Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Tall Girl's Clothes Shopping Guide

Really, the answer to the question, "I'm tall. Where should I shop?" is wherever you sodding well like. There is so much flexibility now that there is absolutely no reason why you should be limited to something with a Tall tag in the label - especially because some shops (cough, Topshop) just add a couple of inches on instead of making it fit properly.)

So if you've been pining after a classic Whistles dress, or you love A-Line's skater frocks then go for it! You've got nothing to lose except talking yourself out of some excellent clothes. Try on a load of stuff. It's fashion, it's fun. Well, unless you go on a mission in Oxford Street, then that's really more like hell.

I leave you with my last Tall Girl Treat on Domestic Sluttery: tall girl shops. It's a starting point - dress how you like, be confident and everything will be well.

Shoes!

 

Shoes are such a potential minefield that they get a post of their own. Bookmark The Ultimate Size 9 to 13 Shoe Guide, and prepare to hand over sizable chunks of cash to lovely, lovely shoes. There is no longer any excuse to cram your feet into shoes, heels, boots, pumps etc that are too small.

Clothes!

 

Here are my clothing-type specific guides, with shops in more detail below. While specific items may not still be available at time of reading, the "Go here, buy this" remains. Onwards!
And on to shops! Now, this is not exhaustive. There are more tall shops out there. However, these ones are the ones I always go back to, and where I get all my clothes from.

Long Tall Sally


Ah, the ubiquitous Long Tall Sally, home to so many disappointed shopping trips in my teens, but now more likely to turn up some absolute diamonds. I've bought a lot from here over the past three years - their winter pyjama bottoms are so cuddly - but you really do have to try each thing on as sometimes their trousers will come up massively large. If you get the catalogue you get a code each issue for free delivery and returns, which is a big help if you can't get to a shop.

Not perfect, but nothing is. Long Tall Sally's autumn 2014 collection looks extremely delicious, so do keep an eye on them as some of my favourite wardrobe items are LTS classics. For more inspiration, go back through the Long Tall Sally tag.

Marks and Spencer


There's no specific tall range here, but I rarely if ever come out of M&S without either a bag, or a wishlist. Their new website is marginally less terrible than their old website, but I like to go to the Westfield Stratford or Marble Arch stores to get a really good look at the new stuff. Their M&S Collection line is superb, same goes for their accessories, and who can forget the pug dress that melted the internet? Find more Marks and Spencer inspiration on the tag.

Topshop


Clearly a transparent excuse to include this brilliant photo of my partner in tall crime, Elizabeth, and I, trying on a lot of heavily sequinned Topshop clothing. As I mentioned before, Topshop Tall's fit is largely terrible. But oh! They do tall Christmas jumpers! And when they bring Baxter jeans back in every so often, that's why you shop at Topshop. They really are the best jeans ever. I've tried any number of other shops, and even Topshop's other types, but Baxters fit brilliantly and don't lose their shape.

(And I totally did get a sequinned jumper in the end. And a skirt.)

Monsoon


Smart dresses for the office can be a real arse for tall girls so hurray for Monsoon, which is simply brilliant for wrap dresses as well as knit dresses for winter. Have a look at their other clothes we've featured over the years: unsurprisingly, I adored their sparkly jumpers, but their artsy shirts are also the first thing I elbow people out of the way for in their excellent sales.

Tall Girls


This is another company that has come on a frankly staggering amount since I was a teenager. Their pop-up appearances in Regents Park bring a really good selection of clothes and shoes to town, and their fit is excellent, even if the fabric quality can wobble about quite a bit. Again, really worth trying stuff on if you can, but when you find something good, it really, really is very good.

ASOS


Seriously, where would we be without ASOS? The world would fall apart. I'm so pleased ASOS Tall has finally launched, and the clothes and design are just great. I lost my beloved cape just before moving offices, and psychically ASOS have brought out an even cooler one seemingly on my behalf. Thanks very much for that ASOS. A great mix of original designs and tall brands, and I can't wait to see what they do for trousers in the autumn.

THE END

That's it for Tall Girl Treat on Domestic Sluttery - if you're in the mood for more tall clothes picks, I will be blogging over on my own site, Exotic Maypole, and on Twitter @katbrown82. If you need me, I'll be scrolling through the DS Tall Girl Treat tag and weeping sadly, but always standing upright. We are tall, ladies, and fabulous - not fallen coathangers.

