The Upcoming Culture, trends, fashion from London and beyond | The Upcoming 2017-11-20T15:46:15Z WordPress Bev Lung <![CDATA[An interview with Dan Owen: The singer-songwriter opens up about his life-changing route into music]]> 2017-11-20T15:46:15Z 2017-11-20T15:46:15Z Shrewsbury singer Dan Owen has been impressing audiences with his husky voice, energetic live performances, and busy gigging schedule for years. Before closing his latest tour at London’s Omeara, Owen opened up about the painful story behind latest single Hideaway and how it pushed him into music. He signed to Atlantic Records earlier this year, and we also got the first word on his upcoming debut album.

Hi Dan, thank you so much for spending the time to chat to us. We’re joining you on the last night of your European tour. What moments have stood out on the tour so far?

There have been a few. I think Birmingham was an amazing show actually; it was one where everyone started singing. I’m not a massive fan of when people are really quiet and silent in a gig. I like to chat and laugh and have a good time and get a bit drunk instead – I come from a pub gig background and Birmingham felt just like a Saturday night out. We also played in Paris at a venue similar to here (Omeara) and loads of people turned up, which was a really good feeling.

And have you ever played here at the Omeara before?

No I haven’t, but I’ve noticed that everyone’s doing it!

It’s the place to be!

I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while.

It’s good to have you back here in London. What’s your favourite thing to do in the city?

I’ve just moved down here, officially, about three months ago. I’ve been coming down here for like four years but I live here now. There’s the Bermondsey Beer Mile, that’s quite a good one…

And what’s your secret hideaway in London?

I used to rent this little room in West London when I knew nobody else down here, and it was overlooking a little pub called The Dove. I think everybody knows about it though!

Congrats on your new single Hideaway, and double congrats on being added to the Spotify “Walk Like a Badass” playlist! What’s the most badass tune on your playlist, not including your own?

There’s a band called The Cadillac Three, and they have a song called Bury Me in My Boots. When I was on tour with a band called Kaleo, their tour manager was from Tennessee, and I like a bit of country too. We all listened to The Cadillac Three, downloaded the album on Spotify, and now it’s become our tour anthem!

Let’s talk about Hideaway. What’s it all about, and what’s the inspiration behind it?

It’s come from something I’ve never really written about before. I tried to write about it, but never did. It’s about what pushed me into the music and the reason I did it. I originally wanted to be a carpenter, and go on to make guitars so I started building guitars and playing guitars in pubs as my sister was a singer – we’d do open mics in Shropshire, and I started gigging a bit when I was 16. At the end of that year, I was in a workshop doing my apprenticeship and a piece of wood flicked out of a machine and smacked me in the eye. One eye doesn’t work anymore and it stopped my hand-eye coordination quite a bit – I have double vision a lot of the time too – so I had to rethink what I was doing.

When that was all happening, I didn’t deal with it that well. It was like learning to see again, and it wasn’t nice. I went into this weird routine of locking myself away, or walking my dog, or doing nothing. Hideaway comes from that hiding away. I decided to pick myself up and worked out that if I did something like 150 gigs a year, I could survive. I’d ring people up every day until I did that many gigs, and one thing just led to another.

That’s a really admirable story, and leads me to what I wanted to ask you about next. Your songs are open and emotional, especially songs like Made to Love You, which is brutally honest. What is your songwriting process when taking sensitive stories and translating them into music?

I think it probably comes from the fact that I’m bad at actually talking about things. But when I write a song, it can feel like pages out of a diary. That’s me, talking about it. I never know what comes first, the guitar or the lyrics or the music: whatever happens just happens and you gotta roll with it.

Going back to Hideaway, you recently released your music video for it and it involves a lot of running! How was the filming of it?

That doesn’t actually show you how much I actually ran! I used to run a lot around the hills in Shropshire but you can’t really do that in London. For the video, there was a camera rig attached to a quad bike and I had to sprint after the bike. It was full on sprinting each time… I couldn’t walk for three days after! I’ve not really done music videos before, and I’m not an actor either, so I had to act like how an actor would act for it.

We hear you’ve also been working on the album. How far along are you?

It’s very nearly finished. There’s nothing left to record, it’s just mixing and mastering now, but there’s no date set yet.

Is there anything exclusive you can tell us about the album…?

