty cute too. The dresses aren't cheap, costing approximately $155 each but they do come down by more than half price in the sale. It's only available online (or on and in three US stores but they do international shipping. Do you think my contingency fund could cover this?! Oh no, Dentist bills. Booo!

Current Overdraft total: £1,467.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Moving away from Oxford Circus - this can only be a positive thing.

Well, first I would like to apologise for the meloncholy nature of my last post. Usually I am a very chirpy, cheerful soul. But occasionally I get a little, well, bleugh. I am merely a human after all.
But today I have better news to broadcast... I will no longer be working on Oxford Street!
I admit I will miss being so close to the largest Top Shop in the country, not to mention the top class River Island, Miss Selfridge and Urban Outfitters.
In fact this is the first time in my working life I will not be a stones throw away from masses of shops. In fact I'm pretty certain this is why my shopping obsession first came about. Before I started working I loved clothes yes, but I was able to be quite disciplined about what I bought and stick to budget. Now I have about as much discipline as sex addict in a porn shop.
I feel for my wallet this move can only be a very positive thing. Now there will be no meanderings in my lunch hour, no popping into the shops as I head home. Now, for the first time in years, I will have to plan for (and thus save up for) any future shopping trips. Hurrah!

Or so I thought. Then I went to visit the new office today and discovered it's just a short walk from Tottenham Court Road... next to a big fuck off Dorothy Perkins.
I'm screwed.

Friday, 25 September 2009

ok, I cheated...

To be honest I didn't do to well this week. And some aspects of this post are rather meloncholy and well, not even particularly amusing like usual, so I'm sorry about that.
Anyway, the autumn/winter season is out and I'm rather in love with everything. I particularly want this animal print faux fur coat with rocking horse broach from River Island (£69.99) and a pair of lace up ankle boots from Dorothy Perkins (£45). And I'm feeling a little rebellious. I'm fed up of the whole trussed up fifties workie look. I want to be one of those women who can throw on a T-shirt, some jeans, fringed ankle boots and eyeliner and look really cool.
Anyway, I certainly had a couple of indisgretions this week. I went to New Look and bought these vibrant pink T-bar heels with a frill on the T-bar (very in right now and only £10 in the sale) and then I went to Primark and bought myself a pencil skirt with a spanish style frill down the side (yes, I'm feeling the frills right now) as well as a pair of super high black courts, which look very Victoria Beckham and totally kill my feet, but they will go with everything for years to come. I also bought this fantastic navy blue jumper dress in Dorothy Perkins for £35. It has a low back and embellishment on the shoulders. I don't think I can pull off the power shoulder look that is so very fashionable right now, as I think you need to be flat chested, but I figure this piece is my nod to it. I can't wait to wear it with tights, heels and a belt out tonight.
Now for the melencholy part. I have come to a realisation. I shop to fill emptiness. And this is more than boredom, although that certainly plays its part, this emptiness is more about a lack of anything, a lack of control, a lack of purpose, a lack of joy.
For example, I had a naff couple of days this week. So after work in my sadness I trailed listlessly around some shops (See the mini shopping spree above). It was only when I had bought some beautiful new shiny things did I feel more in control, did I feel I had purpose, did I feel joy.
The irony of this is that my shopping obsession is the one thing that actually gives me least control in my life. Because of my undying need to consume I can't control my finances and thus can't afford to buy a house or pay off any of my debts. Instead I merely accumelate more. (Of debts as well as stuff)
I mean this is no new realisation, we have all heard the term retail therapy, that going for a shop can really cheer us ladies up.
But I can't continue to fill up the hole of emptiness with new stuff. Because it doesn't fill up that hole for long. As a twitter friend quoted "The looking glass so shiny and new, how quickly the glamour fades." (I love a bit of Florence & the Machine!)
So in short, new stuff will never make me truly fulfilled but instead of hunting out something real to fulfil me that doesn't cost loads of money, I just keep buying to keep the ever depleting hole filled. However, a new coat will not make me better at my job, a new dress will not make someone love me and, believe it or not, new shoes will not make the emptiness go away. New clothes do not make me in control of anything. They just make me look nice.
I think I shall go back to the library and get out some more Jasper Fforde. He cheers me up without even going anywhere near a shop.

