… a word from Amanda

Welcome to this week’s instalment of Zips It Up, during the second weekend of full-blown lockdown – meaning that unwashed hair and baggy hoodies have become the norm. And, dare I say it, no bra.

We are quarantined for god knows how long but our boobs are finally free.

However, experts have warned against ditching your bras while working from home. It could cause saggy boobs, poor posture even ligament damage.

A Figleaves garment technologist comments: “We all still need to wear a bra as our breasts need to be supported. Due to their weight, you may damage your posture or cause back pain. If breasts are left unsupported, damage can occur to the Cooper’s ligament in the breast, causing them to sag.”

Instead of freeing those nipples, switch to a flexi wire bra, often used in maternity bras or a non-wired style with a seam cup to support a larger bust. Padded hooks and soft straps are also key for comfort. Putting on a well fitted bra should feel like you are not wearing a bra.

The message is simple.  Ignore a bra and you will get saggy boobs. It’s gravity after all. And the heavier the bust, the worse it gets.

The one exception is during pregnancy, when you should avoid wearing underwired bras – as they will compress your boobs and prevent your milk ducts from forming.

And as we are stuck indoors for the foreseeable, I have two brilliant guest editors contributing to the blog this week. Super savvy Chanelle Clark reviews a selection of current ‘female friendly’ books to pass away those isolated hours. ASK AURORA, our beauty Ed, is back with her review of the best vegan facemasks out there right now. Plus in this instalment,  I check out Gucci’s Bridget Jones Big Pants and Pillow Backpacks.

It’s a bumper ‘Stay at Home’ issue. 

#Stay Safe

Ask Aurora: Mask Parade

Hello Zipsters! I promise I am not going to mention the C-Word! Only the F-Word!

I am of course referring to the word FACEMASK! THIS is what we all should be embracing in our isolation stations. Right now, everyone is feeling dull, lifeless, irritated, tired and the first place that shows is on our visage. I have found a facemask for every one of those problems. Got munchkins at home? Now is the time to encourage them to partake in a little child-friendly TLC. So sit back, relax and let my healing, peeling wonders work their magic. Starting with a 100 percent vegan option I have absolutely fallen in love with The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask. It is made with Community Fair Trade Tea Tree Oil and is goes on as rough as sand. Drying to a hard clay, it rinses off surprisingly easy after just 5/10 minutes and literally scrapes away layers of dead skin in the process. The coal particles provide a super exfoliating quality. You will look like you are about to go into armed combat when the mask is on,  but you  will definitely get your glow when the war is 

Another superhero from the altar of Anita Roddick will give you an even quicker fix and I have even been using it on my FEET of all places! It’s the Body Shop Glow Revealing Vitamin C Liquid Peel containing the very fancy Camu Camu from the Amazonian Rain Forest. The delightful orange scent is so refreshing and the mask itself, when massaged into dry, cleansed skin, lifts off old skin that you can actually see in giant clumps in your hand. Visible proof that it works like a dream. 

A fun treat for your little ones and you from SNP Cosmetic are Animal Character Printed Masks. Available in several varieties, you can transform yourselves into an Otter, Dragon, Lion, Koala, Panda, Tiger whilst at the same time hydrating, soothing and detoxing! Here I am with my four year old testing them out! 

For the real problem areas of your boat race, I have sourced two fabulous, multi tasking big hitters. The first is from the brand new Clarins range which also caters to vegans. The Clear Out Blackhead Expert has an ingenious little stick on top which, when applied to the t zone on moist skin, dislodges blackheads and other impurities. The second step is the mask, which works best on dry, cleansed skin, gives a clay based and fresh scented detox for the whole face. The difference after one application was mind blowing! 

My last masked crusader is not for the faint hearted.Jorg Obe Charcoal Mask is not so much a peel off as a tear off mask. And it is an all black warrior against clogged pores and blackheads. Spread on to cleansed skin in a thick layer and wait for the antibacterial miracle. Then pull off in swift motions to reveal a new you. The smoothness of my forehead combined with the sight of a whole strip of black wax clinging on to my demons was the highlight of my week! 

