Clothes and That

When we were having the damp work done on the flat (all the glamour) it meant decamping elsewhere for 3 days. Consequently I couldn’t go to my usual Slimming World class and had to find another one for the week.

I found one round the back of someone’s flat, in fact I nearly walked into their flat and it was only the sight of their shoes on the step that stopped me going further. This alternative class was in a much smaller room than my usual one which was disconcerting as everyone in the queue heard everyone’s weight being called out and then had to pretend they didn’t. I had hoped to get in, get weighed and get out but the lady in front of me was rejoining and asking about pitta breads. This unreasonably irritated me, mainly because I was desperate to know if the sourdough pizza from Friday night had been my undoing.

I was a bit stroppy handing my card over when it was my turn. The girl behind the cash tin didn’t notice and looked up at me sunnily, “sorry to keep you waiting, oh my god I love your bag!! I haven’t seen one of those for years!” Well all was forgiven. “Thank you!” I beamed “they’re bringing them back you know.”

I’m a big fan of nostalgia. I don’t like HD TV, booking tables online or heating you control on your phone. I don’t like syncing calendars or Whatsapp. I like pens and ringing people and my filofax. Anything that takes me back to a simpler time of charge cards and writing letters and drinking Sunny Delight is wonderful to me.

When I first saw Play Purse on instagram (the only part of modern technology I enjoy) I nearly fainted. The delightful beaded coin purses from the 90s were back. The bright coloured nylon with the white cotton lining and little gold zips. Exactly like the one I took 20p out of to buy a tye dye shirt at a church jumble sale in 1998.

From a studio in Hackney, Play Purse have spent years researching the original designs and fabrics and have brought them back. And not only have the mega cute purses come back but also they’ve resized and updated them into clutch, crossbody and shoulder bags in every colour. The bigger ones are large enough for a iPad mini or a Kindle and I keep all my cross stitch bits in my pink one, which makes me the happiest I’ve ever been. My favourite thing is all of the purses are hand finished so each one is ever so slightly different and unique. Nostalgic and handmade? I’ve peaked.

Every time I take out one of my Play Purse clutch bags or the darling little purse, someone tells me they used to have one when they were little. They are iconic because everyone really did have one of the beaded coin purses for their spends or dinner money. The feel of the little rice beads takes you right back to standing in the queue to buy Opal Fruits or a bag of Millions. And I’m utterly in love with it.


“Good lord it’s cold!” I said as I emerged from an 8 year old’s trampolining birthday party last week, “Hasn’t it’s dropped!” I added to further fortify my weather chat. At first I thought it was just the cold air hitting my sweaty post bounce body but no it’s happened. It’s officially winter. Proper chilly, hats-gloves-scarf- seeyourbreath winter.

I loathe the summer with it’s small clothes, sweating and salad. No, I love faux fur and thermals. I love candles and it being dark at 4.30PM. I love pies, slippers and tea. I love staying in, drinking lorry loads of red wine and watching Strictly.  I love gloves and wrapping a scarf round so tight it constricts my breath. I love boots and socks and putting a jumper on. The cold doesn’t really bother me apart from one key area. There is one place where it really gets in: my ears.

Whilst I am always toasty from the neck down, my ears shiver on either side of my head. They complain they want to be at home beside a radiator. This is unavailable in the middle of Oxford Street so instead my ears try to push themselves back into my head for warmth. This makes my head cold and results in a sort of dull headache, the sort of thing my little brother used to get when he ate ice cream too fast.

A hat could clearly be the thing here but this brings it’s own problems. Squashed down hat hair is never a good look, also I usually end up taking a hat off and leaving it somewhere. I still mourn the loss of a mustard knitted beanie which was left on a tourist bus in Berlin. Last night I was on my way to record Jules and Sarah the podcast and it was the coldest it’s been for 6 months. I put thermals under my ripped jeans, faux fur up to my neck but my unwashed tied up hair meant my ears were exposed. I thought I would have to brave it with a hat over a ponytail like an odd cone but instead my Sprig Knitwear headband came to the rescue.

Sprig Knitwear was founded by Antonia Sullivan when she made a snood for her friend one Christmas, in her “knitting nook.” Obviously the snood became the talk of the town and everyone wanted one. Antonia says she was inspired by old family photographs of children growing up during 1950s and 60s Britain and says “these photos were mostly in black and white, yet were filled with delightful patterns and personality.” Antonia now runs her small knitwear from the heart of Hampshire. Everything she makes is from 100% pure lambswool which is sourced from Geelong, Australia before being spun and dyed in a Yorkshire. Sprig Knitwear say their ethos “focuses on wrapping our customers in love and bringing brightness on those bleak winter days with colour, softness and warmth.” My ears are entirely thrilled.


