Friday, 21 December 2012

The £1 Leather Jacket

Leather jacket  - Vintage Yessica
Shirt - Pop Boutique
Jumper - Primark
Jeans - Miss Selfridge
Boots - Office

Whenever I come home for a fleeting visit, one of my favourite activities is rooting through various cupboards, drawers and wardrobes in my room to see if there are any forgotten gems to be rediscovered.  Last evening, in a typical fit of procrastination, I embarked upon this ritual and stumbled upon perhaps my most impressive find yet. This (real!) leather jacket was bought on £1 leather jacket day at Trashy Flowers a few years ago.  At the time, I was quite excited, purely because of the incredible bargain, but my purchase got pushed to the back of a cupboard because I didn't really like the colour or the fit or, well, anything really.

All I can think is - what on earth was I thinking?!  I put it on last night and just sat grinning for hours.  It's a lovely soft chocolate brown leather, and roomy enough to fit a jumper underneath, yet cropped enough to not be swamping.  Basically, I'm a little in love, and all for £1?!  Crikey.  Of course, this jacket still doesn't fulfil my desperate need for a staple black biker style leather jacket, but I'm pretty chuffed nonethless.

This jumper was also quite a bargain.  I found it in the men's section of Primark whilst killing time in Birmingham on Tuesday.  There were various colours but I wasn't overwhelmed by the choice of elbow patch shades for the others.  I did really like the brown tweed patch on this mustard one though and for just £10, I couldn't resist.  I've always liked mustard but it used to clash horrible with my skin tone and hair colour.  Since going blonde and drastically improving my ability to apply makeup, I think I can kind of pull it off a bit more now though, which is quite exciting.

Talking of exciting, I've had quite a lovely week back in rainy ol' England.  On Tuesday, I went to see a showing of White Christmas at The Electric Cinema in Birmingham.  If you live anywhere around the West Midlands, I urge you to visit.  It is the oldest working cinema in the UK and, for the same price as a ticket at Vue, you get to sit in spacious velvet seats and indulge with slices of cake and cocktails that cost less than a popcorn and coke deal.  They show a variety of new and old films - I've seen Casablanca, The Marigold Hotel and White Christmas there - so check it out and put a visit in your diary.

Following that gloriously festive outing, I hopped on a train to Birmingham International to meet my dad for an evening of Andre Rieu.  My Grandma was unfortunately not well enough to go so I filled in and used her ticket.  I have to admit, I'm really not a musical person and I wondered how much I'd enjoy it, but it was actually very lively.  It turns out Andre is quite the comedian!  

As well as these two events, I've filled my time with baking, essays and grandparents, so I apologise for the lack of posts this week.  I hope you've had a lovely pre-Christmas week too.


Monday, 17 December 2012

Come Fly With Me - My Journey Essentials

Shirt - Vintage
Jumper - Mango
Jeans - Miss Selfridge
Boots - Bianco

After a dull week of essays and end of term poverty, I've finally set down on English soil which means one thing: it's Christmas!  I think that one of my favourite things about going away from home for such long stretches as I tend to is that coming home again becomes genuinely exciting, rather than being a chore.  I also enjoy the actual journey home quite a lot too.  I like curling up in a seat - be it on a plane, train, car, bus, boat - with some snacks and letting the hours fly past in a whirl of naps and books and day dreams.  

However, I know from extensive field research that an underprepared journey is a miserable one.  And by that I am, of course, referring to the outfit.  It must be comfortable but - and I know this from experience - not so socially unacceptable that disembarking the vehicle becomes a moment of dread.  This is important because I at least like to pretend to have an air of the accomplished traveller about myself and pyjama trousers just can't achieve this.  It needs to have the potential for warmth because trains and coaches never seem to turn the heating on at appropriate times.  Equally though, these layers must be able to be shed when, inevitably, the drivers opt of air con on the hottest day of summer.  There should be no clunky jewellery and a minimum amount of bobby pins.  Hooded items are an added bonus, as is a small pillow.

