Happiness

KIM K AND THE FEMINIST CONTRADICTION

Among other socially important news stories this week – Kim Kardashian posted a selfie.

But alas, not the conventional, head and shoulders, face-drowned-in-make up-with-immacuate-shiny-hair kind. The naked in front of a bathroom mirror kind.

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In months, a week or even days, the media excitement and fan frenzy will die down until it’s tossed on the pile of previous mildly shocking celebrity activity, along with her full frontal Paper Magazine photo shoot and her sex tape.

But for now at least, general opinion seems to be divided into two categories: the, “Wow, she’s so hot and confident, good for her!” side, and the “Wow, what an attention seeking little whore” side.

I personally have very mixed opinions on the subject.

Love them or loathe them, we cannot escape the fact that over the last eight or so years, the Kardashian klan have taken over the celebrity ‘tabloid’ world once dominated by Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. I’ve read arguments that the sudden growth in reality TV and social media was the end of the tabloid, murdering the middle man by letting the viewers and the followers hear it and see it from the horses mouth, making the once untouchable, fantasy like public figures infinitely accessible. E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians is arguably the biggest reality show ever made, making a whole family of privileged, non-talented, not extremely interesting individuals the most popular celebrities of this decade. In 2003, Kim Kardashian was a young woman giving Ray-J a blow job and receiving (what looked like the most dull and unsatisfying) cunnilingus (I have ever seen). Eleven years later, she was on the cover of American Vogue. She went from sex-tape-with-a-B-list-Rapper-trash to modern American ‘Royalty’. (Sorry, Will and Kate)

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The fact is, the reason that Kim Kardashian and her family are so famous is prominently due to her appearance in the sex tape. It’s apparently what garnered interest in momager Kris Jenner’s show pitch. So firstly, why people are so shocked that Kim posted a naked selfie I have no idea. Plus, her titties and nooni are ‘modestly’ covered with post-edit black strips – I mean, I’ve already seen her bare vagina in LOVE and Paper magazine and have seen her bare arse one million more times than I will ever see my own. It’s hardly new imagery, is it?

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The word ‘feminism’ means different things to different people.

Some purely believe that feminism means ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’ – the Oxford definition of the term.

Some believe it is the females power to do whatever the hell she wants to do with herself or her own body as long as she’s not hurting anyone else. Some believe feminism means that women shouldn’t be the sexual objects that over centuries they’ve been glorified to be.

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So in the same breath, Kim could be seen as the anti feminist and the heroine of feminism, depending on your individual view. Whether she was in control of the sex tape release or not, on some level subconsciously, Kim lost ownership of her body. Anyone with access to the internet could and still can view her body in the act of sex/making-love/fucking, an act which is mostly conducted in private with hopefully loving and comfortable connotations. If it’s true that the tape was released completely against her will, then in some sense Kim was deemed control less and ultimately sexualised in the most horrendous way. Her private life was and is everyone’s property. For Kim or her handlers to turn that awful violation into millions of dollars, a brand and a career is arguably the greatest feminist victory. You can’t argue that Kim’s hustle is second to none. Along with the heavily constructed reality show, social media means that her and her family can be in complete control of what we all see. This selfie is a perfect example of that sentiment; her body is beautiful (as is her bathroom), she took the photo and she released it. Like her body, it is completely hers. Just because we as the public can view it, doesn’t change that. Plus, why does her naked body have to mean that it’s sexual? She isn’t posed in an overtly provocative way. The caption, “When you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL” is directed more to women than it is to men. I mean, it’s just a body. A body that has produced two babies. We all have the same reflection just before we step into the shower, whatever shape or size we are or how styled our hair or faces. If Kim is a whore, does that make Venus de Milo one too? (OMG Venus is such a slut, standing there parading her tits and almost showing her vag! Does she have no shame?)

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Call this comparison crazy, but man (humans) ‘created’ Kim Kardashian in the same way he (they) sculpted Venus.

“You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.”

