Mean Streets

Mean Streets

When I tell people that I’ve bought my first house in Seven Sisters up in N15, you often get a sort of blank slash “Ewwww…” expression.  They either don’t know the area or they don’t find the place “on-point”, to borrow an annoying fashion cliche.  If I’m 100% honest, it wasn’t our first choice location in London, but I listened to the pearls of wisdom extolled on programmes like Location Location Location and got on that dreaded property ladder with an open and pragmatic mind.  It’s a whole house.  It’s mine.  I’m happy.  End of.

susie-lau1Wearing Bernstock Speirs cap, Miu Miu anorak, Dior coat, J Brand jeans

The Independent newspaper and its fashion editor Alex Fury gave me the opportunity to confront N15 head on in extreme fashion (literally…) by asking me to road test some of this season’s trends in the harsh reality of what is an impoverished and also decidedly un-chi-chi area in London.  It’s not a wholly new experience as I’ve never really lived in London postcodes that were were particularly FASH-ON and in fact the contrast suits me most of the time.  So what, if the local newsagent raises his eyebrows at the amount of layers/neon/marabou/sequins I have on or if the dry cleaner gets exasperated with the complexity of the fabrics and silhouettes of my clothes.

That said lest we forget, down the road from where I live, were where the riots happened in the summer of 2011, that some people can draw parallels with what is currently going on in Ferguson in the States.  I can talk about existing in a bubble all I want but being mindful and respectful of my local community is also paramount.  Case in point, it felt awkward to tell a lady down my road that the shoes I was wearing were by Dolce & Gabanna and that she could buy them on Old Bond Street, knowing full well that she didn’t understand the concept of shopping on that street (actually she didn’t know where it was full stop).  It’s never going to feel all that right to stand by the bus stop in over £5,000 worth of clobber on my back, with Romanian and Bulgarian men nearby, waiting to get low paid day labour jobs from builders driving by Wickes.

Social awareness aside, there was also the matter of personal comfort to take into consideration.   These outfits were extremes in most cases.  The most “me” of outfits made me feel at ease such as Christopher Kane’s sporty nylon and neon and my take on “normcore” facilitated by Dior’s lace-up coat and Miu Miu brocade anorak.  Dolce & Gabanna took me a little out of my comfort zone as I donned a pristine total look that was very “lady”.  Although a jet black stone encrusted medieval snood is definitely one piece of armour I’d like to take on.

susie4Wearing whole outfit by Dolce & Gabanna

The combination of Tom Ford’s sequinned American football jersey dress, his velvet stiletto cowboy boots and Jeremy Scott’s Moschino McD’s drinks bag with McDonald’s Green Lanes in the background however was just terrifying.  The honking horns, the wolf whistles and the LOLs at the fact that I looked like I was some crazy fan of McDonald’s as I had a drink in one hand and the bag in the other were all vaguely do-able.  What was mortifying though was when a woman walked by me as I was walking back to the car and very loudly said to her friend “What a slut!  What is she wearing?!”  I was initially perplexed.  Long sleeved sequinned dress and boots with just my knees showing.  What exactly was slutty about it?  Then I thought she had probably sensed my unease.  Like I was a nervous prostitute turning tricks at McDonald’s.  Then I got indignant.  Slut-shaming on any level is never right.  In theory, I should be able to walk out in a lacy bra and super short shorts and not invite that kind of language.  The reality though is that she knew I was frontin’.  I was teetering in the spindly heels and yanking the dress down constantly.  Not to justify her comment but I wasn’t “working it” as it were.  If I did, perhaps I would have earned a bit more respect.  Tom Ford, it ain’t your dress, it’s the girl.  And the fact that this garment won’t really ever be seen round this part of town.

susie3Wearing Tom Ford dress and boots, Moschino bag.  All photographs by Teri Pengilley.

Read the full feature here on the Independent.  N15 has now officially become the litmus test of hardcore fashion trends.   Also apologies if this feels like a rehash of a post.  I’m on the go in Tokyo with my family, trying desperately to please my hyper critical parents and keep a gaggle of sisters entertained.  Normal service to resume soon when… fashion week starts…



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  1. DinoB

    2014-08-26 at 2:20 PM

    I laughed at loud when you talked about the Tom Ford – I know it probably wasn’t supposed to be funny, but the way you presented is with just the right amount of wit – because no one really considers fashion more fun than you!

