Saturday, December 27, 2008

Booko: the best resource for buying books online

We had another Fantastic Furniture adventure today, though fortuantely (or not, depending on how you look at it), this time it didn't involve splintered MDF. Today's purpose was to find a bookshelf to hold my copious collection, which is currently sitting in random piles about the place, and stretching the small storage shelf we rescued from MIL's garage to absolute capacity. I love buying books, new and second hand, there's something so exciting and tantalising about the words, knowledge, inspirations and stories between the covers. I reckon you should read anything once, even chick-lit, and take heart from kids who read their fav stories over and over and over and over again. They still get a thrill from the journey that makes up the story, even though they know the ending. It's brilliant.

Browsing in a bookstore is a Saturday afternoon activity that totally owns browsing for Fantastic Furniture, but if you get hit with ideas for new books you must read in the middle of the night, you can usually pick them up online a tad cheaper then in stores, both new and used. There's millions of sites out there (aside from the mega gigantic Amazon; Fishpond, The Nile, Booktopia and even Dymocks are all good online stores, though you sometimes have to wait awhile to receive your goodies) and I have just discovered a site to take all the hard work out of cyber-browsing: Booko.com.au is a search-and-compare site with direct links to the books you want to buy! I have just been testing it and give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Price, shipping, and total price inc shipping are all displayed in AU$, which makes it quick and easy to make the best purchasing decision possible!

Now I just need to decide whether to go for a Fantastic $69 cheapo basic shelf, or to shop around and find something mega-cool, or to go the Better Homes and Gardens route and spend hundreds at Bunnings making mdf-painted boxes, or chopping coffee tables in half and gluing them to the wall. Yes, they did that last night. Quite a novel idea, if you'll pardon the pun, but it would take me longer to successfully make it than it does to read a Penguin Classic. Or to re-read it a few times and squeeze every last Times New Roman drop out of it...!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ban Husbands From Boxing Day Sales. That's why there's Cricket on TV

Honestly, now that I can no longer spend Christmas Day running around under the sprinkler, arms chockas with shiny new toys that will be exciting until about January, one of the things I look forward to the most about the Festive Season is the sales! Yes, I know that sounds (well, is) very materialistic of me, but on Boxing Day, I get up (kinda) early and head into the city for a few hours of me time and pure retail therapy. After years of practice I have honed my skills and am usually chuffed with my armful of goodies. Check below for the Common Sense Guide To Shopping, but before you even think about it, can I please ask that if your hubby would prefer to be in his shed playing with all the new things he got for Christmas, then leave him there. And brave it yourself. Same goes for boyfriends/straight male friends/brothers and in fact, males who don't like shopping at the best of times. Tell me why they would enjoy elbowing their way through mega crowds and waiting in queues ten times as long as usual, while you try on/ask for opinions/ponder marked-down last season dresses? Yes, he is useful for carrying bags, but really it ends there. I spent more time in Country Road today manoevuering around bored hubbys then I did rifling through the racks. The poor buggers were so out of their elements they simply stood bewildered in the most inconvenient places (such as in front of the racks, in the aisles, in the way of the changerooms and basically in the women's sections in general), arms loaded up with a plethora of purchases and their minds wandering back to the mega toolkit left sitting wistfully on the shed bench. Hell, even sorting the piles of socks Aunt Agnes sent yet again is more exciting than watching women snarl over knitwear.

If your man actually does enjoy shopping, then by all means take him along because he'll be your best ally, but if not, grab a girlfriend or yourself (um) and attack the stores like a madwoman. It's the only way to survive out there!

1). Be polite to the staff. Today I heard so many ridiculous questions and people arguing over a few $ ("well I thought that was $5 cheaper, it was stuffed on that rack over there, I demand you go and check") that I wanted to throttle some people, and all I was doing was standing in line observing the action. The poor girl in Myer kidswear apologised because the lady in front was one such customer who seriously needed to know individually if every single itm in the department was marked down (*brainwave* check the tag, lady, a red sticker means a discount), and then she said she was working til 7pm. This was at 10am. I felt like buying her some discounted Christmas chocolates to cheer her up. But then I remembered she was earning double time and a half so she could suck it up. (!)

2). Wait patiently in line. Be prepared for queues. Standing really close behind me "hrpmphing" and breathing on my neck won't make the cash registers work any faster.

3). Further to point 2, please stand in the line, not just hover somewhere about the counter in hopes that you can push in. You can't, even if you have been waiting pointlessly in the one spot for 15 minutes.

4). If your child was given a pram for her dollies for Xmas, don't let her bring it to the sales. Same goes for scooters and new bikes. There is barely enough standing room, let alone space for little Shania-Eppinee to push her grubby dolls into your kneecaps.

5). Hit departments like lingerie, manchester and shoes for proper bargains. Sheet sets and towels don't go through "seasons" and they are usually at least 40% off at this time of year. Target have 1000 thread count sheet sets for $99 at the moment! Get fitted for a bra earlier in the month so when you get there you can just grab your size in preferred styles and head to counter. Knickers and slips are also good buys. Shoes can be a nightmare to traverse but if you know what style you need you can get through it much easier. You don't, for example, probably need a plastic pair of bright green sandals. Some strappy tan flats however, would look great all summer...

6). Avoid "trend" buys. They are marked down because stores want to get rid of them and never see them again. You might pick up a bargain top to wear out on the town once, but aside from that look for basic tees and tanks, summer dresses in classic cuts, and denim in particular is usually mega-cheap. It's also good to think ahead to autumn/winter and pick up a few cardis or jumpers in basic hues- again these are very similar every season and by the time you get to wear it, it'll be all new and exciting again!

7). For kids, look ahead to winter or even next summer and buy them a size up. Department stores markdown by 30-40% off and chains like P Patch also have some good buys. Stocking up on things like bathers and pj's in bigger sizes is always a good idea (have you ever tried to buy bathers mid-year? impossible!) and if you have some special occassions or parties over the summer, keep an eye out for cute seasonal outfits (it's hot til at least April, but stores start getting winter in at the end of Jan!).

8). Hop online. Most stores have started, or will do in the next few days, % off storewide or category sales. Nevershoppedout.com have a continually updated list; or check out huge shopping forums like Vogue for discount codes and sale updates. Sites like Kidstylefile, On the 7th Day She Shopped, Drop Dead Gorgeous (sign up for daily updates) and Style Hunter are also worth keeping an eye on. Chainstores such as Witchery, Sportsgirl, Valleygirl, and labels like Tony Bianco and Peter Alexander have most, if not all, of their ranges online and discounted. No crowds, you should get your parcels eary next week and you won't get your eyes scratched out by the greedy Shazza in the corner!

And yes, before you ask, you'll get the Frock You discount code for our 3-day sale later tonight. It's gonna be mega! We'll be here all weekend getting parcels out, so you should get everything before New Years. Aus Post have been warned, extra people are on standby, your inbox is waiting...See you at the sale!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas (and Christmas Sales)

Christmas might be an absurd consumerist spendathon fuelled by underlying feelings of guilt, insincerity and gluttony (wow, so much cynicism before breakfast can be harmful), but sometimes the simplest of acts can deliver something you know Hallmark would refer to as "the true meaning of Christmas". Last night, feeling hot, lazy and hungry, we stocked up on KFC and did the rounds of suburbia to gauge the tackiness of people's Christmas Light displays. There is an odd correlation between suburbs that receive the most letters from Centrelink and an abundance of lights and blow up decorations (as in, ones full of air, not weapons), and I think this year K-Rudd's generous donation to spur on the economy was mostly spent at Bunnings, where happy shoppers loaded their trolleys with "one of everything please" in the Lights aisle. This "one of everything" was then vomited haphazardly onto said shopper's dwellings, to create an epileptic display of random flashing, and I even saw one blow up santa coming out of a wrapped present, and then slowly lowering himself back in (in shame, one presumes).

Still, there were some displays that obviously had taken alot of hard work, and looked like those houses in American movies which probably doesn't represent America at all but that's what they want us to think. We pulled up to admire some of the displays and had our car window tapped on by little kids dressed as elves handing out lollies and little packages of cello-wrapped jellybeans, which quite frankly ws so simple and touching a gesture that it made me feel all festive and fuzzy. The kids directing traffic to their house in a cul-de-sac off a main street using a flashing light sabre also get my festivity vote (also because I nabbed a Flake from them, yeeaaah!). In one suburbs, I'm not sure whether it was the Spirit of Christmas or the Spirit of Competition that wsas over-riding, but nevertheless all you had to do was roll up, stick your hand out the window and receive more and more elaborate goodies. Quite frankly, we shouldn't have eaten before we left. They should take homeless people in those soup vans around to get the handouts, they'd be stuffed full until Easter. At any rate, the kids were loving it, my daughter's face was lit up brighter than any light display (what she was learning about accepting lollies from strangers I don't know) and we all came home in a jolly good mood. Our tree has all the presents under it, most of the decorations are still on there somewhere, and there are cards strewn across the bookshelf. It might be 25 degrees outside and too hot for mulled wine and roasted chestnuts (never too hot for chilled white wine and gourmet nibblies though) but at least it feels a bit like Christmas.....

