Buttercup's Frocks

Musings on personal style by a fatshionista of a certain age

  • 8th April
    2014
  • 08

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So, here’s a dress you first saw me wearing here, styled a little differently this time around. I love this Coldwater Creek cardi and don’t wear it nearly enough. (Most probably because most of my dresses have fitted high waists and look better with my customary cropped cardies, boleros and shrugs). One Christmas, Kate (who is the kindest and most generous person I know), sent me a CC gift token and this was one of my purchases. It’s the best green ever and reminds me of a blouse my grandmother, (yes, that grandmother, God bless her), crocheted me to go under my purple bibbed hotpants in 1971). She made it out of something rejoicing in the name of Twilley’s Lyscordet, which, apparently, you can still buy. Not only was it exactly the same colour, it had identical sleeves and a very similar deal with the frills. Now, if only I could find a way of replicating the best dress she ever bought me – a brown mini shift dress with an orange kipper tie and matching vertical stripes patterned with tiny hamburgers. 

Ah, pattern.

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Since it’s been a while since I took the merciless piss out of those who like to lay down the law about the way us fats should dress, and since this is quite the most raucous print in my wardrobe, I thought I’d turn my attention to print and pattern this week. Imagine my embarrassment and shame unfettered glee upon discovering that, according to pretty much everybody, I’m Doing It All Wrong

"Here’s where it gets dicey, "says Jae from nomoremomjeans.com, in her piece 4 Things That Make You Look Fat.Patterns are awesome. But patterns can also make you look fat. Some serious zero in on your trouble areas, like HERE I AM. I have a shirt that I really love, but the pattern makes me look like I just ate Thanksgiving dinner. Not cool. Try on clothes and make sure the pattern detracts.”

Hey, you know what can also make you look fat, Jae? Being fat. Needless to say, Jae isn’t. A bit like the woman who wrote this load of tommyrot, (wow, I really am channelling my granny today).

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Likewise the scale of my print is a honkin’ great no-no. Here’s 3fatchicks.com to put me right: "Fashion experts used to recommend that plus-size women wear clothes with large patterns to mask their trouble zones and keep the attention on the clothes instead of the body. Times have changed! A plus-size body is not something to cover up or be ashamed of." (It’s not? Why are you running a weight loss support forum then? Sorry, digressing; my bad), "While large elaborate patterns may keep people from looking at your trouble areas, you don’t want them to be thinking instead about how your shirt looks like a tablecloth. Stick to classic, bold patterns.

Or, better still…

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According to some rando on that hardy perennial, Whats the Worst Plus-Size Fashion Mistake One Can Make? on about.com, I definitely shouldn’t be wearing plains though: “Always wear shirts with some kind of print on it. It take away the attention from your stomach and the size of your breast”

Quite what I do about my other breast they don’t say.

Reese Armstrong, eHow contributor, on What Kind of Prints Look Good on a Plus-Size Woman? is a fan of the daintier print: "For plus size women, a small print on a shirt is the best option. A large print will be overwhelming and bring attention to a larger frame, while a small print will look feminine and complimentary"

…and whoever wrote How To Select A Plus-Size Wardrobe on wikihow.com avidly agrees: “I have noticed a frightful trend in some variety store plus-size apparel sections – gowns and other apparel with HUGE all over shapes and designs." The horror. There’s more, "Should you be petite, choose less massive prints to avoid overwhelming your outfit with pattern. If you would like to include more decorative fabrics in your wardrobe, my best advice would be to pick one clothing article per outfit to have a pattern, (like a skirt, top or jacket, not all three).”

But, but…

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There are rules about verbotten shapes in print too. Jess Smith, whomsoever she may be, says, "Avoid clothes with too many prints and patterns. It’s a big no-no to wear large polkadots, (but, but…) overly saturated prints and patterns. This will make you look bigger instead of the other way around.”

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3fatchicks agree, "Round patterns – such as those with balls, flowers, balloons, or any other circular shapes – can accentuate the wrong areas of your body. Straight lines and bold cuts shape your plus-size body a lot better and give you the power to determine how your body looks in any outfit."

Orly? What about if your body happens to be round whatever you dress it in? Paint a small room white and it’s still going to be a small room. It’s just going to be a boring small room.

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As usual I kept the best for last. Yet another rando on about.com, “I cannot stand how some large women will wear those shirts that I like to call token fat shirts, they have prints so chaotic they make you sick…”

That sums this outfit up rather well, I think.