My pièce de résistance of the formulaic journey outfit is a scarf though, which can often compensate for deviating from every single of the above guidelines.  In spring, summer and autumn a large pashmina is perfect, ticking the boxes of duvet, pillow and seat spooning partner all at once.  However, for winter journeys (especially those starting in Sweden's double figure minus temperatures) something a little more heavy duty is called for.  In came my Monki scarf, essentially a giant fleecy blanket.  It was the most comfortable journey I've ever had and you can buy one of you own for a mere £18 here (it assure you it is a lot larger/generally more spectacular in the flesh).

Now, you may be thinking, why is she waffling on about this when there quite clearly isn't a scarf in sight?  And, yes, you'd be right.  This is what I wore under the scarf though: my stretchiest jeans, loosest shirt and softest jumper, with a cami underneath for extra layers and stripping options.  I would usually automatically tuck the shirt in but I liked the way it looked loose yesterday; I think it added some interesting texture to that outfit, making it a little more off duty.  I picked this lemon beauty up for £3 on a vintage adventure a few months ago, despite feeling a little like Dolly Parton in it at the time.  It has really grown on me though and I love the stitching detail on the collar which continues vertically down the opening.  Together, these items were versatile, comfortable and - hopefully - acceptable for public wear too.  Wham bam thank you mam.

There we have it - my journey essentials.  Just don't forget your socks.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

A Sixties Skirt Safari

Cardigan - Topshop
Skirt - J.W. Anderson for Topshop
Boots - Bianco

Usually I mix and match my clothes quite a lot, rarely repeating an exact combination, but this outfit is the exception to that rule.  There's just something about it that I think really works.  It screams sixties to me - the round neck, monochrome mini, ankle boots.  I like the contrasting shades and the way the zebra print with the bright pink knit should be tacky yet somehow isn't.  It's a pretty garish look, I'll give you that, but it just makes me happy to wear, and that's exactly what clothes should do.

You may have noticed that this week's posts have included a heavy dose of curls.  I'm not sure quite how I feel about this curly bob I'm sporting but I am absolutely desperate for my hair to grow to Rapunzel style lengths.  I think that I've finally accepted that this is never going to happen whilst I'm using heating so I'm saving it for special occasions from now on.  Hopefully I'll learn to love the curls soon.

Just a short post today because, as usual, I have too many things to do before I fly home for tomorrow.  I've spent most of the week watching Christmas films whilst writing an essay about Sylvia Plath, so that's been an interesting combination of mental states.  The next time you hear from me, I'll be on solid English soil, hooray!

Until then,

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Early Bird Catches The Worm

Jumper - Bik Bok
Shirt - Topshop
Jeans - Cubus
Boots - Bianco
Scarf - Vintage

I think the fact that I've been up since 2am is very clear from these photos.  I seem to have once again fallen foul to the pre-Christmas essay rush despite having the very best of intentions.  I awoke at 1:45 this morning and established that I couldn't sleep so might as well just give up and do some work.  Somehow, I managed to still put my professional procrastination skills to work though and watched YouTube for three hours instead.

In my defence, I am making up for about three years of not catching the YouTube bug.  I've just never really understood it before, thinking it was all videos of 13 year old boys playing pranks and bad singers falling off of tables.  I recently started watching some beauty videos but I kind of thought that YouTube was just a platform to upload these onto their creator's blogs.  I know, hideously ignorant.  I'm repenting this sinful lack of knowledge by ruining my sleep pattern/life watching endless reams of vlogs now.  If the extent of blogging has blown my mind a bit, the whole concept of the YouTube community has taken it one step further.  It's all so exciting in that 'makes my head hurt' kind of way.