One thing I must just mention is that there really is no substitute for a good old fashioned facial steaming. Either alone or before any of these treatments. Open pores are best when applying any facial treatments and that is a fact! Boil water in a bowl and fling a towel over your head for five minutes , ideally wearing one of the fantastic hair masks that I am going to review in the next issue! 

Chanelle Clark’s Book Review

As someone whose love of books equals if not supersedes their love of style I was delighted to be asked to offer up some reading options for Amanda Zips It Up.

These handful of recent works should keep us stimulated during these surreal times. Ranging from non fiction, fiction, biog’s and even poetry, there ought to be something for everyone.

For those book lovers amongst us please join my page ‘ International Book Appreciation Society ‘ on Facebook where  we share our reading experiences and collectively review a book once a month.

Three Women – Lisa Taddeo

First and foremost I loved this book…

Why? I think the honesty was paramount, three women speaking heartfeltly about their emotional and sexual lives; utterly transfixing. On a personal level the language used to describe the yearning,the need, being there left wanting, never feeling enough, was quite heartbreaking.

Poor Lina’s self worth was at rock bottom and she was utterly reliant on her lover, overtaken with a need to feel desired. Sloane’s life was a strange, sexually fluid existence and she enraptured people with her glacial beauty.  I found it baffling how much control she allowed her husband to take, to the extent he even chose her lovers for her. Maggie’s was arguably the saddest story and very difficult to comprehend. She loved him, or she thought she loved him but societally they should never have been together. 

Of course multiple questions were raised..so many! Is it a trade off? What do we/should we accept and what do we pretend is otherwise? Personally I think these are issues that everyone  can relate to in relationships rather than being gender specific.

I thought the sex scenes were brilliantly handled, even the ones that sat uncomfortably and were questionably consensual remained incredibly accurate.

Male and females alike should read this and I am sure will find it very insightful about the human psyche and the roles we play.

The Lesser Bohemians – Eimear McBride

Exquisite and unusual; this book blew my mind , a total pleasure that stayed with me long after.

McBride has a particular writing style, poetic with broken sentences as well as chapters. The first few chapters I found difficult as the form jarred against normality, but I soon got into my cadence.

Ultimately, it is about the intense love affair between an 18 year old Irish girl and her older, damaged, actor lover. It is both beautifully light when they are exalted with their love and perilously dark at other points.

Special mention has to be accorded to the handling of sex in this novel. Never have I known it to be so beautifully executed. I was feeling the abandonment of self and the unification of coupling with them.

Such a clever work incorporating many literary devices in a seemingly effortless way. Really brilliant and the juxtaposition of the interior and exterior self was very illuminating. Miss this book at your peril!

Diary of a Somebody – Brian Bilston

This book was so amusing, witty and erudite yet in an extremely nonchalant fashion. He plays with grammar and literary devices, almost humouring them. His word play is simply dazzling.

The premise is that Bill Bilston will write a poem every day for a year, whilst trying to come to terms with his ever more desperate life. His wife has left him for a marketing guru who is having an adverse effect on his son’s character. In addition to this he is swimming in a sea of spreadsheets in his dull, office existence.

It is reminscent of Adrian Mole for me which I am sure most of us read back in the day.  This is the adult, smarter version if you like.  It had me laughing aloud on many occasions and also oft pondering over his prowess. Bilston’s mastery of both prose and most pertinently poetry was second to none.

This book is written in a diary format and it features many a poem. DO NOT LET THAT PUT YOU OFF! Personally, I adore poetry, but even for non devotees, it is hugely accessible and ‘fun’; a word not often associated with poetry.

Bilston deserves to be our next Poet Laureate and this book is a sui generis work of art.

For the Fashion Aficionado’s amongst us (all AZU readers are of course) these two following books are amongst my favourites from that genre; I consider them ‘Must’ reads!