Department stores may have taken their decorations down already, but it was a bit like once they did, and stopped forcing Christmas sales down our throats, actual Festivities started to struggle out from under the pile of bargain-filled catalogues and useless prepackaged gift hampers. Plus, it means stores are getting ready for the Boxing Day sales, which is admittedly what all of us spendaholic, materialistic gluttonous consumers are really excited about.

*cue note about Frock You Boxing Day Sale - yes it is happening, yes it will be huge, no it won't be on Boxing Day becuase we all deserve a rest! It'll be posted on here, Facebook and of course in the newseltter mailout on Boxing Day night, so I strongly suggest saving eveything you wish for in your favourites, and heading through checkout as soon as the discount code is active - our sales are excersises in insanity and the poor website groans under the influx of cyber traffic. It's first in, best dressed!*

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frock You Winter Ad Shoot

Winter Photo Shoot

Luckily, Summer thus far has been a torrent of greyness, wetness, and wind (windyness?). These Taswegian conditions made the our winter ad campaign shoot with Alan Moyle from Photobat look very chilly, nay very cool indeed. Below are a couple of piccys, and above is the Youtube version of the podcast (does that even make tecchy sense? I don't know). We're using these pics for our ads in Shop4Kids, Studio Bambini, Wondertime and other neccessary advertorial/editorial bits n bobs that come up. "Alan the Toggapha", as Charlotte calls him, captured some great shots and yes, everything she's wearing you will be able to buy around Feb/March! FYI, womenswear Winter catalogue will be shot in Jan and out early Feb, and it will be printed as well as e-interactive. I know you've been baying for it, so we're bringing it to you!

Keep an eye on Alan's blog, he's shot some very famous people. He was aiming for Bono, but he missed. Next time...


Friday, December 12, 2008

Deck The Halls With All Things Green

tra la la la la, la la la laaa......yes I have poked my head out from under my frockrock and promise to deliver lots more sneaky peekys (winter buying is all done, catalogue is underway and I shall let you in on the goss over the coming weeks) as well as the usual rants, raves and ramblings. Today for some reason those wideleg 3/4 jeans that everyone wears with chunky Hush Puppy sandals, or worse, Crocs, really gave me the irks so stay tuned for my in depth analysis. In other possibly more important news, Ange the slave driver at Kidstylefile (I kid, I kids, pardon the pun) has been forcing me to churn out weekly posts on all things hip (today's: Bedding); and Kellie at NeverShoppedOut has been a busy bee redesigning her site, and it looks fabulous. I've done a grand total of bugger all to help with the redesign, but I did just do a post about having an Organic Chrissy, which is conveniently copied + pasted below for your perusal. There's heaps of cool stuff out there, I've tracked (some of) it down, so clicky-clicky and buy something lean and green this festive season!

There will be more Green then red floating about Christmas this year, with a huge shift in consumer consciousness making all that is eco-friendly and organic number 1 on most people’s wish list. And rightly so – check out these ultra-gorgeous buys for kiddies which will keep Mother Earth happy too!

First up: the tree. Aside from letting them go crazy with Clag and pasta and creating their own special pieces, Biome (one of my new fav stores) has awesome fair-trade decorations that are bright and festive enough for kids, and will look chic on plastique too! This box of Assorted Handmade Decorations is just $17.95 (handmade in Bangladesh) and my personal fave, the ceramic Word Stars by Kylie Johnson (handmade in Brisbane) at $12.95!

Generation Wonder stock only fair-trade items, and is indeed a wonderland of beautiful gift ideas! Check out these totally biodegradable Mobile Homes by Kidsonroof ($44.90) which allows kids to create, construct and decorate to their heart’s content. Plus it makes for a novel place to store toys! For a gorgeous keepsake I just love the Barefoot Mother and baby Elephant soft toy set ($43.50, buy together or separately for $19.75) – a percentage of proceeds go to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, each one is handmade and individual, and they come in a variety of colours. Or for something simple guranteed to keep them entertained and active for hours, a Fairtrade Skipping Rope is a great stocking filler at $14.99. And let your little one say it loud and proud with these cool Eco tees by Tiny Revolutionary ($34.95)!

Eco Child have a huuuge range of eco-friendly products, including toys like the very funky Anamalz wooden toy, um, animals, ($9.95) which are not only cute but are also made from renewable resources, are non-toxic (always a plus), and a portion of sales is donated to various wildlife charities. Aw, feel those warm and fuzzies! Eco Child also stock practical ideas such as these Foogo Sippy Cups ($24.95) which are unbreakable, BPA-free and FDA-Approved, which is all A-OK in my book. Got someone super-fussy to buy for? Eco Child have it covered – stuff their stocking with Organic Cotton Balls ($7.95), which are practical, versatile and top quality. I kid, I kid, (though they are of course, very nice) – Mums will love the range of natural beauty products (try Bod Bath Salts Princess Blend $14.95) and mums-to-be will adore these cute and comfy PJ pants by Hot Milk ($49.95).

And finally (and most importantly): clothes! There are so many gorgeous organic labels out there, and not all of them are beige (sorry, ‘natural’). Purebaby is one of my faves, and Babysgotstyle have a great selection – I’m loving the idea of this pretty striped knit tank dress ($44.95) as a lightweight summer option, carried through to winter with tights and a skivvy; or for boys the khaki stripe overalls ($39.95) for something cutesy but cool. The Purebaby website also has a great range of basics and premmie wear. Gaia Organics are another well-loved label, and with good reason – the certified 100% organic cotton is whipped into beautiful creations like the Babydoll Dress ($44.95) and Grandpa Top ($39.95) or these incredibly pretty Blue Bell Botties ($29.95)! For something a bit funky, Mini Eco have a massive range of brands including Speesees, who’s bright and colourful tanks are just $25.95, and these ultra cool tees by Sckoon ($24.95). Baby Blend also do cute prints on organic tees ($29.95 a pop, my fave is “Crabby”!) as do Kee-Ka at ShopHouse ($26.00).



(PS - if you are buying your pressies online, get in quick 'cos the jolly folk at Aus Post probably won't be able to deliver it on time if you don't order before the 18th!)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Happy Things

2 things this morning that make me smile:

1). My new weekly blog for Kidstylefile: http://www.kidstylefile.com.au/category/news-and-reviews/ this week shoes, next week, swimwear, the week after, more freebies....I jest, I jest. Seriously, if you're a parent and love shopping, keeping an eye on Kidstylefile is well worth it: daily deals, news and reviews on new products, and a very comprehensive store and label directory. Bargains + cute new stuff = well worth it!

2). I feel guilty when, like the other night when we went out and got burgers, I can't be bothered (or am too stinking hot) to cook anything decent, despite an array of "quick and healthy"-style cookbooks. I actually do like cooking, and thankfully Charlotte is a good eater and not particularly fussy especially by 2 year old standards, but mustering up something healthy and tasty 7 nights a week, after a full days working/parenting/cleaning/shopping (ahem) is sometimes too much. So when I read this and this it made me feel a bit better that an awful lot of other people serve up frozen/canned/slapdash concotions. Quite frankly, last nights quick stroganoff with fettucine and corn cobs (I know that sounds weird, but Charlotte loves corn with a passion and at least its a nice vegie serving for her) is in comparison, quite gourmet. Better buy another cookbook to keep up the good work...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas: Scrooge or Spend?