I was at heat towers last week and Hannah pointed to my bright pink jelly pumps and said “I used to wear jelly shoes when I was little!”

There is something brilliantly nostalgic about plastic jelly shoes. If you were born in the 80s PVC was fancy and exciting and alarmingly cheap. So cheap that anyone under 10 could easily get through 3 pairs of jellies in a summer. Sturdier than a flip flop and better for rock pooling, they were the ideal holiday shoe.

Jelly shoes were brilliant when you were little for the same reasons they are now, you can shove them on in all weathers and they don’t get wet. They’re good for puddles, beaches and fields. If you spill Ribena or a white wine spritzer on them, no problem! Simply remove, flap around a bit, pop it back on and carry on. In the late 90s jellies came back as a throwback back item and then they came back in the 00s as a 90s throwback item then again and again, so for the last 10 years they haven’t really gone away.

I bought my first pair of Juju “Vicky” mint green cut outs four years ago on an asos haul. I thought they would be “handy” to have as a back up shoe or for running to the shop in. They didn’t leave my feet for the whole summer and then into autumn and even winter for a dash across the road to get my nails done.

They have been a true friend, there for allsorts of capers. They’ve been to Glastonbury, survived seaside trips, British beach walks and actually very long city walks. They have been to brunches, cinema trips and one particular walk around an estuary. They have been strong and sturdy and shown love and tenacity in difficult times. Oddly they also seem to go with everything; dresses, shorts, harem pants, jeans and the most tailored of trousers all look outstanding with the Juju. I’m thinking of making them some sort of award.

But I knew it couldn’t last for forever, I knew they could only take so many train journeys, dog walks and trips to big Sainsbury’s. The other day I went to put them on and they felt different, sort of wonky and I looked down to see one of the cut out at the back had snapped. I wore them anyway.

You can imagine my concern when I saw they were no longer stocked on asos. Were they discontinued everywhere? A small brand that only saw one summer? What the hell would replace them? Thankfully though Office and Schuh both stock Juju Jellies and they of course have their own website. I bought a bright pink pair of Vicky’s as soon as I found out.

Juju Footwear is a family run business, started in 1986 and based in Northampton, which does make them something of A Brit Excellent. They are “exceptionally proud to call ourselves the creators of the the original British jelly shoe” and have been making shoes and wellies for over 25 years. Juju still use the traditional manufacturing method, in the same factory since they started. All their materials are sourced in England and are recyclable, so all the waste jellies are ground up to make new products which I LOVE. In 2012 they became involved in Project Jelly, making kid’s jelly shoes for charity and 20% of all their profits go to Great Ormond Street hospital.

I have just lost a full 40 minutes on and have a wishlist of about 18 pairs I want. They have every jelly shoe a person could ever need: heels, flats, cut outs, pastels, neons, monochrome, glitter, casual, smart, playful, high fashion, throwback and just good quality everyday sandals. I have genuine sorrow I missed out on their glittery jelly chelsea boots, making up for it with the glitter jellyboot. And a special mention has got to go to the Kigu parrot wellies. They also do amazing kids wellies for just £7.50.

In these times of changeable inclement weather, it’s good to have a true friend who will support you and be by your side. Or rather on your feet.


“You’re quite camp aren’t you Sarah?” is one of the best things anyone has ever said to me. I remember clearly being sat in the sixth form common room at school with a girl from the year above. “Yes! Yes I am!” I replied with RuPaul theatricality.

I was an oddball teenager. Ginger, doughy and with none of the attributes needed to be fancied by lads. I went to bed longing to wake up looking like Natalie Imbruglia in the Torn video, but instead I woke with frizzy red hair and a complexion that resembled cranberry Wensleydale. I was teased by the boys on the school bus and spent my lunch times listening to the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack, imagining Taylor Hanson would arrive at the school gates to marry me. In the end and in an effort to fit in, I became a goth. Not a real one of course, I dyed my hair purple in the summer holidays, wore black lipstick occasionally and, perhaps most baffling, started to wear men’s boxer shorts from Gap as underwear.

