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The Spike

Clothes, recipes, kids, interiors, London…

Hush pre-Spring 18

It’s here! Get whatever you like the look of before it sells out – you know what Hush is like… I missed out on a long navy/gold lightning bolt dress last season and have a small cry whenever I see someone else wearing it. Don’t forget: Hush sizes are generous. I am a size 10 with 34C boobs and take an XS in their T-Shirts.

Raglan tees, (a la Dazed and Confused), will be everywhere quite soon, this is a very cute take on the style:

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Adorable:

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Clean white trainers (as discussed) are going nowhere, these look just the ticket to me:

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A lovely pair of relaxed but smart navy trousers – stealth awesomeness.

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Their classic plain t-shirts, of which I am a huge fan, are also all back in stock in all colours:

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Ski-ing! (in my head)

I really don’t want to go ski-ing. I don’t like being cold, I don’t like having to wear a lot of layers. I also think ski-ing is dangerous and I hear it’s expensive. Why would I bother? I like swimming pools and the skrrt-skrrt-skrrt sounds of crickets in long grass. Plus, I am lazy.

BUT! I have been struck upside of the head by a certain kind of ski aesthetic that I think is rather fabulous. Sitting in a chalet by a big window with a view over snowy mountains having done some ski-ing, facing down some sliced boiled potatoes wiped in cheese and a glass of whatever TF you drink when you are ski-ing, sounds okay to me.

So in these cold months, I am adopting the air of ski-chalet around myself, which I may or may not have slightly confused with some Scandinavian stuff and a 70s scuzzy park vibe. And I wish to be dressed the part.

It started out with a lust for this JW Anderson top, which is just too expensive even in the sale so I’m not even going to bother with a link to it.

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Then moved on to this Madeleine Thompson cashmere sweater, which is actual heaven (fi you’re into it, it comes up small – I have this in an L).

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Other tops you could wear to channel this rather complicated set of modern social indicators are as below.

This from Other Stories:

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This from TopShop:

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This from asos:

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New for 2018 (old)

The only way, as far as I’m concerned, to make the sales work for you, is to search for gaps in your wardrobe for classic pieces and see if you can find any of these reduced.

Having felt recently very uninspired when it comes to new clothes, I got a rush of blood to the head the other night and bought new black jeans, khaki trousers and a pea coat.

My black jeans are getting a bit baggy and sad – I worked out that I have had them for 7 years now and they just plain old don’t fit any more. My new ones, from Frame aren’t exactly a bargain at £180 but they are so beautiful I can’t look directly at them and will be with me, I hope, for the next 7 years.

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THIS IS NOT ME

Then I got a peacoat from Jigsaw via John Lewis – it was the last one so now sold out BUT I did see some others on John Lewis I thought were similarly heat-stopping; what I’m trying to say I guess is that if you don’t own a classic peacoat, or if the one you have is looking a little sad around the edges, it might be time to think about a new one.

I like this – a little longer length but nothing wrong with that (if my Jigsaw jacket ends up being a bit small, which I suspect it will, I will swap it for this, stat.)

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This is a slightly more relaxed take on the pea coat cut, which I think also works:

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Although it is New Look, so I cannot forswear to quality.

There is also this, 40% off at La Redoute – a site I almost never check, but there is good stuff there.

I’m pretty sure that there will be more pea coats coming along in the Spring, so if neither of these get you going, hang on for a few more weeks and we’ll find you something great.

I am VERY pleased with this proper, nailed-on sale bargain, a new pair of relaxed khakis from Vince at a whopping 50% off.

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Vince is one of those places where I’m a bit like “how fucking dare you charge £220 for a stripy top?? WHO ARE YOU ANYWAY NEVER HEARD A YA VINCE!!!” so I’m quite pleased to be fleecing them for a full 50% off.

