Category Archives: Hot Topic

Getting lippy with MAC

Lipstick applied by Mrs Keegan from Flickr Commons

Lipstick applied by Mrs Keegan circa 1930s from Flickr Commons

Yesterday I bought a lipstick. ‘Nothing new there,’ you might think, but this was actually a rather momentous occasion for me as it was the first lipstick I’ve ever bought.

Despite hardly wearing any make-up on a day to day basis I seem to have accumulated a heck of a lot of the stuff over the years. There are two-tone eye pencils bought in a fit of nostalgia from Hot Topic, glitter eyeshadows purchased for various fancy dress parties and of course some slightly more grown-up palettes and kits from Benefit, albeit with very whimsical packaging. I have nail varnish from goodie bags and magazine subscriptions, eyelash curlers and a dozen brushes I got as part of a set one Christmas and the odd, rarely worn lipgloss.

But the only lipstick I own is a scarlet red hue in a navy and silver tube that belonged to my mum. I remember a time when I would watch her primp and preen in front of the mirror every morning while I pottered about the room, trying on shoes that were too big for me and bouncing on the freshly made bed which would drive her crazy. When I came to Bristol for uni seven years ago she was clearing out some old make-up and offered me the lipstick. She didn’t wear it that often, only for ‘special occasions’ and so it was passed on to me to use. Like her I kept it for those special occasions, or when I was feeling particularly brave, it was attention grabbing red after all, but mostly I stuck to the safety of sticky lipgloss and tinted lip balm.

There is something so glamourous about applying a lipstick, something so sophisticated about a defined lip, that a tin of rose coloured Vaseline just cannot compete with. Seen on perfectly polished 1940s pin-up girls or even applied haphazardly in the back of a taxi by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the lipstick is a symbol of femininity, sexuality and beauty.

Beauty contestant applies lipstick

Beauty contestant applies lipstick, 1953, sourced from Flickr Commons

The sale of lipstick has even become a barometer for the economic world after beauty giant Estee Lauder’s chairman commented on the link between periods of recession and the sale of lipstick. ‘The Lipstick Index’ apparently showed that when times are tough financially, women look to smaller luxury items such as lipstick to treat themselves with.

Recently I’ve been craving a lipstick of my very own but despite the wealth of literature available in fashion magazines and online, I had no idea what shade would suit me or how to avoid looking washed out or worse, too try-hard.

Yesterday I decided to take the plunge by visiting the best place in Bristol for wow factor make-up – the MAC counter in Debenhams. I’ve treated myself to MAC in the past as I love the intensity of the pigments in their eyeshadows and their sleek black packaging but I have also been put off in the past as the brand is just so achingly hip. Limited edition Wonder Woman packaging, make-up artists clad head to toe in black and in your face colours… MAC make-up makes a statement! Intimidating, yes, but at the same time I knew I would be in safe hands.

Normally the counter is so busy that you need to book an appointment in advance to guarantee some face time with an Artist but luckily the shop floor was pretty quiet yesterday so I managed to get some advice from one of the girls who was lovely and so helpful.

MAC lipstick  in Speak Louder

My new MAC lipstick in 'Speak Louder'

I thought I would leave with a red shade but we talked through my style, eye colour and skin tone and decide to try out coral shades (apparently very A/W11). There worked really well, my Artist was patient and gave me her honest opinion. After a a little experimentation we hit the jackpot with the aptly named ‘Speak Louder’ lipstick and ‘In Anticipation’ lipliner. As soon as I’d finished applying it a smile spread across my face – this shade was The One.

The colour, applied directly from the tube, followed by a layer of lipliner and another coat of lipstick, stayed put throughout my yoga class and even after eating dinner which I was very impressed with. Even the smell is intoxicating – lipsticks from my mothers generation always smelt so fake, like plastic, but this one smells like vanilla. I have no idea if it’s meant to but if so then it’s a nice touch.

If I had the money I could have bought several more shades and liners but I my Artist did jot down the names of other hues that I should get including a subtle, daytime coral and a vamped up, neon pink that I would apparently suit, but ‘only when you’re ready to turn the volume up.’

I look forward to stepping it up a notch but for now I think I’ll stick to speaking louder…


Filed under A/W11, beauty, Hot Topic, MAC

>Birthday Treat

>My 25th birthday is coming up and this Saturday I’m going to a electro-swing/jazz/circus/burlesque night at The Island which, once upon a time, used to be an old fire station in Broadmead. The night promises to be full of fishnets and top hats and as an early birthday present M has treated me to a new dress for the occasion.

This cream lace shift dress comes from A Wear, a fantastic brand that started in Ireland and is now at Cabot Circus. Some items can be a bit hit and miss but there are some hidden gems such as this dress, that always draw me in to the store.

As well as black fishnet stockings and gold tap shoes, I’ll be pairing the dress with an over-sized black bow necklace from American brand Hot Topic, and a black tux with tails from Topshop Boutique, circa 2008.

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Filed under A Wear, Broadmead, Cabot Circus, Hot Topic, Topshop

>A trip down Memory Lane…


As I wondered round the sprawling mall the other day, taking in the stores and swarms of angst ridden teenagers, I found myself travelling back through the years when my love affair with the (at sometimes questionable) fashions of the good ol’ US of A began as a teen. My aunt would give me Old Navy clothing for Christmas and birthday presents that I would wear religiously – the shining American beacon in my boring English wardrobe.
When I came to visit my aunt for the first time in New Jersey, at the age of 14, she took me to Manhattan for the day where I experienced Abercrombie & Fitch for the first time. Taken in by the all-American charm, I walked out of there with a maroon fleece zip-up hoodie that had navy piping and a small navy ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ embroidered on the sleeve. The day ended with a makeover at Saks Fifth Avenue. A song out at the time called Summer Girls featured the line; “I like girls who wear Abacrombie & Fitch, I’d take her if I had one wish…” I wore my new American hoodie with pride for the rest of that summer and for many months that followed.
I was around 17 or 18 when I went to the west coast for the first time, with my friend L and her parents, spending time in California, Nevada and Arizona, hanging out in Vegas and riding around on the back of a Harley Davidson for the best part of three weeks. Cult shows and fashions were on the agenda and L introduced me to a store called Hot Topic. The chain of band t-shirts, cult clothing and comic books was like a revelation in my teens and I remember finding a Hello Kitty t-shirt and a Rainbow Brite bracelet, both of which were unattainable in England and that I treasured for years until the t-shirt became faded and the bracelet broke.

I don’t know that cartoon/logo tees are really my thing anymore but I love this ‘Nerds Need Love Too’ shirt that I saw in Hot Topic. It is just the kind of thing I would have worn in my teens, when Hello Kitty was, or perhaps just felt, more underground and ‘cult’ then it does today.
I’ll try and dig out some photos of my American adventures, pre-Florida, in fact I still have a pair of jeans I bought from American Eagle Outfitters from the California trip. Straight in the leg and plain blue in colour, they were the jeans I biked around Europe in a few years ago and that I wore so often I got the all-American rips in the knees that I had always wanted, but refused to pay for.
This I think, is one of the reasons I find it so hard to give up old clothes – clothes which have so many memories woven into them that I treasure too much to part with, despite stains, rips and general unfitting-ness. This is why I’m trying to enjoy what I have, using and wearing it now rather than waiting to ‘save it for best’, see excellent post by LLG.
Perhaps you have some treasured tales of clothing you wore to death as a teenager. If so then post a comment or better yet send a photo to

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Filed under Abercrombie and Fitch, America, American Egale Outfitters, Hot Topic, Old Navy, shopping, treasured possesions