One of my first tastes of fashion journalism came during an internship at Glamour Magazine in suitably exotic Cape Town, South Africa. It was autumn (there and summer here) 2007; I was reporting on what men (heterosexual ones, natch!) thought of the ubiquitous noughties trend of billowing tunics and tulip skirts. It provided a predictably depressing indictment of how fashion’s more inventive sculptural ventures translate to the male gaze, with ample words to the effect of “what’s she trying to hide under there?” and “it looks like a maternity dress!” Also included in the arsenal of supposed femininity faux pas were turbans, not so much for being unflattering by the narrow standards and norm that govern western beauty ideals but for being a bit, well, weird. Cultural appropriation has always been a challenge in fashion, not to mention a touchy subject. What makes pastiche patronising and what sells the dream of exoticism intended by the cultural references? Sure, the turban headband fits comfortably within the context of the bohemian hippie vibe of the 70s; it also hints at the mystique of orientalism while distilling it to accessible high street level with knot and wave detailing.
And so we arrive at my take on the trend. It was a maddening irony that the item that was the quickest to make proved the slowest to publish in video form for two reasons: the editing programme I used was slow and its usage more awkward than trying to circumnavigate airport security with a genital piercing; and while the initial plan was to publish it on Instagram, that appeared to come with a myriad of requirements that I had to teach myself. For this, I could include a tutorial within a tutorial, of sorts but, spoiler: it only accepts MP4 videos! Knowing that is half the battle – or seven eighths if we’re talking in terms of time! The conspiracy theorist in me (along with a fair few of my more objective deduction faculties) wonders if the omission of this simple explanation as to why one’s phone isn’t ‘seeing’ the video when it comes to uploading it is Instagram’s way of saying “dear PC users and anyone else too miserly or impecunious to afford a Mac, sucks to be you, trololol!” Rantings aside, this beginners-level tutorial came out a little too frenetic in Instagram form, despite my best efforts.
I made a video which I hope describes the process a little more clearly of how you can turn a second-hand scarf – or, you know, a new one – into a turban headband without even needing to thread a sewing machine.
Being the busy lady that I am, time has been a little tight for writing tutorials. Still, even in my haste I reasoned that, rather than letting my work suffer, I would use my initiative to share some DIY fashion ideas for those of you who are as busy as I am. And so, here are five ideas for giving an outfit an instant statement – in every sense – with a versatile black and metallic colour palette, as well as details aplenty.
Owing to excessive work and trying to get my ducks in a row to move house, time has been a bit too tight to offer tutorials in full but, in my recent de-cluttering efforts I have managed to get some of the projects I’ve been meaning to do for months out of the way – or rather been spurred on to do them in order to clear space. One of the projects was a maxi dress I found in a charity shop that I thought would make a stylish jumpsuit, so I converted it.
You need to turn the dress inside out first so that any alterations you make to take the bodice in can be pinned in place and sewn straight away. I find it helps to use a mannequin.
You can draft up a basic trouser pattern – or block – for yourself by using a series of measurements and dimensions, detailed here.
You need to trace the back and front trouser pattern twice on each of the corresponding sides of the dress, making sure they’re traced out symmetrically so that both the right leg and the left leg fit correctly. Cut them out and sew them together along the seams as you would if you were making a normal pair of trousers.
If there aren’t any fastenings in place, you might need to add them in order to get into your jumpsuit. I attached an invisible zip along the right side seam.
Cutting out the trouser legs along the side seam means that you don’t need to include seam allowance or sew the outside seams together. However, cutting the trouser legs diagonally might leave you with excess fabric along the centre front, which you would need to take in for a snug fit.
With festival season still very much upon us, in the too-late-for-preparations-but-current-enough-to-grab-emergency-supplies sense, I thought I’d introduce my take on the ubiquitous garland. The quintessentially hipster, Lana del Rey-endorsed flower crown has cemented its status in recent years as a go-to signifier of flower girl whimsy, only to become so overused it’s transgressed into cliché territory; another floral headband? Aren’t you quite the free spirit!?
If we’re to give floral crowns back their bohemian, countercultural edge why not make them – well – darker and edgier? Atelier Versace’s grungy black and lilac headbands are a good place to start for inspiration. Simply knot a hair elastic in the middle and tie a 50cm length of 3D floral trim to it at either end. A chic quick fix!
Use your car body filler to sculpt the heel. I find that the best way of tackling it is to lie the shoe on its back, mix a generous dollop of body filler and slather it into a rounded shape the top of the heel, holding it in place about halfway down with the flat plastic applicator provided, until it dries. Then mix a second batch of body filler and repeat the process with the lower half of the heel. Mix a tiny bit more filler and apply it with your palette knife to smooth down the sides. You might need to use sandpaper to smooth the surfaces once the body filler has dried. Once you’ve made your wavy heels, paint them with red enamel paint. I’d recommend two coats so that it’s completely opaque.
Pin some paper to the side of one of the boots. draw a curved line. Cut along the edges and the curved line so that you have a stencil. Pin the stencil to each side of the boots and use it to draw a gold line, ensuring they’re symmetrical and meet in the middle.
The only challenge here is drafting the ‘C’ shape but (spoiler alert) I’ll provide help with that in the form of a template. The challenge doesn’t go beyond ironing and gluing.
A ‘C’ for yourself
Using the template above (you can print it or draft one up using squared paper), make and cut out a backwards C-shaped pattern, pin it to the ‘wrong’ side of your fabric (the non-patterned side) and cut the shape out in fabric.
A versatile wardrobe staple, Tommy Hilfiger’s metallic star booties added just the right balance of glamour and Ziggy Stardust-era rock chic to capture the imagination of fashion insiders. And so, while these booties had celebrities and editors alike in raptures and I wanted in on the action, so I got crafting.
You will need…
Black suede or suedette ankle boots
Red enamel paint
4-6 squares (about 20x20cm) of differently-coloured metallic fabric – ideally leather or faux leather
Use your car body filler to sculpt the heel. I find that the best way of tackling it is to lie the shoe on its back, mix a generous dollop of body filler and slather it into a rounded shape the top of the heel, holding it in place about halfway down with the flat plastic applicator provided, until it dries. Then mix a second batch of body filler and repeat the process. Mix a tiny bit more filler and apply it with your palette knife to smooth down the sides. Once you’ve made your wavy heels, paint them with red enamel paint. I’d recommend two coats so that it’s completely opaque.
I have two things to thank for coming up with this straightforward, charity-shop-friendly DIY project: the wrap top above and this viral vest video – and several permutations thereof – that’s been doing the rounds recently.
The process lends itself to all abandoned shirts needing a new home – like, say, your wardrobe – from sheer blouses to Hawaiian patterned horrors from yester-decade (hypothetically speaking, at least). Mine was done on a chiffon blouse, procured from a charity shop for the agreeable price of £2.50.
A photo posted by Charley H (@chiccheatcharley) on
The diaphanous nature of the fabric meant that I wasn’t happy with using fray check to finish the edges, so I folded the edge back and machine-sewed a zigzag hemming stitch (this does make the project a little more time-consuming to finish but thankfully not much).
While statement sunglasses – not forgetting a particularly ubiquitous Dior offering- might have been ruling the roost in the must-have item stakes, Style.com assures us that super-sized earrings are the statement piece-du-jour on the fashion week street style circuit. It’s a daring feat for a bold statement; pulling off massive hoop earrings and drawing attention to the ear, as an erogenous zone, are both a challenge. However, the instant potential to dress up the most effortlessly casual of outfits with these earrings makes them worth the investment – and worth the effort if you’re making your own.