    That said, I adore the piece – both here & on the Indepentend, just because I’ve experienced almost the sam thing here in Croatia. It may not be couture like the ones in your case, but even getting out there fashion-wise in the eye of ‘regular’ people sometimes feels frightening… To be completely honest – being almost beat-up by strangers just for wearing a neon sweater isn’t quite comfortable…

    • Ana

      2014-08-26 at 7:07 PM

      A neighbour here – when I went out with a parasol I was greete by “Oooh, watch it, the sky might fall on your head!”; a pair of peacock feather earring got “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” and “Hey, hey – she’ll fly away any second now!” (that was a few years ago, those have since become normal).

    • Danielle korneliussen

      2014-08-27 at 4:30 AM

      So funny Ana! I’m sitting here grinning over the “cock-a-doodle-doo”!

  2. Marty

    2014-08-26 at 2:38 PM

    You rock …

  3. belikealady

    2014-08-26 at 3:48 PM

    I wish i could try the second outfit. Especially the “encrusted medieval snood” . I actually feel that this piece has given the whole look a significant feature.

  4. Francesca

    2014-08-26 at 4:24 PM

    This is such an interesting concept to see how the people in your area perceive the ‘high-end’ style! I hope you’re having a lovely time with your family 🙂


  5. Denisa

    2014-08-26 at 4:30 PM

    That 2 and 3 outfits are wow. I like that style. xa

  6. Ana

    2014-08-26 at 7:09 PM

    Wow. I did not expect such strong and open negative reactions, especially not in London.

    This is one of my favourite Style Bubble posts now, even though the experience behind it wasn’t that good.

    • Danielle korneliussen

      2014-08-27 at 4:31 AM

      I soooo agree! This was the best post ever!!

  7. Bob

    2014-08-26 at 7:53 PM

    I love the McDonalds look, but then you can work more-or-less anything! I had a real battle living in Sutherland, NSW, Australia because there is NO fashionable ANYTHING there. One time a car stopped so the driver could compliment me on my red Pumas, that was the high point of two years otherwise consisting of sceptical looks and unpleasant speculation about my sexuality. It wore me down flying high on my own but I stuck at it and I hope that next time someone walks through Sutherland in a bow tie they are treated with the appreciation that eccentrics everywhere deserve!

  8. M A R T A

    2014-08-26 at 8:24 PM

    Fantastic pictures and outfits! My favorite is the last look!
    NEW POST…The 5 Best Dressed Celebrities And Bloggers (18.08-24.08)

  9. Paula

    2014-08-26 at 9:21 PM

    I loveeeee this post! One the outfits are amazing, my must have from Tom Ford THAT dress, two the McDonalds prostitute comment made me really LOL and lastly congrats on buying your own home!!! X

  10. Sarah

    2014-08-26 at 10:49 PM

    Respect to you for addressing the issue of the London divide. A few years ago, I lived near your area and although the economic hardship is visible, there is also a vibrant community of friendly individuals proud to don their national garb. I loved walking the bustling streets, taking in the multicultural vibe and picking up food items that cost three times as much in Waitrose! Until we learn to live/love/respect the other we will never fully flourish creatively. Sometimes the awkwardness you describe is the kickstart/inspiration we need. Thanks for the write up.

    • stylebubble

      2014-08-27 at 11:53 AM

      I’m slowly growing into the area (although if I’m honest, I’ve been away so much this year, I’ve not really had the time to properly explore it). I love the Latino communities. I love the fact that there are many types of yams sold on West Green Road. I love the little stalls blaring out Nigerian bands. Oh, and I love the nail shops. I absolutely do not want any gentrification process to happen here. This post has definitely made me want to explore this further…!

  11. Danielle korneliussen

    2014-08-27 at 4:40 AM

    Susie… This was such a great read! Your particular way of writing just get on the right side of my funny bone… Not only that, but these pictures you posted are sooooo GREAT! I love each and every look, but – in particular – the head-to-toe Dolce Gabana is SMASHING! And one more thing… If you don’t mind someone bragging about you a bit more… Your blog is just pure AWESOMENESS – mainly due to your really great writing, but for one who adores and craves edgy looks in fashion… You are my go-to daily thrill! Oh… And you are -by far – the cutest in the clothes you model for us! Yes you are!

