Archive for the ‘White collar denial’ Category

#69 Chopped!

In White collar denial on January 14, 2011 at 10:30 am

Ever since I started applying for jobs in earnest, I’ve been promising myself that as I get that dream job, I’m going to get a serious hair cut.

This is in spite of the fact that a trip to the hairdresser holds roughly the same rank on my list of ‘favourite ways to spend time’ as folding washing, proofreading events listings, or having George Osbourne tell me we’re all in this together. Read the rest of this entry »

#51 Feet

In midlife, White collar denial on July 21, 2010 at 10:33 pm

It’s hard to relax while an Eastern European woman is wrapping your feet in cling film.

It was my first proper pedicure (I know! At my age!) and while the results were silky smooth, there is nevertheless someting culturally uncomfortable about having somebody working on your feet.

Perhaps its the supplicatory position required by the practitioner, or latent imagery from Sunday School stories of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (John 13: 3-17 if you’re interested), made slightly scarier by the fact that mysterious groups such as the Seventh Day Adventists, Anabaptists and Amish still practice it. (I’ve never had my shoes shined either.) This is all made even more awkward when you consider that this is a woman who is brilliant at her job (Hell, I don’t even HAVE a job) and whose services cost more and are more in demand than those of a freelance journalist. Read the rest of this entry »

#38 Kitchen gadgets

In Food & Drink, White collar denial on March 29, 2010 at 9:12 am

Lékué lemon squeezer

Orange peelers from Farringdon

Are fish-boning tweezers strictly necessary in life? Read the rest of this entry »

#37 Sample sales

In Save cash, White collar denial on March 24, 2010 at 12:47 am

What’s the most extravagant thing in your wardrobe? Mine is probably the £5 skirt I bought from H&M. Or the £10 high street dress.

These aren’t the items that I paid most for I have to admit – they hang next to a Marc Jacobs jacket I bought myself as a wedding present five years ago, and a fabulous pink Paul Smith coat also dating back to times of full employ – but the ones that have been costliest.

The coat cheers me, and everyone else, up with its brightness and even if I hadn’t bought it at a samples sale, pound per wear it probably comes in at about 75p so far, making it about  600% cheaper than the  high street skirt which still has its price tag on. The Marc Jacobs jacket has been around so long it is now coming back into fashion.

To be a budget epicure, rather than just an underemployed down and out, it is important to distinguish between extravagance and luxury. The irresistably cheap item bought in haste for a knock down sum often ends up being a complete waste of money.

This is a roundabout way of justifying my trip last week to London’s famous Designer Warehouse Sale (once voted by Time Out one of the 100 best reasons to live in the capital). To be fair, I haven’t been for a year and I had just been paid for some work so a small treat was due. By sticking to a few basic rules, I manged to keep the credit card under control and still rejoice in some healthy bargains:

* only buy something you feel confident walking straight out of the changing room in (now is not the time for major image makeovers)

* only buy something you already have the shoes to wear with (buying a bargain dress is not an excuse to then go out and buy a pair of expensive shoes)

* avoid loud or unconventional patterns you don’t have the panache to carry off (me, not you)

* cash in on good tailoring rather than eye catching fashion statements (TopShop is adequately on trend if that’s your priority)

* don’t waste time on basics like T-shirts or vests when you can get something identical for less at Uniqlo

* and don’t imagine for a moment you’d ever get an opportunity to wear the Vivienne Westwood suit that’s down from £1,900 to £400. That’s still £400 pounds, bargain or no.

I came out with a Betty Jackson dress, shorts, cardie and a dip-dyed silk blouse, all for a total of £102 (£41 less than the original cost price of the blouse alone). Still a lot more money than I’ve spent on myself in a very long time, but I’ve already worn two of my purchases and, unlike some cheaper items from cut-price high street stores, I’m confident they won’t have fallen apart in five years’ time.

The next men’s DWS is this weekend (26-28 March) featuring items from the wardrobes of Elton John and David Furnish (raising money for their Aids Foundation charity); the next women’s is 18-20 June.

For other sample sales in London, visit Sample Sales London. If you live in Manchester, try the Manchester Fashion Network. If you live somewhere else and know of any others, then do let us know.

#34 Eat better, not more

In Food & Drink, White collar denial on March 5, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Several months of comforting myself with comfort food (see post #25) have left me feeling slightly uncomfortable. Not least around the waist area. So I have decided to heed the advice of my veg box supplier which is sending me leaflets saying ‘Eat Better, Not More’ and my local wine merchant which has recently emblazoned across it’s facade ‘Drink Better, Not More’. Read the rest of this entry »

#21 A little luxury

In White collar denial on December 29, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Is it just me, or do things feel more luxurious when they come in a black and yellow shop-box and folded in tissue paper? A sense that whatever is inside must be really precious.

It feels so long since I’ve had anything really special, or shopped at the department store with the black and yellow insignia, that it’s safe to say that it wouldn’t have mattered what was inside the tissue paper as the packaging was thrill enough (for anyone interested, it was a gorgeous scarf from a well-known knitwear specialist which I’ve been wearing to watch TV).