This current state of mental frenzy and a planned day in the library called for something very comfortable and very large.  Out came this jumper.  When I bought it in September I wore it pretty much daily but I've realised that it's actually quite an unattractive shape so have rejected it a bit lately.  However, I think that wearing a shirt underneath made from thicker and more structured fabric helps the situation a little, so here we are.  It's only -6ºC today - practically summer compared to the more common -14ºC - so I got a chance to swap my blanket scarves for this favourite vintage one.

I'm really excited to start developing this blog properly in the new year.  I've stuck mostly to outfit posts and daily mutterings so far but now I've got to grips with the whole thing a little bit more, I'm looking forward to livening the whole thing up somewhat.  Alas, as always seems to happen when I get excited about a project, that little thing called university is getting in the way.  As my Dad regularly likes to remind me though, "the sooner you start, the sooner you finish" so I'm off to the library to free myself of the shackles of post-1960 Brit Lit.


P.S.  The image below is a summary of my feelings about life today.  I'm sorry.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Rodding Around The Christmas Tree

Dress - ASOS
Cardigan - Vintage Engelhorn
Belt - River Island
Boots - Bianco

I've been a little concerned over the last couple of weeks about my unsatisfactory levels of festive spirit this year.  I am usually annoying festive, yet lately I seem to be grumping around like I'm competing for the Scrooge of the Year 2012 title (and yep, that does exist, an official sport in the winter Olympics don'tcha know).  However, I can confirm without a shred of doubt that Christmas has finally arrived for me, no more false alarms.  I'm pretty sure I can thank an afternoon of loudly listening to Rod Stewart's Christmas album for this wonderful turn of events.  Thanks Rod - you've saved the day, yet again.

To support this new festive feeling, and make sure it doesn't run away, I decided to go for a quite festive colour scheme today.  Basically, just the red cardigan, but it is very red so I think that's enough.  I think I've talked about this piece before but in case you missed it, I picked up for a measly £5 in a sale at my favourite hometown vintage store in a one day only cashmere sale.  Yes, that's right, cashmere for five English pounds!  I used to neglect it a little as I didn't like the shape but I'm really enjoying it this winter.

Having decided that this cardigan simply had to be a feature of the day, it seemed a good opportunity to bring out this dress again that I ordered a few weeks ago for just £20 in the ASOS sale.  It is a little summery but I think the monochrome colouring and the pattern, that to me feels so quintessentially British, make it acceptable all year round and a perfect item to layer.  Wonderful.

Now I think about it, not a single item in this outfit was bought full price (with the exception of the tights but as they're Primark-via-mother I'm not sure that can exactly be deemed as an extravagance).  I bought the boots half price in Swedish store Bianco a few months ago and the belt, which is real leather, was a January sale bargain back in 2009 for just £7.  This actually isn't a very surprising realisation given that I pride myself on hunting down sale bargains.  

Speaking of bargains, I ordered myself a pair of the much coveted Office Nighthawk ankle boots for just £41.25 yesterday!  I wasn't sure that they were particularly "me" at first but I think they'll be good to toughen up my quite classic/feminine clothing choices.  I do love a bit of genre-clashing, after all.  If you want the same bargain, pop to the Office website NOW and use the promo code "LADIES25" at the checkout.  This code applies to any Office brand styles so it's the perfect time to order yourself a little Christmas present.

As I type this, I have yet another banana cake baking in the oven in preparation for a pot-luck dinner party I'm throwing with a few friends this evening.  I'm planning to jazz this old favourite up with some lemon cream cheese frosting.  I know this sounds like a strange combination but I have high hopes for it.  I'll almost certainly be bombarding you with pictures of everybody's offerings at some point in the week.

With merry Monday wishes,

Friday, 7 December 2012

Subzero Shorts

Shorts - River Island
Shirt - H&M
Cardigan - Warehouse
Brogues - Sweden, Unknown
Necklace (shorter) - Miss Selfridge
Necklace (longer) - Gift

Is it too arrogant to tell you that I'm really enjoying my outfit today?  Because, well, I am.  I feel I've been a bit uninspired on the outfit front of late which is pretty unfortunate given that I'm in the early days of blogging.  I'm not promising to throw on something Vogue-worthy every day (or ever, in fact) but I can assure you that the unaccessorised jeans and jumper days are over.  Hallelujah.

I feel like I'm channeling a bit of a 70s school teacher look today.  You know, the one who's just settled down after their heady Woodstock youth.  I think it's the beads, the exposed cuffs, the printed corduroy.  Whatever it is though, I'm certainly not complaining.  I've also just realised that as I type this, I'm listening to Bread very loudly which fits the whole vibe very well indeed.

I bought these shorts in River Island last September so they're in their second winter now and I still love them.  You can't quite see here, but they're quite flared which I really like.  It counteracts the pretty short length somewhat making them more daytime appropriate.  (It also means that there's plenty of room underneath for the two pairs of tights I'm wearing but shh, let's keep that between you and me.)  I added my current go-to blouse and a warm cardigan because I thought I should at least pretend to acknowledge today's -14º thermometer reading.  I quite liked today's colour combination too because, to me, it feels suitably seasonal without being overly dark.

It's Friday which marks the beginning of the penultimate weekend of the semester.  This is quite sad because I'm the only one out of my friends in Sweden who's staying the entire academic year so I have a few goodbyes to come in the next week or so.  We're beginning the farewell celebrations this evening with a Christmas gathering for one of my classes which should be nice.  I plan to cook up some mince pies to inject a little British festivity into the occasion.

Have a lovely weekend,

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Daily Bread #17 - You Can Leave Your Hat On

Jumper - Topshop
Jeans - Cubus
Boots - Bianco
Belt - River Island
Hat - Vintage

There is something you should know, boys and girls.  My name is Elise and I'm a hat-aholic.  As any hat wearer whose blog I read will know, I just can't get enough.  As soon as a piece of headwear crops up in an outfit, I just can't stop myself from leaving a gushing comment.  It's a bit embarrassing really, slightly clingy girlfriend-esque.  There's just something about a good, or even a bad, hat that drives me crazy (in the good way).

It therefore came as a bit of a surprise when I realised that, with the exception of two knitted affairs, A Letter From Elise has, to date, been almost hat-free.  Good heavens!  I've gushed to you about paisley, about packaging, about Christmas but total ignored my first love, my one and only, the humble hat.  To milliners the world over, I'm sorry, I'm so very sorry.

So here I am, repenting my sins and sharing with you one of my favourite items of headwear.  I picked this hat up in my favourite vintage store in Northampton, Trashy Flowers.  My best friend and I tried on hundreds of hats that afternoon, rummaging through sacks and throwing them all about the place until we struck gold with two remarkably similar pieces, both dark green and this shape.  Jordyn's got a lot of wear at the time, although I hear that she's lost it now, but mine got stuffed away for a while because I was convinced it was too small for my head.  Eventually, I pulled it out for a halloween  Robin Hood costume in 2010 and fell back in love.  Robin Hood, what a style icon, aye?

Now you get the honour of witnessing a blog first for me: a head shot!  Crikey!  I just feel that the detailing of this hat needs to be shown off a little more, as you can't see it properly in the other pictures where the whole hat has unfortunately slipped back slightly.

I'm sorry if that close up frightened any small children, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!  Please do ignore my unsightly eyebrow situation though; I'm growing them out and I'm currently experiencing an unattractive inbetween stage.  

There's just something about putting a hat on that makes the day a little more special.  There was a wonderful article in Vogue, I think the October issue, about the magic of hats.  Unfortunately I don't have my copy here or I'm sure this post would have just been a block quote of that.  It basically just talked about how hats haven't been cheapened yet.  They are yet to become too casual, too accessible, too commonplace, and that's what makes them wonderful.  They still contain that element of daring which a lot of other items have lost.  To be honest though, even if a day were to dawn when everybody and their dog was wearing a hat, I'll still be sporting and building my collection with pride.