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  • 4th April
    2014
  • 04

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As you can see I’ve had a re-style and my roots done, which got me musing about my crowning glory, or rather the lack of it. As a child my mum, who is a hairdresser, (and therefore my hairdresser), would never let me grow it long. Like, not even a little bit. “I’m not having you screaming blue murder every time I have to brush the tangles out of it!” she snarled, every time I was rash enough to mention it. “I have enough of other people’s kids doing that. Besides, it wouldn’t suit you; you’re not a ribbons and frills type of kid.” Nor was I ever permitted to be when she was in charge of the purse strings. As a bud I was mostly dressed in jeans and dungarees, dark, sludgy colours and “smart tailored clothing” (three words that still strike fear into my very marrow). Even my party dresses were austere affairs. Black, charcoal, midnight blue, relieved if I was lucky by a white lace placket or Peter Pan collar. Thank God for my paternal grandmother who not only made me clothes I wanted to wear, (like the pink satin and tulle ballet tutu of my dreams), but as I got older, also bought me clothes from places my mother didn’t approve of – the cheap but fashion-forward C&A instead of the despised and sensible M&S. Later there were bags of childhood hand-me-downs from her friend Vi’s teenage daughter, which also allowed me to exercise my own taste, but my hair, being my mother’s department, remained resolutely short with a fringe.

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People often mistook me for a boy as a young ‘un, which really did a number on my self esteem, and I’m pretty sure my mother’s frequent, strong, and arbitrary opinions on what people should and should not wear, while haunting me to this day, are directly responsible for my avowed resistance to fashion rules. Thinking about it now I even wonder if my boyish do was why no one ever asked me to be a bridesmaid, even though I longed to be one and we were forever attending weddings. (Needless to say, the main reason why I wanted to be a bridesmaid was so’s I could wear a long frock, surely the pinnacle of girlieness. At 9 years old I was beside myself with jealousy when a school friend said her mother was going to buy her a load of midi-dresses, something my mother predictably pronounced “ridiculous” on a child). To add insult to injury, once I grew old enough to rebel, boys had started to grow their hair too so I still got mistaken for a boy, even in a cloche hat and loon pants. (Let’s just not go there, okay?)

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Much as it pains me to admit it, the Mater was right about one thing – long hair doesn’t particularly suit me and I rarely wore it past my shoulders. For one thing it needed frequent washing and also took forever to dry. Plus, unlike my mum, I haven’t a bone of hairstyling talent in my body, and pigtails, ponies and topknots could all be relied upon to give me a headache and a sore scalp after a couple of hours. Eventually I settled on a flapper bob, which was my signature look for decades.

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The being-mistaken-for-a-bloke thing though continued to dog me for some years. At 18, a yob in the street, pointed at me and laughed to his mate, “Look, it’s Peter Sellers in drag!” Since my dad was a little Sellers-esque, this hit me quite hard. Two or three years later, in full slap and one of my grandmother’s finest lamé cocktail frocks, I was asked by a drunk at a New Year’s Eve shindig if I was a “female impersonator” and, when I rebuffed his advances, told I was “a very bad one”.

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I blush to say it took the (fleeting) love of a (not terribly) good (for me) man in my late 20s to finally convince me of my own femininity. I’ve never had long hair since. Curiously no one’s ever taken me for a bloke or a drag act since either; which is something of a relief. I still like a tutu mind.

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  • 1st April
    2014
  • 01

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So, last weekend saw me checking out the TS store in Kingston Upon Thames again, this time with my friend Sara in tow prior to a chazza shop marathon. Like me, Sara is none to keen on following the herd – in fact we both take some albeit twisted comfort in the fact that being plus-sized in the UK pretty much guarantees you won’t be dressed like the vast majority of the populace. Granted, it’s because the fashion industry treats us like the perennially poor, halitosis-stricken relation but every cloud, tumblr. 

So, any road up, TS – aka Taking Shape, the Australian company that arrived on our shores shortly before Christmas, is apparently not taking off to the degree they’d hoped. And I can sort of see why. Unlike the likes of ASOS Curve, Pink Clove, New Look, H&M and co, they’re not aimed at a youth demographic and most of our higher profile fatshion bloggers are under thirty. (Though, having said that, I did run into Sally from The Human Mannequin in the changing area and rumour had it that Georgina Horne had also visited earlier in the week). TS are also a little pricier, though no pricier than many mainstream high street brands. What really distinguishes them from most other UK plus-size brands though are their shapes and glorious prints.

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While I have to say that some of the shapes do mystify me a little and a lot of the garments seem to be cut for women a great deal taller than moi, on the frock front at least it’s not an endless procession of smocks, skater dresses, swing dresses, bodycon and minge-grazer hems – and, more importantly, their prints are da bomb. Unlike your average Brit, the land of Jenny Kee and Ken Done fears no colours and TS is no exception. I put it down to the quantity of the sunshine and the quality of the light and the fact we don’t enjoy either for ten months of the year on our shores. But, whatever it is, TS are definitely on my wavelength.

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I’d seen this emerald green and black beauty on the website and really liked the shape. Believe it or not this is an XS, (which I believe is a size 14/16) and, although I would have liked to have been able to size up one, it’s got so much stretch it doesn’t really constitute a problem. 

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The fabric, while poly, is delicate and extremely light and a slightly looser fit would even be cool in high summer. Sara pointed out that for all my loathing of manmade fabrics they do tend to soak up colours and lend a clarity to digital prints like nothing else, (apart from maybe that eye-wateringly expensive silk. You know the kind). 

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And it has sleeves. You know how I feel about those. Which means that I don’t have to wear a shrug once it heats up unless I want to. What’s more there are a couple of other frocks I’ve got my eye on. The Everglade Dress looks amazing on and does great things for my colouring but they’ll all have to wait for the sales…unless a rather interesting sounding job opportunity that recently came my way turns out to be a goer. Keep your fingers crossed for me, eh? 

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  • 21st March
    2014
  • 21

So yesterday was my birthday and I look a lot less wobbly than I feel. I just turned the age my dad was when I lost him to oesophageal cancer, which is a sobering thought. Yesterday also marks a year since my last period, (TMI? Please, it happens to everyone. This is what the menopause looks like yo). To add insult to injury, a long friendship officially bit the dust at the beginning of the week, (remember that falling out I wrote about last summer? Yeah, that one), and I’m heading for a world of serious uncertainty and upheaval work wise. Things could be better. But, for this Vernal Equinox baby, a birthday marks a new beginning far more than New Year’s Day. Winter’s officially over and soon we’ll be turning the clocks forward. Plus it’s been a good day in the shop today, my mum gave me the complete boxed set of Black Books and Karen’s on her way for a post-birthday weekend of thrifting, film watching and a meet-up at the V&A with Deanne on Sunday arvo. Onward and upward, eh?

Here’s what I’m wearing today.

You saw this dress in a different colourway here. Though, truth be told I slightly prefer this more unusual, muted version. Plus I’m quite into coral and peachy tones at the moment. Annoyingly I couldn’t find my coral lippy. (First World problems).

For some reason my earrings look really orange in these pics but I promise they’re more or less a lighter version of the bangle on the right. They were also £14.00, which I thought was pretty good. They make them in emerald green and royal blue too.

You must be getting pretty sick of these shoes by now. I know I am but the weather’s still too changeable to bring out my navy and brown suede Mary-Janes, which would be my preference if it didn’t keep threatening to rain again.

Much as I really like them I can’t quite decide if these earrings are just a tad too huge…

  • 14th March
    2014
  • 14
  • 10th March
    2014
  • 10
  • 9th March
    2014
  • 09

Considering I’ve had the week from hell work-wise with next to no time for myself, I don’t quite know how I managed to make two outfit posts in the space of one weekend – but hey, they say if you want something done, ask a busy person. So, any road up, there’s a bit of a cat-centric theme this time around, not least since my two were hell bent on photo-bombing the proceedings.

In and out, up and down, on and off like a couple of furry hyperactive pinballs. I don’t know what got into them.

Of course the moment I shut the door after her, she was scratching to come straight back in again. 

Anyway, the outfit…

Apart from my re-mixed shoes and my vintage Scandi pendant, the whole lot was thrifted. The ASOS Curve dress is actually a size 26 but I really love the way it fits. It reminds me a lot of the loose, low-waisted dresses I wore in the 80s. The longer length gives it a vaguely 30s feel, especially with the addition of the cardi. I’ve never thought to pair the two together before. I feel like I should be swanning about on a golf course in Le Touquet with a Pimms and a cad in plus fours. 

I’m especially pleased with this white bangle which is the most recent addition to my ever expanding collection. I suspect it found its way into the Northampton branch of Mind because it weighs a ton but I love the asymmetrical shape of it and, for a quid, I certainly wasn’t going to leave it there.

I haven’t worn these catfish earrings for a while. They’re a little bit dainty for me but they’re also light and one of my piercings is unaccountably sore at the minute so I’m erring on the side of less-ouchy. 

