Month: October 2015

FRIGHT NIGHT: five halloween film picks

ginger-snaps-wallpaper-2Halloween is almost upon us! Honestly I’m not that bothered as it’s been over a decade since it was socially acceptable for me to demand food from strangers. If you’re a Halloween Scrooge like me, but still want to get in on the vibe, here are my top five Halloween film recommendations:

1. THE LOST BOYS /// Two boys move to a new town with their mother (player by the glorious Dianne Wiest), and the older of the two accidentally becomes a ‘half-vampire’ when he takes part in the initiation ceremony of Kiefer Sutherland and Bill S. Preston, Esquire’s totally heterosexual leather clad-gang. It is up to the younger boy to save his brother from an eternity of torn clothing and bad haircuts.

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2. TEEN WITCH /// In this cinematic masterpiece, Louise (played by Blake Lively’s half-sister) finds out that she has magic powers after a chance encounter with another witch. She begins to use these powers to make herself more popular at school and to make her friend ‘funky’, but she soon learns that this won’t bring her happiness. If you only watch one video in this article, please make it this one:

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3. SLEEPY HOLLOW /// Because it’s pretty much illegal to write an article about Halloween without a mention of Tim Burton, my choice from his filmography was Sleepy Hollow. It’s got all the key Burton motifs; Johnny Depp, black and white stripes, and gnarly trees. You’re all familiar with the storyline… headless horseman, etc. Always worth a re-watch just for young Depp, violence, and 18th century costumes.

4. GINGER SNAPS /// Ginger and Brigitte Fitzgerald are two sisters obsessed with death. Ginger is bitten by a werewolf on the same night her period starts, so has to balance growing a tail and bloodlust with sexual exploration and her budding sexuality, whilst Brigitte searches for a cure. The SFX are a bit dated these days but this is honestly such a brilliant film, not just because of the late 90s fashion, but as a critique on the way women and femininity are presented in popular media.

5. THE CRAFT /// We are the wierdos, Mister. Sarah moves to a new school, and makes friends with a group of girls who are rumoured to be witches. She soon discovers her own powers, but the consequences of their spells soon fall out of control and the girls terrorise Sarah when she tries to leave them, especially their ringleader, Nancy. The storyline doesn’t really sell it so I’ll just let you watch the trailer, shall I?

What are your Halloween favourites?

– Niko


FAKE IT TILL YA MAKE IT: pretending to be confident

wpid-wp-1446065607453.jpgI’m not really a outgoing person. I get anxious when the supermarket is too busy or someone stands too close to me, but I’ve overcome a lot of my problems in the past few years, and even when I’m not feeling 100% about a situation, I’m better equipped do deal with unfamiliarity and stress.

1. SASHA FIERCE IT. Do like Beyoncé and let your imaginary alter-ego do the hard work. You don’t have to name them or release and album about them, but just acting as though you’re playing the part of a confident person is a great way to get through uncomfortable situations.

2. DOMINATE YOUR SPACE. Don’t like, get up in everyone’s face or anything, but open gestures create a sense of ease and confidence in your surroundings. Unfold your arms, stretch your legs, stand up straight! Actively cowering from the world doesn’t help you confront it.

3. BE NICE. Even if that means putting yourself out of your comfort zone to be extra polite to people. If you come across as a bit prickly, you set off a vicious circle of people avoiding you, then feeling bad, then acting miserable, etc. Break that cycle with a few kind gestures and you’ll soon find life more manageable.

4. SMILE! You don’t have to go around grinning like an idiot, but forcing a smile is an instant mood lifter. Sometimes when I’m sat at the computer by myself I’ll smile and I feel good immediately. Something to do with what the body associates with smiling, perhaps? I read an article about it years ago and honestly I think it works. Even if you don’t feel like smiling, crack a big fake one, it feels great, I promise. You’ll also look more approachable and CONFIDENT!

5. GET INDEPENDENT. Do things by yourself. People look at me like I’m mad for going to the cinema or sitting in restaurants by myself, but it’s a great exercise in self-reliance and the more I do it, the less I care about what other people think. Do I look like some girl who got stood up on a date? Doesn’t matter! I’m enjoying myself and that’s all that matters. You soon stop worrying about whether you’ll have company to do the things you love, unless it’s tennis or something, in which case, definitely find at least one person to do that with.

