English Style

While I don’t usually tend to run the pieces I do for other sites on A Girl, A Style, I thought this one (that I originally wrote for Glitter Guide a while back) would be fun in amidst all the Jubilee madness/Britannia love that is flying around at the moment.

From Mulberry bags to Burberry trench coats, Hunter wellingtons to Oxford brogues, bow ties and tweed jackets to pearls and lace, Prince William and James Bond to Paddington Bear and Fantastic Mr Fox… I truly love the English and their eccentricities.

So here is my take on the best bits about English style (for all the Anglophiles out there):

Embrace feminine/masculine extremes. Channel you inner dolly girl by wearing a full a-line mini skirt or lace dress with a topknot, pink cheeks and a length of ribbon tied at your waist, or wear a men’s Oxford shirt with a bow tie and brogues. Even better, clash the two and wear that dolly outfit with a boyfriend blazer and ankle boots, or the Oxford shirt tucked into the skirt with a wristful of jewels on top.

Rebellious nostalgia. We English are terribly fond of our classics: the dandy gentleman, countryside pursuits, lawn sports, the Royal Family, James Bond and nostalgic children’s books. But none of these things would be complete without a little rebellion too. So why not wear your grandmother’s pearls with your favourite old band tee, your prettiest lace dress with bed hair, or your most gorgeous heels with faded old jeans.

Serious irreverence. Though they may have a library full of literature, Friday night theatre dates, an in-depth knowledge of politics and an annual National Trust membership, English folk are a self-deprecating, sarcastic bunch who like to pretend don’t care. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your fashion; wear things that literally make you smile (pink glittery nails with a grownup tuxedo jacket), are absurdly ironic (I live in Cambridge and like to poke fun at the preppy Oxbridge intellectual style by teaming my crested blazer with bright pink chinos and high bow heels), or just plain silly (hello, novelty Christmas sweaters).

Revel in the tiny sartorial details. A silk handkerchief in a breast pocket, bright pink socks poking out of turned up trousers, a tiny golden charm necklace, a perfectly constructed umbrella, or bright red lips on grey days.

…and don’t forget life’s small pleasures. Drink tea out of your favourite pink china, buy a vintage-style bicycle and go for Sunday cycle rides in your favourite dress (bonus points for a bunch of flowers in the basket), read a classic novel, have a picnic and then kick of your shoes and run through the grass, eat cake for breakfast.

Do you love English style as much as I do? What are your favourite things about the British?

Love, Miss B xx

Cambridge Prepsters

As I was cycling home through the lamplit cobbled streets of Cambridge tonight, two things occurred to me:
1) how grateful I am to live in such an amazing place (though this isn’t anything particularly revelationary; I have the same thought pretty much every time I walk past Kings College or along the Backs) and;
2) just how preppy my wardrobe has become since living here (again, my style had always tended this way, but I realised it had reached a peak as I was riding past one of the town’s iconic outfitters – generally aimed at the town’s Tory Boys and Nobel Prize-winning professors alike – and thought just how much I fancied the crested blazers styled with raspberry chinos in the shop’s window. I’m fairly sure these are not normal sartorial urges to be having).

I’m not entirely sure whether it’s the magnificent ancient architecture (all dreaming spires, 500 year old libraries and Hogwarts-esque dining halls), the collegiate environment, the truly incredible history or just the sheer volume of clever, well-bred individuals that reside here during term time, but the town has a remarkable impact on the way in dress. While in London I’m all about black skinny jeans and sky-high heels, in Cambridge I come over all preppy and no ride on my Pashley is complete without a dandy outfit to match*. For example on the weekend (ie. when normal people wear something akin to sweat pants), when I was doing nothing more demanding than a trip to the farmer’s market in town and a coffee/cinnamon bun date with my dearest friend S, only my favourite schoolboy blazer would do.

Wearing: Vintage Sportsgirl blazer, Karen Walker frilled tuxedo dress, world-weary Marc Jacobs boots and Louis Vuitton scarf

So if you do ever pay a visit to the glorious place that is Cambridge, please feel free to bust out your preppiest outfit (shiny brogues, preppy oxford shirts and sharp tweed and/or crested blazers all welcome). And because I’m too cold and camera-shy to stand around taking photos for any longer than the two minutes required for the above photos, here’s some more inspiration for the Cambridge preppy look…

Clockwise from left: The Sartorialist, unknown editorial, Jak & Jil

Do you ‘location dress’ according to where you live, or am I the only crazy chameleon in the room here?

Love, Miss B xx

* The same phenomenon happens to me when I travel, when I seem to unconsciously mimic my surroundings.