The Spike

Clothes, recipes, kids, interiors, London…


September 2017

What do you do about your ankles?

Look don’t get excited because I don’t really have some kind of genius lighting-bolt answer to this.

What I mean by this question of course is if you are moving on from skinny jeans and their hellish strangulation and onto a more relaxed type of trouser, which need to be turned up at the ankle or you look bloody weird, what do you do about your ankles come winter time?

Last winter, on the coldest days, I basically did whatever I could to avoid wearing skinny jeans tucked into boots, which is the standard Winter Answer. I have a pair of UGG Adirondacks, snow boots, which I wore with my Gap Girlfriends a shirt and a sweater and just embraced the very dykey dash I cut. On other days I wore them with tights, mini skirts and oversized sweaters.

Other days I wore gym kit with Bridgedale hiking socks to close the ankle-to-trainer gap. Then some days I wore these David Lerner coated leggings, which look like absolute shit in this pic here, but they’re really comfortable and don’t look especially like leggings, but more like coated jeans.

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Not cheap at £90 but very useful. Size up.

I’m also seriously considering a pair of these boots from Celtic and Co.

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Please, please I am just not interested in hearing from UGG-style boot haters. Fine, if you think they’re slippers and ought never to be worn outdoors then okay, you’re entitled to your opinion. But I don’t agree.

YES I know they can’t be worn in the rain – you wear another outfit instead when it’s raining! Your rainy day outfit! I, personally, don’t think that occasionally wearing these boots on the school run or up to the shops makes you a hateful slattern.

But when it’s a horizontal polar wind and everyone’s got a cold and you just need to get from here to there without having a nervous breakdown, these boots are the answer.

You can wear them with your boyfriend/girlfriend jeans and a cosy Arket or Boden sweater and this H&M Isabel Marant rip-off coat (see below) while wearing eyeliner and earrings, possibly slightly chipped black nail varnish? and your best handbag and carry it all off with aplomb.

Plus these boots are made in the UK and they have a repair and re-sole policy, which is commendable.

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Winter boots

I have decided that right now the only winter boots worth recommending, on the basis of the ranks of shite I saw this morning on my aborted shopping trip, are my UGG ones.

There are two biker styles, which you might like.

This one, which is the one I have

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and this one 

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Take your normal size.

True fashion people swear by Jimmy Choo bikers as the ultimate biker boot. But they are £650 and look like chimney pot city to me.

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The jeans I bought are “Straight” jeans from Topshop – here. I got ultimate confirmation that they are great just now from Giles, who absolutely hates them.

I am quite thin at the moment from chest infection starvation diet so around about a size 10 – I got a 28 waist. There’s a bit of a dearth of sizes online, alas :(. All those Jeanne Demas wannabes…

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Kids winter outerwear

It has taken me years to perfect the ideal range of kids outerwear and I want to share this killer combo with you.

You will complain about this. You will say:

1 But Esther, I just want to get one coat and be done with it

2 But Esther, this is too expensive

3 But Esther, they will lose all these and I don’t want to do labels for them all

To which I say fine! I am not your master and keeper – you must do what you like and I daresay there are many one-coat options that will see you right.

But. If you want the flexibility and peace of mind that comes with knowing that your child is never too hot or too cold (a subject that obsesses me completely) then the perfect combination of kids winter clothes, which will see you from now until next year, in all weathers is as follows!

1 I absolutely love these little jackets from North Face. They are slim but warm and pretty windproof, with a zip right up to the neck and pockets. You can obviously get fleeces that are not £45 for a kids version but I don’t find those shaggy kiddie-fleeces to be that warm or practical. Too bulky to go under anything else and not very wind proof. I got two of these for Kitty and Sam last year and they’re still going strong. I got an S for both of them and turned the sleeves up.

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2 Uniqlo puffa jacket with hood. My main gripe with an all-purpose winter coat is they tend to be a bit physically restrictive and my kids mainly run round and round in circles all day long and they get a bit hot and fucked off except on the very coldest days if they are wearing a massive puffa. So this micro-light puffa is perfect, they can run around, have full range of movement for going on the monkey bars and stuff. It’s showerproof and despite the instruction not to, I’ve just always chucked them int he washing machine and they’ve been fine.