It’s kind of a step up in terms of more instruments. Next year, I’d quite like to bring a band on. This is the first tour I’ve ever done with two of us up there (keyboard), but maybe next tour we could have drums and guitars… It’d be so different for me because it’s been nine years of playing solo.

And are the songs on the album ones that you have written on your own?

There’s a bit of everything – I’ve written with friends too. Some writing sessions are like counselling! There are songs from the last couple of years, and a bit of blues. When I first started gigging I’d play a lot of old blues music – I got labelled as “Blues Boy Dan”…

Do you like that label?

It was good at the time, but what I play isn’t straight up blues. There’s a lot of bluesy stuff on the album, but not like a Robert Johnson 12-bar blues.

Let’s chat quickly about your live music, which is always incredible. You play the guitar, harmonica and stomp box all at the same time. How do you do it?

I don’t know – the stomp box came from just trying to be louder than everyone else in the pub, and I happened to have a foot free!

Is there an instrument you’d like to tackle next?

I’d love to learn keys. That’s a dream. I’ve tried before but it’s just not happening yet.

What else is next?

Getting this album out. I just want to have it out there. They say you have your whole life to write your first album then you have like a year to write your second one… I never used to record much and I’ve never done an album before so this is it!

And finally, it’s nearly Christmas! What are your Christmas plans?

I’ll go back to Shrewsbury in Shropshire, drink loads, see all the family, hang out on my girlfriend’s farm, go out on the kayak…

Kayaking in the winter?

I’m brave!

Enjoy, and we can’t wait to hear more music in the new year!

Bev Lung

Read our review of Dan Owen’s show at Omeara here.

For further information and future events visit the Dan Owen website here

Watch the video for Hideaway here:

Laura Boyle <![CDATA[Taylor Swift – Reputation | Album review]]> 2017-11-20T15:02:53Z 2017-11-20T15:02:53Z The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Instead of letting the critics destroy her already tarnished repute, she does it herself, shedding her infamous pop princess persona for the real Taylor in her newest record, aptly named Reputation. Released 10th November, the album chronologically tells her side of the tumultuous past three years, from the unabashed anger over the unfair destruction of her reputation, to the gradual falling in love. With only three primary producers beside herself, Swift explores a darker, moodier, edgier pop sound that is the night to 1989’s heavily produced day.

The singer throws out her old fairytale imagery and tries out new metaphors, such as the recurring theme of crime and its subsequent punishment. In 1989-esque Getaway Car, she declares, “We were jet-set Bonnie and Clyde/ Until I switched to the other side” over a key change that brings about an inexplicable feeling of heart-pounding fearlessness. In this standout song, she falls back on her tried and trusted cliche-meets-metaphor lyrical approach.

Though Look What You Made Me Do is oft cited as her ultimate enemy-bashing number, the real hit is delivered in This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, which may be her longest song title yet. To a simple melody meant to emphasise the “lecturing a bad child” tone, Swift fiercely defends herself, and almost forgives her adversaries, before cackling and declaring, “I can’t even say it with a straight face!”.

Reputation is not solely feud-focused – in fact, over half the tracks focus on love. The singer once said she’d write about the kind of love that glows golden if she ever found it, and it is obvious that she has. This works the best in Call It What You Want, a beautiful piece that enthuses classic Swift songwriting that features personal, intimate moments of connection and true love. Tunes like Call It What you Want and vocoder-heavy Delicate make it clear the artist is done letting her reputation ruin her relationships. In the latter, she intones, “My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me”. No other lyric sums up the album as well as this one, and explores how reputation and love affect one another.

Taylor Swift is back, and she’s coming for blood. In a true pop masterpiece that may single-handedly save the genre for the next year, each track shines brighter than the last. Though the old Taylor is dead, she will be remembered. As she croons in the light, understated piano ballad of New Year’s Day, which is about the person who stays behind to clean up with you after the party, “Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you”.

Laura Boyle

Reputation is released on 10th November 2017. For further information or to order the album visit the Taylor Swift website here.

Watch the video for Look What You Made Me Do here:



Selina Begum <![CDATA[Scouting for Girls: An interview with singer-songwriter Roy Stride]]> 2017-11-20T13:04:14Z 2017-11-20T13:04:14Z Roy Stride is the frontman of London indie pop rockers Scouting for Girls, a band that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with a reissue of their self-titled debut album and a UK tour. We had a chat with the musician before their show at the London Palladium on Saturday night, about his experience of being in a band for a decade, and the memorable events along the way.

