March fashion

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The struggle is real. It’s the end of the month, pay day is still two days away and the shops are rife with gorgeous clothes. It’s torture. Haunted by a hefty credit card bill that needs to be paid off next week; all I can do it wander aimlessly, touch every luring piece of clothing and create outfits in my head. Spring has arrived and the all the shops have undergone a complete revamp. It’s out with the old, dark and dismal colours and in with the new, bright and vibrant. Hang on a minute, let me just wipe my mouth.

Call me a drama queen, but shopping is an addiction. It’s an expensive habit and I get withdrawal symptoms – as you’ve just found out – yet it gives a buzz like no other.  Screw Alcoholics Anonymous, I think I need some kind of retail therapy (… just not in the way I know it.)

March has been mayhem. My feet haven’t touched the ground after tearing up and down the country for various reasons. Unfortunately, these required new outfits. Ok, I guess required isn’t quite the right word to use here.

Here’s a couple of this month’s outfits:

Pinny Prinny.

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Top; H&M (£14.99), Dungaree Dress; Primark (£12.99), Earrings; New Look (£2.99)

The 90’s is making an almighty comeback; the era of oversized dungarees, high ponytails and garish tartan co-ords. Alexa Chung – the queen of fashion – has brought dungarees back in a way we’ve never seen before. She’s gone chic. Comfy, versatile and down-right trendy, the dungaree dress is definitely an investment. Like an irreversible coat – except nowhere near as ugly – you’ll get more than one look from it. Easily jazzed up with a patterned blouse or dressed down with a casual top, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be in a fashion dilemma again. A sucker for turtle-necks, the bright number from H&M adds a pop of colour to what could have been a very dark and dull outfit.

Spring Chicken

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Top; Topshop (£36), Trousers; Topshop (£40), Watch; Olivia Burton (£70)

Patterns, patterns, patterns. Never underestimate them – they speak volumes. I’d rather stand out than fit in – that’s boring – hence why I chose this outfit for an interview. Creative, colourful and classy; I let my outfits do the talking. Dressed to impress, I put on a pair of nude court heels to compliment the dusty pink in the blouse and finished the outfit off with a classy, suede mac coat. Of course, that’s not a practical look for everyday. Alternatively, the outfit can be made more casual by swapping the mac and heels for a denim jacket and pumps.

Photography – @emilyalicephotography

The Mad Grad.

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Feb fashion.

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Food, fashion and festivals are my forte. I ain’t going to pretend that I’m an avid follower of London Fashion Week, neither am I going to confess that I religiously purchase editions of Vogue. More to the point, I wouldn’t even say I have an ‘eye’ for fashion. I just like nice clothes – simples.

Ok, like might be an understatement. I’ve got one little confession – I spend nearly every penny I earn in Zara. Just call me Isla Fisher. Quirky shoes (or, undertaker shoes which I often refer to them as), modish coats and drool-at-the-mouth bags. Zara wins me over every time. I’m not obsessed,  I just thrive on being well-dressed.

Far from a fashion snob, Primark is definitely my next go to. The majority of the time when people ask me where my clothes are from, I say Primark. Approximately 9 times out of 10, no-one believes me. Disgusted by Topshop’s extortionate prices and irritating staff, I refuse to spend any of my hard-earned cash in there. Don’t get me wrong, I do really like some of their stuff, but I can almost guarantee that Primark are going to release some sort of replica in a few weeks. So, my word of advice is always to hold fire.

January and February are meant to be lull periods for going out. Apparently, I’m the exception to that rule. The past few weeks, I’ve been fully booked every weekend. That’s very unlike me – I don’t even own a diary because my plans are usually few and far between. Let me get one thing straight, I don’t buy a new outfit every time I go out – I wish I could. Luckily, I have four sisters who have the same size clothes and feet  (winner winner, chicken dinner). Well, it’s all fun and games until your favourite clothes go missing. I’m not mentioning any names (Cough, Caitlin, Cough).

So, here’s a few of my favourite garments:

70’s chic.

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Top; Forever 21 (£10.99), Trousers (or pants if you’re from t’north); Zara (£29.99), Shoes; New Look (£14.99),  Belt; New Look (£2.99)

A 70’s inspired look; the era of retro prints, flamboyant flares and the hippie look. It’s all making a comeback and at a fighting force too. Not only echoed through fashion, the music scene is increasingly becoming infiltrated with 70’s vibes. You only have to listen to the 1975’s new album to know that. So, just as you thought the days of Mods, Hippies and Teddy Boys were long gone, it might be time to rummage in your parents old boxes. Back to the outfit,  for little 5’3 me it’s very rare that I can find an outfit that accentuates my legs and can make me look incredibly taller. These bell-bottom pants were the answer to all my prayers and made me feel like a giant the whole night. Fi-Fi-Fo-Fum, pass me that gin and pass me that rum.

 

Jumpin’ Jack.

