Autumn Layering with Gap

Fashion

Autumn – the time of year where everyone pretends that pumpkins aren’t gross – is upon us once more.

As the nights draw darker and the trees begin to jettison their leaves and we all finally embrace the fact that winter is indeed coming, we can at least take solace in the benefits of autumn style. Namely – the return of layering.

At Gap where I work, we love a good layered look. And as any good mother will tell you as she forces yet another jumper over your head – layering keeps you warm and toasty.

Wandering around our beautiful city, I asked some of the team at Gap York to talk me through a few of their favourite layers from our fall collection. (We call it fall not autumn because Gap is run by American infidels.)

A massive thank you is in order to the ever-talented Luke Porter (he genuinely outdoes himself every time), to the stunning Teajuanas café for letting us shoot there, and of course to our lovely models – Josie, Callum and Courtney.

So hold tight to your overpriced seasonal latte because once again, ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching the station. Please mind the gap.

CALLUM

What do you like about the clothes you picked?

I chose the knitted jumper because of its versatility. Its neutral colour means it goes well with most things in my wardrobe and it’s great to throw on for an extra layer before leaving the house on a chilly morning! The fit is very snug and comfortable to wear which is very important for me. I like to feel relaxed and cosy in my clothes as winter approaches.

I love the sweatshirts we recently got in at Gap which are a great twist on the iconic Gap logo hoodies. I chose the navy blue one today but I also have it in green. I enjoy the detailing on the sweatshirt, with “original” stitched in red over the bold “Gap” branding. I think they work well in any outfit and are a really nice statement piece; they definitely remind me of the Gap hoodies I used to wear in the early 2000s!

I am also obsessed with the marbled effect buttons on this check shirt. I think they’re a really nice touch that make it stand out from the many other check shirts I own.

A denim jacket is a classic staple piece everyone needs somewhere in their wardrobe. I’m incredibly picky when it comes to choosing a new jacket and usually just settle for vintage (I like denim jackets to look a bit worn and distressed) however I love this indigo wash Gap jacket. I wore it with a pair of black skinny jeans and, though I’m not brave enough to go full double denim (think Britney and Justin at the AMAs circa 2001), I would definitely wear it as a layering piece.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as simple yet smart. You can usually find me in my favourite pair of  black skinnies (Gap Sculpt True Skinny jeans really did change my life and I have never looked back!) paired with a sweater/t-shirt and jacket. The lack of bold colours and patterns in my wardrobe means I can throw together an outfit quickly without too much fuss. I also like to add a few accessories to jazz things up a bit.

What’s your favourite thing about autumn?

My favourite thing about autumn is seeing the seasons change! Watching the leaves fall, dark evenings, switching from air-con to heater, and getting to wear super comfy winter accessories like snoods, hats and gloves.

Look 1: Callum wears the shaker stitch crew sweater and Sculpt true skinny jeans. Hoodie and jacket, model’s own.

Look 2: Callum wears the standard fit plaid shirt, icon denim jacket, logo crew neck sweater and Sculpt true skinny jeans.

JOSIE

What do you like about the clothes you picked?

I picked the burgundy swing dress for several reasons. I love the shape as it hides a multitude of sins! It’s also a great material (softspun cotton) which is comfortable and I know it washes well because I’ve bought other things in this material. It’s versatile so can be worn on its own or with a belt like I did for the shoot. It’s great for a day-to-night outfit too – just by changing the accessories, you can go from a more casual day style to a dressed up evening style.

A parka jacket should be in everyone’s wardrobe for the autumn/winter months. This one has a detachable hood so it can look like two different coats in one! That said, the fur is my favourite bit so I leave it attached most of the time! I love all the small details like the elbow patches and the lower hem line at the back which give it that added edge. It’s a good size too, so know that I can add layers underneath when it starts to get even colder. Plus it has toggles inside the waistline so it can be pulled in to give you more shape.

How would you describe your style?

My style is quite simple really. I like to be comfy so most of my wardrobe is comfortable stretchy dresses and leggings. Because of my shape I prefer the A line or skater dress/skirt style. I love clothes that can be casual but then I add some accessories and it looks like a completely different outfit! Accessories are definitely my thing and I have a ridiculous collection of jewellery. I don’t wear too many prints and go for the darker colours (my wardrobe holds a lot of black) but I love a bold statement accessory to give my simple outfits the added edge and style.

What’s your favourite thing about Autumn?

My favourite thing about autumn is those early, fresh and cold, but sunny mornings where you get to wear plenty of layers – chunky cardigans and warm wool cable-knit scarves). I absolutely love the deeper and darker autumn colours in fashion. Especially because the burgundys, khaki greens and mustard yellows all reflect the colours of the leaves on the trees!

Josie wears the softspun long sleeve swing dress, 2-in-1 quilted parka, and super opaque tights.

 

COURTNEY

What do you like about the clothes you picked?

The combination was smart with the stripy tee and the pinstripe twill trousers, but I wanted to add some edge with the black denim jacket too. I wear the jacket all the time and it goes great with pretty much anything, whether dressed up or dressed down.