Champagne Supernovas – Maureeen Callahan

For me, any book with my beloved Kate on the cover is a sure fire winner thus automatically purchased; I devoured this in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed romping through that decade of utter debauchery with the key players.

Kate and her hardcore hedonism is detailed as well as the excesses of all the other’s on the periphery. Full of gossip, drugs, sex and scandal as well as being a great insight into the fashion industry at that exciting time.

Her antics are relatively well documented, but the actions of Jacobs and McQueen not so much until now. It has a fly on the wall feel to it and is buzzy and fast paced.

It seems that Callahan at times has her own axe to grind and can be quite bitchy and scathing of some, for example Isabella Blow falls victim to her poison pen. The writing and editing were nothing to write home about, pardon the pun, but who cares when the subject matter is so fascinating.

If you love fashion, popular culture and this was your era too then it’s an essential read.

The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983 – 1992

This memoir charts Tina Brown’s rise from Party Girl Journo to EIC of Vanity Fair, New York.  A life less ordinary is chartered swooping between countries and scenes. It is a veritable who’s who of high society featuring many tantalising titbits.  Brown also touches on the difficulties of juggling a high powered job with motherhood.

Gucci’s Big Pants & Pillows

Remember Bridget Jones’ ‘absolutely enormous panties’? Well, Italian fashion house Gucci is flogging a cotton bra and pants set that wouldn’t look out of place in Bridget’s lingerie drawer. This underwear set contains a pair of giant knickers for an eye-watering £670.

The firm’s website reveals: ‘Crafted from embroidered GG tulle in ivory and completed with a light pink elastic Gucci stripe, this bra and briefs set completes several looks from the Spring Summer 2020 fashion show. A beautiful cliché of sexiness’.

If oversized underwear isn’t for you, Gucci has also created a £2,555 back pack – to cart around a pillow. Pointless when we’re on lockdown (and indeed when the next plane journey might not be until 2021), but you could always lug it from the lounge to the bedroom.

But for their monster investment, buyers do get a white cushion with pale blue stripes, with the firm’s famous monogram logo thrown in. And fashionistas clearly love the must-have accessory for sleepovers. So much so that the firm has sold out.

The backpack consists of leather straps plus a metal horse-bit design. Gucci comments: ‘Presented on the Spring Summer 2020 runway, the pillow holder brings a fashion element to the Gucci 1955 Horsebit line.

The front is further enriched with the line’s distinctive Horsebit hardware, an equestrian-inspired House code formed by a double ring and bar.’

If the world wasn’t mad enough right now.

… a word from Amanda

Welcome to the most incredible Spring conditions, here in London. We are in lockdown, confined to our homes, with no option but to sunbathe in our gardens and balconies in glorious sunshine and clear blue skies. There’s no sound of planes, trains and automobiles. Just sweet silence and tweeting birds. Oh, the irony.

It might not seem that way right now, but I’m pretty sure many  longer-term positives will come out of this pandemic. In the meantime, I will be here every Friday, bringing you fashion and lifestyle news designed for this challenging time. I’ll do my best to look at the lighter side of current situation. 

Trump claims that America is almost over the virus. D’oh.

And there’s another claim in the news this week. Apparently, Michael Jackson predicted coronavirus, which is  why he wore that  face mask.

The late King of Pop’s former bodyguard Matt Fiddes has claimed that the star predicted a coronavirus-like pandemic, which is why he continued to wear a facemask, despite being mocked for it. British bodyguard Matt, who looked after the singer for a decade, said that while Michael was travelling the globe on tour, he realised that there was potential for a virus like COVID-19 to spread, and therefore took measures to prevent himself from ever catching it. 

He knew that a natural disaster was always there. “He was very aware and would always predict that we could be wiped out at any time. That a germ that could spread. He would go through four countries in one day sometimes and he was on aeroplanes with people all the time.”

He added: “He would say, ‘Matt I can’t get ill, I can’t let my fans down. I’ve got concerts coming up. I’m on this earth for a reason. I mustn’t damage my voice, I’ve got to stay healthy, I don’t know who I’m going to encounter today, I don’t know what I might pass on’.”

