Clothes are so ubiquitous it’s easy to take them for granted: fripperies, feathers and function. Except they unconsciously say so much – they are our inner identities reflected back to the world. Those moments when you have nothing to wear? It’s really because there’s nothing to express who you want to be that day.
But what if the freedom we believe in is really a myth? What if society has conditioned our thinking so much we no longer notice the rules, the divisions and the assumptions they lead to?
And there are many of them: Blue for a boy, pink for a girl, pretty dresses for girls that look sweet but don’t take into consideration climbing trees and protection against skinned knees, trousers for boys that metaphorically take on another meaning, T-bars for primary school girls, running shoes for boys, Pedestal high heels for women: the literal presentation of an object of desire: Look sexy, feel sexy they shout. Taxi shoes! We laugh, the truth covered by humour, falling for the fantasy rather than admit they’re restrictive, tortuous and totally lacking function.
What about sizing? It’s another hidden form of segregation: There’s the designer labels who don’t make anything above a size 14 – what’s the message they’re giving? That only the rich are perfect? Or that designers only want to hang their clothes on hangers, not real bodies, real people? But we still let them, maybe one day hoping that person will be us, another part of our insidious cultural brainwashing. What about the clothes store that allegedly offer larger sizes except they never have any in stock? Is it because they can’t understand why someone with that body would want to wear it? Is that really their choice to make? When what’s available for one body isn’t available for another it’s limitation, restriction, and control.
Gender is another straitjacket demanding clothing conformity, every store with racks of clothes marked out for one type of person only, the changing rooms following suit. Who has decided these divisions?
Certainly not Phluid. Phluid is the first gender neutral store that’s just opened in New York as a place without judgement or fear where it’s the clothes that do the talking, not our mental labels. Phluid says we have the ability to imagine a world without ‘because we do’ traditions and outdated rituals that don’t work. They say it’s up to us to open our eyes and fix it: Acceptance, balance, integrity, intention are so much more appealing.
(All pics Phluid)
Personally, it’s such a relief to see a store that celebrates what makes us different whilst cherishing what makes us the same: We think choice is freedom, but it only is if that choice is available to everyone.
Laters, Kate x
We saw Cinderella last week..
There’s an undeniable whiff of cheese..but Cate Blanchett’s costumes were honest-to-God-totes-amaze..
vibrant colours…wicked jewellery
All thought up by three time Oscar winning costume designer Sandy Powell..
A south of the River London lass who still lives in Brixton.
Who says fairytales can’t come true?
Laters, Kate x
There was this post about the cold water challenge three of us set ourselves in September: Could we swim in the open air unheated pool without wetsuits through the winter? Then last week, the Beast from the East dropped the temperature and raised the question could we rise to the ultimate challenge in the snow?
The air temperature was minus three, the water was one degree but both the pool and sky were an inviting blue.
For those that asked, no the changing cubicles are not heated and are open to the elements. But this helps – you get acclimatised and your core remains constant. Strangely the two moments of biggest shock are when you’re changing into a cozzie on the cold concrete floor(why-the-f***-am-I-doing-this-I-must-be-mad) to when you’re changing back again from a soaking wet swimsuit and you’re feeling fine – your whole perception of temperature and what cold is has changed – it is literally mind altering, though it helps that there is a sauna to run to to warm up for a good twenty minutes, but you’re still walking around in the wet in silly temperatures..it’s a large pool.
Oh how we laugh in the face of adversity!
The temperature categories for cold water swimming are anything above five degrees is cold water, five degrees and below is ice water. This was the first time we’d actually swum with ice.
Sophie heading in – there’s no hanging around – commitment is the name of the game.
Adding a little bit more magic to a special day: The life guard serenading our swim!
We only effing did it!
If you’d told me in the summer that this is what we’d be doing in the snow, I’d never have believed you. But this bonkers, wonderful, incredible experience has steadily proved that anything is possible: You don’t have to be the best, the fastest, or the winner…you just have to do it. And preferably with a great mate.
Laters, Kate x
‘Wow. I don’t really know where to get started on this “Jennifer Lawrence wearing a revealing dress in the cold” controversy. This is not only utterly ridiculous, I am extremely offended. That Versace dress was fabulous, you think I’m going to cover that gorgeous dress up with a coat and a scarf? I was outside for 5 minutes. I would have stood in the snow for that dress because I love fashion and that was my choice.
This is sexist, this is ridiculous, this is not feminism. Over- reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. It’s creating silly distractions from real issues. Get a grip people. Everything you see me wear is my choice. And if I want to be cold THATS MY CHOICE TOO!’
To Jennifer I say, many of us don’t realise the level of sexism we have internalised. We are conditioned by it, educated in it and live out our lives in it. You wore this dress because of an insidious undercurrent of rules that dictates female Hollywood stars should wear such dresses, full stop, regardless of the expense, the quality, the label, the fashion statement, the weather, or even what the men are wearing. You were expected to dress like this, you knew this and unquestioningly fulfilled that obligation. Where the ongoing problem lies is that you don’t see your behaviour as influenced and that’s where the sadness lies, because every time our daughters see a women, particularly a women proud to hold herself up as a female icon, refuse to acknowledge such an event or puts her well being second, or does something that reinforces the idea that being object of desire/cleaning/childcare is a woman’s primary role, we let them down. In the words of Charles Boudelaire:
The loveliest trick of the devil is to persuade you he doesn’t exist.
Open your eyes. The truth is, there should have been five human beings standing there, not four men and a beautifully packaged piece of tempting meat.
