“Pole dancing has really improved my confidence!”

by Leigh Morley

If you’re bored of the gym and need a change in routine, then pole dancing could be the fitness regime that’s perfect for you. 21 year old Becky Field explains how this new craze can build your confidence and keep you fit as well, whilst breaking the stereotype that pole dancing is just for strippers.

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“It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, ever since I saw that White Stripes video  with Kate Moss pole dancing in it,” the Sheffield Hallam student explains. “I just thought it looked like so much fun.”

Becky immediately looked into starting pole, but the nearest studio was 20 miles away from her home town and she doesn’t drive. Luckily, other students at Sheffield Hallam had set up a society to teach beginners, and Becky jumped at the chance. “It was perfect, because I was really intimidated at the thought of going into a regular class with other scared people and being completely hopeless.”

Becky, who is also president of the Psychology Society, started classes every other week and soon became addicted. Every other week became a weekly activity, and before she knew it, she was scheduling pole lessons in between classes. Becky explains that she hasn’t been lately due to exams, but confesses that she’s suffering withdrawal symptoms and cannot wait to get back to it.

“It’s such a good laugh, nobody takes themselves too seriously and we can all get on well together and have a good joke in our lessons,” she explains. “It’s helped me make so many friends that I wouldn’t have otherwise spoken to.”

Since starting a few months ago, Becky has improved her strength and learned tonnes of complicated moves, her instructor building up her confidence and coordination at the same time. “I’m not hitting myself on the pole every time now, and my strength has definitely improved,” she adds. Because of pole, Becky explains how she’s found muscles in places she’s never imagined and finally has the strength and confidence to do moves she would never have dreamt of in her first lesson. “The only problem is that now my arms don’t fit in some of my more girly shirts,” she laughs.

Unfortunately, not many people would think that pole dancing comes with such benefits, as the stigma attached to it is quite a negative one. Often associated with the seedy side of stripping, pole fitness is anything but. An article was recently published earlier this year by the NUS Women’s Officer, which had an incredibly pessimistic view of pole dancing, calling for university societies across the UK to ban classes. The pole community caused a huge uproar and eventually the article was retracted.

“There is so much stigma attached to pole it’s unreal,” Becky says. “People need to see past the stereotypical stripper view and see it as a brilliant, fun way to exercise. People like that should even try classes themselves.”

Becky even talks about how her parents were slightly wary of her new hobby at first, when she arrived home one weekend with bruises on her legs. “They weren’t too thrilled at first,” she says. “But I showed them one of my favourite videos online of a performance at a pole dancing competition. It showed the strength and dedication that it requires and they came around. This is why more people need to see things like this, they need to realise how amazing pole fitness can actually be.”

Becky’s experience with pole dancing has been nothing but positive. Since she started, her confidence and health has significantly improved, and she’s been having a lot more fun than she does at the gym.

“I’ve loved every second of this, and I can’t wait to get back to classes and improve over Summer!”

Find more posts by Leigh Morley here

Style Icons: Taylor Momsen

By Leigh Morley

Taylor Momsen has been silent for the last few months, busy writing and recording the second album with her band, The Pretty Reckless. At just the age of 19, the singer has toured the world, had an incredibly successful acting career and has modelled for a number of massive designers. It seems there is no end to this girl’s talents, and it looks like she’s only just beginning.

aaataylormomsen3 Taylor Momsen for Nylon magazine

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Taylor Momsen at Warped Tour

Taylor’s parents put her into acting and modelling at just two years old, and she landed her first commercial for American company Shake ‘n’ Bake immediately. As she grew up, she modelled for various companies and played the role of Cindy Lou in The Grinch, followed by other movies like Spy Kids and Spy School. At fourteen years old, she got the part of little Jenny Humphrey on the hit American drama, Gossip Girl. The actress was catapulted into fame and became known for her alternative dress sense outside the soap.