So this your Tenth Anniversary Tour, are you looking forward to playing any cities in particular?

We started midway through October, in the highlands and islands of Scotland. We did like a week warm up tour there, so worked in Inverness, and Stornoway, Shetland, that was amazing. And then we sort of worked our way through, we’ve done Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin. We were actually in Bournemouth yesterday, and so this is one of the first, it’s not one of the first big ones, but we’re now halfway through, so it feels like we’ve properly hit the stuff.

Did you take a massive break, since the last big tour?

Two years. Yes so it’s pretty much exactly two years since we last toured, so it’s been amazing to come out again.

You’ve performed around the world, Japan, Australia, any fan highlights along the way?

The fans in Japan are amazing, because they just give you lots of presents and gifts, and are super polite, and they take pictures with Polaroid so you can sign them afterwards, which is cool. Yeah, that’s probably my real highlight, and our main fan base has always been the UK. We did some amazing stuff in Holland and Germany, but, you know, we’re a very British band, and I think that’s where it works best. Yeah, home.

So, you’re all from London originally. What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on tour, because you’ve known each other since you were five, haven’t you?

I met Pete at Cubs, Greg when we were 11; we’ve been in a band together kind of since we were like 15, took about 10 years till we got a record deal, now it’s our tenth anniversary, so there are just way too many stories. Like what happened just on this tour: we played in Exeter, and we were having a few beers after – it was about 2 o’clock – and suddenly the tour bus had come to a stop. And what had happened was the driver was following a diversion, and ended up down a single track road in the middle of Dartmoor somehow, because the motorway was closed, and he got completely stuck. And so it was at that point I knew that we were in for a long night. So I went and told the drummer to wake the tour manager, and just went to bed. And I missed [everything]. The police made everyone get out of the van, and try and help get the van out; because I was just so fast asleep, nobody could wake me up, and it took seven hours – well, we had to get a big wrecking truck to pull it back – and everyone was really angry with me when I woke up because I’d literally had seven-and-a-half hours full sleep, and  they didn’t get to sleep till seven in the morning – they were up from like two till seven. [I was ] just chilling out letting them do the work.

What are your biggest artistic and musical influences?

I think for Scouting it’s always been, like, we were at school when Britpop happened, and so Oasis, Blur, Suede, they’re the bands that almost were like a gateway to more rock‘n’roll, you know, the original 60s. I discovered Oasis before I discovered The Beatles, I discovered The Beatles through Oasis. And so that sort of opened all that. You know, we love The Kinks, Madness. Yeah, kind of like rollicking fun. Fun bands. I wouldn’t want to set us up on that level, in any way, but those are the bands who we aspire to.

You have a number of hits under your belt, what are your favourites to perform?

I love always performing the big songs, like She’s So Lovely, and Heartbeat, Elvis Ain’t Dead – they always go down really well. Because you’ve done it for so long, I think lots of people complain about playing their biggest songs, but for us because we’ve played them so often you can really enjoy the moment. You don’t have to go “Oh God, what chord is next?”. You’re just there, enjoying the moment, seeing the crowd and seeing people. I think one of the best things about being on stage is just seeing somebody having the best time of their life, to a song you’re singing, to a song you wrote, so that’s amazing.

You’ve been nominated for four Brit Awards and an Ivor Novello.

Yeah, never won one.

But that must’ve been a great moment. Do you have any other really memorable moments?

When we went to number one. Our first album went to number one; we’d worked all year, we toured for about seven months. Touring sounds really glamorous, but we played tiny little pubs and universities, to frequently nobody, so it builds up and builds up over that [time]. And we released She’s So Lovely, and that became a top ten hit, and so when the album came out three months afterwards it went top to number one. We were actually on holiday at the time, so it was our first break in a year. We were in India, and my girlfriend at the time was really sick from food poisoning, and I remember just watching the cricket, just Indian cricket, for about five weeks, and that’s when we found out we were number one. I got an email, and there was no one to celebrate with, order a few more beers and watch more cricket – which is actually probably as good as it gets. That’s probably what I’d do now if we had a number one. That was a highlight.