― John Berger, Ways of Seeing

And yes, feminism is equality between the sexes. So why is it that men can post nude photos, get their dicks out at every opportunity, moon like ten year olds and walk around with their BARE NIPPLES on show in the summer without a bat of an eyelid?

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But on the other hand, I have to admit: there is still a part of me that finds it a little bit… well… sad. I’m currently searching deep within myself to confirm why I feel that while fully standing for the paragraph above. All I can gather is that I find it sad that we, as a Western society, obsessed with appearance, bourgeoisie and celebrity, created the Kardashian-kraze in the first place. The whole image of the family and their whole lifestyle is an astronomical glorification of fame and money as overarching life goals. I find it sad that we have placed someone with no significant spirit, courage, talent, and magnanimity, bravery, intelligence, or perseverance, so high on a pedestal that young girls could look up to her. Kim and her sisters are only really famous for their bodies and the men that they marry, subsequently suggesting that they only know their worth through their appearance, patriarchal acceptance and the male gaze. I don’t know that many pre teen girls to ask, but from what I gather, quite a few of them look up to the Kardashians. Instagram is to them what radio and television was to me growing up – powerfully manipulative contributors to adult psyche. If posting a photo if your naked body is celebrated and then normalised, I have no doubt that young girls will start posting similar things themselves. Kim’s selfie could give a much darker message – your appearance/sexuality is your worth. You are a sexual object.

It’s sad because women shouldn’t have to show off their bodies to be looked up to, or to emphasis their talent, confidence or power. No matter how talented she is, the focus is always predominantly  on the female celebrities sexuality.

Of course, negative responses from other celebrities were rife. Kim began tweeting those that had openly criticised her. Among those were Bette Midler (someone who is incredibly successful without ever using her sexuality) with a relatively witty response, and teenage actress Chloe Moretz, who is yet to succumb. Kim went on to age-shame (have I just created a new discrimination?) Bette and “attempted” to slut-shame Chloe over a Nylon cover featuring Chloe and her bare leg. In all honesty, I would have stuck with my initial argument and maybe even respected Kim a little bit if she hadn’t retaliated and had instead marvelled in her own confidence with an unfuckwitable silence. But, who am I to pass comment or to even have an opinion… It’s her life.

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Klassy.

Mainly, it’s sad that we care so much about any of this. Perhaps if the sexes were equal (trust me, we are far from it), there wasn’t such intense emphasis on female sexuality, women were not so cautious, conscious or considerate of their appearance and more confident and content within themselves, all we would see when we refreshed our Instagram feeds (maybe there wouldn’t even be a need for Instagram) was a grown woman standing in her bathroom.

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Inspiration, Style

A Love Letter to: Chokers

I’m not big on trends. My dress sense is pretty boring; bar maybe two or three items of colour, my entire wardrobe is black and, at risk of sounding pretentious, ‘miminalist’. I prefer to stick to relatively timeless pieces and I flat out refuse to buy anything that will for sure be out of fashion in six months time – partly because I am economic with spending – but mostly because I don’t really care about how ‘fashionable’ I appear to others. (I promise that you will never find a here’s-what-I-wore-today post on this blog)

But I am a sucker for jewellery. I feel naked if I leave the house without a ring on every finger and count scouring Etsy for pendants as a weekly hobby. Therefore, a trend that I am personally really enjoying right now is chokers.

If you’d told me five years ago that girls would soon be donning those stretchy plaited tattoo chokers from the nineties, I’d have cringed and spat out whatever I was eating at the time. But sure enough, with the monuments resurge of nineties fashion, they became a staple in every sassy kitsch gal’s OOTD, along with crop tops, flatforms, flannel shirts, baggy denim and Adidas shelltops.

Believe it or not, a young Drew Barrymore wasn’t the first woman to model a tight band around her neck – there is actually an intriguing history behind the unassuming choker.

During the French Revolution, women began tying red ribbons around their necks as a tribute to recipients of the guillotine.

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In the 1800’s, a black ribbon worn around the neck was a signifier that the woman was a prostitute. In vast contrast, it was also popular amongst ballerinas. Pre celebrity, female royals were the fashion icons of their time. Alexandra, Princess of Wales, donned thick rows of pearls and velvet ribbons, reportedly to cover a scar on her neck. The Alexa Chung of her time, the popularity of ‘chokers’ sky rocketed, and elevated the trend to high society women.

A century later, chokers were prominent amongst the fashion icons of the 1960’s.

And then… along came punk. Chokers became A LOT more sexually suggestive with a not so subtle bondage connotation.

But the 1990’s was undoubtedly the peak of the choker. Personally, I see the standout 90’s choker as Mathilda’s in Leon: The Professional. 

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A close runner up being Nancy’s in The Craft.

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Honestly, I’m not a lover of the tattoo choker or the beaded variety. Maybe it’s because it sub consciously conjures memories of gel pens and school discos. But very recently, I’ve seen many a celebrity and party goer wearing thicker, plain versions.

 

First time around, I found the 90’s versions really unflattering. I remember my mum wearing them and thinking it ruined her previously acceptable (by nineties and early noughts standards) outfits. But somehow, these recent pieces are in contrast extremely flattering and in most cases, extremely sexy; maybe because of the s&m implication… Maybe because it takes confidence to wear something so restricting and harsh.

In fact, like my rings, recently I feel underdressed if I haven’t added a chocker around my neck. Instead of taking away from an otherwise girly or understated outfit, somehow, this simple accessory can completely elevate an outfit, act as a statement piece in amongst minimalism, and appear sophisticated as well as bohemian, depending on your styling.

There is even a sudden surge of thick neck ties connected to tops or dresses. They’re not yet in every high street store – the best I’ve seen while searching online are by BooHoo and American Apparel.

Even movie star Kate Hudson sported a dusty pink version at the the Golden Globes this week, elevating the trend to Hollywood and to the masses.

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But if this look is too bold for you, finding simpler chokers online is easy. And it’s so easy to make your own unique version. I have used black wool and a charm… Plenty of creative master minds are selling their own handmade pieces on EBay and, my favourite market place, Etsy.

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IN CONCLUSION. Chokers have a beautiful, long winding history, proving that a ‘trend’ can be timeless and unique to you and your own personal style.

LEO X

(ALL IMAGES FOUND ON WWW.PINTEREST.COM)

 

 

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Happiness

FUCK YOU, FASHION

Fashion – 

noun: a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour.

verb: make into a particular form.

As a non celebrity, when you post tweet or a Facebook status, the last thing you expect is an industry uproar.

If you exist within or are at least acquainted with the London fashion universe, you’ll have heard the name ‘Charli Howard’ one hundred times this past fortnight. Her Facebook open letter to the fashion industry – specifically to her now ex-agency – has so far been shared 968 times, garnering so much attention that only days later she appeared on Channel 4 News and the BBC.

On Monday, vogue.com published an interview with her. Now THAT’S a fuck you to her ex agency.

Even the most loyal fashion worshipper is well aware of that this long time controversy within the fashion industry regarding the health of models. I remember an uproar in the mid noughties when the term “size zero” was massively talked about in the news and media after runway models literally starved themselves to death. A decade before that, a teenage Kate Moss was the poster girl for fashion movement “heroin chic”. And even with the seeming rise of plus size agencies, positive body image advocates and models like Cara Delevigne becoming known for their ‘personaltiy’, this issue is now so deep rooted that it has spread way beyond the realm of high fashion runway shows and magazines.

Fashion is arguably the most powerfully influencing industry in modern society. For all the positive, creative and, I suppose, entertaining outcomes, the negatives are terrifyingly dangerous. This is an industry that does not encourage liking yourself, whether you are a model or a consumer. It breeds a sense of genetic hierarchy based on looks alone, no matter how they try to sugarcoat it. It is the romanticism of a one dimensional way of life, that leaves many of us feeling subconsciously empty and not good enough. It is a race in which no one will ever will, because what we are aspiring to achieve is literally impossible.

