Irish Fashion Bloggers

Here’s my second article for the College Tribune; published on the 24th of September. Our theme for this issue was Fashion Forward Irish, so I was tasked with profiling the rise and popularity of the Fashion Forward Irish and their blogging endeavours.

The Rise of Irish Blogging Culture

In the last few years, a plethora of fashion bloggers have made their mark in cyberspace. The success of social media has been vital in getting their voices heard and their clothes lusted after. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and other websites have shone a spotlight on the fashionable youth of today – without social media, we would never have heard of them. And the best part is that some of the most influential fashion bloggers are our home-grown talent. The Celtic Tiger gave young Irish people confidence and willingness to promote ourselves. And even now, we’re utilising those skills more than ever.

     Two fantastic Irish websites are her.ie and beaut.ie. They provide fashion, beauty and celebrity journalism at their most down-to-earth. Their articles read like a chat with your bestie, albeit a very stylish and finger-on-the-pulse bestie. These writers know their stuff, without the slightly intimidating demeanour of Vogue magazine and its ilk. Young Irish people want up-to-date fashion and beauty fixes and if we can get them with a healthy dose of craic, even better.

     One of the most famous fashion forward Irish bloggers is Suzanne Jackson, whose So Sue Me blog has become a cult favourite for fashion and beauty features.  Jackson is accessible and friendly; she regularly interacts with fans on Facebook and Twitter, and often posts tutorials for make-up looks on her YouTube channel when requested, including her popular contouring tutorial. She brings high-end fashion to ordinary Irish women while singing the praises of Penneys too. As every Irish girl should.

     A favourite blogger of mine is NUIG student Erika Fox. Her Retro Flame blog has taken her to dizzying heights recently. Her style is unique; pairing vintage with trendier pieces effortlessly. Her blogging and other social media outlets are remarkably professional and she is an excellent example of a fashion forward Irish blogger. Fox’s recent work with Boohoo.com is a sign that nothing but success lies ahead.

     Irish bloggers have made fashion accessible for ordinary Irish women, while displaying our uniqueness as a counterpoint to global fashion. Fashion forward Irish bloggers are easy to relate to and emulate, and it’s really exciting to see them becoming more influential everyday.

Et voilà!

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Groundhog Day

Two weeks ago, I began commuting to university for the first time ever. After a disappointing house hunt involving a lot of wandering around Dublin crossing properties off our list because the landlord had kindly forgotten to tell us that he/she had let it from under our feet, I resigned myself to the fact that there would be an awful lot of public transport in my future. And back in August, I was cool with that. Commuting isn’t so bad, right? Sure I only live an hour away from Dublin by train, it’ll be a doddle. I’ll study on the train, I’ll become a genius. But two weeks into my new routine, I have one word for my previous naivety….LOL.

First of all, one cannot underestimate the sheer anger of commuters until one has joined their ranks. Getting up at some ungodly hour to catch a 6:50am train isn’t conducive towards a cheerful morning disposition. Most of us stumble on board clutching our coffee flasks, silently cursing the fact that we’re not still warmly cocooned in our beds. The slightest hiccup in our routine; not being able to sit in a window seat, forgetting our earphones or a long wait for a bus after the train journey can send us into nuclear self-destruct. All we ask is that, seeing as we have to add, like, three torturous hours onto our day shuttling back and forth from work/college and home, everything goes as smoothly as possible. And that, for the love of god, Dublin Bus won’t have gone on strike again.

Then there are the Personal Space Invaders, as I like to call them. All sense of decorum seems to go out the window with some commuters. I spent the best part of my morning train journey last Monday jostling for the arm rest with a man who seemed to require about fifteen square feet of space to read his newspaper. I wasn’t having this, especially seeing as he’d nearly sat on my bag and coat instead of asking me to move them so he could sit down, as is standard train etiquette. So we spent a cosy forty minutes squishing elbows as we both tacitly tried to assert our right to the armrest. Neither of us gave in, either. And I’ll say nothing of the woman who propped her stockinged feet on the seat beside me one evening, with their pungent stench. And it’s not just the train; queuing for a bus that hasn’t arrived on time can lead to mob behaviour at the bus stop. It’s actually quite unpleasant because I’m rather lacking in the height department and everyone is taller than me, so I can’t see what’s going on around me. And I’m paranoid about pickpockets, even if the possibility is remote. It’s far too early for any such nonsense. I do wish that we could all just get along, and allow each other a decent bubble of personal space.