The trousers are actually for men, but I like the slightly looser fit for a relaxed vintage look. The light pinstripe is a nice touch that you don’t notice at first glance, but it makes them a little more special. They look great in a casual outfit like this, but can easily be dressed up by replacing the t-shirt with a white shirt, for example.

Also, I’m a big fan of comfort and these items feel great, especially the trousers which are really soft while still looking quite smart. I definitely go for practical clothes for day to day wear so comfort is a big rule for me.

How would you describe your style?

I would describe my style as basic with elements of clashing patterns. I’m all about simple essentials as the foundation of my outfits but I like to play about with size and proportions – oversized t-shirts or jackets, high-waisted trousers etc. I also like to experiment with different patterns, colours and fabrics.

I live for vintage and you can always find me in charity shops hunting for a bargain. I especially love vintage denim and leather which always have a slick retro vibe.

What is your favourite thing about autumn?

Layering. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to wear more than one layer on top. In the summer you get to hot, but autumn is great because you can layer up. I love the feeling when you first start to feel the chill in the air and bring out your jacket that’s sat at home all summer.

Courtney wears: twill trousers and the icon black denim jacket. T-shirt model’s own.

 

Callum and Courtney wear the logo crewneck sweater. Josie wears the logo zip hoodie.

 

Courtney, Callum and Josie all picked their outfits and styled themselves. It was great to see how they put their own personal spin on things whether it was Josie’s colour-coordinated hair, or Courtney’s rolled up trouser hems, or Callum’s jewellery.

One thing I love about Gap is that you are able, or rather encouraged, to do your own thing and make it work for you. Courtney opted for men’s trousers because she enjoys the comfortable and relaxed fit, while Callum went for women’s skinny jeans as the men’s jeans aren’t as tight as he likes them. For the logo shot, they all threw on men’s hoodies and sweatshirts for a relaxed casual vibe. As you can tell, Courtney went extra large for a vintage oversized feel, while Callum and Josie preferred a more fitted look.

Once again, it is worth pointing out that Gap are very liberal with the dishing out of discounts. At the time of writing, all regular priced items in store are 35% off ticket price, while online you currently get up to 30% off full price and sale styles. Keep up with the offers by joining the mailing list here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a pumpkin spice latte with my name on it… albeit misspelled horribly by the barista.

@ediadegbola

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How to Dress for a Wedding Part II

Fashion

Every friendship group has that one friend who is really good at giving advice, and that  one friend who never takes good advice.

Somehow I often end up doing both. Looking into the lives of others, I find the path of what to do is always exceedingly clear, but when it comes to me, I find it incredibly difficult to do what I know that I should.

Not long ago, I wrote some tips for how to dress for a wedding. I recently went to a wedding – and obviously wore clothes so I thought it would be interesting to put my outfit to the test and see how good I am at following my own advice.

I actually bought this Topman suit as a matching 3-piece (trousers, blazer and waistcoat), but due to the perils of online shopping, the trousers didn’t fit properly. I can just about squeeze into them, but they are very tight and definitely not appropriate to wear to a wedding. Or anywhere there might be children.

Instead I have substituted the trousers for some black chinos that cost me £7 in H&M’s sale. Normally I would have chosen some more formal ‘proper’ suit trousers, but I really couldn’t turn down that price.

Rationalising my cheapness, I decided to style it out as a rustic suit separates look – not unlike pop/folk band Mumford & Son’s iconic tweed-and-chinos style.

So that’s the outfit, but how does it measure up?

Taking the 5 tips from my post, let’s see if I practise what I preach.

 

Keep it simple.

Right off the bat, I’m wearing a jacquard patterned blazer and waistcoat. So far, so outlandish. But you’ll notice that I’ve gone for plain black trousers underneath to tone down the impact of the jazzy top half. The same can be said of my shirt and shoes.

Finally, I opted for low-key accessories – a burgundy bowtie and pocketsquare – which bring an understated pop of colour to the outfit. I toyed with the idea of adding a subtle lapel pin from Topman to the mix, but it snapped the first time I tried to put it on. (The same has happened with lapel pins I’ve bought from River Island too, so I’m going to avoid high-street brands from now on. Or maybe I’m the problem…)

Serendipitously, the poor quality lapel pin did me a favour in the end, as this outfit is loud enough without it, and simply doesn’t need anymore accessories. The suit speaks for itself.

Simplicity – 3/5.

 

Have fun.

Where I perhaps fell short in the last section, I definitely succeed here. This look is nothing if not fun. The playful jacquard pattern projects a level of bubbly confidence (that you don’t necessarily have to feel yourself!)

I enjoy the colourful accessories, especially the bowtie. I thought about wearing the more conventional necktie, but this burgundy bow stands out a little more, and it makes me feel like the Eleventh Doctor which is always a plus.

As discussed above, the rest of the outfit is as simple as possible but I do love these brown brogues, which are definitely eye-catching. Finally, I decided to go “sockless” and roll up the legs to show off  a little ankle. Saucy.

