Detachable Peter Pan collar

Cute collarMy friend Lauren taught me how to make this detachable Peter Pan collar. It’s not for personal consumption though. We’re working with Oxfam at The Clothes Show Live in Birmingham, where we’ll be running workshops on customising and upcycling clothing. Apart from collars, there will also be embellishing t-shirts, jeans tote bags and cashmere hairbands. All very exciting, I’m sure you’ll agree. Continue reading “Detachable Peter Pan collar”

Compare and contrast

northwest is best compare and contrast

Feeling nostalgic and stuck inside with a cold (plus a stack of library books for entertainment), I was browsing my Flickr archive and realised it’s been just over a year since I started taking outfit photos. Back in the olden days of November 2009 I had to balance my boyfriend’s camera on a wonky kitchen stool and didn’t even do any image editing. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about HTML, Photoshop, pixels and posing. But there’s still more I want to learn, and I couldn’t call myself a ‘photographer’ without inwardly chortling. Continue reading “Compare and contrast”

Seven inches of delight

sparks beat the clock seven inch

I love music. More than clothes. Some nights I don’t want to sleep because there are so many songs to devour.

My favourite format for music is the humble seven inch. Slipping the vinyl disc out of the sleeve, carefully slotting it onto the turntable and then gently placing the needle in place is a little ritual that makes me appreciate the music more than clicking play on an iPod. Not that I want to own every song on seven inch. Where would I put them all? There’s already a lot of them in my living room. Once, my boyfriend bought a job lot of sevens off eBay, boxesnboxes of them. The previous owner had been a DJ, and after hauling them around village hall discos, wedding receptions and suburban birthday parties, some were too warped and scratched to play. He (presumably a he) had fastidiously pressed small neon stickers against the tracks guaranteed to get people dancing (easier to find in the dark), and scribbled notes on some of the sleeves (‘mid-tempo power ballad’ or ‘excellent reggae beat’). Continue reading “Seven inches of delight”


northwest is best red handmade burda top again

For too long I’ve been opening my mouth and blah blah blah-ing about how I’m ‘learning to sew’. It was time to shut my trap and get on with it, so I had a lesson with Sara of Needlebugs in Nexus, a not-for-profit cafe and community art space in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Sara patiently explained away all the little mysteries of dressmaking, like bias-binding and darts. Plus she didn’t make me feel like a total noob for asking questions. So thank you, Sara!
Continue reading “Seamstress”

Office inappropriate

northwest is best office inappropriate

photos by richey. thanks!

It’s been a busy weekend. Bike riding, food eating, film watching and cider drinking busy. It’s all rather tired me out, and I should get some sleep in preparation for another week. But I will divulge one anecdote. Late on Friday night I rolled up to a friend-of-a-friend’s party. The theme was the 1980s, and some of the costumes were amazing. Mario, Luigi, Adam Ant, cassette tapes… A girl dressed as Princess Diana in a frou frou wedding dress and draped in Union Jacks said to me “I love your costume.” I was too polite to tell her I didn’t know it was fancy dress, and these are just my clothes. Actually, I treat everyday like it’s fancy dress, so it was a compliment.

Hope your weekend was also good. I don’t tell you often enough, but I do appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and to comment on my posts. If I could, I’d give you a high five and maybe even an awkward hug. Because I’m all reserved and British like that. But seriously. Thank you.


cardigan – beyond retro // blouse – secondhand // scarf – oxfam originals // trousers – topman // socks – marks & spencer // shoes – office
northwest is best office inappropriate details
northwest is best bidston station
northwest is best bidston trees
northwest is best office inappropriate 2

What’s in your bag?

northwest is best hilmar handbag

My new handbag has received a lot of compliments, on the internet and in the real world. Do you want to know some more about it? Well, I’m going to tell you. It came from my local charity shop, and is vintage (1950s? 1960s? I’m not sure). The label is Hilmar of Manchester, and it pleases me that this delightful bag will be staying in the city where it was made. The straps are a little bit worn, but can be replaced. Or upgraded.