Current overdraft: £1,567.36 Oh fuck. Oh and another thing I'm fucked off about. Remember the pink cross bar heels I bought in my final splurge back in May for £55? Now in the sale for £15. Fuck sakes.

Friday, 18 September 2009

I have a financial guru

It's quite trendy to have a guru, and now I have one for the only aspect of my life where I *really* need help. My finances!
This lovely lady has revolutionised my spending and the way I view money.
With her help I shall pay off my overdraft in four itty bitty months. The answer? Have about a hundred accounts!
I'm kidding, but my financial guru is correct in that I need to move my spending away from my overdraft account. The way it's going up and down all the time makes it pretty difficult for me to see how much I'm paying off every month. And I may as well just put all my savings into the overdraft account, no point having them sitting there when I'm paying loads of interest on the overdraft.
So now I have four accounts:

Account One: The dreaded overdraft account, for the foreseeable future I am not allowed to take any money out of this account. But I must put in £200 every two weeks.

Account Two: My essential outgoings account. This is the account my salary will go into and the account my bills, rent and travel will come out of.

Account Three: My weekly spends account. This is the account I will use day to day. I will put a certain amount in every fortnight (I get paid fortnightly, yes, it makes the whole monthly spending thing quite confusing) and if I run out of money here? Well, then eating isn't an option.

Account Four: Contingency fund. Every month I will put a certain amount in here to cover costs that might crop up when I least expect it, i.e. a huge dentists bill, or if my coat falls apart and I'll freeze without a new one.

And when I'm debt free I can change the purpose of the accounts. So instead of a paying off debts account, my overdraft account can be a long term savings account (to save up for my own flat, you see) and the contingency fund can also be for the Bravissimo bras or that perfect pair of boots. (However, must be careful not to go too crazy, I will still have dentists bills when my overdraft is paid off.)
When I went into the bank and set up all these other accounts the bank manager did look at me as if I were crazy. And I admit, I do feel somewhat overwhelmed and confused with the whole process. It's like a blur of numbers. But it's ok because my financial guru is going to make me a spreadsheet to make everything clear.
It's just quite how I'm going to survive each week on my new weekly budget of £97 that is the small issue.
And that's where my new guru jumps in once again. She can revolutionize the way I buy food, instead of £40 a week on groceries it will be £20 a week, as well as substantially cheapen my nights out. Apparently it's about really enjoying the two nights out a week I can afford, rather than getting trashed all the time and giving all my money to a bartender. So it's the old adage once again: Shoes not booze! It seems to be shoes not posh food too.
But you know what, I feel really rather excited about this new plan. I am in control again. And four months is not that long really. I can really do this!

Current Overdraft total: £1,424.60 Well, I'm only at the start of the plan!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Wardrobe detoxing

Sometimes, I get the need to throw out the crap. A desire to scrap it all and start over, reinvent myself and become something new.
A hugely wanky way of saying chuck out all my old clothes and give me an excuse to buy new ones! I love a good old wardrobe detox, I really do. I'm just obsessed with organising to be honest, so organising my clothes gives me the greatest pleasure on earth.
And when Glamour did an article about the ultimate wardrobe detox this month, I knew now was the time to get in there and get chucking out.
Although I usually treat a wardrobe detox as a way to start over (i.e. create a space to fill with lots of new clothes), according to Glamour a good detox can make you rediscover your old favourites and give them a new season twist. I'm going to discover outfits I never knew I had!
It's all about the streamlining and wearing old clothes in new exciting ways. I'm sure this is all advice I already knew, but I'm happy to go through the steps.

Step 1: Wardrobe detoxing needs to be done twice a year. Already do that!

Step 2: Be ruthless, if you haven't worn it in the last year, if you have a newer, better version of it, if it looks obviously dated, if you only bought it because it was on sale, if it has any holes/bobbles, no longer fits or make you feel great: chuck it out. I have to admit, I'm pretty damn good at this too.

However, a mini tip just from me, some things can be repaired, so make a 'need to sew' pile. Sew back on any buttons, take any stained clothes to the dry cleaners, sew up any holes, and rejuvenate lots of old clothes. A very cute gray pencil skirt with pink pinstripes of mine that was too big has now been salvaged by just a little bit of darting at the waist.

Step 3: Get organised. Put tops with tops, skirts with skirts, dresses with dresses, etc. Well, I must say there is a lot to be said for organising. I never realised quite how much gym kit I had!