What are the best things about being in a band and what advice would you give to anyone starting out, because you said it took you ten years to get things going, so you understand the struggle.

I suppose for advice, these days, for me it’s all about the song, you know – you just have to keep writing and writing, till you get a song that is good enough. Apparently there are about 18,000 songs being released every week. And so if you haven’t got a song that isn’t as good as the best stuff out there, I think that, to me, is the thing I’d always concentrate on, the songwriting and production, because now its more a level playing field, anyone can, you know you can produce. On YouTube record your own music and go for it. The other thing we did as a band was we just built it fan by fan, and we took each person individually so when we had, like, 50 people in our email list we were like yes! And when you have 100 people to a gig, you’re like, “that’s amazing”. Keep building it. And stay true to yourself, true to your art.

Thank you!

Selina Begum
Photos: Matthew Pull

Read our review of Scouting for Girl’s show at the London Palladium here.

For further information and future events visit the Scouting for Girls website here.

The editorial unit <![CDATA[Why pop-up restaurants keep popping up?]]> 2017-11-20T12:15:40Z 2017-11-20T12:04:14Z Here’s a fun game: try walking through Shoreditch without bumping into any pop-up restaurants. Try it. It’s kind of like whack-a-mole only you’re trying not to hit your targets, and your targets are hastily-assembled themed eateries instead of plastic hole-dwelling rodents.

Try this game and you’ll lose. Shoreditch is so full of pop-ups it’s basically an overeager children’s book. And this extends to London as a whole. Much like man buns and flat whites, we’ve taken this prevalence of pop-ups for granted as an inevitable byproduct of the rise of hipster culture. Really though, we should be asking one question: Why are pop-up restaurants so popular?

Popping up is simpler than settling down 

One reason pop-ups have risen so much in popularity could be the relative ease of setting them up. Many a professional popper-upper will tell you launching a pop-up restaurant is not easy. But in many ways it’s simpler than setting up an entire restaurant. 

This guide to popping-up has a mere seven steps. It takes more steps than that to update to the latest iOS. Still, the steps themselves are a little more complex than swiping a touchscreen and signing away your soul to Apple.

Aspiring popper-uppers have much to think about when beginning their venture. The design of their restaurant, for example, comes into question. Will it be a simple shack or a meticulously crafted indoor experience?

Then there is the paperwork. You can’t just track down an old roller coaster carriage, turn it on its side and start serving soup from it on Shoreditch High Street. Before it opens, Soup-the-Loop will have to comply with various rules and regulations.

Pop-ups need alcohol licenses if they serve alcohol, entertainment licenses if they have entertainment and they need to follow the Health and Safety Executive’s guidelines.

Then, there are the practicalities of pop-ups: finding a vintage three wheeler turned pizza oven, hiring staff, sourcing ingredients and equipment. You’ll also need a space to prepare and store ingredients in bulk. This last part is easy enough, renting a commercial kitchen is easier than renting a flat; and probably less harmful to your bank balance.

There are lots of pieces to get into place before you can take the lunchtime circuit by storm. The upside of all this work is that pop-ups don’t require large down payments on space or large financial investments. This may sound like a lot of work, but setting up a permanent restaurant is much more difficult.

Pop-up fans love a good theme (read: pun)

The bizarre nature of many pop-ups is easy to mock. I just did it with that Soup-the-Loop example. Let’s do one more: two men in hazmat suits serve burgers out of an old RV a la Breaking Bad—Heisenburger. But despite how easy it is to laugh at concepts like these, they really do add to the pop(-up)ularity of pop-up restaurants.

Not every pop-up restaurant bases its entire premise on a pun, and many use their creative freedom for good. Wild Brunch allows attendees to forage for their own food before eating it. Disco Brunch is described as “a regular brunch with a lot more Disco”. Christmas in Harlem was a faithful recreation of the New York neighbourhood in the 1920s. Then there is The Bunyadi—London’s naked pop-up—which has threatened to reopen “for good”.

With no long term commitments to leases and less pressure from restaurant investors, pop-up creators are free to create wild, innovative and just plain crazy places like these, and that is why a lot of people love them.

It also means that if one location doesn’t work for your idea, you can go in search of a new market. Equally, if you’re not totally sold on your own concept, you can experiment. Pop-up diners are more likely to try something new. I mean, they spend their time at pop-up restaurants eager to taste the fleeting fried finger sandwiches trend before it becomes so last seasoning.