While we’re here, I might as well fulfil a blogger cliche and tell you what I carry in my bag. It varies everyday, and I usually end up toting around a rucksack too. But here are the regular bits and bobs:

northwest is best whats in your bag

1 // plasters and safety pin. You know, just in case.
2 // aspirin (from my holiday to Belarus)
3 // comb
4 // library card. An amazing bit of plastic which allows me to access thousands of books, journals, DVDs, CDs and archived newspapers.
5 // £1.50 in change. Recently, I’ve been leaving my wallet at home. This prevents ‘accidents’ like walking out of a charity shop having purchased a polyester Fergie-style 80s prom dress because it ‘might be fun to wear in the pub’.
6 // Burt’s Bees hand repair creme and cuticle cream. Although I’m wearing gloves whenever I venture outside now that the temperature’s dropped, my hands still get dry.
7 // red lipstick.
8// Vaseline. This tin’s a bit battered because it’s been to so many places with me. Oh, the stories it could tell etc…
9 // LED bike light. Because the light is so murky these days, I have this little light blinking away on the back of my bike when I’m riding in the daytime as well as night.
10 // Reflective stripes. Used instead of trousers clips. Be safe, be seen. They’re also good if you’re jogging or walking a dog after dark.
11 // Bike lock. This isn’t a super fancy bike lock, but I don’t have a super fancy bike. If I did, I would get a D-lock.
12 // Water bottle.

Not pictured… my phone (a clunky old Nokia), tissues, front bike light and my notebook. They’re around somewhere. But you know what tissues look like.

northwest is best library card


northwest is best frank sidebottom arts

Last night I went to the opening of Frankophilia!, an exhibition celebrating Frank Sidebottom. Frank was forever 35, relentlessy optimistic and did the shopping for his mum (most likely in his big shorts). Chris Sievey, the man behind the papier mache mask, sadly died earlier this year. Frank was never a mainstream comedian, but the news of his death was met with a lot tributes. Frank touched many people, especially in his home city of Manchester. Soon as Chris passed away I got talking to a man in the Northern Quarter. He pulled down his t-shirt to show me a large tattoo of Frank Sidebottom on his chest. “I’m getting a halo added,” he told me.

Exhibition curator Suzanne Smith contacted via Flickr to ask permission to use one of my pictures. You can see my photograph here, which I snapped on Oxford Road when I was taking a summer evening stroll in July. If I’d known it would end up on the Chapman Gallery wall I would have framed it better. I didn’t make the graffiti or the stencil, and don’t know who did. So it was a humble contribution from me, but I was really happy to be involved because Frank Sidebottom brought joy into my life – and introduced me to the word ‘bobbins’. Last year, I saw him perform in Liverpool with his Oh Blimey Big Band. It was a gig that make my jaw ache from grinning.

The exhibition itself was fantastic (to borrow Frank’s favourite word), and a poignant tribute to the man. Seeing the care and attention people had put into their artworks was touching, as was seeing the grins on the faces of everybody enjoying the exhibition. Of course, I didn’t take enough photos so will have to go back for a second visit. Thank you to Suzanne for inviting me to participate, and for all her hard work putting the show together.

Where: Chapman Gallery, University of Salford
When: 17 November-18 December (Wednesday-Saturday, 12pm-5pm)
Price: Free

northwest is best frank sidebottom matryoshkaA set of Frank matryoskha by Suzanne Smith.

northwest is best frank sidebottom needleworkSome Frank needlework, but I didn’t note down the artist. My bad.

northwest is best frank sidebottom sofa

A Frank sofa.


northwest is best serendipity

photos by me – apologies for how grainy the image is, but the light is permanently murky

Many months ago, I found this pink dress at a car boot sale. “That one’s three quid, love,” the stallholder told me. “Because it’s hand made.” Cheap at twice the price, I thought, handing over my money. Cutesy pink dresses are not a favourite of mine, but this one has been stitched together by a very talented seamstress. Plus the material is beautiful, almost like a Liberty print.I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so showed it to my mum. She look surprised and then excited, telling me “it’s just like my wedding dress!” She’s right – apart from some variations (different material, lace trim…) these dresses have been made from the same pattern. My parents got married about 30 years ago, so what a coincidence for me to find a near identical dress all that time later at a car boot sale in south London.

Continue reading “Serendipity”


northwest is best menswear

One phrase that is often mentioned near ‘personal style blogging’ is ‘the democratisation of fashion’. But I’m not convinced that it really opens up the fashion industry or even society’s standards of beauty to new voices. Just take a look at the front page of any of the big style social networking sites like Chictopia, Weardrobe or Not exactly diverse. (Grit and Glamour had an indepth look and wrote an interesting blog post about it.)

Yes, in some ways I fit the status quo because I’m a slim, reasonably good-looking white gal. But I don’t want to be perceived as a dressed-up doll who exists to be admired. I’m active and strong. The clothes I wear have to fit around what I do, not the other way around.

Which leads me to this outfit. I’m feeling tired of vintage tea dresses. Not that floral prints or chiffon are incompatible with intelligence or strength, but I’m changing and the way I dress is changing too. I’m toughening up.

jumper – pop boutique via boyfriend’s wardrobe // trousers – topman // brogues – topshop
northwest is best menswear (2)