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The Spike

Clothes, recipes, kids, interiors, London…

Month

April 2018

Beszt luggage everrr everrrrrrr

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Do you ever get that thing where you are kind of plonking along in your professional life, thinking that things are going well and it’s all kind of, you know… happening… and you don’t feel like you’re 24 and clueless any more.

But then something stops you in your tracks, some awful moment, and you suddenly feel like – OMG – I know nothing. I am a baby kitten. I am a drooling 6 month old. I barely know where my nose is.

That happened to me the other day.

I was standing about at the John Lewis press day like a watermelon, staring into space, and I saw my old friend – and co-founder of The Midult – Emilie McMeekan.

Emilie is really, really high energy – (like if fossil fuels run out and we’re all still arguing about nuclear power, I think we could just run some stuff off Emilie for a while) – and she was wearing this sassy little jacket and had her goddamn nails done.

“You’re a sensation!” she said.

“Am I?” I said. “That’s GREAT!”

“After this come to the Aisle 8 press day,” said Emilie, clutching my arm.

“What’s that?” I said, worrying it was a new dress designer I didn’t know about.

“It’s a PR company. They’re great, they’re a sensation” she declared. “You must meet Lauren.”

And I was like fuck, fuck, what’s going on? Who is this press woman who is so fantastic that she goes about using only her first name? Like a model. Shit, I know nothing. I know nobody. I’m fresh off the boat.

So I went along and I realised that this is where they are keeping all the good stuff. Cefinn, THREE GRACES HELLO? Kitri Studio and a load of other fabulous junk.

And among the vast treasure trove of excellent shit that Lauren, (who really is a sensation), had – was Away.

Away is basically the best luggage there is. Unless you have literally just bought a new set of luggage, throw all your luggage away and get this.

It is light as a feather. Each piece of luggage comes with a lifetime guarantee.

And I mean… I mean the colours… you can charge your phone in it… it comes in loads of different sizes. The wheels are… uhhnnnnnn with the way they twirl about… you can put little STICKERS ON IT… inside – okay listen, listen – inside it comes with a laundry bag for all your dirty clothes on the way back.

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You can get ones with outside pockets, you can get matching fucking items, which hook seamlessly over the telescopic handles of the case. You can get interior organising pouches.

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If Giles and I didn’t already have a smart set of hard case luggage from Rimowa, (also good, but not as good as this), I would buy us all – kids too – one each.

So I cannot justify getting myself any of this, but someone has got to have it, and it might as well be you.

It’s not even very expensive. This is not an ad.

Guys, what can I say? Quite simply: it’s a SENSATION.

Dear Meghan…

Did I ever say congratulations on your engagement? I can’t remember, I was really busy sticking pins into a voodoo doll of you in an envious rage doing yoga around that time.

Anyway, look, I’m kind of a big deal in the UK – that’s the first thing you need to know – and so I’m probably the best person available to give you a few TIPS and TRICKS on a) getting married in the UK b) being a wife in the UK c) living in the UK generally.

Ready?…

1 When you are arranging your hen night/weekend, make sure it is somewhere really far away and expensive. Invite very random, dull female relatives of Harry’s and also your PA. Make everyone do something really awful like wear giant penis costumes and run down Las Ramblas.

2 When you are arranging your wedding seating plan, make sure there is a “fun” table so that everyone not on it feels left out; also have a “singles” table full of rejects, so that everyone on it wants to commit suicide before they’ve even sat down. If you want to massively offend and piss someone off, sit them next to a 13 year-old relative while all their friends are on the “fun” table.

3 When you are arranging your wedding list, you will end up having it at John Lewis because everyone will sneer if you have it anywhere else. Be sure to include some insanely expensive gift on there for a laugh, which someone will then buy you and you realise that you actually don’t really need a £600 camera and have all the natural visual aesthetic instinct of a stoned koala bear.

4 Weddings are funerals for friendships. Take a good look around the room because you won’t see most of these assholes ever again.

5 Enjoy yourself! Everyone is on your side. Even if we’re sticking pins into a voodoo doll of you, it’s only because we really, really love you.