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Jumpsuit; New Look (£22.99),   Belt; New Look (£2.99),   Shoes; Next (£35)

Resembling a jumping jack, you’d think I was auditioning for a part in the circus. Invented in the early 1900’s, the jumpsuit is far from a new kid on the block. Equally as classy yet a little more conservative than a dress, the jumpsuit is ideal for a casual or plush night out. Sometimes time isn’t always on our side and tanning your legs isn’t on your day’s agenda,  so it’s always a bonus to find a gorgeous outfit that requires such minimal effort. Although the New Look jumpsuit comes with a tie belt, I’m a huge fan of top and trouser compilations, so I added my own leather belt to create that illusion. Psst… these shoes are the comfiest ones I’ve worn to date.

Formal Finery.

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Dress; Zara (£24.99),  Coat; Topshop Outlet (£7),  Shoes; Zara (£19.99)

They say it’s always about first impressions. I always think if you can present yourself well, then it shows you’re serious. Oh yeah, I’m also a firm believer that shoes are an imperative part of any outfit. If you’re anything like me, shoes are the first thing I notice about a person. If they are shiny, little bit wacky and little out of the ordinary, you can be sure you’ll have my attention. Purchased in Zara’s Boxing day sales (Of Course…), these shiny patent brogues go everywhere with me. Often worn with a casual pair of black skinny jeans, these shoes can spruce a dull outfit up in a matter of seconds. Oversized boyfriend coats are literally the yin to my yang and I wouldn’t be without them – surprisingly they never let me down.

Until next time…

The Mad Grad.

 

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Just for the shits ‘n gigs.

 

Frequent gig go-er, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Oh yeah, I mean the music not the band.

Here’s a few of the sickest bands I’ve seen live:

 

  1. Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park

arctic monkeysSheffield lads, Arctic Monkeys, brought the heart of the soul of the north to the country’s capital. Oh, and it’s weather too. Playing to over 45,000 people, Alex Turner was in his element and was able to be his normal smug self. Given a helping hand by Royal Blood, self-obsessed Miles Kane and Tame Impala, the Yorkshire lads didn’t have to worry about crowd pleasers.

Testosterone levels went sky high when Miles Kane and his Daz white pants took to the stage. When the crowd got a sniff of Don’t forget who you are, every lad locked their arms round one another and belted out the words. As for the girls?  they were either silent or utterly gob-smacked. Either way, Miles Kane is still a wolly.

50 year old dads, sixteen year old girls and ‘proper’ lads paid their respects for Arctic Monkeys and Finsbury Park was transformed into a hub of energy. As a reward for arriving nearly six hours early, we managed to grab a decent spot in the ‘pit’ and refused to move even an inch. Literally. Well, until Alex Turner graced the stage like God. Pfft, he likes to think he is.

Stumbling onto the stage half-cut, Alex Turner grunted a few words and the crowd went mental. Suddenly, everything stepped up a notch. It went from civilised to complete pandemonium in a matter of seconds. Drenched by flying cups of piss, consumed by lethal mosh pits and lads off their nuts on pills offering their shoulders. I’m still haunted by the 100kg giant who came flying towards me. Totally k’od.

Ignoring Alex Turner and his boastful and brash ways, Arctic Monkeys put on a hell of a show. Plunging into the past, the lads went back to their roots and revisited their most-loved and couldn’t-give-a-fuck album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.

Nostalgic tunes, Fake Tales of San Francisco and Dancing Shoes transported the crowd back to their youthful days. The days when this album was your jam for the bus ride home from school. Spoilt by their old tunes, the indie boys didn’t play Mardy Bum – screwing. A conscious effort no doubt.

As a promotional stunt, the band used the sell-out event to showcase their new album, AM, which had just been released. A new take on their previous albums, the lads veered away from their black skinny’s, mop-head and battered vans days but kept their couldn’t-give-a-shit etiquette.

R U Mine, which exploits love, sex and and its fuckery was well executed and received well by the crowd. Well, not like anyone was sober enough to appreciate the lyrics at this point in the night.

Long after the show finished, self-confessed Arctic Monkey fans decorated the streets and never-ending queues for the tube, belting out the bangers.

Although drenched in piss and whatever other substances lined the cups, the memories of that gig will last forever.

 

 

2. Bombay Bicycle Club, Manchester Academy2

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Like a bombay mix, you’ve never exactly know what you’re going to get with Bombay Bicycle Club. You just know it’ll be good stuff. Moreish – you’ll always want to keep coming back for more – sad thing is their tours are few and far between.

After the long-awaited album, So Long, See You Tomorrow ripped the seams, Bombay announced their tour and the internet was in turmoil. The quirky quartet were now back on the scene with a completely different, fresh and far eastern sound, inspired by front man, Jack Steadman’s travels around India.

Visually, Bombay’s set was second to none. Forget strobe lighting, a static overhead projection and budget smoke machines – that’s too amateur for Bombay. Think, industrial confetti canons, astrological graphics and psychedelic lighting.  You’d be finding remnants of the gig for weeks later in the shower.

Eagerly anticipated by an eclectic crowd, the Crouch End lads took to the stage and Manchester Academy’s roof went off. As always, the indie lads kept their cards close to their chest and opened their set with the progressive track Overdone to cement the tone. Safe to say, they did more than that.