Step 4: Reinvent. So my uber cute summer floral poplin dress works well for winter teamed with tights, a white shirt underneath and a black cardigan belted over the top. Good tip!

Step 5: Recycle. Take all your old clothes to the charity shop. And also, that dress that worked better on your friend than you? Give it to her. Trust me, it will give you an overwhelming sense of generosity and make you feel like the best mate ever!

Ok, I didn't find *loads* of brand new outfits, but with all the recycling and mix and matching, it certainly has the ethos of my new budget lifestyle.
Just a shame I barely have any clothes for winter and desperately want to buy a new coat and three pairs of ankle boots in Dorothy Perkins. But it's ok because I've made a list of all the important pieces missing from my wardrobe to purchase once my overdraft is paid off. It's only three pages long.

Current overdraft limit: £1,374... Rubbish.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

I <3 Bravissimo

Yesterday, I was bad. And for anyone who really isn't into posts with a serious case of TMI, please look away now. 
You see, none of my bras fit, to the point where I am in pain ladies and gents. My boobs have been sore for weeks! And the one that does fit is fairly moldy and gross. So I went to my local Bravissimo for a fitting and then gave them all my money in exchange for some much needed new scaffolding. 
I can tell you, it was very embarrasing at yesterdays London Bloggers Meetup telling people I write about giving up shopping and toddling about with a Bravissimo bag in my hand. Everyone could see my glaring failure.
My glaring failure was all the worse because, although I did buy one very useful black multiway plunge bra, which I can wear under pretty much everything, for a mere £24.50. I also, well, bought a basque. 
But it fits really well and is so pretty and is amazing under dresses where you need to be held in somewhat, and I have been in love with the Agent Provocateur ones for months but this one was a third of the price so really it's ok I bought it, it really is. It's a multiway too and has a lovely balconette bra that works beautifully under square necklines, so it really is very useful. For example, I was wearing a dress at the weekend which was strapless and very tight. So instead of wearing remarkably ugly Bridget Jones pants and having my bra straps on show I could have just worn the basque. Much more attractive. And it was only £54.  
And in fact, my new brassieres have given my wardrobe a whole new lease of life. Today I am wearing a gray forties style nurse dress, which I certainly couldn't have worn without the correct support. And I'm sure the new bras make me look thinner. Smiles all round. Expensive underwear is an investment worth making. 
And there are my garbled excuses. The way I reason these things to myself, I don't know. 
But I have made a decision to myself for the future.
I will never, ever, buy cheap underwear again. I'm sorry La Senza, you may do my sizes but your bras simply don't offer me the support I need, and whenever I buy cheap bras I always end up with double boob syndrome. No one likes double boob syndrome! It looks crap and is rather painful. So from now on, I have a new plan. 
Every six months I will make a trip to Bravissimo, get measured and buy beautiful but also erm, upstanding, bras. And I shall save up for this. Once I have this overdraft paid off and I'm officially allowed to shop again I will have a ladies nice things account. I will put a certain amount in every month and I will save up for my hearts desire. 
Instead of falling into the instant gratification trap, buying it there and then and getting myself into such fucking trouble... again.  

Current overdraft total: £1192.52 


Monday, 7 September 2009

Living on £100 a week is really hard. My answer? Shoes not booze.

It's currently Monday and for the rest of this week I have a grand total of... £20 to spend. 
Yep, I've spent £80 of my weekly budget already. 
£40 of this went on food for the week, £10 on toiletries and £30 on a night out. I'm also sure I owe someone money. And my Ipod headphones have packed up (again) so I really should get some new ones. But I may have to resist until next week. 
Last week I may have overspent by maybe £5 but I think I did pretty well for my first week of poverty. And that £5 overspend was buying birthday chocolates for a friend. But this week is another story,  I have a dentist appointment on Wednesday. That's this weeks budget screwed! I can't afford to have nice teeth. 
Once upon a time, when I was a lowly student, £100 a week seemed like loads of money! Now, it feels like absolute torture living on just £100 a week. Bleugh for pricey London town.
But seriously, I get the £100 out of the cashpoint every Friday evening, and it feels like such a small insignificant pile of cash. And then it disappears out of my fingers quicker than water runs down a plughole. 
On the plus side though I did spend half an hour in Urban Outfitters on Saturday (my good friend was buying a very retro coral front fastening bra with pink corset ribbons) and I didn't buy a thing. 
Also on the plus side I received my current student loan statement this weekend. I owe the government £9,638. Which is pretty scary, but compared to some other people I know, not that bad.  
I'm also going to start a new mini campaign, my housemate came up with the fantastic idea, it's called 'Shoes not Booze.' I've even twittered about it.
In short, alcohol costs money. If I drink less, I will spend less money, if I spend less money I will clear my overdraft faster and be allowed to by shoes sooner. And alcohol is full of fattening calories and makes you feel hungover and increases your risk of breast cancer. 
Shoes make your feet look nice.
Shoes not booze is a fantastic plan! I may have failed with the plan at a friends birthday party at the weekend, but today is a new dawn. I refuse to spend any money on alcohol until... well, at least next weekend. 