They cater to a new audience and market

As I have covered on this blog before, millennials prefer experiences to material riches, and they love sharing these experiences on social media. Millennials are a fast-growing demographic, and a recent study found that nearly half of this age group’s annual food budget goes on eating out. Just as experiential marketing can win millennials’ hearts, pop-ups are a form of experiential eating, which, perhaps more than the flavour from the actual food, is something millennials crave.

Why are pop-ups so popular? Because we all like to have a bit of fun with our food and for business owners who want to get into the eatery business, it’s less financially risky. Oh, and it’s still very much on trend.

The editorial unit
Photo: Filippo L’Astorina

Juliet Evans <![CDATA[Labour of Love at the Noel Coward Theatre | Theatre review]]> 2017-11-20T11:33:07Z 2017-11-20T11:33:07Z James Graham seems to be becoming ubiquitous in the West End. Labour of Love is the third of his plays to be performed there this year, after the revival of This House and the transfer from the Almeida of Ink. It’s the newest and most sharply topical too, dramatising years of the Labour party’s history right up to this year’s election. That’s where the play starts, before going back through various episodes in the Miliband and Blair years to the first election of David Lyons (Martin Freeman) as the new centrist MP parachuted into his Nottinghamshire constituency with his snooty wife. He clashes with the local party, and learns to get on with Jean Whittaker (Tamsin Greig), the last MP’s wife who he convinces to stay on as his agent. Their relationship is cleverly managed against the background of party politics as the narrative moves forward again through the second half, bringing us back to the present day. It’s reliably funny, though not necessarily gut-wrenchingly so, and while the emotions are not quite as developed as they could be, the characters are engaging and believable.

Martin Freeman and Tamsin Greig carry the whole show. One would never guess that Greig was a last-minute substitute – Jean’s acerbic wit feels like a perfect fit for her, and she’s gloriously funny. Freeman is by turns staid and ridiculous, and the changes in his character are deftly managed over the back-and-forward structure. The minor characters are carried with varying degrees of success. David’s wife Elizabeth, played by Rachael Stirling, feels both over-written and over-acted. Her sense of superiority quickly grows trying. Dickon Tyrell and Susan Wokoma are much more successful, thoroughly believable as an old left zealot and a young party member.

The production works well and unobtrusively. The entire piece takes place in the same constituency office, with the portrait of the leader on the wall and the technology being the main differences between the time periods. Overall, this is an excellent performance of a very decent new play. The only question is whether Graham’s accomplished but slightly emotionally shallow and rather glib brand of political comedy really deserves all the attention it gets. We all seem to have a desperate appetite for satire of any kind – is the praise for this and his other plays entirely deserved?

Juliet Evans
Photo:  Johan Persson

Labour of Love is at the Noel Coward Theatre from 16th September until 2nd December 2017. Book your tickets here.

The editorial unit <![CDATA[How effective are burglar alarms at stopping break-ins?]]> 2017-11-20T11:18:49Z 2017-11-20T11:18:49Z While they have been a staple of home security for decades, how do we know that burglar alarms always work? Sure, they may be activated when someone breaks into a home, but often people invest in them with higher expectations.

Those who buy burglar alarms are investing in protection; they want their security system to reduce the risk of a crime being committed against their property. A 2009 study by Rutgers University noted that a rise in home security systems in the area examined led to a drop in burglaries, but a report the following year claimed that burglar alarms only prevented “one burglary roughly every 300 years”.

With such conflicting information, it’s understandable that many alarm sceptics have started to wonder: are burglar alarms that effective at stopping break-ins?

Burglar alarms as a means of apprehension

Burglar alarm systems serve two basic purposes: alerting those both inside and out of a property to the presence of an intruder and deterring potential criminals from entering a property in the first place. When an alarm goes off, it should, in theory, stop a burglar in their tracks, or at least raise awareness of the crime to passers-by; someone may look out of their window and see an unfamiliar figure approaching the property across the street, therefore being able to act as a witness if the authorities become involved.

Though some burglar alarms are successfully triggered by the unexpected motion caused by break-ins, studies have shown that an audible alarm may not always have the intended effect. In a 2012 survey, 87% of those questioned said they would ignore a neighbour’s burglar alarm if they heard it going off. This phenomenon has been dubbed “alarm fatigue”, alluding to the fact that people are tired of hearing alarms because they hear so many as to not take them seriously.

