Welcome to Amanda Zips It Up and the end of footy season (ish)

Welcome to Amanda Zips It Up and the end of the premiership season (before the Euros kick-off in a month’s time).

Unless you live under a rock, or have ZERO interest in football whatsoever, you’ll know that last Sunday was the huge Premier League title race finalé.

Those of you who know about my immediate family members will be aware I live in a 100% Arsenal household. So, this is purely from my perspective – and I totally respect that many of you support own (different) teams. Look away now, if you must!

I can’t say I am as avid a fan as the rest of the family, but I am quite interested in the fashion perspective – the kit, the shirts and sports brands in general. The new Arsenal kit for forthcoming season 2024/5 landed this week, and it has had a mixed response from fans in the UK.

Adidas have responded to claims that the new Arsenal home shirt for the 2024-25 season is shaped like a bottle.

The German sportswear brand unveiled Arsenal’s new kit last Thursday, and many fans are saying the same thing about the design.

The red of the shirt against the white makes it look like the outline of a bottle -which rival supporters are laughing about on social media – obviously. (FYI: The term ‘bottling’ is used in football to describe when a team throws away a good chance of winning something).

Since someone showed me that bottle shape, I can’t unsee it. Anyway – I’m sure they’ll be hanging in multiple North London wardrobes imminently.

Crest is replaced with the cannon

Onto this week’s instalment, in which I tell you what to wear and what NOT to wear this summer, and (to be fair) some of you may end up thinking I’ve got it wrong.

Plus, how to double your hair growth in just 5 weeks.

Time To Ditch The Dresses & Trainers

Death Of The Floral Dress & White Trainers

When the weather starts to warm up in London, many women’s wardrobes predominantly consist of two things: dresses and trainers.

Combined, the two together are an easy way to look fun and feminine, while being able to walk around the capital with a spring in one’s step. 

But the trend has taken a few hits of late, with fashion editors proclaiming the floral midi dress and white trainer combo is ‘a bit old hat’, as noted in various editorial features on what not to wear this summer.

Opinion varies, depending upon which generation you belong to. If you’re older, you may be baffled by the Floral Dress & Pumps look in the first place, believing that trainers ‘ruin’ things (why corrupt a pretty dress?).

For the middle-aged generation (35 – 55), the look has become the standard uniform of many women.

For Millennials, the trainers and dress combo was never really a thing. Gen Z are noting on TikTok: ‘I wish people would give up on it, it’s so tacky. Give me heels with a dress or skirt and I’m loving it.’

Gen Z wouldn’t be seen dead in a floral dress and white trainers

On a general level, I side with the younger generation. I find the whole ‘tea dress and white Zara platform trainers’ look a frumpy and somewhat ageing image.

To be clear, I don’t think every dress doesn’t work well with trainers, (I’m loving 2006 Lily Allen rocking a prom dress with Nikes). Suffice to say, if you pick the right shoe and strike the right balance, it’ can still be chic and comfortable.

But comfort should always be stylish, enabling you to enjoy life to the full whilst improving mood. Therefore, the thought the idea of trying to do away with trainers and dresses seems ‘absolute nonsense’, to many women. But it has become a somewhat stale and dated look in 2024. 

Personal stylist Charlotte Broadbent agrees that there are plenty of other shoes out there to pair with our dresses, e.g. flowy maxi with boho boots or gladiator-style sandals.

Ultimately, fashion is about expressing yourself. Wear the dress and trainers if it makes you feel confident, energetic and happy.

The Year of Socks & Sandals

Sandals and socks! Heels and socks! Crocs and socks! How summer 2024 became the “season of the sock”.

No shoe is safe from this year’s favourite accessory. So, ditch the blisters and don a sock (or two) this summer.

If you’re a sucker for a bare ankle then this summer you’ll be sorely disappointed. All of them are covered up! 

Blend it like Beckham

This isn’t yet more evidence of the prudishness of Gen Z, rather evidence that this year’s hottest accessory has successfully made its way into the warmer summer months. Yes, the SOCK is in, and it’s here to stay.

Years ago, the idea of wearing socks with a pair of sandals, let alone heels, would be considered sartorial suicide. The very idea of such a pairing conjures up visions of being five years old, or trying on a pair of shoes in a shop, or being a religious studies teacher. Not exactly the height of glamour.

But now, it’s the humble sock’s time to shine. Socks are the perfect wardrobe pick-me-up. They’re an inexpensive way to update your wardrobe when it’s feeling stale and samey. You can pair a red sock with that same shirt and skirt and loafer combo you’ve been wearing for the past few months and suddenly it feels really new and fresh.

It’s something that’s floated across the runways too: at Gucci’s cruise show earlier this week, models traversed the Tate Modern’s Tanks in striped sports socks and loafers, paired with everything from skirt suits, to oversized leather jackets, to sheer co-ords. Elsewhere, in the spring/summer 2024 collections, we had embellished black socks paired with Crocs at Simone Rocha, long socks with brogues and bodysuits at Victoria Beckham, and striped knee-socks with mini dresses at Marni.

And just as the catwalks foretold, these socks quickly made their way onto the streets of London. Practically, it makes a lot of sense: you get to swerve any pesky blisters, and it means shoes normally reserved for summer can be worn in all sorts of weird British weather situations.

The right sock adds a dash of youth to an outfit. 

But with a world of sock styles and colours to choose from, and likely a whole selection ready-made in your own sock drawer, which is the type to pick? I’ve been seeing girls wearing red socks everywhere and I love those, especially because they feel really preppy. 

White socks and block colour socks are the safest. However, I think having a really nice sock in a bright colour makes you look a lot more pulled together.

So, when in doubt this summer, don a sock. It might just make your outfit.

How To Double Your Hair Growth In 5 Weeks

Who wants double their amount of hair in 5 weeks?

If, like me, in the 90s you plucked your eyebrows into oblivion with pencil thin arches, á la Pammy Anderson, then you may know about UKLASH. The only serum to help them grow back to a bushier 2024 look.  Eyelash Serum, £38, sells globally at the rate of one every 10 seconds.

Now, UKLASH has launched a head hair growth serum and shoppers are raving about the results, reporting thicker hair in just 5 weeks.

If you suffer from hair thinning or hair loss, you’ll know what a knock it can be to your confidence.  Two years in the making, UKLASH Hair Growth Serum, £29, has been clinically proven to improve hair growth and density, with 95% of customers reporting a reduction in hair loss after three months.

It is formulated by biologists and contains a cocktail of effective ingredients, including pea sprout extract, phytic acid and turmeric to stimulate hair growth. Users apply 3-5 drops every day to a damp or dry, clean scalp, massage-in, then leave to dry before styling as normal.

UKLASH tests showed noticeable improvements in hair growth, strength and breakage in just three months – and some of the 700-odd shopper reviews are impressive.

“I lost my hair during chemo. I started using the hair serum as soon as I got the all clear,” one customer said online.  “In 5 weeks my hair had thickened up beautifully as it was quite a lot thinner on the top, but now it’s thick all over.”

“I’ve tried everything. Gummies, rosemary oil, different shampoos, different brushes, not washing as much, different hair dressers etc. I had thin hair before my pregnancy but even worse after. It just didn’t grow back,” another customer explained.

“Now here I am after 3 months of using the serum every other day, I double the amount of my hair, it grew ever so long, is healthy, thick and shiny. I love it and can’t wait to see what it’ll look like in a year’s time.”

Sounds like this is a winner and definitely one to try if you have thinning or shedding hair. And lashes… and brows.

Valentine Gifts 2021

Valentine’s Day is on the horizon folks; Let’s indulge our inner romantic. Even if your standard take is that it is commercial schmaltz, this is the year to throw that shade aside and relish in love. We could all do with being reminded of our specialness, and quite how cherished we are. So, let’s up the ante!

The gifts I have selected are unisex and surely pleasing for all. In some instances, providing a moment to remember, in others a keepsake to treasure.

So please indulge, enjoy and make someone feel utterly sublime in the process. Let’s spread

                                                                   L-O-V-E.

Silver Fortune Cookies

Who doesn’t adore opening a fortune cookie full stop? Here we upgrade to the next level, presenting a silver object d artè Cookie with our own hand-written message enclosed. So thoughtful, beautiful and packaged in its own takeaway box for an added bit of kitsch.

$25.00 from Coming Soon

Hot Choc Bombs

A little indulgence liked by all surely. These bombs only require warm milk added to ensure a sumptuous, decadent drink. The array of flavours available is astounding (Salted Caramel for me please) and chocolate is a pre-requisite on Valentine’s Day of course.

Etsy.com £3.16 upwards

Darcie Olley Personalised Portrait

This immensely talented young lady is an illustrator lauded by Paul Smith none the less. As well as selling her own designs she will personalise a work for you in her own inimitable style. Please see my darling family portrait that she produced; we are all delighted with it. Such a unique eye. It could be you and your partner, dog, child. your call, her magic.

£36.00

In true Valentine’s spirit, Darcie has offered all readers 10% off her Portraits during the month of Feb, use code : AMANDA10

Solid Copper Photo Print

Have a special moment framed in a unique, decidedly retro way. My husband absolutely adores his, and it takes pride of place bedside. A personalised message can be inscribed too.

Not seen on the high street £25.00

Letters to my Love

How immensely touching would it be to receive 12 letters from your loved one?! No one could be failed to be blown away by such a gesture. Draw on your hidden wordsmith nature and start penning meaningful missives. Be sure to seal them with a Loving Kiss.

£12.99 amazon

” Cheese Box of Love”

Staying in has never looked nor tasted so appealing with one of Grape & Figs grazing boxes. Including three cheeses (Brie, Goats & Blue), cured meats, antipasti, fresh & dried fruit, nuts, garnishes and crackers. Vegan wine and stunning hand-tied blooms can be added. What more could you need for a romantic Valentine’s night in?

Grape & Fig starts from £45.00

Honey Birdette Massage Candles

On a slightly saucier vein, there are seven different scents of these exquisite massage candles to sample. These are not your average candle by any stretch. Use to fragrance the room, perfume the bath and also for some erotic wax play.

Honey Birdette £20-40

Wishing you all a Happy and Playful Valentine’s Day.

Chanelle Clark Bruccoleri

How To Tie Dye At Home

For the last year or two, there’s been a constant stream of tie-dye in fashion magazines, on all fashion social media platforms and especially my Insta.

I especially love Hailey Beiber and Dua Lipa here.

As we’re all locked down for what seems like an eternity, I thought it would be a nice idea to talk about how to DIY tie – dye.

Of course, you can buy pre-made tie-dye items on net, but let’s be honest, it’s way cooler to make your own. And more sustainable, especially if you’re giving new life to a ratty old t-shirt. Plus, it’s a fun (and cheap) way to spend a day that doesn’t involve another walk around the park.

You can dye bed sheets, underwear, socks, hoodies – almost anything really, with these techniques. Remember, it is recommended to dye natural fabrics like cotton or linen, as synthetic fabrics like polyester may not take the dye as well. Once you start, you might find yourself hunting for all your white items to dye.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to tie-dye your clothes at home.

You’ll Need:

  • A selection of coloured fabric dyes – I suggest DYLON Hand Dyes.
  • A clean white cotton or linen shirt (could be any white item, but synthetic fabrics like polyester may not “take” dye as well as natural fabrics)
  • 250g of ordinary salt
  • Measuring jug (glass won’t stain)
  • Large rubber bands (hair elastics work fine too, in a pinch)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Recycled plastic bottles (ideally one for each dye colour – squeeze spouts give you more control when applying the dye)
  • Bin bags to protect your surfaces

Getting started

  1. Wet the clean shirt, squeeze out excess water, and leave damp
  2. Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands (and manicure) from staining. Protect your surfaces with an old towel or plastic bags
  3. Choose colours carefully. (Different shades of the same colour always work well– like Dylon’s Vintage Blue and Paradise Blue. Or, try complementary colours, like Intense Violet and Passion Pink.)
  4. Dissolve the dye in 500ml of warm water in the measuring jug
  5. Mix in 250g (4tbsp) of salt and stir well
  6. Pour the mixture into a plastic bottle for easy dye application
  7. Repeat the dye and salt mixture if adding additional colours
  8. Choose your pattern technique
  9. Gather a two-inch section of the shirt, and tie off tightly with a rubber band. Then, add another rubber band a couple of inches further down.
  10. You can place a single bullseye splodge in the centre of the shirt, adding bands periodically, or do a couple at random, off-centre, like I did above. The tighter you tie the rubber band around the shirt, the cleaner your white spaces will look.
  11. Pour a different colour of dye onto each section of the shirt.

Final steps

Rinse the measuring jug clean, and rest the bound shirt in it

Leave shirt to sit for a minimum of one hour to allow the dye to seep into the fabric

Without untying fabric, rinse in cold water until the water runs clear, then untie and wash in warm water

Hang to dry – make sure it is away from direct sunlight

Now you can enjoy wearing your one-of-a-kind creation. Be prepared for lots of compliments, and for everyone to ask you if you can teach them how to do it.

Hello You & Dry January

Welcome to 2021 and welcome to a LOCKDOWN upgrade.

We had said goodbye to the ‘worst year ever’ and embraced a return to hope and freedom in 2021. Everyone had resolved to adopt a ‘new year, new me’ attitude and Dry January swept our social media accounts. Then Boris announced another lockdown, and almost immediately everyone was back on the booze.

But what if you are in the minority and want to stick to Dry January? What are the benefits of punishing ourselves throughout the most miserable month of the year? From weight loss to better skin – what happens to your body when you give up booze?

Dry January is a campaign which involves cutting out alcohol for 31 days – in order to help people reset their relationship with alcohol after Christmas.

Ditching alcohol can have a hugely positive impact on your health. It will improve your skin, your liver function, your blood pressure, sleeping patterns and aid weight loss. 

Week one

Improved sleep

You’ll wake up feeling a lot less tired and more energised after a week away from alcohol.

This is because alcohol interrupts your normal sleep pattern and makes your miss the important rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

We know one’s supposed to have between six and seven cycles of REM sleep a night, but you typically only have one or two when you’ve been drinking.

Similarly, one recent study found drinking before bed increases alpha wave patterns in the brain—a kind of cerebral activity that usually occurs when you’re awake but resting.

By cutting out alcohol you’ll avoid this and get an additional five to six REM cycles a night. Better sleep also comes with many benefits including being more productive and more effective at learning and problem solving.

Better hydrated

Everyone knows that horrible feeling of being completely dehydrated and headachey after a heavy night on the booze.

You feel like this because when you drink alcohol, you lose around four times as much liquid as what you actually drank.

And the headaches come from your organs taking water from the brain due to their own water loss. Giving up alcohol will cut this completely – which in turn is hugely beneficial for your brain.

Your mood and concentration will be more stable and the frequency of headaches will decrease.

Week two

No more acid reflux

After a fortnight without alcohol, you’ll see a reduction in symptoms such as reflux where the stomach acid burns your throat.

Weight loss

Alcohol has a sneaky way of increasing your daily calorie intake without you realising it.

One pint of beer contains an average of 208 calories while a glass of wine may contain 83 calories.

On top of this many people find themselves reaching for a pizza or a kebab after a night of heavy drinking – which will make your calorie intake go up even more.

Cutting out alcohol will therefore mean you’re consuming less unhealthy food and drink which in turn means weight loss.

Week three

Blood pressure reduces

Cutting out booze will see your blood pressure slowly reduce to a normal rate.

Reducing your blood pressure can be crucial as it can help to lessen the risk of health problems occurring in the future including Type 2 diabetes.

If you cut out alcohol you’ll not only reduce your chances of this happening to you but also have a healthier heart.

Week four

Better looking skin

Giving up alcohol will have a great impact on your skin due to you having better levels of hydration.

Alcohol is a toxin that makes you go to the loo more often. It also makes your kidneys work harder and your liver has to go into overtime to break it down.

This leads to dehydration, which can cause dry, flaky skin.

Improved liver function

Your liver function will dramatically increase when you remove alcohol from your diet for a month.

Given the liver plays a vital part in more than 500 processes, this will give your body a better chance of converting food nutrients, storing minerals and vitamins and removing contaminants.

Gucci & The North Face

This fascinating partnership plays on the combined heritage of two iconic brands, blending Gucci’s penchant for maximalist luxury with The North Face’s expertise in performance gear. And it is no small affair – there is everything you’ll need for some seriously extravagant outdoor adventures –fabulous logo down jackets, as well goose down skirts, bib dresses, shirts, and even a onesie that looks like it’s been lifted right off the retro slopes of the ‘70s. I absolutely love it all. I would genuinely wear everything in this collection.

Alongside the apparel, there are accessories including two retro-ish backpacks, waist bags, knitted bobble hats, bucket hats, a pair of luxurious leather hiking boots and, for the true camper there’s even a tent and sleeping bag. Can you imagine seeing this at Glastonbury?

In true Gucci style, the colour palette is packed with vivid colours that make the collection distinctly more runway-able than most high fashion x high performance jaunts. So, if you were reckless enough to wear the collection to hike a mountain, you’d be hard to lose in a snowstorm.

While the North Face is no stranger to collabs, the partnership marks the first time that Gucci has partnered with another brand while under the tenure of the ‘environmentally aware and woke’ Alessandro Michele.

The North Face has been taking strides in reducing its impact on the environment too, as their accessories make heavy use of ECONYL®, a nylon fabric made from regenerated materials.

The Mullet Shag

Damon Albarn’s new mullet hairdo may look like he’s cut it himself – in the dark – but Damon could be onto something.

In LOCKDOWN 1, searches for “how to cut a mullet” shot up 124%, largely driven by Joe Exotic from Netflix series Tiger King. Although he has zero influence on me, I might add.

It is now the hottest new haircut of 2020 / 2021 and as all hairdressers are currently closed, you may as well ‘do it yourself’ at home during LOCKDOWN 3. The great thing is, it really doesn’t matter if you cock it up, because the mullet is meant to look like a total balls-up.

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus’ mullet says “business” at the front and “party” at the back.

Her country star dad Billy Ray Cyrus, was a dedicated follower of the mullet for years, so it seems only fitting that “now-rock-chick, was-country-chick” Miley would follow in his cowboy bootsteps.

She has gone from wholesome, swishy hair during her Hannah Montana TV days to an edgy crop. The bisexual Wrecking Ball singer likes to have a bit of both – business at the front, party at the back.

Zac Efron

Efron starred in the 2007 movie Hairspray but the ‘partial to some razzle dazzle’ actor’s latest trip to the barbers wasn’t for his usual slick style.

Zac was given the slightest hint of a mullet for the reboot of Eighties comedy Three Men And A Baby, which sounds dreadful. He had the cut in Australia, and the barbers posted on Instagram: “@zacefron dropped in for a tidy up, so we gave him a mullet.”

Rihanna

Rihanna is a mullet veteran – it was her look as long ago as 2013. CELEB make-up artist Hector Espinal posted a video to Instagram this week, featuring RiRi advertising the launch of her new skincare line.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock

THE girl band singer certainly likes a Little Mix of hair-cuts – spiky and sophisticated on top, wispy and straight at the back.

However, it turns out Leigh-Anne actually isn’t brave enough to have a real mullet and hadn’t taken the lockdown ­scissors to her crowning glory. Instead, she wore a convincing wig for a promo photo for the band’s 1980s-themed Break Up Song.

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish has hailed a new era of hair-dos with a mullet, albeit green. The James Bond/No Time To Die singer has developed a coiffure style as unique as her voice. If it wasn’t for her long, dark hair snaking round her shoulders, she might end up looking like Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch.

Billie defended the style that she has sported since she was 13, but has promised a reinvention this year. She said: “It’ll be the end of an era, I’m gonna give you a new era.”

… a Xmas word from the Ed Amanda

Welcome back to Zips It Up , after my brief holiday in ‘the reef’ last week. It was much needed, considering the current cold conditions. And of course, an escape from lockdown.

A week away from Christmas, I‘m sure I speak for the majority when I say we just want to put this year well and truly behind us. Not that anything will change immediately on the stroke of midnight on 31st December.  

New year is always a great time to start-over, and Vogue’s January 2021 issue features my style queen, Mossy. It’s great inspo for getting back in the gym and being the best one can – as Kate Moss continues to defy age, looking as timeless as ever.

Moss, 46, parades ageless beauty in a plunging  Grecian dress for the stunning cover shoot.

In the cover photograph, Mossy sits cross-legged wearing a lace green gown, with gold hoop earrings, while the headline declares she’s ‘better than ever’.

And in another shot, she gazes into the distance in a low cut strappy black dress, with a red rose choker. You know chokers are SO BACK for 2021

It’s been 28 years since Kate Moss first graced the cover of the famous mag, and what a way to kick off a brand-new year. Vogue has been a constant comfort for me during this crazy 12 months. It recently made history with its first ever solo male cover star, in the shape of former One Direction singer Harry Styles.

Other men have graced the cover before, but only alongside female “other halves”, such as Kanye West, who appeared with Kim just before they tied the knot in 2014.

Ben Stiller also got a cover shoot, with his Zoolander 2 co-star Penelope Cruz. And Cindy Crawford was joined by then hubby Richard Gere during their 90s heyday.

Harry’s shoot saw him dress up in a number of dresses and skirts, as he shattered stereotypes about which gender can wear what. He’s definitely my Male Style Crush for 2020.

So, I want to thank Vogue for maintaining fashion in our lives during a year when everything else has been cancelled.

In this last Zips It Up instalment of the 2020, we check out the top ten fashion predictions for men and women in 2021. We can all start planning our wardrobes, and pray that we will get to wear them out and about at some point in the new year. Hey, we might even get to hug in 2021 too.

Thanks so much for reading the blog this year, I appreciate your loyalty and look forward to bringing you more fashion and lifestyle news in 2021 – albeit seeming more and more ‘Stranger Things’ and less ‘Emily In Paris’.

Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the new year. See you on January 8th.

xxxx