The Spike


December 2015

A look back

If someone had told me how much you have to have your photo taken as a journalist, I genuinely might have considered another career. It’s not that I don’t like having my photo taken, I don’t care really, it’s just that you have no control over what photo gets used – and what photo is put on the internet to be looked at by absolutely anyone who Googles you, in perpetuity.

Anyway I Google-imaged myself the other night because both children freakishly were asleep by 7.30pm so the evening stretched on rather and I found myself doing it. And I was a bit traumatised by what I found and like all things I find traumatising, I need to share them.

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I was pregnant with Sam in this photo (above) but they didn’t want to show that, because it would confuse the piece, which was a about something else. So had to hold something in front of my stomach and pretend I wasn’t pregnant, just fat. And I hate my make-up here, and my hair. I just hate everything about this picture.

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This was taken in the green room at the Ham & High literary festival and then posted online. Thanks guys! I’d just had Sam. Or maybe Sam was a year old, who knows? But I look like shit. Probably because I’d been up since 5am.

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Also pregnant with Sam, here. And suffering from some weird facial redness thing around my nose. And dirty hair? Who knows. Grim.

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I do love this photographer, Juliette, but why didn’t I put any make-up on for this shoot? Also: I must never get this haircut again.

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This is what I really look like!!! No make-up selfie!! Which explains chin-to-fist… (zit).

Crazy novelty clutch bag

I don’t like novelty stuff, never have. The recent high-fashion trend for bags with big comedy eyes on them or things covered in “fun” fur, neon fringing or that Louis Vuitton design ages ago with cherries and cartoon characters all over it made me want to fucking vomit.

I only ever aspire to trying to dress like Sarah Harris from Vogue, who doesn’t really ever wear colour or pattern but always looks terrific.

But it’s the strangest thing, suddenly something inside you can just sort of click and you go “Oh no that’s great.”

Yesterday I suddenly, about a year too late, got an internal lust on for a cuddle clutch, which is a large squashy clutch bag that you hug to yourself as you go about your business like this:

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But, with no disrespect intended to Alexa Chung, I always think a furry bag seems a bit unhygienic, and what if it rains…? I am not Alexa Chung with a driver (possibly?) and an apartment in New York: I often get caught in the rain and this bag, I fear, would slow me down:

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What I really want right now is this bag below, but it’s fucking sold out. URGH. Like when you realise too late that a boy who you initially dismissed because he seemed a bit crackers turns out to be really nice and a great guy and you knew he sort of fancied you back but by the time you get your act together he’s bloody married to someone else. So frustrating. All other clutch bags I’ve seen now look just so bloody suburban and timid in comparison.

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I want this and I don’t know why

I emailed my friend Kirstin who is a mum at Kitty’s school with a picture of it and she emailed back “This bag looks like a take-home project from [insert name of Kitty’s school here].” Which made me laugh. But I still fucking want it.

Drumming soldier toy

I got this from Trotters yesterday for Sam. It is one of those toys that is ever-so-slightly more for you than for them because it is so VERY wholesome and Christmassy. It’s so gorgeous it could almost double as a Christmas decoration. But at the same time, kids do love a pull-along…

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£20, from Trotters




Massimo Dutti

When I was about 26 and lived in a very re-saleable tiny box flat on High Street Kensington, I lived above a row of shops – French Connection, Massimo Dutti, Esprit… and something else that kept changing.

The awful glare from the sequins in French Connection kept me out of that shithole, but there was something else more subtly off-putting about Massimo Dutti. It always looked from the outside like the most awful kind of depressing, like, nonshop for Italian hookers who didn’t know they were hookers. Maybe a front? Like a Mafia front for gormless Italian hookers? Based in High St Ken?

But then yesterday I brushed off my passport and went all the way to Chelsea to meet Sophie, who is the nicest, kindest and most lovely CEO of Trotters, (Spikers nearly crashed their website buying these babies)… and I’m not just saying that because she gave me a huge discount at the till on the 400 items I snatched from the Trotter shelves [more soon] … and it so happened that I was early and stumbled upon a Massimo Dutti.

And I went in and I was overwhelmed with a feeling that one occasionally gets in a shop, (which is a good sign), where you want to call the RAF to request an emergency airstrike on your wardrobe and get one of the charming girls to kit you out head to toe in Massimo Dutti.

What I’m trying to say is that Massimo Dutti have got really top lifestyle-basics game at the moment. I had to run out of the shop before I bought 40 leather jackets, a perfect jean and 25 navy sweaters.

Here’s what I particularly liked:

Anina Vogel

Men!!! I know you’re there, lurking, you slimeballs.

If you are stressing about what to get HER for Christmas, head directly to the Anina Vogel counter of Selfridges or Liberty. No, you can’t buy online. Yes it is freaking expensive.

But listen to me… come closer… smell the coffee on my breath, boys! *she doesn’t even know she wants this*. That’s how good this shit is. She’s never even heard of Anina Vogel!! But when she gets a look at this, the top of her head is going to come off. Seriously.

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Compulsive Repeat Buying

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You have a problem. You are a compulsive repeat buyer. You are! Don’t bother to deny it. You are because we all are. Open your wardrobe and tell me what there are five of. Or ten of. Or fifteen of?

For a lot of people it’s stripes. Striped vests, tops, sweaters. There is something about the horizontal stripe that is so appealing. It says: holidays, freshness, the seaside. The weekend. So when we go shopping and we are feeling a bit mindless, we buy something striped.

For other people it’s white vests. Nothing so lovely as a lovely fresh white vest. Or t-shirts in any colour. Or trainers, or mini skirts, or jeans. Or whatever!

I was a vest person. Always a new vest. And mad things – mad, embroidered, pointless things from Anthropologie that you couldn’t really wear anywhere. And crappy jewellery. Lord! The crappy jewellery I have could sink a battleship.

But I never had anything to wear.

As we march relentlessly on towards January, newness, freshness, yucky drizzly, samey, non-sparkly, no-sunshine, dismal, change and determination – consider putting among your private resolutions to identify what you buy over and over again and stop.

Then ask yourself: do I have in my wardrobe:

1 a black dress

2 black trousers (can be jeans or cords)

3 black courts or heels

4 a navy or grey blazer

5 a denim jacket

6 a pale blouse

7 plain white, black and/or grey t-shirts

8 a fresh pair of navy tracksuit bottoms without holes or indelible stains

9 a denim shirt and checked shirt

10 trainers that do not look like they’ve been chewed by a dog

? Well do you?

If you are missing any of these, get yourself a good example. With those ten items you will never not have anything to wear. Personally, I’m completely addicted to those capsule wardrobe pins on Pinterest but possibly I just don’t have enough to do.

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I love this 

Spring fashion

Look sorry to do this to you, but you are going to have to start thinking about what to wear come Spring, now. I know! Sorry, sorry.

And I’m even sorrier to tell you that the bloody slip dress is back! urgh. I wasn’t even able to wear a slip dress first time around and now? At 35 after two kids with my bosom all around there? And my mum tum?

Just fuck off. Just fuck right off.

But the other thing that I didn’t do last time round that I could do this time round is wearing a lace-trimmed camisole or a trimmed baby doll dress over jeans/leggings and underneath a sweater so that the silk and lace pokes out becomingly. It’s grunge – again.

Come Spring slip dresses and lace-trimmed whatsits are going to be absolutely everywhere but what I’m saying is: start thinking about it now. Start mentally adjusting to the idea. Look up pictures of Kate Moss wearing that see-through silver slip with her trainers on. Channel it.

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I mean, don’t buy this, because it’s too early and other, better examples will come along, but this is the sort of thing you ought to be thinking about when the time comes. Not to wear on its own, you understand, but with sweaters, tights, leggings, skinny jeans and bikers or other boots. Sort of like this:

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Bloody Breton stripes will still be around in Spring, says January’s Vogue, so that’s good as I’m sure you’ve all got 400 breton tops in your cupboard. If you don’t, Mango has one or two good striped sweatshirts and oversized t-shirts.

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I mean, they’ve styled this with the sensitivity of my two year old, but you get the idea.

And peach – peach and pale pink and sort of pale orange: those are the colours to look out for, which is a shame as I look ghastly in all of those.


Christmas Day outfit

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But Spring is awfully far away, so let’s get back to more urgent dressing conundrums.

Christmas Day! What the hell are you going to wear? And when I say you, I mean me.

I have in the past ended up wearing a dress and tights and sort of smartish shoes on Christmas Day and it just feels strange and wrong. Mostly because I’m not much of a wearer of dresses during the day. I feel like I’m in drag.

I want to be smart out of respect for the day and for other people who have to look at me all day long.

But at the same time I want to feel relaxed and whatever I’m wearing needs to be reasonably practical as I will definitely be going to a playground after lunch otherwise my children will go completely deranged with cabin-fever.

I think the solution to the problem may start with these wide-leg charcoal grey trousers from The White Company above. I have given up on ever getting back into those size 10 2003 wide-leg grey trousers from Topshop, which are my ultimate “thin” trousers because, well, you have to get real at some point about what size is achievable. So I need some new ones because a wide-leg grey trouser is probably my most perfect item of clothing.

Other wide-leg trousers I have seen have been too extreme – I do not want to make a fashion statement, I just want to be stylish. And there is no shop on earth more dedicated to being stylish rather than fashionable than The White Company. The only remaining problem is what to wear on top so as not to look like an office worker. More as I have it.

A message from The Spike’s Saving The World editor

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My friend Annie Kelly is a journalist and works on special investigation projects focussing on, basically, the worst and most terrible stuff in the world.

Human trafficking, modern slavery, refugees – all the stuff that you and I, or at least I, just do not want to think about it. I don’t know how she can stand it. Sometimes I think she wonders how she can stand it. But she keeps doing it – and whenever I see her she is always cheerful, never harangues me, never makes me feel bad or guilty for just getting on with my life and talking a lot about shopping. It’s a mean feat.

So I was surprised but delighted to get an email from her suggesting that if Spikers are interested at this time of year in giving to a charity, but do not have a particular one close to their hearts, that this charity, Refuge, is worthwhile.

Annie says this: “These parcels actually do make many families’ shitty Christmasses in some shitty refuge escaping their shitty husbands/fathers more bearable.”

She adds “I also realise this isn’t exactly what your readers may be after but hey, worth a punt.”

It certainly was!

Come on, do me proud, Spikers… I have already given. And remember, I can see how many click-throughs each link on this blog gets. No pressure.

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