How to make burglar alarms more effective

Thankfully, there is a way to overcome this alarming trend of security fatigue: if homeowners fit alarms that are not just audible, but viewed from an external location. There has been a rising trend in the adoption of monitored alarm systems for both residential and business properties.

When monitored alarms are triggered, a signal is sent to a remote alarm response centre where the threat is assessed and an alert is passed on to the appropriate authorities. This makes monitored alarms the safest bet when it comes to security, and means that burglar alarms always prove effective, no matter what.

Burglar alarms as a deterrent

The theory behind burglar alarms as deterrents is that, by merely seeing a burglar alarm, potential burglars will be put off. Because of this theory, most commercial and industrial burglar alarms are clearly and prominently fitted, with a large box (known as a bell box) fixed externally to the building, often complete with a flashing light, that indicates that the resident or business on the premises is protected by a burglar alarm.

According to a survey of convicted burglars, 60% were deterred by the sight of a burglar alarm system, with respondents agreeing that they would opt for a different target should they find their initial one visibly fitted with alarms. The results of this survey are corroborated by UK government statistics. According to a crime study by the government, 75% of surveyed households that had not been burgled were fitted with security systems like burglar alarms, whereas two thirds of houses that were burgled had no security measures.

Evidence like this supports the theory that burglar alarms can act as a deterrent to potential crime, and are worth the investment for this reason alone.

The editorial unit

Selina Begum <![CDATA[Scouting for Girls at the London Palladium | Live review]]> 2017-11-20T10:56:02Z 2017-11-20T10:54:14Z Saturday evening at central London’s extravagant Palladium is abuzz with fans queuing to see British indie pop rockers Scouting for Girls on their Ten Year Anniversary tour.

Singer-songwriter Roy Stride arrives on stage with his band to rapturous applause, whilst telling everyone “that this is not a sit down show, we want to see you dancing, we want to see you moving, we want to see you jumping”, and beginning the set with 2007’s I Need a Holiday. A good choice of song, with honest lyrics, it takes the mind off the cold weather, with its jaunty sunny melodies. They follow this up with the ever-popular hit single Heartbeat, defined by its striking piano keys. The group are in high spirits, bassist Greg Churchouse jumping on the speakers, hyping up the already ecstatic audience, whilst Stride takes his selfie stick and soars above the stage, trying to capture as many fans as possible, as he sings, “Everybody wants to be famous”.

Playing one of their most popular tracks to date, She’s So Lovely, excites the crowd, though if close attention is paid to the lyrics, you’ll find the objectification of women is extensive, in lyrics like, “She’s pretty, a fitty” and “Ain’t that the age a girl gets really dirty”. I Want to Be James Bond has a fitting intro with the franchise theme. Though still focused on girls, it is less so, and a change for the better. Playing all the hits, including Elvis Ain’t Dead, and 1+1, plus the festive Christmas in the Air (Tonight) for the encore, the trio give the loyal fans what they want. However, Stride’s vocals don’t seem particularly sharp tonight, going out of tune at points. A surprising rendition of Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer is received well, as the singer goes up to the balcony and mingles with the audience, but the rest of the track listing feels unspectacular, for those who are not dedicated fans.

Credit goes to the band for energetic effort, but the songs themselves feel insipid, each washing into the other, the running theme of girls and lost loves quickly becoming tiresome, tunes full of cheesy banter for the lads. Perhaps working on the evolution of their lyrics would garner them new fans, which would make for a more wholesomely entertaining performance.

Selina Begum
Photos: Matthew Pull

For further information and future events visit the Scouting for Girls website here.

Watch the video for Dancing in the Daylight here:

The editorial unit <![CDATA[Winter wardrobe wisdom: Seven warm ways to spruce up your style for the colder months]]> 2017-11-20T11:36:33Z 2017-11-20T10:00:13Z Let’s face it: winter can sometimes be a little dreary. But your sense of style need not suffer from the same downturn. Here’s how to keep upbeat when it comes to your winter wardrobe. Employ these gems of wisdom for seven warm ways to spruce up your style for the colder months.

