Posted in: advice

Life Lessons So Far

4

“I feel old, but not very wise.”
- Jenny, An Education

All my life I have struggled to find places where I fit in. It’s funny, really: I always feel I am “normal” until I interact in the outside world… and then, oh dear! Il est une catastrophe! There, I find a constant demand for the boxes that I fit into, with the labels all attached and clearly marked… and, of course, I come up with nothing. In a haze of disorientation and slight panic, I explain myself with vague hand gestures and evasive metaphors, confusing those who have always been easily able to explain themselves as “age, gender, occupation”. None of those identifiers have ever felt relevant to me: I always feel very old or very young – never my own age; my gender feels like a theatrical spectacular and a trap all at the same time; and my occupation is absolutely nothing and absolutely everything at the same time. I feel like I am sewn from all the gaps in between the nothings, not anything particularly tangible.

It was hard to deal with for a long time – especially when I was made fun of for being pale, or hating loud music, or using “big words” in my vocabulary. However, after a while, I got used it. I came to love that curious look people would give me after one of my strange explanations, like they want to question me but they don’t even know where to begin. Usually, they take a sip of their drink instead, and are quiet for a moment. I love that I make people think. I get a little kick out of challenging people, inching them outside their comfort zones and watching them be surprised that they actually enjoy it. Really, it’s fun. I love it.

However I still don’t think I am very unique or special. I believe there comes a time when everyone realises these same things, that the bland dossier they are reciting as an introduction is hardly any different to anyone else’s & it doesn’t really describe them at all. Some people simply have identities that fit more easily into those “boxes”, and some are happy to stay within them. Some do not, and struggle a bit more. The following are a series of realisations I’ve had, often after particularly difficult times in my life; however they were always situations that should not have been so complicated if only we didn’t try to live within the confined, pre-set ideas of how things “are”. I would have spent a lot less time feeling depressed and anxious if we weren’t pushed to live so narrowly! I thought I would write out my most important lessons, in case they can be of use to someone else…

  1. Crushes: If you feel like they have a crush on you, or are interested in you in some way, trust your gut. It will most likely be correct. Don’t waste time second-guessing and over-analysing.
  2. Love & Sex: If you feel like you aren’t ready (about anything), it’s because you aren’t. If people can’t respect that, tell them to get over it. People make a big noise about this stuff, especially sex (to which I roll my eyes), but it really is only noise.  There is nothing more time-wasting and unnecessary than worrying about this stuff. It’s okay if it’s not that important to you.
  3. Growing Up: Disentangling yourself from the authority of your parents can be a strange and jarring time, you may even feel a sense of loss. Everyone’s departure from their parents is different and highly personal. Learn to take responsibility for yourself. You will often feel like you’re playing at being grown up; you will laugh about it, but it will scare you too. Don’t waste your time feeling ashamed when your grocery basket contains only potatoes, vodka, and chocolate. Have fun, you’ll figure it out.
  4. Study & Jobs: Bad jobs give you character and experience, and study has the potential to take your life somewhere, but don’t sacrifice your health or safety for them. Realising you need a break or that you are not coping is terrifying, but the sooner you listen to yourself the better.
  5. Self: Being someone takes active work. You must be constantly learning and refining. Assess yourself regularly: are you who you want to be? If not, figure out how to get there and go for it. Whether it’s perfecting your make-up application, or learning how to be a better activist, there is always room for improvement.
  6. Friendships: It’s okay not to be friends forever with people. Some people only fill a temporary gap, others will be around for a long time. Also, the length of a friendship means nothing in the face of its quality. Bad friends can be the ones who have been around forever, and it takes a lot of strength to realise this. Value respect and support over how long you’ve known one another.
  7. Future: Have plans and goals, and work towards them. Your plans and goals will probably change hundreds of times, but working towards goals – even ones that you end up changing your mind about – is really, really valuable experience. It is folly to have no goals because you haven’t found the goal yet. Just like anything else, reaching goals is something you learn how to do through practice.

There, mes petites étoiles! What do you think? We have all had these sorts of realisations at some point or another, haven’t we? They end up to be very refreshing once you calm down enough to extract the life lesson.

