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4/29/11

Boris, Royal Wedding Bells and 1970's Plaid skirts...

Happy Friday readers! 

Earlier this week I picked up the latest edition of Elle which featured a woollen 1950’s skirt similar to the one in the pictures below. It seems that the 1950’s hourglass silhouette is a major trend for Autumn, making me happy because the 1950’s is a favourite fashion decade of mine.

The skirt I’m wearing belonged to my mom in 1975 when she was a teenager. When we saw the article, my mom was reminded of hers and I saw an opportunity for a little outfit post! This little post as well as the day's activities offered a major reprieve from the mammoth essay I'm powering through. As usual, my mother's cupboard offered much insipration along with this skirt. But her help doesn't stop there and I'm grateful to her for these beautiful pictures. In some she was lying down flat in the gravel road, that's dedication and support! 



The temptation with an outfit like this is to completely adopt the 1950's look but this would make it seem like I've walked straight off the set of Mad Men! So while I'm wearing a little cardigan, I love the madness that the leopard print tights and the ankle boots add. 
Instead of pearls, these long dangly earrings add to the eclectic feel of the outfit.
Feeling a little like a Gypsy.
This coat is highly prized and was an amazing find in sleepy Grahamstown
 which isn't known for good fashion.


The sunset at the top of our Estate. What a beautiful way to end the day.
As I'm sure all of you are aware of the Royal Wedding, I mean how could you not be with the ludicrous amount of media building up to it! And I am not proud to admit that I was one of the people watching it even though throughout the week I was very disinterested. I was walking around and saying things like, 'does the rest of the world care so much because they feel that they need a royal family?' 

But, Friday morning came and I decided that the only reason I'd watch with my mom and grandmother was because I wanted to see Boris Johnson's address to the crowd gathered in London. Now, it's not often that I will discuss men on this blog, but when it comes to Boris Johnson, my enthusiasm knows no bounds. Not only do I think he's hysterical but I find him so charming and attractive. Why? I really couldn't tell you. But everytime I hear him speak, I just beam. I have no idea what he's like as a politician, as I often have no idea what on earth he's talking about because I'm too busy laughing at his random asides! I am well aware that many will think I'm mad for fancying him, but each to his own...And while I am disillusioned with men my own age, I don't think I will be going after silver foxes (or in Boris' case - a blonde fox) anytime soon! 
See below for one of my favourite Boris Johnson moments...

However, I missed his address and dear readers, I'm afraid that I couldn't quite tear myself away from the television...I even went as far as making tea in a tea set from London and even made scones with cream (whipped by hand) and jam. I have no excuse other than I guess, I like fairytales as much as the next girl! 

But on a more serious note, while the hype around this wedding really put me off, I was really touched by how Christ centred and Gospel focused the ceremony was. I loved how the Bishop emphasised how God's original purpose of marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be, their deepest and truest selves. It was wonderful that throughout the sermon, the Bishop made mention of love and marriage as an act of a husband and wife giving themselves to each other unselfishly. And I was touched by the prayer that they wrote together and how it reflected their love for one another and their desires for their marriage. Simply put, I was deeply touched by the ceremony and that message around love and marriage spoke to me. 

I hope you all are looking forward to a lovely long weekend and spend it doing something meaningful to you. 
Much love as ever, 
S. 

4/26/11

Doll Parts

 I love finding cool clothing items in parent's cupboards. The weather has been unusually cold and rainy for Autumn, so in an attempt to find a jersey in my mother's cupboard, I stumbled upon this  mohair jersey that belonged to my Dad in the 1980's. I love the colours, the feel and how it's grungy but can be made chic with the right styling. Looking at it, I was reminded of the  grunge trend in the 1990's pioneered by bands such as Pearljam, Nirvana and Hole


Here's a little secret that I bet you didn't know about me, I really like Courtney Love, especially her music with her band Hole. But the Courtney Love I like isn't the the drug & alcohol addicted woman who had her daughter taken away from her because of her behaviour. Instead, I admire her for the raw power of her vocals and the way she and Hole used their music as a channel to speak out for women. 
Last year, I did a Sociology course on music as a form of resistance and Hole were instrumental in the feminist movement during the 1990's. Their lyrics tackled a wide variety of issues affecting women including;  female sexuality, anger at the media and it's perpetuation of feminine stereotypes. 


