A little look into the reason for creation and all things functional...

Monday, 6 December 2010

Wellington Boots

Oh dear, looks like I’ve neglected my blog for a few days. I think I’ll blame it on the snow, after all Britain officially goes in to shut down and panic mode at the site of a kids cut out snowflake.
But if the pain in the arse snow has taught me anything it’s that sensible footwear is snow joke. In the past few days I have slipped over in the snow at least 10 times and then tried to incorporate it into some sort of dance movement. And unfortunatley it seems I’m the only one. The residance of Epsom have got the slipping and sliding under control. From the coffin dodgers to Rugrats; everyone is looking after number one, upping the sensible footwear anti and putting on a pair of Wellington boots.
Hessain Boot
Although now a days you can probably buy a pair of wellies from Wilkos, back in 1817 they were a little more limited edition. They were first created when the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, ordered his shoe maker to modify the Hessian boot into something more comfortable and practical for the men of Britain. The shoemaker created a boot made of leather, which was hard wearing, comfortable, lighter and waterproof. It was named after the Duke of Wellington, and became very popular with war heroes and the more average Joe male public. 
First Duke of Wellington

The Wellington boot evolved quickly and was soon made of rubber and once fashion got a hold of them; plastic. Although the use of plastic is great for us Asda Smart Price ‘cheapos’, it was not so good for the Wellington’s street cred. The rubber shoes became unattractive to the eye and less resistant to wear and tear; naughty little sweat shop workers. 
Today, the boots are available in rubber and plastic, depending on how much pocket money you get. They are popular with the ‘get stuck in’ farmers and ‘I’ve got nothing better to do with my life’ gardeners.
And now the welly has been taken over by the celebs. The world famous Hunter boots have become a winter and summer festival fashion essential. Celebrities such assuper model Kate Moss and 'that girl who used to act’ Mary Kate Olsen wearing them.

Kate Moss

And if idolising celebrities style isn’t your thing than take it from the Wellington wearer himself. Paddington Bear never leaves the house without them; of course he is a fictional character and I’m therefore lying, but who cares. Match you boots with a personalised suit case, a blue duffel coat and a fancy hat and you are rolling with the big bears!

Paddington Bear

Get the funky footwear here www.funky-wellington-boots.co.uk

Monday, 29 November 2010

Long Johns

Long Johns are probably one of the most practical and comfiest ‘keep me warm’ garments ever. Unfortunately they are not the most attractive, which is probably why people choose to wear them under their pants; along with the fact that they are considered underwear. Long Johns or Long underwear are part of a two piece set of underwear that have long sleeves for the top half and long legs for the bottom half. They blossomed in popularity as wearers were given the option to wear the thermal underwear as a set or just a singular bottom/top...how excited they must have been.
They can be made using a variety of materials, which varies depending on which side of the world you are on. The people of the USA tend to use cotton or a cotton polyester blend, but those on European shores will use wool blends or sometimes 100% wool; we are just so fancy like. The use of wool however is not only due to our never ending fields of sheep in the UK. Wool is fire retardant, (you know in case you get to close to the fire even though your Mums told you a million times to stay away.  It also provides highly effective insulation even when wet, which is perfect for you outdoorsy type/ those who like to bore themselves to death by going night fishing.
Also, it seems the tighter the long johns are the more likely they are to hold in a man’s unwanted physique. So if your partner is moaning you to lose weight for Christmas, you can fool them by whacking a pair of johns on under your jeans. And when bed time comes, request a turning off of the lights before you strip; sometimes women just appreciate that anyway.
The men of the world need to be assured not to be afraid to wear these ‘men’s tights’ on a daily basis. You see boys; they originated in a very masculine way. Boxer John .L. Sullivan was known for his hard hitting punching and quick movements in the boxing ring in 1891 but he was also known for the ensemble he would wear to fight these beastly matches. Mr Sullivan would enter the ring in nothing but a long pair of underwear referred to as a union suit. Wither he won matches because contenders were too scared to get near his underwear or not, he became and success and so did the long johns.

Boxer John .L. Sullivan
And thermal underwear hasn’t been left out in the cold for our ancestors to knit, catwalks of 2010 have seen Dolce and Gabbana and Vuitton sporting the thermals.
Dolce & Gabbana's take on Long Johns 2010

So go forth men and wear your long johns proud, but a personal request...if you’re going to wear just johns without any extra layers, please do it in the comfort of your own home. Thank you.
Get yourself a pair...or prepare to freeze to death  http://www.thermalsdirect.co.uk/

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Scarves; they may have be knitted by our un-cool Grandma’s and admittedly not always look the most attractive but (at the risk of trying not to sound like my mother) they are practical and keep you from feeling chilly.
However the scarf was used for a very different function in its earlier days. Tracing all the way back to the Ancient Roman’s; they used a scarf like object known as a Sudarium. The Sudarium, Latin for sweat cloth (nice) was used after exercise to wipe the faces of sweaty muscular bulging men (a little nicer). The masculine men soon used their surprising ‘love for style’ and begun to wear the sudariums as belts or neck scarves; what fancy little roman soldiers they were.
Ancient Roman statue