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3 For a full range of options, a Uniqlo puffa gilet is really helpful for putting over the North Face jacket on days when there’s an extra chill but they don’t need the double whammy of layers, but not essential.

4 In terms of rainwear, I’ve still got some fishermen’s raincoats from last year, which still fit, from John Lewis. They were really brilliant and sold out quickly. It doesn’t look like they’re doing them this year, which is a bit of a bummer – though they might come in later in the season. An equivalent I can find is this from Muddy Puddles, which seems insanely expensive at £50 – a slightly less ruinous option would be to get the Pac a Mac (below, £24) instead, which you can slip over the North Face jacket for downpours. As a reader pointed out on a different post, it doesn’t often absolutely slate it down in this country so it’s fine to keep a pac a mac handy rather than have a full on bonded raincoat on at all times.

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5 This next item, from Trotters, will change your winter. It’s called a Snoody, and it’s a fleecy snood that can be slipped over even the fussiest toddler’s head for full neck-and-ears and sometimes even head protection on very cold days when some major polar ice winds are screaming off the Heath and blasting your babies’ fragile little necks (I told you I get lively about this subject). These sell out incredibly fast and there will be none by the end of October so get yours now, I would. We have four – one for Kitty and Sam and one for me and Giles, too.

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6 These mittens are the best I’ve found for kids. The not very snappy name of Easy Kiddos Mittens. You can really bloody strap them into them and they still have some order of movement and manipulation. I also find the slightly home-made nature of the entire operation incredibly endearing and so want to promote them.

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The one thing I have never found a satisfactory version of is a fleece ski headband for kids – Kitty absolutely refuses to wear a hat but on the coldest days will countenance a headband over her ears. Ideas?

Car crash

Okay so this is a little random but I think hardcore Spikers know that this blog is a little bit scattergun. And you all hated the slip dress thing so much I’m not writing about clothes again for a bit…

I was in a very mild prang with another car about three years ago and realised that I was entirely unprepared for this event and it’s taken me three years to get an old friend of mine who is a barrister who specialised in road accidents – (but has to remain anonymous in order to be frank) – to write this guide to what to do if you are in one.

This made me laugh and laugh, I hope you enjoy it too.

  1. Stay calm.  Which is obviously impossible, but it’s worth a try.  People understandably get v. angry or upset after road traffic accidents and are always saying “I meant to take photos, I meant to look for witnesses” but they didn’t because they’re boiling with rage or weeping.  Of course, some people are suffering from shock or other psychological responses and there’s not much they can do.
  2. Don’t panic if you’ve said “sorry”. Everyone says ‘sorry’ by mistake.  It’s basically just what English people of a certain class do … it’s the same when people bang into you on the street “oh sorry – I was in your way” as a passive aggressive way of telling them off.  “Oh sorry – you’ve accidentally burgled my house” etc.  In truth, if you have said sorry, don’t worry – many judges take a common sense view on this (even if on nothing else) – they tend to think that what you say at the scene is because you’re shocked anyway.  Maybe get a video of the post accident chat (though frankly that might make you look like a bit of a psycho in court).
  3. Photos – take all of them.  Take barrels of them right there and then, there’s no excuse if you have an iPhone with any kind of memory.  Take them at the scene, showing vehicle location, vehicle damage (close up and far off), the other car, your car, every car.  Take a photo with a landmark or prominent building in the frame so it can be keyed to an exact location.  Go back and see if you can take a photo of where there’s glass or tyre marks in the road where the cars collided.  Some people have videos of the cars, which can’t be bad.  Basically, these things stand and fall a lot of the time on objective evidence (given that the actual drivers have all been punching each other, or are paralysed with shock or too busy apologising to everyone), and it’s so frustrating when people take the wrong photo (“oh – I thought you’d want to see the radio dial as I was listening to the Moral Maze at the time”), but not who was where or what.  Make sure you keep them properly, send them to your insurer and your solicitor (as they often get lost in between).  If it goes to trial, check that the solicitor has them and probably print them out yourself, as everyone will often have just crappy black and white copies that have been triple scanned and photocopied.
  4. Look around for witnesses – including in your own car.  People get told, ‘family members don’t count as witnesses’ – which is bizarre as they count for something at least, even if they are not a vicar with perfect eyesight and a photographic memory who happens to be passing by.  Also, get the details of anyone who saw it (though if they’re sensible they’ll have driven off at high speed themselves).
  5. Once you’ve got home, calmed down, and remembered it all – get it all down on paper and in detail.  Make sure it’s dated somehow.  Memory is a funny beast, and if it goes on for a bit, you’ll be asked questions three years later like “how many times did the indicator tick on June 23rd” and you’ll be like “I can’t remember my own middle name”.   So, descend to absurd detail (though only the stuff you actually remember doing, not the stuff you usually do – it’s a good way to get caught out).  If you draw diagrams, think about them properly in terms of location of vehicles and size and such.  Some of them basically tell an entirely different story to the written recollection and makes it look like you can’t even get your terrible lies straight in your own head.


