Category Archives: Style Agenda

Femme Fatigue

Queer spaces have always felt like home. From meeting like-minded people to not being on red-alert for the constant risk of unwelcome groping and everything in between mean that I feel safe.

But what isn’t fun is when we are made to feel like interlopers in our own spaces.

 

me at Manc Pride

Happy Pride!

 

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FUZZ OFF!

Oh hi, my name’s Sarah and I am one HAIRY MCLAIRY if you get what I mean… I’m sure I’ll speak some more about this furry –and sexy!- feature of mine in more detail in the near future but this will do for now. Thanks to having Wolverine as a father I am close to covered in the stuff and yes, unfortunately this includes a rather extensive moustache. Some call it ‘top lip hair’ but let’s be honest, it’s just a bad case of the good ol’ tash. I’d never really found the perfect quick fix remedy to rid me of my top lip fluff –waxing does happen every 2 weeks but sadly I need a top up of hair removal in between to keep it from looking too Freddie Mercury.

I mean we all love Freddie, but... Photo by:     kentarotakizawa:  http://bit.ly/15IE1g1

I mean we all love Freddie, but…

Photo by: kentarotakizawa: http://bit.ly/15IE1g1

 

I was taking a stroll through the beauty department of Harvey Nichols a couple of weeks ago and stumbled across a hair removal cream that kicks the arse of all others to date. Think no fishy whiffy and no burning sensation that gets your running to the nearest mirror to make sure you skin hasn’t peeled off yet. I give you… “Bliss Fuzz Off”! And the name’s a winner too. You slap it on using a rubber tip applicator –a slightly less messy way than having to mix part a with part b and adding a spatula to the mix and blah blah BLAH- leave it to do its thing, then scrape it off gently with the opposite ridged side of the applicator and ta da; moustache be gone! If I’m feeling wild I might even indulge in a sneaky Harry Potter style wand-swishing move right at that moment… And then about a week and a half later I’m taking out the big guns: the wax pot.

Photo by: Fadetowhite: http://bit.ly/141P8oC

Photo by: Fadetowhite: http://bit.ly/141P8oC

Just a heads up: if you’re even a teeny tiny bit sensitive to things I’d recommend doing a quick patch test, you might not want to leave this one for the full 10 minutes in case you end up with a serious case of hot lip for 3 hours afterwards and start wondering if your face is falling off. My second time was a winner, I left it on for 2-3 minutes, it tended to my extremely hardy hairs and there were no post-tash problems at all. The lesson here is LESS IS MORE PEOPLE.

If you don’t fancy a Harvey Nics jaunt you can grab one from Feel Unique (www.feelunique.com) -essentially my Mecca- for £15. Now fuzz off…

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GET OUT OF MY CLOSET!

I am the definition of anti-hoarder. If I can make anything ‘capsule’ I will. TV shows like ‘Britain’s Biggest Hoarder’ have me covered in a cold sweat, pulling out my hair. My flatmates have to stop me marching into their rooms armed with washing up gloves, something reminiscent of a CSI jumpsuit and a roll of bin bags to give them my ‘expert’ help. When it comes to my wardrobe, the slimmer the better. Perhaps I’ve just watched too many YouTube style videos or maybe  I was a fairy godmother in a former life, but suffice to say I do love a good wardrobe clear out at the weekend.

Chuck them out! Photo by 'Quite Peculiar': http://bit.ly/133x8LQ

Chuck them out!

Photo by ‘Quite Peculiar’: http://bit.ly/133x8LQ

 

Because my hoarder girlfriend is the ying to my yang, she is point blank refusing to let me go anywhere near hers, so I thought I’d pen down my five steps to wardrobe clarity for you lucky girls instead. So if you’re drowning in clothes that haven’t seen the light of day in years… Read on!

Step 1: Be BRUTAL. Get everything out, lay it all down and take a good long look! My rule of thumb here is if it hasn’t been worn in the last year then it’s out. Of course exceptions are made for special items like graduation and birthday numbers. I mostly keep those just so one day I can show my future kids and we can have a bawl at how ‘noughties’ those were. Get walking to that bin bag…

Step 2: Do the whole summer/winter half & half thang. It sounds a little cliché but if space is of the essence then siphon your clothes via seasons. A vacuum bag is a small but significant investment. I’ve got a whole bunch of winter jackets & coats vac-packed under my bed waiting for September, fingers crossed maybe even October. The same goes for your summer stash, there’s not point having a million pair of flips flops kicking about when it’s close to -5c out there!