Whenever I tell people that I’m commuting to college this year, they try to find the bright side for me by suggesting that I make use of the time by studying on the train. Oh, dear, friend, if only you knew the truth. I get pretty bad motion sickness if I try to read whilst on any form of transport, except for airplanes, and even then, it’s dicey. I get queasy reading people’s newspapers over their shoulders (yes, I am one of those people). Last Monday I tried to overcome it by reading some of my History of Florence notes on the way home, but within minutes I was flashing hot and cold, and feeling decidedly nauseous. Perseverance would have resulted in a sprint to the dingy train bathroom, and that’s not a pleasing prospect. So studying is out of the question, unless I can figure out a way to sort out my inner ear. That two or three hours of commuting time is essentially wasted. So of course I had no choice but to download Spotify Premium so I could occupy myself somehow.

Thirdly, nobody tells you how damn tiring commuting can be. I have very little class time in college, only twelve hours a week, but I’m absolutely shattered lately. College itself is hardly taxing seeing as I spend more time reading in the library than anything else, so it must be the travelling. I’m up before 6am some mornings, and home after 6pm other days, and most weekends I have at least one 8am shift at work. Days off are also a thing of the past. It’s little wonder that I’m conked out by 10:30 most nights; last night I retired at 10pm because my brain could not handle anything else. A side effect of all this is that I’m getting daily headaches; a frustrating thing in itself because I’m popping painkillers like sweets to keep them at bay. Not exactly the most healthy way to live, is it?

Which leads me on to the difficulty in eating healthily for a commuter. Most mornings, no matter how early I must leave the house, I will make time for a bowl of cereal and I’ll bring coffee on the train (although a caffeine drip would be my best option at this point). The rest of the day is where it goes downhill. I usually either forget to bring something for lunch, or I simply don’t have the time. Buying food on campus is expensive and, as I’m trying to avoid gluten, I must either settle for something unsatisfactory or eat a sandwich and suffer the ensuing discomfort. Dinner is all dependent on whether I had remembered to take something out of the freezer the previous night, and if I have the energy to cook when I get home. So I’m reaching for chocolate to boost me during the day. And yes, I feel like a fat lump of lard already.

I guess I should apologise for that doom-fest of a post. Sorry, folks. I just needed that little rant. But believe it or not, there are a couple of little perks to commuting. 

First of all, it’s saving my parents and I a chunk of money. My rent last year in Dublin was €500 per month; insane money for a single bedroom even though it was only minutes from college. My monthly train ticket costs less than half of that, and I’m not paying any bills or buying weekly food shopping. In fact, I’ve been able to afford to buy flights for a field trip to Florence next month (eeeeek!) out of my own money. Also, seeing as I’m up in Dublin for the day but have few lectures, I am spending a good amount of time in library and getting plenty of reading done; something that I tended to neglect before this year. And I’ve gotten my first assignment done nearly a month in advance. Because I really am that awesome. Finally, one might call it lonely, but I’m trying to look at commuting as an exercise in independence. Now really I’ve been independent since I was a toddler, but I’m having to spend a lot of time in my own company so I might as well get used to it.

I get to see my dog a lot more too. And that’s pretty cool.

Wrinkles

So this morning, I found my first wrinkle. Four of them actually; two little lines under each eye that crinkle up when I smile. After my initial thought – ‘OH MY GOD, I’M GETTING OLD’ – I decided to think of them as proof that I smile a lot. Which is nice. And then I started thinking about things that I’d like to do in my life which will continue make me smile, even if they make those damn wrinkles worse. Kind of like a lifelong bucket list, if you will.

1. I really want to visit Russia. Ever since I saw the film Anastasia when I was about six (the one with the talking bat), I’ve been fascinated with Russia, especially its imperial past. Although its tourism industry isn’t any great shakes from what I’ve been told, as soon as I’m making any kind of respectable salary I’ll be booking my flights to St Petersburg.