Sluttishly Sweet: Our All-Time Favourite Desserts


Darling readers, you must all be the size of houses now given the amount of dessert recipes we've thrown at you over the years. For those of you who can still fit through your kitchen door, here's a round-up of the very best of the last five years.


In my trawl through the archives, the word that came up most often was 'boozy'. Chocolate whisky custard doesn't just have to come out for Burns Night, and boozy rhubarb and ginger trifle isn't just for Christmas. Boozy chocolate fudge trifle is suspiciously simple - to make and eat - as are mulled pears.


Sorry, have we broken you? Have some hangover French toast.


My god, we loved a tart, be it Bakewell, custard, walnut and maple syrup, or a very simple pear. We branched out into tarte tatins - take your pick from peach and vanilla or apple and pear.


At our most sluttish, we made things you don't even have to bake, like our chocolate ginger muesli bites, no cook fudge, or this mille crêpes no bake cake (which is just 20 pancakes, not actually 1000. Calm down).


We made our own versions (albeit often more decadent) of existing puds, like walnut whips with brandy - we really did love adding booze - Toblerone delight, dippy egg and soldiers (SPOILER: actually chocolate mousse and shortbread) and, of course, cronuts.

And we were waaaay ahead of the Commonwealth Games curve when we gave Tunnocks teacakes the ultimate treatment: we deep-fried them.


Remember our ginger chocolate pots? They got a mention in the national press way back in 2010 and we all had conniption fits with excitement.


Caranutter pie. Caleigh dreamed it. It's beautiful.


Rose and pistachio kulfi. Better than ice-cream.


Raspberry, rose and pistachio vacherin. What even is a vacherin? Doesn't matter. Look at it. LOOK AT IT.


Café bombón panna cotta - looks like a drink, actually a dessert. Perfect to finish a meal...

 ... and a perfect way to finish this post. I can't believe I won't be back to write about unicorns  / cakes / kittens / shiny things / bits of ribbon, etc, but looking at what we've created over the years makes me very proud. I've had four years of joy writing for Domestic Sluttery, which isn't bad seeing as after Sian gave me the job and told me I'd have to do a recipe a week, I very nearly backed out immediately. THE RECIPE THING WASN'T IN THE JOB DESCRIPTION, SIAN.

Anyway, it's properly thrilled me every time someone has made one of my recipes or bought something from a tiny independent shop I've recommended, so thank you if you did. Do keep in touch on Twitter or I'll be ever so cross.

Our Favourite Jewellery and Accessory Designers

When I was given the task of putting together the ultimate Domestic Sluttery list of jewellery and accessories, I knew it wouldn't be easy. Everything from creepy claws to pastel clutches have graced our pages over the last five years, and it's safe to say as a team our tastes vary wildly. From Sara's love of all things big and quirky to that time Sian decided to freak us all out with a dead frog necklace, we've seen it all. As far as I'm concerned, this list just scratches the surface, but for posterity's sake, here are my favourites from the last five years.



It goes without saying that Tatty Devine does quirky better than anyone, and (though I haven't counted) I'd hazard a guess that they're one of the most frequently-featured brands within our stories. They do things with acrylic that I never thought were possible. And remember the Rob Ryan collab? We also fell head over sparkly heels for Sugar & Vice (Shark klaxon!) who are very much in the same vein.


Also worth a look for cheap treats is Chelsea Doll, purveyors of dog necklaces and cat glasses. While we're talking quirky, how could we possibly list our favourite accessories designers without a shoutout for the excellent Karen Mabon, the only woman capable of making a twentysomething consider a silk scarf?



Moving on to the animal kingdom, one of my fondest DS memories is a trip to Paris with some of the original team members, when Sian and I stumbled across Origami Jewellery years before everyone and their auntie was flogging paper crane necklaces. I still love their delicate metal creations. Elsewhere in the natural world, Alex Monroe does a lot more than his trademark bees. We love his London boutique, which is a treasure trove of tiny animals and nature-inspired jewels.


Another perennial Sluttery fave, Me & Zena, did a whole shoot where their jewellery was modelled by cats. Even if the jewellery was crap, that would have been enough. But it was fabulous. Who wouldn't want a ring that looks like a little pencil?