I don't know about you but I thought the world economy was in the dunny, and we are all tightening our purse strings this festive season. Or, in a more positive spin, getting back to the good old fashioned notion of "it's the thought that counts" and just letting the tots play with wrapping paper and the older kids an outdoor cricket set. Or, if you are like some people I know, you could be well into the $000's with your chrissy spending. So far. Aside from the joy of giving, is it compensation for some form of neglectful parenting, fear of childhood deprivation, or some sort of bogan pride-cum-outdo the Jones'es mentality? If you don;t count the hoardes of food, we never spent alot on Christmas. We got bikes, rollerblades, a Playstation and all that at one point or another, but it was only ever one gift. Not a laptop, ipod, giant toy dog, swing set, trampoline and assorted cds/books/clothes, all at once. I mean, what the hell do you buy next year?! Charlotte has asked for a gingerbread man from Santa. And the other day Myer had a one-day only sale of 30% off Christmas trim, so she got her own sparkly bauble for the tree. So far her spend list is under $10. Although, she does want a bike too, which I can't wait to go shopping for. My partner will probably get a book and some shoes, I'd be happy with a day off and a Chanel purse (joke. sort of). A day off and lots of wine would do me nicely. Maybe it's an effect of getting old, or the result of the post-consumerism frenzy of this decade, but the thought of overspending just makes me a bit nauseous. And this is coming from a person who basically shops for a living. Mind you, I plan to hit the Boxing Day sales like a madwoman in heels, but you know, everything will be cheap. It's economical. A group of us are having Chrissy dinner later this month, and instead of $10 secret santa we're all giving $10 each to a business in a developing country through Kiva.org . $80 might buy you an annoying talking Elmo who has no point as he isn't programmed to a) shutup or b) do housework; but $80 to someone in the 3rd world makes such a huge difference. I recommend it - warm and fuzzy is where it's at. And I don't mean in a giant lifelike toy dog.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Customer Service Rant

Sometimes, it just wouldn't be Friday without a rant about someone in a shop who has gotten my goat (and my money). This week, it's a new kids "boutique" recently opened here. The idea is good, and I think needed in this Pumpkin Patch-dominated town, though really you can buy pretty much every kids label online, with a discount code and without the attitude (actually that includes P Patch, their e-outlet store has been great recently for little summer frocks!). I won't name names, unless it happens again should I perchance pass their way in the future, but let's just say any person with a smidgen of common sense, working in retail or who owns a store, would not really try to gain a sale by questioning the customer's choice. In a snotty way. In other words, if I am tossing up between two little tops for my daughter, and leaning towards buying them both, I don't expect to be told that one is "obviously too babyish" for her. I mean it's a sz 2, she's 2 years old and a size 2, therefore I imagine it's perfectly suitable. Plus, I liked the print and it was cuter than some of the vomit-inspired prints on the sz 3 "grown up kids" rack. Also, when we shop (which as you can probably imagine is pretty regularly) we like to play a game where I ask her to choose which one she likes best and we end up with less tantrums getting dressed in the mornings. Shopgirls can look at me like I'm stupid but they're dealing with a tot who knows who Coco Chanel is, can spot Paris on a map and realises ugg boots are slippers and not fashionable footwear. What I should've done is point out said horrible old bag's (shoplady, not Chanel) store layout was all wrong, horribly merchandised and the store name oddly spelt. But I quietly paid for just the one top, looked at a business card on the counter and enquired whether they have a webstore, and bit my tongue in telling her she was going to get a spanking on this blog and possibly on a few others I have my hand in...and boy oh boy was I going to spread the word!

Well, all that sounds a bit nasty but we all know how I feel about customer service. There's a reason Frock You has an impeccable reputation and it's 'cos we know our stuff. We won't tell you something is awful (otherwise we wouldn't stock it, der), or question your choices - if you like it and are happy, then we are too *dances in meadow with trail of happy customers*. Speaking of, you'll loooove the bits and pieces coming in next week (beautiful new tees, dresses and suits by Baobab, quirky and hella-cheap Minty Meets Munt, gorgeous dresses from GRAB and some killer heels and well cool flats from Nude; for a start) and keep an eye out for our new label from the UK, Motel (as worn by Duffy, the Ting Tings and the Saturdays). You heard it here first!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Facebook

Someone on my Facebook (admittedly not really a 'friend', like about 150 other people on there) updated their status yesterday to: "When my grandkids ask me what I did when we found out about Obama's historic victory, I can proudly tell them I hopped online and updated my facebook status". So true. Though mine currently says "Katrina is dosed up on Codral and green tea" so I can't get my head around anything more than facebook status's at the moment. An in-depth election analysis? Thoughts on a more positive political future? Meh. They're there, but in today's media-saturated world, you'll no doubt find them yourself, whether you meant to or not. I am going to go lay on the couch and try not to drown in my own snot. mmmm. *goes to update facebook status first so everybody knows, just in case they care*

(Oh and if you want to add Frock You as a friend on facebook, please do, we need more cyber-friends!)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What You'll Be Wearing (Eventually)

My favourite place to scout for new trends/styles/looks, both for my own guilty pleasure and in terms of buying for Frock You, is backstage. Ok, so I don't jetset New York, Paris, Milan, London on a regular basis and casually wander around behind the catwalk glancing coolly at fashionistas, but I don't have to. I can looks at them in the comfort of my pj's with a nice hot cuppa, thanks to the net (oooh groundbreaking revelation Kat, thankyou). Anyhow, you can bet your bottom dollar, or what's left of it, that the trends most likely to filter through to the everyday cool crowd will be found off the catwalk. Today's update from WhoWhatWear therefore had me wriggling in my (lace-up) boots:

Sorry for the shitty small picture (from WhoWhatWear)! Boots with socks, in fact shoes with socks will be in (or back, if you can remember the first time around) and it seems we should keep investing in yet more vests, an idea I love as I am more than partial to a bit of sleeveless coverup action. If you still have elastic headbands, get them out again as they also function nicely as ear-warmers on chilly mornings. Leather jackets and vests are again huuuge, and while I swore off leather for it's tackiness ages ago, if you invest wisely you will get a very cool, timeless wardrobe piece. Please don't get PU though. Or vinyl. Skinny denim or wideleg pants are the go, both styles made easier to wear when you're tall and model-esque but easily adapted for mere mortals too. In fact, a quick browse around the latest shows (and a handy reference guide from Net-a-Porter) shows trousers to be the piece du jour, replacing the frock! (The guide also helpfully points out that tops are also therefore back "in", which is good to know because I know I always plan on wearing my trousers bare-chested). Slouchy is in, prints are in, probably if you're a cool-cat model anything you wear is "in", but as long as you team it with lace up boots (short, tall, whatever) or daggy-cool plain trainers (go fo Cons, you can't go wrong, and they're often cheaper than their high-end imitators, which is just ridiculous), you too can garner a wisp of that effortless cool that is just so much more covetable than those stupidly high shoes on the runway at Miu Miu that make everyone, models included, fall over.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Vintage Advantage

Hear ye, hear ye, the ecomomeee is melting and people are carrying their office supplies in cardoboard boxes. The hour is upon us to rethink our spending habits and invest wisely. Does this mean we'll have to sort through mustry racks at Vinnies and rummage through boxes at garage sales ourselves, instead of luxuriously browsing through a funky vintage boutique, happily paying $50 for a 50c piece? (Hold your horses/fire, there's a reason for this) - "vintage" is so overdone, it's lost it's point. There is a line between Vintage and Second-Hand Crap from a few years ago (not decades) and most people don't know it's there. You know those pop vox sections in magazines? "Oh my jewellery is from Tiffany's and my bag is Gucci and my shoses are Loubs but my dress is vintage Miss Shop circa 2002". Pft. Stuff people chucked out last summer is not vintage if you re-buy it this summer. It's ecomonical if you buy it at Vinnies, stupid if you buy it at a vintage boutique, but it's. not. vintage. It's literally, last season. There are some awesome vintage stores out there, that source geniune vintage threads from Nanna's heyday, gorgeous well-made pieces in good nick. Props to these shops and people for having the eye for this, they do a brilliant job and I sure as hell couldn't do it. But then there are other shops/sites/ebay listings/pop voxes (voxi?) you wander past and sorta go, hmmm.....I didn't realise that pair of Payless evening shoes I bought for my year 12 ball in 2001 and discarded before the big move OS would end up in a shop window for more than I paid for them (they are, in a local "vintage" shop that's never open, probably with good reason). Just because something is from Vinnies, doesn't make it vintage. It shits me in the same way that it shits me when people claim they've "renovated" their kitchen, when all they've done is paint a DIY feature wall. The stigma of buying second-hand, buying economically, has only been partially lifted, it seems. We're possibly going to be forced by neccessity to throw it off with joyful abandon because it's no longer viable to fork out for the latest overpriced trends in Sportsgirl. Either save up for the designer original or admit your new jacket was $2 and from 2 years ago. Fashion trends do cycle swiftly, after all. Eco-everything is hot right now. Will a glossy fashion mag ever do an under $10 shoot? (No.) It's cool to be green, so why can't it be cool to show off your latest (non-vintage, admittedly last season but see how you've reworked it?) op-shop find. Surely this in turn will feed the buy-to-last ethos Nanna knows about into our consumer consciousness, thus keeping glam high end labels in business and potentially minimising factory child labour? Hey, it seems those vintage ideas were right on the money to begin with.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Frock You Mid-Season Sale!