Of course the woolly scarf of today is not much of a sweat gatherer, thanks to the invention of the trusty towel. Wither you simply hang the accessory around your neck, or do that fancy knot thing that the rebel children did in school, the woolly scarf is your best friend on cold winter days.
Across the other side of the Atlantic, the hotter and probably more happier countries of the world use silk scarves to block out sunlight and to stop sand by blowing all ‘up’ in their faces. Oh, what a hard life living on a beach must be!
Scarves can even go as far as defining a person’s religion and culture. Muslim women, who cover all aspects of their face apart from their eyes using scarves, create a characteristic that immediately convey the religions morals, now that’s one powerful accessory.
Muslim Religion

So you see the scarf is more than just an added extra, its famous throughout fashion, religion and now film with its memorable moments in Sex and the City 2 and Confessions of a Shopaholic.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5-aOpznm44  - Sex and the City Trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLKBxQvtMbo – Confessions of a Shopaholic, you see how desperate people are to have the must have scarf

The more all year round scarves are the silk vintage scarves that hit the streets in countless ways. From tying around the neck, or around a bag handle, using as a belt, tying on wrists or attaching to clothing, the snazzy little add-ons can transform pretty much any outfit. The most popular of ways at the moment is the care free notion of tying the scarf through a laid-back hair do. If this isn’t ringing any bells, think the blonde totty from X-factor girl band rejects Belle Amie.
Example of the vintage scarves being worn as headwear - Belle Amie

The point is, the scarf is an accessory legend. Everyone from the Romans to your Nan is a fan. From the good old woollens to the pink pashminas, they are worn in all climates and by many celebrities; even Ross from Friends apparently.  

Friday, 19 November 2010

So we have all seen the Coca Cola Santa advert by now, meaning one thing...Christmas is officially here.  Keeping with the theme of freezing our tits off, the next couple of blog entries will be focusing on the things that keep us warm during the winter days.
Let’s start from the top with a sentence or two on woolly hats. Although N-Dubz have now tainted them buy making it impossible to wear a one and not look completely ridiculous, hats are still popular. They keep us warm and all the rest, but they mess up our hair and fall off a lot; and well basically I’ve never suited them so I’m side stepping the whole topic.
Just for fun member of N-Dubz on Never Mind the Buzz cocks - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNrwJWCJXxk
 Instead I’m going to focus on a much better accessory. They keep our ears warm, there compact, they leave our hair styles alone and they come in all sorts of themes, from monkeys to boobies. They’re Earmuffs.


Earmuffs were invented in 1873 by an, obviously bored, 15 year old boy. Chester Greenwood was the kind of child that played out in the snow and then winged a lot about being cold; typical. But clever little Chester managed to pester his poor Grandma so much that together they created a product that would become insanely popular.

 It wasn’t just the cold that Chester moaned about; he didn’t like to wear wool either because it made him itch. It was this allergy however that gave him the idea to create a set of ear muffs made of soft beaver fur and silky black velvet. And thus he did; producing The Greenwood Champion Ear Protector.
Chester’s friends became fans of the invention and Chester and this Greenwood family were forced into making many more. And today the muffs are more popular than a good-looking version of Susan Boyle would be. Designers from Louis Vuitton to Lacoste have put earmuffs on their catwalks, although I prefer the less expensive pairs that are put in the high street bargain bins.
So you see, there is no excuse not to own a pair in these winter seasons. If not to keep your ears warm, to pretend that you’re listening to your Grandma whilst she takes your Christmas shopping, when in fact everything she says is muffled.
Can’t afford to buy your own? Then make them! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uM2FwftFqjY

Monday, 15 November 2010

The word leotard to you is probably now cursed thanks to Madonna thrusting her 50 something crotch in our faces in her ‘Hung Up’ video. But having participated in gymnastics for a long period of my life it would be a crime not to give the stretchy ‘onesy’ a mention.
The original leotard first came about in 1859 in a French flying trapeze performance and was named after the creator Jules Leotard. As Madonna very loudly demonstrated, the leotard leaves little to the imagination and is about as good of a cover up as wrapping your naked body in cling film. It is imaginable that the leotard was very controversial in the 19th century due to its revealing nature. The leotard, created by Jules, was a hand knitted garment that covered him from wrist to ankle, a little more like a uni-tard than the minimal leotards of today.