Current Overdraft total: £1,108.07 

Thursday, 27 August 2009

My beef with Elle

In this months Elle there is a feature about why young people are still shopping.
A naive, posturing, irresponsible article which doesn't answer the fucking question at all but only serves to advertise the cycle of consumption even further. To continue to make women feel they are inadequate if they aren't buying all the time like ditzes with credit cards but no brain cells.
The author Linda Grant talks of the predictions of the end of shopping with the recession bearing down on our wallets, this is the end of "mindless consumerism, to be replaced by a new mood of seriousness, of wartime make-do-and-mend. Of buying a few investment pieces that would last years, instead of a new dress every week."
Well, firstly, I can't even afford those investment pieces and secondly, Linda then goes on to tell us about how despite these predictions, the country is still shopping, as if this is a positive thing! Oh, it doesn't matter that you are up to your eyeballs in fucking debt and can't even afford porridge because you have bought three pairs of shoes that week you must keep purchasing!
According to Grant, it's because of "fashion's own defiance of bad news." Really? Or is it just so fucking hammered into us that we're nothing unless we don't have loads of stuff, however fucking useless. Unless I have a new shiny dress in my wardrobe I'm nothing. No wonder we're all in a recession, we can't stop, it was going to implode on us at some point.
No Grant hit it better on the head when she said "for those under 35, who have never known anything but a culture of consumerism, it might be cool to buy an ethically sourced necklace - but it's unimaginable to buy nothing at all... to dress badly, in out-of-date clothes, or ones that no longer suit you, is to surrender your self-respect."
When did self-respect become about having nice new clothes? I thought self-respect was about sticking up for yourself, believing in yourself, achieving something real with your life, not queueing up to buy some fucking Matthew Williamson at H&M because you might not get the chance again and if you don't have a shiny new wardrobe every five fucking minutes then you quite simply don't match up regardless of the intelligent thoughts you may have or the good you do for others.
Now, fair enough, Elle is fashion magazine, it is in their interest to push consumption, and really, as I'm on a shopping ban I just shouldn't read it. I'm just angry that this is why I am in such a mess. That I fell for it all. That it's so ingrained in my pysche. That I only have myself to blame.
And I do love fashion, love it. I love pretty things. But I'm coming to realise that the "sheer pleasure of being surrounded by pretty things" means nothing compared to once in my life actually having some financial security. Now, that, is real self respect.
This weapon of massive consumption (thanks Lily Allen) is retiring.
I wonder how long my self righteousness will last... ohh, there's a nice bra on the Bravissimo website, I could do with a new bra.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Incapable of being stylish at a festival