Now that the majority of S/S is in store, hell, why not reduce it all by 25% so that you don't need to stress about not being able to afford to look good during times of economic uncertainty. Help the economy recover: Shop! Use the code SPRING to get 25% off everything, from today til Thursday...get in quick!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Christmas Couture Does Not Exist

It's started. My daughter must have some kind of kiddie-sense about it because for the past few weeks we've had to read the Night Before Christmas every night before bed, and I've had to start the "I'm ringing Santa to tell him you've been naughty and are not getting a bike" threats. I thought it ws cute until we waltzed happily into Myer to make the most of the current 25% off kidswear sale, and of course had to fight our way through the Christmas Dept to get there. IN EARLY OCTOBER. Talk about cashing in. Of course, she had a ball and seeing her litle face light up and the shop assistant's go pale when she started picking up the expensive reindeer ornaments was more than worth it. I can't wait to get the tree out and spend an afternoon decorating it, and then spending the evening vacuuming up all the tinsel. Personally, I love chrismas lights and all that jazz, though I do draw the line at life sized singing santas, but my partner belongs firmly in the "Christmas is a well deserved day off and all I want is a sleep in and a beer or 40" no-nonsense camp. So even though our neighbours will not doubt spend a small fortune at Bunnings on a tackorama extravaganza, our place might be a bit more...minimalist. One year I got excited and bought a tin of $2 fake spray-snow but I think it was just out of date shaving cream, because all it did was mutilate the tree in the front yard at Mum's house.

We do have a firm "Christmas doesn't start til December" rule. It's hard to strike a balance between the hyperorganised peeps who do all their shopping in the June sales, and the grumblers who wait til December 24 and then complain about the crowds and the fact that there's only $2 tins of fake spray-snow left on the shelves. But if you're after decorations and such and don't fancy Kmart, here are some online Xmas shops:

Seriously Christmas: they mean business. Check out this page for a jolly good laugh: http://seriouslychristmas.com.au/products/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=12&zenid=f813ff7b01e78f4bc048a3cd677a479c I didn't realise there were country themed decorations! For a UN-inspired Chrissy, perhaps you could try a blurred nondescript gilted decoration from Denmark, a Reject-shop inspired glittery bauble from Hungary, or a fat warbling angel candle holder with token confused shepherd in the background from Italy. Poland apparently takes it's cultral direction from the Hungarians with oversized sparkly hearts, but my absolute FAV is the Swedish Santa. Check him out. Obviously they gave up on the IKEA instruction booklet he most likely comes with, and instead instructed the local kindergarten to find cotton wool, cardboard, that french knitting set a random aunt gave you last year, crack them open and just go nuts. I so want one for our Chrissy Lunch table. If he sings Abba, I'm buying all in existence and setting up a little group of caroling santas on the front lawn. Take that, Bunnings.

Celebrating Christmas gives us this little gem: http://www.celebratingchristmas.com.au/cgi-bin/Celebrating/detailproduct.html?_default_siteObject_siteObjectID=997222 for a jungle-inspired holiday season; or this centrepiece for a funky Chrissy day that probably will involve smoking the special plant your cousin brought along: http://www.celebratingchristmas.com.au/cgi-bin/Celebrating/detailproduct.html?_default_siteObject_siteObjectID=725856 .

To really confuse everyone, play a fun game of "guess the condiment" with these fabulous salt and pepper shakers from Everything Christmas: http://www.everythingchristmas.com.au/prod464.htm . Does Santa hold le salt or le pepper? Ooh the excitement! The website helpfully notes the shakers are handwashable, which is good to know because I do have a disturbing habit of continually putting my dishware in the washing machine.

Still, got to hand it to them, keeping the Yuletide spirit alive and well 365 days a year. Forcing upon us snow-themed decorations in 30 degree summer heat. Causing distress and heartache to chic homemaker magazine editors and Better homes and Gardens presenters the world over. Is it possible to have a stylish Christmas? Are we meant to? I sorta hope not. I can't see Miuccia Prada reinventing the paper Christmas hat anytime soon. As long as we can shop to our heart's content for winter-themed decorations in the hottest days of Summer, Christmas will always be Christmas. Bring on the mulled wine in an oversized embellished mug with reindeer antler handles, man!

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Wombat Who Takes Cool Photos

This is Frock-unrelated, sarcasm-unrelated and celeb/fashion/supermarkets/piss me off etc-unrelated; but recently my daughter Charlotte won a local Cutest Kid's comp (except they didn't spell it like that, and we all know how I cannot stand mis-spellings so I refuse on principle to write it that way..it involved too may K's and Z's) and the prize was a session with Photobat and the very talented Alan Moyle. Anyone who's taken pics of Tim Rogers, Adam Hills, Bill Bailey and Michael Palin, among many others, is ok by me. Add Charlotte McLennan to that mix and it's a superstar portfolio! Below are some of the pics he snapped duriong our session; I've nicked them off the BatBlog. We went a bit crazy during our viewing session and bought, like, everything, and we will possibly have to renovate our house and add more walls to fit all the pics on, but we were so enamoured with the natural and innovative shots we (or more accurately, I; my partner knows full well merely to agree with me in buying situations) couldn't help ourselves!

Plus, he gave us some vouchers to hand out to people who need pics (weddings, parties, anything) so let me know if you want one...and if you find out why this softly spoken and un-furry man's nickname is Wombat, please let me know that, too.

All pics courtesy of Photobat, http://www.photobat.net/home/ and http://www.photobat.net/batblog/category/portrait/.


Charlotte, in a typical thoughtful pose (finge not in nose, unlike some other shots)


Family Converse collection!


Our fav weekend pastime - Babycinos


Her babycino has been cropped out I think, but this is such a gorgeously timeless pic!


Daddy, Mummy, Charlotte!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hello, my name is Kat and I'm an Online Shopping-aholic.

I actually said that once, or along those lines, in an interview with Girlfriend magazine. But I meant it. Online shopping is the dogs bollocks, man. For a self-confessed and rather proud shopaholic, the 24/7 global shopping strip available at your fingertips is thrilling, to say the least. Of course, Frock You is my personal fave (!)- last night I picked up the GRAB Hunter vintage blue skinnies I've been eyeing off for ages (perfect for Spring, more flattering than pale denim but work back perfectly with lighter colours) which were conveniently marked down a few weeks ago to $99.95; the Little Potty Red Shoes Hollywood Smile Skirt in bold purple; the GRAB Pleat pocket vest which is soooo comfy and sooo cool, looks much better than the pic - cos it's black lightweight cotton knit it's hard to get the detailing in, but it will be perfect for layering over tees and tanks, with shorts and over frocks to gove a bit of balance betweeen girly/tough in the summer; and the cute Birds of a feather Venus s/s jacket, though I took the last one cos it's been one of my fave pieces ever since it landed instore. It felt like a nice big reward after a long week!


In more gratiuitous Frock news, you'll be pleased to know we've picked up a few more particularly awesome labels for high summer/winter 09: Motel is a UK label with loads of street cred, insanely popular in the motherland but just making its mark here and in the US. Favoured by cool songstresses like Duffy and the Ting Tings, I can't wait for the first range in Nov - it manages to walk that fine line between girly and rock chic, with an ample dash of quirkiness thrown in. Oh and it's priced from about $60-$120 so you won't need to take out a personal loan either. We've also taken on Mimosa, the brainchild of the smark chicky behind GRAB - basically, as she's gotten older she created a more grown up range aimed at the 25-35 market (roughly; neither me or my mum fall into this category but I've shown her the samples and she adores it, so it's honestly more of a classic, dressier range for everybody). They have been getting heaps of press lately and the winter range has SO many gorgeous coats you'll be hoping it's freezing for 6 months to get to wear them all; beautiful lacy party dresses with delicate ruffles and silks, soft angora knit cardis and tees, and a few uber-cool printed frocks which are totally trendy but also a classic shape. Priced from $89-$200, it'll be one of our more exxier lines, but once you see the items you'll know why. Investment dressing, baby!

Oh and speaking of babies, we'll be getting the funky Freshbaked in for Winter 09, following on from our new label foray into Sooki Baby, Yunginz, and Lucca P. Plus I've got my eye on a few independent, vintage inspired labels from Melbourne, a couple of baby and todler shoe ranges, and some more established labels you'll know and love.....all in the name of making your tot look as cool as you!