And you guys? What have you found helps get you through anxiety? I don’t think any of these tips are quick fixes, but they were certainly huge aids for me in terms of growing as a person.

– Niko

EVERYDAY CARRY: what’s in my bag?

wpid-wp-1445706561516.jpgI love this kind of post, I’m a nosy person and it gives an interesting insight into that person’s personality. So I thought I’d share with all y’all what I’m lugging around every day.

THE BAG /// I bought this from Coccinelle in the January sales this year as a birthday present from me, to me. In a market saturated with Saffiano (this is your fault, Kors), the buttery-soft leather was a welcome change and the hardware is gold-toned, which is important to me. In nine months of use, there’s hardly any noticeable wear aside from on the bottom studs, so it’s definitely been a good investment.

wpid-wp-1445706565760.jpgWHAT’S INSIDE? ///
1. Folding multitool, because you never know when you’ll need some pliers or a tiny saw. Thanks Dad.
2. L’Occitane lavender hand cream. This came free with a magazine this month, so if you don’t want to pay full price, head down to your local newsagent and grab one.
3. Pencil case. I bought this from artbox a couple of years ago. I only ever use these pens because I’m left handed and they don’t smudge under my hand, plus the fine line makes my writing look neater.
4. Tissues. I have a cold. Just be thankful that I didn’t include a photogrph of the mountain of used ones that were also floating around my bag.
5. Wet wipes, for if there’s a gross thing.
6. Kiko Kiss Balm. It’s coconut flavour, it’s delicious, and it’s brilliant for nourishing lips. I don’t have a Kiko store nearby so I bought about four while I was in Florence so I would have a steady supply.
7. Engrish coin purse, covered in ink and suncream. I just keep small things in here, like painkillers and nail files and the tiny San Pio I found that one time.
8. Barbie x Tezenis folding hairbrush.
9. Liquorice pellets. I’m actually surprised there are only two tins because I have loads of these lifesavers. They’re great for when you have a tickly cough but you don’t want to start hacking up a lung in public. Nice, right?
10. Coccinelle purse. I was actually going to buy the matching bowling bag for this because I love the suede stripes, but I needed something that would fit A4 folders, so this was a good compromise. You really don’t realise the value of a high quality purse until you buy one and you’re no longer fighting to open the zip, so smooth!
11. Hand sanitiser. I touch a lot of strange animals.
12. Swiss Army Knife. This comes in handy pretty much all the time, I think everyone needs one. Cutting food? On-the-go manicure? Toothpick? Sorted!
13. House keys. Broken Jack Wills torch and Endless Edamame keyrings.
14. Torch keyring. Useful.
15. Rhodia webnotebook aka BEST NOTEBOOK EVER. It has a 0.5cm spaced dot grid which is perfect for graphs and stuff, and makes just looks more clean than lines.

Do you guys carry anything weird around? Once I found a dead mouse in mine. Obviously my cat wanted to make sure I was taking a packed lunch to college.

– Niko

SUNDAY ROUNDUP /// 24.10.15

wpid-wp-1445786373802.jpgIt’s really starting to feel like winter! Here are some links to cosy up with this afternoon:

Love Taza writes about a calming-down technique, This Is Not An Emergency. Naomi is referring to stressful moments with her children, but this is totally a mantra I can get behind for when I start getting in a flap about nothing.

Chriselle shares her top 3 Korean beauty tips. Korean beauty is in such an interesting place now, I only wish their brands would hurry up and arrive in the UK!

One of my favourite autumn recipes is pork belly with apple. Food52 is looking for the best savoury apple recipe, but the current runners up are worth a look for inspiration, too!

Now that Raf Simons is departing from Dior, who will replace him?

Dying alone in New York. I always find this topic so interesting and sad.

Accidental Autumnal Style Icon: Judd Nelson. YES. That Breakfast Club look is legendary.

This colonial church in Mexico reveals itself for only the second time since it was flooded for a reservoir in 1966. Haunting images.

I’M SUCH A SLUT FOR GARLIC. I’d love to get my hands on some black garlic!

You can totally rely on Mid-Century Menu to dig up the most gruesome gelatins for Halloween!

Barbie is so rad:

Have a lovely Sunday evening, everyone!


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So I must have been like, the only person on the planet who hadn’t seen the Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal exhibition at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle. Beth and I popped by a couple of days ago. Finally.