Fun – 5/5

 

Be practical.

For me, fashion has to be functional. As slick as it may look, if you’re not comfortable or can’t move in it, what’s the point?

On the surface, wearing a three-piece suit to a summer wedding in a marquee perhaps doesn’t seem the best idea, but I rather like having the layers. If you’re hot, you can take off the blazer, and you can put it right back on as it gets colder towards the end of the night.

Another thing I like is to wear an undershirt which addmittedly might seem counter-productive to some, as it means adding yet another layer. On the contrary, this layer soaks up the sweat (and doesn’t feel noticeably hotter), meaning that you can hold up your arms carefree and sweatpatch-free, whether you’re raising a glass in toast, or tearing it up on the dancefloor.

Practicality – 4/5

 

Make sure it fits.

Fit is probably the most important part of fashion. The way an item sits on you can be the difference between an awful outfit and an amazing one.

Being unnecessarily lanky, I often struggle to get clothes that fit my long arms properly. this time I think I might have just got away with it, but I’m definitely cutting things fine.

And to be honest, you’re just lucky I didn’t talk myself into wearing the inappropriately tight trousers!

Fit – 3/5

 

Don’t let your shoes let you down.

This is my favourite pair of shoes so,  unsurprisingly, I think I have done quite well here. The brown shoes stand out a little from the black footwear that is often the formal go-to for men, while the broguing detail brings some eye-catching elegance.

Similarly, the sockless and rolled/cropped trouser look is rather on-trend and, once again, stands out a little from the crowd. Plus, it’s nice to have your ankles out in the summer! (Though I have no idea why mine look so veiny…)

Shoes – 5/5

 

Overall I scored 20/25 points which equates to 80%. That’s a first class honours in university terms.

Nicely done, Edi.

But actually, I wrote the post on wedding outfits and I put together this outfit to wear to a wedding. So surely anything less than 100% is a failure.

Awkward.

On the plus side, this can serve as a timely reminder that, when it comes to fashion, style, and taste in general, rules are made to be broken. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable and confident in yourself, not what some sartorial rulebook says.

Even if that rulebook happens to be called Edication.

Bare Essentials

Fashion, music, places

Instagram has a lot to answer for – roughly 90% of my procrastination, for one thing – but one of its great benefits is that it helps us come across people and brands that you would otherwise never discover. One such brand is Bare Vintage, and such people are its founders, Lauren and Gus.

Bare is an independent retailer of handpicked vintage clothes. Available on their website, as well as on social shopping app Depop, Bare’s ever-changing collection offers pre-owned branded and designer picks. A selection of one-offs, their aesthetic lands comfortably in mid 90s sportswear territory, alongside the occasional kitsch pop culture find.

Imagine the coolest person you’ve ever met was selling all of their clothes on eBay and you’d be somewhere close to what Bare Vintage is. Fittingly, that is basically how the brand got started.

“When we began we had no idea what it would become, we were just selling some of Gus’s vintage pieces that wouldn’t fit in our tiny apartment!” admits Lauren. Two years on, it’s safe to say that things have taken off, though not without difficulty.

“The biggest challenge has been trying to find time… We both work full-time, and everything we’ve done for Bare has been evenings and weekends. It’s our dream to be able to pursue it full-time eventually and have the time to try and focus on all the projects that at the moment are just ideas.”

Aside from expected streetwear/vintage fodder Reeboks and Nikes, the Bare collection is also littered with names like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger – the quintessential duo of preppy turned sporty turned hip-hop turned vintage style.

The team really have an eye for spotting unique finds too, whether it’s a burgundy varsity jacket or a sweatshirt embroidered with Looney Tunes characters.

“Every single item we sell is hand picked,” they announce proudly. “When we choose an item, we ask ourselves ‘Would we use this piece in a photo shoot?’ which keeps the standard high. A piece has to be great quality, unique design and you shouldn’t want to put it down!”

I had the pleasure of visiting their pop-up shop in Manchester a few weeks ago to take a look at their collection first hand. For the London-based brand, it was their first venture up North, but any apprehension was unfounded as the response was unequivocally positive.

“We are both still absolutely amazed at the turnout we had at our Manchester pop up,” Lauren and Gus confess. “There was a real sense of community up there and we can’t wait to come back again!”

The event took place at The Grey Shop, housed in Jutah Studios – a boutique streetwear space in Manchester’s Northern Quarter (past readers will know I’m a big fan of the Northern Quarter). Over some pulsating beats and a few gin and tonics (clear liquids only to minimise damage to the clothes in case drinks spill during particularly passionate skanking), I had a peruse of the collection.

Two standouts for me were a couple of varsity jackets – one in a golden hue and the other a Lakers branded number in mustard yellow. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, I quite enjoyed the obnoxious yet undeniable cool of the pair.

So, what’s next for Bare Vintage? I ask.

“Our next pop up is 25th – 26th of this month (August) in Birmingham! Neither of us have ever been to Birmingham, so it’s another adventure for us. We plan to host more events across the U.K. and beyond, so keep an eye out.”