Love & what-have-you,

mono2

Posted in: style guide

An Education

an education carey mulligan clothesan education

“Well, after I’ve been to university, I’m going to be French, and I’m going to Paris, and I’m going to smoke and wear black, and listen to Jacques Brel, and I won’t speak. Ever. C’est plus chic comme ça.”

 valentino white coat an education style black dress an education style guide leopard fur hat

Cream Coat

Valentino
or;
Anne Klien

Black Shift Dress

French
Connection

Fur Hat

Etsy

2 & 3 & 4

white blouse an education style guide black heels shoes 5

Collared Blouse

Topshop

Slingback Heels

Ann Taylor

Pencil Skirt

New Look 

pearl necklace vintage gold jacquard dress white asos heels

Pearl Necklace

Macys

Gold Dress

Etsy

 & 2 & 3 & 4

White Heels

ASOS

 “If you never do anything, you never become anyone.”

The style in An Education captured my little heart the very first time I saw it, and it has not let go since. Jenny’s style journey supports the story beautifully, with Jenny developing from a plain schoolgirl into a schoolgirl playing grown up… and then back again, to a girl who has had a full dose of reality but who is also young enough to bounce back from it. It’s truly divine. I adore the way cinema so often uses style in coming-of-age stories about young women – the first time she wears lipstick, perhaps, or the first time she is given a little black dress that makes her look and feel très sophistiqué. There is a precise calculation in the way teenage girls curate their wardrobes, carving out who they want to be, painting on their first cat-eye with a shaky hand and leaving lipstick marks on absolutely everything.

The cream Valentino coat is a bit cheeky, I know the price tag is not so accessible to most of us, but I’ve included a more affordable option, too so don’t despair! When it comes to these vintage-inspired style guides, modern shops are, of course, generally hopeless outside of the basics, so I turned to Etsy for some of the more specific items. I thought I’d have a hard time of it finding a leopard print fur hat like the one Jenny wears, but Etsy is absolutely full of them! The same can be said for the gold cocktail dress on Etsy, all you have to search for is “gold jacquard dress” and quite a few options appear. It was fairly difficult to find anything similar to Jenny’s “Paris” dress, but if you’re handy with a sewing machine, Sew Weekly has a fantastique round-up of patterns that are similar!

So that’s it for this one, darlings! What do you think? Très chic, non?

Love & what-have-you,

mono2

Posted in: links

Weekend Reading: Soviet Scented & Other Stories

Chanel

Here’s What I’ve Been Looking At…

Enjoy mes chéris! 

Posted in: advice

“Self Obsession” Is The Tops!

Jacques Henri Lartigue – Cap Antibes – 1932

“As soon as a woman gets to an age where she has opinions & she’s vital & she’s strong, she’s systematically shamed into hiding under a rock.” - Sarah Silverman

The demonisation of self obsession is so booo-ooo-oooooring, don’t you think? It’s one of those things where when I see it, I immediately want to flop down onto a fainting couch (scattered with velvet covered, tassel-trimmed cushions), rolling my eyes and demanding a “stiff drink s’il vous plait ” from the darling butler. (Pure imagination of course, I’ve no fainting couch or butler. Il est tragique!) 

Oh she takes too many selfies, oh she likes her own selfies! So self obsessed!” they snipe and sneer.

Gosh! Who cares! I hope she posts 500 selfies on Instagram, likes all of them, then shares them on Facebook and likes them all again! Just to annoy you, mon petit imbécile! Don’t you realise, every second you are focusing on someone else, that is time less spent on furthering and improving yourself?

If you aren’t dedicating yourself to yourself, you are never going to succeed.

I really believe this vindication of young women who are independently happy with themselves is the remnants of the idea that women should be dedicating themselves to men. Women aren’t quite so obviously expected to please men anymore, but the underlying feeling is still there, so sinister and so annoying! The rise of female vanity – particularly beginning with imagery of old Hollywood glamour – has quite the correlation with the advancement of women’s rights once you think about it. Put simply: the more acceptable it came for women to gaze at themselves in mirrors and fuss around with their looks, the more they fought for their independence. It is interesting, no? Especially when female vanity is often chalked up to a desire for male attention.

But really, if you are seriously bothered by women who appear to be confident or “self-absorbed”, you need to ask yourself why. Do you have an idea of how women should act & they don’t fit into it? Are you envious? Are you unhappy with yourself and projecting it onto others? These are all problems within yourself, not within her, but luckily they’re not that hard to fix.

The world is only yours when you know what it is you want it to be and who you are in it.

