IsabelleOC a fashion blog

Sunday Sundries: life, white privilege and lols
This week I saw Boyhood, an excellent film which I thought would be very much about maleness and masculinity. In the end I was most struck by Patricia Arquette’s role as the mum, repeatedly trying to create a traditional family set-up for her children. At the end of the film she’s upset and finding herself somewhat adrift, but I wonder if without the pressure to have the respectability of family or motherhood it’s actually the breakthrough to the start of her real life. Also can we talk about the weird facial transformation that boys undergo during puberty? From cute cherubs to weird gargoyle pre-men. Strange.

Apart from watching films this week has included a lot of denim shorts (don’t know what I’m going to do in the autumn), an interview with Formula founder and all-round wise woman Christina Rapsomanikis, and tasting delicious tomatillos for the first time.

I don’t agree with every single thing that Josh Ellis has to say in his piece ‘Everyone I know is brokenhearted’, but I don’t know if I’ve read something that articulates more comprehensively the post-internet malaise of living right now. [Zen Archery]

Queues are such a important bubble where you can observe certain behaviours and interactions. In the supermarket, at the post office, watch the queue, look at who barges past, who jumps ahead without even realising what they’re doing. Jen Dziura kicks off an article on white privilege masquerading as lifehacking with a description of a white guy trying to jump a post office queue because he ‘just had this one thing’. She goes on to say: ‘Nothing induces more rage in others than your taking what you do not deserve and not even noticing.’ [Medium]

How London boroughs got their name: I was born in Gillingas – otherwise known as Ealing – which means followers of Gillas, a local chieftain. From Dagenham to Harrow, the history of these names is fascinating. [Londonist]

If communicating exclusively in shouty neon GIFs is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Ultratext is a total life-changer.

Interview: Formula’s Christina Rapsomanikis


About five minutes into meeting Formula‘s Christina Rapsomanikis I knew I’d encountered a kindred spirit. When you’re freelance you end up meeting people who are in similar-ish fields, people you can chat with, straight business talk that meanders into coffee-fueled tangents and existential ponderings. I’m always admiring of people who strike it out on their own anyway, but a shared sense of humour, questioning look at life and a similarly carefree approach to fashion, meant we got on like a house on fire.

Christina’s online store, Formula, is an easy-going mix of wearable labels, favourites like Won Hundred and Baum und Pferdgarten as well as discoveries like Mayia Bonner’s gorgeous jewellery pieces and new bag brand Alfie Douglas. She has a knack for picking unobtrusive gems that subtly stand out, like something that you’d spot on a friend and have to buy. This interview hopefully gives a glimpse of some of those conversations and insights in running your own business.

Why did you decide to start your own business?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’d been planning Formula for some time. I carried out a few focus groups with friends, the idea grew until I realised, it’s now or never. I decided to take the money I’d saved as a deposit for a flat, keep renting and take the leap to start Formula.

What were some of the hurdles you faced?

Outside of usual late shipments, faulty stock issues which come as part and parcel of this industry, I also had one supplier go under, taking my cash with them, that was a huge learning. I can say ‘learning’ now. At the time I was furious, but, I had to manage our budgets and take it on the chin.

Was it strange transitioning from an office job to working from home?

In some ways I miss the buzz of an office, but I do have a remote team and some people I see most days so I get enough interaction.


Is it lonely starting a company on your own?

Yes, and anyone that says its not is lying! I remember thinking ‘is it just me who feels like this?’ but everyone I’ve spoken to since says the same. It’s hard work, and you have to dedicate time to it, meaning your social life takes a bit of a back seat. The good stuff comes from knowing you are creating things, supporting people often remotely to produce something you know is going to be amazing. Plus you’re able to work all day on the thing you love. I would say if you’re naturally a communicator and love being around people like me then get a network up – not social media but real human contact. I have a group of core girlfriends who support me with bottles of wine and are never afraid to tell me the truth. I am also blessed with a fabulous family, being half Greek we’re always in each other’s faces, to know they have my back at all times is brilliant. My mum who is a head teacher is a great role model. My Grandma is another great influence, she is 89, fighting fit and stylish as hell. She keeps me, Whistles and Jaeger in business and is always offering sound advice.