When I began modelling, I was horrendously naive. I had what I thought was a sturdy high sense of self worth, so that when others around me discussed the negatives on the job, I shrugged them off with such classics as, “It won’t affect me”, “I won’t let myself be pressured into changing”, and “if I get told I’m not good enough, I’ll chuckle and dance and leave, head held high.” I never once considered how something I saw purely as a sweet money maker, could completely transform my self esteem and self perception.

Thankfully, I have never received complaints about measurements from an agency. But I have lost count the amount of times I have been upset by team members and casting managers’ comments about me. Me, a human being. Not a product or a 2d cardboard cut out. When it’s you they’re talking about, it suddenly becomes very personal. But at the same time, there is an underlying sense that it’s your fault, because no one forced you to be a model. You chose this job. You pay your rent because of this job. So, you shrug off all the little looks, whispers, tuts and scribbles, and they quietly store themselves into your subconscious until you start seeing a product when you look in the mirror, instead of a human being with emotions and thoughts.

I am someone that continues to model, albeit very carefully, even though I have recognised this. Maybe because for all it’s faults, being a model can still be fun, rewarding and almost addictive. But I am upset with fashion. I am sick of seeing beautiful, kind, intelligent girls slowly being churned through a factory system and left with broken self esteems and robotic falsities.

I am sick of the thought of normal little girls idolising, thinking that models bodies, features, hair and skin are normal and effortless, and therefore wrecking their minds and bodies striving for something so unattainable.

Since Charli’s honest and down right brave* admission, fresh stories of mistreatment, pressure and negativity continue to surface from current and retired models.

In an ideal world, this negative attention will see this domino effect continue to show ball into gigantic proportion, transforming the industry as a whole. For Vogue, the largest influencer of fashion worldwide, to support Charli, speaks volumes.

*”Brave” is often used lightly in feminist rants. A lot of the time, I disagree with the use of the word. My idea of a brave woman, for right use of the word, is Malala Yousafzai. But if you are too a model, you will agree that Charli’s out pouring was potentially detrimental to her career, so it was indeed brave of her to be so honest on such an open and accessible platform.

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Happiness, Health

Are You Controversy Ready?

There is a protest taking place right now in London’s Hype Park.

But what are thousands of angry Londoners gathering to demonstrate against? Armed conflict? Sexual trafficking? Environmental issues? Foreign aid? Racism?

Nope. Thousands of people are “Taking Back the Beach”, protesting a poster. 

British online fitness company Protein World’s now infamous campaign is the biggest online topic of debate since the Blue+Black / Gold+White dress.

Appearing all over the London Underground, the poster shows a stunning female model standing strong in a tiny yellow bikini, right next to the question: “Are you beach body ready?”

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And the public were so outraged about it that Transport for London have agreed to remove the ad, after countless posters were vandalised by offended commuters.

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And now non commuters all over the country are angry and getting involved, thanks to social media’s tornado effect. Hashtags such as #Everybody’sReady and #EverydaySexism have been widely tweeted.

So strong was the outrage, that the Advertising Standards Authority have received around 270 complaints, mainly under the basis that it “objectified women and that it carried the insinuation that only svelte models were ready to go to the beach.”

And so, a change.org petition was created, boasting 69,204 supporters at the time of writing (4PM Saturday 2nd May).

Furthermore, Dove and plus size clothing brand Simply Be have parodied the poster, instead featuring larger, “more realistic” models.

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Dove said, “In 2004, 75% of women felt advertising and media set unrealistic standards of beauty. Today, that figure is 66%, with the perception being that more diversity is portrayed in the images of women we see around us”.

I must state that I do not support this poster and I do not agree with the ethos it is projecting. However, neither do i agree with the majority of the public outrage and the backlash of a fitness company choosing a fitness model to front their brand.

I find it quite ironic that in the process of defaming a company for their “irresponsible” message and “body shaming”, protestors have in fact extensively body shamed themselves, as have Dove and Simply Be.

