‘Tis the season for sentimental retrospectives as we pore over the pop cultural profferings that set 2014 apart. In a year that gave tomboyish comfort items wardrobe staple status, there was arguably not one so distinctive as the artistic trainer trend – a must for she who shoots her street style snaps on a bicycle and gets a kick out of colourful customisation. I might have tried it before but I had to go back for one more try.
What do you do if you see three trends leading in the same direction? You, well, observe the trend: the bigger-picture trend that they make up. So Style.com is heralding a pockets as a detail and central feature alongside army surplus-style paradigms. Meanwhile, following the Paris fashion shows The Guardian’s fashion team hailed buttons as the fastening-du-jour – especially Elsa Schiaparelli-style fabric buttons in brilliant contrasting hues. Closing in the hat trick are the Fashionisers who have, um, harnessed a particular liking for strappy, studded belts with crafty knots, oversized eyelets and quirky buckles.
Here at Chic Cheat we are, of course, less about expensive fashion than extensive DIY possibilities, which this trend thankfully carries in spades. Belts are easy to customise with some plain domed studs, as well as clasps and karabiners which can be found at a reasonable price at lots of local markets. Pockets, likewise, if you’re confident with a sewing machine, can be customised by sewing on some lace and trims or, if you’re feeling sufficiently adventurous, sew on your own in canvas or other robust fabrics. If these two suggestions seem a bit out of your depth, covering buttons with fabric, or finding some fabric-covered buttons at a market, charity shop or independent haberdashery and stitching them onto contrasting clothing works equally well as a statement.
Utilitarian fashion is an interesting angle for fashion to take in a year like 2015, if you consider that, within the context of fashion history, one of its first associations is with wartime fashion. 2014 became the year feminism finally came into its own on a global and cultural scale and if it was that which brought comfort-led paradigms, such as flat shoes, backpacks and trousers, to the fore, in preference to tottering heels and binding dresses, you could draw a parallel between utilitarian wartime clothing and its stark contrast with the wasp waists and fabric excesses of Christian Dior’s New Look collection, from 1947. Wartime spirit need not be as depressing an inspiration as you might think if you consider the empowerment and job opportunities the two World Wars brought to women. It is here that conventional excesses of opulence start to betray a bird-in-a-gilded-cage caveat; the dangerous ice floe of such purely aesthetic beauty is the way in which it encroaches, not just in binding pain but in the way it frames the female body. Is it really the escapism of excess or would true freedom – and therefore female empowerment – be to divest ourselves of both constriction and predetermined paradigms of a given role: a thing of superfluous beauty? I do not want to denounce the design credentials of the New Look as a collection, but at the same time I feel that there is merit in focussing our creative energies elsewhere. Surely that, if anything, is really breaking new ground?
Next spring is set to take fashion deeper into the 70s from cut and colour palette pastiche to the earthy, bohemian whimsy of hippie paradigms, from fringing to tie-dye and folk-inspired patchwork. It definitely captures the kaleidoscopic haze of the ‘me decade’ with its characteristic nod to crafty detailing and ethereally chaotic mix-and-match styling, so of course it would have me beavering away at my desk with any trims, fabrics and quirky embellishments I could find – it’d be rude of me not to!
You will need
I used faux leather in red, yellow, two shades of grey (no more needed, thank you), teal, light blue, white and black. I’d recommend sniffing around eBay or your local market for inexpensive samples.
Needle and black thread
Sewing machine with a leather needle – alternatively, if you don’t have one or aren’t too confident in the company of such an item, you can just as easily use a stapler.
It is fiddly, it does take a bit of care, technique and love but categorically I can’t find anything too challenging here.
Now for the bad news. Against my earlier expectations, this one turned out to be a 6-hour project.
You wanna be a hippie?
Cut a piece of black leather that’s 8x20cm. Fold it over by 1cm at the top and either glue it in place with craft mount or sew it along the edge if you’re using a machine to fix it in place.
Cut a piece of grey leather measuring 6x20cm and stick it in place across the bottom using craft mount.
Sew or staple the fringing to the back of the faux leather. Don’t worry about staples r stitches showing, as we’ll soon be covering these up with fringing.