Laters, Kate x
I’ve read that personalities can be divided into two camps – cowboys and farmers. The cowboys are the restless ones, always roaming and seeking new pastures whilst the farmers solidly plough the same field over and over again. Our ski holiday embraced everything cowboy: Constantly on the go, incredible scenery, crisp air, the smell of wood smoke, peace (piste…and pissed as well) as well as a true sense of wonder.
A fusion of manmade and natural – an icicle chandelier.
We were in La Rosiere on the French side of the Aosta valley, ski-able into Italy. And by all accounts, were lucky to have snow.
They were using snow cannons when we first arrived, but as the runs were in full sun it still made for great conditions. And then it snowed.
I’ve never seen this before – three rainbows, one on top of the other, made by the sun refracting through ice crystals in the air.
It always amazes me how slopes look flat in pictures!
We decided Charlie is really a secret snowboarder!
And what did I wear?? John’s old two-piece from the eighties! Maybe not quite pure vintage swagger, but on a ski slope..the joy is no-one cares!
And now I suppose it’s time to return to farming…and wrestling with the Einstein quote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
The silver lining is our holiday proved that perfectly decent wheels can aways be reinvented..
Laters, Kate x
It was pure fluke we arranged a holiday in Hastings at the exact time of their 1066 celebrations to mark 950 years since the famous battle which changed English history.
The enactment put on by English Heritage was epic, both in terms of scale and quality: The sheer attention to detail was a joy to behold with every costume cared for down to the last buttonhole.
Running up to the battlefield was a row of shops to supply us and any soldiers with their daily needs: boar hides, leather satchels, knives, jewellery, bone needles, hand loomed blankets, buckles and beer all hewn and authentically made so that seeing enactors interacting genuinely felt like a step back in time.
On either side of the battlefield were the camps of the Normans and Saxons, true living and breathing hives of activity.
From cooking food and tending livestock to weaving and making music.
The day was packed with individual events, including a falconry show. This is the closest I’ve ever got to a real golden eagle.
And so the battle began..
(The irony of the jester watching on..)
It was fabulous!
Laters, Kate x
It’s half term this week and we’ve gone away to the sea side town of Hastings to breathe the country air and walk by the sea. As a result this is an eco-friendly week of posts, re-cycled from the past..starting with this one. Enjoy x
Ever Googled yourself? I could be Kathryn Bentley..a Texas Native designing handmade jewellery and running the rather wonderful Dream Collective in Los Angeles..love her dress..
And her style.
Or maybe I’m Kate Bentley the award-winning professional painter based in the Lake District in the beautiful Lyth Valley.
Or collecting pins on Pintrest..’cept it isn’t me..but I like her taste. I think she might be a nurse..
Or maybe I’m just Kate in a Bentley..
(Photo by Kelvin Bruce)
The truth is, out here in the cyber-world, we can be who we want to be….and sometimes it’s pretty awe-inspiring to look around..
But after the burst of imaginary gasoline…I rather like coming home to my little reality again..after all, home is where the heart is.
Laters, Kate x
Before I go any further, can I just say how much I love my parquet floors – they’re warm, characterful and if they were a food they’d be a perfectly cooked, melt in the mouth steak. But there is another type of floor I would happily embrace, particularly in bathrooms: Terrazzo – A centuries old technique of mixing up marble, granite or quartz chippings with a cementitious binder, which is then polished to a fine shine.
The advantage of this technique is the ability to make anything from the mixture – it’s like the architectural version of play doh. Imagination (and possibly good taste) are the only limits to it’s capabilities.
Or it can be discreet, quietly accepting the continual pounding of life with extreme confidence, forever remaining constant. Qualities to value.
It also (and I speak from confidence here – this was the floor in my Grandparents house in Greece for many years) never shows the dirt.
Effectively it’s floor rock n roll.
Laters, Kate x
A true global and renaissance man, Jason deCaires Taylor was born in 1974 to an English father and Guyanese mother. He then grew up with one foot in Europe, the other in Asia with regular diving trips in Malaysia. In 1998 he graduated from the London Institute of Arts with a BA honours in Sculpture….before becoming a fully qualified diving instructor, underwater naturalist (Note to friends: That’s not a naked diver) and award winning photographer.
Then in 2006, off the West Coast of Grenada, he created his first underwater sculpture park and a life blood of creativity was unleashed.
His work explores the slipstream where Art and Nature collide, the grey area between man’s exploitation of nature for industrial means and the acknowledgement of the fundamental power of the earth: As time begins to colonize the forms it creates it’s own architecture, dramatic pulse and language.
This pulls on something deep within – the mystery of Atlantis, Pompeii, fairytales..even gothic Victoriana. They’re a dark presence, yet awe-inspiring at the same time.
Under the water is a world Jason knows, and through his art he aims to highlight the living beauty of the under world to encourage environmental awareness and instigate social change.
For anyone who’s heart sank at the news this week that 90% of sea birds have plastic in their stomachs, he’s a crusader you want to stand up and applaud.
His work isn’t limited to the turquoise depths of Cancun and the Bahamas..this mystical beauty can be found in Canterbury…
And now, from Sept 1 – 30, on the Thames foreshore at Vauxhall, London, adjacent to Camelford House and 87-90 Albert Embankment, is a new example of his work: The Rising Tide, commissioned by Totally Thames.
It highlights the role the river has played in the shaping of London’s history. And how easy it’s been for us to abuse it.
These could be horses, but they’re oil pumps..animals of industry, draining the land.
A theme as strong and compelling as any story ever told.
Laters, Kate x