This year’s Christmas haul was really quite pleasing – including a  black Moleskine diary to encourage me to move on from the succession of Time Out diaries that saw me through the last decade (they still haven’t sent me the one they promised me in exchange for all the free work I did).

Meanwhile my present to myself was a Hummingbird Red Velvet cupcake, provoked by someone buying me a book of pictures of Hummingbird cakes imagining that I’d be able to replicate them in my own kitchen – as if. Again, the cake was made all the more delicious for being packaged in its own tiny box with wire handle. Divine decadence (as it should have been at that price).

We also stayed overnight in a hotel! OK, a Premier Inn. OK, a Premier Inn in Watford. OK, a Premier Inn, in Watford, with a view of Tesco car park, the ring road, and the Euston-Stoke railway line. But even these looked magical in the wintry sunrise, the light sparkling off the frozen windscreen of the VW.

For really all we want for Christmas is to feel special. And a pretty scarf in a box, or an individual cupcake, do that. I remember one year receiving an expensive set of stacking kitchen bowls, a duvet cover, and oven gloves – Finnish designed and useful additions to the house, but a brutal reinforcement of my position in it.

I’m afraid unlike more energetic recessionistas, I failed to enforce a DIY Christmas. I didn’t make a wreath for my door (and did I miss the memo that these were suddenly compulsory this year?). I didn’t string up spray-painted pine cones and dried fruit by way of festive garlands, I just dug out last year’s fairy lights and tucked the sections that didn’t work under some branches of the tree. I didn’t make my own Christmas pudding (why bother, when Dutchy originals will do it for you?). I didn’t run up Christmas Eve stockings from old clothes – I bunged some brightly coloured ‘bags for life’ in the fireplace. I bought my plum and apple chutney from the school home produce stall. And I forced my mum to make mince pies and jam tarts with my children. And they were still inedible.

I did manage to make six christmas cards in my printmaking class, though it took me a whole term and cost more than the packets of shop-bought ones. I’m not sure how festive the image of the stone harbour wall is, but perhaps it makes some sort of statement about 2009. At least I put the life belt in the picture. Not, however, the ladder.

#16 Make a Christmas list

In White collar denial on December 5, 2009 at 11:47 pm

It”s suddenly surprisingly close to Christmas already, so I’m being hassled about what I want for Christmas.

This year that question is proving surprisingly difficult. Not because I find myself in possession of all the material goods I could want, or because I’ve come over all ‘Christmas isn’t about the presents’. Hardly.

Ordinarily I’d have had a list forming in the back of my notebook since September. But this Autumn I’ve been very strict about not buying glossy magazines, avoided going into shops that sell anything pretty, and skipped the back end of the colour supps. Out of sight, out of mind. I’ve embraced the new austerity and I like to think I’ve just about hung in there.

So this year not only is there no list, but I’m willfully out of touch in terms of what there might actually be in the shops to start with. But now the floodgates of consumer desire have been opened. Do you really want to know what I want for Christmas: Paul A Young chocolates; a Space NK/ Jo Malone/ Diptyque/ Melt candle; Laura Mercier ‘Mercury’ metallic eye cream; Falke pure wool socks; a pair of Lou’s cuffs from Greenwich market; a printmakers’ apron; relief printing inks;  a luxurious bedspread; frames for my prints; a bottle of the caramel vodka we had on holiday; atholl brose; Barber Osgerby white Tab desk lamp; a weekend city break; my hair done; a facial; a visit to a steam room; my bike mended; a really good olive oil; a necklace from Elena Hall; earrings; a watch; a small pot of caviar; meringue from Coffee Cake Crouch End; breakfast at the Wolseley; brunch at Bob Bob Ricard; dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant; Prestat sea-salted chocolate; winter shoes; a nice top; a dress from Cos; bright pink Converse; a bright pink Uniqlo umbrella; a cashmere cardie; a lovely soft scarf; notebook; wine glasses; champagne saucers; whisky glasses; Clarins face cream; Marc Jacobs perfume; Hummingbird cupcakes; silver Hunter wellies; big pots for the garden; herbs to replace the ones that died; an iPhone; a projector that connects to my laptop; a bunch of flowers; a hat that doesn’t make me look like a twat; tickets to the new Alan Bennett play; … to be continued

This list is remarkably similar to one jotted down before my birthday when I kept myself going through the early days of unemployment with the thought that it didn’t matter that I couldn’t buy anything because on your birthday people buy it for you. And what did I actually get? Sod all.

#15 The great mince pie challenge

In Food & Drink, midlife, White collar denial on December 2, 2009 at 5:18 pm

December is here, which means mince pie season. Hurrah!

Surrounded by delis and upmarket bakeries as I am, the pickings are rich. But I have a moral dilemma: how much is too much to spend on a handmade mince pie during a recession? Read the rest of this entry »

#8 Drink Gin

In Down and Out, Food & Drink, White collar denial on November 2, 2009 at 7:24 pm

Madam Geneva, mother’s ruin, royal poverty,  cock-my-cap, Vera Lynn… gin is oft associated with the down-on-their-luck, as well as the colonial idler. Read the rest of this entry »

#5 Avoid buying stuff

In Save cash, White collar denial on October 17, 2009 at 11:29 pm

This week, I’ve avoided buying: Read the rest of this entry »