**** my friend who submitted this has asked that I include a thing here about how this shouldn’t be used as legal advice. Because lawyers are such fun like that.

THAT slip dress

Don’t scream and throw things at me, okay? But I think for AW17 you need to think about getting a slip dress.

Not for wearing on its own, because as we will all remember from the 90s, it is a nightie and only Denise Van Outen circa 1998 and Cher “It looks like underwear” Horowitz can walk that kind of look off.

But before slip dresses went bad and people were wearing them for nights out on waterfronts over baby pink t shirts with their hair in those stupid Mickey Mouse buns they were great.


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Only kidding – I don’t expect you to smoke.

Consider a slip dress this season as just another layer, something to add a different length, or a critical element of sheen in the dark winter months. If you, like me, contract a non-specific chest infection and lost 1/2 a stone you could even wear it out for dinner with a black blazer over the top and some spike heels for full 90s mayhem.

(If you can get out of bed that is and aren’t just shouting down the phone at your doctor that the fucking antibiotics don’t work they’ve just given you thrush and somehow made you left-handed.)

Otherwise think about it over a black polo, or under an oversized sweater or cardigan or sweatshirt, with trainers. Just try it on with anything in your wardrobe you can think of and you will come up with something modern that you will love.

And I have found for you the most perfect black midi slip dress. No lace, good length, no fucking about. BUT it is from a shop of which I disapprove quite strongly, Victoria’s Secret. I don’t like the way that shop and that ridiculous wankfest Angels Show would have made me feel when I was 16.

But you can buy from there without being a devotee I suppose.

Here it is.

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I do this pose every time I put it on. I am currently more like a size 10 due to aforementioned consumption; I got this in an M and it fits – but there is room if I suddenly recover and end up eating loads of white bread and chocolate (likely).


Winter coat

I have always been enormously stressed and freaked out by the purchase of a winter coat – especially in recent years. There’s always an “IT” coat – usually with giant checks or fondant pink or some huge teddy bear belted thing. But the financial commitment always scares me; a winter coat is the fashion equivalent of buying a sofa. What if I get sick of it?

But in recent years, with the discovery of all things capsule, I have realised that you only need 5 jackets and coats in winter, most of which you probably already have.

1 A smart town coat in grey, navy, black or camel. Mine is this exact one – it was £99 when I bought it – their new version is £109 and very warm.

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2 A leather jacket. We have discussed this subject at length in previous posts, but most people go to All Saints for a leather jacket. I would always say, go for as few zips and buckles and crazy shit as you can but lay off the shawl collars or anything “waterfall”.

This one looks nice to me:

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It’s a bestseller for a reason. Get it in black, do not muck about with khaki or brown or anything.

3 A raincoat (see previous post on this subject)

4 A slim puffa from Uniqlo, that you can layer under any of the coats above on really cold days to add protection. This will really change your life as it transforms any coat you’ve got into something extra warm and cosy.