I always look shit at festivals. I'm allergic to camping you see, I break out in terrible hayfever, if I get bitten by gnats I develop fierce red rashes, despite how much factor 30 I smother myself in I still get burnt. My ginger disposition means I can't handle the outside world for longer than a few hours.
This is why I don't think I'll ever camp at a festival with a boyfriend/man I fancy. They would run away screaming. The cute little red head with nice heels they thought they were going out with has suddenly turned into a blotchy red-eyed zombie woman with terrible hair.
The fact I look like utter crap is only highlighted by the whole Kate Moss festival chic thing everyone has been sporting for the last couple of years. Seriously, at the V festival this year there were women wearing shoulder padded glittery Balmain dresses with their wellies and perfect dark edgy make up. Other women were in cute little sailor girl poplin dresses or Pixie Lott style fifties shorts with a face full of glitter. Somehow because you have wellies on, it's perfectly fine to staunter about in an uber revealing going out dress for two days. And that's before we have even get to how good all the acts looked, V V Brown with her vampire collar leather jacket, (so cool) Lady Gaga with her disco ball dress, Lily Allen with her massive heels and backless minidress, Shingai Shoniwa from The Noisettes with her fringed red jacket and white mini shorts.
Well, my denim cut offs with mascara smeared all over my hayfevery face just doesn't quite match up does it? I don't know how women manage to stay that polished at festivals. My carefully constructed stylish appearance that works so well in London town just crumples and falls apart as soon as I set foot in the field.
Seriously, a man was walking round at the festival offering 'free hugs' to any woman that walked past. As I walked past he yelled, 'free hugs for all... oh, not you though, eugh.' Charming.
Usually when I'm feeling this unattractive, I shop. And the V festival certainly provided in that respect. There was this unbelievably cute festival dress shop full of the sailor girl poplin dresses mentioned before. All vertical monochrome stripes and anchor emblems. Not to mention other dresses with cute little covered buttons, floral skirts and fifties style necklines. And they were cheap, just £15 each! Oh, it took a lot to walk away. In fact, I went back three times. But my sisters constant reminders that if I bought any of the dresses I wouldn't be able to afford to eat again for 24 hours pulled me though.
Thank goodness there is one thing I care about more than clothes: food.

Current overdraft total: £1490.05 Fuckady fuckbags. It seems I can't afford to eat either.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The money diary

After the horror of my extreme spending last week I have decided to keep a money diary, just so I can work out where exactly all my cash goes. I'm sure I don't spend that much on clothes.
I have noted down every little purchase, even if it was for £1. From this, I hope I can pinpoint my most extravagant and unnecessary expenses, give them up and stop my cash flow from, er, flowing quite so much!

Lunch at Double Espresso with girlfriends: £13.50
Cinema with girlfriends: £11
Coke & ready meal for dinner: £4.29
Night out at The Roxy: £27.50 (this includes drinks, entry and cab ride home, so I think I did really rather well considering how tipsy I was!)

Photoshoot with sister: £150
Milky way, nutrigrain bar and apple juice: £1.55
Snack a jacks, Orange Juice and chewing gum: £2.63
Weekly grocery shop: £21.73

Chocolate: £2

Gave friend Suzi £2 so she could buy fags.

Lunch with friend Jones: £7.55
Entry into the Tower of London: £17
Muffin from starbucks: £1.45
Film from blockbuster: £1.95
Indian takeaway: £13.29

Lunch with Hannah: £6.39
Chocolate: 65p

Starbucks muffins for colleagues: £2.95
Lunch: £3.59
Wrapping paper: £2.99

Total: £294.01

Oh god. Nearly £300 in a week when I was trying not to spend, when I was trying to behave. See, no clothes at all! Oh my god. And I didn't even drink that much either!
It seems I spend my money mostly on... food. £100.57 on food to be precise. That's the answer, I'll starve myself and then I'll be able to afford shoes again!
Seriously though, how many lunches with friends can a girl go on in a week? This week I spent £31.03 on lunches out alone!
Right that's it, no more lunches or muffins from starbucks, no more chocolate to cheer myself up on the way home from work, (unless the day has been particularly bad). As a student I had a £25 food budget and I stuck to it rigidly. I was also a lot slimmer then too... hmmm, perhaps there is something to this minimal food thing. But how? How did I spend so little? Back then no one else had any money either, so we didn't go for lunches, we just ate toast round each others houses. Not sure that would go down so well these days.
Right I'm calling out for tips, how to eat well on a budget? I shall consult my Thrift book too. India will tell me exactly how I can eat organic, vegetarian, fair trade and free radical for just £25 a week. Hurrah!

Another thing I can go with out... photoshoots with little sisters.

Current overdraft total: £810.58 Not bad, but again, I have just been paid.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Just a minor shopping indiscretion... or two.