Starting at the bottom cut some coloured faux leather pieces and attach them where you would like them to go. I’d recommend cutting them in a trapezium shape that flares outwards at the bottom.
Cut the pieces into fringing, making the strips as fine as you can – no more than 5mm in width. If you’re cutting trapezium shapes like I suggested, cut them so that they flare diagonally outwards. Add more colours as you move up the grey base and try messing some pieces about by tousling them with your fingers.
Once you have made your fringing design, cut two equal lengths of ribbon that fit around your neck and can be easily tied in a bow. Attach them and hand stitch some black gems onto them.
My search for festive styling inspiration left me bitten by the millennium bug of Lancome’s Instinct fragrance campaign from way back in 2000 (yes, I’m aware that through those few words I’ve just shown my age, but hopefully I’ve done so gracefully).
Devilishly dramatic was the order of this upcoming festive season, so far as I was concerned. You might have noticed from certain other recent posts that I’m all for a little experimenting with fabric appliqué on makeup and when it’s so easy with eyelash glue, why not?
I wanted something quirky but kept to a single fabric and a limited colour palette, to avoid detraction from the outfit in question, or onlookers uttering words to the effect of “Yes, Black Swan was a great film but Halloween was over a month ago!” Fabric makeup appliqué made a brief appearance in the intervening 14 years since my inspiration, in Chanel’s spring 2013 shows, again, with a monochrome colour scheme and delicate application of mesh.
I started with a cheeky lick of eyeliner along the eyelids and some generously-applied mascara. I then covered my eyelids and inside of my eye sockets with a frame of black eye shadow. I used a brush to smudge the eye shadow slightly in the outside corners. Finally, I added a thin sliver of silver eye shadow to my eyelids to add definition (mind screw of a sentence, notwithstanding) and made the brave step of applying the lace along my eyebrows with eyelash glue. Incidentally, if you’re wondering how such a thing is removed without an unintentionally botched eyebrow wax, I’d definitely recommend using cleanser or an equivalent for dissolving the glue first.
Use the darkest dark purple lip liner you can find for the outline and slick some pink liner along the inside of your lower lip, then, add a deep berry or plum and cover your lips with clear gloss. You can also use liquid eye liner to add the beauty spot if it’s the real McCoy you’re going for. Dust the underside of your cheekbones with a rose blusher.
For those of you who were expecting some kind of merchandise sale or giveaway for when this inevitably pops up on my various social media pages, begging your pardons I remain. It just seemed fitting – and perchance fate – that on a day when I decided to debut yesterday’s space age-style iridescent top with my saucer-like leather peter pan collar and geometric black appliqué jeans (not pictured) it turned out to be on a day they call Cyber Monday. By ‘they’ I don’t just mean our dear friends from across the pond but a great number of us, albeit in aid of a sequence of events we borrowed from there. I speak, of course, of Thanksgiving and the infamous Black Friday. Regarding the former, if I were to steal any event from another country, it would probably be the Vietnamese Moon Festival, especially if it’s adopted in the usual superficial aesthetic and culinary style we’re known to love – it’s pretty! As for the latter, forgive the lack of imagination but it’s Black Friday, with its hypocritical premise and obscene savagery of jostling for clearance-standard goods that should have stayed well and truly put, whatever its commercial or (perish the thought) cultural potential here.
Cyber Monday makes substantially more sense. Accomplishing as much shopping – particularly gift shopping – as is humanly possible in the Zen calm of your lounge or bedroom is infinitely more advisable for your sanity and mental wellbeing. You get a full ten square feet to yourself, it’s quiet, it’s clean (well, you know what I mean), you’re not actively tussling with anyone for the item you’ve set your heart on and the biggest stress you’re likely to encounter is remembering usernames and passwords. It contrasts brilliantly with the claustrophobic pressure cooker presented by its real-world equivalent. Streets and shopping centres are like mosh pits but without the live music, and with frazzled throngs in place of enthusiastic fan camaraderie. It’s the antiquated strain (NB: operative word) of shopping where you race against the clock in a collision course of pavement parkour around slow-moving pavement blockers and toddlers who insist, to the chagrin of their exasperated mothers, on straddling footpaths twice their size, eyes too transfixed by the window displays to notice the snarl-up of raging pedestrians in their wake.