After two years on the CW show, Taylor decided to quit after finding her calling, singing for her band, The Pretty Reckless. Despite facing some scrutiny by alternative music publications for her glamorous acting past, Taylor proved she was a true musician by hitting number one on the iTunes rock chart and the band’s first single, ‘Make Me Wanna Die’ became the theme song for super hero flick, Kickass.

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Taylor Momsen in Versace

Soon The Pretty Reckless were touring the world and scored headline spots on America’s massive Warped Tour and some of the world’s biggest metal festivals, England’s Download Festival and Germany’s Rock AM Ring.

If that wasn’t enough for Taylor, she became the face of Madonna’s Material Girl line and Samantha Thavasa handbags, both companies choosing to snap her up because of controversial dress sense.

“This is how I want to dress,” Taylor told FHM magazine. “I’m not a slut because I dress the way I do. What’s wrong with dressing like this?”

As well as her dress sense, Taylor was criticized for being the next Courtney Love, but she bit back at critics explaining recently to Nylon Magazine: “I don’t want to be Courtney Love, I want to be Kurt Cobain.”

Taylor Momsen isn’t the type of girl to shy away from controversy, with antics like smoking and flashing on stage, licking a knife and posing with a sword during a photo shoot, and performing a rather racy show with rock god Marilyn Manson at last year’s Golden Gods awards.

With her individual style and amazing shoes, Taylor is one lady worthy of style icon status.

With her band, The Pretty Reckless

With her band, The Pretty Reckless

Read more stories from Leigh here

It’s been a cruel summer for Mermaid Killer

by Leigh Morley

Punk rock entrepreneur and proud vegan Felicity Jayn Heath seems to have it all at just 24. Not content with being a very famous blogger, this Australian babe has to have her own hugely successful clothing line to boot. Polka Dots & Potions grill Felicity on what it’s like to have it all, her unique vegan clothing line, and where the name Mermaid Killer actually came from…

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Since flying home to Australia from the glitzy Los Angeles, Felicity had come to the realisation that an acting career wasn’t what she wanted. When arriving down under, she was no longer under any restraints from the acting industry, and so began dying her hair eccentric colours again, dressing however she wanted, and so stumbled into the world of fashion.

Felicity’s vision stemmed from a mixture of the early 90’s riot grrrl movement, Disney cartoon characters and early noughties punk and ‘emo’ music. The name Mermaid Killer was born, and so was the name for her famous micro blog, ‘Punk Rock Mermaid’.

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Mermaid Killer’s Facebook page has since gained over 4,000 likes and Felicity’s clothing line has exploded into the fashion world. Felicity’s forward thinking attitude and friendly, respectful approach to designing her line has created something completely unique and refreshing.

“I want people to feel like they can wear anything when in Mermaid Killer,” Felicity explains. “I hate this idea of “I love it but I could never pull it off”. Uhm, yes you can. You can do whatever you want and it should make you feel amazing and empowered!”

Felicity talks about her line passionately on her blog, as well as her choice to become a vegan and incorporating that into her Mermaid Killer line.

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The first collection to appear on Mermaid Killer was the Thrash, Riot & Resist range, a nod of appreciation to punk rock music everywhere and has even been worn by famous musicians such as Jenna McDougall, lead singer of pop-punk band, Tonight Alive.

Following this hugely successful collection, Felicity worked extremely hard and released yet another fabulous range, Animalia: Adopted, which featured adorable crew neck t shirts and jumpers with kittens and puppies made into skulls. Adding to the release of this fabulous new collection, 10% of all profits went to the Animal Welfare League.

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The latest range is titled Cruel Summer, something Felicity explained she worked incredibly hard on. All of the designs and clothing were made for a large variety of people, coming in men’s, women’s, plus sizes and gender neutral cuts, something Felicity takes a lot of pride on.

Not only is there equality for buyers of Mermaid Killer, but for the people creating the garments, too. Felicity proudly admits that her company is vegan, ethical and good quality, something that definitely helps her stand out from other designers.

