Monday, 30 December 2013

And What a Year it's Been...

'Oh no'! I hear you cry - 'it's another reflection post on a blog about the year 2013!' Indeed, yes it is, no need to dress it up. I must admit I was reluctant to play into this blogging old timer, but I like to indulge in a good burst of writing now and again, and this seems to be the most appropriate time to do it.
I've always been a big fan of New Year. Of course, I LOVE Christmas, but as I've been getting older some of the past magic of that particular day is fading. New Year for me is a time for self reflection and invention, and there is nothing, NOTHING I like doing more than writing myself a huge list of resolutions, a monster to do list for the New Year. And I'm not just a traditionalist, i.e telling myself to lose the Christmas flab or promising to email my mum more, I will try to account for every part of me that I feel is wrong. For instance, I loathe the fact that I am shy, and every year I promise myself that I will come out the other end as the life and soul of the party. And surprisingly it never quite works. I still end up being the one who juts around awkwardly to 'I gotta feeling' and frequents the buffet for the most part of the evening (that's if there even IS one).
So I've decided that this year, I need to be a little easier on myself. Set myself some realistic goals, and above all, enjoy myself. Sometimes I forget this rather pivotal part of life, but truly, it is the most important thing to remember. This year, I will admit, I have not enjoyed myself in many many instances. I have contended against issues of self esteem, an intense workload and broken up friendships. Yet alongside this, and I can only imagine as a consequence of this, I have learnt more about life this year than any year before. I have changed as a person, not just in terms of hair colour and style, something that I've been comfortable enough to document on this blog, but in terms of how I perceive situations. I feel able to go into 2014 as a much stronger person, and despite the threat of cliche in these well worn words, I truly stand by this statement with all that I have. And that is at least a vague amount of conviction and power.
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Though in many ways a particularly turbulent year, it feels good to focus on the positives. I was treated to a wonderful birthday by some of my closest friends in January, who spoilt me beyond belief and I am so so grateful for that and more generally for them. I did a bit of travelling, within the country mostly, visiting Brighton, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Essex, Henley and Hastings and having fantastic experiences in each and every one of them with some particularly hilarious and engaging people. The topping on the travel cake was Turkey and Greece, where I managed to develop the first tan I've had in about 15 years.
The latter part of the year brought the most change for me. I began to learn to accept myself, and unsurprisingly, life was all the better for it. I attempted to work hard in my studies, and still continue to do so, and though I accept that academia may not actually be the road I want to go down, it has meant that I have gained invaluable social skills, created (hopefully long lasting) friendships and been lucky enough to live in London. Now 2013 is nearly over, I can say that I am happier than ever, a more open and positive person, though certainly an exhausted one!
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And of course, the blog. Starting Rags of Love in 2013, inspired by an Angela Carter quote that meant a lot to me, was a project to take my mind off the stress I was dealing with at the time, and it has garnered a truly promising response. Certainly, it now appears as a testament to former selfies, but I am proud of my little internet space, and it has encouraged me to make changes to my personal appearance which now make me feel more comfortable as a person, such as dying my hair bright colours and trying different styles. I have never been able to maintain something for this long before, and over the past few months this little virtual space has become my baby. I could not have created some of my favourite posts without the photography help of my friends, so thank you to every one of you. Especially to Luke, who has been my blogging partner in crime this year. I'd like to end my overblown writing spew with an observation that I feel is important to take note of - I am a very lucky person, I have so many great people currently in my life, and all I want to do is remember that, just constantly remember that.

So I thought just to end this post that I would include a few of my most important New Year's Resolutions:
1. Write more, in all different forms, whether blog or novel, screenplay or play script.
2. Travel somewhere interesting (preferably out of the country).
3. Gain a degree.
4. Be more honest with people and tell them how you feel.
5. Do something new and creative, and stick to it.

So thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog this year! You have given me something to smile about, you really have.

Please tell me what your New Years Resolutions are down below! I'm genuinely interested in how you wish to make yourself a better person next year. And I hope you stick about, and that you have an incredible year too. Remember, as Noddy Holder once said (or sang) 'Look to the future now, it's only just begun' and I cannot think of a more positive statement to begin 2014 with.

Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Oxford at Christmas

I have wanted to do a post along these lines for a very long time. I've made it no secret that Oxford is one of my favourite places in the world, and I am lucky enough to call it home. From my screeching birth,to after school trips to Costa where we'd all crowd around one coffee, right round to my leaver's dinner in Sixth form, Oxford has been a huge part of my life. And it's something I've wanted to do justice to in blog form for a while.

My dream post in my head was a 'guide' to this endlessly beautiful city, something I put into practice with my two best friends, and fellow Oxford residents, Lucy and Emily. Or at least I have attempted to. The truth is, the whole city is worth exploring, and any sort of tourist itinerary of this town inevitably turns into a bit of a wander. With every twist and turn you'll always find something new, whether stumbling upon Logic or Turn Again lane or finding yourself down the passageway to the Turf Tavern. What's more, I've only covered some of my favourite spots in central Oxford, and I am sure there are many places outside the centre, in suburbs such as Jericho and Cowley, that could do with exploring, but that's really for another post. So what you see here, is pretty condensed. Oxford may be a small city, but there's so many breathtaking places that one blog post simply wouldn't do it! So with a little help from Lucy and Emily, here are some of the loveliest places ('Lovely' is a very fitting adjective for Oxford) for you to see, especially over this Christmas period (oh, and some pictures of my outfit too)...
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The Radcliffe Camera
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Outside the Bodleian Library
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1. Georgina's - Covered Market
Inside the city's famous Covered Market is this gem. I was introduced to it at around the age of 15 by a schoolfriend, who said it would be 'just up my street' - and it really is. To get there you go up a set of illuminated neon pink stairs, and the interior itself is pink, pink, and yet more pink. However, it manages to be adorably twee and quirky without making you nauseous, and serves some lovely food, which is very veggie friendly. Adorning the walls are movie posters of modern and old, perfect conversation topics and prompts for trips down memory lane. At the side you can pick up publications such as Time out and NME for a casual flick through whilst you sip your milkshake, but be warned, this place gets pretty busy at weekends!
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2. The Vaults and Gardens Cafe, The Church of St Mary the Virgin
Looking for a quintessentially Oxford dining experience? They really don't come much better than the Vaults and Gardens cafe. Located within the Church of St Mary the Virgin and opposite the Radcliffe Camera, this could be easily missed if it wasn't for their (frankly genius) marketing method of using bicycles as banners. Inside is a beautifully lit and often bustling eating area serving healthy meals as well as the usual tea and coffee. For our little Christmassy day out, Emily, Lucy and I went here and made the most of the festive atmosphere whilst we sipped hot drinks to ward off the cold. Let's just say it's an instagrammer's daydream.
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My Beautiful friends!
3. Scriptum, Turl Street. 
And on to shops! Of course, Oxford has all the typical high street shops as well as some smaller, tourist friendly havens. A perfect example of this is Scriptum, which, if Harry Potter was real, would inevitably be where he and the other Hogwarts students would be picking up their stationary. It is a shop packed to the brim with gorgeous trinkets, ranging from Venetian masks, puppets, stuffed animals and every sort of notebook you could ever want or need. Though it's a little pricey, you'll find it hard to come away from here without picking up at least one thing, and the layout itself means it could be mistaken for a museum of oddities. 
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4. Unicorn, Ship Street
Just off the main shopping precinct Cornmarket Street is a different shopping experience entirely and one, it must be said, that is of an acquired taste. Unicorn is a vintage/thrift store that is quite literally packed to the rafters with clothing, accessories, and all other sorts of paraphernalia. Let me tell you, this place doesn't do hangers. And there's no guarantee you'll actually get sold the particular item of clothing you want, but nevertheless, it is a truly eccentric experience, and worth it almost to witness the bemused tourists who find themselves in there.
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And just a few snaps of our day out!
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Emily and Lucy!
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The obligatory blogger red telephone box photographs!
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What I wore!
Shirt - From the attic
Playsuit - Topshop
Shoes - Clarks
Bag - Ebay

I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you so much to Lucy and Emily for helping me photograph and devise it. Another Oxford guide will be forthcoming sometime next year! If you have any suggestions for places to see, please leave these in the comments below! And I've left you with some of my favourite music from Oxford bands (again, pretty obvious choices, but a great starting point...