Courtney Love modeling the Kinderwhore look.
Even more than the power of her music, she also made a contribution to fashion... Let me explain, she and other Riot Grrrl musicians popularised the so called Kinderwhore look which consisted of torn, ripped tight or low-cut babydoll dresses or nighties, heavy makeup, and leather boots or Mary-Jane shoes. The idea here was to subvert typical images of sweetness and femininity like the babydoll dress by associating it with aggressive sexuality, which was deemed inappropriate for girls. In wearing these Lolita like outfits, women were made powerful through their resistance to traditional forms of femininity. 


Despite my appreciation for her music and how she and other Riot Grrls harnessed fashion as a tool for empowerment, I wouldn't want to wear the Kinderwhore look. I also would not wear this huge jersey with converse or Doc Martens and raggedy jeans, that would just swamp my frame. But I am happy to glam it up with leggings, these amazing suede boots, big hair and huge earrings, making for a modern interpretation of the Grunge look. 


I love these boots so much. They're extra special not only because I bought them in America, but because they were a gift to myself for my 20th birthday. 


A note on the painting in the first photograph:
It's called Joe's Sheet and was painted by our friend and art teacher Carolyn Morrison. This bedsheet is made out of Mielie Meal bags sown together by Joe, Carolyn's gardener. Carolyn saw this sheet and asked if she could have it in exchange for a brand new sheet. The painting is proudly displayed in our hallway and is one of many Carolyn Morrison originals in our home. 

I love how each month there appears to be a theme running through this blog. March focused a lot on going to shops and taking pictures, while this month has featured quite a trend on fashion history and appreciation. May looks to have a strong Art influence with an invitation to attend some openings at the Everard Read Gallery, as well as my newfound fascination with street art.  It's not intentional, I promise, but rather part of continuing to find my feet with this blog. With that, I can't describe how much this blog has helped me to reconnect with Johannesburg and I am so inspired by it and the people I'm meeting. 

I hope to post again soon but with a massive essay/research project deadline looming next week, I don't quite know when. But knowing me, I will go into withdrawals and have to post else I won't be able to think about anything else!  

S. 

4/23/11

Of Fashion, Veldskoens and Voortrekkers...

Now, I know that the last few posts have involved a heavy dose of Fashion history. And this post is not another one I promise, but it does involve a little history but it’s more tongue-in-cheek than anything else. One of the things that I love about fashion is how things of the past become fashionable. With this in mind, let me put on my ‘boeremeisie’ cap on and explain...

I popped into Zoom because I had my eye on a pair of leopard print pumps when these little boots caught my eye. Now, if you hadn’t noticed, I am high heel challenged with a right ankle that’s still not totally healed and may not be for the next few years. So trying on these little boots, I was thrilled at how comfortable they were and how they suited my ankle. When I find shoes that a) fit, b) are comfortable and supportive & c) are heels, they’re an immediate buy, no hesitation.

The more that I looked at the shoes the more I became aware that they’re a modern version of the veldskoen. When my mom saw them she loudly exclaimed, ‘I had some when I was ten!’ Now, I know a lot of South Africans read my blog but the majority of my readers are living overseas (which is so cool) and probably don’t know what veldskoens are. Veldskoens are similar to moccasins made from untanned leather or soft rawhide uppers attached to a soft sole without tacks or nails. Their name comes from the Afrikaans vel ("hide") and skoen ("shoe"), and their design stems from the first Dutch settlers in South Africa. Ok, the history lesson is almost over....
Technically, with a surname like Botha, I should be as Afrikaans as they come. And with a great great uncle and great great grandfather who fought in the South African war (one of which was also the first prime minister of South Africa - Louis Botha), I really should be a little Boeremeisie. But I am so English it’s ridiculous. More tea drinking and soccer watching than beer drinking and rugby watching....
Cultural stereotypes aside, I love how my shoes reference the veldskoen, though ever so modern and fashionable. Who knows just how accurate they are, I really doubt that Voortrekker women wore them with a heel like these. But that’s the point of fashion right? Its always evolving and updating aspects of the past. Besides I get to pretend that I’m in touch with my ‘roots’  in comfort without having to actually praat die taal... (that’s speak the language, for the benefit of my overseas readers!)


The original Veldskoen

My updated version...
Photographs retrieved from my Great Grandfather's photo album.
A hunt in the Drakensberg Mountains in 1919.
Veldskoens were all the rage.
A little picnic break in between shootin' and huntin'- 1919
Veldskoens a la mode 2011
Blouse: Zara, Shorts: Woolworths, tights: Mr Price, Shoes: Zoom
S.