Ok, this week, well, this week has not gone so well.
You see, it's my dad's 50th birthday party soon. It's a fancy dress party and I'm  
going as Marilyn Monroe. 
I think it's fair enough to buy a costume, I mean, it isn't for me, it's for my dad! So I toddled on down to the fancy dress shop and discovered two Marilyn dresses. 
One was a very synthetic, see through, badly fitted white halterneck dress for £20 - this dress did not give me any kind of Marilyn allure or sophistication. It made me look like white trash with droopy boobs. Not a look I favour.
The other dress, which cost nearly £60, was just beautiful! Pure silk, fitted 
perfectly with corset ribbons and a wonderful long pleated skirt I could just swirl round and round forever in.
I know from an economic perspective I should have just gone for the £20, it's just a fancy dress party and I'll probably never wear it again.
But, well, I have a minor obsession with Marilyn. I admit, I am not into the whole psychoanalytic, suicidal, weak, all for man and child, fluff and giggle routine, I prefer a little more kick ass attitude. 
But I like the way the woman dressed - I have read that I have very similar 
measurements to her, and I think she maximised her assets to full effect.
So when presented with these two options, I knew I had to go for the more 
expensive option. I just had no choice! I then had to get the big pants (wow, how did women breathe in those things!) the red lipstick, false eyelashes and wig.
So phew, that was indeed pricey.
Then, well, I went into the Primark and New Look in Tooting. I honestly was  
merely accompanying my housemate so she could take back a top. Instead I 
ended up buying a pair of flat biker boots, developing an obsession with a pair of suede pixie boots, buying an uber-cute heart printed mini skirt, some Chanel 
style pearls and a red beret.
Because it was Primark and New Look I did only spend £55 on all those lovely clothes. But it's still very bad. And £50 I don't really have. Especially 
considering the price of the Marilyn dress.
But, well, they are all wintery style clothes, so it's not all bad. These are clothes  
that will last! I can wear the mini skirt with thick tights, the boots and a jumper in the middle of December, and I can hardly wear the beret in the hight of August  
can I? It was an investment purchase.
And I had said in my initial rules if I found a pair of biker boots that I liked for  
under £50 I was allowed to buy them. The fact I'm now desperate for the pixie 
boots is a whole other problem.
And the Chanel beads? I have no real excuse except that the Coco Chanel film is on at the cinema at present so it really is the height of fashion and Chanel pearls never go out of style. 
Most importantly, they only cost me £2.50
So, yes, I have been an extremely naughty girl. I had my comeuppance though. I looked at my bank balance yesterday and actually yelped. Yep, I yelped, like a  
dog. A dog with no money. 
On the positive side, I have created two new outfits with my existing clothes that I am looking forward to wearing! It's all about the layering and the mix and  
Just stay the hell away from Primark and New Look.

Current Overdraft total: £1256.02 This means I have spent £496.84 in a week, a week! I'm a money spending machine. So, so bad. *Sob*

Friday, 31 July 2009

I bought the purse and the shoes.

Remember last week when I went into Dorothy Perkins and very nearly bought some shoes and a purse but then didn't?
Well today I did.
I bought a lovely lovely pink snakeskin 50's style clutch wallet for £12 and some plain black ballet pumps for £20 from Dorothy Perkins.
Here are my excuses:
1) Technically these two could fall under things I need. Plain black ballet pumps are a necessity and I currently don't have any. My current red purse is old, faded and covered in stinky crusty dried yogurt that I quite simply cannot get off.
2) I am in a really rubbishy mood today, I pulled my shoulder working out this morning, I've poured oriental spiced sauce all down myself and wandered around all morning with my flies undone, so I think I bloody deserve a bit of a cheer up.
3) I've been trying to cut down on my chocolate intake so haven't eaten any today and my fella is on hols, so no cuddles either! Christ, I have to get my serotonin hit somehow.
4) My sister gave me £20 last night thanking me for letting her stay on my sofa for a week. So technically she bought me the ballet pumps.
5) I actually think I was really good just buying the purse and ballet pumps, I did have a little scout round DP and am totally in love with most of the new autumn collection, especially these amazing high heeled suede boots with a little bit of fringing for just £55... If only I didn't have such a long way to go before the dreaded overdraft was paid off. *Sigh*

Current overdraft total: £759.18 Not bad at all!! However, I did get paid today.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A new development