But enough of the Frock. If you've ever visited Net-a-Porter.com and whiled away a few hours drooling and lamenting over your chapmagne-on-a-lemondae budget lifestyle, you'll know why I often return there to gaze lovingly at sequinned frocks I'll never wear, handbags worth (or at least priced) more than my car, and luxurious knits gleaned from the hair of a rare Nepalse silky mountain goat calf (or something). The best thing is that 'cos it's based in the UK (with a US site as well, shop accorindg to the AU$ value), their seasons are literally the polar opposite of ours, so summer stuff is all on sale! There are a number of items sitting in my cart that I'm hanging out for, but even though they are all great buys, when the $55 shipping is added it makes me stop and wonder if it's worth it....one day soon I'll crack, I will (especially if they have another free shipping week, hint hint).




And ebay. It's a bit dodgy, there is so much awful crap on there, but occassionally you'll stumble upon the exact frock you've been looking for for months, but not wanting to shell out $500 for. Then it becomes a daily obession to chekc back and make sure you haven't been outbid; to search for a few other things just in case, and before you know it you've got 11 auctions "ending soon" and you're winning all of them, even though really the only one you want is the original dress. So much for clearing out one's wardrobe to compile a neatly edited, complementary, failsafe and flattering option. Clutter it with crap you "won" on ebay and revel in the glory of a bargain! Keep it interesting....
I should stop gleefully reliving my online shopping moments of late and actaully go and run my own online shop. There were new markdowns over the weekend and this week there'll be loads of new stuff from GRAB and French Kitty, as well as kid stuff from Itch and Monster Baby. I can see orders coming in as I type this, so at least I know I'm not the only one with a spending habit (and ps, if you're wanting a rundown on like, every online shop worth it's e-salt, check out NeverShoppedOut.com . Kellie the site owner has just been away on a shopping trip to Hong Kong so no doubt she'll have some shopping gems to share with you soon. And some interesting storeis about foregn toilets. Seriously, once you get going, it's a never ending topic. More on that later).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Departure Lounge

Yes, i am changing the side info thingy thre ---------> to "almost daily" blog or something like that; being inspired everyday to write about something is bloody hard work! And, after collapsing in an exhausted heap yesterday and spending the afternoon in bed with cups of tea and the Flight of the Conchords dvd, I am under strict doctors orders to take it easy and spend a month sunning myself on Santorini. Admittedly I wrote that particular prescription but I do feel it would work wonders. At any rate, the "taking it easy" vibe is a definite for summer. Getting through winter on minimal sleep and eating mainly coffee and nuts (as in, cashews and the like) has done wonders for a sz 8 figure but not so much for my state of wellbeing. It'll be a tie-dyed yoga and wheatgrass summer, baby. Oh and speaking of which, well sort of, I have just been in Melbourne to do the Winter 09 buying (not as fun as you might think, in fact it is quite stressful, especially when taxi drivers leave you stranded in random outer suburbs and quite a long way away from the safe confines of the sleek showrooms one becomes accustomed to); and come Jan/Feb you'll be in for a treat, all the ranges so far have been fabulous. A lot of them have been focussing more on modern designs, rather than rehashing "vintage" over and over again, and GRAB in particular have done the best winter jackets, like, ever. Get in early for those, they are smokin' hot. Everything seems a bit more grown up for 09 as well, less ditsy prints and girly cuts, and more of the effortlessly cool, softly tailored looks with lots of sheer, lace and zips thrown in for good measure. Exciting!

Actually one of the best and worst things about going to Melbourne is the observations one can make in the airport/on the plane. You can always spot the departure lounge for the flight headed to Tassie, one doesn't even need to look at the screens to find the gates. Just follow eitehr an RM WIlliams hat, bogan tracksuit, loud swearing or the over-hairsprayed/too much eyeliner/cheap jeans crowd, and you'll be on the flight home in no time. You might also end up in Adelaide, but it's a nice place to visit. Luckily on my flights there and back I did not get seated next to any smelly/loud/annoying/talkative locals, but they were definitely there. Oh, boy were they there. Behind me in fact. One particualrly attractive oversized lady with token scraped back hairdo and cigarette tucked enticingly behind her over pierced ear had two kids who climbed over each seat to get to theirs and kicked the back of our chairs the whole way home. I ignored this, knowing that kids and travelling don't always mix well. What I couldn't ignore was this woman's ridiculously loud swearing, at everyone else and her poor kids, her comments that "there are problems with the landing gear, I know it, I know thats what it is" when we had to circle around the airport twice (a common occurence when descending into Launceston, the runway is short and pilots can overestimate it. Alot, apparently); her loud chattter to herself apparently about how she has a 26 hour flight to San Diego at the end of the year, we can only hope it's a one-way flight and pray in unison for the people who get stuck next to her; and her oversized carry on bag, possibly in proportion to herself which she left in the middle of the aisle halfway up the plane while she chased her kids; meaning everyone behind her had to wait around to get to their seats for like 5 minutes til she moved. OH MY GOD. There's always one, isn't there. At least it was something to amuse me, there's not a whole lot of scenery on a night time flight over Bass Strait. I did have the latest issue of Madison ready to devour but couldn't concentrate enough. No matter, I'll read it on my newly leisurely evenings off. Bliss.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Baby or Balenciaga?

September is a really busy month for all the gorgeous S/S 08/09 deliveries, so forgive me for not having a spare minute to scratch myself, let alone write the blog. It will be back up and running as usual in about a week! Added to that, for once nothing has really got my goat enough to warrant a daily rant. Except for a little excerpt from Grazia magazine I noticed the other day over at GWAS.....

To Baby or Not To Baby is a genuine issue among women today. And men, probably, but who cares. None of the articles I've read in the last few months have asked a male opinion. In the one camp are the women who love the idea of motherhood, and the goal of having a family is one they hope to achieve. On the other side of the trench are the career-oriented people who can't see why you would give up your career, lifestyle, time and body for motherhood. In the middle is the fading argument "we all have a choice"; even though it's true. Every female does have the choice to choose career or family or whatever they like. There isn't a right or wrong answer, really. Just alot of strong opinions. Obviously I fall into the pro-baby group, to be perfectly honest I didn't intend to be a mother so young, but the best things in life are often unplanned. Like most, I thought travel, career etc etc until perhaps my late 20's when hopefully I would be in a stable relationship, financially secure and all that. That would've been fine, but the experiences and opportunities of having Charlotte in my early 20's have been worth it; I wouldn't change it for the world, and I've definitely not misse dout on anything except a lot of hangovers.

It's not for everyone, and I don't think anybody should have a baby just because they "have to", in the same way they "have to" have the latest shoes or bag. If you're not ready, then don't. It changes literally everything, and from many of the opinions I've read there are many women out there who have worked really hard to achieve their lifestyles and they don't want to give it up. Without sounding rude, I think that is an awfully selfish and materialistic way to put things (an honest Vogue columnist recently said she'd prefer Balenciaga to baby bags, props for being so bold as to admit to it but it still seems a bit crude). They complain because their friends with kids don't have as much time for them as before, or aren't as interested in them. That should be a pretty obvious given, really; if you're a high achieveing 30-something presumably you don't need looking after as much as a newborn. The best response to the issue has been good old Frankie magazine, which sensibly went along the lines of "I'm not read for a baby, but my friend gave birth to the most gorgeous little bundle of joy you could imagine, and even though our coffee dates are structured around naptime, we both give a little to make it work." Jetting off to Rio on a whim sounds glamourous, but sometimes good old fashioned family time, fattening as it may be, is much better for the soul. And probably the environment, even though the comments in Grazia that really pissed me off was; "the carbon footprint created by a single child is enormous,"; "having children is selfish, it's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet,"* say two childless-by-choice women. I'm sorry but that is mildly ridiculous. If nobody had kids in order to save Mother Earth the human race would have about 100 years left to exist, no? And I think the carbon footprint created by a stilettoed old bag would be bigger than a toddler's....again, I have to add, it is about choice. If one of my friends told me they never wanted to have kids, I wouldn't agree but it is their choice and I would respect it. I don't agree with people who would rather have designer bags then a child, by choice not by circumstance (I always feel so sorry for women and men depserate to start a family but can't when I read about this issue, how much must it hurt them to hear about people that can, but won't?), but it is up to them and it's not really my business how they choose the lead their lives. I hope they would have a better reason then a grand plan of rescuing the planet, but we should be thankful that we live in a society where we can choose such things.

*Gets off high horse*!

*courtesy of GWAS

Monday, September 15, 2008

Film Review: The Painted Veil

Our resident film buff Renee A is chuffed with pretty landscapes and rebuffed by a truckload of cliches in The Painted Veil:

Well, first of all, let’s look at the things I liked about The Painted Veil:

1) It was pretty to look at – lots of sweeping shots of rural China at sunrise, lovely period costumes and attractive actors.
2) It had a fairly decent plot: British doctor travels to China to help fight against a cholera outbreak in a small Chinese village. Doctor brings along spoilt brat unfaithful wife who doesn’t love him and the two of them try to make the best of things.
3) It has Edward Norton in it.