4/22/11

A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.

I really loved writing yesterday's post and felt so inspired in going back to my fashion books and reading about Chanel and her impact on women's fashion. I guess I should explain, that my love of fashion history goes back to when I was about 16 when I received the best gift I've ever been given. My parents found in a second hand book shop, this incredible collection of historic photographs and original illustrations by Madomoiselle Chanel herself. Called Chanel and her world, I remember being transfixed by this massive book and used to pour over the photographs with such awe. Another great love of my life has always been history, which helps to explain my fascination with the photographs and my interest in clothes as a reaction to the times. 

And while at 16, my understanding was somewhat primitive and I appreciated Chanel for her being the first great female designer with a legacy that still creates the most beautiful dresses. I now understand and appreciate what she did far more and understand just how revolutionary she really was. I suppose that it helps that I'm taking a feminist theory class and as a result am far more aware of the female struggle of the time (just please don't talk to me about Simone de Beauvoir...). Chanel's struggle wasn't the struggle to liberate women physically from the restraints of the corset. Rather it was the struggle to liberate women's minds from their dependence on men. In this way, her clothes were the means to achieve a liberating lifestyle; one of independence, choice and freedom. 


So with the theme of inspiration in mind, I thought that I'd share a few things inspiring me right now: 


Headbands. I love this one both for the colour and the pearl and jewel detail. It has a slight 1950's feel, reminding me of something Sandy would wear in Grease. I have always been an alice band girl and at 5 years old I had a huge collection thanks to my Dad buying me one every time he went to the Pharmacy. Every time I saw the packet, I immediately asked what he'd bought me. And while my head band craze has been on hiatus for the last while, I think it's back in full force. 

Patterned Tights. I have always loved colourful tights and the quirkiness textured tights can add to an outfit. But before now, I've never really been able to wear textured or heavily patterned tights because they never used to do wonders for my legs. But now, for a number of reasons, I can wear them and feel like a little doll when I do.

Street Art. I plan on doing a proper post on this in combination with the patterned tights, explaining this new fascination of mine. Check out the Wooster Collective and Faith 47 at the Design Indaba in Cape Town for more. I love how Street Art has gained so much momentum thanks to the internet and is powerful in activism. Look out for more on this in future posts! 

Know who you are and act accordingly. These words have been ringing in my head for the last week after my first ever publishing meeting. For me knowing who I am has never been more important than right now as so much in my life is shifting and I'm facing new and overwhelming situations. But for me it goes beyond just knowing, but also understanding who I am in Christ. Knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139) on such a special day as Good Friday and knowing that I am reconciled to God through Christ and made whole. I am so overwhelmed by his grace and so at peace in this.


Reflecting on this, Easter for me is always a special time with my family and this year, I am so moved by the significance of this weekend and why I celebrate it. I've been following the GodFirst's Easter: The Final Hours series and I've never heard the Gospel spoken so eloquently and beautifully. The message is spoken without condemnation and the essence of who Jesus is, communicated so profoundly. I've come out of church crying, so moved by the nature of grace and unconditional love. 


Whatever is special to you at this time, I hope that you have a wonderful weekend and enjoy it with the people you love. 


S. 

4/21/11

A natural counterpoint.

There are a few things I find truly sexy when it comes to women’s clothes and one in particular when I think about my own body and fashion choices. It may come as a surprise to some and to others, it appears as being very obvious. That is when a woman wears clothing items such as a tailored shirt, blazer or even tuxedo, which are traditionally seen as being men’s clothes. These can be fitted for women or if feeling rather risque - a real man’s shirt could be worn, which conjures up a variety of associations.... Associations aside, I think that a woman wearing menswear is the ultimate combination, with the structure and strength of the masculine complementing the softness and gentleness of femininity, creating a natural counterpoint for the two.

Of course, I am not the first to think this. Two of my favourite fashion designers; Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent have both contributed to this trend, both of them understanding that the starkness and strength of the black jacket and white shirt combination don’t detract  from what it is to be a woman. Rather with the right fit, they heighten and add to her natural beauty because it isn’t hidden behind overt cleavage or skintight dresses. Both Chanel and Saint Laurent understood that sexiness is not necessarily found in the overt display but rather it can be found in the subtleties and should be looked for or rather, imagined.