If you like your jewellery with less neon, Naomi Greaves does wonderful things with laser cuts. Butterflies feel a whole lot more sophisticated in black and white. Ridley and Dowse favour brushed, etched metal, from delicate flowers to slightly less delicate ice lollies. One of my personal faves, Hoolala's whimsical charms have always been a favourite too, especially the 5-year-old Mr Darcy necklace I still wear frequently.


And then we have the bags. Jump From Paper wins hands down for the most surprising find. If you've ever wanted to be a living cartoon, you need one of these babies. Brit Stitch is probably the only handbag company to have been inspired by a milkman. Miss Ella makes bags that look like woodland creatures, while avid readers are catered to by Disaster Designs and their gorgeous book clutches.


We've also covered novelty bags (another shark klaxon!) ... and all manner of cool coloured leather bags from favourites like Flights of Nancy and White Feather. We showed our love for bowling bags, M&S bags and bags that mention gin. Believe it or not, we even mentioned the odd hugely practical bag.

Needless to say, DS is and will remain a treasure trove of jewels, treats and beautiful bags, so if your favourite is not here, rest assured it's probably somewhere on our pages!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Shelf Esteem's Must-Read Books

 
Extremely suitably, I have ended up in the most lady writerly scene possible for writing my last Shelf Esteem column. I'm at home at Twee Flat, sitting in the armchair my mum reupholstered for me in red cord when I moved in.

Candles are lit (including, obviously, my eternally beloved Melt STILL) and Cat Brown is purring away on my lap. Outside, the sun is setting in vivid pink candystripes, and my elderly neighbour is having a minor argument with her other half about where she last saw the green spade.

It is WITCHING O'CLOCK.

*A pause to push Cat Brown off the keyboard*

Shelf Esteem's Greatest Hits

My favourite books from the top-rated reviews: these are the ones I would press on you at a party, while looking slightly wild-eyed and upsetting. The Goldfinch not included because you've most likely already read it, despite its inordinate size.

Click on each link for the full review, and to buy it.

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (4/5)
A beautiful story of friendship and life in the American country - which means Big Country, not just "Ooh I got the train to Guildford and wandered around for a bit." It starts off small, but before you know it it's unravelled some stunning writing and slapped you round the face.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (5/5)
Oh God was I sniffy before starting this. Eat Pray Love woman? Weird aged aunt-looking cover? Thank heavens I even opened the damn thing because this is just a treasure of terrific story, beautiful language and frantic, cupboard love of the most literal kind.

Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood (4/5)
Ernest Hemingway was a ghastly, ghastly man, but his wives and mistresses were incredible. Wood does a brilliant job of linking them all together without making the reader want to jump out of the window at the sheer heartbreak of it all, and in return you get a fantastic and evocative read that sizzles with poetry and summer tension.

Campari For Breakfast by Sara Crowe (4/5)
A ridiculously charming tale that ticked all my favourite coming of age boxes: eccentric relatives, a yearning for romance, the threat of eviction, and all nicely roasted in wit, lovely plotting and a healthy measure of gin.

Tinder by Sally Gardner (5/5)
I adore fairy tales and anything magical, not because I am five but because the imagery you get is so stunning. Sally Gardner's poetic, almost violent narrative takes a Hans Christian Andersen classic and together with David Roberts' staggering artwork makes for a book that whisks you firmly into another, colder world until you've finished.

Shelf Esteem's Summer Picks

I spent last week on holiday greedily ingesting all the books I'd been saving up for such an occasion - the good thing about being a borderline albino redhead: nobody looks at you askance when you hide indoors. These are my favourite new titles - 5/5 each one - while the Sluttery team picks their favourites to read on holiday.
 The Vacationers by Emma Straub
If you read enough really good books you get fooled into thinking it's easy to come up with believable characters, plot and location. It only took two nearly-there books for me to fall upon Straub's with grateful relish: in this story of a restless American family holidaying in Mallorca (very funny on that choice she is too) with friends, she nails all three. I really hoped this would be amazing, and it really is.