Otherwise how can it be yours? People who know themselves well, and who are unapologetic about sharing themselves, they have confidence and self-respect. Confidence and self-respect are what helps people to develop healthy relationships, to believe in themselves in a way that allows them to succeed in their careers, and most importantly, leads to them taking responsibility for their own lives and making the best, educated decisions possible. Confident people are more able to be generous and open, they are okay with what they have and because they are not constantly grappling for reassurance or scared of possibilities and unknowns, they are more capable of caring deeply and selflessly for others.

People who do not know themselves, however, are constantly confused about why they react certain ways to things, why things don’t seem to go their way, why their relationships go bad or seem to be built on negativity, why they keep getting taken advantage of, and never know how to stand up for themselves and speak their minds. I ask you, which person would you rather be? The girl in control of her own life, or the girl who quietly does everything she’s told, even when it’s not something she wants to do? It’s fine if you wish to be the second, but if you are truly happy being that person then there’s no need to drag down those who are the first kind!

Stop viewing self-interest as something negative, because it simply is not bad.

Perhaps if there was someone so self-obsessed that all they ever did was sit in front of a mirror to stare at themselves saying, “I’m rather the best at everything ever and I’m sure I am the greatest person in the universe”… well sure, then that would be somewhat unhealthy. But also, so what? Is it really any of your business anyway? Why does it bother you so terribly? If you were truly a compassionate, good person, you would realise they maybe have a problem and that they need help and empathy. A bad person is one who mocks, belittles, and fails to empathise with people’s lives and experiences – these are behaviours just as unhealthy as those of the narcissist; yet worse, as they inflict their negativity onto the rest of the world too! Ugh!

So please, I beg of you, stop worrying about the vanity and self-interest you perceive in other people, and start paying attention to yourself!

It’s time to get to know you, to understand yourself intimately and to reap the rewards that confidence brings. The world is what you make of it, remember. How you are now is irrelevant to who you could be tomorrow: so shed yesterday’s self and become someone new! Someone better, someone kinder, someone stronger. When you are confident you are not only kinder to yourself, but you are kinder and more generous with others. You are less afraid and more able to open yourself to everything life has to offer. This is a journey you should never stop taking. Write big lists and monstrous stories about who you want to be. Collect images of the life you want and wallpaper your brain with them. Chart your life like you are a constellation of beautiful stars (because you are, you know). Trust me, you will never, ever, ever, ever regret it!

Still Need ConviNcing?

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100 Ways To Be A Love Letter To The Universe

&

Give Generously

Love & what-have-you,

mono2

Three Christmas Tree Decoration Ideas

prev
gold tassel black christmas tree gold star christmas tinsel

Gold Tassel

Hobby Lobby
or;
Etsy

Black Tree

Treetopia
or;
Christmas World

Gold Star Tinsel

Myer

pink christmas ornament white christmas tree silver crown christmas ornament

Rose Glass Ball

Myer

White Tree

Christmas Shack

Silver Crown

Myer

pine cone ornament traditional fir christmas tree Robin on Holly Glass Bauble

Pine Cone

John Lewis

Pine Tree

Myer

 Robin Bauble

John Lewis

“The absolutely best part of Christmas is decorating the tree. You have to load it with tinsel or it’ll shrivel up and die. Everyone knows that!”
– Eloise

When it comes to Christmas tree decoration ideas, I used to be a Christmas purist – reds, greens, and metallics only! – but that all changed when I fell in love with this black & gold tree! I first saw it on Pinterest quite some time ago and it really opened my eyes to all the different decorating possibilities. I no longer felt Christmas must stick to traditional colours and consequently it feels like a whole world has opened to me!

Here I have put together three different, distinct styles: black and gold, white and pink, and traditional colours, but I think they all cross over really well too. For example:

A dash of pink on a black and gold Christmas tree adds a bit of playfulness to the sleek look. A rustic theme with pine cones and woodland creatures would look stunning on an all-white tree. And I think pink and green are a match made in heaven, so pink ornaments on a traditional pine tree has a pretty, fresh vintage feel about it – especially in the Southern Hemisphere where it’s summer during Christmas!

Other ideas I love include muted blues and greens, deliciously rich jewel tones of burgundy and blue… even a simple tree wrapped in lights and adorned with red and white gingham ribbons would look beautiful, don’t you think?

Do you favour a specific design style? What are your Christmas tree ambitions for this year? Do tell me, I’m dying to know!

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