These trousers haven’t actually arrived yet, so they might be unflattering as hell, but I have high hopes. My faithful old khaki trousers from H&M, which I have now worn constantly for 5 summers straight are so old and knackered that they are really emergency trousers only – though I will never EVER throw them away because I feel like Indiana Jones when I wear them.

 

Let’s talk about our cuticles

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If external physical habits are a signifier of internal disquiet then I am fucking mad.

I am a picker. And for years I have harassed my cuticles as if all my problems are their fault.

My hands aren’t nice anyway – stumpy, fat fingers, short little nails – and all my conscious life I have sought to make them worse by picking at them. Pick, pick, pick.

My ex-boyfriend Nick used to berate me in public for it. He would hold up my hand, turn my mangled thumbs to the assembled company and say “Look! Look at what she does to herself.” It didn’t help.

I recall clearly the dinner at which my husband realised that I didn’t just occasionally poke at a hangnail, but that the torture of my cuticles was constant, real. He doesn’t like it because he feels like it is an external expression of an internal turmoil. I mean he’s right, but my retort has always been that nobody’s perfect. And I’d rather that I attacked my cuticles than drank all the time. Oh wait, hang on

In one of my wedding photos I am tearing at a piece of thumbskin with my teeth. Sometimes I have torn at the skin of my righthand thumb so comprehensively – right the way round – that my iPhone no longer recognises my thumbprint. I do hope you aren’t eating while reading this.

But towards the end of last year I was a photoshoot and having my pitiful nails done and I was moaning on about my cuticles to a manicurist – most particularly  about how when you trim your cuticles with one of those weeny finger-secateurs, the layers of skin within 48 hours dry and separate and curl up and it’s just hangnail city.

She nodded sympathetically and talked some shit about cuticle oil that I broadly ignored but then she said something that made me pay attention. “If you moisturise your cuticles after a shower just push up the cuticles a bit with your fingers as you’re doing it. That ought to keep them from growing down over the nail – then you won’t need to trim them at all.”

She also added that if your cuticles are in bad shape after years of abuse, applying cuticle oil more like 3 times a day at first – rather than 3 times a week – is what you need to get results.

Chastened, I returned home and dusted off my Sally Hansen cuticle oil and got massaging.

And it works. 

Even after 10 days in Gloucestershire, when I spend my days plunging my hands into cleaning fluid and scrabbling around in the dirt trying to locate a non-rotten leek I can use in lieu of payment for a box of six effluent-covered eggs, my hands are okay.

And it’s more than just having nice hands and nails, more than not having to automatically hide my thumbs behind the rest of my fingers whenever I meet anyone who makes me feel a bit self-conscious – (this doesn’t happen often though) – it’s about overcoming the internal mad-machine that ordered me to pick. It’s about regarding anxiety and paranoia with as much contempt as I regard the empty calories of a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

I found my Sally Hansen cuticle oil to be perfectly high-functioning as long as it is applied often enough, but a short consultation with Madeleine Spencer, the beauty editor of InStyle revealed that she also rates Dadi Oil and anything by Margaret Dabbs.

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Dry

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Okay guys, I don’t want to brag, but however much you think you drank this party season just gone – I drank more. Even the two men that read this, (not wanting to be sexist), even if you are 19 stone truckers, I drank more than you in December.

I drank everything. I drank all the wine and all the sherry and all the margaritas. I drank the Manhattans and the Prosecco and the whiskey and the whisky. I drank the mystery punch and the special cocktail. I did shots and knocked back brandies. I drank and drank and drank. The entire of the 18th of December is missing from my memory.

I embarrassed myself once or twice, peed in a bush outside an incredibly smart party because the line for the loo was too long (then ruined the fact that I had got away with this grotesque behaviour by telling absolutely everyone about it, including my hostess and the CEO of Net a Porter, although not at the same time).

I woke up during my month of binge-drinking feeling progressively more and more okay. It was almost like a science experiment; how much can I really drink?