Continue reading Interview: Formula’s Christina Rapsomanikis

Sunday Sundries: bunnies, Andrew WK, GIFs and the 90s

hoptons almshouses london tatemodern

Discovered some really idyllic houses near the Tate Modern the other day, just crouched behind some yuppie blocks. Hoptons Gardens Almshouses was built in 1752 and houses Southwark residents over 60, on low incomes, here’s a picture of it in 1952. That something like this still exists in such a central part of London is just wonderful.

Been making some travel GIFs again for Buzzfeed this week, this time for guys. Wondering what else I can GIF in my little DIY studio…

A few weeks ago I was invited to a lovely evening to preview Bernstock & Speirs’ new video, a whimsical (yet definitely not twee) creation by Romain Sellier shot in their East London shop, with Thelma making an appearance and playing ukelele.

In case you didn’t know already I am obsessed with advice columns, I think it’s that similar wrapped-up sense of resolution that makes me love detective shows. I can’t believe I hadn’t already discovered Andrew WK’s amazing advice column for Village Voice, this particular one has been doing the rounds on the internet. If you’ve not read it, it’s him telling a 15 year old girl ‘you deserve to be treated well’. Total emoji cry cat face.

Also making the rounds on the internet is Brian Eno’s letter on Gaza. I think it’s fair to say that the world is now focused on what is happening in Israel and Gaza, (see also John Snow’s video on Gazan atrocities) but what’s really interesting about this post is Peter Schwartz’s less response which gives an outline of the history of that area and shows just how complicated the journey to peace will be. [David Byrne]

Re-watched When Harry Met Sally… on Friday after reading Mark Harris’ article on romcoms and the link between that film and Annie Hall. He writes about the way Nora Ephron wrote Sally as a traditionally feminine character, but with a three-dimensionality that is often absent from that genre of film. It was a great watch, I love all the little dialogue vignettes that feel true to life, many of which were lifted from Nora’s own experiences.[Grantland] [via Bethany]

Miss Moss’ trip down 90s fashion memory lane is full of amazing celeb finds – Winona in chunky denim, Gwyneth’s Satin Years – and trends I would actually wear now. [Miss Moss]

Sunday Sundries: Bella Freud scents, GIFs and defining success

Bella-Freud perfume

Have spent most of the weekend making GIFs for a Buzzfeed post on packing, you can see my last one here, nothing more fun than setting up a tripod and making some silly moving pictures.

Went to the launch of Bella Freud’s perfume range at Harvey Nichols, a trio of pleasing scents that all feel close to actual skin smells, but better. From the ultra-feminine Je t’aime Jane to the unisex Ginsberg is God and my favourite, 1970 which is a heady, incense scent with woody notes.

Brilliant flowchart on navigating the ‘tu’ or ‘vous’ minefield in French, includes the important question ‘is the child like a prince or something?’ [LA Times]

This Design Sponge piece on defining success is a really great, honest piece about doing what feels true to you, not just following the direction you’re supposed to go in. [Design Sponge]

I’ve been meaning to post about Return of the Rudeboy at Somerset House for ages, I didn’t fully get on board with some of the curation (where are the captions to tell you about the significance of the people photographed?) it’s definitely worth an afternoon wander. [Somerset House]

This is kind of old, but Town & Country’s interview with Chloe Sevigny is a must-read, it covers her youth growing up in Connecticut, being a New York It Girl and being a fashion misfit. Chloe is someone who has never lost her cool as the years have gone by, and at 39 is still totally killing it. [Town & Country]

On yer bike: Madeleine Moxham


When she’s not making awesome jewellery, or ‘wearable construction’ as she has dubbed her instantly identifiable pieces, Madeleine Moxham can often be seen cycling around the streets of Camberwell, where she grew up and still lives. To coincide with the Tour de France -and obviously because she’s as cool as hell- I decided to ask her some questions about getting around on your bike, her favourite places in south London and staying generally fabulous while cycling.

Where are your favourite places to cycle to?
To South London Gallery or Petitou in Peckham for lunch which literally are 5 minutes away so it’s not that adventurous, but worth it for the delicious sustenance. That, or on a weekend to Shad Thames & the Design Museum or Bermondsey Street for lunch.

Do you wear heels on a bike, is it a problem?
All the time -it’s ingenious. You can wear higher heels than you would normally because you can cycle straight up to the door of your destination! Although there is heel etiquette to bear in mind.. I’ve caught them on speed bumps a few times.

What do you normally wear on a bike?
Whatever I’m wearing that day. I don’t dress for the bike much to my boyfriends amusement. I’m often just cycling locally so by the time I put on ‘cycling clothes’ I’d pretty much be at my destination!

How do you adapt your style for riding?

I have recently bought some floor length coats so I have to tie these around my waist otherwise there are chain/ brake issues. Also I realised when my hat blew off into the wind that you need to keep it a bit more streamline – I now have a Gap baseball cap I wear when it’s raining.

Do you have any tips or things you’ve discovered about cycling?
Mmmm to invest in those expensive tyres otherwise you have to faff around with a puncture every few months. It took me a while to be convinced but I’ve not had them for 2 years with no issues so would recommend to anyone.

What’s your favourite thing about being on a bike?

The convenience, not having to sit in traffic, halving your journey time, discovering back streets. You don;t always have to have a purpose which is nice so you can find new things over a larger area that you could if walking.

Do you wear a helmet, why?
Not often which I sometimes feel silly about but I really am not usually going that far so I haven;t got in to the habit. When I do I often end up leaving it somewhere! If I am going to be cycling on busy roads (like the Old Ken Road) then I would but I’d have to find it first.

What’s it like cycling around the local area?
Because the area is becoming much busier with students and popular with creatives I imagine they might think I don’t quite understand the laid back atmosphere of the area but that’s just me! I almost need a t-shirt that says ‘I was born here’ and i’ll wear what I like. I just spent the weekend in Copenhagen and the Danes cycle in whatever they want too with heels, flowing coats and big bunches of flowers. If it’s good enough for them…

You can buy Moxham pieces here or at Whistles and I suggest that you check out her brilliant Instagram.







Sunday Sundries: t’tour de France, dollar vans and kegels


A busy week in which I didn’t eat at home once, that’s got to be bad, right? I’m making up for it by simmering some ribollita, an Italian bread and cannelini bean soup which is perfect for summer evenings. One of my meals out was at Rotorino, where I got to try the corpse reviver, an evil-sounding cocktail I have been wanting to try for ages. This weekend was filled with a trip down to Kent for a birthday, love the mix of pretty boats and grim industrial buildings on the riverside.

Looking forward to the Tour de France coming down from Yorkshire to London tomorrow, wish I was around to see them go. This set of pics from pro-tour Yorkshire folk made me smile, love the idea of Yorkshire Thé and a special bottle of Hendos. [Buzzfeed]

This wonderful piece by Aaron Reiss looks at the unofficial transport system that takes New Yorkers to work, to see their families and more. A lovely example of communities in action. [New Yorker]

I’ve never been a particularly massive fan of Sharon Van Etten but her new album is just lovely [Spotify]

I feel like this piece of wearable tech that helps women exercise their pelvic floor muscles shows how far we’ve come in opening out (lol) science and tech to take into account womens’ needs and wants. [NY Daily News]

Sunday Sundries: Scotland, crises and menstruation in space

Hey Sunday Sundries! After a simply gorgeous week in the wilds of Skye, swimming in Fairy Glens seeing DOLPHINS and cooking lobster on a BBQ, I’m back. It took a while to get used to London again I tell you that.

Long-time fave Ann Friedman has teamed up with her bff and my new fave, Aminatou Sow on a podcast which covers menstruation in space, kaftans, and the Kardashians among other things that has had me chuckling on the tube. Call Your Girlfriend is the familiar-sounding conversation between two best friends, it’s great to hear these two chat it out.

Maggie Gyllenhaal might be a Hollywood star but she has existential crises just like us!

“I dyed my hair blonde because I wanted to feel better about myself. I do like it blonde, but it doesn’t make you happy. The truth is: it was a long hard winter and I thought, maybe this will change my life. But it never does. I should know that by now, I’m 36 years old.” [The Cut]

John Grindod’s piece on the place Croydon’s Taberner House occupies in his family history is moving and brilliant. [Dirty Modern Scoundrel]

This interview with Bjork in her home in Iceland sheds a bit of light on what an amazing person she is. Love it. [The Guardian]

My first ever Tweed Run

Brooks, they of super-comfy saddles that saved my bum on last year’s 120-mile Dunwich Dynamo, invited me a few weeks ago to join the Tweed Run. If you’ve never been, it’s a lot of people in tweed riding around London. I’ve never been on it but I’ve seen the great outfits, so I knew that the bar was set high. The warm sun dictated a simple wool skirt, white shirt and Grenson brogues, tweed-lite if you will.

The general uniform seems to be plus fours and brightly coloured socks, but there was a huge array of other brilliant outfits, from full 50s dresses to the best take on vintage sported by the lovely Kelly, pictured smiling on the back of a bike as she took pics for BikePretty. I also ran into Lady Velo, aka Jools who was another serious cycle chic contender.

As a cyclist there is something exciting about joining fellow two wheelers and pedalling through London’s streets. The day also coincided with the Big Ride, as we passed them on Westminster Bridge it swelled my heart to stop along with the rest of the tweeders to give them a round of applause.

The best bit of the ride was sailing through London, waving at pedestrians. For some reason cycle reception is coolest in the UK, but wearing our tweed cloaks of respectability we earnt nothing more ominous than a friendly wave and the occasional shout out. The Big Ride was definitely hugely important but fun events like the Tweed Run are an important reminder that most people cycle because it’s a really fun and pleasurable thing to do.















Many thanks to Brooks who took great care of me on the ride!

A month of Sundays Sundries


A month! Wow. Moving on swiftly, the image above (we’ve all been there) is part of a set by Billy Monk, a bouncer and photographer who documented the underground nightlife in Apartheid-era South Africa. What they got up to! [Camara Democratica]

Watch Michelle Obama speaking at Maya Angelou’s funeral service. Mobes is just the best. [Gawker]

Too Long, Didn’t Read. For everything. Imagine if Wikipedia had a TLDR section. Warning, you can lose hours scrolling through this. [TLDR Wikipedia]

Let your ovaries do a little dance to this photoset of Andre 3000 and his kid over the years. [Nizzerd]

Charlie Porter’s site deserves linking to on most days, but his breakdown of the clothing choices of men on Tinder is brilliant. [Charlie Porter]

Totally heartwarming and tear-inducing picture story about one dad’s journey learning to love his child. [The Reluctant Father]

I love Carrie Brownstein, so much. This interview is called ‘The Carrie Brownstein Guide to Kicking Ass’ so how can you not? [Refinery 29]

And this is just weird [Homeless Dad]

Holiday packing like a minimalist


The only good thing about lugging bags around is your abs. There’s nothing like dragging a suitcase behind you to strengthen your core, try it! When I was doing lots more styling projects I was always lugging big suitcases around, admittedly you do get abs of steel, but the lug is part of the reason I stopped.

Even in my full-on charity shop obsessed hoarder days I still had a full aversion to lugging stuff around. I pack really light, because airports are bone dry enough without the added schlep of a ton of bags. I’ve gotten even more minimal nowadays, especially as nearly every holiday my bag comes pre-filled with a selection of chargers, cameras and my laptop. Maybe one day I can go on a fully off the grid holiday and fill my bag with dresses and shoes for each day? To have as many outfit changes as Jennifer Lawrence on Oscars night would be luxurious, but also feels like a headache.

If you like your clothes then you should feel comfortable wearing them everyday, right? I would never pack the skirt that is gorgeous but feels a bit tight after dinner, or the jeans that look awesome but bag out after three wears. I’m slowly getting rid of these kind of clothing gremlins from my day-to-day wardrobe, so forget about treating these ungrateful things to a holiday.

When I went to Hyeres recently I packed a pair of jeans, a grey tee, a black spaghetti vest (which drew some remarks from nosy locals) and a silky navy number into a tiny Victorinox suitcase. Oh and my cute Agent Provocateur bikini to get a bit of sun. It wasn’t crazy eclectic, but I had a pair of sandals to mix things up a bit.

On a more ~emotional~ level, it’s also a confidence thing. I used to want to dress for every mood, for every eventuality but that’s changing. I don’t feel like I missed out on showcasing all the other sides of my personality to these strangers, because I was happy with showing a united front. Sorry Whitney, I’m not every woman, I’m just me.

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