Star of the campaign, 24 year old Australian Renee Somerfield, told the Huffington Post,

“I am a real person behind the image. I work very hard and live a healthy and active lifestyle which is why Protein World chose me for their campaign. I couldn’t work every day as a full time model by starving myself, dieting or not looking after my body. Nourish your body, be kind to it and it will love you right back, no matter your size.”

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Renee looks incredible, and in my opinion, she’s not lying about being healthy. She is obviously already of naturally slim build, tall, and her physique is strong. She is apparently a vegan too (as am I), and is probably well read on nutrition and fitness. Her Instagram will give you an insight (trusted or not) into her lifestyle. 

I don’t think Renee herself is the problem. I think it’s Protein World’s ill-advised wording and thoughtless delivery of their company’s values.

“Are You Beach Body Ready?” is offensive as it suggests that we women must conform to certain standards of beauty in order to be accepted on a beach. By placing Renee next to this question, they have connected her body to this notion, suggesting that her body is “Beach Body” standard. And this is wrong. 

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But if Renee’s body is “unrealistic” and “unhealthy”, what is the general consensus of health? Being over-weight? I am sad to say that I think the support of over weight women is just as irresponsible as the original Protein World posters. There is a trend of praising larger shapes. Renee’s physique requires great discipline and effort. Whether you too want to apply yourself to this level of fitness or not, we cannot curse this body shape and praise “curvy” shapes. (I do not agree with the term curvy being thrown around to describe “larger” people. The difference between curvy and unhealthy is quite easy to see when compared.

Every body is beautiful. It is okay to not be heavily body conscious. If you chose not to look after your body strictly, or even not at all, that is okay. But be sure of yourself, true to yourself, and happy with your choice. If you hate that Renee can look like that, don’t complain about it. Except yourself or do your best to create the healthiest version of yourself.

But there is a lot more wrong with this poster than the use of a slim model. In my opinion it highlights a deeper issue much more dangerous than “fat shaming” – it supports the ever growing cultural obsession with how we look, and the constant fetishisation of women’s bodies.

See Protein World’s odd idea of good PR on their Twitter. 

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Inspiration, Style

A Love Letter to: The Lob

My hair has endured the trials and tribulations of a Russian novel this past year.

The start of 2014 featured the remnants of ombre dip dye, after a high-profile hair job the previous summer, leaving me with an inch of now orange ends. Followed by blonde to the front and underneath (boring), all over ombre (boring – can you see a trend yet?)… Gradually I was going lighter and lighter until one day I looked in the mirror to see a blondie staring back at me. I actually enjoyed being blonde for a few months until the stress of black roots coming through three days after an intensive colour touch up got the better of me, and I succumbed to my natural colour. The end.

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Okay, that’s not the end.

Anyone who has had their hair dyed extensively will know the damage a whirlwind hair-mance leaves behind.

I tried to ignore it, styling my long hair into messy buns and plaits, missing the ability to straighten, curl or even blow-dry my hair without it feeling like straw. Until one morning, I had one of those eyes-open-sit-up-revolution moments.

Beauty = HEALTH.

Full stop. My hair may have been long and attractively cut, but it was unhealthy, therefore cancelling out the previous two attributes.

And that revelation applies to all aspects of appearance. Your skin is the most beautiful when it’s healthy, no matter your bone structure. Your body is most attractive when you’re healthy on the inside, no matter your weight or dress size.

Suddenly, I felt like I’d cracked the code. My dull, nudging insecurities (everyone has them) disappear in an instant when I remember this rule. No matter what you look like, the secret to ultimate attractiveness is ultimate health.

Queue a quick call to my hairdresser. Three hours later, I was sitting in a chair surrounded by clumps of dead hair, with scissors chopping gracefully around my ears. Voilà. My safety blanket has been snatched away. I flipped my head back and forth like Willow Smith, feeling light and free for the first time since I was about eight years old.

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Coincidentally, my hair epiphany came at just the right time: The era of the Lob (THE LONG BOB), a long a-waited rebuttal to the high-maintenance length and colour I’d been struggling with the past year. Simple, easy, drama free hair.

First seen in the 90’s, this style was a grunge rebellion against the super preened hair of the 80’s.

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Not surprisingly, the resurge of the 90’s fashion trend brought with it the hair.

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Without a safety blanket of Rapunzel like flowing tresses, the lob has a subtle way of showing off everything about your appearance BEFORE your hair. Your bone structure, your style, your laugh and ultimately your confidence.

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Advice, Inspiration, Style

A Love Letter to: Biker Jackets:

There are two things in this world that I am a self confessed sucker for: The former being a beautifully cut biker jacker made from excellent quality leather.

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The latter? Moody male musicians wearing them.

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How appropriate then, that the second offering of the ALL SAINTS Portrait Series, features “New York’s most exciting new bands, wearing men’s and women’s ALL SAINTS bikers.” They got me real good with that one. I had confirmed my order within five minutes.

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Biker jackets have been considered cooler than the flip side of the pillow since the God Daddy of cool himself, Marlon Brando, rode into Hollywood as Johnny in ‘The Wild One’  in the early fifties. Ever since, it has been a firm favourite of bad boys, punks and supermodels alike.

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Johnny Depp And Kate Moss

Anyone that has ever visited London (or even watched a Richard Curtis film) knows that the whole weather thing really is not just a figure of speech. It’s a tragic turmoil that haunts me everyday. Although, there is a silver lining in this never ending rain cloud: the one item of clothing that survives with me through an abundance of London weather, from Sunny Summer days in Sloane Square to Torrential Tsunami’s in Tottenham is the LEATHER JACKET, and there is never a wrong time to invest.

Here is a carefully compiled list of why it deserves to forever reign as Queen of the outwear Kingdom.

1. It will (probably) never ever ever go “out of fashion”

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The leather jacket will never be a nostalgic item. Even the padded, overly belted variety of the great 1980’s could be pulled off today if worn with enough confidence. It’s a classic. Period.

2. It adds a punch to the sweetest of sugary outfits.

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The leather jacket and I are now so bound to one another that If I’m wearing anything that isn’t black leather I feel grossly girly and weak. Like Samson after his haircut. I could be wearing a picnic dress, ballerina pumps and pink lipstick – slip a leather over the top and I go from Bubblegum Princess to Badass Bitch in five seconds or less.

3. It’s all-weather resilient (IF you invest in good quality)

Don’t believe me? Rain is completely rejected from your body as if you’re snuggled inside one of those plastic pram covers from your earliest memories. And if you’re not a fan of the layering/bag lady look, there are plenty with a thicker leather, fur or even inside padding, while remaining light and looking amazing. Lucky enough to be getting some vitamin D? Throw one over your shoulders in the evenings like a tomboy Gilda.

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These are my three very favourite investment pieces from the ALL SAINTS A/W14 collection.

Hainton Jacket – £698

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This is definitely as investment piece. I know it’s at the higher end of high street prices this can truly be worn season after season for years (granted to take good care of her). The British Merino sheepskin gives a good ol’ classic a little edge while keeping you cosy on those dreary winter days in London.

Range Leather Biker Jacket – £398

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Now I really hate to go all nineties DIY girl on you but… THIS JACKET HAS REMOVABLE SLEEVES. So you’re basically getting two jackets in one – one for winter, and one for spring/summer, and hopefully staying with you for a good few seasons. Perhaps not as long as a pet dog, but at least a small rabbit…

Bayes Shearing Leather Jacket – £698

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Echoing the masculine-feminine style of the original feminist fashion icon Amelia Earhart, the traditional biker design has been interpreted through a fresh, modern eye. Another investment piece (I have expensive taste, what can I say?), it’s fur is peeeeeerfect for the cold months, and also has detachable lower arms so that you can roll up your sleeves come summer.

What A/W 14 pieces are on your leather jacket Christmas List?

Check out the ALL SAINTS Portrait Series Part Two HERE.

(No images shown above belong to THE LUCKY LEO; all were taken from Google and Pinterest)

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