1. Coat yourself in style 

The biggest investment you can make for your winter wardrobe would have to be a coat, or a jacket. Thrown over your outfit, the right coat can really pull your look together – or potentially render it askew. So you’ll want to go with something versatile and classic, but still with a bit of a modern twist. A trench coat (like one of these from Runway96) makes for a timeless addition to your cooler climate wardrobe. Style has never been so simple.

2. Don’t skimp on the undergarments

When it comes to winter you may feel like letting things slip a little when it comes to grooming. And with all those layers hiding everything away, you might feel tempted to ignore the finer details. But give yourself a bit of a boost by trading your old underwear for something much more luxurious and visually appealing.

Winter can be the perfect time to show off a little décolletage, bordered by a lace bodysuit or cami. And you can easily keep the look classy, for instance by adding a scarf, blazer etc. for a just a hint of peekaboo sexiness.

3. Boots to go the distance 

You’ll want to make sure you have at least one pair of boots in your wardrobe. And, if you do have to narrow it down to just one pair, make sure you aim for adaptability. Slouch boots are perfect – working equally well worn dressed up or down. They look good with skinny jeans, corporate attire and even a slinky long sleeved dress. Their sheer versatility makes them a must for your winter fashion shopping list.

4. Get snoody

A snood, you may ask?

Yes, the snood scarf is something you should know about when it comes to Women’s Designer Fashion. It’s tubular shape sits like a turtle neck collar and can be easily taken off or adapted, so you can avoiding feeling hot and restricted should you miscalculate the weather conditions when getting ready of a morning.

You can also pull a snood over your head, thereby making it a hood (which explains the name). Don’t let its slightly silly moniker fool you, the snood is all practicability and presents as a wise investment for your winter wardrobe.

5. Leg it

Leggings are the smart choice when dressing for cooler conditions. Warmer than regular tights, they can be worn under a dress, skirt, shorts etc. to provide an extra buffer from the cold. Some thicker styles can even be worn on their own with a long top or jumper. They provide the perfect base for layering – and body-conforming styles can give you that extra level of control to pull you into shape in all the right places.

6. Cosy up

Cosy knits are your best friend come wintertime.

Chunky natural weaves in oversized designs are a great option for when you need to brave the cold, but don’t want to spend ages putting on all kinds of layers. Popping out for some milk? Chuck on a massive knit jumper and some UGGs, and you’re practically good to go.

Modern styles are a little more deconstructed than the kind of traditional wooly jumper that your grandma might wear; they manage to tick all boxes, being both super comfy and fashion forward.

7. Don’t deny the denim 

You really can’t go past denim. And jeans are the ultimate seasonal perennial: here to stay no matter the year, decade or generation. The trick to wearing denim during the colder months is to choose the right kind of insulation elsewhere – e.g. wear with fur lined boots and a long coat.

Classic white skinnies can look super glam when paired with a faux fur and a touch of bling, whilst more rugged styles look great with knee length camel coloured boots and fringed jackets. Buying yourself a new pair of jeans is always a good idea.

That’s been your Winter Wardrobe update. We hope you gain a little wisdom to set you on your way to making some wise and wonderful purchasing decisions. Winter may or may not be your favourite season, but with the right wardrobe you can weather any conditions.

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The editorial unit <![CDATA[How to make your Christmas a crafty one?]]> 2017-11-20T11:27:00Z 2017-11-20T09:00:53Z Christmas is an expensive time of the year, and most of the money spent goes on presents. It’s so hard to find the perfect gift for loved ones and friends, and impossible when all they say is that they don’t know what they want. It might be tempting to just shrug your shoulders and give them nothing at all (isn’t that what they want?), but don’t give in. If there is nothing out there in the shops or online that they want or need, you’ll just have to make it. A handmade gift is often much more appreciated than anything you can buy anyway – it shows love and care, and it shows how much you really know that person. Here are some tips on how to get crafty when it comes to gifts this Christmas.

Christmas cards

It’s not just gifts that can be homemade – you can make your own Christmas cards too. You don’t have to slave over card and tissue paper though; you can go online and order personalised cards that will have just as great an impact. Doing that gives you more time to get on with the job at hand, and create more stunning gifts that your family will love.