The album’s experimental tracks and kaleidoscopic visual effects coupled with Jack Steadman’s mesmerising voice, it felt like you were trippin’ the whole time. It was so weird.

As expected, the best was saved till last. Luna, Bombay’s catchiest, indie-dance fused and flavoursome tune which is overlaid with a mis-match of sounds. Everyone’s possessions were flung to one side and the whole room turned into a colossal mosh pit. It was sick.

Boys, as always, you smashed it.

 

3. Nick Mulvey, Albert Hall.

nick-mulveyNick Mulvey – an almost religious experience. Snug in an ornate chapel, surrounded by stain glass windows,  colossal pipe organs and intricately decorated ceilings. An intimate gig – a different kind of intimacy. Not the type of gig where having some sweaty sixteen year old girls hair in your mouth or feeling as though you are third-wheeling with the couple in front.

Indie- Folk singer, Nick Mulvey, from Cambridge is an unpretentious singer whose gigs are very rarely described as a show. Mesmerised by his unique voice and his exceptional skills on the guitar, Mulvey always manages to keep you hooked for the entirety of the set. Everyone in the crowd seemed to be there for the same things and no-one had any expectations.

Out of nowhere, Mulvey pulled out an acoustic cover of Gillian Welch’s Look at Miss Ohio, a song which has been stuck in my head ever since. A truly stunning song which Mulvey executed beautifully.

We’ve all heard Arctic Monkey’s rendition of Drake’s Hold on, We’re Going Home, which don’t get me wrong is a first-class cover, but I must admit nothing on Mulvey’s. Whether it was his spontaneous decision to dip into a completely different genre or the way he accentuated every single word in the song – it was something quite remarkable.

Bringing the set to a close with an absolute belter – Mulvey’s ‘Nitrous’ X Olive’s ‘You’re Not Alone’. A 90’s delight.

The Mad Grad.

 

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Lil’ bit of Vice.

Location: Cafephillia, Moseley.

oobleckI’ve always thought of Moseley as Birmingham’s Soho. A proper quirky kind of place. Everything is so chilled and no-one ever seems to be in a hurry. It’s full of such an eclectic mix of people; mature intellectuals, bohemians and easy-going people who have such a laid-back approach to life.

Easily caught up in the humdrum of everyday life, I’ve decided Saturday’s are for scribbling. Sat in Cafephillia, an eccentric cafe nestled on the corner of Moseley’s high street, surrounded by beards, lush coffee and an epic playlist – I’m in my absolute element.

After paying for a Netflix Subscription for 6 months – which I used about three times in total – I realised that TV series and films aren’t for me. Quite frankly, I haven’t got the attention span for either. Spotify is my type of thing. It’s quite sad really, but I can sit on Spotify for hours, listening to unsigned and undiscovered bands – some better than others, of course.

When I was at University, I always used to buy gig tickets off the cuff and drag my best friend along to them. Not like she was complaining – she’s proper into her music too. Since I’ve moved home, I haven’t been to half as many gigs and that’s something I want to change. In true fashion, I booked two tickets to see Lisbon – a small, indie band from Newcastle – at the Oobleck.

Ok, apart from the awful accent, unheard of football team and Doctors, the worst show ever aired on television – Birmingham isn’t that dreadful. In fact, it’s full of unusual, alternative restaurants and music venues.

mockingbirdThe Mockingbird Theatre, situated in The Custard Factory, has some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. It sells decent food – the type that you don’t need a magnifying glass to see what you’re eating. Proper indie, it’s kitted out with beer keg chairs, old-cinema style decor and pukka cider on draft.

The Oobleck, which latches onto Alfie Bird’s pub, is up there with the coolest music venues I’ve been to – the entrance door was a real bookcase for starters! The only bug-bearer was the price of cider – £5 a bottle.

Surrounded by bunches of 16 year olds, moshing to Bombay Bicycle Club’s album which was played on repeat, I felt like I was back in my teenage years. Except this time, I could stand with a cold cider in my hand. Brother’s cloudy lemon, to be precise. I certainly wasn’t complaining. Packed out with only about 30 people, it was an intimate gig and there was a real atmosphere. It was a nice change. Echoed through the abysmal support act, The Amazons, whose sound levelling was all over the place, these tiny venues are ideal for bands to practise, make mistakes and build up a fan base.

Disappointed by the support act, Lisbon pulled it out the bag. The three young lads from Newcastle, I’d say about my age, lit the stage up and had the floor shaking. Too small for a stage invasion, Matt Varty, the lead singer of the band took himself off the stage and into the crowd. As you can imagine, the teenage girls went crazy and one even offered him her spare cardigan. I can’t say I’ve ever been that prepared.

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Unlike large, commercial gigs that I’ve been to, it was nice to interact and have a laugh with the lads afterwards. Guitarist, Joe Atkinson, was up for a chin-wag and signed the EP that we bought for our car. Joe had a wicked sense of humour and creased when I questioned the price of the CD. Let’s just say, The CD was £4 and the ticket was £5.

It was a fiver well spent, that’s for sure.

The Mad Grad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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