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October 16, 2018

Book Club No. 17



Hello lovely folk, today I'm back with a book review post for you all. This is an all-round "good books" review which is fab as that's not always the case for Book Club but, I've read some great things recently. If you're a fellow fan of graphic novels/comics then you'll be pleased to know, I've got you covered in this post too! So let's get into the reviews:

Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Oh man you guys, where do I even start with this? If you've been a reader for a while, you will know that I'm a *huge* fan of this series and really enjoyed the first and second books a lot so it's probably no surprise that the third instalment also really floated my boat.

I'm not going to explain the back story or general plot too much as I already have here, but this is such a great third and "final" book. I say "final" because it's been recently announced that Ransom Riggs is actually releasing the 4th book so I'm mega excited, but the 4th book is the start of a new trilogy set in the United States rather than the UK. This book is still following the trip in London that the children are going through to find their beloved ymbryne, Miss Peregrine, after she is stolen away along with the other ymbrynes. Library of Souls goes down the more fantasy route whereas, despite the main characters being magical with amazing varying powers that defy logic and all odds, the other books are set in more realistic environments and circumstances. Library of Souls however spends the majority of the story in a peculiar-only zone/town and part of me feels that a small reason for that is this book can get dark and the magic kind of softens the blow.

The gang that you follow throughout the series get separated for a lot of this book which I completely understand why as it fits the narrative and plot, but I was kind of disappointed because the group as a whole work so well together that I often felt like I was missing characters: Enoch's sarcasm or Bronwyn's care and consideration mainly. Despite this though, it's a great way to explore Jacob's - the main character - thoughts and feelings towards things seemingly coming to a close and him dealing with how much power, influence, and friendship he has built. It gets quite dark as the violence is stepped up a notch and Riggs describes this really well by keeping it suitable for young adults but also making it suitably harrowing at the same time. New characters were introduced into this third book too and I was not mad about it - Sharon is a fucking great character and I hope he has a little cameo in the next trilogy. Overall, the book did a fine job bringing this epic adventure to a close without dulling the opportunity for future escapades and although I would still say the second book (Hollow City) was my favourite, this one still gripped me and had me guessing throughout whilst also turning each page hoping and praying that my favourite characters wouldn't meet their end.

The one problem I had with it, that I weirdly didn't have with the other two books, was the fact that Riggs uses old photographs throughout the book to give you an idea of what particular characters look like. He has stated before that he does this as he's been influenced by these old photos from garage/yard sales and wanted to use them in his stories. Obviously, some of them have been altered to match his characters as well, but it just didn't seem to flow as well in this book. Sometimes it came across as if characters were just included momentarily as some sort of filler just so the photo would make sense, rather than them being central to the narrative. This isn't something that ruins the story at all, it's just something that distracted me as a reader from the plot at times which is a shame. However like I said, I recommend this book and the whole trilogy very highly. Grab your own copy here for £5.58



Injection Volume 2 by Warren Ellis
Somehow, it's been two years since I read the first Injection volume and boy oh boy am I pleased I've got back to this story. I'll quickly give you some backstory: Injection focuses on five specialist individuals who are brought together by the British government to theorize about human culture and why society is progressing and changing the way that it is in the 21st century. They then create an artificial intelligence that is a mix of shamanism and technology which essentially poisons the world in response to their theories and hypotheses. Injection really begins when the group has disbanded and then are being brought back together to try and stop the havoc the intelligence is starting to reek on the planet.

The second volume obviously explores some of the main characters a lot more which is great, and also develops the story so you can begin to understand more about Injection/the poison/the artificial intelligence and how it has grown and learned things to develop itself. This second instalment was just as gripping as the first and had some excellent scenes of humour which I always feel steps up graphic novels that little bit extra as they can jump from funny to serious in a page turn or strip. The artwork in Injection is also really good and fits the genre and mood of the comic well. After reading this second volume, I feel that Injection is a bit of a slow burn overall despite the first two collections being really hard-hitting with twists in the plot, but generally speaking, I feel like it's all building to a huge crescendo at the end which will be epic (or that's what I'm hoping at least). If you like comics that have a sci-fi feel but with elements of superstition, horror, and mythology thrown in there for good measure, you are bound to love this. Volume 3 is also out now and Volume 4 will be released next month so get on it quick! Get your paperback copy for £11.78 here



The Knife of Never Letting Go: The First Novel of Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness
I know I said it earlier, but honestly, I don't know where to start with this one, gang. I got this book (along with the next two in the trilogy) from Matt for my birthday and holy shit. I didn't know what to expect, but it's fair to say, it's ended in love after this first book. Patrick Ness wrote one of my favourite books that made me ball like a baby in public the first time I read it, so I was so excited to get stuck into The Knife of Never Letting Go. This series follows a young boy named Todd Hewitt who lives in a backwater town called Prentisstown. This town is on New World - a planet which some humans decided to move to and colonise as they wanted to get back to a simple way of living - and to Todd's knowledge, it's the only town which has survived after the war with the aliens who lived here called the Spackle.