6 Try not to get pregnant on your honeymoon because it means that all your wedding gifts will arrive when you are crawling around on the floor retching with morning sickness and you won’t really appreciate them. Some of them you will have to return because even the sight of them makes you feel like puking for weeks afterwards.

7 DON’T GIVE THE KID A WEIRD NAME. I know it’ll be 40th in line to the throne but just don’t. “Louis” is just about okay. We don’t like that kind of thing in this country and will never forgive you for it.

8 Learn how to roast a chicken, it’s pretty much all we eat here.

9 Set up an Ocado account.

10 Buy rainwear

 

Espadrilles

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$129 which is about £92

I am extremely disappointed to see that the range of smart platform espadrilles on the high street is really limited this year.

I saw some okay ones in Aldo but they had diamante stuck all round the sides and I was like, god almighty do I look like Dolly Parton? (I mean, I should be so lucky. But I don’t.)

I have seen some at Atelier Alienor, which look really great, but I think they ship from the US and isn’t that just the most goddawful ballache?

Does anyone know more about Aterlier Alienor?

Alternatively, there are these from Manebi, via Net a Porter

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Aren’t they cute. Yes okay £105 seems insane to spend on espadrilles, but for me, there isn’t a more useful shoe in the summer – I need a slip-on, non-heeled CLOSED TOE option that isn’t a trainer.

Any other bids on plain platform espadrilles with no sodding diamantes? (Must be platform, normal soles do nothing for my slightly stumpy legs and uncharming ankles).

I’m on an espadrilles hunt. #espadrilles.

Have a great weekend! Unless you’ve got kids under 5, in which case: good luck.

Primer

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Basically how it works is that if I get more than 2 questions about anything, I post about it. Two confused readers for me equals about 10 who are confused but don’t know or don’t want to admit it.

Thus: primer confusion.

Many of you will have dismissed primer it as something that those terrifying beauty bloggers on YouTube use in stage 1 of their stage 4,000, 40 minute, interminable unbearably boring video in order to transform themselves into literally another person.

But in fact primer is entirely useable on its own and is very handy in the spring and summer or on holiday, when you don’t want to be wearing a load of make-up because maybe a bit sweaty, but you also want to just, you know, blur your face about a bit.

The best primer available legally in this country (according to all the research I’ve done, which is quite extensive) is Photo Finish by Smashbox. You moisturise and then apply the primer and then wait about 30 seconds and your face will just look, you know, better.

Stick some eyeliner on and you’re away. (Or if you’re me, stick some eyeliner on. Then some more. Then a bit more for luck.)

Any other recommendations or comments, please feel free to leave a note in the handy box below.

Errrrrr…

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OMG. I just saw this nightdress in Selfridges the other day by Three Graces and I feel a bit sweaty and vomity at how gorgeous it is. Like, I don’t know what they’ve made it out of but it’s like cotton but also satin. And also DREAMS.

This is £353 so beyond all of us, I fear. This is just a sort of helpless cri de coeur.

 

The Spike has been reading…

… some books!

And here are the best three so far. I was going to list all the books I’ve read in the last three months, even the ones that I thought were so-so – but then I realised that I just wanted to boast about how much I’d been reading. I mean… yes that is how pathetic I am.

But I pulled it back from the brink of assholishness and cut it down to my top three recent reads SO FAR.

There will be more as I seem to be on some kind of unstoppable reading-jag at the moment. These three here are all quite similar books, but the good thing about that is that if you like one, you’ll like them all.

The Nix, Nathan Hill

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This is long and requires moments of determination to work your way past a few patchy bits, but on the whole a really magnificent book, atmospheric and appealing with Allen Ginsberg making a fully-realised cameo.

Bright, precious days, Jay McInerney

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The latest in the series of McInerney’s books about Corrine and Russell “Crash” Calloway – a sort of modern Fitzgerald but better.

The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney 

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Four siblings argue over an inheritance in New York. Totally brilliant.

For more book recommendations, search “The Spike has been reading” on this blog.

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:

UNFOLLOW.

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 (BEWARE on ShopBop of extra taxes and COD horror snakes – reader Trish – see comments – was stung badly). 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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