My Style - A mood board
‘Yes, I know that he just died but what will I wear to his funeral?!’
I shouted at my mother a few days before my Dad was turned to ash.
Even now we remark on it as one of our funniest exchanges. In the midst of my grief all I could think about was a particular peplum jacket I purchased in Italy and whether Camden Town still stocked my favourite seamed stocking.
Oh fashion. From the faster cheaper kind which has now correctly been denounced by anyone with a social media following and/or a desire to try and reverse an inch of the damage we’ve done to our planet to the more luxurious, heavy material which makes us wonder if we could survive three months of Aldi beans on gluten free toast, all of it makes my heart flutter.
I was the most awkward child, more preoccupied with books and bikes than clothes. In my early years myself and my mother agreed that they just needed to be robust and waterproof. So most of my childhood threads were from reliable high street brands like GAP, Naf-Naf and United Colours of Benneton. Like most young girls, I didn’t even notice fashion until I was about twelve or thirteen years old. My introduction to the power of allowing your choice of garments to speak before you do came via the fly girls of the secondary school halls. Garage music had just reached its peak. Not a day went by when you could avoid So Solid’s ‘21 Seconds’ or Dizzee’s ‘I love you.’ Like all the waves in time have done before, music was the tsunami upon which style arrived upon the shore. The clothes worn were in direct correlation with the music we listened to. The colours and patterns were bold. And it was all about the swagger.
It’s with a slight smile I remember my first ever visit to PROBITO. The ‘go to’ designer shop off of Oxford Street. ‘Mufti’ day was soon upon us and I had communicated my distress at having my last mufti day outfit mocked and laughed at. Who knew a South Park hoodie and ill fitting combat pants could evoke such emotion in those sixteen and under? Overwhelmed by choice, a pushy mother and now my understanding of just how void I was of anything even close to fashionable, I remember finally locking eyes with a pair of Moschino white base, heart print jeans. I don’t know what came over my mum that day but she allowed me to get two pairs.
So I also settled for a quieter pair of Guess jeans which were so tight, I had to vertically throw myself across my bed to get them on.
The next day, I paired the Moschino jeans with a red DKNY t-shirt, red Clark’s wallabies, scraped my struggling perm into a ‘fan’ hairstyle, used an old tooth brush and pink styler gel on my baby hairs and topped off the fan with a red ribbon. Basically I looked like a baby member of the bloods (a renowned Gang established in Los Angeles, California) Although upon reflection the outfit was a tragic stylistic misstep, in that moment, at that time, I felt so empowered. Within moments of arriving at school it became clear that I had redeemed myself, with the older girls fussing over me all day and telling me how much they loved my jeans.
I wish I could’ve stopped life right there and continued to live in that bubble. But much like life, style, in my opinion should be a constant and consistent reflection of where you are in your life right now.
There have been many phases since then. Hip hop girl, nonchalant traveller, Carrie Bradshaw enthusiast, Black girl vintage, struggling new mum and now, what I simply call, Candice Brathwaite. Which funnily enough seem to be an eclectic combination of all I mentioned above. Just with some hard and fast rules so I’m able to make quicker choices which allow me to look in the mirror and and see my authentic self.
Black is dead to me.
I despise black. I mean at funerals, it can look uber chic if done to an almost performative level but aside from that, I never went through a ‘I want to fuck Marilyn Manson’ phase so I regard the colour as sad and very much against my DNA
Respect the architect
For years I did silly things like wear mini skirts or skinny jeans which resulted in me looking like a black Kelly Clarkson because I refused to believe that my body type was exactly that. I’m barely 5ft tall and built like a cello. My hourglass shape is disrespected when I don’t adhere to its nuances and it’s taken me a while to learn that I must accentuate my waist at all costs and that a decent tailor is worth their weight in gold.
High quality staples are always worth it.
