Hello there, how do you do? I'm Phoebe, the new Fashion & Beauty Editor across the pond at xoJane.co.uk. Despite being generally quite a cynical soul (I call it realism!), I'm very excited to be part of xoJane's UK outpost. And -- echoing Rebecca's sentiments -- that is in large part thanks to all your amazingly encouraging, positive comments which even made my stiff upper lip, er, unstiffen a bit. So here's a bit about me, and please please tell me what you'd like to see us covering on xoJane UK -- we need to know!
My beauty epiphany came when I started working, aged 23, at a high-end knicker shop in Soho. Until this point I’d been a scruffy skater girl, experimenting with unflattering bowl cuts (mum cried), asymmetric fringes and pink and green eye shadow -- at the same time.
This all changed when I realised, thanks to my tattooed, be-quiffed co-workers, that it was perfectly possible to rock a mean flick of black liquid liner and a scarlet lip and look both feminine and totally punk -- who knew?
So I watched and learned and before too long I too was expertly applying said eyeliner at 8 am in a tiny mirror in the upstairs loo above the shop. I also learned how to stand up for 8 hours a day in 4-inch heels without throwing up from the pain. And I discovered the brilliance of the Detroit Cobras.
So much for Beauty 101. These days my signature look still consists of black eyeliner and a bright pink or red lip; what once felt daring -- as if my lips were preceding my arrival in a room by a good five minutes -- is now completely normal.
In this I’m staying true to my all-time beauty icon: Gwen Stefani. From her days doing push-ups while wearing a bindi in the Just A Girl video (I tried that -- the bindi, not the push-ups, obviously) to her pink-haired phase and now as a hot mamma, still with her platinum quiff and baggy skater jeans (so ‘90s! Ergo, so now!) she always inspires me. Watching Gwen strut across the stage, sweat pouring, perfectly lipsticked mouth screaming at the crowd is to see a true icon in action. (If you're reading this Gwen, call me! Or email, or Twitter -- whatever's good for you.)
As for fashion, I am typically "English" -- a mix of ‘mustn’t grumble’ sensible choices and eccentric bits and bobs. Think Vivienne Westwood meets the Queen -- punk pensioner if you will. I extol the virtues of a nice silk square (to be found for a fiver in Pop Boutique in Covent Garden) to keep one’s neck warm and a sturdy pair of biker boots to navigate London’s pavements (you get pretty sparkly snow, we get piss-yellow slush.)
We are very lucky to have the best high street in the world in the UK -- shops like Topshop and Whistles and Euro imports like H&M and COS are adept at re-interpreting catwalk trends (and often anticipating them) and delivering high quality -- or at least decent-for-the-price quality -- clothes which can be mixed in with vintage stuff and the odd designer splurge (it was my patriotic duty to buy my Mulberry Alexa -- well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
I'm wary of embracing trends wholeheartedly but will quite happily switch up my tried and tested wardrobe stalwarts (a million Breton tops, white Converse, my husband’s jumpers) with a bit of new season "jazz" – i.e., my new wicker T-bar heels with fluoro-orange piping -- the epitome of jazziness.
Iconic fashion moments were born on our grey pavements, from Mary Quant's mini skirts to Westwood's latex-and-safety-pinned punk. Right now we have rainbow dip-dyed hair and crazy nail art, girls dressed as boys and vice versa (like the Blur song) and a colourful, creative mood which is fascinating to observe, warily from the sidelines, in my Breton top and silk scarf.
My approach to fashion and beauty is shaped by the fact I am stingy and lazy: I don't like going shopping very often (I prefer to cruise my favourite sites, like Asos.com and Cultbeauty.co.uk -- both of which ship globally) and I hate spending a lot of money, so I will endeavour to find you stuff that does the job and won't cost the earth.
So talk to me: If Rebecca brings you the recipe for Scotch eggs and more Nick Cage hate, I'll handle British beauty and fashion in all its weird and wonderful glory. Deal?