The Lipstick Conundrum

A couple of years ago I met up with some of my old girlfriends for dinner. I hadn’t seen them in ages and wanted to look my best. It was the middle of winter and as my skin is naturally pale and hadn’t seen anything resembling sunshine in months, I reached for the fake tan. I swear by St.Tropez. If you apply it wearing gloves and have exfoliated etc beforehand, it can give you a very natural looking tan, which usually boosts my confidence.

But …later on that evening, after a few glasses of wine, one of the girls took a photo of the group. When we looked at the photo somebody commented “Helen looks SO brown!” I looked at the photo and yes, I did look very brown, no, orange! My eyebrows were even darkened by the stuff. I looked like an oompa loompa!

I think the problem was this – I had put on the tan on the morning of the event and as such, while I thought I looked naturally sun kissed in a “I’ve just popped back from the South of France” kind of way, the tan had actually had time to develop throughout the day and by the time the photo was taken I was a little overdone. It was then that I vowed to only use the fake tan a night or even two nights before an event, allowing enough time to wash the stuff off and for it to look natural.

So, once I accepted my natural paleness, I decided to embrace it! I love a strong red lipstick on others, especially those, like Dita Von Teese with beautifully pale complexions. The result is so retro and glamorous. So I figured I may as well try vamping it up myself. I went to MAC to talk to one of their makeup artists since usually I’m actually a bit scared of lipstick and only ever shove on a little of their Politely Pink (seriously, that’s what it’s called). The very helpful lady picked out a fantastic matt colour called “Ruby Woo”. Woah! Very red! We put it on and I was all lips! I liked it though.

Feeling slightly self conscious I wandered out the store, towards Pret a Manger. It was lunchtime. But, after tucking into my sandwich I nipped to the loo. There was lipstick on my chin and a weird patchy bit in the middle of my lips where most of the lipstick had been removed. It was hideous! No wonder I had some funny looks when leaving Pret.

There is obviously much to be learned about the fine art of wearing lipstick. If I go for gloss it will always, I mean always, be a windy day and I end up with my hair stuck to my lips and with bright lipstick you clearly can’t eat anything (is this why French women are so thin?)

What do you think? Any tips?

 

 

 

 

The Investment Coat?

 

 

As you might have read back in summer, I was in need of a new winter coat this year and having been inspired by all the beautifully fitted coats last year with belts to cinch the waist (including a rather glorious Burberry Prorsum number), I went in search of said coat. Now, my budget does not quite stretch to Burberry (whose does these days?), but I was prepared to spend a decent amount as an “investment”. I mean think about it, if you live in the UK or somewhere with a similar climate – where most of the year it’s, let’s face it, pretty cold and miserable, it makes sense to buy a decent coat because you’re going to be wearing it a lot!

But the trouble was, which one? I knew I needed something to keep me warm, something perfectly fitted (not easy, as I am tres petite) and something three quarter length that would look smart for “dressed” occasions. However, when searching through the shops I was confronted with:

  • Capes – beautifully cut and great for every now and then, but wouldn’t your arms get cold and wouldn’t you have to either; a) buy a pair of snazzy long leather gloves, or b) constantly consider what you are wearing under the cape to ensure your arms don’t clash (i.e. no Christmas jumpers)

 

  • Leather Biker Jackets - I have wanted one of these for years.* They are great for Spring and Autumn and look great either with jeans or skirts and dresses but wouldn’t quite battle a cold January morning. Nevertheless, let me just try on this beautiful Whistles leather jacket. Ahhhh, so soft, so beautifully cut, drool! But no, it will not keep me warm, and besides, if I am “investing” in a winter coat, I can’t afford it!

 

  • Faux Fur - would definitely keep me warm and would be great for Christmas parties…. but is it classic enough for day to day? …..Maybe.

 

  • Military – Ah so stylish! This could be it …. if only I could find one that didn’t dwarf me. I found one in Zara that fitted pretty well but the buttons looked cheap (sorry Zara, you have served me well, but not this time)

 

  • The Cocoon – Looks great with skinny jeans to balance out the lack of shape on top** but wear with anything else and you are at risk of looking like a blob

 

After all this, I found a perfect and affordable single breasted, three quarter length camel coat from Mango. (It looks a bit like something Del Boy would wear but I’m prepared to overlook that.) So affordable in fact that I decided to “invest” in that leather jacket after all!
What kind of coat will you be investing in this winter?
* The reason I have not bought one until now is because my friend Kate bought one a couple of years ago in the sale from All Saints. It is to die for and I have never found one to match it, until now.
** This is on most people but as I am petite and have very short legs, I look like someone who has dressed up as a Christmas bauble at the office party.

 

The iPhone Addict

When the iPhone first came out, our friend Q*, who is madly into his gadgets, was the first person I knew to have one. We’d go to the cinema and while we were waiting on the film to start, he’d sit there checking the football scores while the rest of us gabbed about our week…… I put it down to novelty.