Matt says that if Michael were alive today he’d tell people “I told you so”.

Anyway, we’ve all just got to Beat It. 

Onto this instalment of Amanda Zips It Up and we check out H&M’s stunning new online Conscious Collection, how to cut your hair whilst marooned at home, plus a new range of ‘loungewear for working from home’ by Missguided. 

How To Cut Your Hair At Home

Hairdressers all over the UK are hanging up their scissors after Boris ordered them to shut, amid the coronavirus outbreak. No hairdressers, no nail salons, no lashes…. I look an absolute state, and we’re only on Day 4!

How can one keep on top of hair maintenance if there is no access to salons? And should one attempt to cut one’s own hair?

It’s so tempting to cut and colour your hair at home during this period of isolation, with so much time to play with. However, it’s not recommended if you can help it. Whilst we are all locked-in, it might be good to give one’s hair a break from colouring and heated styling tools.

Instead you could try applying a hair mask or conditioning treatment to nourish and condition any split ends, instead of trimming them. That’s what I’m doing. I’m also letting my roots come through. I’m only with my family and they don’t care what I look like (within reason).

However, if you are determined to go DIY on your locks, here is some professional advice that I discovered online.

Part hair down the centre and push the lengths equally over each both shoulders.  Then pull the length of the hair on one side straight between two fingers with good tension. Keep your head straight, then do the other side and check they match.

Apparently, it’s best to cut your hair when it is wet.

Alternatively, comb all the hair forward so that it sits above the chest, tightly flatten the hair between your middle and index finger stop at your desired length and cut in a straight line, then apply the same method to the other side to achieve a one-length haircut.

How to cut your fringe at home.

If your fringe is growing too long DON’T thoughtlessly grab the scissors, work carefully with it. Maybe part it through the middle for a grown-out 70s look or move the parting and wear it as more of a side fringe. Think Bridget Bardot and Mossy.

Kitchen scissors, nail scissors or a dull blade can really damage your hair by causing split frayed ends, a lopsided look, ending up leaving your hair frustrated with a blunt cut. Order some semi-decent scissors on Amazon. I did, and they were less than a fiver.

If you need to take a bit of weight out of a fringe, use a point cutting technique. This is where you hold the scissors vertically and carefully snip into the ends.

Dyeing your hair at home.

During this uncertain time, it is more important than ever that we take care of our wellbeing and mental health, as well as our physical health. For many of us, a big part of wellbeing is that if our hair doesn’t look or feel at its best, and it can have an impact on our self-esteem.

Really, one should steer clear of supermarket dyes, but if you have to, I recommend using high end- designer hair colour systems if this is something you want to try.

Well known, slightly pricier brands tend to be more trustworthy and the products are of a high enough quality. 

Otherwise, be like me and let it grow, grow, grow.

Missguided ‘Work From Home Loungewear’

Missguided have cleverly launched a ‘working from home’ lounge wear range – and there’s 40% off right now.

The online fashion retailer has released a comfy lounge wear collection that’s perfect for those who are working from home during coronavirus isolation.

If you’re working from home and aren’t sure what to wear, then this is perfect. Because I reckon it’s important to get dressed every day, rather than stay in your PJs. But clearly, officewear might be a little OTT for the occasion.

Searches for “lounge wear” have increased over the past week – and I’m not surprised. After all, nothing beats a comfy tracksuit, or a soft hoodie, when you’re spending a lot of time inside.

Here are some of our top picks from the new Missguided lounge wear range.

You can view it in its entirety online at www.missguided.co.uk

H&M New Conscious Collection

Yes, I know most fashion shops are closed, but online shopping is still very much open for business.

Even during this challenging time, it’s still worth looking for ways to make our wardrobes a little bit more planet-friendly. Whether it’s shopping from sustainable brands or hiring clothing items rather than buying them. Perhaps now more than ever, we need to take steps to take care of our planet, and our relationship with “fast fashion” is finally changing.