A good place to keep an eye on Bare Vintage is on Instagram where they post choice items and snaps from their photoshoots. Having already amassed just under 15,000 followers however, you might have to join the queue.

 

@ediadegbola

How to Dress for a Wedding

Fashion

I love weddings.

You get to witness friends or family make a beautiful commitment, and there’s cake, and there’s dancing, and cake, and food, and cake, and everyone dresses up nicely, and there’s cake.

So many reasons to love a cake… I mean wedding….

Aside from baked goods, one of my favourite things about a wedding is the opportunity to wear a sharp suit. I don’t get many opportunities to dress up really so I always take advantage of a good wedding.

That said, the world of wedding tailoring can be a confusing place for even the most fashionable of men (let’s just thank God that we don’t have to buy a new dress, shoes and bag for every event!)

To help you out, here are my tips for making sure your wedding outfit is definitely one you’ll want to say “I do” to.

Keep it simple.

Coco Chanel once said “When accessorising, always take off the last thing you put on”. More often than not, the last thing put on is my right shoe and I kind of need that, so I try and go by the maxim “less is more” instead.

Basically, try and avoid overkill. You don’t need the bright shirt and the patterned tie and the braces and the pocket square and the collar bar and the tie clip and the lapel pin and the pocketwatch. Perhaps pick one or two. If your suit has a striking pattern, go for a simple, plain shirt and tie. If your suit and shirt are more austere however, add a drop of excitement with some accessories – a good watch is always a great place to start – or perhaps add some colour and pattern with your tie and pocket square. Tie clips, cufflinks, lapel pins, and the like can be great additions, just don’t over do it.

Have fun.

Despite the above tip, a person’s wedding is probably the biggest and most expensive celebration that they will ever hold. It’s not another day at the office and it’s definitely not a funeral. Your outfit should reflect this. The typical black suit can get a little stuffy after a while, especially for a summer wedding.

When in doubt, try a slim fit two button suit in a navy or grey paired with a white shirt and burgundy slim (not skinny) tie. Instant classic. Or stand out from the crowd with a check suit – Prince of Wales and windowpane are my favourites.

You can also play around with colours and textures – try tweed or houndstooth. Or go for an interesting tie, or maybe try a bow tie. You could alternatively go tie-less and open-necked or try the ‘air tie’ (tie-less but with buttons done up).

Mix and match, pairing suit separates like grey trousers under a navy blazer or dress your blazer down with chinos. Try a three-piece suit, or on a hot day, eschew the blazer and just go for the waistcoat.

There are so many sartorial options for men nowadays so there’s no excuse for wearing the same black suit every time. Unless you just really like your black suit, in which case, you just do you.

Be practical.

It should go without saying, but it can be easy to forget: make sure that whatever you’re wearing is appropriate for the occasion.

What is the dress code? Is it outdoors or indoors? What’s the weather going to be like? Will it get colder towards the evening? Can I dance in that suit? What are the groomsmen wearing? Am I going to sweat too much? Are my shoes comfortable? What is my plus one wearing?

These are the type of questions you should be asking yourself to make sure you’re able to sit back and enjoy your friend’s special day without worrying about sweat patches or uncomfortable shoes. If it’s a hot day, try a light linen shirt or even a linen suit. Poplin is a great summer suit material too. Alternatively, tweed or wool will keep you warm on the colder days, as will a waistcoat.

Make sure it fits.

Once again, you’d think it wouldn’t need saying but fit is where a lot of men fall down when it comes to tailoring. With my lanky figure and unnecessarily long limbs, even I fall afoul of this sometimes.

If you don’t already know what your sizes/measurements are, a good trick is to go to fancy suit shops and let them measure you, which is often a free service. Then just buy stuff you can actually afford from other shops, once you know your size.

I’d recommend a slim fit suit – sparingly cut, but not as tight as an indie band in 2009 would wear – you’ll probably want to be able to breathe. If you need any pointers on fit, the boys at Esquire.com have you covered with an easy checklist.

It’s also important to maintain the shape of your suit, so avoid over-stuffing your pockets. Thankfully suits tend to have loads of pockets so you can stow your wallet, keys, phone and emergency tissues (no…? Just me? Ok, cool…) in different pockets without ruining the sleek silhouette of your suit.

And by the way, unless it’s a single button suit, never fasten the bottom button of your blazer or waistcoat – it’s basically just there for decoration. Leaving it undone looks slicker and, more importantly, gives you more freedom to move.

Don’t let your shoes let you down.

Shoes can often be an afterthought to an outfit – just something you throw on before you leave the house – but a bad pair of shoes can ruin a look, while a good pair can absolutely make one.

I’d recommend a good pair of brown brogues – they’ll go great with a navy or grey suit, while it’s best to pair a black suit with black shoes. It’s also worth thinking about your socks. They can add a fun pop of colour or pattern to your outfit or you could alternatively go sockless with cropped trousers for a more contemporary look.

Lastly, make sure they’re clean and polished – another thing that can be easy to forget until  the moment when you’re late to the event and have no time to do anything about it.