 

Then, a little while later, Chris (my husband) got an iPhone. He works for himself so it’s really useful for him in terms of checking his diary and keeping up with emails and phone calls while out and about. But then he grew slightly obsessed (and annoying), laying in bed at night looking at his phone and watching youtube videos while I was trying to sleep …. “seriously, I am going to throw that phone out of the bloody window!!”

 

But then, once I started out as an illustrator, I could also see how useful it would be to have an iPhone. I was chatting with my sister in law about it and she very casually offered to give (yes, give!) me her iPhone when she upgraded to the newest model. Wow, so generous – I was thrilled! and yes, I too am now slightly obsessed. First thing in the morning and last thing at night, what do I do? you’ve guessed it! Etsy, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter …. not to mention email, the occasional ( or not so occasional) online mooch in my favourite store.

 

The result of all this is RSI in my right thumb (seriously!). I’m sure it’s not good for my brain either as I find I can’t sleep if I check my phone too late at night and I definitely didn’t feel like I missed anything when I only looked at my phone every couple of days to see if I had any calls when we were on holiday in Italy this summer. If anything, not using my phone helped me to de-stress a lot quicker.

 

It has to stop!

 

Anyone else got a similar addiction? Or at least some advice on how to use an iPhone in moderation? Please!

 

*Obviously not his real name. I went to see Skyfall last night and it seemed a suitably techie name. I’m not feeling very inventive today…. great film though.

 

 

 

Chanel No 5 and that Brad Ad!

In the lead up to Christmas we were hit with the inevitable barrage of perfume adverts during our favourite programs. Seems reasonable, given that perfume is a “relatively” inexpensive gift. I’m sure the festive season helps many fashion houses’ profits tremendously in this respect and Chanel No.5 is one of my favourite perfumes of all time. Classic, classy and elegant. Like a Chanel suit, it will never go out of style, but unlike a Chanel suit, most people can afford the perfume, even if it is a bit of a treat.

I also (usually) love Chanel’s perfume adverts. In the past they usually have a narrative of some kind and a romance! They just seem so…..well, so French! One of my faves of the past was the previous no 5 ad featuring Audrey Tatou searching for her mystery love, with Billie Holiday’s melodic tones in the background. Like I said, French, romantic and with a narrative. Perfect.

But then the first time I saw the new No.5 advert, the one in which Brad Pitt is shot in black and white and recites a monologue directly to the camera, well, I wasn’t sure what to think?

I like Brad Pitt a lot. He’s a brilliant actor and if you think about it, I guess it was really quite innovative of Chanel to choose a man as the face of a woman’s perfume. It’s never been done before. But I think it’s the fact that there’s no real narrative and a lot of the romance and ALL of the Frenchness has gone. Maybe all the budget went on Brad’s fee (dare I say it?!), or perhaps, more likely, the director felt Brad’s monologue would have more impact if it was stripped back and direct to camera?

Perhaps I just don’t like change?!

What do you think about it?

 

 

 

What is it with Geek Chic?

Helen Simms Geek Chic Illustration

 

Is it just me that’s obsessed with Geek Chic?

It’s one of those looks (like 1950s glamour) that I never seem to get bored of …. maybe it’s the allure of wearing spectacles and seeming super intelligent or maybe it’s just that there’s something very sexy about covering up – wearing blouses buttoned up right to the top and wearing our hair a la Zooey Deschannel in New Girl. I am, incidentally, thinking of getting my hair cut like hers next time I’m due for a trim, but then, that’s another story….

Burberry in the Snow … at least I might be prepared!

Burberry Fashion Illustration by Helen Simms

So …. when putting together my new website/blog, I started looking through my illustrations, deciding what to add to get me started. I created this one back in winter and it was inspired by an especially beautiful and what looked like ubber flattering (on the six foot gorgeous model that is) winter outfit as shown on the Burberry catwalk at London Fashion Week earlier this year. I absolutely love Burberry and though, for now, it is somewhat out of my price range, this image and the images I found of Burberry’s glorious winter range got me thinking about what I am going to wear this Autumn to stay warm. This may sound mad – given that it is currently mid July and I am about to embark on a summer holiday to Southern Italy later this week and the fact that the British weather has FINALLY started to resemble something a little more like SUMMER – woohoo!

However, when I went shopping last week to snap up some last minute summer clothing deals ahead of my holiday (there are sales everywhere!), I was disappointed NOT to be able to buy myself the kind of frilly/pretty bikini that would do my petite frame a thousand favours. All of my size had sold out! Moreover, I couldn’t help but notice all the invitingly new looking Autumn/Winter stock already available in store.

I have therefore made a deal with myself to look for a new and flattering winter coat early this year – before all my size sells out! It might not be Burberry – but perhaps I’ll look in Reiss, before the Duchess of Cambridge decides to wear something stunning from there and then that sells out too!

xoxo

Sienna Miller

Sienna Miller

Ah .. to pull off a headband!

Fashion Illustration by Helen Simms