  12. Frithaland

    2014-08-27 at 5:50 AM

    So glad to read you’ve bought in Seven Sisters. I lived in Archway and now on the fringes of Kings Cross. Although it can be stressful, I got a dog who, although very cute is very loud if he hears noises and befreinded a locksmith who taught me how to secure my flat (good window locks and a London bar). I realised there’s more community in poorer areas than wealthy ones.

    Sorry to rant but personlly I detest the raising up of junk food which is destroying the health of these communities. It seems truely appalling to me to use fashion as a vehicle to further cement their hold on society. Watching young mums giving babies coke in bucket sized McDonalds cups is decidedly not chic. I made my entire dissertation about this for my MA at Central St Martins. Completely unpublishable as I would be at risk of being sued! Anyway…

    Check out the Castle Climbing Centre which has a gorgeous reservoir round the back. The Climbing Centre has an amazing garden.

    • stylebubble

      2014-08-27 at 11:47 AM

      It isn’t right but what are the alternatives? I don’t believe in snobbery over junk food when people can’t afford anything else. Fried chicken shops selling £1 deals and the like… where can you eat out as cheap as that in London? Yes you could rebut and say something along the lines of “Oh but they can cook food at home for cheaper..” etc etc. Cooking = fuel. Also, there might not be the inclination when you’re working long hours etc.
      It’s not necessarily my personal eating choice to have junk food all the time (although I must confess… I actually like McDonald’s once in a while…) but I wouldn’t pass judgement on those that eat it either when there are so few alternatives out there…

  13. Charlie

    2014-08-27 at 6:52 AM

    Fantastic article!

  14. jay

    2014-08-27 at 7:46 AM

    “Slut-shaming on any level is never right. ” Where the hell Am I? Tumblr? Stop it already with all this PC crap, it’s cringeworthy at this point!

    • stylebubble

      2014-08-27 at 11:50 AM

      Lovely to know that you’re out and about calling everyone sluts as you please. Exercise that right and smile to yourself as you’re doing it. As long as it makes you happy.

    • jay

      2014-08-27 at 12:35 PM

      Lovely to know that you’re out and about insulting your readers! Getting tired of political correctness being shoved down everyone’s throat by the media, is not an indication that I, personally, call people names left and right. Also, funny how you’re so vigorously against the so called “slut-shaming”, yet you have no problem insulting me, simply because I dare to disagree with you. Yay to hypocrisy!

    • stylebubble

      2014-08-27 at 12:51 PM

      But then what instance do you find calling someone a slut, acceptable then as you indicated in your first comment as you had disagreed with what I had said. And I mean slut-shaming based on what someone wears.
      If you can think of an instance, then… what I replied with held true.
      It’s not about being PC for the sake of it, it’s about throwing needless insults around when it’s none of your business whether someone is sexually promiscuous or not. And also that women can’t necessarily levy the same insult against a man.

    • stylebubble

      2014-08-27 at 12:57 PM

      Also I do note that your comments are consistently antagonistic. So you hate everything I write about and disagree with my opinion… why do you come back?

    • jay

      2014-08-27 at 1:52 PM

      In both of my responses I was talking about being sick of PC in general, since people nowadays seem to be offended by literally anything and the media outlets are caving in out of fear. I wasn’t talking about slut-shaming specifically, it just happened to be the subject mentioned in your post. I didn’t even know it was clothes/fashion related. If I saw a girl dressed like Nicki Minaj, I’d simply think she’s an idiot, not a slut.
      As for the antagonistic comments…well, it’s called constructive criticism and doesn’t mean I “hate” your writing (especially considering the fact that I barely leave comments), but if you prefer people plugging their blogs, along with “OMG I loveee your outfits”, in the comment section, then so be it, I won’t be coming back.

    • stylebubble

      2014-08-27 at 2:15 PM

      But why quote the original comment if you were just commenting on PC in general… it sounded like you thought that slut-shaming on some level was ok…
      I can take constructive criticism but not when it’s levied incorrectly. In this instance… well, the gist of your comment was misleading. I don’t like being overly PC either but I don’t think my original post was that at all. I’m not some “media person” bowing down to society’s pressure to be PC. I am genuinely offended by the liberal use of the word “slut”. If you disagree then fine. Nice to share yet another pointlessly long comment thread with you. Look forward to doing this again.

