The Spike

Clothes, recipes, kids, interiors, London…


April 2018

Summer dressing 2018

Right. Here we go. You all seem to be in a right state about what to wear this Spring and Summer so I’m here to remind you about a few summer basics. And to just generally give you a little pep talk – mostly about Instagram.

For those of you on Instagram and those who particularly follow certain accounts that make you feel like, I don’t know, you’re too fat or not stylish enough or don’t have the right bag or whatever – I’ve got one word for you:


You don’t need straw bags with your name on them, sandals in the shape of a flamingo or 15 new shades of nail polish. There is no room in your life for another impractical dress you will only wear twice, a new very-slightly-different striped top from the 19 you already own or heels you can’t wear to work.

Unfollowing people who make you feel inadequate is easy and totally reversible and once you get beyond 1k followers it’s impossible to tell who is coming or going. They won’t notice or be offended. Just slide away.

I am not slating these kind of Instagram accounts at all, but I am saying that if you aren’t able to maintain a critical distance between yourself and what is basically the world’s most successful marketing tool – (i.e. so I don’t blame you) – then re-think who you follow.

I recommend Pierce Brosnan and National Geographic for a more soothing Instagram experience.

Photographs ought to be inspiration not aspiration. When you see someone on Instagram looking knock-out your first thought ought to be “Do I have similar things already I could wear to make that outfit?” not “I need to buy all that immediately.”

Here is a list of the things I think represent absolute basics for an everyday summer wardrobe. And when I say “summer” I mean days when it is too hot for jeans – this is not holiday or beachwear… I’ll take a run at those another time.

I don’t mean that these are the only clothes you should have, I’m saying that these are your building blocks and they will make the rest of your wardrobe make sense; they will get you through the occasional heatwave between now and September without having to resort to wearing flip flops and a pair of floppy linen shorts with really visible pockets to work. Flamingoes need not apply.

1 pair of good espadrillesMy pair are by Seven Boot Lane, but I see from their website that they’re “taking a break” (going bankrupt?) so some other nice ones I found on the Selfridges website are these from Dune

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or these from Kurt Geiger

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I also really fancy these from Soludos via ShopBop (I have bought off ShopBop before by the way and it’s fine). Basically impossible to find a pair of Soludos without a goddamn flamingo or a California Roll on them, but I managed.

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2 I also have bought this year a pair of Castaner high heeled wedges, which I adore beyond measure. This exact pair are sold out in a few sizes but there are other colours available. If you want a pair of these, size down. These are for occasion wear only, not for long commutes. They do stay on, but need to be re-tied once or twice for maximum security. An inconvenience I believe they are worth.

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If those are, financially, out of the question, these from Topshop look to me like a good alternative.

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3 T-Shirts. How many times do I have to say this? 3 good white t-shirts, from wherever you like, one grey, one black, will solve most problems. If yours are looking tired, replace them. My current favourite is from H&M.

4 Denim shirt – a J Crew chambray “Keeper” shirt worn reasonably loose will dig you out of many a hole but the effing website is down. This one from Gap looks like a good alternative.

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5 Midi skirts. Just find a shape that suits you. Hush are doing very nice ones at the moment, (and will be bringing one out in a very good leopard print soon), but some might find the pockets add unwanted millimetres over the hips.

I have got this exact Santana skirt and it’s great. Better than the pink, which is sold out anyway. I wore it to death in Kenya; size down.

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I also have the Rouje Gloria skirt, which is actual heaven. Take your normal size.

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Or look, here’s a nice one in pink if you really want a pink one:

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6 Culottes or cropped trousers. I feel like there are still some floating voters out there – I pushed these hard last year and some of you went for them and others took it as a personal insult and are probably throwing things at the screen to stop me fucking going on about damn culottes.

But, they’re so handy! Not jeans, swishy and cool and practical. Don’t forget – if you find a pair you like for colour and sizing round the waist but the length is wrong, you can always get them taken up.

If you are going for a high-waisted thing, try these, also from Stories:

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I do like a bit of plisse:

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These are terrific, if a bit wacky

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And I like these:

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7 Shell or tank tops. Unless you have pneumatic boobs or are willing to do a strapless bra thing, just forget spaghetti strap camisoles. Your bra always shows and it doesn’t look nice unless you are tiny and 25 and very tanned. Wide strap plain shell tops look really smart and are no hotter than a cami top.

I am a big fan of these sleeveless shirt things, like this – because I have broad shoulders and a long neck so they stop me from looking like a child’s bad drawing of a man-giraffe – but I understand they might not suit everyone.

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Otherwise I mean something like this:

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Or this:

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You will look marvellous in these, while wearing your cropped trousers and a pair of those mad earrings you bought in Ibiza in 2006.

8 1 black dress. I am a big fan of a very simple light black dress in the summer worn with tan accessories and gold jewellery. Of course, we have other dresses we buy and wear for fun because we live in the West and we are rich and idle.

But if I had to whittle my dress collection down to just one – it would be a lightweight black one. If you don’t own one, once you get one you will find yourself reaching for it pretty much every day.