Finally…

Whatever you do, don’t turn up in a white dress! There will probably already be someone there wearing that. And one of you will have to go home and change.

@ediadegbola

Mind The Gap

Fashion

I’ve worked at Gap for over a year now. As you can imagine, I’ve spent it consistently making variations on a poor joke about it being my “Gap year”. These jokes are never well received.

Despite people’s unfortunate inability to appreciate my humour, I’ve grown to love Gap and their clothes. Now past their 90s heyday, Gap has perhaps fallen a touch out of favour with millennials which I think is a shame.

While keeping its finger on the fashion pulse, Gap generally goes for lasting style, rather than fleeting trends. By way of an example, I remember seeing a selection of men’s capes at Topman a couple of years ago. Safe to say Gap never got on board with that particular trend.

Gap clothes are, for the most part, good quality and they have a simple, understated cool to them that, I think can be underrated in today’s fast fashion market.

And believe it or not, I’m not just saying all this because they pay my salary.

For today’s outfit, I picked some of my favourites from this season at Gap. I styled them a couple of ways to show how versatile some of these items can be. All pictures are from my incredibly talented friend Luke. Take a look at some of his work here and read some things he’s written here.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now approaching the station.

Please mind the Gap.

 

Look 1

I based the first look around this vintage style ringer tee. I really enjoy the rings on the arms and neck which is a nice sporty touch. Coupled with the ’69 slogan, they make me think that this is what you would wear in old-timey gym, throwing around a battered leather medicine ball and wearing unnecessarily revealing shorts. 1980s Bruce Jenner and the Village People know what I’m talking about. (You need to click on that link. Thank me later.)

While this outfit is mostly new stock, the chinos are currently £14.99 in the sale. I like this particular pair because of the pleats, which is something I’m quite into right now. It’s a nice little detail that makes the look stand out a little. Usually my trousers have a 34inch inseam (the distance from your crotch to the bottom) but cropped trousers are having a moment right now, so this time I went for a 32inch instead. I also helped them out a little by turning up the hem a single time, once again adding a little detail that makes it a little more personal.

This denim shirt is a really easy layer to throw on and bring a some instant cool to an outfit. It looks great dressed down like this or dressed up as we’ll see later on. I rolled up the sleeves  a little which makes the outfit look a bit more chilled and relaxed.

A big fan of denim, I’ve thrown on another layer. I love this indigo denim jacket which brings some darker tones to the otherwise rather bright outfit. Double denim can be dangerous territory. Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake found that out the hard way in 2001. Never forget.

An easy way to avoid that sort of turn of the millennium madness is to go for differing tones of denim. Here the darker jacket stands out from the lighter shirt so the outfit doesn’t look too matchy-matchy. As you get more confident in your denim mixing skills, you can start to play with similar tones for some more retro-style looks.

I’ve done this a little this time by adding this embroidered denim cap. Trading heavily on Americana influences, it’s quite a fun, casual piece and I think it really brings the outfit together. Embroidery is popping up in all kinds of places recently (last year’s souvenir jacket trend probably had something to do with that) and so is distressed denim. This piece gives a tip of the hat to both trends. See what I did there?

Look 2

Keeping things classy, this second look is a little more put-together than the former. Holding on to the denim shirt, I threw on a light sweater for a relaxed but less casual look. In a slightly washed out navy blue, this jumper is the perfect summer layer to add as the evenings start to get a little chilly, while the denim jacket is the perfect summer layer to add is the evenings start to get even chillier. Let’s be real here, people.

Trousers and shoes are of course the same as last time – my incredibly cheap chinos and my trusty white sneaks (my shoes are from Boohoo, not Gap).

Where possible I have added online links to the items in this post. Unfortunately the tee shirt and the hat are unavailable online at the time of writing, but should be available in larger Gap stores. Often items can be cheaper in store than online so it’s always worth popping in anyway.

Finally, I’ll say that Gap are incredibly generous with sales and discounts. At the time of writing, there is 25% extra off sale prices online and instore. Those chinos, for example would cost £11.24. You can keep up with all the discounts by joining the mailing list here.

Just to clarify, Gap haven’t asked me to say any of this. I just genuinely think they make some good clothes which can be very competitively priced if you come at the right times.

I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps.

Masterpiece

Fashion, places

Living in England, rain is just something that you have to embrace.

If it’s not tipping it down, then it’ll be the typically British, mournfully sombre, scornfully threatening, instantly disheartening overcast sky. And even when it’s actually sunny (as it has been this week), you find yourself unable to appreciate it for fear of the inevitable rain that you know is coming sooner or later (generally it tends to be sooner).

The setting for today’s outfit ultimately results from the rain and its effortless ability to disrupt the best laid plans. A good friend of mine is a photographer (check him out here. He’s incredibly talented!) and we had planned to do some shots out and about in York. The rain had other ideas, so instead, we ended up wandering around the York Art Gallery instead, as it is somewhere I had wanted to visit for a while.

Inspired by the creativity surrounding us and with classic and contemporary art as a backdrop, we ended up taking some photos and I thought I’d turn them into an outfit post.

Let’s make a masterpiece.

 

It’s probably wise to start off with the  standout piece of today’s outfit – these striped trousers. They’re roomy at the top but taper down towards the ankle, keeping things looking slick and tailored while winking to the wide-leg trend that’s taking off at the moment.

If you look closely, you’ll notice that they have pleats on the front, a nice retro flourish that has been criminally underappreciated over the last decade. I’ve seen pleated trousers pop up more and more over the last few seasons – a look back to the more relaxed and spacious tailoring of the 90s, a time before Hedi Slimane foisted the irresistibly ubiquitous skinny suit upon us.

 

When you’ve got a statement piece like these obnoxious trousers, as a rule, it’s generally best to keep everything else as simple as possible. Here I’ve gone for an oversize grey  t-shirt. Nothing fancy, I just bought a couple sizes larger than I usually wear to get that baggy 90s style.

My black denim jacket is from Gap (bought in the sale, naturally). Unlike the more relaxed, baggy denim jackets I normally go for, this one is more fitted and contrasts nicely with the looser tee and trousers.

 

 

Keeping up the monochrome theme, I’ve gone for grey sneakers and white socks.  No colour for me, thanks. I’ve also got my trusty grey cap, which pairs nicely with the grey tee, helping tie the outfit together.

Finally, my bag is from Topman and cost me £1. Yes, £1. I just got lucky one day and managed to turn up when they had loads to get rid of. I really enjoy its neutral colour palette as well as the leather touches that make it stand out.

Truly a work of art.

Photos by Rob McConkey

 

Stingily Vintage

Fashion

I’ve always been notoriously, unashamedly, almost evangelistically, stingy. I just hate paying more for something than I think I should.

That said, I spend roughly half of my income in coffeeshops and around a quarter on various sweets and pastries, so this parsimony is basically the only way I’m able to fund my addictions.

This instinctive sense of entitlement to the finer things in life contrasted with my chronic unwillingness to part with my money can be a struggle. But savvy clothes shopping can do a lot to ease the tension.

As it goes, today’s outfit is a penny-pinching triumph, costing me just under £5 altogether.

Stinginess. It’s a talent.

 

Let’s start off with this vintage sweatshirt. For the record, “vintage” in fashion is just a fancy way to say “secondhand and somebody probably died in this”.  I really enjoy the nautical feel of this jumper and its oversized, worn-in style. I bought it from a shop in Belgium for €3. Bargain. This is a great one to throw on with some jeans or maybe chuck it over a pair of shorts as sunny summer afternoons turn to breezy summer evenings.

Subtotal: £2.61 (€3)

My slouchy denim jacket used to belong to my mum and I basically just stole it. I have zero regrets. Over the years, this light wash denim has become my go-to outerwear, seeing me through spring, summer and autumn, but doesn’t quite cut it during the harsh northern winter.

Subtotal: £2.61

You can’t really see it but, underneath the sweatshirt, I’m wearing a white tee with a sporty elasticated ringer neck. I got this from Boohoo.com and it cost £4 with one of the 50% discount codes that they send out quite indiscriminately. However, last year I won a competition that gave me a free £500 to spend on the website. So in actuality, it cost me nothing. Begrudgingly, I have to admit that this one can’t be blamed on my shopping skills, this was purely luck!

Subotal: £2.61

While giving a nod to the incumbent 70s trend, my corduroy trousers still keep things contemporary in a slim silhouette. I got them on sale for £2 at Primark a few months ago. That’s a rather heavy-handed reduction, even for Primark, so clearly they had overestimated the demand for corduroy trou as there was a table completely full of these bargain cords.

Subtotal: £4.61

Finally my white sneakers were another find from Boohoo.com. I think they cost £10 with the 50% off (honestly, never pay full price on Boohoo, just wait for a discount!), but like the tee, they cost me nothing in actual money.

This brings the grand total to a measly £4.61, having actually paid for only two of the five items.

Eat your heart out, Ebenezer Scrooge.

As I look back over this post, searching desperately for some sort of conclusion, it would appear that my budget fashion tips are as follows:

  • Trawl vintage shops and discount bins
  • Steal
  • Be lucky

Words to live by.

Belgium

Fashion, places

I recently had the pleasure of visiting for a second time what I think is a very underrated country.

You don’t really hear much about Belgium, do you? It’s all Paris this and Amsterdam that, while Belgium sits there quietly enjoying the best of French and Dutch culture.

I was there for ‘I Have A Dream’ – a week of events organised by a group of Christian students at the University of Leuven. These events aimed to provide students an opportunity to think about the big questions of life and hear about and discuss Christianity.

We had a really good response from students there and it was great to chat with people and get to know them, and to talk about some of the deeper things in life that we don’t always get time to think about.

Leuven is a beautiful city (also criminally underrated, I think) and I loved wandering around, taking in the mix of gothic, contemporary and neoclassical architecture. St Peter’s cathedral is an imposing gothic structure on the main market square, but the stunning 15th century town hall accross the road commands your attention with dozens of carved figurines all over it.

The library was definitely another favourite building of mine and, though it took a beating in both of the world wars, it stands tall and proud on Ladeuzeplein Sqaure. Well, at least until the next war. Outside stands a huge statue of a fly impaled on a needle. Why?

Because art. That’s why.

Belgium is the land of chocolate (and Stella Artois too, but the less said about that, the better) so of course I had my fill of sweet treats, especially truffles, waffles and ice cream. Filled to the brim with coffeeshops, cafes, bars and restaurants, the standout for me had to be The Capital – a bar that boasts 2000 different varieties of beer. Yes, you read that right. With 20 beers on tap and bottled favourites at the bar, the rest are kept in their extensive cellar and sent up to the bar on an industrial elevator.

The Capital spits in the face of your local.

Some friends pointed me towards Think Twice – a vintage shop in Leuven. I will forever be in their debt. Think Twice (or T2) have sales every month to clear up space for their incoming new stock. They do this by means of incredibly generous discounts. Today everything is 30% off, tomorrow 40%, the day after 50%. This is off EVERY item in the store, from shirts and jackets to bags and shoes. After that, each item is €5, then €4, then €3 and so on, until you’re buying leather jackets and wool coats for basically pennies.

Great fashion at ridiculously low prices without the ethical implications of cheap labour, as well as the feeling of knowing you’re recycling an outfit instead of buying yet another new item and adding to the vicious cycle of clothing waste. No surprsises, I was a big fan. I went twice. On the first day I got an black denim shirt for £4. The next I hit things hard, and bought a faded red denim shirt, an embroidered cuban collar shirt, an indigo denim jacket, and a vintage sweatshirt. Unsurprisingly for a secondhand shop, each of the items were larger than what I usually wear, but I quite enjoy the slouchy 90s feel of oversized items.

I also got some time to wander around Brussels which is a half hour train ride from Leuven.

Brussels, being the bastion of culture that it is, has a famous statue called ‘Mannekin Pis’ – directly translated as ‘Little Man Piss’. It is quite literally a statue of a little boy peeing. There are many legends as to the origins of this piece of art. One of them is that sometime in the 14th century the city of Brussels was besieged by a foreign enemy. The attackers had laid explosives around the city to finish things once and for all, but a young boy happened to notice the burning fuse and urinated on it – thus saving Brussels.

Believe it or not, people come from literally all over to gaze upon the admittedly underwhelming manhood that may or may not have saved the city all those years ago. This is culture, guys. Rich, beautiful culture. Annoyingly, on the day I visited, he had been dressed in a weird old-fashioned outfit for some reason, probably a public holiday or something. This marred my experience somewhat as normally he’s a lot less prudish.

Aside from looking at urinating statues, I spent the day wandering around the beautiful buildings of Belgium’s captial like the royal shoping arcade Galleries De Hubert, beautiful neoclassical churches, the palace and the royal library.

I also visited the European Parliament – because three weeks after the UK officially began withdrawal from the European Union, I can’t imagine anything they’d want to see more than a clueless Englishman wandering around, unable to speak any of the three national languages.

It was actually quite humbling to see the frankly huge complex – I immediately felt very small, both in stature and in my contributions to world unity.

It was really interesting and thought-provoking learning about the rich history of the EU at the neighbouring Parlamentarium – basically a museum about the European Union. It was genuinely fascinating – which was a huge surprise to me, if I’m honest. My favourite part was the 360 projection room that simulated being an MEP during a vote. I don’t care how lame that makes me sound. A bittersweet visit for me, the Parlamentarium really hit home the momentous decision that the UK has made.

Politics aside, I had fantastic time in Belgium and my love for the country has only grow stronger. As has my love for waffles and beer.

 

Freshen Up

Fashion

(Feel free to scroll down to the outfit if you don’t fancy reading my somewhat lengthy introduction.)

To ring in the new year, my housemates and I threw a 90s/00s themed party. Naturally, it was fancy dress.

If I’m honest, I’ve never been too big a fan of fancy dress. Firstly, it’s a lot of effort, and I generally dislike things that require effort. Strike one.

Secondly, fancy dress rarely looks good. It can look creative or ingenious or clever, but it almost never looks good. Best case scenario, you look like as much like a Minion as it is possible for a human being to look, but you don’t look good. You look like a Minion. Strike two.

Finally, fancy dress often includes body paint which kind of makes me cringe. Strike three, and we’re out.

This is something that I’ve subconsciously known but never really processed before. Writing this right now is genuinely the first time I’ve thought about why I dislike body paint so I can only apologise for whatever stream of consciousness diatribe comes next.

Maybe it’s because I had eczema growing up so my mother never let me use face paint or even those cool transfer tattoos that everyone had. Instead I had to stick them on my book bag that held my piano sheet music. My book bag.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve been forced to rub against sweaty, over-familiar, painted clubgoers on various nights out while at university.