2. I want to get a tattoo. Something discreet, easily hidden and interesting. I’ve toyed with the idea of a feather or some script, or perhaps even both, but right now I don’t have the money for it so it will have to wait. However, if I get hitched, it will have to be hidden. Call me conservative but I’m not a fan of tattooed brides.

3. I would love to live in a Georgian townhouse, like the ones in the suburbs of Donnybrook and Rathmines in Dublin. All redbrick and three-stories-high with fabulous bay windows. There’s something ever so romantic about those houses and to me they feel like a most fitting dwelling for a writer (if I fulfill my current life’s ambition). My friend lives in a listed Georgian house but apparently it’s Baltic in the winter because of the dated heating system, so I’d best stock up on blankets first…

4. I want to write a novel. I think I wrote about this in a recent blog post so I won’t go into it again too much. But it would be a wonderful achievement, even if it only sells three copies (to my immediate family members) and it doesn’t even get bad reviews because nobody is bothered to critique it. I think that my future career will revolve around writing of some description, so writing a novel would be a pinnacle of that path, I think.

5. I want to be able to afford to buy a working wardrobe from Ted Baker. If you’ve seen their clothes, you’d understand. Two years ago I walked into their store on Grafton Street (another beautiful example of architecture in Dublin) and said to myself ‘I’ll know I’ve made it in life when I can buy my work clothes here’. For me, it’s right up there with using a Parker Pen inscribed with your own name.

6. I want to get married and have children relatively young in life, although not necessarily in that order. My mother had me when she was just 24, and although that is young by today’s standards, I would like to have started my family before I reach thirty. I don’t want to be reaching middle age before my children are teenagers. As for the number of children I intend on having, the absolute maximum is three. I can’t understand this notion of churning out five children in as many years, and losing all sense of yourself as anything other than a baby-making facility. I know it makes some people happy, but it wouldn’t be for me. As for getting married, I have quite detailed ideas of the kind of wedding I’d like (key concept: small) but that’s for another post, perhaps.

7. I want to see Fleetwood Mac live in concert, somehow. If I get to hear the solo to Go Your Own Way played live, I can definitely die happy. J and I watched a cover band last night who didn’t bother with the solo and we were highly unimpressed. It was practically a crime against music, and as such it is my mission to hear the original from the originals.

8. I would love, love, love to take a road trip around the American South. Irish people tend to visit New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and California when they go to the States and while these places are popular for a reason, I do feel that one would get the best experience of America by seeing places like New Orleans, Texas, and Nashville. I don’t know why I have this notion, I just do. And if someone could enable this ambition by giving me a large sum of money, I would be entirely grateful.

9. I really want to dye my hair purple and get another piercing. Unfortunately, my job is an obstacle to this ambition. They’re already quite disgruntled by the fact that I keep ‘forgetting’ to remove my nose stud. I have had my lip pierced in the past, which I loved, but when I got my nose pierced I took it out to avoid rocking the boat too much. But I’d love to have it done again, or maybe something else like my belly button which would be unaffected by my job. As for dying my hair purple, this is possible and I might do it for my birthday next month. Also, for some reason J is mad for me to do it so he’ll be delighted too!

10. At some point in my life, I would like to establish an exercise routine which actually lasts longer than a month so I can finally become fit. Even though I often go through periods of wanting to lose weight (plans which never come into fruition), this is something I want to do for the sake of my health first and foremost. Key to this will be to have a structured daily routine which I don’t have at the moment as I am commuting to college this year and spend much of my time in college, or travelling to or from there. But when I do become more organised, it would be great to, you know, actually exercise on a regular basis and not get out of breath running for a bus…

So there’s my rudimentary list of ‘stuff I wanna do to make my wrinkles worse’. It will no doubt be added to, extended and amended numerous times throughout my life but I suppose that’s what life is about, adapting to whatever happens and going with it. After all, I am still only 21. I’m generally quite a laid-back person with a ‘come what may’ attitude, but it’s no harm to have a little checklist of things I’d like to achieve or experience when I finally have the money and freedom to do so. And the sooner that day comes, the better.

I got published!

In a college newspaper. And I’m actually a bit proud of myself for it. Here is my little article for the UCD College Tribune, published on the 10th of September 2013.