The exhibition is a concise journey through Saint Laurent’s influences and history, from humble beginnings, where he’d make paper dress-up dolls with designs of his own creation, to his international success as a couturier. We see the way historical dress and his Pied Noir heritage manifest themselves in his work, and the way his personal interest in the art world was translated into clothing.

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If I had to criticise the exhibition, I’d say that it was rather small, and somewhat ‘padded out’ which the inclusion of non-YSL clothing from the museum’s own collection. Whilst it is important to show the way that Saint Laurent used elements of period dress in his designs, this could have been done more succinctly, as I feel that these somewhat overshadowed the YSL clothes on display, and it gave the sense that the curators were simply trying to bulk out the display.

Criticisms aside, it was nice to see the way certain periods of his career, or certain things that had become a theme throughout it, were nicely divided into easy-to-digest displays, such as Le Smoking, or the likes of Braque, Mondrian, and other artists. This isn’t V&A level, but it’s great for the North East, especially outside of one of the larger towns or cities. I think my favourite parts were the toiles and embroidery samples.

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The exhibition has been extended due to popularity, and is now open until 8th November. Definitely make your way there while you can! It’s a worthwhile trip for anyone interested in fashion and clothing. Tickets can be booked online.

– Niko



HIGH END vs HIGH STREET: concealer reviews


I will not be apologising for the blurry photo, as it was taken at 6am this morning. 🙂

I ran out of my beloved YSL Touche Éclat yesterday, but I was having second thoughts about spending a lot of money on a new one so checked out Boots for some more bank account-friendly options. I picked up Revlon’s Colorstay Concealer to give it a go, and honestly, I’m quite impressed. Here’s a little comparison and breakdown of what made it worth my while:

Price /// Obviously, Revlon wins this round. We’re talking £7 vs £25 here.
Winner: Revlon

Packaging /// Revlon’s packaging is sturdy and inoffensive, and one of the reasons that I chose it was because it wasn’t some ridiculous colour that other products in this price point were, as I like to keep a bit of a unified theme on my vanity table. It seems to be a fairly good quality that won’t crack or split when travelling. Practicalities aside, YSL gets my vote in this round because it’s like a pretty gold magic wand and clearly I am a magpie.
Winner: YSL

Application /// Revlon comes with one of those wands that you apply lipgloss with allowing you to dab on as much or as little as you like, whereas the YSL product is one of those precision brushes with a clicky at the other end which drives concealer to the bristles. I found this a bit ‘stabby’ sometimes and it was often difficult to get the amount I needed, and the synthetic bristles weren’t praticularly good for spreading it across my skin either.
Winner: Revlon

Concealer /// Ah finally, this bit where we actually judge the products on what they’re supposed to do. Revlon is definitely the heavier product of the two and for that reason it does a better job of concealing imperfections, but I find that YSL’s light-reflecting qualities are better for colour correction such as over dark circles, and obviously a better product for contouring. At the end of the day, though, I have other products for higlighting so Revlon is better at the simple task of perfecting skin.
Winner: Revlon

Durability /// Sometimes I get home and ask myself if I actually remembered to put on concealer. Today I was impressed at Revlon’s staying power. Without any primer or powder, it looks just as it did this morning! Here’s a photo for evidence, I’m sure it’d have stayed on my nose, too, if I hadn’t been rubbing it with tissues all day:
wpid-wp-1445450605956.jpgWinner: Revlon

The Colorstay concealer is the champion of this round! I thought as such an iconic product, Touche Éclat might have put up a bit more of a fight but when I break it down into these categories, I only with I’d found the Revlon sooner! I’ll be saving a fortune in the future, and for a better product to boot!

– Niko

NEGATIVE SPACE REVISITED: illamasqua ‘swarm’ nail polish review

wpid-wp-1445367923445.jpgI’ve broken the nails on both my index fingers, so right now I don’t want to draw attention to that with my usual deep colours, but I’m still interested in exploring more minimalist nail art, like I did a little while ago with my recreation of the Adam Selman catwalk look.

This time, I used a single coat of Illamasqua’s nail polish in ‘swarm’ to add a bit of flourish. It’s a top coat with large and small flecks of almost-black glitter that glistens brown-red in certain lights, and it feels perfect for the run up to Halloween! To me it looks like little pieces of black lace or a miniature swarm of teeny-tiny creepy crawlies, revealing just enough natural nail.