Or maybe it’s because people always miss out bits of skin (honestly, the number of smurfs I’ve seen with unpainted napes) which is just unsettling; or even worse, when they go overboard with face paint and their eyes, mouths and nostrils look like gaping holes into another dimension, lost in a sea of cheap acrylic paint.

*shudder*

So all of that considered, I’ve never really been a fan of fancy dress. This year however, I decided I’d give it a good go.

I tried to find an easily recognisable black 90s/00s character, which is harder than you might think. And before you go on about colour-blind costumes, I’ve tried that before and either no one had a clue who I was or they racked their brains to think of an appropriate black character who they assumed I must have been. In fact I once went to a party dressed as a cowboy and my friend decided that I must have been Django (Unchained).

Eventually I ended up with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air – the king (sorry, prince) of 90s cool. I borrowed my housemate’s dungarees and I already had an appropriately kitsch snapback so just needed an obnoxiously patterned shirt.

I found this – let’s face it – objectively ugly shirt in a charity shop and, much to my surprise, have quite started to like it and begun to incorporate it into my everyday style.

So that’s what this unnecessarily long introduction has been about – trying something different and discovering a new style.

Safe to say I’ve waffled on for long enough so let’s get down to today’s outfit. All these pictures were taken by my friend Luke. Check out his other work here.

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As discussed, this shirt is from a charity shop. It was originally from M&S and was, in fact, designed for men, despite all suggestions to the contrary. I’m really into 90s vibes at the moment. The decade came back into fashion a few of years ago but sort of plateaued, challenged no doubt by the bohemian 70s styles that came in not long afterwards. Over the last few seasons however, 90s style has come back in a big way, especially in the sports luxe/athleisure trend (ie sportswear that isn’t really designed for sport). Gap, where I work, is having an extended throwback with their 90s Archive Reissue, re-releasing some of their classic pieces from when they were at the height of their cool.

With quite a loud shirt, I’ve gone for solid colours for the rest of the outfit, starting off with my trusty plain white tee. I decided to tuck it in, which, once again, is a bit of a 90s thing, and I think it looks a little cleaner and more put-together.

My jacket is from Boohooman.com. I’ve recently become quite a fan of textured materials (corduroy, waffle knit, ribbed cotton, velvet) and, fittingly, this jacket is made of a navy blue (fake) suede. I’ve been seeing a lot of suede bombers around recently, especially in a brown tan colour, so I wanted to stand out a little by going blue. As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I’m something of a lanky gentleman so this medium jacket doesn’t quite reach my wrists, while a larger size would have been too baggy. My answer to this is to roll up the sleeves a little so it looks like a stylistic choice, rather than a necessity.

Another nod to the 90s are my straight leg trousers. In recent seasons, designers have finally started to move away from the slim silhouette that has gripped our bottom halves for the last decade, instead looking to more relaxed, skater-inspired fits. This light wash denim is relaxed and casual, making the perfect addition to my chilled outfit.

Wider legs can be difficult to pull off without looking like you’re wearing your dad’s gardening trousers, so high hemlines (either cropped at the ankle or rolled up like mine) are a good way to make sure you look more skater boy than see you later, boy.

My shoes were £3 from Primark so I bought them in two colours. A deal’s a deal, man. Finally, I’ve gone for some stripy tube socks and this simple grey cap to add in some last minute 90s touches.

So that’s my 90s inspired outfit – yet another thing we can add to the already lengthy list of things we can thank Will Smith for.

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Fairytale of Old York

Fashion, places

I live in a city called York. It’s a great place to live.

Beautiful medieval architecture, quaint little shops, countless tea rooms and cafes. It’s just a dream.

It’s nothing at all like its louder, brasher namesake New York. So it always makes me laugh that when the British first invited themselves over to what we now call America and built the Big Apple – the economic centre of the United States, one of the busiest cities in the world, the city that never sleeps – they perhaps had my quaint little home in mind.

Overkill, guys. Overkill.

Anyway, today’s look was shot out and about in my favourite city in the world.

York. The original.

I got this denim shirt from Gap last year and it’s a great versatile layer to throw on. It has got poppers instead of buttons so it’s handy if you ever find yourself performing an impromptu striptease. Which I frequently do.

Down below I’ve got some black chinos from Zara (sadly no poppers here). An absolute steal in the sale, they can be dressed up or down. These are a ‘slim fit’ where I’d usually go for the slightly tighter ‘skinny’, but I’m quite happy with how they sit on me. As usual, I’ve rolled up the hems a little to show off my brogues that I’m starting to realise I definitely wear too often.

Finally, I love this coat from Gap’s new spring collection.Granted, it’s far too thin to be a realistic option for February in the north of England, but it definitely looks great. If you’ve an eye for detail, you might notice the striped lining – a tiny little flourish that I really enjoy, making the item stand out a little.

In my younger days I found the idea of a contrasting lining little more than a waste of time – after all, no one can see the lining (unless of course you’re the Fresh Prince and you wear your blazers inside out). Now that I’m an older, wiser, hopefully more stylish gentleman, I see a little more merit in hidden details. It’s like your little secret.

I won’t tell if you don’t.