Yes, I know Black Friday sales can take place online but, just to clear up any discrepancies in my observation to all pedants, the pleasure of Cyber Monday sales is hinted in the title. So, please, seek bargains in a distraction-free room, through a medium where you can read spec in full and scan for rip-off potential before buying.
Just to wrap this up and salvage it from the diaristic, off-topic rant that it has become, my love of all things cyber has been expressed and I fancy I have dressed aptly for the occasion. Hopefully, you’d agree.
I could have sworn that the iridescent trend that we knew so well last year is having not so much a revival but a reincarnation in accent pieces and aquatic hues. Vogue maintain that it’s manifesting itself in “gasoline rainbow” form with sequins and graduating glitter. Perhaps this extra colour dimension, in itself, came to me as a vision of our next stop in the ever-directional journey of fashion. Either way, I thought I’d spend a leisurely Sunday afternoon on an adaptable, easy-to-make interpretation of the trend, like the panelled Milly jumper in the picture.
You will need…
* I used Cosmic Shimmer Film Autumn Bronze by Creative Expressions, which I bought through an eBay vendor. You can also buy some here. I would also recommend Peacock Blue Shimmer Film for a similar tone and effect.
Metallic lamé fabric (I used gold)
Sewing machine (optional – this is a quick, no-sew tutorial)
I genuinely can’t think of anything remotely taxing about this tutorial, save for a reasonable eye for detail – specifically symmetry, although even then you could use a ruler or setsquare.
An hour, or possibly an hour-and-a-half if you’re sewing (which I actually did but I’m very easily distracted when it comes to timekeeping.
Holo-glam it up
Use some paper to make a pattern piece for the area you want to cover with holographic material, ensuring you fit it properly along the edge of the neck.
Cut the shape out in bondaweb and pin the film to the matte-textured side (not the paper-covered one). Then, place the paper pattern piece on top of the film, so that it is protected from the metal plating of the iron. Iron the three layers on a medium heat.
Peel the paper backing off the bondaweb, place the film on the lamé and cover the film with paper for protection. Iron it down on a medium heat, as before.
Cut the film-covered shape out of lamé and attach bondaweb to the back of the fabric, as before, with the non-paper-covered side facing the material. Peel away the paper and iron it onto the black top. You can stitch around the edges with a sewing machine to help it stick better but this part is optional. That said, I would recommend doing it, as this would mmake it more hard-wearing, especially when it gets washed.
My animalistic urges to emulate Fendi fashion have taken me from cuddly monster fur to leather, in this instance, adding a rebellious edge to the delicate beauty of the hibiscus flower. Flowers have always been worn to denote a quintessentially feminine elegance and sensitivity. Their sweet scent, individual beauty and fragility made slipping them into hair a form of wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve, denoting different moods through the paradigms of different flowers (for instance, jasmine for sensuality and a spider flower to say “run away with me!”). Also, in Hawaii and the south Pacific, the positioning of the hibiscus flower is used to denote relationship status (‘taken’ when worn on the left and single when worn on the right. Instagram pictures always come out in reverse and I’m saying nothing).
My Cleopatra-eyed take on Fendi’s leather eyelid strips, coupled with the Hawaiian side-flower styling with my DIY hair slide was, in part down to the fact that my hair’s too short to wear in a loose ponytail but more so to do with associations. The vibrant colours of the corsage reminded me of the exoticism of Paul Gauguin’s Tahitian paintings, while the drama of the leather streaks, which are dead easy to apply with a generous slathering of eyelash glue, harked back to the tour-de-force make-up artistry of Pat McGrath, especially at John Galliano’s shows. Adding drama with fabric and glue is a surprisingly easy trick and a must for standing out in any crowd.
Flowers are always on trend yet always in flux in terms of interpretations, whether they’re dark oversized or acid bright. I suppose I’d be expected to make some sort of profound and witty observation about the juxtaposition of ‘girly’ flowers in hair conveyed in a typically ‘tough fabric: leather. To be honest, it’s a bit late at night for that so I’m going to be simple in my interpretation and see it as striking a balance of feminine elegance in strong leather fabric, packing an equally dramatic punch – or maybe just a fun-loving personality – in the vibrant colour scheme. Think of it: beautiful and feminine, but not timid or fragile; strong and bold, without brashness or aggression. How very feminist – how very now.