Something like this:

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Or this:

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My Comptoir des Cotonniers silk dress is one of the best things I own & worth every penny, in spite of dry-clean only hassle. This is their updated version –

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This from Hush if you can do a tie-waist (I can’t):

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Anyway have a poke about; the rules are that it needs to be something you can throw on gratefully, wear with comfortable underwear and is light as a feather. Be ware of anything to-the-floor as it’s never practical with buggy wheels, escalators and car doors.

9 SIMPLE jewellery. Do you have a massive clattery collection of mad impulse-buy jewellery that you bought because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but don’t own a pair of simple studs or gold hoops? Fix this.

My favourite gold hoops are from Astrid & Miyu or Dinny Hall . I wear a lot of gold necklaces from Tilly Sveaas.

10 Fake tan. The thing that makes summer remotely possible – for me at least. At the moment I am a slavering devotee of St Tropez Express tan, which I only have to leave on for HALF an hour and then wash off and lasts for ages. It’s also available ON OCADO HELLO??

But hear amazing things about things like Vita Liberata and Isle of Paradise, too – anyone tried it?



Kenya pt 1

I sat and bit my fist as those girls came off their game drive, I tell you. They looked amazing. I stared and stared at them and thought “Jesus, yes – that is what I wanted to wear on safari.”

I was dressed like Indiana Jones (I’m almost always dressed like either Indiana Jones or Eddie Murphy c.1986) in khaki trousers and a shirt. But I was too hot. It was HOT out there, guys. And I was too hot.

And then these girls came in and I went “WOW” and my husband said “Are you insane? They look like mad old green crows” and I said “You know nothing. They look fabulous.”

They were American. And they had known, as I hadn’t, that the echt footwear on safari is a pair of dusky Palladium boots. I was wearing trainers, which was fine but… And then they all wore voluminous loose khaki dresses, neck scarves, proper safari hats and little round sunglasses. They looked just fantastic. And not too hot.

I always defer to trousers in case I’m required to do anything, but on a game drive you are generally not even allowed out of the truck let alone required to do anything, so god yes… why not a lovely loose skirt?

I know the chances of you needing to pack for a safari right now are very small, but here are my recommends for a superb safari outfit – should you suddenly have a safari dressing emergency you might remember I wrote this and refer back.

Palladium bootseveryone wears these out there, not just glamorous American girls. Last time I was doing anything major in Africa I needed climbing boots but they are a bit full-on for a 2-day safari. These boots are just right.

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Loose green dress – these are kind of what I mean. You might have something already in your wardrobe, or spot something even better. It makes perfect sense. With shorts there is all the leg-admin and trousers are too bloody hot

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Marvellous Safari hat by Fjallraven – and also because a hat that you can roll up and pack is the only hat you will not lose on holiday (or be arsed to even take).

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Natty round sunglasses

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Neutral scarf – this one is from Zara

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We stayed at the Sassaab Lodge in Samburu and got there from Nairobi with Yellow Wings.

I am hugely tempted to go back just in order to be wearing the right clothes.

Any questions? Drop me a line.


(Sorry one last thing…)

The Boden catalogue arrived and I was just going to have a huge bitch through it on my Stories, but then I actually read through it and, you know, there are some really great pieces in there.

I tend to have very little time for Boden with it’s mad prints and every goddamn thing coming with a tie waist, so it must be good if it has overcome my natural massive aversion. I am breaking my school holidays silence because for whatever reason Boden always sells out really fast so I want to alert you to the good stuff now.

Here are my favourites:

Love everything about this outfit, particularly the very now red-and-pink clashing skirt:

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Fabulous print on this top:

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And in another colourway on this dress:

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I have a couple of cream-coloured silky sleeveless shirts like this and they are incredibly useful in the summer:

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In case you don’t have a pair of bright white sneakers for this SS:

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You can never have too much navy:

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I really love this, with the gold button details and the side split. You could intimidate the shit out of some people in this sweater.

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Talking of intimidation, I have discovered the most marvellous social tactical weapon and that is the ferocious grin. Never much of a smiler in my youth, I approached most social interactions with cynicism and fear, never smiled and wondered why things never went well.

Now I approach anyone with the most huge and terrifying grin, especially if I think things might go badly (“Can I and my two fighting children in our dirty and wet rain gear please use your loo?”) I just smile it out.

The other night I went out for a drink with fellow survivors of my post-graduate diploma, noch, in “journalism” and my otherwise sensitive and always correct friend Anthony Dhanendran had picked the most terrifying sweaty boozer – sweat dripping off the ceiling, ladies – in the City.

I edged my way to the bar, trying not to touch anything as I hadn’t yet had my Typhoid or Hepatitis A jabs for Kenya, and had to buy a round, (because boys don’t half whine like little bitches if you don’t), off a man with tattoos on his face.

So I just smiled in a genuinely aggressive way and he was in fact very helpful. He even helped me choose a really nice Sauvignon Blanc, saying unexpectedly: “That is a beautiful wine.” It’s possible that he would have been that nice had I not done all that smiling but… I don’t know… I think it works.

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