I love it as another angle to the anti-nail art concept, but would also be a great top coat for adding texture to other solid colour polished. I’ve found that it chipped quite badly in the first 24 hours application, but I was quite rough on my hands during that time, so it’s probably worth wearing a good topcoat to seal it down.

It retails at £14.50 for 10ml, but have a root around in TK Maxx, that’s where I found mine for £3.99!

– Niko

CRYSTAL BALL: future fashion regrets


I actually think girls look great in mom jeans. Keep going!

It’s a well known fact that fashion is cyclical; trends that we’d left behind in the nineties are now back in full force on our high streets, but there’s also a tonne of stuff that we’ve all agreed never to revisit (see: mullets). We arrogantly assume that modern fashion is free from these embarrassing moments, but I’m sure that’s exactly what our older family members though in the 1970s. And look at those photos now. Giant flares? Giant shirt collars? Eyebrows plucked almost into disappearance? I’ll happily leave those in the past, thanks.

So, what current trends will we be cringing over in the future? Here are my predictions:

1. ‘Instagram brows’. I think the name says it all, you know what I’m talking about; brows that look like they’ve been airbrushed on, with no discernible hairs, often very rectangular on the inner end. TOO neat with a weird gradient. I love a strong brow, and I haven’t plucked minefor years, but when I see girls with this heavily ‘done up’ look, all I am seeing is a bunch of people who don’t know that their technique originated in the drag community.

2. Heavy contouring. I know, I’ve recently written about my own makeup routine, which includes contouring, but what I’m talking about is essentially painting features in, rather than emphasising what’s there. Contouring isn’t a new technique, it’s been used in theatre and photography for years, where faces tend to look ‘washed out’ under heavy lighting, but for everyday wear, I prefer to see healthy skin that’s been allowed to breathe. I predict that in a few years’ time we’ll be looking at it the same way we look at the heavily powdered faces of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – not inherently ugly, but really ‘of its time’, and very dated. You know when you see grandmas with that caked-on powder and too-pink rouge? That’s you in 60 years.

3. Health goth. That monochrome, basketball-shorts-over-leggings thing that people are doing? Your future kids will not think that look is as cool as you do right now. I’m sorry.

4. Trainers with everything. I really like this trend, actually, but I feel like we’re at the tail end of a kind of ‘casual revolution’ that started in the 1980s? We’ve come a long way from neon shell suits but one of the things that has stayed strong is casual footwear. We’re now seeing guys wearing tailored suits with trainers, mixing dressing up and dressing down. I think it looks great, but I’m not sure how long it’s going to be before this turns into a blip in the constantly changing face of fashion, or if it’ll turn into a wardrobe classic. I’m praying for the latter – comfy but tailored? I’m all for it.

5. Normcore. Already for me this just feels like a tacky appropriation or mocking of regular people who just aren’t hugely into fashion. If you’re going out of your way to make yourself understated and indistinguishable, you’re going to fail. Like, just stop trying so hard. If you like grey jumpers and straight-cut jeans, power to you, but it becomes really unpalatable to me when it turns into a kind of comment on what other people are doing with their lives. I think people are going to look back on this and regret not wearing things that they loved, because they were more interested in being ironic or commenting on the state of fashion or whatever. There’s a real attractive quality in being earnest, that’ll never go out of style. Irony and saltiness don’t look good on anyone.

I’m not the fashion police. Like I said in my last point, wear what you want, and if you want to be a contoured, power-browed health goth, you do you. It’s fun to think of the way things we once loved totally repulse us once we’ve moved onto the next trend, though, isn’t it? What trends do you see yourself cringing over in the future?

– Niko

SUNDAY ROUNDUP /// 18.10.15

wpid-wp-1445184571907.jpgToday I moved into my new house for this year. Now that I’m settled, I hope to get back to daily posting soon. Here’s a bunch of links and stuff.

Beyond Clueless is a fantastic documentary if you’re obsessed with 90s/00s teen movies like I am. It focuses on some really interesting themes, plus, the theme song has lines from the Virgin Suicides. I got a whole list of new films to watch from this. Available now on Netflix if you’re in the UK.

– This has been in my bookmarks for ages. You can draw space! I waste so much time with it.