Jules Leotard

The leotard was introduced to pop culture in the 60’s and 70’s through ballet artists, show girls and lingerie models. If you were considered anyone in the 70’s you were most likely to own a leotard. It became a must have item in the times of disco and aerobic craze. After all, according to the recent Eric Prydz video ‘Call of me’ exercise can only be done in the skimpiest of thong leotards. (I’ll post a link assuming that most of you are not boys who fantasise over that video every night.)
In the late 80’s and 90’s people put their legs away and opted for wearing their leotards as tops; wearing jeans over them. And the exercise bras and shorts took over the ‘getting fit’ wardrobe. After all there’s no point having rock hard abs if you can’t see them.
But now down to the cool stuff, the legendary and most masculine wearers of the leotards (apart from those crazy muscle women); superheroes. Superheroes adopted leotards and capes to give them more of an aerodynamic approach when flying through the sky and saving the world. Well, that’s purely a guess but if I ever meet one I’ll be sure to ask their uniforms function.  Was it a case of practicality or just used to accentuate the abs and buttocks?
Gymnastics; although not as cool, gymnasts are most famously known for wearing leotards. Worn for the obvious reasons of practicality, the leotards are slim line and keep accidents to a minimum thought their lack of bagginess. However, unfortunately they are not the most comfortable of garments. Plus, points are deducted if a contestant is seen pulling the leotards out of their bum during a routine. They must suffer in wedgie silence; tough sport I can tell you.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ7cThD85Js&feature=related – Gymnastic bloopers
Me as a Gymnast with ledgend Olga Korbet - this photo was in The Daily Mail...my only claim to fame
Although a thing of the past in fashion, I’m sure the seasonal cycle will bring the leotard back at some point. And if not there’s always the girl at Halloween that will throw one on with a pair of over the knee socks and call themselves a slutty cat.

Friday, 12 November 2010

So I don’t know about you but when the word braces in mentioned, my mind can split two ways...
I either vision a couple of geeky kids with glasses, spots and a mouth of metal or I vision the fireman fantasy of the naked chest, yellow hat and red braces...

But it seems after researching into the history of braces, or suspenders as the Americans call them, that my fireman fantasy is going to have to be on hold.
Braces came about in the 1800’s, supposedly invented by a man called Albert Thurston, and were a little different from the stretchy numbers that we wear today.

 Originally made out of silk, they were worn strictly under waistcoats and attached to high waisted trousers using buttons, until 1894 when the metal clasp was introduced.
In the 19th/20th century braces were seen as an underwear accessory and it was considered rude and inappropriate to show them in public. So much so, that the high waisted pants were designed to be just that bit higher at the back. This was to ensure that if, god forbid, your waistcoat was to lift up as you bent down to tie your shoelaces, or have a quick glimpse up a ladies undergarment, your braces would not be on show.
The functions of braces were of the most practical. There’s the story of the 18th century rich men who retained a large ‘diet’ and grew in stomach mass on a day to day basis. They become so full at the table that they began to wear braces in order to be able to loosen their waistband without having to fiddle around with a belt.
But the main function is one we can all relate to. Remember the days of standing in the playground in front of a boy or girl you wanted to snog behind the bike shed and then the school jokers runs up behind you and whips your pants down?...We’ve all been there, well everyone except for the brace wearers of the 19th century. They wore the clever little suspenders to keep their trousers up...a skill the men of today could use help with.
As you can imagine if it was deemed inappropriate to simply show the braces, walking round with your pants to the ground isn’t going to go down to well either.
Alas, as men’s fashion developed and trouser waist lines got lower, the braces of the world faded to the background and the blasted belt made a comeback.
But braces are yet to R.I.P... They have been worn by the rebel skinheads and Bovver boys of the 1970’s and the American Gangsters of the 50’s. Not forgetting the most fashionable celebs...erm, Robin Williams in Mork and Mindy and Michael Douglas in Wall Street.


Women are not ones for being left out the brace equation either...but their more interested in the mini suspenders that attach to their underwear and stockings.  I’ll leave the men with that image while we girls get back to that fireman...........................

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The idea of the apron is said to trace as far back of the mythical times of Adam and Eve. The loved up inventive couple were believed to have sewn together fig leaves to cover up their naked bodies. And from an iconic historian to another; in the early days of the Jack the Ripper investigations, neighbours of the villain would refer to him as ‘Leather Apron’ when questioned by police. The man in the leather apron would be said to force prostitutes into giving him their money and if they refused he would beat them. Hardly the values of what the apron represents today.
The 16th and 17th century saw aprons being worn by barbers, butchers and Masons. The practical women of the 19th century used the apron to protect clothing, carry utensils and collect eggs.
It was in the 1950’s that the apron made its statement. With the help on 50’s – 60’s television and the beautiful women it presented, the apron became associated with good mothers and homemakers. Characters such as June Cleaver from "Leave it to Beaver", or Alice, the maid on the "The Brady Bunch" exaggerated the loving stay at home wife stereotype.
The apron, originated from French word naperon (meaning napkin/small tablecloth), as simple as it looks comes in a variety of styles. These housewives don’t just settle for anything. Pickford, Hoover, Bib, Waist and Clobber aprons are among those designs to choose from and that’s not including the attention to detail patterns that smooch the fabric.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that the apron is just for the ladies of the land. It would seem the men of the 12th century were first in the apron line. They used them as hygienic, protective wear...oh how very anal of them. And before the macho men of the 21st century insist the apron is only for women; next time you’re persuading the wife that you should start the barbeque, just remember the first piece of equipment you put on.

You want to buy and apron now don't you............http://www.cupcakeprovocateur.com/