Oxford playlist

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Garden

Foals - Two Steps Twice

Radiohead - Lotus Flower

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - Remix of Foals 'My Number' 

Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Dayglo Rockabilly

The funny thing about retro is that the very word seems to cover an inordinate amount of ground. As a result, if something is retro it could be either a stunning example of forties fashion or made 5 minutes ago. I'm pondering this because I'm not sure where this 'retro inspired' outfit can be placed in the timescale. The headscarf and quiff effect says 40's landgirl, whilst the pencil skirt and boyfriend coat say 50's dance a la Grease (I imagine an idealised version of the 50's, but damn great for fashion inspiration nonetheless). Either way, my typical injection of colour gives this look a bit of an update.

So a few weeks ago the lovely Carly from London Edge contacted me to tell me about their amazing exhibition and fashion show, held at the Olympia in London, which I'm lead to believe. is the only worldwide show dedicated to the ol' alternative fashion scene. At this my ears pricked up from under my purple locks, with various dreams of beautiful tattoos, intricately created sailor dresses and tartan by the bucketload spinning through my head like a scene volcano. Much as I loved visiting the Clotheshow many moons ago, the thought of a clothes show dedicated just to the alternative fashion side was so exciting that it took me back to the bebo days of gawping at beautiful girls on the internet with raccoon hair and piercings. As a celebration for this glorious event, I will be styling up some 'alternative' inspired outfits in the lead up to it on the 2nd-4th February. The show itself is going to feature garments from brands such as Hell Bunny and Bettie Page, and though I've not got many of those lining my wardrobe, I'll give imitating the look a bloody good go. .

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And this was my result!

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Top - Olive
Skirt - Primark
Coats - Topshop (No longer on the website but kicking about in a few stores)
Grey Socks - New Look
Shoes - Converse

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This coat purchase is extremely new. Wandering through Westfields yesterday looking for a Secret Santa present, I noticed that Topshop was having a 30% off sale. I've been absolutely loving their coat collection recently, and I had my eyes on this beauty for a while. Though still at the top price range of what I'd want to pay, I figured it was worth it, seeing as I had wanted it for so long. The camera doesn't do it justice, it is the most incredible colour. The masculine cut complements this particular look perfectly, which I counteracted with the feminine inclusion of the Pencil skirt. I've really been getting into wearing pencil skirts with casual shoes recently, as they'd usually be styled with heels. They are incredibly flattering and I love wearing them as normal wear with a pair of Converse as seen here. It also, dare I say it, brings a little bit of a Madmen twist to the outfit (yes, I'm jumping on that bandwagon). Or in this case, Bonkers Girl. I'm just so random and kooky that sometimes it hurts my soul. Oh dear.
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And of course, what's a retro/rockabilly inspired outfit without a headscarf? I've only very recently started putting my hair back into a little baby quiff. Beforehand I was paranoid about having a large forehead, and hid behind an unflattering fringe for most of my teens. But with this scarf I really like the look, and have always admired it on other people, so why not try it on myself? With this I slicked on some red lipstick (Topshop Lip Bullet in Rockabilly, rather fittingly) and I was alternatively dressed for the day.
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Thanks to the wonderful people at London Edge for inspiring me to get my retro on, if you're interested in going to the show in February, go to http://www.londonedge.com/.

Please note: This is not a sponsored post. I will be attending the show in February as a result of it but have not written it in exchange for payment. Would I do that to you? Probably. 

Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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Friday, 13 December 2013

Who Wears Short Skorts?