Hat wearing aside, can we please have a moment of appreciation for my favourite Tom Jones song, after which I've titled this post.  You may have noticed a large increase in cheer today and a good ol' listen to Tommy definitely contributed to my improved mood.

Hats off to you,

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Daily Bread #16 - Soccer Mom

Shirt - River Island
Jumper - Mango
Shorts - Vintage Levi
Shoes - Topshop

You probably wouldn't believe it from this outfit, but it's actually -8˚ in Gothenburg right now, with -23˚expected tomorrow.  Considering how much I've been telling anybody who'll listen for months how excited I am for frosty weather and festive cheer, I'm actually woefully unprepared for these low temperatures.  My solution to this problem for the past few days has been hibernation but I have classes tomorrow, not to mention a serious case of cabin fever.  I'm really not sure how to tackle this.

You aren't here for a weather report though.  I popped this outfit on this morning as I wasn't doing anything or going anywhere and, quite frankly, I just wasn't feeling very inspired.  I know that I'm probably not meant to say that here, but it's true.  I just don't think that it's my week.  I never thought I'd miss England this much but by Jove I do.

One thing I will say though is that I've spent all day feeling a lot like an early 90s soccer "mom".  I think it's the badly dyed bouffant of hair and the cut off Levis, I just picture myself running around after some rowdy sons called Brett and Finn.  (I used 'mom' here rather than the more common British 'mum' because I just know that no mum would ever buy into this.)

Anyway, I'll update you on my snowy adventures tomorrow and I promise to have cheered the hell up.  It is Christmas, after all. 


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Daily Bread #15 - The Made in Britain Midi

Dress - Topshop
Jumper - Lindex
Boots - Bianco
Necklace - Topshop

As I may have mentioned, a few weeks ago I placed a very ill-advised, bank-balance-destroying Topshop order because I was simply desperate to get my hands on a particularly beautiful paisley skirt.  I'd first lusted after it a few months ago but it went out of stock almost immediately, in true Topshop style.  You can imagine my delight when a procrastinating browse informed me that it was back in stock.  As I was already paying postage, I decided to order this midi dress too, as I'd been hunting for one of this style for a while but had found no luck in Sweden.

It's a simple, high necked, long sleeved, navy blue jersey midi dress but I absolutely love it. It fits like a glove, it's so versatile and it's so comfortable.  I've layered it here with a jumper and ankle boots for a cold Tuesday in Gothenburg but it'd be equally at home with some statement jewellery and a pair of heels for a sophisticated night time look, despite the casual jersey fabric.  It's surprisingly very flattering too; I'm by no means the skinniest of girls but it doesn't cause any bodycon nightmares, I think because of the fairly thick fabric.  

This dress also forms part of Topshop's 'Made In Britain' collection, which you can read more about here.  For me, this dress is an ideal component of the range.  It is a wardrobe staple - practical, comfortable, live-in - yet the length and the fit lend an immediate sense of luxe to any look.  You could throw it on on the dreariest of days, in the worst of moods, and immediately feel more in control, more put together, more womanly (if that isn't too cliched a word to use).  It feels like wearing a secret and that's why I think it fits so well with the collection. This whole concept of understated luxury is something that, to me, just seems so very British.

As you can probably gather, I'm a pretty big fan.  It's a feel good piece if there ever was one, and I love that. I feel I should put a quick note about the sizing though. I read on another blog that they'd advise getting a size up in this style.  Personally, I completely disagree with that.  I think there's nothing worse than baggy body con which will just never sit right.  I guess that's down to personal taste but I'd advise going a size down, if anything.

I apologise for having been so absent over the weekend; I've been holed up in pyjamas procrastinating like a professional.  I finally submitted my essays yesterday though and so I'm back.  Today I'm attempting to be very productive and organise a few quite exciting developments in my life, which I'll sure I'll be blabbering on about soon.

From a snowy Sweden,