Sustainable fashion is now more accessible than ever, with high street brands such as H&M doing their bit to offer environmentally-friendly pieces. The brand launched their Conscious Collection in 2012, and are currently using the line as a sustainable stepping stone on the way to achieving their goal of using only recycled or sustainably sourced materials in just ten years’ time, by 2030.

If you’re a fan of the Conscious Collection, the good news is the next drop is today (26 March), and it’s simply stunning.

The collection is inspired by Le Train Bleu, the elegant sleeper train that went from Calais to the French Rivera (Côte d’Azur) in the 1920s. Pieces are decked out in Rivera-inspired stripes, and boast gorgeously over-the-top silhouettes, and taffeta, taffeta, taffeta. If there was ever a time to shop for aspirational (yet affordable) pieces, to have fun with once our current health crisis is over, it’s now.

But while the collection — which boasts elegant pieces for the evening, as well as daytime classy summer-wear — is undoubtedly beautiful to look at, it also has an impressive story behind it. The length the Conscious designers have gone to in seeking recycled, sustainable materials is a highlight in itself.

First up, many of the new pieces have been made with leftover materials from previous collections, meaning nothing has gone to waste. These include recycled glass for accessories, recycled polyester-taffeta, and organic silk.

Leather-look pieces are made from a genius fabric named Vegea, created using discarded grape skins, stalks and seeds from the winemaking process.

 There’s also the collection’s first denim piece, which H&M ensured was as eco-friendly as possible by using 100% undyed organic cotton that’s recyclable. Which means less water used in the fabric as well as fewer chemicals to dye the jeans.

While the clothing is all excellent, the accessories are perhaps what standout most in this range. From intricate seashell-inspired hair accessories to strappy mules, these will see you through 2020 and beyond.

The new Conscious Collection launches 26 March 2020 online.

… a word from Amanda

Welcome to what (I hope) will serve as a little bit of light relief during these extraordinary times that we are experiencing together.

I don’t want to dwell too much on what’s going on, because you all know. We also know that we’ll come out of this stronger and when we do emerge from it, my gosh – what a party that will be.

So, to take a light-hearted approach, hands up who’s being trying to find dried pasta in any supermarket right now?

Many shoppers have shared photos of pasta shelves in the likes of Sainsburys and Tesco completely empty, after recent panic buying. Well here’s one shop that (last time I looked) was still in stock. Anne Summers! Yes, they sell pasta and this isn’t just ordinary pasta. This is PENIS PASTA.

  • Penis Pasta, £5 from Ann Summers

The penis-shaped pasta, which is described as being “hysterical and completely delicious”, plus increases in size when cooked, is part of Ann Summers’ three-for-two current offer.

Usually a pack will set you back £5, but could be free if you select two other items from the shop.

So, stock up, and if we’re all quarantined for three months, I’d suggest adding a few more items to your online order, because we’ll all have to keep ourselves “occupied” at home now.

Onto this week’s instalment, and we look at disco face masksLouis Vuitton hand sanitizer and Rita Ora’s new shoe collection for Deichmann

Stay safe and wash those hands.

Louis Vuitton Hand Sanitizer

So, we all know we’re in for weeks/months of uncertainty. But how can fashion help bring an end to the current epidemic?

Major luxury brand company LVMH is converting its perfume and cosmetics factories to instead produce hand sanitizer during this coronavirus outbreak, which it plans to give free to French authorities and France’s largest hospitals.

The French company, which is behind brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior and Givenchy, said it hoped to begin making hydroalcoholic gel in its factories shortly, as the coronavirus pandemic has caused the world to run out of hand sanitizer.

“Through this initiative, LVMH intends to help address the risk of a lack of product in France and enable a greater number of people to continue to take the right action to protect themselves from the spread of the virus,” the company said in a statement.

LVMH will deliver the hand sanitizer for free, and said it will continue manufacturing hand sanitizer for as long as necessary.

The decision comes as France has gone into lock-down to prevent the spread of COVID-19.