Why yes, I do occasionally wear dark colours! No, my one style gimmick isn't just wearing garish coloured outfits that stand out against my hair! Oh dear, starting to refer to myself as a 'gimmick', this dizzying blogging fame is going to my head.
To tell you the truth, I am on a mission to show you how fashion forward I really am, and what better way to do it than to wear the season's blogger favourite, a pair of skorts.
Initially I was very against skorts. I thought they looked plain odd and a bit silly. A mixture between a skirt and shorts seemed to me inherently untrustworthy. I must admit I had found myself in the rare quandary of being perplexed by a piece of clothing, something that hasn't happened for me since Crocs (not a look I've rocked on the blog just yet). But my determination to spend as much money as possible prevailed, and I got in on the skorts act. I say a lot of money, well these were picked up in the Daisystreet sale. I had set my sights on a tartan pair so as to correspond to this season's tartan mania. Though they're not exactly warm, they look surprisingly good with a pair of chunky knit tights and some boots. I mean I say surprising, I'm still not entirely sure about them. I can't see them ageing too well and still being fashionable come next Christmas. But yes, today I am a skorts wearing fashion blogger, for your pleasure.
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Coat - Paul Costello (Via Charity Shop)
Top - Primark
Skorts - Daisystreet
Bag - Zatchels
Shoes - Olive and Frank

Surprisingly, this is the debut of my one of my favourite coats, and I have A LOT of coats, so this is something of an accolade. It's a real wool Paul Costello coat that I picked up in a charity shop near where I am originally from. The charity shop itself is the sort of place where you have to climb over children's toys, Boyzone annuals and sold as seen televisions to get to the good stuff, but this was a spectacular find, at only £7.50. Unlike the skorts, it is incredibly warm, and fits like a glove. I reckon that everyone has their one charity shop/second hand/grandma's attic find that is absolutely perfectly tailored made for them, and I'm pretty sure that this is mine.
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Alongside this outfit is a lovely time to debut a new pair of boots, presented here beautifully near a box of unidentifiable sludge, my photography skills blow me away sometimes. They are from Olive and Frank, a gorgeous online shop (and I mean gorgeous, I honestly could have bought everything) who I found out about after they followed me on twitter. after which I proceeded to buy these absolutely gorgeous boots. I've wanted a pair like this for a while, as I would seem them a lot in editorials being worn with the floaty smock and Peter pan collar dresses that made up the majority of my wardrobe. I've not worn them out just yet, as I'm not so confident with heels necessarily, but I'm pretty sure I'll pluck up the courage soon enough.

Now before you all head off, just a heads up of some rather exciting collaborations that I've been doing recently with some other bloggers! Head over to Jaime at Hard Crimson's blog to read about my relationship with thrifting (also if you haven't seen below we collaborated on a rather awesome thrifting tips post), and Marie's blog where I share a Hollywood inspired Christmas party look, regulation beauty blogger right here!

Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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Sunday, 8 December 2013

I'm Gonna Pop Some Tags - Thrifting with Jaime and Bel

It's safe to say that Macklemore's hit got everyone crazy for second hand threads. Or perhaps it gave it a bad rep, as a scathing satire on the youth today, with our elaborate ridiculous dress sense and tendency towards wearing the garments of pensioners. Well, I tell you what, I DO wear your grandad's clothes (those cardies are so Kurt Cobain circa 1991) and I DO look incredible. But seriously, 'thrifting' or 'charity shopping' as it's perhaps better known in Blighty has always been a massive part of my life. My family and I were always the first down at the local car boot sale every Sunday, where we would split up and collate back together an hour later dazed under the weight of bargain after bargain. So it was lovely to stumble across the wonderful Jaime's blog Hard Crimson. Let me tell you, this girl is a seasoned thrifter, and you'll love reading about her adventures at the flea markets or yard sales over in her home across the Pond. She also has a fantastic sense of style, exemplified by her regular outfit posting. Jaime's blog is genuinely one of my favourites, so I'm thrilled to be collaborating with her to bring you some of her fantastic top tips on how to find the best thrifted pieces, because after all, who wants to spend $50 on a t-shirt (okay, I promise I'll stop making Macklemore references now...sort of promise).

Anyway, here are Jaime's top tips for thrifting! Alongside it, we've created some outfits based predominantly on second hand pieces, so as to show you how to put your new found thrifting know how into action.


