Because I like to make things as stressful as possible, we've decided to move to a new neighborhood in East London two days before I head home to Atlanta for Christmas.Read More
There are several benefits to being an American expat in London.
Some are practical (national health care), some will become clearer the longer you're here (earning your salary in GBP is awesome, the weather truly does suck), and some are superficial (Boots, the general social acceptance of being drunk by 6PM on a weekday).
Another benefit to living in London is having access to the high street glory that is COS.
You know the fancy section of H&M? Yes you do—it's the part of the store that's slightly minimalist, slightly more upscale, and has nicer fabrics. It's the part of the store that you never really shop from because it's too expensive and you're at H&M for Pete's sake.
If you took that and crossed it with Zara, you'd get COS (which is actually a part of H&M, for the record).
Sure, it's a little more expensive but the design sure is good and the quality is better. This is what COS stuff looks like:
A little taken aback by the Scandinavian minimalist approach? Don't be nervous! COS has stuff like this, too:
Not that I've ever bought anything there, but much like the fancy section at H&M, it's bound to happen one of these days. I am earning the pound, after all.
I think we can all agree that Kate Spade is pretty cool.
Aside from the fact that she's a baller fashion/lifestyle designer, she also grew up in Kansas City and that makes her cooler. Yeah, it's awesome to have been born in Paris or grow up in lower Manhattan, but those of us who didn't had to move to these cities and learn about them and therefore, we also have to stick together.
Another thing that's awesome about Kate Spade is how clued up Kate and her crew are on the blogosphere. This group of gals and guys clearly get how important blogging, social media, and overall community* are in today's fashion world.
It's nice to see a designer conquer this in a non-forceful way which shows that if a product is good enough, it sells itself. Kate Spade's blog is genuinely interesting, relatable, and is also super-duper well designed which makes me want to read it every day.
Here are my favorite things about the Kate Spade mini media empire:
1. They get straight to the point: Before you even have a chance to look around, the Kate Team is giving you the only two options you really need: SHOP + BLOG
2. They make you feel included: The blog is called Behind the Curtain; they have a column called In The Office. I've worked in the fashion industry for five years for magazines, retailers, and online sites, and I still feel like I'm going to be treated to something I haven't seen.
3. They vary their content: We all love fashion, but it's important to remember that fashion is influenced by tons of stuff outside of the industry. The KS Team knows that, and recently included posts about Ray and Charles Eames, dinner recipes, and geometric patterns.
4. Their branding is super consistent: If you leave katespade.com and don't understand their vision as a company, then something is wrong with you.
5. Kate Spade's husband is Andy Spade: Who does loads of cool stuff like this. I want to be them so bad.
Life goal: be Kate Spade.
*Lamest word in the world when used in this context
I've always been one for printed cotton clothing.
not sure why cheap prints are so attractive to me or any of my
fellow middle-class female consumers, but they just are.
There's nothing like the excitement that comes with the first spotting of a floral or geometric print. Something about seeing that bright, overtimulating print in a bright, overstimulating store is thrilling, but this thrill is always short lived. Pretty much as soon as you take your new, ill-fitting cotton/poly blend dress out of the Target/H&M/Primark/Forever21 bag, you're over it and spending that £12.99/$19.99 feels like a bad choice.
Now, I'm obsessed and basically only want to wear well-designed solid color/classic printed pieces. I still have my slip-ups (Saturday's purchase of £6 Primark floral flats) but am (kinda) on my way to being the type of gal who can walk into H&M, see a printed dress I like, and leave without it.
And if you've seen To Rome With Love: the reference the "junky cotton print" dress worn to a movie premier by a woman with ladders in her stockings felt like someone has looked straight into my soul and completely and totally understood everything about me.
This year has been an expensive one to say the least.
Every dime/10p I've earned over the past 10 months has gone to visas and plane tickets, which is exciting in a big picture kinda' way, but actually just expensive in an everyday kinda' way.
Needless to say, there hasn't been a lot left over for my favorite pasttime of internet shopping + wearing PJ's + eating raisins out of a bowl. So, as soon as I get my first British paycheck I'm going to do some good ol'British High Street shopping.
Here's a few things I might buy:
P.S.–if you don't already shop at Land's End, you totally should. They have good quality stuff at decent prices and some of it is really cute...totes not just for moms (not that there's anything wrong with moms).
Last week I started working in an actual, live company in London. So far, I've noticed the following:
a) The Brits dress smarter at work
b) Being an American in a British office makes you feel sweaty and greasy
Let's start with the first point. I've always thought of the whole discussion on differences between British and American style as kind of made-up. Sure there are differences, but it's taken a few months of living here + said job for me to be able to point out those differences.
At the core of it, Americans are just a little more casual. You may have heard that we like sportswear, and that the Big Classic American Designers like Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren and Michael Kors, etc etc etc. are constantly taking that idea of classic American sportswear and modernizing it. As it turns out, that's all true, particularly in the workplace where the Brits dress just a little posh-er* or more upmarket**.
The clothes are all-in-all the same (Lana Del Rey for H&M, anyone?), but you're more likely to see a guy in a dress shirt, slacks, and even jacket and a girl in a tailored dress and heels or heeled booties. Of course , workers dress nicely in any fashion-industry job, but it's refreshing to see them looking both nice and professional. A way of saying We're At Work instead of the classic New York Iwokeuplatethismorningandwaitedfor3Ltrainsandspilledcoffeeonmyselfrunninghere.
As for my second point? Somehow listening to all of those crisp accents and looking out into all of those chic grey skies makes you feel like you should wash your hair and paint your nails. Also, my brain has started doing this weird thing where it can't decide whether my voice/dialect should:
a) Stay with the accent it's had it's entire life and sound normal
b) Adopt certain English phrases and dialects in a poorly disguised effort to fit in and sound a little weird
c) Stop thinking so f-ing much
Nasty Gal, that rip-roarin' heck of an online shop that shows up every other day in your inbox, is awesome. Whether you're a Jeffry Campbell-platform/denim cutoffs/halter top-typeor not, Nasty Gal is a super user-friendly site with a variety of products at a variety of price points.
So I was already obsessed with Nasty Gal before reading this Forbes article about the founder, Sophia Amoruso.
If you don't feel like reading the article, you can watch a video of Sophia basically telling you what the article says.
If you're still too lazy for that, here are your top talking points:
•Nasty Gal started out as an eBay shop that was ran from a cottage in Amuroso's aunt's backyard
•The name comes from a Betty Davis song (not Bette Davis, and not this song).
Side note: I've always wondered about how Nasty Gal got it's name, haven't you? I had a start-up accessories line when I first moved to New York, and people would ask us constantly about the origins of our business name. I'm sure they had a heck of a time explaining to the banker at Bank of America (or whatever) that the company's name was Nasty Gal.
•She found her first employees by searching through LinkedIn (which makes me want to update my profile yesterday)
•Nasty Gal rarely discounts their items and instead sells 93% of their stock at full-price (which is nuts)
On top of that, her house and her dog are cute. It's always great/awful when someone leaves you both super inspired and super jealous.