And the things I didn’t like:
1). The lead characters were distinctly unlikeable and unsympathetic for most of the film.
2). Both lead actors stepped onto the set of this film and promptly forgot how to act. Naomi Watts and Edward Norton have done some very good things in their careers, but for some unfathomable reason they decided the best they could do for this movie was to act as though it was amateur play night at the local theatre.
3) From about halfway through the film, the plot begins to feel as though it’s a join the dots sort of affair. You can almost feel them ticking off the boxes as they go along. “Right, take spoilt brat wife along. Check. Find a convenient place for her to begin to redeem herself. Check. Have her fall in love with her husband. Check. Get them drunk at a convenient time after they’ve begun to sort out their issues and get them to have passionate sex. Check. Have something happen to one of them soon after this discovery of love that allows for maximum drama and tragedy. Check.”
4) The very last scene is unnecessary and a bit twee. It assumes the audience are incapable of individual thought and the ability to use their own imaginations. For a film that had some lovely subtle moments throughout, the complete lack of subtlety in the last five minutes makes you feel as though you’re being smacked in the head by a panicking director who doesn’t trust in the intelligence of his audience.

Despite my issues with it, I actually enjoyed watching this film. Well, most of it anyway. The first half of it is good. It’s all dreamy and pretty and sad. But slowly, as the film continued, I began to get the distinct impression I’d somehow ended up on the Hallmark Channel and I was about to see an ad for Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. Which is disappointing, because it had the potential to be so much better.

Two out of five pretty Chinese sunsets.

By the way, despite having not bothered to write a review for it, I highly recommend Juno. It rocks.

Ed's note: please write one dear wench, I missed it at the flicks and my local video store smells like wee, so I haven't bothered to rent it out yet, but I feel I need to.....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ads that Piss Me Off: I am not peeved all the time, seriously

I hope The Gruen Transfer comes back on tv quick smart. Advertising and consumerism is endelssly fascinating, to me anyway - what makes people think the way they do, purchase the way they do, what makes them tick? But there are some ads I just don't get. And they're all targeted at me. Well, not me, I mean the suited square glasses type ad people didn't sit around a massive polished table and go "hey let's make an ad for Kat", but my gender, age group, income level and all that boring statistical malarky.

1). The Phillly ad with those annoying chicks with wings. I haven't bought Philly since those ads came out, and I won't because every time I look at it it makes me think "watch your weight" and "I'm giving in to that ad I detest!". I mean, if they're in heaven, why are they working? And dieting? I'm sorry but heaven is not some sort of slick office with trashy mags. I like to think of it more like Monty Python's Meaning of Life, where it's a hotel with a cabaret show, and Christmas every day! When I cark it I don't want to go low fat ,or be the awkward new girl in the office, or indeed, work. So, basically, instead of thinking, ooh Philly on toast yum yum, all I think is: confusion. And if angels have to watch their weight, well I sure as hell aren't going near that Philly. Just in case.

2). The Tic Tac ads. You know with that annoying smirky woman with not quite an American accent, who looks like theres always something in her m0uth, presumably a tic tac? Yeah it's an OTT Yankee ad but seriously, it doesn't make me want a tic tac or think tic tacs are cool, or indeed bother to give them a grammatically correct capital letter when I type the name. And yet, the tagline is ingrained into my brain; it's not just a mint it's a tic tac. Argh!

3). There's an ad on occassionally for Skechers and I seriously hope it's a type of in joke because it is awful. Skechers are pretty ugly in general anyway, and maybe this ad is just out of my age target group, but anyway it's just a giggly bunch of American teens and all they do is go "Oh I love my Skechers" "I Know" Like yeah" "totally" "like, right?" AND THATS IT. I refuse to buy Skechers because they are not the street shoe wth street cred. The ad tells me nothing about the shoes except that annoying american teenagers with limited vocabulary wear them. And I don't want to be an annoying American teenager. So I won't wear them. I know, like, right?

There needs to be good ads and bad ads. It helps the world of advertising go round. Those 3 ads might shit me no end but at least I remember them. I might not go and buy the product but I've got the brand emblazoned in my memory. And branding is where it's at, amn. Like, totally.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Peas Are Not Art

It's been a long time between blogs but if you had just wasted an hour and a half of your precious time waiting for a free studio while ageing perpetual Arts students take shadowed photos of toenails or peas or something equally as inspiring, you'd be peeved off enough to abandon cooking your gourmet family dinner (of sausages; I am probably spreading salmonella all over the keyboard as I vent) to get back on the blogging horse. And leave punctuation and short Hemingway sentences far, far behind.

Because, people, I am not paying my staff generous amounts to sit around and eat youghurt sultanas and other assorted health food store snacks while we wait for op-shop clad wannabe photographers to get their act together, figuratively and literally. Usually I love arty types; I admire their ability to throw mismatched outfits together and look damn cool; they hold interesting conversations and are usually chilled out, easy going people (it's just their art that is brooding and dark. That, or they hide it very well); they make great friends and probably great pets too. But they have an innate inability to observe the rules of a booking sheet, to follow a clock, and to appreciate that some of us work for a living (nasty! vicious! you capitalist cow!). I'm sorry but we now have to lug copious amounts of clothes and accessories, cameras, lights, bags and ourselves back there tomorrow, still not 100% certain that we'll be able to get it done. Grrr. This would usually pave the way for a classic Things That Piss Me Off Post but my sausages are sizzling at me, turning to a pitiful shade of charcoal. There is more to come though, don't worry....and incidentally, peas make much better crispy snacks than they do still life portraits. Hmph.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Service with a Smile/Grimace

If you've ever been gainfully employed in any industry which requires you to deal with other people ie customers, no doubt you have a story or two to tell about that crazy/funny/bitchy/smelly person who scarred you for life and made you thankful that you own antiperspirant and a sense of humour. They exist in every industry, in every shop, and every Sales Assistant/Hospitality Worker/Call Centre Employee etc etc has dealt with them. Even when it is cyber-service, they still exist and probably come off ruder than they actually are because the majority of people still have no concept of e-etiquette. At least you can't smell them online. Whenever I have a 'long' day dealing with eejits, I head on over to good old Vogue Forums and gleefully flick through this thread: http://forums.vogue.com.au/showthread.php?t=301380 because remember people, there's always someone worse off. Like the poor boy someone just posted about who got slapped because the company he worked for dared to try and be green by charging 10c for a plastic bag (I imagine he works at Borders). Only in America, you might say, except if it was there and not in laidback Aus at least Customer would've been slapped with a lawsuit. I've worked in retail, I've worked in a call centre, and after a university degree and mind-opening travel, I still work in customer service, of sorts. (Soon, people, soon I will have a high backed office chair like Darren Lyons and simply sit in my office doing mega-bucks deals while my expert team field customer queries. Away, vile peasants!). Why? There is a genuinely nice feeling you get when a customer is genuinely appreciative of the help you give them, if they come away with good advice or help or a smashing new outfit or face cream. It's like you've done your little pile of good for the day.

When I worked for Westpac in order to fund trips to the UK, the occassional customer was nice enough to put in a compliment, or to even say "thankyou, have a nice evening". I even helped a nice old gentleman work out the interest he was earning and the fees he was being charged to the CENT because he was friendly. I also got yelled at by a possibly illiterate and definitely stupid woman who rang up to change her address, but refused to identify herself, assuming that my supercomputer and "the system" could tell who she was merely by her voice. After nearly wetting myself with laughter at her "threats" I put her on hold to go through to a "supervisor" at which she yelled again for being "passed away". If only, love, if only. Then there was the mysterious nameless lady who was not in fact a westpac customer, but took great delight in telling me how she escaped from her relationship, presumably with a man but possibly with reality, to be isolated in the snow capped mountains of Switzerland. And once she got there, Westpac swindled her of $30k. I mean, what do you say to that? "Sorry to hear that ma'am, but perhaps that's what happened in your Mills & Boon and not in fact, in your life? And also, there aren't any shops up there, so you wont need your $30k anyway".