Step 3: Get organising. So now you’re done editing, it’s time to rehang. Here’s how I do things in my chateau: I order everything in clothing categories: tops with tops, shirts with shirts, skirts with skirts… You get the concept. In actual fact it goes dresses, skirts, jeans/trousers/shorts, short sleeve tops, long sleeve tops, shirts, jumpers, jackets. Feeling OCD yet? Everything’s pretty easy to spot and it saves at least 3 minutes each morning, which is 3 more minutes in my bed: time well spent!

Step 4: Get down to IKEA and get yourself that fancy rope hanger thing. While this might seem like a really unnecessary step and a bit of a strange addition, I have this bad boy nudged in between my skirts and tops section. It’s reserved for special things only: belts, little pouch bags, scarfs etc. Basically if it can hang but doesn’t fit in any of my OCD’esque categories listed above then on it goes. Nice addition no?

Rope hangers are surprisingly useful!

These are surprisingly useful!

Step 5: Fix up, look sharp. This is by far my least favourite part of this whole shebang. I guess a real wardrobe spruce wouldn’t be complete until any broken bits are fixed though, so get those mini sewing kits out (my faves are cutesie ones from Cath Kidston and they’ve got an online sale just now, grab yours for  £7.50 ) and start finding spare buttons, cutting loose threads, unsticking zips and then some. This is officially the worse chore of all time. Time to salvage my unstitched Primarni playsuit –it’s needle and thread time.

Good luck getting that thread in that ridiculously tiny needle whole btw!

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My Bisexual Closet

I have a problem. I have a very small room and sliiightly more clothes than I have storage space. I realised recently that I have this issue partly because I have hoarding problems, but mostly because like me, my wardrobe is bisexual.

I mean, everyone has different styles of dressing:  casual, smart, work, clothes you only wear around the house and maybe to the Co-op, clothes you will literally never wear again but have emotional significance and so you can’t throw them out (unless that’s just me, did I mention my hoarding issues?), summer/winter clothes, sports clothes etc etc, and onesies, of course.  But it somehow escaped my notice that since coming out, subconsciously, and sometimes not so subconsciously, I dress differently depending on the gayness of the situation.

Photo by Bill Keaggy: http://bit.ly/15KWEDy

Photo by Bill Keaggy: http://bit.ly/15KWEDy

I realised the extent of  these chameleon tendencies when I was trying to explain to someone (straight) how what is considered attractive is different on the scene than it is by straight people (which is a whollle other post!). I have clothes I always wear out on the scene and there are clothes I would pretty much only wear when going out to straight clubs, and go-to outfits for both situations. I dress differently when I’m with my straight pals or my gay pals. Sometimes very differently, like heels vs kicks, sometimes it’s just little things, like wearing a bracelet. This might make zero sense to a lot of you, but I hope it will for some of you, because in my typical cognitive dissonance style, I didn’t even realise I was doing it.

Sometimes dressing ‘straight’ is almost easier, actually. Hair down, put some make up on, and if I want to look fit wear heels and a dress. Simple. It’s almost like a uniform, in some ways.  I know what’s expected of me.  I know what the scale people will be judging me on and I know how to fit in.

On the other hand out on the scene there is such a variety of styles and gender expressions, it feels more personal. People really notice what you’re wearing.  You can fit in by standing out. Also shoes. If you have cool kicks out on the scene, you’re made!  Maybe it’s because the LGBT community is so important to me that I (over) think more about how I dress on the scene. All I know (and am trying to figure out why) is that although I sometimes love getting dressed up in heels and dresses, I’ve never really worn them out on the Scene. (That could just be because I like dancing like an idiot with my pals on the scene and heels are just impractical for jumping in).

These are excellent shoes.... Photo by Anna Fischer: http://bit.ly/13DC48G

These are excellent shoes….

Photo by Anna Fischer: http://bit.ly/13DC48G

The last two proper nights out I’ve had in the last 6 weeks (as opposed to my regular post work I-hate-my-job-drinking)  I’ve worn

a) a dress, heels, and a leather jacket

b) coloured skinny jeans, Nike kicks, a t-shirt, denim shirt and a hoody

And I feel exactly like me in both of these, and I love it.  And that’s just it. I’m not really dressing differently for other people, I’m dressing differently for me. For how I feel in each situation.  And yet it is to do with other people. Because as I typed that I realised that of course, this chameleon-ness is all about other people. It’s about acceptance and fitting in and being recognised and of course that affects how I feel.  And although it annoys me to admit it (because of the patriarchy), I do dress more stereotypically ‘feminine’ in straight clubs or if going somewhere with a boy.  And I probably lean more ‘tomboy- ish’ out on the scene (side note I also could write about twelve million words about how much I hate how clothes are prescribed  gender). But it’s all ridiculous, because for starters, I don’t feel any more or less ‘feminine’ in either of those outfits. It’s just all fairly instinctive and I just feel like me. And besides, I look the same underneath, whatever I wear.

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BEAUTY 101

The dreaded moving out season has finally begun and a recent peak at my girlfriend’s bathroom stash got me thinking about her take on all things beauty. A small snort exerted when I remembered that she is in fact the least interested woman that walks this earth when it concerns the cosmetics world. In fact she only looks confused whenever she hears the words ‘makeup’ and ‘Boots’ and she’s been known to turn around and walk the opposite direction when I mentioned ‘Space NK’. To be fair my purse wishes it could do the same thing.

Writer's girlfriend grimaces.

Did someone say Clinique?

It has to be said this is all irrelevant when it comes to face masks. Oh she loves face masks! She’ll happily throws on 2 or 3 after another during a face mask sesh… She has a particular fondness for those Montagne Jeunesse gems that come in just about every scent in the world. But her day to day routine consists of a dab of whatever body or face moisturiser she has on hand being slathered onto her face, along with a splash of whatever freebie sized perfume is kicking about and she’s out the door, leaving me shaking my head in bemusement and swapping said questionable moisturiser for an appropriate replacement in her absence.

Since moving in together –don’t gasp just yet it’s just for the summer!- she’s been exposed to all sorts, the ‘triple-threat-Sunday-night facials’, the 30 minutes evening skincare routine and bedtime beauty ritual and even the unsightly facial hair removal (and she’s yet to pack up and leave –score). The accumulation of these events plus the endless pottering around John Lewis, Boots and the rest has made for some seriously entertaining one-liners from her part. Watch out for those gems later on, but for now I’ll let you in on some beauty basics. Think of it as a “beauty for beginners” lesson, and with skincare being my favorite topic of all, grab a coffee and get comfy!

It’s been a long while since I’ve been trying to perfect some kind of routine which works for me –but suffice to say that some basics apply to all, regardless of skin type, texture, colour etc. I’ve mixed things up A LOT since my addiction began, it’s the same but different with a few well-placed newer addictions in there. So if your skin is still battling it’s way to ‘normal’, with the odd spot of dryness around the eyes and oiliness on the T-zone, this current combo of products (which I might add take approx. 6 minutes to throw on without any snack breaks in between) might just help keep everything in check. My mantra is hydration, no grease pools! Niiiiiice!

The Basics:

Cleanse:

Cleansing balm. I use the Emma Hardie one and I’m in love with the stuff. I’m on the 2nd tub in about as many months and let me tell you it’s not going anywhere! Any decent cleansing balm would do the job just as well to be fair, but this one happens to smell and feel amazing on the skin and when you flannel it off your skin feels nourished but clean: the winning combination in my books! Take a pea-sized amount, rub in between hands and really go to town with it! Work it in! When that’s done, run a flannel under some warm water, massage it off and voila.

Tone:

Spray toners are so much less faffy to use than liquid bottled toners, no cotton pads required, just spray on your skin, inhale the goodness and boom, the end. The one I’m currently loving at the moment is the La Roche Posay Serozinc spray, it’s a zinc-sulphate solution  (check me out going all chemical on you) which is known for its mattifying and purifying properties. If you’re more of an oily gal like myself def don’t skip this step out, think of it as the VIP step. The blurb on the back even says you can use it for nappy rash… Read into that what you will :s

Serum:

Serum is an absolute must if you’ve got even the teeny tiniest bit of dehydration. And let me tell you, unless you’re somehow necking down 3L of water daily (and if you are tell me how!) then chances are you will be. A good readily available option is Hydraluron, it contains a shed-load of hydraluronic acid molecules –the key to skin hydration. That dewy glow is only 1 Hydraluron tube away.

Moisturise:

The grand finale. This is the step where you can really mix it up a bit depending on your exact skin type, if you’re having a no makeup day etc. For oilier skins I’d recommend straying far far away from anything with the words ‘rich/nourish/deeply penetrating’ on the box. Keep it simple and aim for an oil-free matifying counterpart, something like Garnier Moisture Match ‘Shine be Gone’. Cute name too. If you’ve got more ‘normal’ skin then this category is your playground! And if your poor skin is starting to dry up then search high and low for something with natural oils and essences. Origins make fab ones with millions of plant extracts and then some.

PS: If you’ve managed to read this far, congrats! You deserve this final piece of knowledge… SPF. Whether you’re staying, going out, shaking it all about, apply that SPF!!! There are different textures out there to suit every skin type, as a rule of thumb I’d stick to spray ones for oily skins, light textured creams or gels for the in-betweeners and whatever takes your fancy for you drier skinned girls. And whatever you do, pleeease don’t buy into that SPF 8 ridiculousness. SPF 50 on your face only! Check out my cool rhyme: sun is your skin’s archenemy, so use fifty!

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