Still on the theme du jour I thought you might like to take a gander at my new bag too…

I was alerted to this by my facebook friend Lena in Norway. She offered to bid for it for me as the seller didn’t ship to the UK so although the bag itself only cost eight quid, by the time I’d paid the postage from China to Norway and Norway to here, it ended up being a hell of a lot more. But I think you’ll agree it needed to be mine and I don’t splash out on bags very often.

 

  • 7th March
    2014
  • 07

So, tumblr, I cracked and bought the Monsoon frock I featured in my last outfit post because it was giving me sleepless nights. And, as I’m sure you’ll agree, a frock that causes one to toss and turn is clamouring to be bought. Even if one is vastly overdrawn. In fact, especially if one is vastly overdrawn. Funny how that works.

I am insanely in love with this print, which puts me in mind of Russian lacquerware with its intricate patterns and dramatic, jewel-like punch. I am incidentally of Russian extraction myself on three sides. Regrettably of the peasant not the Imperial variety, hence my build, soulful eyes and hereditary diabetes. Well, can’t win ‘em all. 

(Image cheekily stolen off eBay. Please don’t sue me, eBay seller!)

(Ditto. Actually I tell a lie; I nicked this one off Pinterest. They nicked it off eBay. Whatever. I’m sure you’re getting my drift).

I sized down to a 20 with this one as the 22 really hung off me. So, larger fats, if you fancy it, I reckon a 24 – or even a pear-shaped 26 – could well be in luck. It’s an A-line shift, like a less exaggerated version of the AOS Curve swing dress and is made of medium-weight viscose jersey.

       

Hah! Not Russian Red! (It would have clashed).

When I was little, my paternal grandmother used to have some Russian lacquerware and I was fascinated by it. I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately, and how much she has influenced my taste, particularly the elements of my taste which some folks might find a little questionable. I have a post about her in the pipeline.

  • 1st March
    2014
  • 01
i fully embrace the concept of the fuck-off brooch. i just bought a gigantic rhinestoned dragonfly that im going to use for this purpose. rock on. -lovehateyourskin

Asked by: Anonymous

I once saw a gob-smackingly chic fat woman waiting for a vaporetto in Venice. I was in my late 20s and still taking baby steps to learn to love my body, and I guess she was late 40s/early 50s. She was wearing a long black coat and a matching turban and apart from her immaculately made-up face, her only adornment was a mahoosive jewel encrusted brooch. Pre-internet, one could go a decade without seeing a positive representation of a plus-sized woman and she instantly became a role model for life. The moment I unwrapped Kate’s gift, I thought of her.

  • 28th February
    2014
  • 28

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So today’s post is primarily about my side-plate-sized brooch, which was a Christmas prezzie from my lovely friend Kate, who can read me like a book. Kate and I met online on a “fat ambivalent” forum eight years ago, where we were regularly baited by trolls who were anything but ambivalent about the ol’ adipose. In addition to forging a lasting offline friendship you won’t be surprised to learn we gave twice as good as we got. Neener neener, trolls!

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Here we are in New York on the roof of the Met Museum, the weekend we posed for Substantia Jones’s Adipositivity project, visited Lee Lee’s Valise in Brooklyn, discovered an amazing Italian restaurant, and bought half of Macey’s. 

Best. Holiday. Ever. But I digress.

Kate didn’t know the brooch was going to be quite as huge as it is, (it was an eBay score from China), but if there’s one thing a woman with ample frontage can rock it’s a piece of fuck-off statement jewellery.

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…which is kind of what this outfit needs, as I feel it could be a tad frumpy otherwise. This thrifted Chesca number is the only blazer I own. Mainly because I hate blazers with a fiery passion. Not only do they remind me of my school uniform, which I looked like crap in, they also evoke corporate drag, which I despise and praise God I’ve never had to wear. But this one fitted so well and looks great with anything polka-dotted, and it was only a tenner so I cracked. Don’t go thinking it’s the thin end of the wedge though.

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My dress is an oldie from Elvi, (worn here over an M&S cami because it’s suddenly freezing again), and my Biba scarf was drastically reduced in House of Fraser a couple of years ago. I adore the print and lusted after it for months. It does however have a design fault, (which I suspect is why it ended up being reduced by so much). The beaded fringe weighs a  ton, which means I risk choking to death every time I wear it. I’m quite tempted to remove the fringing altogether because I think I’d get more wear out of it, but it’s so pretty I can’t bring myself to bite the bullet.

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The cut of this dress is fab. It’s very elegant and comes in dead handy for formal occasions. I do wish they’d made it in another colour though. Purple or turquoise would be good. Or even emerald green.

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My minimalist readers will be no doubt horrified to learn that I’m seriously considering this vintage brooch we currently have in the shop. 

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Yes, they are almost interchangeable. But I kind of want to wear the two together.

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  • 21st February
    2014
  • 21

Despite the nip in the air, the sky’s been (mostly) blue today, and I can almost – but not quite – sense spring. I’m sure it’ll be a few more weeks but, frankly, I’m stoked it’s not getting dark at 3.30 any more. It’s going to be a while before I can cast off the ubiquitous woolly though – so, here’s another second-hand fave, courtesy of my mum.

She found this Italian knitted coat in a car boot sale about twenty years ago. I’m not quite sure how I ended up with it and the buttons could do with replacing, but it’s dead cosy and I love it. It’s also got a rather stylish half-belt and a long vent at the back but I forgot to take a picture of those.

In the spirit of re-mixing, you’ve seen my dress, boots and all the jewellery before. 

My boots were the only part of the outfit that cost me proper money. The rest of it cost under thirty quid all told.

And, yes, my tights aren’t quite the right shade of blue. I couldn’t be arsed to keep rummaging.

The frock is also a little too big but I loved the print so much I didn’t care. I think it works well enough as a loose-ish shift. Speaking of which, I tried this on yesterday…

               

I was surprisingly taken with it. In fact I’m rather hoping Monsoon will send me a discount voucher for my birthday again.

Toodles!

  • 20th February
    2014
  • 20

I know what I like…

And, alas, it’s not the Cut for Evans range. Which is to say I don’t like it on me. I adore the print on Alice Farrow’s blue abstract print trousers but the fit didn’t work on me at all. If this skirt had been available in that colourway I’d have been all over it but the pink just didn’t do it for me. As for the scuba cut-out frock, at my time of life one does not want to be wearing neoprene bodycon anything. Just looking at the fecker gave me a hot flush. This worked pretty well as a dress on me and I love the balloon inspired print on the back…but, cute as it was, it just wasn’t fifty quids’ worth of cute and I didn’t really dig the background colour against my skin.

What I did like, unreservedly, unequivocally, and a whole lot, was this Scarlet and Jo number.

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This made me look – and feel – like da goddamned bomb. Seriously those colours just glow like exquisite retro embers against the black. Too bad it’s almost identical to this one and equally dressy. I have no shortage of posh frocks and not enough posh occasions on which to wear them but oh, be still my beating heart!

  • 20th February
    2014
  • 20
You are a genius and you should publish a book. Plus READING your posts is so much fun! I genuinely laughed and felt better about life. Found you through a post recommending your blog at LiveJournal's fatshionista community. Spent hours absorbing and then showing your stuff off to others who very much agreed. As an artist, your use of texture and color was blowing my normally monochrome mind. Anyway, greetings from California!

Asked by: idol-hands

Thanks so much! I would truly love to write a book, but sizeism and stigma is so bad in the UK I doubt I could persuade a publisher to back the project. I keep trying to think of an angle but always fall at the first hurdle.

Re the colour thing I come from a graphic design background originally. And weirdly my design aesthetic is quite pared down with lots of white space! (What can I say? I was taught by folk who attended the Bauhaus). Where clothes and interiors are concerned however I’ve come to realise I was highly influenced by my paternal grandmother, Sadie, who also had a tendency to wear All The Things Simultaneously. My love of shiny and loud prints definitely owes a lot to her – plus I worked my way through all her 50s and 60s clothes in the 80s and love anything that evokes those eras. In the january sales I bought a gunmetal lurex dress from Evans and a Monsoon grossgrain frock with a pouffy tulle petticoat and a huge 60s-style floral print. My mother laughed because I was so obviously channelling my gran.

  • 16th February
    2014
  • 16

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Keeping it short and sweet this time around. I had my bestie staying for the weekend and we had rather a busy time of it. Attended the Armistead Maupin Guardian interview in Notting Hill on Saturday night, (he’s my fave author), and a friend’s memorial service today. So pretty much ran the gamut of human emotion, and now looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

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So, here, at long last, are pics of me rocking my vintage coat/cardi in the shop last week. And very warm it is too. Last time I wore it I paired it with a red dress but I think I prefer it with the black.

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I was chuffed to find this skirt in the TS sale - a mere £15.00 and I love it. You can’t really see it properly here but it’s got this weird blistered texture. If you squint you can just  see it in the picture on the right below. Please excuse my resting bitch-face, (aka my “cheer up love, it might never happen” face).

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Lippy was Mac’s Ruby Woo.

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This probably my favourite brooch. It’s made of perspex and sweetie wrappers. 

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