Photo frames

Photo frames are a lovely gift to give anyone; add a special photo as well, and you’re onto a winner. There are some simple (and some not so simple) ways to create this thoughtful gift, and it will depend on how much time you have, and how arty you are. Probably the easiest way is to buy a frame – it can be a cheap one, so your budget can rest easy – and then decorate it. Create a montage of photographs on the frame and them cover them in PVA glue to keep them in place, and make them shiny. Or smother the whole thing in glue and throw as much glitter and bling at it as you can. Going to a craft shop will open your eyes to exactly how much exciting bits and pieces you can add to this one-time simple frame.

Message stones

There is a movement in the UK that has recently taken hold, and it involves people leaving decorated stones in places where others will find them and enjoy them. You could take inspiration from this sweet idea and find your own small stones or pebbles (from a beach, in the garden, just walking along) and decorate them for your loved ones. Firstly, clean them up under a tap to make sure you’ve got all the dirt and grime off them. Then using either poster or acrylic paint, dab on your pattern or picture. If you prefer to just write a message, use a fine-point paint pen. Present them in a small velvet bag, or a cute box.

Hand scrub

Having soft, healthy hands is important throughout the year, but during the winter months when the weather can play such havoc with our skin, it’s even more essential. You can make a gorgeous hand scrub and present it in a glass jar with a screw on lid, and it’s not as hard as it sounds. The ingredients are all natural: sugar, salt, lemon, olive oil and making the scrub takes hardly any time at all.


Who doesn’t need coasters (especially at Christmas when there are lots of people around and they’ve all got a drink)? Coasters are a fun gift to give if you’ve made them yourself. All you need is some cork which you cut to the size and shape you want. Then pop a picture on the top and seal it all with a clear varnish. Go the extra mile and choose a photo of the person you’re giving the coasters to, or perhaps their kids, or a place they love. Make it personal to them.


You can even give children homemade gifts, and they won’t mind at all. Did you know that it’s possible to make your own playdough using just flour, salt, water, vegetable oil and food colouring? Well, you do now, and it’s a quick and easy thing to do. Make as many colours as you want, and it will keep the little ones occupied for hours.

Wind chimes

Perfect for the more spiritual amongst your loved ones, or for those who enjoy spending time in their garden, a homemade wind chime is a gorgeous gift. Take a piece of wire, a length of wood, a metal pipe – whatever works for you – and drill holes through it. Thread some strong through the holes, and attach shells, buttons, pieces of sea glass or anything else that will make a pretty noise to the string.

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The editorial unit <![CDATA[Tom Chaplin presents new Christmas album at intimate HMV concert in Oxford Street | Live review]]> 2017-11-20T08:32:20Z 2017-11-20T08:32:20Z On the day of release, Tom Chaplin presented Twelve Tales of Christmas, a festive album that follows the success of The Wave. A lucky crowd of fans had the privilege of listening to six of the 12 tracks at an intimate showcase at HMV Oxford Street. The new record features eight original songs and four covers.

“Christmas is my favourite time of year,” said Chaplin who has fond memories from his childhood. “The passing years have conspired to erode that magic but I still feel its presence when I gather together with my family.”

Produced by David Kosten and recorded at Abbey Road, Muttley Ranch and Snap Studios, the album includes evocative covers of Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air, the Pretenders’ 2000 Miles, Stay Another Day by East 17which he all played live – and Joni Mitchell’s classic River. Determined to capture the wonderful side of Christmas music, Chaplin managed to find the inspiration during the summer, when he wrote most of the songs including new single Under a Million Lights and Midnight Mass.

“The four covers I chose are personal favourites and all very distinct from one another,” the Keane frontman said. “I found Christmas a great source of inspiration for writing my own songs. There’s a bittersweet quality to this time of year that made me want to explore the themes of love, lost love and remembering those we have lost.”

As documented on The Wave, Chaplin has endured his share of dark times and it was this turbulent period of his life that made him able to see Christmas through his daughter’s eyes, and his voice really suits the reflective nature of these songs. During the show he repeatedly joked about the fact that most of his festive compositions actually talk about death, to a point that there was a recurring dialogue about it with the fans from the front row. Before ending the showcase with Stay Another Day, Chaplin played also Keane’s classic Somewhere Only We Know, which served as a Christmas song when Lily Allen covered it for John Lewis’ tv ad in 2013.

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Photos: Filippo L’Astorina

For further information and future events visit the Tom Chaplin website here.

Watch a live performance of Somewhere Only We Know from the HMV London showcase: