Thursday, 28 April 2016

Adventures in Style (and Colour-Changing Hair)

Another outfit post. Perhaps 'adventures' is a bit of a strong word since I'm sticking mainly to my uniform of jeans and tees, but never mind.

Grey-haired goblin creature

Bitchface in purple. Also, shorts and tights, not jeans!

Silver-blonde hair and Nasa, again. Legs because boyfriend's birthday.
You can't see my stubby lilac pigtails here but I love my skully necklace and disintegrating jeans.
Badge was a gift from a friend. It says, 'future artist'.
Current hair.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Blue Girl

I got new hair again! This is the result of my patient hairdresser Dani (someone give that woman a medal) and Chill* Ed Stain in Blue with a healthy dollop of Pastelizer. This might be my favourite hair colour of all time. I am in LOVE.

I'm probably going to go back to my natural colour for our trip abroad, since I don't want to be finding a hairdresser to take care of my roots every five minutes, so I figure I have a year and a half to have as much fun with colour as possible. ;)

After first wash - in cold water, using sulphate-free shampoo.

Monday, 11 April 2016


Once, when I was about seventeen, a lifelong friend of mine referred to me as 'feral'. I have never forgotten it, because frankly, I don't think she was wrong.

I grew up a free-range child. I live out in the sticks, so I always had plenty of opportunity for running around outside (which is where I would normally be found, although generally I had a book under one arm and a My Little Pony in the other). My mother insists that I refused to wear clothes at home until I was nearly twelve years old, which is slightly embarrassing. (I did, however, go through a phase of wearing dozens of beaded necklaces over my nakedness, so there are photos of me looking like a child escapee from Burning Man.) I also had a habit of narrating my own actions - thanks to my reading addiction, I got the impression that we were all supposed to be doing so. And when I was about three I was crazy about The Lion King and apparently sincerely held the belief that I was in fact a small lion.
Child self.
I didn't have a terribly normal upbringing. My mum is an anarchist and I think we are possibly considered to be the black sheep of the family. For a long time Mum was into herbalism, and if I had a cough it was treated with hyssop out of the garden (in fact I liked the hyssop cough syrup so much I used to take the bottle out of the fridge and drink it). We used to eat nettles in the summer (you boil them to get rid of the sting) and gather flowers from the hedgerows to make elderflower cordial. Our airing cupboard had bundles of drying lavender and rosemary hanging from the ceiling.

My dad was a photographer in the seventies. He wore lime-green flares and his biggest claim to fame was taking pictures of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Growing up in Oxford he was a hellraiser - he and a friend once rode through a cinema on a motorbike and out of the fire exit doors, whilst letting off a fire extinguisher. His biggest obsession is sixties and seventies rock and roll; and yes, he is a child of that era in every way - when I told him about my one and only teenage experience with drugs (very disappointing, did not like), he said, with genuine concern, "That's a shame. Would you like to try some of mine?"

My parents moved around a lot before I was born and lived for a while in a park home. In my innocence I thought this was because we were from a family of travellers. My dad's side of the family are half fairly normal English people from Oxford way, and half fairly normal Danish people who speak no English whatsoever. My mum's side of the family are Hampshire farm folk, and I don't mean old money, hunting and shooting, I mean I have uncles who live in shacks. 'Rustic' is probably the best term. It's one of the things I like best about my family - they're different. Especially the older generation, who live out in the countryside and aren't interested in the internet. They've never been 'conditioned' to be ordinary. Some of us are hoarders - one relative collected magazine freebies throughout their life, another hazelnuts, allegedly. One cousin has a picture of his tractor as his Facebook profile picture.

I love my weird family because I was never brainwashed to become part of the great social machine. I was an odd child, and I became an odd adult. My mum taught me that creativity and independence of mind are more important than being wealthy or popular. My dad showed me self-sufficiency (and good music). [Edit: he found my blog and read this post. He is disinclined to agree with the term 'hellraiser' because the motorbike thing 'only happened once'. He was also peeved that I only listed two things he taught me, so I'll add, he also taught me the word 'perspicacious'. And how to play guitar. He's awesome. His blog is yonder, by the way.]