I have never drunk so much, so consistently, over such a long period. My husband was there with me, too, drinking and drinking. In those blurry evenings, I just mostly remember snapshots of him; underside of his chin, that space between his shirt collar and his skin, his tie skewed just so, the white of his eye as he steadied me on my heels, the flash of boiling teeth as he laughed at a joke at a party, the vague murmur of him talking to a taxi driver. My husband can drink and I can drink and together we went fucking mental. We had one terrifying row and that was it. We are good-natured drunks, until one of us isn’t (me) and then … kababoooooom.

But for the most part we got incredibly drunk, talked shite to each other or to anyone who stumbled across our field of vision at a party, then dutifully brushed our teeth and flossed and went to bed. Sometimes we went to bed really quite early (as my son Sam doesn’t give a shit how late you went to bed and will be up at 6am no matter what). Anyway, it was fun! But it’s time to stop. If only to prove that we can, that we are not weak and feeble and in thrall to the bottle.

My husband is such a contrarian that he has in the past not drunk a drop in December and then started drinking again in January. But this year we are just nailed-on cliches and having drunk the world dry in December, we are not drinking during the week for January. But come the weekend… ho ho!!

It’s not easy. By now both of us crave alcohol around about lunchtime with increasing panic until 6pm at which point if we can just hold on until 7pm we’re usually alright. I am mostly writing this so that I do not go and do three shots of vodka. Like I said, it’s not easy.

But I find, along with the actual physical craving for alcohol, is about 75% worth of plain old habit. So at 6pm on the evenings when I am not drinking I construct for myself a glass of plain tonic water with ice and lemon. And it’s working so far. But then it is only 6.20pm. Happy New Year!

The Spike’s Christmas Charity appeal

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What with one thing and another, I spent the last two months of this year feeling so sorry for myself that my annual Christmas charity appeal was kicked into a corner of the room along with self-respect, dental hygiene and my resolution to stay in gear all the way to the lights, rather than coasting up in neutral.

I am far too late, now, to appeal for any charity who provides supplies for families in critical circumstances but I AM in time to point you towards the Public Law Project.

This is a legal charity in London who work on behalf of illegal migrants who are here with their families but no right to work or access to welfare. But, primarily, we’re all thinking about their kids, here – let’s not beat around the bush.

With all due respect to any and all charities working with families at this time of year, when you are really serious in deep fucking shit, in an unfamiliar country with no visa, what you really need more than anything is a lawyer.

I find the entirely unemotive nature of the website and the bullish suggestion to donate a minimum of £50 highly reassuring.

Donate here.

In other Christmas news – I have genuinely stuck to my self-promises made in previous Christmasses not to get my kids too many presents this year. In previous years the mountain of gifts has been pretty grotesque and also unnecessary – they really are happy with just one thing and some stocking fillers. I cannot deny that sitting here in my kitchen right now the temptation to scram into town and buy them a shitload more stuff to go under the tree is pretty pressing, but I am resisting it. I know you are proud of me.

More: I also want to you know that I am suffering terribly at the moment from a prolonged attack of heartburn. It happens to me every now and again – for three or four days every 4-5 months or so I have appalling and excruciating heartburn, unconnected to any eating or drinking issue and quite uncontrollable with any kind of ranitidine or Gaviscon-esque tincture. I know it’s cancer, so don’t bother breaking it to me gently in the comments box. I’m sure it will go away by itself.

Also – I think I may well be now mostly vegetarian. I know – what a terrible cliche! It’s not for any worthy reason, I just don’t feel much excitement about meat any more in the way I do about, say, roasted aubergine with curried yoghurt, chickpeas or a really good kale salad. I’m not saying I don’t eat meat, I’m just saying I live mostly without it these days and barely notice. The last three weeks of Christmas parties has mostly been about drinking far, far too much and eating a lot of meat, (and I’m surprised I’ve got crippling heartburn!), and the whole thing has only stiffened my unconscious physical response to animal protein.