Chanel was the first designer to initiate the move of women’s fashion, which during the 1910’s was opulent with constraining corsets and ridiculous hats, to a simpler silhouette allowing movement and elegance with the introduction of pants and simpler dresses. At the heart of this change was Chanel’s fascination with men’s tweeds, knits and the uniforms of the time. The essence of Chanel’s inspiration has always been an understanding of the proportions that accentuate the body without exposing it. This philosophy was first embodied in male fashion and then adapted by Chanel to suit the female body while allowing it to be chic and refined, devoid of any spectacle and show.

While Chanel set the foundation for women in men’s clothes, it was Saint Laurent who took it further and added a large amount of sex appeal to this look, ultimately transforming it in the 1960’s. Saint Laurent was inspired by Chanel and like her, adopted many items from men’s clothes. But, unlike Chanel who designed her clothes and the woman in them not to conform and please men through overt sexuality; Saint Laurent’s tuxedo and the woman in it, walked a fine line between the masculine and feminine while exuding eroticism. It was no longer about just being chic and practical, instead it was about harnessing the power of men’s clothes and fashioning and bending them to suit a woman. Giving her not only power and confidence but also power over a man.

And as for me, when I wear an outfit like this, it’s inspired by Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent’s interpretations, but its still my own. I feel empowered by the tailoring of the white shirt and secure in the blazer jacket. And I love how the severity of the contrast is heightened by the softness of my hair and facial features. And while Madomoiselle Chanel may not approve of the shorts, stockings, and high heels, which conform to modern standards of what it is to be sexy, ultimately she understood that it’s not about being a man. Rather it’s asserting oneself as a woman, in what sadly is still too much of a man’s world  And I heartily agree....

Called the smoking jacket, this androgynous suit by Yves Saint Laurent highlights
 both the masculinity and femininity that fascinated the
designer. 
My own interpretation of the famous photograph. 


This outfit is definitely not for the fainthearted!
Photos courtesy of Kerry Botha
S. 

4/16/11

Tea for Three...

My wish for a warmer and drier day did not come true as we battled the rain and the cold to have tea at Contessa. As it was, it was the perfect day to try out a range of teas and cakes, making us all a little more warmer. Contessa is one of my favourite places here in Joburg. I love the decor of the place with it's couches and alcoves, pictures, hearts, bell jars and a wall devoted entirely to tea. It has a very special and comforting atmosphere with a constant hubbub of conversation and activity with it's clientele featuring everyone from students to families with their toddlers. It's relatively unknown which undoubtedly makes for a rare gem. It's the perfect place to spend a slow Saturday morning hiding away from the rain and the cold. 





Our table featuring everything from Orchid tea to Chocolate and Carmel cake. 
Raspberry Tea


My sister, Rachel. She's the talented one behind most of my photographs.
I love the jelly beans!
As for this weather...my umbrella has never been so handy. As I write this I'm curled up against a fire. Luckily the rest of our day was spent in Rosebank watching Never let me Go. I'm reading the book right now and I have to say that the story is one of the most hauntingly tragic stories I've ever read. It's set in an alternative version of England in the 1990's and deals with the idea of cloning and children being bred for the sole purpose of donations. In and amidst this, are the characters of Ruth, Tommy and Kathy all facing decisions around love and being aware of one's purpose and destiny. Haunting...


I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekends! And keep warm if you're also suffering from the cooler weather!
S.


Song of the day - Zorbing by Stornoway

4/15/11

Of Silk dresses, lace tights and tabby cats...

Hello lovely readers, I hope this post finds you well and happy. As per usual, it's Friday night and I'm exhausted. Despite many invitations to go out, with the cold weather, rain and tiredness (in part from last night) I am choosing to cuddle up at home with my lovely tabby cat, book and blog a bit as well. I was originally going to post a piece about a new passion in my life, and no, it's not a piece of clothing... Instead, I am going to wait on that until the ball has been set in motion... All I can say is watch this space! 

As to the post - I decided to mention some of my favourite things right now and also to do a little outfit post about my love of mixing textures like silk with wool. It's one way of making dressing for cooler weather more fun. 

You are all probably sick of my talking about my ankle boots but I am still so chuffed with them.
Just being able to wear a tiny heel makes me forget about the months in a cast and suffering with a very painful ankle.
I have the boots in both black and grey. I find that when it comes to shoes, when you find a great pair buy them in another colour as well.
The CD of course is my imported copy of Joshua Radin's The Rock and The Tide. I have been playing it non-stop with my favourite songs being; You got what I need, & The Rock and the Tide. Really beautiful lyrics with a slightly different sound to his previous albums. Lovely.
The Scarf is by Trenery and an absolute obsession of mine. I love scarves and this one is so warm and the perfect length and width for multiple wrap arounds.
Who cares that it's not always cold enough for it???


