more hair.

Hello friends! As you can tell from my recent photos, about 6 weeks ago I got my shaggy hair cut into a layered bob. This has been a really pleasant change for me- I love the way it frames my face, I love the way it shows off statement earrings, I love how well it seems to go with every look. It means that I’ve had to figure out new ways of styling my hair. I’ve always been very anti-styling, because I am lazy and like funnelling all my attention into my makeup, but I’ve found this haircut to be extremely easy to style with little effort. A lot of people have asked how I do my hair now, and I’ve tried to answer in Instagram comments and brief tweets but this feels like an easier way of explaining what I do to my hair!

Here’s a good picture of what my hair looks like now, as you can’t always tell from a front-on selfie. As you can see, it’s just kind of textured, wavy, messy.

So! What do I use? I actually use products that I got from… of all places, Simply Be! Everyone knows Simply Be has loads of plus size fashion, but I feel like a lot of people don’t know they also have… loads of other stuff! Including hair styling products and electrical hair styling stuff. After washing my hair with Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Shampoo  (I use this and nothing else- I stopped conditioning my hair this year because I couldn’t find a single conditioner that didn’t leave my hair greasy and heavy, and this shampoo is really doing the trick), I spray on the heat protectant spray from this Toni & Guy set. This set is doubly useful because the bag it comes in unrolls to make a heatproof mat which I set my straighteners on while I’m using them.

Then I blast it dry with a hairdryer, and get to work with my straighteners. This method does not work amazingly on clean hair, so I like to spray in some salt spray to make it less sleek and allow it to hold better.

I use the GHD IV straighteners, also from Simply Be, which have nice wide plates, unlike the straighteners I had when my hair was very short, which were basically mini straighteners and too hard to use now I have thick shoulder-length hair.

In terms of method, I watched quite a lot of YouTube videos to figure out how to get that wavy, textured look. I’m going to tell you my best methods and advice here:

I think those are all my tips that I’ve gathered so far. I hope they’re helpful, but if not I would just do what I did and watch lots of YouTube tutorials so you get a composite of lots of different people’s tips until you find a strategy or a way of explaining that makes sense to you. Sorry I haven’t made a video! It’s just not my thing and I lack the aptitude and the resources. Please feel free to tweet me if you have any specific questions!

power dressing.

I’ve loved everything about Premme since it started this summer: I love the campaign shoots, I love the models, I love the designs, I love their social media, and I am so happy for Gabi and Nicolette that they have created something so powerful and wonderful. When I saw the Sol dress from Premme, I knew it appealed to every part of the way I dress.  ‘Wearable statement clothing’ is basically how I would define my style and this dress fits into that super well- I want to stand out but I don’t want my clothes to be too fussy or difficult.

I wore this dress for a meeting about the publicity for my book, Plus, which is a coffee table book of plus size style (available to preorder now if you so desire!), and then for dinner with my friend Elizabeth, and I was absolutely blown away by the number of compliments I got from people I know and people I didn’t know. Someone in the lift at Penguin Random House, another diner at the place we ate dinner, a shop assistant in Space NK. People were drawn to the beautiful marigold colour- it’s unusual, it stands out, and I feel like the colour really suits me. I love it.

Something I loved about Premme was being able to see clothes on models of three sizes. Not every item is shot in all three sizes, but there are always at least two, which means it was really easy to judge which size would be best for me based on my body size and shape in relation to the models. I have this dress and the green glitter skirt in size 2, and I’m a size 20-22. The sizes are 0/1/2/3/4/5/6/ and it has a helpful and accurate sizing guide as well as a range of models, which makes it quite easy to make a good decision. The size 6 corresponds to a UK size 32, so it’s more inclusive than most mainstream plus size brands, let alone independent brands.

 

This dress also looks amazing worn as a jacket: it’s not too cold in London today so I’m wearing it over a high-neck sweater and it just feels so great.

Dress: Premme
Boots: Evans

I paired it with my brilliant pink earrings I got at Next at the end of the summer which I felt was a great colour combination with the yellow. And on my lips is Nars Powermatte in Starwoman, which I had to hunt high and low for because it was sold out in lots of places in central London. I think it was worth it.

hair.

Hello friends! This is the first of two posts on the subject of hair. The second will be more frivolous and fun but here is a post about the literal bane of my life.

If you asked me ‘what is the first thing you could change about your appearance?’ I would probably say I would like super-white, straight, Hollywood teeth. But it wouldn’t really be true: my teeth are fine. I don’t think about them much. The real answer, which I would never tell you because I find it so profoundly troubling, would be ‘I would never grow a single hair between my neck and my eyebrows’.

It’s not a secret that I have a lot of body hair- you can often see it in photos I choose to post online. I don’t shave my underarms, I maybe shave my legs twice a year, my forearms are covered in dark hair. But that’s not all: I have hair everywhere. Basically anywhere it is physically possible to have hair, I have it there. I would probably go as far as to say that the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet are the only places that I’ve never found dark hair.

The underarm hair, the leg hair, I can deal with, and have actually embraced. I like the way underarm hair looks on me, I don’t feel like it undermines my appearance or compromises a feeling of looking good. The hair in other weird places, I basically just ignore or shave every so often. So far, so good.

The face hair, though? It ruins my life. I know it sounds like hyperbole, but if you fully understood (which I will probably never enable anyone to understand because I will never show you) just how much thick, dark hair I could have on my face if I didn’t keep it under control, you might get it. On the very odd occasion I’ve spoken about it, people have reacted with disbelief when I gesture towards a man with stubble to try to demonstrate how much hair I would have if I didn’t remove it. Even typing this post is making me feel panicky at the thought of acknowledging what I actually look like and how much I hate it- it makes me feel weak that there’s something about my appearance that causes me so much anxiety and shame.

It doesn’t matter why it’s there. I was tested for PCOS as a teenager and it was inconclusive. My dad has a lot of thick dark body hair so it’s more likely to be that, but whatever the cause, I’m stuck with it. Very pale skin and very thick dark hair.

I’ve been in the world for 28 years and there are a lot of things I’ve come to terms with about the way I look, but this will never be one of them. I just can’t, and it makes me feel vain but I just hate it so much. I used to shave it, every other day. I had to: that’s how fast it would show up again. But then (and maybe hormonal contraception made it worse) it was resurfacing after a day and a half, which basically meant I had to shave it every day so I was never in public with dark hair. It was taking over my life, and I hated it.

I actually hated it so much that finally, this year, I decided I had to try something. I’d had a course of laser hair removal at a clinic when I was 17 but didn’t carry on the top-up appointments after the course finished because I moved cities temporarily. I wasn’t particularly convinced it had worked- going once a month or so just didn’t feel like it was making a huge difference. And in the 10 years between getting the initial course at a clinic and this year, it got so much worse. So I used some money I’d saved and bought an at-home IPL machine. I did research (there are a lot of models out there, and many by the same brand) and asked around on social media and finally made a decision and coughed up.

I use a Philips Lumea Face & Body, in a model that isn’t available anymore but I’ve linked to the closest currently-available model. If I followed the instructions I would use it once every couple of weeks, but I went rogue and just used it every time I had to shave. At first this was my normal amount, so I was literally using the Lumea every couple of days for several weeks or even months, but over time, I found that I could go for days and days without shaving, and when I did feel like I had to, there was hardly any hair there to shave.

I’ve been using it since January and while I still feel like I need to use it, and still need to shave the hair that’s left in order to use it, it’s really been a huge change for the better.

The way I would explain its effect on me, someone with an extreme amount of very strong, tenacious dark hair, is that it’s reduced 80% of the hair by 100%, and the remaining 20% is about 70% gone. There are really only a few patches that are still hanging in there, ruining my life, and they’re generally on areas of my face like my jawline that are curved, so it’s harder to shave them right down to the root, and harder to get the Lumea fully flat against the area.

It’s always said that laser hair removal works best on people with pale skin and dark hair, which is theoretically me, and I think it’s just testament to how thick and aggressive my hair is that even after 11 months of using laser hair removal on my face multiple times a week, it’s not totally gone.

I guess I wanted to write this post to properly confront the only thing I truly hate about my appearance, the thing I will always hate, but also to say that using the IPL machine has seriously improved things. It’s really, really expensive, but kind of the way people feel about laser eye surgery, it can make such a huge difference that long-term it kind of works out.

Anyway, solidarity with other femmes who are extremely self-conscious or self-loathing because of their facial hair. I wish I was strong enough to just get over it, but I’m not, and using the laser machine has really made a difference to my self-esteem.

jewel toned.

Around this time of year, every year, the phrase ‘jewel tones’ starts cropping up in people’s fashion vocabulary. It’s a time of year when you want to buy pieces in rich, deep shades in luxurious fabrics, and I’m no different. I wore this outfit yesterday when I needed to look together, but not too done. This coat has been my favourite purchase of the season (so thank you to my mum who alerted me to its existence)- I get so many compliments on it, it’s a perfect fit, the perfect weight, perfect pockets. I just adore it. I paired it with my beloved Katy dress from Universal Standard, where, frankly, I would happily buy my whole wardrobe if I could. On my feet are this kind gift from Evans, where basically all my feminine shoes come from. I was wary because I never wear anything with even a slight heel because the balls of my feet feel like they’re burning after a few hours, so I put a pair of trainers in my bag in case things got bad, but nope. This beautiful tapestry-esque pair of boots were perfectly comfortable all day long.

Coat: Mango
Dress: Universal Standard
Boots: Evans

And I’m wearing my all-time favourite earrings, which I wear in one colour or another most days anyway, but had to wear yesterday because I was having lunch with my friend Maartje who designed them when she was a jewellery designer at H&M!

mini magic.

I always think pinafore dresses look so cute on people, but every time I wear one the straps keep falling down and I just end up getting annoyed. This Joanie one is perfect for me because it has wide shoulders so can’t fall down! My problems are solved and I am now the one feeling cute in a pinafore-style dress. Today I’m wearing it over this high-neck floral blouse, but have visions of pairing it with my turtleneck sweaters, breton tops and printed shirts.

Pinafore: Joanie
Blouse: Joanie
Shoes: Clarks

My lipstick is Urban Decay liquid lipstick in Time, and is the final day of Liptober so I will be doing a roundup post of my favourite shades ASAP!