Ok, so I'm back on track. 
I went into Dorothy Perkins last week, picked up two pairs of shoes and a purse. I got into the queue all ready to pay and then realised the error of my ways, put the shoes and purse back and left. 
This is a new achievement for me, I often have second thoughts while in the queue but I think, 'well, it would be embarrassing to leave now, I may as well just go ahead.' This my friends, is what is categorically known as a delusional excuse, which I have now ripped free of, hurrah.  
I also have been shopping for various friends birthdays and been able to buy them presents of the clothing variety without buying anything for myself. Double hurrah. 
I have also noticed something. I may be currently experiencing an increase in personal self-esteem. 
I think this is for two reasons, firstly, the current success with the non-shopping (despite the small cave last week) and also that I have stopped reading magazines. 
Don't get me wrong, I am still reading my housemates Look every week, but it's more a very speedy flick so I still have an idea of what's hot (so not losing the style touch) without focusing on any particular garment, otherwise the desire to purchase said garment might consume me. 
This week former editor of Marie Claire, Liz Jones, announced she has fallen out of love with fashion magazines. According to Miss Jones, magazines are all about "making us feel dissatisfied with ourselves and what we own, so that we believe we can buy our way out of our own misery... It's all too far away, too full of fairy tales, too sniping and dare I say it, anti-women." 
To be honest I figured that one out at uni but it seems I suffer from some bizarre masochism where I'm hell bent on unachievable self improvement preached at me by patronizing journalists. That and the magazines are so shiny... 
Anyway, now I have stopped buying Look, Glamour, Grazia, Elle, Company and Marie Claire I am saving a bundle (shinyness doesn't come cheap) and I feel better about myself. I don't constantly feel like, if I just bought that dress my life would be better. If I just had a flatter tum, or more bangles then everything would be ok. I would then be a woman who deserves success. 
This is all bullshit! I am worthy with the wardrobe I've got and the pretty much flat but some days slightly rounded tum. I don't need all this crap to be happy. I'm happy already!
But I must say it's very addictive bullshit and a mindset I'm struggling to escape from. Hence the need to still flick through Look to keep up with the trends. 
I know now that I don't need shopping. That in fact I'm happier without the cycle of consumption. So why do I miss it so much? God, it's like ditching a bloke who is bad for you. 

Current overdraft total: £1,363,62. Not great really.  


Monday, 13 July 2009

I caved...

On Friday night my sister rocked up in a great outfit and I simply fell in love with one of the bangles she was wearing, leapord print with gold strips, very nice indeed. Once we had all got a little tipsy I offered to buy my sister a cocktail in exchange for the bangle. She laughed and agreed. I figured it wasn't technically shopping as I would probably buy her a cocktail anyway. Getting all my friends drunk in exchange for their clothes seems like a good plan! Although I may get hordes of women banging on my door the next day insisting they have their clothes back and claiming I had taken advantage of them. Hmmmm.
Anyway, on Saturday I decided I really needed a bangle holder to hold my new bangle. I'm fed up of bangles being littered all over my desk. So I went to Oliver Bonas as they often do nice jewellery holders.
Bad things happened. Not as bad as they could of been, but still bad... I had a minor failing on the shopping ban.
I'm not sure quite what came over me, I saw this unbelievably cute poplin dress with rose floral flared skirt and black vest top. Only £30! I tried it on and knew resistance was futile. £30 is a really cheap price for a nice boutique dress. Then I kind of went a little crazy and started picking up belts and bags and jewellery. I was doing the shopping equivalent of stuffing my face with a whole chocolate cake.
But then I momentarily came to my senses and put all the accessories down. I even put the dress down, for half a second, and then realised I was totally incapable of leaving the shop without it. And I didn't even find a bloody bangle holder.
But it's only a minor failing. Just £30. And it doesn't mean I'm going to give up on, er, giving up.
I will just get back on the wagon.
Even if the desire to go out and buy stuff is immense, about three times worse than it was a week ago. I've even written a list of things I want to buy, and promptly hidden it.
But I can do this. I will simply research clothes swapping events to get my buzz. My friends visited the Look magazine event and said it was a crazy mess and involved a lot of standing in the rain but another friend visited the Guardian event and got some very nice stuff indeed.
I shall keep you posted.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

How to look after your clothes, according to The Thrift Book

If, due to the current economic climate, we have to shop less (or in my case, not at all) then looking after, mending and generally not ruining the clothes you currently own is surely of utmost priority. 
So below are my top ten tips to looking after your clothes, generally borrowed from The Thrift Book:

1) Stuff shoes and boots with crumbled newspaper to help them keep their shape between wears.
2) Buy a very good unscented deodorant, which doesn't leave marks. And don't get a too aggressive brand, as these eat away at the fabric.
3) Learn how to iron properly! You have no idea how this gives old clothes a new lease of life. I won't go as far as to advise starching spray but apparently that's good too. 
4) Use a clothes brush, you know, like your gran did, to combat fluff and shave off bobbles.
5) Sew buttons back on to clothes as soon as they start to dangle. It's so easy, just three stitches and you're done. 
6) Learn how to darn tears, patch holes and re-hem. I have chucked out many a pair of decent trousers just because the hem came loose. If you can't do this yourself many dry cleaners have services to do this on the cheap. 
7)  Most 'Dry Clean' garments can be washed by hand. Clothing manufacturers only say this to cover themselves should you have a shrinkage issue. If your 'Dry Clean Only' garment has a horrible stain then do take it to your dry cleaner. However if it just smells a bit, you can save some pennies by washing it by hand. 
8) When hand washing, swirl your garments and leave them to soak, do not rub them, twist them, scrub them, wring them. This will damage the material. I admit I am very guilty of this when I have a huge amount of hand washing to do and not very much time. But if you want your clothes to look nicer for longer you're gonna have to take a little time over it.  Soak and swirl my friends, soak and swirl.  
9) If you do have dirty spots rub them very gently, with one finger. If the stain doesn't start to come off immediately, it needs to be soaked for longer. 
10) Dry everything flat, pressed between towels. Do not wring the water out, press, press, press the water out. 

Those are my ten most important tips, but for more handwashing info, do grab India's book. This woman knows how to handwash. 

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Thrift Book

When I'm really serious about something, as I am paying off my overdraft and saving money, I generally always buy a book about it.
Buying a book about it makes me feel much more ready to deal with the challenge. I have a set of instructions, rules and tips! I'm halfway there! That and I also get the buzz of, er, buying something.
Anyway, while moseying about in Borders for a book I very much need for work purposes I spied The Thrift Book by India Knight. Apparently full of great ideas to live beautifully but cheaply. Excellent.
Sadly it seems if you want to live beautifully and cheaply there is rather a lack of buying anything. In fact, it's not just The Thrift Book but also the how to live beautifully, organically, healthily, environmentally friendly and not harm or offend anyone in anyway book. In the clothes section this India Knight woman bangs on about Primark using child labour so it must be avoided at all costs, advises shopping twice a year rather than every Saturday and tells us to buy expensive classics that will last a lifetime.
It's the shopping only twice a year I am most upset about.
And aren't 'expensive classics' generally the territory of older/fatter women? Or am I being a complete youth/skinny snob?
Another concern is that I'm too fickle to wear the same dress for ten years. BORING.
She has given some interesting advice on mending and hand washing though. I shall post some of these tomorrow as I find them extremely useful. Looking after and mending my clothes is something I already do, so advice on how to do it better is always appreciated.
She did witter on for quite a while about making your own clothes. The idea of this is in theory, a romantic notion. The prospect of my seeing an expensive dress on Kylie in a magazine and then making my own version for far fewer pennies is, well, rather delightful and very empowering. Can you get more self-sufficient than making your own clothes? It's a tremendous skill, far better to say you can make a dress from scratch than boast about your shopping prowess, in which all you are really doing is handing money over a counter and the money won't even go to the poor child in Africa who made your new dress, but the fat white men who own the shop. (Yes, she has got me feeling really guilty)
Sadly I know the reality of my making clothes is a badly constructed black shift dress, which will have one arm shorter than the other, fray at the seams after one wear and I will probably break the sewing machine in the process. I'm too slapdash for such artistry.
However, part of the reason I took up this challenge was to change my mindset toward money. To stop the obsession with compulsion and learn to save up for something I really want and appreciate it, rather than smack it on the card until I reach my overdraft limit. I have got into this mess before, got myself out of it with loads of hard work, and then got myself into the same state all over again. It's like a diet, the best way to keep the weight off permanently is to change the way you think about food rather than deny for months on end and splurge again.
So maybe 'expensive classics' with a few up to date accessories (i.e. hot shoes) is the way to go... does this mean I can shop designer without guilt?! Suddenly that option seems far more appealing!
And with the sewing machine? Ok, I shall try and then post it up here so you can all laugh at the hideous results.

Current Overdraft total (minus the savings): £1,155.04