The Top Five College Beauty Products

So you’re settling into UCD fresher life; now you’ve got to look the part. These five beauty products will help you at least appear bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, even if you feel like you’ve been steamrollered after a week of finding your feet and, well, partying. And we’ve got every budget covered.

Foundation Primer
Every fresher needs a great base for her foundation. Smashbox Photofinish Foundation Primer, €31.50, will take you from a 9am lecture to the SU Bar to the dancefloor with minimum touching up needed. The holy grail of foundation primers.GOSH’s Velvet Touch Foundation Primer performs similarly for €19.99.

Under-Eye Concealer
Benefit’s Erase Paste, €27.50, has become a favourite for concealing under-eye shadows. And by the end of Fresher’s Week, you’ll have plenty of those. Bourjois Healthy Mix concealer, at just €9.99, is also a dab hand at banishing tired peepers.

Dry Shampoo
Some mornings, despite best intentions, there simply is no time for hair-washing. There really is only one product to be recommended; Batiste Dry Shampoo, €3 in most pharmacies. Available in brown shades for brunettes and possibly redheads, while the original Batiste is great for blondes.

Self-Tan
Saint Tropez Self Tan Bronzing Gel, €27, is a fresher’s best bet for a golden, even tan, as befitting a UCD girl-about-town, especially if she’s going to the Fresher’s Ball. Penneys’ Cocoa Brown One Hour Tan at €7 delivers fantastic results in an instant formulation.

Skin Repair Product
Finally, the frivolity of semester one can leave one’s skin feeling a little neglected. Cult classic Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, €32, is your man. However, Lidl’s Lacura Beauty Oil at €5 will also leave you replenished and moisturised.

Here’s hoping that there’ll be more to follow soon!

Learning how to write

Writing is the only skill I’ve ever been certain of in my life. I can’t sing, my dancing is rhythm-less at best and my attempts at various sporting activities have been laughable. But one thing I’ve always been somewhat proficient at is writing. I am lucky to be rather articulate and I am strangely good at spelling. So naturally one would imagine that I would become a writer when I grow up. Right?

I don’t know how to be a writer. What do writers do? Do they sit at their home computers all day; ticka-tacking out their latest novel in their sweatpants? Do they ponder their prose over an espresso in a painfully hip city café, with a fountain pen in hand? Is it terribly lonely? How on earth does someone not only crack into, but conclude, writing a novel? I rarely get past a basic plot outline and the thought of detailed character maps rather frightens me. I am the queen of unfulfilled intentions. When I write blog posts, I am typically sitting on my living room couch in my pyjamas and trying to block out Escape to the Country (my mother’s favourite TV programme). I don’t think this is a realistic vision of my future career… at least I sincerely hope it isn’t.

I am currently fancying myself as a journalist, preferably in fashion or something similarly not-too-serious. I have even been researching MAs in journalism and I am definitely intrigued by what’s on offer. I wrote my first article for a college newspaper, due to be published on Tuesday, and the fashion editor was delightfully impressed by it, which is a really encouraging start. But I think I would really love to write a book. It would be such an achievement for me, especially given my woefully short attention span. My mind wanders during episodes of Modern Family; it’s actually appalling how little I can concentrate sometimes. 

I like to conceive an idea and just write based on that, then see how it meanders and concludes. I’m not one for planning and structure; sure I’m going back to college tomorrow and I haven’t so much as rooted out a notepad or thought about a packed lunch. It would take tremendous discipline and hard work for me to write a draft novel but I think it would bring me a fantastic sense of achievement. Of course, I should try not to hold myself to the standard of J.K. Rowling, a master in tying up loose ends. Seriously, the concluding book in the Harry Potter series never ceases to amaze me.

But writing a book would be brilliant. Later in life when I frequent sophisticated social gatherings I can drop phrases like ‘Oh, when I was writing my book…’ or ‘Yes, I’m working on a sequel and it’s already generating interest’. Wonderfully conceited, don’t you think?

So, all you writers on WordPress, what does it take? How do you go about the process, and get your work noticed? I know they say that the best career for anyone is the thing they enjoy in their spare time, but does becoming a writer kill the joy of writing somewhat? Is it worthwhile in the end?

In the meantime though, I’ll keep to my blogging and article-writing, and hopefully figure out where the hell my life is going to go next…