style inspiration: Tina Chow

This week I've been thinking a lot about the style of Tina Chow; a model, jewellery designer, and campaigner most famous during the 1970s and early 80s. Throughout her career she was muse to Andy Warhol, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld and Issey Miyake. 
“Tina had an innate elegance and never needed any designer to do anything for her. In fact, she did a lot for us.” - Giorgio Armani
Despite her success as model and designer (not to mention her very public life and, sadly, death) very little about Chow seems to have survived. I have scoured and scoured the internet searching for photos/designs/articles, yet have been turning up the same small set of low-res images for the last four years. This seems astonishing now - in an age of aggressively invasive paparazzi and insta-obsession - but perhaps it's partly this minimal record that makes her style seem so appealing. 

I first read about Tina Chow on les anti-modernes* (way back in 2011, time flies!) and Sophie's commentary bears repeating; Chow's style was feminine and strong, bold yet subtle - a carefully considered selection of timeless basics which looks as good now as it did 30 years ago, and will still look good 30 years from now.

She nailed the androgynous look with short, neat hair and simple make-up (often none at all but she rocked a red lip) - a bold contrast to the big, loud styles most associated with that era. Reportedly, Chow wore a 'uniform' consisting of a white t-shirt, black slacks, a grey cardigan and flat pumps; an idea that is so prevalent today, especially after this article swept the web.
“Femininity has nothing to do with wearing ruffles. You can show your femininity regardless of what you wear. Your attitude will show it. Femininity and feminism go hand and hand.”  - Tina Chow
Although it's true that she was both way ahead of her time and a trend-setter, the fact is that this look will never really be out of fashion. There's something so comforting about that.

Chow pioneered the use of rock crystal in fine jewellery; strikingly combined with bamboo, leather, silk cord and precious metals. The influence affected by her designs is recognisable in many contemporary pieces, both high-end and high-street.
“I like the idea of wearing very personal jewellery and not much decoration.” - Tina Chow
I'm reminded of the stacks of crystal bead bracelets I wore as a teenager (my favourites were rose quartz, hematite and jade). I've always really liked natural stone jewellery because it's so simple, versatile and easy to wear - a great complement to a minimal closet. 

I will be doing my best to emulate her cool vibes this week! It's always good to have some inspiration on a Monday :)

reading, watching, listening #1

I've been reading and listening to tons of books this year. Rediscovering audio books has been a revelation; I can listen while at the gym, cleaning, doing the laundry and on evenings when I'm too sleepy to keep my eyes open... it's great! I no longer feel grumpy about having no time to read, and the daily deals on Audible have introduced me to some fun new authors and genres that I wouldn't have encountered otherwise.

Here's what I've been enjoying this week:

Yes Please, by Amy Poehler 
This is a book to make you feel brave. It is so funny, smart and charming. Amy gives the best advice and tells wonderful, hilarious stories. The production of the audio book is incredible (Patrick Stewart! Kathleen Turner!), you can really see the love and energy that went into it. I listened to this during early morning gym sessions and it made me laugh and cry. It also made me feel happy and courageous, and ready to face the day like a boss.

Intelligent Life 
It was the cover of this magazine that drew me in initially, but - like Audrey - it's so much more than a pretty face. The content is varied and well edited; a selection of critical thought, current affairs and the arts. (I've never read The Economist so can't comment on how it compares.)

Station Eleven, by Emily St John Mandel
My new favourite website and news source, The Pool, ran a great article about this book. As a die-hard science fiction fan and someone who is morbidly obsessed with the apocalypse, I was instantly intrigued. I was hooked from the very first page (the opening chapter is incredible) and have been jumping into bed early every night to read it.

What books/audio books/magazines have you been enjoying recently? I'd love some recommendations! :)


  • I'm using Pinterest to record all books I'm reading and listening to and all films I'm watching this year.
  • I'd forgotten how convenient e-readers are - I've certainly re'kindle'd (ha ha) my liking for them. 

collection I'm coveting: Samuji A/W 2015

5 awesome artists to follow on Instagram

Contrary to what this blog may have you believe, I don't use the internet exclusively as a tool for scouring online shops and creating sets on Polyvore. I also spend time browsing the Netflix catalogue, aimlessly scrolling through Tumblr, burning with Instagram envy, reading fanfiction and getting mad about the comments on YouTube videos. Occasionally whilst undertaking one of these pointless tasks I will stumble upon something which makes the entire exercise feel worthwhile - namely discovering interesting, important and/or beautiful things.

Lately, the internet has introduced me to some wonderful artists whose work I can't stop looking at. So - because sometimes we all need some justification for our online procrastination - I thought I'd share:

Pip Spiro / @pipspiro

Karina Bania / @karinabania

Belinda Evans / @iamalchemy

 Bobbie Burgers / @bobbieburgers

 Melody Hillman / @melodyhillmanceramics

I'm certainly no great art critic or connoisseur (my art education ended with the culmination of A Level study) but I do enjoy seeing these beautiful pieces of work pop up in my feed from time to time. Do you follow any awesome artists/crafters/creators on Instagram? If so, I'd love to hear about them! :)

P.S. Already compiling part two...

P.P.S. Alliteration! Yeah! 

beautiful basics: Shinola

I have this thing for orange leather, especially orange pebbled leather paired with silver hardware (thanks for the high expectations, Hermés). Save for the odd Ebay gem, this combination is difficult to come by at a mid-priced or high-street level. Most leather goods I see which don't cost upwards of £500 (and many that do) have gold or brass toned metal; I don't mind it, but it's not my favourite. I was surprised then, to spot this lovely selection by Shinola - more orange and silver than I could shake a stick at. Not cheap by any standard, but not out of reach, either.

I'm a little scared to add something so expensive to my - ever growing and frequently frustrating - wishlist, but if I can commit myself to Project 333 and the savings it will hopefully generate, then maybe I can foresee a future in which my wrist is adorned by one of these handsome double straps :-)

my first project 333 - spring/summer 2015

Spring/Summer moodboard

Since reading about Project 333 on many of my favourite blogs, I've been really interested in trying it for myself. Over the long Easter weekend I finally found time to go through my clothing, switch over my seasonal things, and make a list of the items I think will serve me best over the next three months. Although I considered myself to have quite a 'well curated' wardrobe, laying everything out like this flagged up some obvious mistakes (I have some items that don't seem to go with anything else, for example). I have also been reminded of some pieces which I really like but haven't worn very often. Above all else, this has shown me that I own more than enough.

I realise that everyone sets out on this project with slightly different goals and intentions, so here are mine:

  • to buy fewer, better, more sustainable items 
  • to save money for other endeavours
  • to create a simpler, more harmonious, less stressful wardrobe 
  • to ensure that I get enough wear and enjoyment from the clothes I own and love
  • for my clothes to take up less space in my brain
  • for my clothes to take up less space in our small home

The main difficulty I found with this exercise was trying to predict the weather. As anyone who lives in Britain knows, our seasons can be very changeable and difficult to define. This past fortnight we've had both snow and blazing hot sunshine! I am grateful to work in a casual creative environment, which made this much easier for me as I do not require smart clothes that are separate from my 'weekend' clothes. I did, however, try to include some things that could be worn for business meetings and other semi-formal occasions like weddings and christenings. I didn't include any 'party' clothes as I very rarely go to clubs or bars.

If you're interested in how my first shot at Project 333 looks, read on...

collection I'm coveting: Finery

I just discovered a new (to me) brand and I'm really excited. I spied a dress by Finery in the latest issue of Vogue, and after looking them up online, have fallen in love with the complete collection. Their style is contemporary and chic; populated by the neutral colours and simple silhouettes that I love but with surprising flashes of print and some bold, modern accents. From the descriptions, the fabric looks to be of good quality yet the prices are reasonable (in line with similar brands like & Other Stores, Zara and Cos).

I just ordered the 'Barrett' skirt and can't wait for it to arrive! I'm hoping it's just right, as I've been hunting for a versatile black midi skirt for years. I will report back on fit and quality.

Finery operates a bonus/points system for its users, including a free gift for those who encourage five friends to join - so if you're interested, please let me know and I'll send you an invitation :-)

Have you ever shopped with Finery? Am I really late to the party?

"That's a good looking North-South outfit"

'The Rules of Mid Season Dressing' (pages 60 & 61), Porter Magazine issue 6

Michael Kors offers some wonderful advice in this article, which has stuck with me ever since I read this issue of Porter (during a long train journey some months ago). My favourite is 'Arrive looking as good as you left':

Years ago, when I first started out, I was doing a personal appearance in a speciality store in America and I had a sales assistant say to me, "That's a good looking North-South outfit." I said "What does that mean?" and she said, "Well, you want to get on the plane in a cold place looking appropriate, and then you want to arrive in a warm place, shed a layer, and still look appropriate." I was probably 22 at the time but I still think about it.

I so love the idea of a 'North-South outfit'. Being able to shed a layer and still look appropriate is currently my ultimate ambition; we've had both snow and warm sunshine this week, a real challenge to dress for!

My Style in 5

After watching a few videos of this tag on YouTube, I thought that these five simple questions would be the perfect thing to ease me back into blogging after yet another writing hiatus (it's March already!?). So, the general idea is five questions in five minutes...

1. Who are your style icons?

Other than constantly gazing at Sofia Coppola, I get most of my style inspiration from bloggers and Instagram - please refer to my reading list to the right :-)

2. What is your best style advice or tip?

I don't have any ground breaking style advice, but one thing that I would recommend is investing in you. Not your clothes, not your make-up, but things that make a difference to the you that exists without all of those things. To me, this means investing time, energy and money in my health and fitness, in the foods that I eat and the skincare that I use. Once I started taking care of myself like this, it was easier to focus on questions of personal style without using clothing as a crutch for shaky self-esteem. 

3. What was your style like as a teen?

Bright pink and purple hair cut into a blunt bob, big stompy boots, all-black clothes, Adam Ant style make-up and lots of piercings (regretfully). 

4. What type of outfit do you wear the most?

Jeans and a jumper/shirt/tee (I'm particularly partial to a Breton stripe), usually with sneakers or pumps and a scarf. 

5.Who is your favourite designer?

I love Margaret Howell and Christophe Lemaire. 

Some of my favourite videos of this tag: Hello CathyThe Minimalist SparrowLightly Lumay.Nobody tagged me, but I encourage everyone to have a go - it's fun! Comment below and let me know if you do.

collection I'm coveting: Valentino Pre-Fall 2015