It was the Fendi oversized corsage hair grip in the picture (well, I think it’s a hair grip, or certainly an accessory with hair-restraining properties) that inspired this DIY tutorial. I was planning to fix any giant corsages I made to a large hair slide, as it would double up conveniently as an attachment for blazers. Moving on from practical to emotional considerations, I chose the cut out one in the photo because it was a bit different and more colourful than most of the others I had seen. It made the perfect transition between acid brights and quirky rave-inspired colour schemes, so it appeared that I had to make this home-cooked vision a reality.
You will need
As a project, it’s technique-led and has its fiddly moments but it’s not the most taxing I’ve taken on, by any means.
An evening: 2-3 hours. It might take less time if you print out the template of the design I used.
Print out a template of the above design. The flower I used was about 15x15cm, just as a guide. You might want to print it out multiple times so that you can cut out the outlines for each colour.
Cut out each piece in all the different colours and trace around them on the corresponding material. Your pieces should look something like these:
Following the design on the template, glue the pieces of the flower in place. Glue the two pieces at the centre of the flower one on top of the other, with the wider part at the top. Then, with the glue still tacky, fold the side bits back on themselves to create a wrap effect. Stitch it in place at the top.
Layer the tasselled pieces (I made three but two would do) and stitch them together at the top.
Stitch the tassels, the centre of the flower and the orange feathered part together at the top.
Cut two slits on the centre of the flower with the scalpel and slot the hair slide through them, across the middle.Stitch the flower to the other pieces.
While schedules and – dare I say – leisure activities have kept me from posting my midweek commentary entry, I couldn’t help but to drop by in my exhausted state to report on what has been inspiring me this week.
In 2014, the year that feminism finally got back into fashion in every possible sense of the word, we have seen a host of tomboyish staples and comfort-centred paradigms, from flat shoes and backpacks to sporting motifs interpreted with brilliant sparkle. How better to see it off than with the ultimate expression of feminism in the corporate world – the pussy bow? Sure, the pussy bow blouse is an approved pre-fall trend already, embodied 70s retro as the shape of things to come in the spring 2015 Milan shows and is ‘haute’ property as a standalone accessory, according to Company’s High Street Edit but it’s also a doddle to DIY.
The pussy bow spanned the whole of the 20th century in its evolution but gained popularity in the 1960s when it was adopted by Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. Its real conceptual gravitas came in the ’70s and ’80s when it was worn by pioneering female executives, such as Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard and of course Margaret Thatcher, as part of her trademark look, serving as a fluid, feminine Yin to the towering, power-dressing Yang of the shoulder pads. There is also more in a name than merely demure feline elegance, according to Jezebel, who put the name down to the markedly less innocuous genital references – it was business balls, feminist style!
To make your own pussy bow, simply:
Find a fabric you like and buy 10cm of length (I’ve yet to come across a fabric shop that would be prepared to cut you less than that).
Use the whole width of the fabric for your tie and cut it so that it’s about 5-6cm deep, depending on how thick the fabric is.
Fix the edges with fabric glue or fray stop to – who’d have thunk it – prevent the edges from fraying.
Know your way around wire and solder and you’re golden.
For various personal, uninteresting and probably inexcusable reasons I have had a lazy weekend, so I chose two tutorials to match my schedule, involving gold wire, solder and substantially more in the way of creative problem solving than effort and patience. It was one of those weekends, so perversely I thought of two tutorials to match, for the following items I happened to be coveting:
NB: You will also need at least one pair of long-nosed pliers or, ideally, two, as you’d be working with thick, stubborn wire.
Unfortunately, these projects weren’t as easy as I thought they would be. Solder and aluminium can be extremely temperamental to work with and although the aluminium wire I worked with was soft, it does help to be a competent modeller.
Hard to say. I’d say the ring and necklace each took me about 20 minutes to complete, excluding the soldering, which can take a while to get right.
To make the necklace…
Using pliers, bend and cut the wire into your intended design.