I am feral, and I'm proud of it.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Magpie Wardrobe

My great, big, clear-out is almost at an end. It's taken almost four years. Honestly. Four years of my life shifting and sorting through the piles of crap I had accumulated, hoarded, convinced myself I needed. I'm in the final stages now; listening to all my CDs to decide which ones I want to keep, replacing the films I won't watch again with new delights (discovering my taste), trying to persuade myself to actually part with books. And procrastinating on approaching the last bit of my closet.

The end is in sight.

I noticed, yesterday, something that I think might be important to my own sense of identity. I realised that everything I was wearing had a story of some kind. T-shirt: belonged to my best friend. Jeans: secondhand, worn until literally disintegrating. Earrings: a gift from my penpal in Nepal. Bracelet: bought at the beach, on holiday with my partner. Bag: acquired whilst passing through Burley in the New Forest.

The items in my wardrobe that I am keeping are not, in general, items I have purchased on shopping trips. They have been accumulated from all over - bought on trips, on dates, on RedBubble after falling in love with this or that artist or comic or film, from gigs, from secondhand shops, even, sometimes, found when someone else threw them away (two of my pairs of New Rocks were found in a skip. Have I had flack before for this method of acquiring items? Sure. But I'd rather be the person recycling the £150 boots than the person who threw them away).

So I came to realise two things:

  1. I will do my best not to go on any more shopping trips. Not that I'm not going to go to the mall with my friends, if invited, but I'm going to go for coffee, for cakes, for bookstores, for spending time with a favourite person, and if I stumble across something that's right for me, then cool. But no more running riot through shopping centres waving my debit card in a frenzy of desperation, hoping that better clothes will somehow make me a better person.
  2. I am, by nature, a magpie.
I love this quote from Laini Taylor: "Like a magpie, I am a scavenger of shiny things: fairy tales, dead languages, weird folk beliefs, fascinating religions and more." Yet somehow it never occurred to me to apply the magpie philosophy to my wardrobe. 

I have always been something of a scavenger; for example, my beautiful acoustic guitar was found at the local tip. It had a string missing and needed a good clean, but the site manager said I could take it for £5 if I played him a tune. So I did. My laptop, also, came out of a skip. I took it to some computer geniuses of my acquaintance who fixed it up and put a shiny new hard drive in it. I've had it about ten years now, and the fact it's held together with electrical tape is irrelevant, because it is my baby. (In fact, I like its hodgepodge appearance. It makes me feel like I'm in some sort of post-apocalyptic-meets-90s-hacker movie.) 

I've always bought clothes from charity shops and bootsales and so on, but more for the purpose of collecting rather than curating; spending for the sake of it, rather than finding the individual item that speaks to me in that moment, that's good-looking and practical and will stand the test of time (and not get caught up when my boyfriend and I climb trees).

So now, I'm going to try hard to harness my thrifty, scavenger side. Because acquiring things as I go rather than specifically going out to shop means I collect memories as well as things; it's more environmentally friendly; it means I think more about what I'm using my money on and whether its worth it (very important when saving to go on a trip); and frankly I feel it's more interesting (artsy! punk rock! select your adjective!) than just going out to the high street to consume. I have set myself some vague-ish guidelines:
  • You only need as much as you need. (Twenty pairs of jeans? Really?)
  • Substance over style.
  • If you don't buy expensive shit that you didn't really need (but you thought it might help shore up your ego), you can spend the money on books or put it towards the trip of a lifetime or buy some soup. (Soup is good.) I reiterate this point a lot, I guess, but I know what it's like to be saving up for something important and then shoot yourself in the foot because you couldn't stop yourself buying X item of clothing in the hope of it somehow changing your life. Just me?
  • Hooray for DIY. Can you 'make do and mend' with something you already have rather than go out and buy new?
Is anyone else out there a magpie?
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