I can’t remember the first time I watched Ab Fab but I gazed at Edina Monsoon and everything changed. She was loud, dramatic, cartoon camp with ridiculous clothes and I adored her. I loved how large everything about her was, how extreme and hilarious a woman on a television could be. She wasn’t interested in fitting in, in fact Eddie thought normal people were boring. Suddenly the sleek women in magazines I desperately wanted to look like were dull and being fabulous was the only way to live. I became a real life embodiment of her, walking around in tye dye and calling everyone “sweetie darling.” The boys on the bus didn’t get it at all.

Marcus Longinotti is one of the most fabulous people I had ever met in my life. He was only one year above me in sixth form but seemed years away in wisdom, experience and owning exactly who he was. He paraded around the common room, throwing around dramatics and slut dropping to Melanie C. I’ll never forget him, dressed as a reverend backstage in the school production of The Crucible, doing a full dance routine to Ricky Martin’s She Bangs. He was living it, all of it and he had no time for anyone who didn’t think they were fabulous. I was in awe.

Marcus practically threw me over his shoulder and took me to Canal Street. For the first time in my life no one cared that I was fat or had corned beef legs. No one cared I didn’t look like Shakira or that I wasn’t cool or didn’t know what to do with my hair. It wasn’t weird I sang Les Mis with my mother round the piano, in fact it was marvellous. I was different and that was fabulous. I wasn’t weird, I was wonderful. I was celebrated just for being there. Just for showing up. No one ever questioned that I was straight, I was me and as long as I was a nice person then “fuck it darling, who cares!”

Throughout my whole life I have been shown acceptance and love from a community that I don’t officially belong to. It has always welcomed me with open arms. It has thrown those arms around me when I have been lonely or scared or full of self hatred. It had hammered the message “be proud of who you are” to me over and over again. It has told me to live the life I want. It has provided my best friends. It has made me who I am.

Of course this year Pride is even bigger because last week marked the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act in England and Wales. There has been shitloads of amazing stuff to celebrate and this Saturday it is the epic Brighton Pride. I lived in Kemptown in Brighton for three years and lost lots of weekends being proud.

Ellie Ellie (a divine Brighton based independent brand) are celebrating the anniversary with their own Love is Love campaign. They believe “that everyone is equal, and want to spread the message that no matter who you love, you matter.” They have created fabulous t shirts as well as rainbow cufflinks with 20% of all sales going to The Kaleidoscope Trust, who work with parliamentarians, government ministers, officials and policy makers to campaign for real change. The t shirts are obscenely flattering so you can look delicious and do something good.

Because Love is Love, whoever it’s between.


God I’m in love with this bag.

You know when you own something and it makes you happy every single time you look at it. You can’t even properly explain why you love it so much. Maybe it’s because of where it came from or how it’s made or the feel of it in your hand but it just brings you joy? That’s exactly how I feel about this bag. It’s a lovely thing for the sake of being a lovely thing. It’s something I like just because I like it.

I do love a clutch bag. They finish an outfit and look so bloody cool. I shove all my bits in a clutch and then put it in a bigger bag or leave the Filofax at home and just take said bits out in it. This one is by Venessa Arizaga, who says “I like to think of each piece I create as a treasure and a good luck charm, something special  to keep close to you to reflect upon good times…” Amen Venessa. It came in a white box with heart covered tissue paper and was the best kind of birthday present, one that you could never justify buying for yourself. It also has everything one could need in life: colours, prints and chips.

The official name of this darling bag is the “Snack Time Clutch” and to be honest, she had me at Snack Time. It’s made of teal denim and is covered in tiny brilliant food charms. There’s a donut, ice cream, burger, strawberry, hot dog and the aforementioned chips. I have looked at this charms and turned them over in my fingers so many times and I still look at them now like I’ve never seen them before. They actually physically excite me, who knew a mini taco could do that?

As if it wasn’t dreamy enough, the lining is a bright juicy halved oranges. If it’s a crap grey March day you can open this bag and you are the man from Del Monte. It is of course the ultimate holiday bag; perfectly sized for a debit card, Nurofen, a tube of suncream, a box of plasters and a Twix. I took it all round Argentina terrified of dropping red wine or mayonnaise on it.

Venessa also makes beautiful jewellery and very cool bracelets (Jules Von Hep is a big fan) The company is based in the states but they ship internationally or you can buy it on Amazon and several shops in London, including Selfridges and The Conran Shop, where this one was bought. It’s subtle, chic but still super fun and the best thing is, it’s in the sale. Go go go love.