Some Fun: Britain Fashion Favorites
While I was doing the reading for my American Politics & the Media class on the train back from NY last weekend, I came across a passage that I reread again and again. Usually this happens when I am so tired that my brain simply has lost the ability to surmise meaning from the collection of words in front of me, but this time was different. The passage stuck with me and I have found myself thinking about it frequently over the past few days.
“People control themselves to read of politics in fine print; they let themselves go to read of murders or to look at drawings of celebrities. Information is a genre of self-denial, the story one of self-indulgence.”
– Michael Schudson, Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers
Schudson was writing about the “moral division of labor” between the newspapers in the early American cities, but I would argue that this quotation applies not only to the most popular forms of media today, but also to a balanced life. Even prestigious publications like The New York Times balance the high-information journalism of the front page with the Style and Arts sections. The Today Show’s Ann Curry sits down at her news desk each morning to update viewers on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but then ten minutes later speaks to a magazine representative about the latest ways to update your daily makeup routine. marie claire tells readers how to achieve a salon-quality blow out at home, while the next page might feature a story about female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan.
The American public demands both heavy and light material. In the words of Schudson, they desire both “self-denial” and “self-indulgence”. Not to get too philosophical on you, but a balance between self-restraint and self-love are key to a whole and healthy life.
Our last few posts have been on more serious subjects (after all, what is more serious than your biggest dreams?), so here is a fun post for your enjoyment and self-indulgence. Enjoy!
I’m still generally hesitant about wearing non-Americana-type items — my brother has accused me of being hopelessly preppy at times. My go-to look when I’m not feeling creative in the fashion department? I’ll either opt for simple flats or tug on a pair of Sperry Topsiders on my feet, pair them with some skinny jeans, a v-neck top, and a blazer or cardigan. (One of the tips I learned while working at J. Crew? Always layer to look more put together!) I’ll accessorize with a scarf and some simple gold jewelry.
Despite my penchant for American style, when I went abroad to St. Andrews, I fell in love with a few key British fashion staples…
1. Hunter Wellies:
Americans have already caught onto these simple and practical yet country-chic boots. About 72 hours after arriving in the Scottish countryside, I realized why the Brits made what are the most ubiquitous rain boots in the world (or at least my world!): There’s mud. EVERYWHERE. (In case you didn’t know it rains there. ALL THE TIME. It’s supposedly part of the country’s charm, but I wasn’t buying that company line.)
Since coming back to the States, I have inherited a pair of green vintage Huntress wellies from my mother. Unfortunately, they are about one half size too big… but hey, I’m still growing, right?!
2. Tights & Leggings:
Here’s another fashion choice that is well-suited to the British climate. Thanks to a pair of tights or leggings, you can wear miniskirts and sundresses at any time of year! My favorite winter look though is to pair black leggings with a sweater dress. (And, don’t tell anyone, but I’ll even wear a pair of tights under my leggings for a night out… girl’s gotta keep warm!)
It’s Scotland. You can’t escape it. One of my choice plaids? Black Watch. I have a great blanket at home in this plaid that I got on a trip to Loch Ness a few years back with my family. According to Esquire magazine, “This is not a schoolgirl plaid. This is a ‘I’m gonna drink whiskey until dawn and fight you at Devil’s Rock’ plaid.” Enough said.
Surprisingly enough, I didn’t see much of the Burberry plaid, which is probably the plaid most commonly seen in the U.S., even though I was in the UK, the home of Burberry!
My favorite store in the UK. (If not my favorite bargain store in the world! Forget Topshop – I want an American Primark outpost!) Primark was just about the only place in Britain that doing the pounds-to-dollar conversion in my head didn’t make me feel immensely guilty! At the Primark in Stirling, Scotland, I bought a pair of tights for £2 & a Grecian-style dress for £11!
5. Kate Middleton:
Forget Kate Moss. The best Kate in British fashion? Kate Middleton, a St. Andrews graduate and Prince William’s fiancee, (they met at a St. Andrews “Don’t Walk” fashion show!) is my UK style icon. I still remember the last time I was in the UK, when she had just worn a fabulous turquoise BCBG dress to one of her first royal functions and the pictures of her in it were all over the papers. I still want that dress!