Prentisstown is unique as towns go as it consists on solely men and boys who are taught from a young age that the greatest goal in life is becoming a man; something which little Todd Hewitt is a matter of a days away from and he is dying for it to happen as he is the last boy in the town to enter manhood. Another major factor in Prentisstown is that no one's thoughts are true feelings are entirely theirs to keep to themselves because of the Noise. At the start of the story, Todd explains that the Noise was a weapon the Spackle unleashed on the humans which means that their thoughts are constantly active and visible/audible for all those nearby to see and hear. It has colours, it can be hard to control if you are feeling emotional at all, and it means that the centre of town for instance, can give you a real bad head as there's never any silence. Todd lives on a farm with his adoptive guardians - Ben and Cillian - who promised Todd's deceased parents that they would care for him.

When Todd discovers something in the swamp, he can't keep his wandering mind quiet and his Noise lets slip what he found and his whole life snowballs into escape, danger, and confusion. When I first started reading this book, I instantly thought "oh no" as Todd's character and many of the Prentisstown men's speech is written with an accent: so "you" is written "yer"... you get the idea. I usually hate this as I'm a slow reader as it is, but having elements like this in books makes it even more difficult for me to rattle through them but surprisingly, I grew to love it in this book as it gave me so much more of an idea of Todd as a character. I don't really want to say much more about the plot because it will give away all the surprise and suspense, but this book is amazing for creating drama and leaving you constantly on a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter (including the last chapter - goddamn you, Ness). The characters in the story are so easy to picture in the mind and you get really attached to some whilst others you have a real distain for and it makes ploughing through the story all that more enjoyable.

If you're someone who usually overlooks YA fiction, you *have* to give this book a shot because I feel that Ness is such a talented writer that he puts some adult fiction writers to shame. He creates such a harrowing, dark, terrifying, yet empathetic and beautiful story that I'd be surprised if anyone said they didn't like this at all. I can't wait to dive into book two of trilogy, I'm just building myself up to it because it's a long one. You honestly have to grab this book - it's only £5.73 here




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October 09, 2018

Shane Dawson x Jake Paul - Sociopath Stigma



Gang, I have some thoughts and I just needed to get them out. I've aired some of my thoughts thus far with people in real life, via Twitter, but there's just *so* much I want to say, it made sense to get it all out right here where I ramble best. So let's talk about the current Shane Dawson series with Jake Paul.

Before I really start getting into this, I have to note here that I'm a big fan of Shane Dawson - I've watched his content off and on for years now, I'm a subscriber of his, and I just generally enjoy his content whether it's him just vlogging with his friends or his conspiracy videos - I enjoy the majority of the content he produces. I always view him as quite a genuine, down to earth character and I've always admired the fact that he confronts any criticism well and will apologise for anything said or done that hasn't sat right with people. Shane recently started to create little mini-series in which he would talk to other YouTube stars to get down to the nitty gritty in their lives. I first got sucked into it all when he met up with grav3yardgirl and then, of course, the very popular series with Jeffree Star. Shane has a knack for comforting people and seemingly making them at ease enough to share anything and everything with him, often leaving him quite emotional and viewers like myself also feeling like you've hopped on an emotional rollercoaster. This is where some concern started when the first indication that Jake Paul would be involved in one of these mini-series. People just didn't want it.

Shane received a lot of backlash upon mentioning any sort of collab with Jake Paul. Many fans of Shane said they didn't want to be left feeling sorry for Jake as he's not a nice person, they didn't want to see Shane giving Jake another platform to potentially build an audience or views, and many fans were adamant that if the series happened, they would be unsubscribing from his channel. So it's fair to say people were pretty heated about this before it even took off. I personally don't know much about Jake Paul or Logan Paul - the majority of what I knew before this series started is that both brothers create content I'm certainly not interested in; content that seems very self-invested but not in a positive way, it's about flashing the cash and a carefree attitude because "I've got money so the rules don't apply to me", and making monumentally bad decisions and thus, setting really bad examples for their mostly young impressionable audiences - of course though, this is just my opinion of it and at complete face value. I'm talking about both brothers here because they're very rarely talked about as separate entities - especially now, almost everything comes back to Logan Paul and that straight up fucking ridiculous Suicide Forest video.