There are loads of colour options available so you can match the puffa liner to the colour or your coat. If you need to be super-smart, you can buy this Uniqlo puffa-liner without a collar, so it doesn’t show above the collar of the coat you’re wearing.

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5 VERY warm playground coat. This is any giant, very warm parka you like the look of. I treated myself at massive expense to a Canada Goose Kensington parka a few years ago and I love it beyond all reason. PLEASE do not lecture me about the fur trim, I’ve been lectured about it at length by others and I don’t know what to say… I’m not going to take it back, am I?

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For something less stupidly expensive, Superdry has good ones, like this one.

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(Optional) 6 I have a black dress coat, by which I mean it’s sort of flared and belted with a fake fur trim, which I wear about twice a year to smart parties. It’s almost identical to this one:

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By all means, if you want a giant squashy teddy coat in fondant pink or windowpane check or leopard print, get it. If you love it, you will look fab. This and ALL capsule posts are not about trying to squash your innate style, I’m trying to say if it’s not a Hell Yeah then keep it simple and you can’t go wrong.

Which reminds me, I also have a lot of time for classic pea coats – there is a nice one here.

So if you’re looking at all the winter coat options in dismay and are starting to panic slightly that you ought to be walking around in fun fur like a Sesame Street extra because all newspapers and magazines and shops are telling you to BUY YOUR CRAZY WINTER COAT NOW!!!!! then I refer you to the above list.

Of course, do not be a massive weirdo about this – you ought to know by now what sort of coat suits you, if you suit a belted thing, or double breasted or a cocoon coat or whatever. All I’m saying is: you do not have to buy a crazy coat in order to be chic and look lovely. We are not Olivia Palermo at New York Fashion Week, we are just trying to get from one end of the day to the other.


You would think as we live in a rainy country we would be really good at wet weather gear of all sorts. But we are not, we are fucking hopeless.

Sure, if you are going fell walking, dog walking or if you are one of the 8 people in the UK who looks terrific in a trench coat, you’re sorted.

But what if you aren’t fell walking or dog walking and simply look like man in a trench coat (or, if you tie the belt up, a stripper)? What then? I can’t stand trench coats.

I wanted a simple navy thigh-length single-breasted coat, which would repel water. Nothing with a hood or toggles or giant pockets. Nothing with huge lapels or a fucking belt or giant buttons or epaulettes. Just a normal coat that happens to be waterproof. Is this too much to ask?

I searched for years for a chic navy raincoat and was astonished that you could only buy one at Burberry for an absolute fortune. My dad has one, which he bought 40 years ago and it still looks terrific, but sorry I simply cannot justify spending £750 on a raincoat even if it will still be going when I am 70.

Sorry, my mistake – the one I was looking at is actually over £1k, here. I mean WTAF.

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Actual Mackintosh, who invented the bloody Mackintosh have gone very high fashion and are doing such unutterably bogus and vile and stupid things with their current collection that I’m minded to write and complain to my MP about it.


Anyway last year I tracked down a good one from APC and they are doing something similar this year – not cheap, but APC isn’t cheap, but I love mine and has solved all sorts of problems for me:

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The closest thing I can find for a more reasonable price is something from Uniqlo, available in black or camel, like this:

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Or there is this, which looks very promising, from Arket.


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Obviously you will not wear it like this, like you are the Stasi coming to interrogate you or like a … sorry, like a… sorry I can’t really think of any other social stereotype that this model represents without getting loads of outraged comments. Why the hell do certain stores style their clothes like this? We don’t all want to look like ******** ** year-old *****-player.

You will wear it with the collar turned resolutely up, possibly also with the sleeves pushed up if it isn’t actually hammering down.

Please, if anyone has found a chic raincoat that IS NOT A trench, is not a dog-walking coat or from Rains or Stutterheim, please leave a handy comment in the box below.

***** Here is a link to a coat suggested in a comment below that I’ve had a look at and it looks absolutely just the ticket: *******

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