– I was really interested by i-D’s article on Aurora James. I’m really passionate about allowing economies to develop through trade, not misguided charity as is sadly so often the case. James makes use of the T-shirts that are ‘donated’ to Kenya en masse, and helps create financial growth within communities.

– Four Pins responds to claims that polo shirts should be retired.

– Then follows up with this brilliant Lacoste collection. So much fun!

– I always look forward to Mimi Thorisson’s posts. This month, she shares her stories from Umbria.

– How about some cute kitchen accessories? I really want that super sweet toothpick hedgehog.

– If you enjoyed the other procrastination tools that I’ve been sharing these few weeks, you may also like LINE: Disney Tsum Tsum. If you didn’t have to wait to refresh the lives I”m sure I would be playing this like six hours a day

– Emma Stone is the coolest person in the world:

– Niko


wpid-wp-1445018168072.jpgI’m sure everyone and their dog has read, or at least heard about Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by now. I read it about a month ago and I can assure you that the title is no exaggeration. Kondo, known by her fans as KonMari, is a Japanese organisation expert and claims to have never had a repeat client, her advice is THAT good, and you know what? I totally believe her.

I read the book while I was in Florence, and was rearing to get back to my bedroom in England and have a massive clearout. The day after my arrival, that’s exactly what I did. I followed the steps in the book, starting with clothing, then books, then miscellaneous items, etc. Although I did get rid of A LOT of clothes (three huge black bags) and a load of other things, I’m going to focus on the bookshelves because those are what have had the most obvious visual impact before and after the clearout.

I started by pulling everything from the shelves, so I could see exactly what I had. KonMari recommends this so we ‘activate’ the energy of each item, then we can decide if it ‘sparks joy’. If yes, we keep it, if not, we get rid of it. Having already gone through this process with my clothes, I was already in cleanout mode and it was much easier to start throwing books away, even if they held dear memories. For this, Kondo recommends that we thank each item for the role it played in our life, but accept that it has served its useful purpose with us. This way we can more easily part with things.

I found that even though I had kept a lot of books because of the memories they held, they actually sparked no joy at all, and in fact created a sense of anxiety when I picked them up. Many things I was keeping not because of the memories, but the fear of losing touch with those parts of my life. I don’t believe in inanimate objects having energies or anything, but it can’t be healthy to be hoarding so much stuff that make me uncomfortable to even pick up.

This was most evident in my magazine piles; I went through a massive magazine obsession in my teenage years, and never threw them out. Rather, I kept them like some kind of archive as if I was responsible for keeping them as records. This was bad for me and it’s insane that I actually had room for them all. There were so many that I didn’t want to go through them all, so kept a handful that had some great photoshoots in, and recycled the rest.wpid-wp-1445018160337.jpg

One of the things Kondo advises is to not let family members start ‘helping’, and she’s totally right. My mother was quite upset at me giving away books that I’d never read, that good money had been spent on. While it’s a shame that these books didn’t get used as intended, I simply accepted the value they’d held to me at some point, even though it was only brief, and let them go. Surely it’s better for them to find an owner who will value them, than have them oppress me in my own bedroom? Having my mother guilt me into keeping things that I didn’t want really wasn’t helping me reach my goal, and I did end up shouting at her to back off from rooting through the rubbish bags. I did rescue one thing for her, but I’m not entirely sure what she’s planning to do with a light-up, quacking, duck-shaped keyring, and I’ve since found other things that she’s ‘saved’, too. Why she needs an out-of-date face cream, I’ll never know.

After I’d sorted out what to keep, I began putting it all back on the shelves. I now have much more space for things to spread out, rather than cramming them on top of each other, and have made use of this to make space for the ornaments I wanted to display. Although Kondo advises not keeping more than around thirty books, I’m happy having more than that, and would even allow myself a few more, given that I now have free space on my shelf. I even spread out my Penguin Clothbound Classics, which creates visual interest with their patterns, as they’re dotted around, rather than in one block. Now when I look at my bookcases, I’m happy to see them, and have definitely noticed that there was a certain subconscious anxiety in the past compared to now.wpid-wp-1445018164489.jpg

KonMari has definitely changed the way I view ‘stuff’. Now I’m far faster to throw things away that serve me no purpose, and stop clinging to things for no reason.

I’ll finish this post with a little bit of wisdom from William Morris:

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Has anyone else tried the KonMari Method? How did it go?

– Lauren