But let's get on with the point of this post. Shane went ahead with the series despite the initial backlash and honestly? I didn't think I would find myself watching it because of how little interest I have in Jake Paul. However (and this is a big however), I'm completely invested in the series now. Shane's channel has some great edited videos - he is very very clever with the choice of music, the shock factor, the entertainment, the fact that he's a very likeable person - and this series definitely reflects all of that but, not necessarily in the best way. The first thing I noticed about the series that was a little 'off' for me was the fact that Shane heavily focuses on the idea of Jake being a sociopath - right off the bat. The focus on this is one thing, but the fact that video is edited in almost a horror story-style way is very off-putting. From the very first video, I had a problem with the fact that 'sociopath' was thrown around a great deal despite Shane himself not really being able to explain what that means. It's a word that is just thrown out there at the start of the series and it instantly holds so much stigma. It's something that Shane creates fear around and uses as a "dun dun duuun!" aspect in the videos.

It might sound silly to some, but I probably wouldn't have been so instantly riled up about it if Shane had approached it with more care and consideration. Even if he had sat there chatting to the camera/Andrew/his viewers at the start but had pulled up a google "what is a sociopath?" search and read it aloud; even if he had done just that I would have felt more comfortable. But he didn't and naturally, some folk got pissed off about it. So that brings me onto the biggest issue I have: the therapist.

In the second video, The Dark Side of Jake Paul, Shane sits down with a friend and certified therapist, Kati Morton. Kati discusses the symptoms of this Antisocial Personality Disorder and lemme tell you, I was not okay with how it was done. Kati has her own YouTube channel and whilst I think that her creating content that openly discusses mental health, particularly from a professional, educated level is great to see on the platform, how she discussed this particular disorder was not okay. Repeatedly throughout the discussion with Shane, Kati refers to the symptoms of this disorder as being "icky", "gross", and "creepy". Now, I feel like this may have been because she states that sociopaths wouldn't typically care what anyone thinks of them - so therefore by default they probably wouldn't care about her saying that right? Wrong. Discussing any individual in that sort of demeaning way is wrong, especially when your whole career revolves around helping such individuals in a sensitive, non-judgemental, neutral way.

My major gripe with this was the fact that Kati, as a professional, should not have used those words to describe anything to do with an Antisocial Personality or Behaviour Disorder. Whilst on the one hand I could play devil's advocate and say that she was just talking to a friend and therefore it might have just came out at the end of the day, she's still a licensed therapist and should never speak about anyone or any symptoms in that sort of a derogatory way. I feel that what was said shouldn't have even come out of her mouth - even if the camera wasn't recording. It's completely unprofessional to talk about any mental illness that way but considering this was about one that has so much stigma attached to it already makes it all the more irresponsible. At one point, Kati shares the statistic that 1 in 25 people are sociopaths. This statistic is then tossed around in such a way that is scaremongering; as if there's lots of monsters roaming around amongst us in society. It's almost laughable that symptoms of this disorder are discussed in a way that makes it sound like we're living in The Purge in real life.



This, for me, is where the accountability really needs to be stepped up on Shane's channel. Since that video, Shane has included disclaimers at the start of videos stating that he doesn't mean to accuse anyone, label anyone, and no one should be trying to self-diagnose or diagnose others based on what has been talked about in this series. The problem with this is, it's all a little too late. As I mentioned before, I always appreciate that Shane will answer criticism and that he will hold his hands up and apologise for things he's said or done but I'm just not getting that vibe this time around. Of course the disclaimers are needed and he can't rewind time to erase past video mistakes but the disclaimers are somewhat empty for me. The main reason for me feeling like this is the fact one of the first things Shane has said in response to the backlash is "I've used footage of friends in the clips mentioning sociopaths!". It just sounds like a weak version of those comments you hear like, "some of my best friends are gay!" "some of my best friends are black!" when someone has fucked up majorly. In the fifth video, we see Kati Morton state that she usually works with eating disorders in her day-to-day career and thus, Antisocial Personality Disorders such as this are not her strong suit - again, if this had been discussed more at the start of the series, it might have helped.

Having now watched the first five videos in this eight-video series, I can say that the majority of the series has been entertaining and eyeopening. It's almost been a YouTube reality show sort of level of drama. I don't watch any soaps on TV or any reality shows, but I imagine the *drama* on those shows would be similar to the 'tea' this series has tried to deliver. Although I've found it interesting as I now want to know more about Jake Paul as a person as there's so much controversy and - quite frankly - conspiracy around who he is, what he's hiding, his relationships/friendships etc., I still feel that there's been a lot of distasteful editing and things said that shouldn't be excused just for the entertainment value. YouTubers like Shane are incredibly popular (the first video of this series has already had 19 million views and it's only one week old), and therefore they have a great deal of influence. If 19 million people have watched him throw around the term 'sociopath', if 19 million have heard him and a qualified professional verge on making fun of the symptoms of a mental disorder, if 19 million have self-diagnosed or diagnosed others as a result of symptoms being relatable or stigma being easily attached to themselves or others, *that* is a major issue.

I'll still be watching the series to the end and will no doubt continue to watch Shane as he's incredibly charismatic and I fully believe that the series has come from a good place and no malicious intent is present here, especially after watching episode 5 as it's more what I'm used to from Shane. It's more about getting to know the individual the series is about and not creating this over-the-top backstory before that individual even makes it on screen and says hello. However, I'm full of hope that this series and the criticism it is now facing is not only educational for viewers but, also for Shane himself. Mental health and anything negatively affecting it is not something that should be joked about or used as a prop for entertainment to cause horror or discomfort. As I've mentioned, there seems to be less of the scaremongering and "horror" elements as the series go on, but it means as a viewer, you are even subconsciously looking out for traits and actions in Jake Paul that reflect the symptoms of this particular Antisocial Personality Disorder just because they've been discussed so feverishly beforehand. I guarantee the same would have happened if Shane had set up the Jeffree Star series in the same way. My views are changing as the series goes on and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.

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September 29, 2018

Real Talk: It's Just Nipples



Identifying as a woman - what a shit show huh? I've talked about being a woman and all that it can involve before here on NB and although I'm always fiercely proud of being female and being strong, independent, and (don't worry, I'm not going to sing Beyoncé), supportive of all other women, it can be hard at times. Women are judged and scrutinised a lot by wider society and their inner circles and it's sometimes incredibly overwhelming to just walk down the street without the fear of catcalling being the least of your worries.

I'm not about to get my tiny violin out and start playing it but there is something I want to get off my chest that just so happens to be on my chest: what's the problem with nipples?

You heard me. Why, in 2018, are we still trying to "free the nipple" and just generally have full autonomy of our bodies without others unsolicited input? It's because we still don't have that simple "luxury". Back in July 2018, Brighton hosted a Free the Nipple march and it was a great success seeing people from all genders and identities taking to the streets to argue the case that having full ownership of our own bodies shouldn't be something we have to shout and argue for. We shouldn't be having to fight the double standards we see in reality and virtual reality alike yet, here we are.

The oppressiveness of the double standard issue surrounding all of this is one of the most damaging and surreal things about it all. If I were to be a visitor from another planet arriving on planet earth for the first time, I would honestly struggle to get my head around it. It has been widely accepted for someone who is genetically, and identifying as, a man to walk down the street topless during summer because evidently, it must just be far too hot for clothing. Whereas if someone with female breasts - because that's the real issue here - were to do the same or even minimise the "shock factor" by wearing a bikini top let's say, that's all too much and that individual would face ridicule, catcalling, and even potentially worse situations that would prey on their vulnerability. Discussing the issues around catcalling is a whole other post, but the difference in the treatment is baffling. Stripping it back further to fully demonstrate the double standard, I direct you to one of my most favourite apps to use - instagram.



Scrolling through instagram might result in seeing a man enjoying his holiday, getting selfies on the beach in his trunks and guess what? No mention of nipples. A woman wearing no bra and her nipples are visible? You can guarantee someone has mentioned it in the comments as if that woman didn't know what she was about or what her body is. I'm using this app as an example because I have seen some of my favourite artists draw female nipples - nipples on full breasts - of cartoon stylised characters and hyper-realistic women and they have been reported for nudity. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but how can a cartoon nymph's nipples be more offensive to the sight than a naked man's? It's silly, right? Right. So I see these artists sharing their work in a shroud, having to cover areas of their paintings and drawings with pencils, brushes, emojis, anything to try to avoid the reports of indecent imagery coming flooding in. It's bizarre times we're living in.

Free the Nipple isn't a new movement but it feels like the progressiveness of it is slow and labouring which is demotivating. A movement that calls for self love, equality, and empowerment is falling short based on outdated views that should have never surfaced and been followed in society in the first place. Free the Nipple is a movement that needs support for all it's positive messages and it's inclusivity. I feel like many people - myself included - see the movement as something that is seeking equality mostly between the treatment of male and female bodies but it has so much depth to it.

We're still fighting for mother's rights to breastfeed in public without facing shame or being asked to do it elsewhere. We're still fighting the fact that the female body is sexualised a great deal and slut shaming is as prevalent as ever. We're still fighting unrealistic beauty standards and need to ensure that women *know* that their bodies are beautiful and unique. This idea that the female nipple is sexualised to such an extent that mothers can't feed their own children in public lies at the fault of those individuals who choose to sexualise it. It isn't anyone else's fault if your thoughts are sexual - that doesn't override the female body's functionality (or at least that is what I would shout from the rooftops but as Free the Nipple and similar movements exist, it's obviously not a point that is being accepted).