He is my most favourite of all. His name is Termite (my sister named him when she was 5. It was either Termite or Bug)
He's about 12 years old and has suddenly now adopted me despite previously being my mom's cat. I have no complaints as he is just as talkative as me and is very fond of cuddling up to me on my bed. This makes me very happy as winter is fast approaching.
As I type this, he's curled up next to me. I am besotted!


Tights from Topshop, champagne silk dress from Edgars, Cream jersey from Country Road. And the hair... that's just it's usual lion like state.
The girl with the pearl earring. Earrings from Mr Price


Otherwise, last night I went to my favourite little bar in Illovo, Wolves cafe, for the ultimate combination of beer and red velvet cupcakes. Lovely! I meant to take a long my SLR and take some photos as Wolves on a thursday night is pumping with lots of lovely indie hipsters in beautiful clothes. Unfortunately, I didn't and the photos I do have are too weird and involve much too much explaining...Suffice to say, my friends from my church are both strange and lovely. I do promise to do a full post on Wolves and hopefully do it justice. 

Tomorrow, will be another post about my favourite tea room, Contessa Tea Connoisseur in Rivonia. This is such a pretty little tea shop with very Sarah-esque decor never mind the tea cups and tasty delights! I am taking my sister and friend Lauren and then spending the afternoon in Rosebank. I just hope the weather warms up a bit or at least it stops raining!

Have a lovely evening!
S.  

4/12/11

The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain....

I decided that today was a day for an outfit post. This decision was inspired by The Satorialist and his photographs of women in New York and Paris wearing long, floaty cream skirts. The Satorialist is legendary to every wannabe fashionista and a favourite blog of mine. I love both the photography and fashion as well as the architecture and quirkiness of the neighbourhoods he photographs. Long Skirts are a major fashion trend for Spring 2011 internationally and even though here in South Africa we're in Autumn, the long skirt is definitely in style here too. 
My inspiration for the day was heavily inspired by my mom's cupboard. We have a joke that since I came home, I don't only have one cupboard but have two instead - hers as well. The skirt is hers and is handmade from cream mesh. It has such a beautiful and floaty silhouette and is so romantic in feel and look. It has a very high waist which doesn't work for my proportions but with a longer jersey, it's in better proportion for me. The fact that I'm also wearing heels helps this proportion issue... The shoes are ankle boots but this time in grey. Autumn helps my height issue so much with its seductive ankle boot selection. The jersey is from Country Road and I am in love with it's Audrey Hepburn/gamine look. Very cool and French. Together, I really love how the jersey plays down the romance of the skirt and combined with the ankle boots, makes the skirt edgier.

Photographing at home is always an experience. Navigating between Veld grass, a psychotic golden Retriever wanting her ball thrown, a fat cat called Munchkin insisting on being patted while you pose, all make for getting good shots tricky. This being said, that's home and the chaos is part of my life here. We did find a pile of bricks which proved very useful in for photographs with the textures and colours complementing the outfit. Overall, I really love this outfit and plan on wearing it out later tonight for dinner with some friends. 



Munchie being cute 




At last there's a smiley one.
This week has already been off to a promising start with unexpectedly finding Joshua Radin's The Rock and The Tide album in a local CD store. This is a big deal as no one here knows who is and I looooooooooove him. He's my favourite musician and being able to listen to such a beautiful album properly without resorting to Youtube is wonderful! And with the end of term on Friday, I'm smiling already.I'm looking forward to two weeks of no crippling readings and rushing around to and from campus. I can't believe I started at Wits eight weeks ago. Time has flown by. Aside from the end of term other highlights for the week include; indulging in Art movies like Never let me go, hopefully going to Abigail Betz this weekend to spend my massive gift voucher which I won and going to a Rock climbing friend of mine's birthday party where we're playing croquet?...yeah, I don't know how that will work out. I'll have to keep you all posted on that one! 


I promise more posts and updates. But now I am off to embrace being a little gamine girl with crazy curly hair. 
S. 
P.S 
The title comes from my favourite book, The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. Don't you just love the expression and images conjured up by that one sentence! Fitzgerald, you are heavenly!