‘You buy cheap, you buy twice!’ My grandad always used to say. It’s taken me so long to heed those words that ironically I’ve wasted a lot of money in the process. Now I’m older I rebuke primark white t-shirts in favour of ones from Marks and Spencer’s or GAP. I’d rather have five luxury handbags than fifty ZARA ones. And the same goes for shoes. Well made, long lasting pieces of course come at a higher price but honestly there has never been a time where I’ve regretted the purchase. And underwear is like the base of a cake. How dare you bemoan a sunken Victoria sponge if you haven’t used the best quality ingredients! Great underwear need not be from Rigby and Peller but those off the rack, New Look things with no underwire are for pre-teens not grown ass women.
I do not read fashion magazines, I entertain them.
This is a lie of course. But what I meant to say is that I don’t abide by the ever revolving door of these fashion magazines which you buy and follow the word of on a Tuesday and find your latest purchase to be not so hot by Friday. I read vogue and the like, to be inspired, not sold to. One of my favourite ways to spend a Saturday is to read vogue and then shop my own wardrobe to see how I can repurpose my pieces to reflect a spread which really made me feel all of the things.
I rebuke Instagram ‘shops’
They are all mostly terrible and poorly made with a regard for only size 4 women who have enough money to go to the south of France every weekend. Issa no from me.
Before I even look in the mirror, I think about how it makes me feel.
I’m a Pisces, (with Virgo rising - go figure) so feeling is everything and as contradicting as it may now seem, I will toss every prior rule I’ve written above out of the window if the black, floor sweeping sack, which I purchased on Instagram because vogue bigged it up, makes me feel good! That so rarely happens though because I’m particular about what I wear because I already know what makes me feel like a million bucks and it is there somewhere between awkward teen trying to fit in and years of trial and error, where I believe true everlasting, sustainable style can be found.
Below are a few of my favourite designers/shops
Aside from being dragged around the uniform department as a child, this is a new one for me. But since working with them since their rebrand in the last quarter of 2018, I’ve been hooked. Their 3/4 length culottes are the perfect full length, wide trouser on me and I’ve been living in them. I preferably only purchase them when on sale because full price they’re £100 and.... yeah even when I reach Oprah status that will make me shiver. So sale, sale, sale!
I won’t lie I think this came up as an ad on Instagram and usually I scroll past but I was taken with what I saw. That same week they were featured in Sunday Times Style and the most recent issue of Vogue so I thought if all else fails I can return the items because I’m fearful in regards to sizing. Mate, I need not have worried. Their shit was so pukka, I’ve returned to them again and again. The downside is they only go up to a size 16 which I think is silly as they’re missing out on the moolah of women who would look amazing in their clothes. But with that said, I have to note that the sizing is roomy and I’ve often had to size down. The low point is also the price point, I think £85 for a shirt is a bit steep so as per, I always keep my ear to the ground in regards to their sale.
This shop is so hit and miss for me and it’s all because of their topsy turvy sizing. Some dresses in their fit me like a tent and others won’t go over my 40inch hips. It’s always hit and miss. But the hits are so banging I can’t not mention them. Another downside, you guessed it - price! (Am I just being cheap?! Don’t answer that) Once again it’s best to wait for the sale rack to be rolled out but they have such a cult following sometimes you’ll miss what you’re heart desires.
Need I say more? My thirty year old self no smirks at my twenty year old self who swore she would never wear St.Michael!
I came across Louisa’s designs years ago on Instagram. I fell in love immediately. Because of my height I love the fact that clothes are tailored and there is no way I will turn up to an event wearing the same clothes as anyone else. Her kimonos cover all the bits I’m not sure about and accentuate my Kim k-esque waist (sarcasm) and I always feel my most confident when wearing her clothes
Do you think I will ever pay full price for designer accessories? Doubt it. But I love the way a bag and shoe can just elevate a look and have everyone thinking I’m wearing couture.
I’ll close this piece by perhaps being nonsensical and advising you don’t listen to my advice at all. Style is so so personal and it’s for that reason alone that we celebrate so many designers, fashion writers and style influencers as there is no shortage of inspiration. But it should be only that, inspiration. I wrote this to hopefully encourage you to understand that fashion is literally for everybody. Every body type, budget, race you name it. I find so much joy in expressing myself through my choice of outfit that I’m pretty sure there is a desk at Vogue with my name on it!