Of course, it works both ways: as a customer you have a right to expect good service, but as a customer you also have the responsibility to treat the person serving you with respect and just a hint of good manners. It's incredibly annoying when you honestly wish to browse and you keep getting pestered by a salesperson working on commission and/or terrified of being mystery shopped, and thus making sure they go through every step of the Good Service Manual. Saying firmly but politely, "No thankyou I do not wish to purchase your expensive 3-step skincare with my little pot of eyeshadow", "Thankyou I will try this lush hand cream but no I won't purchase it", "Spray me with your designer perfume there but please don't aim for my eyes" generally means customer walks away having gained service, and salesperson is satisifed that they have followed their employers guidelines and will get a shift next week. I am always way too afraid to be rude in a restaurant in case my meal gets spat in, but if I sit for twenty minutes waiting to be served and still not even a glass of water or a menu, well, I take issue. By glaring at the snotty waitpersons and stomping out of there, being sure to tell everybody I know not to visit said eating establishment because the staff wee in the soup. It works. Oh and FYI: usually if customer orders and pays for a chicken sandwich, he or she expects to get chicken in it. Not just tomato, cheese, onion, bread and an exasperated sigh and curt response when he or she politely asks for the chicken to please be included before he or she consumes said sandwich. FFS.

But I digress. In a perfect world, customers and customer service people would exist in harmony, words such as 'please' would be sprinkled with gay abandon throughout conversations, and regularly cleaned teeth would be flashed at each other between non chapped lips by expression of satisfaction. Alas, it is not so. At least it's good fodder for late night forum posting.

(Disclaimer: 99% of FrockYou customers are completely lovely and respond well to smiley emoticos and polite conversation, and in turn get fast service and fabulous frocks. The other 1%, well, they will find themselves blogged about, trust me.....)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sponsor an Entrepreneur

One of my friends is one of those travellers with a spirit of adventure, who doesn't mind dodgy toilets or risking stomach bugs or being stranded in the Middle East. I am in total admiration of her, because even though I am categorised as a restless traveller, the furthest off the beaten track I've been is a 4-star island resort in Malaysia and the most at risk of catching a foreign disease was from a dodgy Paddington hotel in London which had a new bathroom but had charmingly kept the same traveller-imprinted doona and sheet sets for the past decade. Oh and the time my friend and I flooded our backpackers room in Glasgow, and then nicked off early the next morning hoping no-one would notice. Another set of friends spent their honeymoon volunteering at orphanages in South America, and the afore-mentioned travelling amigo has decided her next trip will be to Ghana to volunteer at a newspaper. It's inspiring stuff, but if like me you're mildly afraid of civil war, drug trafficking or extremists, you could lend a hand to the global community through this great little web site: http://www.kiva.org/ . You simply sponsor a budding entrepreneur in the developing world, for as little as $25. It's all about making poverty history without plastic wristbands. Brilliant.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Less Sarcastic List

You know when you have just so much shitty paperwork and boring bollocky tedious tasks to do, you procrastinate and procrastinate and start blogging about nothing in particular? Yeah, that's what I'm doing. It's that or find new applications to add to Facebook (btw, who likes the new layout? Anyone? Didn't think so). Anyway, I thought a good way to end the week would be to go all Dr Phil and write a list of things that made me feel happy and slightly less sarcastic than usual:

1). When your two year old understands what most suburban 12 year olds don't, that Ugg Boots are "Mummy's Slippers" and look funny out on the street when you're all dolled up in your best polyester outfit to go shopping. Truly, one of my proudest moments as a mother to date was when we were trotting along the street behind a group of heavily hairsprayed youths, and Charli pointed, giggled and said rather loudly "Look! Mummy's Slippers!" Like, totally owned by a toddler. Serious cool points to Charlotte!

2). When the weather is bright and sunny and warm enough to shed a few layers but not hot, in other words, when it feels like a fresh new spring day and you pop on a happy cd in the car and sing loudly with the windows down. Try it, it's liberating. CD of choice: last summer's fave, Ben Kweller's self titled. We haven't got to this summer yet, so it sorta wins by default.

3). Speaking of cd's, it;s been 10 years since we heard from The Verve but I'm mighty glad we have again. The Stone Roses should never reform, but the Verve's new album Forth is a suitably chilled out release. Oh, and a few new singles from Oasis' upcoming album Dig Out Your Soul have done the illegal rounds, and it just makes me tingly and want to wear a parka.

4). When you come home and your other half has done the vaccuuming. That, my male friends, is the way to a woman's heart, and a nice roast dinner.

5). When you get a text out of the blue from a friend you haven't heard from in ages. AND she's proposing afternoon drinks. Hell yes.

Back to the paperwork...after I check Facebook.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blog Apologies, and some new stuff

YES I know, I'm sorry, but if you had to climb over a challenging obstacle course of boxes, shoes, coat hangers and more boxes you wouldn't feel very motivated to type about random hobos at the supermarket. Although, speaking of, I think I might start a little sub blog "Adventures in Grocery Shopping" because the weird and wonderful world of the unflatteringly lit supermarket offes a myriad of observances into the human condition that no sidewalk cafe can rival. Anyway, as a slightly lazy form of compensation for the recent lack of bloggage (and I honestly didn't realise it was Wednesday until about 5 minutes ago, prompting a haphazrad scramble through this cardboard jungle to the computer desk) here's some pics of all the gorgeus new summer-y stuff you won't be able to wear for another few months, but you sure can buy it and hoard it safely til then:
Blue Juice's Noveau Riche Lush Coat is so elegant and really classy, but lightweight enough for a summer jacket (why it's "Lush" I dont know, it's gorgeous but not make of fur or anything. Hmm..) anyway if you regularly spill stuff on yourself or have rampaging toddlers with crayons this isn't the jacket for you, but damn its nice! The Euphoric Romance Denim Shorts are a great little short for summer, not heavy (remember Tencel? they feel like that!) and a versatile shade of rich blue that matches back easily with just about everything. Selling fast!!!
I don't even bother putting French Kitty in the newsletters anymore because it sells quicker than we can get it in, and if you're a bikini babe this is a classy and girly option which is incredibly cute!

GRAB's Mesh Tunic is one of those pieces you have to see and wear to really appreciate (which makes it odd for online shopping, I know, but I know you guys will suss it out!) when Laura was modelling it she didn't want to take it off. And I didn't want to wrestle her for it cos she's taller than me. Neither did Mat the photographer cos she's taller than him too. The short story is that it won't be this short on most mere mortals but you won't want to take it off either, it's so darn cool and really comfy!

Little Potty Red Shoes is one of our quiet achievers, but they produce some absolutely gorgeous pieces that always stand out. This Hollywood Smile skirt in bold, bright purple is a definite winner, the block colour makes it easy to work into your existing wardrobe and make a really eyecatching outfit without being too fussy. Also you can put it on when you're slightly tipsy and it won't matter cos it's the same front and back!

This is a really beautiful little piece by Living Doll, just the top for making you feel like donning a full skirt, dainty hat and sipping tea in the garden.....the print is a ripoff from somewhere but who cares, it's gorgeous (and cheap)!This is THE shoe of the summer (unless you want it in flat, in which case wait a few days until all the new SUNDAY range is on the site, Nude don't have a flat in this style) and it's so so comfy! I love a wedge (with sweet chilli especially) but as far as shoes go these are awesome for Spring under new season wideleg denim or pants, or for dressing up a pretty frock. I've been hanging out for them since I first saw them in March - the 6 month wait has been worth it!
Sunny Girl's one shouldered frock in black has sold through 5 times (yes FIVE times we've reordered and sold it all!) and this version in royal blue is the newest piece on the block to be causing waves - it's slinky, sexy and a beautifully flattering shade. Bring on the party season ladies!
One Teapsoon's new stuff is rocking the socks off everyone, especially the swimwear which is HOT to trot! It's been instore approximately 24 hours and thnkafully we've barely had to unpack it because the majority of it has sold. Thanks, guys! (PS I'm currently flicking between One T's Winter '09 rangebook and writing this and you are in for a treat, it's wicked sticks!)
All our kids labels will be delivering Summer over the next month, so if you're wanting to get your Little Frocker wardrobe together, sit tight!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Beauty Review: 2 Thumbs Up for MAC & Revlon

The search for the perfect foundation and the perfect lipgloss is like the search for the perfect jeans: never-ending, frustrating, expensive; but still the sort of search that you don't want to end, in case you end up with nothing to shop for (the horror, the horror!). If my makeup bag was a Facebook page my current status would read: Kat's Makeup Bag is overflowing, but content *smiley face* . As you all know, if I didn't buy so many magazines and products and general crap I could probably buy more important things, like, um, a house, but houses don't make your skin tone even or your lips luscious. I have however found two products recently that make me so joyous that I hum Christmas carols in August:

1). MAC Select SPF 15 Foundation I actually wanted the Face & Body foundation that is eternally raved about but Myer Melbourne don't have it and I couldn't be bothered going out to Chadstone, especially considering I was meant to be making my way to appointments and not, in fact, having a makeover. Incidentally, if you're the type of person who gets slightly erotic thrills when you see swathes and swathes of colour pots all neatly lined up in order, then I suggest making a trip to the MAC counter to gasp in awe at the monolith of beautiful little pots of eye shadow just begging to be smudged with your pinkie. Sigh. Anyhow, a nice French lady working at the counter must've thought I looked like the arty type or something (I don't, but French people are odd) because upon enquiring as to a suitable foundation, she expertly chose the exact colour I've been looking for all these years and artfully applied it with a silky foundation brush. To half my face. Delighted with her choice, we both agreed that this was the new foundation for me and she trotted off to the counter to ring it up. I sat confused in the makoever chair for a few minutes, as one half of my face was made up and the other was not. I didn't know if this was a new trend I had somehow missed out on, but it looked a bit odd. Especially for meeting clients, regardless of how fashion savy they are. Phantom-of-the-Opera chic does not suit me. This fab foundation, however, does. I love it. I am most chuffed and will certainly be getting more, now that I know my colour (you can buy it online at the above link, or probably from Strawberrynet and Kiss&Makeup -love this store, especially for NARS - only I'm getting hungry and thus too lazy to check). The rundown: liquid foundation (best applied with a bursh), SPF 15 (in case you thought the title was cryptic), non-oily and nice and gentle. It possibly bakes yo-yo biscuits while wearing twin sets in shades of pastel, it's so nice.

2). Revlon's Mineral Lipglaze in Forever Raisin (yeah, I just do what the ads tell me) tastes so damn nice it could be bright blue for all I care. Um, I don't sit on the couch with a spoon dipping into the tube, I don't have a spoon that would fit for starters, I just mean it gives a nice sweet taste on your lips when you put it on. Plus it does stay on. Does what it says on the tin, indeed. I already have an all time fave lipgloss that is the most perfect lippy ever for everyday wear(Bonne Bell's cheapie Vitamin E range, get it from Priceline or similar bargain beauty store $6.95) but this one is my new fave "dressy" lip colour. Actually I wore it dagging around the house on Sunday because I love it. If you don't put too much on, it gives a nice deep stain; conversely if you get a bit tipsy on Saturday night and reapply it rather heavily, you'll get a slick, gorgeous gloss that lasts through more Jagerbombs then you can. I hope they release more colours, most of the current shades are either quite dark or quite light, or too brown for my liking though you might like it of course. Last time I checked Revlon weren't asking me specifically for shades, but in case they do something a tad lighter then Forever Rsin with a hint of more pink would be about perfect. Mwah.

What should come first? A wardrobe cleanout or makeup bag cleanout? Need to make room for a MAC-esque wall of colour to drool over I guess.....

Monday, August 18, 2008

When Will I, Will I Be Famous.....

What is it with me and bad 80's songs lately? Don't ask about Saturday night....*cough* anyhow, today ws a FrockYou media extravanganza! First, Cosmopolitan Pregnancy published a little and very edited not quite the angle they told me they were taking story about my pregnancy, though they did, thankfully, get my age wrong and made me younger. They also published a bloody awful photo but anyway. Secondly, Charlotte won a local "Cutest Kids" competition (yes, it was the OMG pic you all love) which everyone except me heard about on the radio, and I still haven't been contacted about the prize, but it's very chuff-worthy! She spent her day of fame finding new and inventive ways of getting poo on her fingers. Charming.

Thirdly, there was a nice little fluffy story about online shopping tonight on A Current Affair , where Shoptilyoudrop 's lovely Beauty Editor Amy Starr gave the ol' Frock a nice plug and 0.4 second screenshot. I didn't see it of course, or know about it, but I got a tx from MIL who thankfully did see it. You wouldn't think that half a second of airtime would really do much but the respnse has been phenomenal. Obviously I'm far too snotty and pseudo-intellectual to watch current affairs programmes but still, I wish I'd seen it. Thank goodness for YouTube (where I spent my relaxing weekend finding completely obscure and mind boggling clips, which I will share with you later in the week).

*donns giant sunnies and handbag sized dog before going outside to battle through the throng of paparrazi*

Saturday, August 16, 2008

It Wasn't Me!

I'm not sure why the below two posts suddenly appeared, they were the ones I was trying to get to upload a few weeks ago. (I naturally blame the technology, not myself). Anyhoo, ejnoy.....

Bad Things to Hear on an Aeroplane - Mock the Week - BBC Two

Today I discovered this British show, Mock the Week. I have just spent the past 9 hours on YouTube catching up. For want of a better cyber expression: ROFLMAO.

Frankie Boyle's Scottish accent tugs at my heartstrings!

Weird Things to See on a Road Sign - Mock the Week - BBC Two

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beauty is Sexist

You know how magazines always feature gorgeous spreads of luscious creamy/sparkly/glossy lip colours, artfully spilled bottles of nail polish, delciately sprinkled pretty blushes, and it makes you want to overhaul your makeup bag/bathroom cabinet and go spend your wages on all these wonderful products that are really only in there 'cos the eds got them for free? And how you spend more on anti-ageing products of spiffy new cleansers than your man spends on clothing in a year? And THEN you contasntly read about how men age better then women. Men on tv and in movies are older, more "dignifed" with not as much pressure to look youthful. Why? Possibly because they are not persuaded to cover their faces in loads of expensive crap, which essentially causes alot more damage then good and then need to go buy more products to fix it all up (aha! clever clever marketers)?

Makeup and skincare is fun. It's one of those girly things that makes you feel good. There's no harm in that. And men are of course being catered to by beauty companies and slowly convinced to cleanse, moisturise and treat. I only recently found out that my partner has been indulging in my beloved Body Shop Seaweed Scrub every few days. And he's the type that convinces me I don't need another new lippy becuase "you look beautiful without it" which is an annoyingly foolproof argument. My dad used to use mum's ye olde Olay face cream on his hands when he ran out of the supermarket cheapie moisturiser she bought for him (he works with his hands so they got all crakced and yuk otherwise). Men do like a bit of self-pampering, even if they won't admit it, but women have been forced to like it. One can't look old, despite the "embrace your age" articles recently permeating the glossy magazine spehere. Embrace your age, but don't look it. One of my high school/Uni holidays/between travelling jobs was at Priceline, in the old days when you could actually get service (oh, nasty!) and I'll never forget a lady who came in looking for some Vitamin E cream for her face. She said she was in her mid-60's but her skin was magnificent, smooth and glowing and with natural smile lines - and all she'd ever used was Vitamin E! Needless to say I got me little pink tub of the stuff asap.

ShoptilyouDrop have an article this month about the softly, softly approach to beauty - I haven't read all of it yet because Charlotte knocked my cup of tea over it - but it just makes so much more sense than the piling on of harsh chemicals and god knows what else. Prevention not cure! Even the new metro man's skincare lines only have the bare neccessities. Is it some well-kept secret they never told us? Men have the secret to better ageing, or at least the genetics.

I'm going to lay my cards on the table now. Go look in your bathroom cupboard. Assuming items like toothpaste and loo paper (which one male member of this household who shall remain nameless but is referred to as Daddy taught Charlotte to call Poo Tickets) and tissues are neutral territory, my partner has soap, hair gunk, shaving cream and razor, nail clippers and deodorant. I have 4 bottles of Fructis shampoo and conditioner (I appear to be stockpiling them in case of a specific Armageddeon which wipes out department stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and discount beauty stores. One simply can't have greasy hair in a post-apocalyptic world, it's so done), 2 bottles of Dove Shampoo and Conditioner, 1 Johnsons body wash, 1 spare and 1 Dove body wash, 1 Body Shop Strawberry body exfoliant, 2 bubble baths, 2 body butters, 1 shimmery body lotion, 1 self tan body lotion, 1 Venus razor with spare cartridges, wax strips, tweezers, nail file, cuticle stick, hand cream (x2), tea tree oil for blemishes, Garnier deep heat face mask, SK-II cleanser, afore-mentioned Seaweed exfoliant, eye cream, vitamin c serum, Olay moisturiser, vitamin e moisturiser, 3 deodorants...and that's what I can remember off the top of my head and doesn't include my overflowing makeup bag (I didn't actually get up and go look in the cupboard, naughty naughty).

I don't need it all, but I want it all and I like it all. Thus I have convinced myself I need it all, even though deep down (well, not too far down) I know I don't. Taking a lesson from the men and simplifying, gentlifying and minimising would go a long way...That said, I've made myself a list from this month's mags and am off today to happily test, smell, feel and play with some new colours and products that will make me a better and better looking person (pft). If beauty begins on the inside, well a girl's gotta be happy...

(Ed's note: bought a lush Revlon mineral lipgloss today, smells like cakes and slicks on a treat. NOW I'm happy!)