Movements such as Free the Nipple but also #saggyboobsmatter are not just some stint for feminism that's asking for equality. It's helping to educate so many females that we should love our bodies and that they're all beautiful in their vast array. We've all been swept along in what is "acceptable" in the realm of the beauty standard, but there's only one kind of beauty standard so for the majority of bodies that don't fit the very specific criteria, they are alienated. Self love should be practiced boldly, unashamedly, and regularly and accepting your body and knowing it's a perfectly good and happy body should be the mission of all society. Not only are these movements helping to educate females about self love, but it's helping show males that the female body is rich and varied too and is 100% a womans. Ownership lies with the individual and no one can or should take that away from them.

I've probably ranted for long enough here but it's so important to keep fighting for what's right. For equality, for slut shaming to end, for bodies to be accepted, and for full autonomy to be where it should always be: with us.




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September 16, 2018

My Fall Capsule Wardrobe



With exactly one week to go until the designated "first day of autumn" rolls around and since I explored trying to be more 'capsule' with my wardrobe further recently on NB,I thought I'd share with you all my fall/autumn capsule wardrobe for 2018. Autumn is my absolute *favourite* time of year because it cools down, nature looks even more beautiful than normal, and I can layer all my best coloured clothing so what's not to love? I want this capsule to last me from September to the tail-end of November/start of December, swapping out the odd thinner piece for something thicker and snugglier for winter when it gets closer to the end of that time span.

As this is my first fully capsule wardrobe to date, I first tackled planning it out by assessing what I had in my wardrobe already, adding in a couple of things that I was lacking, and creating "themes" that I wanted to have filtered throughout my collection of items for this time of year. So the themes I went for this time around was:
- Burnt oranges, mustard yellows, deep greens... You know, earthy autumn/fall tones!
- Introducing warmer items into my more summery pieces that can still be kept light (just because it's September doesn't mean it's going to get cold right away)
- Off the back of that theme, layering pieces that work well together are a must
- Dark. Denim. And denim in general
- Footwear that covers all weather possibilities

I think those themes are typically what I gravitate to for autumn anyway, but having them as categories to stick to really helped me whittle down what I wanted to include in my capsule and stopped me from adding in "just one more piece". So here is the run down.



Tops & T-shirts
1. Second-hand Rebellion embroidered tee, 2. Second-hand Primark khaki/grey tee, 3. Primark rust-orange tee, 4. Second-hand unbranded white crop top, 5. H&M khaki roll neck top, 6. Vintage grey ribbed crop top, 7. Old New Look beige breton top, 8. Old Bershka white batwing top, 9. New Look Organic blue stripe top

When it came to choosing tops, comfort and a bit of variety was a no-brainer. I went with some short and long sleeved, small and very casual, all to keep a bit of variety. I know some of you will think I'm mad for having two long sleeved crop tops in there considering Autumn will get pretty cold but, ya girl has such a short torso that these fit me really well as regular tops and they are some of my favourites to wear under dungarees or with high waisted bottoms!



Shirts & Blouses
1. Second-hand mega old Topshop western light wash denim shirt, 2. Second-hand New Look embroidered pom-pom blouse, 3. Second-hand Forever 21 western dark wash denim shirt

Shirts are great capsule wardrobe options as they can be worn as is or used for layering. I picked out two of my ride-or-die shirts that I've worn a bunch already as both shades of denim compliment the other colours in the palette I've picked out and they're ridiculously comfy too. I also recently picked up this gorgeous New Look blouse on someone's IG stories and the colour is so perfect for autumn.



Knitwear
1. Second-hand Asos Men cable knit cream jumper, 2. Second-hand New Look tobacco brown chunky knit jumper, 3. Second-hand H&M mustard thin knit jumper, 4. Second-hand Asos orange fuzzy jumper,
5. Second-hand New Look teens cable knit cardigan

Knitwear is my absolute favourite thing about autumn/fall. I knew I would have to pick out some knitwear from what I currently own as I couldn't wear it all, but I made sure to select a range of knits from breathable and good for layering right up to thick cozy numbers to cover all bases. The rich warm palette of these options warms my heart too and I just know I'm going to be wearing that orange number a lot.



Dresses & Jumpsuits
1. Second-hand Zara culotte jumpsuit, 2. Old H&M grey speckled skater dress, 3. Second-hand Asos western denim blue dress, 4. Second-hand New Look denim pinafore,
5. Asos western denim burnt orange dress

As much as I love wearing jeans, dresses and thick tights are something I really enjoy wearing in the colder months. I tried to pick a couple of options that could be layered with my jumpers for more outfit options, whilst also staying true to me and making sure I had some denim in there for casual days too. That burnt orange Asos dress is one of my most treasured items I own but I only ever like to wear it in autumn as it's the perfect autumnal shade. I also adore the Zara jumpsuit as again, it's the best autumn colour but it also looks great dressed up on it's own or layer underneath a chuny jumper with a pair of comfy boots.



Bottoms
1. Asos beige chinos, 2. Old Primark denim a-line skirt, 3. Second-hand Topshop blue denim dungarees, 4. Old Asos straight leg dark wash blue jeans, 5. Stradivarius paperbag waist light wash culottes, 6. Old H&M black skinny jeans, 7. Second-hand BDG culotte jeans, 8. Second-hand Monki culotte olive green chinos

It should be no surprise that most of the bottoms I picked out for this capsule are denim as it's me, but I still tried to have *some* variety. The chinos are a great comfy option and are suitable for work as are my black jeans, whereas the rest are my off-duty choices. I tried to go with darker denim where I could but also items that I knew would go with the tops and knitwear I picked out too. Wide leg cropped trousers and/or culottes are a fit that I've been gravitating towards a lot lately, so I wanted to carry on with that love affair throughout autumn as well.



Footwear
1. Second-hand Converse black hi-tops, 2. Second-hand Minnesota black suede moccasins,
3. Vintage Kickers loafers, 4. Second-hand Doc Marten classic black boots

My footwear meets my theme of footwear for every eventuality and they're all ridiculously comfy so I'm happy with my choices. My moccasins come in handy for when I want an outfit to look more girly or if it's a warmer day, whilst my Kickers and DMs keep my feet dry on the miserable down-pour days!



Bags
1. Vintage box crossbody bag, 2. Fjallraven Kanken grey backpack,
3. Second-hand Next mixed-material beaded crossbody bag

Although I own (admittedly) too many bags, I wanted to try and keep a sense of minimalism to this capsule's choices. Crossbody bags are my go-to but I also needed to throw in a larger option there for work or for days out in the countryside walking.



Outerwear
1. H&M khaki coat, 2. Matalan khaki raincoat, 3. New Look Teens light wash denim jacket,
4. Old Bershka khaki military jacket, 5. Vintage tan cord jacket

Coats and jackets are quickly becoming something I love to buy which always amuses me because when I was younger, I just didn't see the point in having different ones! I went for a lot of khaki green ones in a variety of fits/styles because the autumn weather is so unpredictable. I also had to throw in a denim jacket - because, duh - but picked a lighter wash so it would go with my darker bottoms (I'm no stranger to double denim) and my vintage cord jacket that screams "autumn" has made a return this year too.


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September 12, 2018

Revisiting a Capsule (ish) Wardrobe



Just under a year and a half ago, I decided to try and curate a more minimal wardrobe by having a big clear out of everything I owned and trying to follow so capsule wardrobe rules. A couple of weeks ago I found myself having another big clear out as apparently, I'd been a little spendy spendy since then and was hoarding a lot of clothes - yet again. Having a more curated wardrobe is still something I want to achieve and something I've got my heart set on so after having this clear out round two, I've had a bit of a rethink about my strategy for gaining a more "capsule" wardrobe and here's some of the rules I've followed that's helped me start to get my style and options knuckled down:

- Take everything out of your wardrobe. I mentioned the importance of this the first time I tackled switching to a capsule wardrobe and it really does help. Taking everything out can be the shock to the system you might need as you'll see so much more clearly just how *much* you own, but it also gives you a blank canvas to start with.

- Creating the piles really helps too. Another point that I still swear by is having four distinct piles when you declutter. I typically choose four piles so I can have: one for keep, one for sell, one for donating, one for holding onto. My "holding onto" pile tends to be a mix of a few things I just can't seem to get rid of that have some sort of sentimentality, things that are missing a button or have a tear etc. that I just need to fix or alter and will then re-wear, or things that are very seasonal (e.g. denim shorts for summer that I would never wear during the other three seasons). I try to be as ruthless as possible when sorting out these piles and never try things on as this just makes you want to keep everything. Glancing at items and throwing them in piles straight away is helpful as you don't spend long pondering and talking yourself into keeping things you don't need or wear. Doing this regularly is helpful - no matter how curated you think your wardrobe is - and failing to do it regularly was definitely my downfall last time.



- Make a list of what is needed and your season choices. Each time I revisit my wardrobe, I like to make a note of what I think I'm lacking so if I feel like shopping in the future, I don't get too distracted by trends etc. and look instead to purchase something I think I will actually get some use out of and love for years to come. I realised that making a list of what I was lacking was good but, making lists of my seasonal choices was even better. Something I've started doing this time around with my capsule wardrobes is writing a list of what I plan to have in each season's collection. Autumn is only a couple of weeks away and thus, I started to write a list of what I wanted to have available in my wardrobe a couple of weeks ago. This has been really telling for me I've chosen to write each season's list away from my wardrobe - this means I only include what comes to mind. By creating the lists this way, it helps me realise which items of clothing I clearly love and get use out of as I remember them and include them in my list, and those that I don't? They should probably be popped into the "sell" or "donation" piles; I'm being that ruthless with it.

- Buying two of something new means goodbye to something old. I tried my hardest to stick to the "one in one out" rule last time I capsulised my wardrobe, but it was such a cut-throat rule that it had the opposite effect and resulted in me keeping everything. This time around I've made it a little easier on myself by saying if I buy two new items, something has to go.



- Personal style so, personal rules. One of the most important things I've learned going through this more minimal journey is that capsule wardrobe rules aren't a "one size fits all". Just as I mentioned in my last Sustainable Sunday post, changing your lifestyle to one that is more eco-friendly, minimal, cost-effective etc. is a bold and big move to take and the rules someone else has set out don't always fit into your life or suit you and that's okay. Although I'm pretty much contradicting myself as I've just supplied rules in this most, they should be taken with a grain of salt and only used as inspiration, not hard and fast regulations that you can't alter or ignore. So for a little more insight, here's some of the capsule rules I have myself at the moment (that may be subject to change as I grow, and that's okay!):

- Any and all breton stripes in my collection must be different colours and/or cuts. I can only have a maximum of three in each rotation.
- Each capsule must be able to last me three months until the next season starts. During the couple of weeks leading up to a new season, I can begin switching out some items so that the transition, from winter to spring for example, is easier.
- At the beginning of each season, I will write a list of the purchases I need to make. I can't add to this unless it's a necessity (e.g. my winter coat becomes damaged and I need a new one).
- I'm not allowed to buy anything I've only looked at once. I have to truly consider it and have to be able to plan at least five entirely different outfits I could wear the item with.
- My capsules are not allowed to be over 50 items. This is to include shoes, bags, and coats/jackets. Hats and scarves are not included in this number but are still limited.


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September 08, 2018

Astrology for Beginners - A Little Guide



We all know that astrology is becoming more and more popular and whether you're someone who believes in it wholeheartedly or consider yourself a sceptic, you have no doubt checked into your astrological side at some point in time - even if it's just been reading those corny (and very vague) horoscopes in a TV magazine or local paper. Us millennials seem to be fixated on the mysterious and the holistic and I for one love it. Tapping into my spiritual side helps me understand things going on in my life and helps me feel calm even if I'm going through a turbulent time. So here's my very basic beginner's guide to understanding all your signs (yes, there's more than one so stick with me), your houses, the planets, and how it all affects you and those around you.

Your Birth/Natal Chart
I could talk for ages about birth/natal charts, what they mean, and how they influence your life but if I did that along with all the other little explanations in this post, we'd be here a long ol' time! So I'll keep this brief: to calculate your birth chart you can literally google it or use a book like The Signs: Decode Stars Reframe your Life by Carolyne Faulkner - full review here - and all you need to know is your birth date and your birth time. This will calculate where all of the signs, planets, and houses were in your chart right at the point of your birth and it can be very telling of your personality and true self.



The Signs
The signs are what you're most familiar with no doubt. There's 12 signs in the zodiac and most people are aware of their sign; the sign in which you were born in. Some individuals are born on the cusp of two different signs, but here is a (very) generalised and brief description of each sign so you know what you're working with* (*please note that different sources might give you each sign as a day-out of each of these dates, hence the 'cusp' comment):

- Aries, The Ram (Mar 21st-Apr 19th): fearless in putting themselves out there & fighting for justice.
- Taurus, The Bull (Apr 20th-May 20th): stubborn but they get the job done & enjoy finer things in life.
- Gemini, The Twins (May 21st-Jun 20th): curious, the great communicators, & the most vibrant sign.
- Cancer, The Crab (Jun 21st-Jul 22nd): sensitive but nurturing of other's feelings & "feel at home" vibes.
- Leo, The Lion (Jul 22nd-Aug 20th): outgoing, "the fun one", wearing their hearts on their sleeves always.
- Virgo, The Virgin (Aug 21st-Sep 22nd): loyal 'til the end, practical perfectionists, prioritising wellbeing.
- Libra, The Scales (Sep 23rd-Oct 22nd): the balanced one, seeking diplomacy, cooperation, & harmony.
- Scorpio, The Scorpion (Oct 23rd-Nov 21st): intense magnetism, passion, & building unbreakable bonds.
- Sagittarius, The Archer (Nov 22nd-Dec 21st): philosophical adventurers, big dreamers, & truth-tellers.
- Capricorn, The Goat (Dec 22nd-Jan 19th): determined with long-term goals, calm creators, & leaders.
- Aquarius, The Water Bearer (Jan 20th-Feb 18th): independent, future thinkers, and innovative to boot.
- Pisces, The Fish (Feb 19th-Mar 20th): the healer & great listener fuelled by compassion & intuition.

The Elements
The elements are the four groupings each of the signs fall into and they're something you've probably heard of in different areas of your life: fire, water, air, and earth. These groupings are just further generalisations of what those signs are like but of course, you might identify with more than one group due to your three signs (more on that next!):

Fire Signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius): impulsive, enthusiastic, passionate, and bold.
Water Signs (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces): altruistic, sensitive, intuitive, and mediating.
Air Signs (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius): expressive, communicative, flexible, and logical.
Earth Signs (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn): stubborn, practical, attentive, and pragmatic.



Sun, Moon, & Rising
So, there's three main star signs that affect you - not just one. This may sound ridiculous to those who don't really read into this, but when I started taking more of an interest in zodiac signs and astrology, this made so much sense for so many reasons. Although I've always enjoyed reading horoscopes, I always used to think "how can this apply to everyone born around the same time in the year as me?!" because yeah, that does sound rather silly, but when you mix in the fact that another two signs dictate your personality traits too, it becomes a little bit clearer. That means that there's more depth to my personality as more traits come into play and it also makes it all more unique to me as it's reflective of my particular time of birth. Of course, there's others born at the same precise time as me, but I would love to see if they're similar to me because of this.

So what is this 3-way zodiac all about? Well:
- Sun: your core; your "horoscope", your identity. Your sun sign acts as your "role" in life and is essentially your ego and who you are as a person. It focuses on themes in your life and how you will react to them.
- Moon: your descendent sign; your moon sign is your emotions and feelings and is often the sign people identify with most as it will be most reflective of your personality or at least how you see yourself - your "true self" if you will.
- Rising: your ascendant sign; your rising sign is all about first impressions, timing, and new things popping up in your life. So for example, your rising sign might be the mask you portray to those you first meet when you might be wary of them or it could give you an indication as to how you react to things like a new relationship.



The Planets
Each starsign has a ruling planet which has a set of attributes linked to it. Each of these planets are also categorised into three different categories (inner, outer, and social) and each of these groups dictate different aspects of life. So depending on what planet is in which house for you, will dictate a particular part of your life. That sounds very confusing so for example: Mercury is the ruler of communication. My mercury is in Aries and in my Sixth House so I'm typically inclined to analyse how I help others, my health, and productivity - both my own and others. Still following? Here's a wee run-down:

Inner Planets:
The inner planets are named this due to their proximity to earth and dictate your personality and what you actively want, seek, and need.
Mercury: the ruler of communication. Whatever sign is in Mercury for you will determine how you communicate, process information, and think (are you shy, open, hesitant, impulsive etc.)
Venus: the ruler of love. Your sign in Venus will decide how and what you love and how you express your love - whether you're full on, reserved, a hopeless romantic etc. etc.
Mars: the ruler of aggression. This planet rules how you take action in your career or sex life, how you assert yourself, and how you express your anger.

Outer Planets:
These planets have the widest or longest orbits making them the planets of a generation more than just a single person as they tend to stay in one spot in their orbits the longest.
Uranus: the ruler of change. How you react to change, if you choose to be involved in progression or rebellion is all determined by this planet.
Neptune: the ruler of dreams. This planet affects your unconscious and your ambition and how you pursue what you want.
Pluto: the ruler of power. Pluto controls your desire for control, power, its intensity and level of obsession. It will shape if you are a leader, a team player, a follower, or something else.

Social Planets:
Your social planets are exactly what it says on the tin: they focus on how you are perceived by others and are the middle-men between the inner and outer planets due to their orbit lengths and widths.
Jupiter: the ruler of luck and progress. This planet is very philosophical and can affect your growth as a person through how you learn about others, your knowledge, and your spirituality/beliefs.
Saturn: the ruler of self-discipline and boundaries. Saturn rules responsibility and limitations and how you react to them being in place as they're often out of your control.



The Houses
The last 'section' I'm going to mention here is the Houses. Houses are 12 sections in your birth/natal chart that the planets and the signs fall into. Each of these astrological houses affect and influence different parts of your life and can help you understand how you will experience each of them. The houses can be simply broken down like this:

The First House: your self image.
The Second House: money money mon-ey! (and material possessions/financial security).
The Third House: surroundings, familiarity, and platonic relationships you surround yourself with.
The Fourth House: your childhood and family.
The Fifth House: creativity and your sense of self-expression!
The Sixth House: health and work ethic.
The Seventh House: long-term relationships, partnerships, friendships etc.
The Eighth House: sexuality, rebirth, and transformation.
The Ninth House: your spirituality and beliefs (including philosophy, faith, and politics).
The Tenth House: careers.
The Eleventh House: your ambitions and life dreams.
The Twelfth House: your inner life, secrets, and privacy.

Once you've calculated your birth chart, it will be easy to see which planets fall into which houses (some houses may have more than one planet), and you can begin to understand your life experiences better from there. I really recommend the app "Co-star" for understanding your planets and houses and their affect on your experiences and your life in a clear coherent way!



Obviously this has been a really quick overview of astrology and how you can use it to explore your personality more, but hopefully for any of you out there that want to start delving more into the world of zodiacs, this can be a bit of help along on your journey!


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