  15. nrc

    2014-08-27 at 8:24 AM

    I’m kinda inline with that snood!
    I live in a small town and once wore a feather collar I felt was the chic sadly none else did and I spent the day hearing all types of comments lol!
    NRC ♥

  16. Dominique

    2014-08-27 at 10:00 AM
  17. Bollywood Replica Sarees

    2014-08-27 at 12:23 PM

    Sorry dear, but I didn’t find it pretty. 🙁

  18. Natalia | Fashioned by Love

    2014-08-28 at 10:59 AM

    I can absolutely imagine the awkwardness of this fashion experience and Bravo to you for going ahead with it… I think, unless you are in central London or some other big city, any fashiony fashions are always going to get those “the only gay in the village” kind of treatments or rude remarks (it actually made me sad to hear what you were called… why people think they can do that???!!!)
    We have an old saying in Russia, “it’s not the place that makes a person special, but a person who adds something special to the place” and this location is lucky to have such a gem like you.
    Enjoy the fun time with the family! x

  19. marylouise

    2014-08-29 at 7:10 AM

    I like the green coat the girl wear in the first post.

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  21. Andy

    2014-10-11 at 9:28 PM

    Susie, the way you have talked about Seven Sisters is so much fun… I lived in East London, exactly on Bricklane. My parents came to visit me from Mexico and they were totally shocked, I think my mum saw a girl pass out right in front of her… they were not precisely happy about my new rented flat… London is (on the whole) not a very pretty place to live unless you can afford Pimlico, Primrose Hill, South Kensington and those kind of places with nice bakeries. Good luck in your new neighbourhood! I lived in Finsbury Park and I looooved it.

  22. lagrecejaime

    2014-10-30 at 6:51 PM

    Very interesting outfits, I fancy in particular the 3rd one ! I like exceptional points of view in styling and fashion and London is always the place to inspire them !

  23. Nicole Cruz

    2014-11-02 at 9:21 AM

    I wish I could be as fearless as you! Much love, Nicole

  24. Jocelyn Yih

    2014-11-12 at 11:39 AM

    Such an interesting read! The TF look is my favourite look and what mean mean streets of LDN. The once in a while McDonald’s visit makes up for it…

  25. Xandra

    2014-11-18 at 11:51 AM

    Love that second look! X

  26. Eea Petrescu

    2014-11-22 at 11:28 AM

    Love the green coat. Really unique outfit.

    Eea P

  27. C D-M

    2014-12-21 at 1:39 PM

    I actually saw you two days ago, just past that bus stop, wearing the most beautiful pink coat (with a guy in an equally cool coat!), and I could not believe you were passing through my area! If you noticed me staring it was awe rather than amusement!

    I think my astonishment just goes to prove how different things are here. I used to dress up to match my mood (girly/edgy) but stopped dressing up on a daily basis a long time ago, because of unwelcome stares, honking, and advances. To be honest it still happens in a pair of leggings and a parka, but wearing that made me feel like less of a target.

    All I can say is keep your chin up, it’s seeing people like you that inspire others like me to embrace their natural style, without fear of being approached being an inhibitor!

  28. James

    2015-01-09 at 11:28 AM

    Love the Moschino stuff rocking runways last year. Pretty both smart, unique and funny combination.

  29. sarah

    2015-01-12 at 6:16 PM

    Hi. Thanks for encouraging people to embrace their style no matter where they live. I live in a very unfashionable area where everybody almost wears really dull clothes like jeans and a black jacket all the same like they are scared to express themselves. It takes courage to wear what I really want. I wish more people would including me. It makes you feel so much better.

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  33. Zay

    2016-04-25 at 6:04 PM

    I don’t even know what to say… Read this article and get a glimpse into that strange alienating future that has already befallen Brixton, Peckham, and Dalston.. of £5000 clothes on a person next to the pound shop, snapping shots of themselves for their instagrams and blogs, where people are buying food because they can’t afford it elsewhere, and these guys – with their expensive clothes on a backdrop, that is lending them for free the “coolness” of a grime they have most probably never experienced or lived.

    And all because what you can’t afford is to buy a house where you really want to live. Tottenham is not your first choice. I’m terribly sorry about that. But maybe if you sell a couple of those ever-so-expensive clothes you’ll be able to afford to get out of the ghetto. Just be mindful not to try and sell them in Tottenham, because nobody has ever heard of Dolce and Gabbana, Miu Miu, Dior, and that down these ends let alone famous shopping areas in their own city.

    Quite possibly the most patronising, arrogant, humble-bragging variety of drivvel I have ever read. I won’t be reading this blog again, that’s for sure.

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