What else: Merry Christmas, Spikers. Oh, oh, oh, you don’t know what you mean to me. My lovely readers, my kin, my spiritual children. More than that: my seraphim, the wind in my sails, the wind beneath my wings. Never change! (I cannot guarantee that I won’t.)

See you in the New Year!

Love,

Esther x

Gussy and Lou

A while ago I predicted that neon was over as the modern go-to colour in favour of more nauseating colour combinations as ox blood and navy. BUT then along comes Gussy and Lou with their LOUD neon cashmere colourways and makes me change my mind.

Gussy and Lou are a small, London-based cashmere brand and their customer service is excellent. Order today and get it by Christmas!

Here are a few of my favourites from their site, which also does very good children’s clothes. If my children didn’t destroy absolutely all of their clothes merely by looking at them, I might even treat them to something.

This is the scarf that I have got and it is really beautiful. Such fabulous quality cashmere and not too long or bulky. Someone told me on Instagram that I don’t look nice in grey so I got a grey one on purpose to piss her off. The orange is fabulous IRL, really vibrant.

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£165

Listen, cashmere is never cheap – but I don’t think these prices are extortionate compared with other cashmere brands, which tend to whack another £80 on top of what you would consider an okay price.

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£150
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£150

 

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I would wear these silver shorts if I thought I wouldn’t be arrested – helpfully they don’t even come in my size as they are for kids.

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£85

Yeah right like I would ever let Kitty within 3 miles of this sweater.

Warninks Advocaat competition!

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An unexpected hit over on my Instagram has been this garish but hilarious sweater above, sent to me by Advocaat.

I posted a photo and almost instantly had earnest enquiries about where a copy might be purchased. But they are not purchasable anywhere! For any amount of money!

So I did the only right and proper thing and got onto the PR, pronto, and secured an extra sweater and a bottle of Advocaat for one lucky soul, to be posted out to you in time for Christmas.

Please stay tuned to my Instagram – @esthermcoren – for details of how to win!

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I did not take this picture

And here is a handy Snowball recipe, if you don’t already know how to make one:

Makes 1:

100ml lemonade

70ml Warninks Advocaat

squeeze of fresh lime

 

1 Pour the Advocaat over some ice in a glass

2 Top up with lemonade

3 Squeeze over the fresh lime

 

Ding dong pt 2

That Dinny Hall discount code is SPIKE15 – and it’s valid for all gold and silver jewellery up to 14k. Go go go!

These are the classic small gold hoops that I have, which I think may now have sold out, but there are plenty of other classic gold hoops to choose from.

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More things that caught my eye that you might ask for…

Wrist warmers

These from Somerville Scarves caught my eye because they are nice and long and also have thumbholes. Brora also do a few long wrist warmers, but there are more colour ways and options available at Somerville.

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They also do these really pretty pyjamas, which have the all important elasticated waist so no messing about with drawstrings after your 3am wee. (I’ve also got a massive soft spot for a small business, as you know).

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Stella and Dot are a business that are absolutely all over my Instagram at the moment, which – because I am perverse and contrary – makes me instantly suspicious. But, in fact, their stock is good … I particularly like this travel jewellery bag in a jaunty Ikat and this excellent non-designer burgundy suede bag, which reminds me a lot of that Mansur Gavriel bucket bag I might be obsessed by (considering how many times a day I think about it) but less £ and probably more practical.

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If you’re after something to financially hurt loved ones, I have got a lot of time for a pair of these classic Blahnik heels.

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Or these white trainers

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Or this JW Anderson sporty top. I don’t know why I love this so much, I just do. It’s sort of in the Balenciaga hoodie family of mad things you end up wanting when you’ve got pretty much everything else you could possibly want or need.

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Lurching back to jewellery, if you want to point a few fingers at the origin of the very heavy celestial theme to gems at the moment, you could do worse than look at Sasha Samuel, a New York-based jeweller, who does some extremely beautiful stuff, which is just ever so slightly unaffordable. You also have to ship it from the US, which I always thinks adds frisson of excitement.

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