The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R.Carey
Melanie is a young girl like any other, she thinks. It is a bit odd that she has to be strapped into a wheelchair under military supervision in order to attend her school lessons, but the beneficent light of her favourite teacher Miss Justineau is distraction enough for the moment. That's all you get from me, but this was my favourite book of the holiday. Carey is a comics writer, and puts that medium's tight, active writing into an always engaging story that keeps your attention laser-focused, even during action bits when if you're anything like me, you start checking your watch and going "Oh is this still going is it?"

The Wrong Knickers: A Decade of Chaos by Bryony Gordon
Dreadful cover, and an "Oh, Bridget!" title do this thoughtful, emotional and hilarious memoir a disservice. Less wacky than Gordon's columns can tend to be, this is an unflinchingly unselfpitying look at your 20s, when you don't know enough not to believe everything you're told, and are too poor or pissed to do anything about it. I cried at the end, laughed all the way through, and thanked God my 20s are done with.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
I put off reading this for ages because I got so fed up at the publicity department shrieking details about the plot on Twitter. Do not do this! Pick it up now, because this is one of the most enjoyable, captivating books I've read in ages, and the lead character, Rose, one of the most intriguing. The sort of book that reminds you why you love to read.
Laura H: I'm currently reading The Whispering Muse by Icelandic poet and novelist Sjón, and am tremendously excited about it! Set in 1949 aboard a ship bound for the Black Sea, it is filled with witty humour and sudden bursts of raw myth; the second mate is in fact a hero from Greek epic poetry who once sailed with Jason and the Argonauts. If that doesn't get you excited then I don't know what will.

Other than that, I've just finished Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. Overtly it's a nostalgic contemplation of life as a 12 year-old boy in late 1920s small-town America; but it's much more than that. Beneath the surface is a contemplation of the nature of time, youth, memory, written in truly wonderful prose. Aptly, the whole book feels somehow seeped in golden light and summer darkness. Great for a late night read on a balcony somewhere.

Next up will be David Mitchell's new novel The Bone Clocks - I'm a huge Mitchell fan so I can't wait!

Laura B: I've reread Françoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse more often than I can remember. It's scandalous and amoral - both excellent ingredients for a summer read - and set on the scorching-hot French Riviera. While reading, it's worth remembering three things: firstly, that Sagan was 18 when she wrote this. Secondly, that it earned her a papal denunciation. And thirdly, that it was far too daring for the UK in 1954, and the juicy bits were squeezed out of early editions. Don't worry - this recent translation cuts NOTHING.

Katie: Earlier this year I went to see the theatrical interpretation of Philip Pullman's Grimm Tales at Shoreditch Town Hall. It was really wonderful, and made me go home and pick up Pullman's book, which is a great read, and particularly good at reminding you quite how grim the original stories were!

Another vote for Tinder by Sally Gardner: although based on a fairytale, this one is definitely not for kids. Gardner was apparently heartbroken that being a grown-up meant reading books without pictures, so this one is accompanied by appropriately haunting illustrations.

I also recently finished Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane which was utterly transporting. My only complaint was that it was too short. Reading on a Kindle I often forget to check how far through I am, and with this one I was expecting to only be about half way through when it came to an end! Gutted.

Frances: I have a habit of taking the gloomiest books on holiday with me and creating my own little salty tears pool next to the sun lounger. If you like that sort of thing too, I really recommend some Suri Hustvedt - the worlds she creates are incredible, although perhaps not that compatible with Pina coladas and the Macarena.

For complete escapism, I'm totally with Kat and Miss Pettigrew. Other books along that delightful line are Mrs Harris goes to Paris, a London char lady saves up her pennies to buy the Dior dress of her dreams in Paris and all sorts of wonders unfold, and the gorgeous The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim, a book for "those who appreciate wisteria and sunshine". If this book doesn't make you want to skip off to Italy and get lost amidst fig and olive trees, well frankly you probably deserve a wet weekend in Skeggy for your holidays. And always, always, I Capture The Castle.

Sian: Alongside The Signature of all Things (which Kat will no doubt mention as she reviewed it and loved it) I can't think of a better summer read than American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield. It's a book to get totally lost in while sipping a ridiculous drink on a beach. If you're after a shorter read, try The Other Typist, which certainly isn't your average romp through 20s New York. It's perfect reading material for a long train journey. And obviously I can't ignore my all time favourite book The Poisonwood Bible. I'm so excited to read that again this summer.

Kat's last word, because she is getting totes emosh


And there we have it. I can't believe it's the last Shelf Esteem! On the one hand, I am full of regret over the books we won't get to discuss. On the other, thrilled because there are so many wonderful books still to come, and ones to re-read. Speaking of which...

Kat's favourite books

I can read these endlessly and always be comforted, inspired and find something new.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson
Rivals by Jilly Cooper
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Selected Stories by Katherine Mansfield
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Love and Rockets by Jaime Hernandez
Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
A Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
The Kingdom Under The Sea by Joan Aiken and Jan Pienkowski
She by H Rider Haggard


I would love it if you would share your own favourites in the comments, or by tweeting me @katbrown82. Thank you for reading, and I wish you many more happy book times yet to come.

Our Top Cake Recipes


Cake. Chocolate cake, fruity cake, boozy cake, fancy cake. We love cake. All cake. Trying to round up our all-time favourite cakes from over five years of DS cake-appreciation is a little like trying to pick your favourite child or choosing between gin, unicorns or cats. Just for you, though, we've done it. So, grab your mixing bowls and prepare yourself for a marathon baking session!


Whether you need a quick and simple chocolate cake or something more on the triple chocolate fudge lines, we've got you covered. You don't even need a well stocked cupboard or much baking equipment to bake a brilliant celebration cake.


As well as the tried and tested pairings of chilli and chocolate and chocolate with orange, we've added cinnamon, mulled wine and passion fruit to our choccy cakes.


Chocolate and nuts are best of friends, and chocolate chestnut cake is a great place to start. Our pecan brownie pie is a seriously wonderful invention, while this Daim Bar truffle cake is rich and indulgent - you simply have to try it. Oh, and all three of these cakes are gluten free!


Take chocolate, add booze: everyone's happy. Tiramisu cake takes both those things and adds coffee and cream. Prefer white chocolate? Try our limoncello loaf cake.


If you've ever had that, "is it a cake, or is it really a biscuit?" conversation, this giant jaffa cake will settle the argument. Definitely a cake. A boozy, wobbly, delicious cake.


Yes, we'll put booze in all kinds of cake. Brandy goes well in toffee apple cake, but rum suits carrot cake better.


In spite of Nick's best efforts, we seem to gravitate towards big fruity cocktails, preferably ones with paper umbrellas and sparkly bits on the straws. Piña colada is one of our favourite cocktails, the cake is pretty awesome, too. And then there's the fabulous Mojito cake! It's one of the most popular recipes we've ever featured, for damn good reason.


Pimm's is the most summery of all the fruity cocktails, and we love our Pimm's cake just as much. Ever tried a Love on the Run? Our cake version is just gorgeous


Hello, raspberry liqueur, you sexy thing. Our raspberry Revenge cake is a brilliant way to use your Chambord. If you're on the wagon, get your raspberry fix from this pink lemonade cake instead.


Berry Pavlova cake. Need I say more?


Cheesecake counts as cake, right? It's baked and it has the word 'cake' right in there in the title after all. We've got hot cross, white chocolate and gluten free Crunchie baked cheesecakes, all for you.


Cheesecake brownies combine two of our favourite things, so do Snickers brownies and after dinner mint brownies for that matter. Go dairy free with our chocolate cherry brownies, gluten free with s'mores brownies, or eschew chocolate altogether with lavender and caramel brownies.


Lavender is a beautifully delicate addition to a cake, it pairs rather well with lemon. For more floral flavour, try orange blossom cake.


By now, you'll need a break from the oven. Never fear! Malteser chocolate tiffin and no-bake birthday cake will sort out your cake cravings without raising the temperature of your kitchen. If your kitchen is already too hot, out Twister ice cream cake will cool you down.


If you need cake in a hurry, you need emergency cake. Our coconut and raspberry microwave cake is ready in minutes. So's our emergency mug cake and it has a surprise orangey centre.



We love a surprise centre in our cakes. Salted caramel inside chocolate cakes, custard inside vanilla and brandy cakes are just how we roll. If cupcakes are too small fry, go big with our sweet filled piñata cake



We'll even hide exciting layers and shapes inside our cakes. From shade of pink in our fetch Mean Girls cake to a unicorn in a humble loaf cake, we've enjoyed surprising you.


Phew! Let's finish with something big, boozy and unashamedly naked.
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