Hard Crimson’s Thrifting Tips

1. Scope the place out.
Whether you’re going to a charity shop or a vintage boutique, it’s always great to know where everything is located. Ask an employee or take a look yourself so you have a good idea of the layout of the place before hand, or even when you first arrive. This will give you more time to shop!

2. Have an idea of what you want.
Looking at racks and racks of potential treasures can be seriously intimidating. Choose a color, print, or style of clothing you’re interested in and keep your eyes open for it. This makes finding great pieces less of a hassle and helps narrow your search.

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Outfit is all thrifted apart from the socks, which are from Topshop.

3. That being said, don’t limit yourself!
I’ve found some of my favorite items of clothing after seeing them on the rack and bursting out in laughter because I thought they were so weird looking. Trying on ridiculous stuff is a good way to push yourself out of your style comfort zone and maybe even find a new great look. And if it’s just as horrible on you as it was on the hanger? At least you can get a good laugh out of it.

4. Be realistic and budget.
It’s easy to go crazy in a thrift shop because the prices are so low, but I’ve spent more money second-hand shopping than I would have in retail stores because everything is so cheap! This can lead to impulse buying and shopper’s regret. Make sure you’re going to use whatever you purchase.

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Jaime's outfit is entirely thrifted! Those Cowboy boots were such a find!

5. Go with a friend.
Sometimes the best way to get the most out of a day of thrifting is to bring a friend with you. A second pair of eyes is always handy, and it’s great to get a different perspective from your own when you’re trying stuff on. 

6. Know when to call it a day.
Even if you have a game plan, know the store’s layout, and bring a friend, thrifting can get overwhelming really quickly, especially on sale days. If you’re not having fun and want to quit, do so. You might miss a few deals, but if you aren’t having fun, it’s not worth it. Having a good time is your main objective!

Hope you enjoyed reading Jaime's divine thrifting wisdom! Thanks so much to her for being my first guest on this blog!

Do you guys have any other tips for thrifting or second hand shopping?

Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Dressing Dangerously

Live dangerously, dress dangerously, that's my motto. All I really need is some spiky boots that have been the rage for the last few seasons, except knowing me I'd somehow manage to impale myself on them. Anyway, I kid, dress based mottos are probably not the way to experience life, but even so, it relates to my outfit today. It's safe to say that garish and exuberantly patterned clothing is probably more suited to the fiery amongst us. Look at the Spice Girls, with Geri's Union Jack minidress and Mel B's leopard print numbers. I guess there's something very 'Girl Power' about it, as if to say, 'don't mess with me, as I am able to make clothing choices that put the fear of God into man.' This was what I was going for anyway. A bodycon dress and heels is a pretty scary prospect for me. When I saw this cheerful little number on my old favourite Daisy Street (originally a shoe store that sold some amazing Charlotte Olympia inspired pumps, how about some more guys?) I had to have it. The shape is a godsend for me, relatively tight fitting but also long enough so I don't have to be pulling my skirt down so as not to ride up by my hips all day. Outwardly timid as I am, this is just another perfect example of my dress sense trying to convey a certain part of myself that can't be done through my little voice and reserved demeanour. For all you know I could be giving Scary Spice a real run for her money.
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Dress - Daisystreet
Jacket - New Look
Shoes - Jeffrey Campbell
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I dressed up this outfit a bit with a pair of suede wedges. These are Jeffrey Campbell, a designer who every self respecting blogger seems to have at least one pair of shoes from. I've not worn these ones out yet, due to my clumsiness and penchant for Converse, but they're wonderfully bright and beautiful nonetheless.
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I've been wearing my hair in this new style recently, which basically involves my old milkmaid braids alongside my fringe in the world's smallest quiff. The top part of my face hasn't truly seen the light of day for years, as I've convinced myself that I am most definitely a fringe person. Whilst I still believe that, I quite like the retroness of this particular style.

Hope you enjoyed this, and I'll be back soon alongside my fellow blogging buddy, Jaime at Hard Crimson! We're collaborating on a post on a topic we're both pretty passionate about (nothing world changing, but certainly relevant to fashion) so next time I'm here she will be joining me, so see you then!

Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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