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“Mermaid Killer garments are sourced locally in Sydney through small businesses. I do this to ensure ethical practices and decent pay rates are kept considering I run a vegan clothing company,” Felicity explains. “Considering Sydney is one of the most expensive places to live, it is also one of the most expensive cities in the world to rent real estate. This is reflected in what I pay to get my garments made, which is fine. I also do my best to get high quality garments and high quality printing. The prints are digitally printed and stretch and retract with the movement of the garment, rather than splitting.”

There’s no denying that this punk rock babe has landed on her feet. She’s created something unique and special, she’s done it independently and it’s safe to say, she’s kicking major ass in the fashion world.

Find more posts by Leigh Morley here

Style Icons: Hayley Williams

by Leigh Morley

She’s known as the extremely colourful lead singer of pop-punk band Paramore, and Hayley Williams is one lady deserving of a style icon title.

Her band Paramore recently knocked Justin Timberlake off the number one slot in the USA Billboard charts with their fourth self titled album, not 24 hours into its release. 2013 comes as a welcome good year for Hayley, who suffered a lot of criticism over the years when two band mates quit the band, claiming that Hayley was a ‘glorified solo artist’. Paramore continued as a threesome however, with Miss Williams biting back, adding: “I could never see myself solo. I originally wanted to be the drummer for Paramore, sat all the way back and away from all the attention.”

ImageHayley at Nylon’s 2013 annual pool party

Hayley admits that she was never really fashion concious until the last few years. Her love of experimenting with make up and clothing came when she finally let a make up artist shape her eyebrows during a photo shoot and liked how polished she appeared.
“Before I wouldn’t even wear foundation,” the Now singer said during a recent interview with Nylon. “But soon after that shoot I began playing with eye shadow and more and more things. I was a super tomboy but now I love playing with fashion.”

Hayley’s signature orange hair recently underwent a change when the flame haired songstress dyed half of it pink. Her trademark hair has constantly been imitated, and this new style is no exception. Her famous ‘baby bangs’ has come under scrutiny, but that doesn’t stop her rocking the bizarre fringe.

ImageHayley at the 2013 MTV movie awards. Loving the underpants clutch!

The 24 year old’s quirky style has recently nabbed her the cover of April’s Nylon issue and a contract with MAC make up, something Hayley never thought would happen. The MAC range includes multiple orange products, such as orange lipstick, eye shadow and nail polish, with Hayley admitting it’s because orange is the ‘colour of her soul’.

ImageHayley on stage

Never one to follow the trends, the Paramore singer is rarely seen in heels, and instead would rather wear Vans trainers and hang out with her band mates, Jeremy and Taylor. The monster success of their fourth album is still ongoing, with the band now heading out on a worldwide tour, starting with North America.

ImageWith fellow Paramore bandmates, Jeremy (left) and Taylor (right)

Find more posts by Leigh Morley here

How To Get a Good Tattoo

by Leigh Morley

Since I can remember, I have always wanted to be heavily tattooed. I’ve always seen my skin as a blank canvas that needs to be painted with beautiful pictures. However other people, such as my grandparents and some employers, don’t exactly see tattoo culture the way I do and have opinions based on tattoos they see on the guests of The Jeremy Kyle Show.

Tattoo culture is not someone’s name on your face when you’ve known them for three months. It’s not a flower decorated in tribal on the top of your arm. It isn’t names of your children or some swirls on your foot, or a daffodil exploding into birds on your back. These are just some examples of clichéd, contrived and simply awful tattoos that are etched onto people randomly by a greedy tattoo artist who probably spent less than half an hour designing for their client.

By all means, have your children’s name tattooed on you, but please, get the names tattooed the right way, by someone who actually took the time to get to know your skin. The point is, people are starting to lose sight of what tattooing actually means. These days anybody can open up a studio with the right money and buy a tattoo gun.

Which brings me to my point. The tattoo industry is starting to fall apart, leading people to believe that anyone who makes the commitment to decorate their body is a bit of an idiot.

With Cheryl Cole’s multiple tattoo cover ups on her lower back and ‘that’ hand tattoo that millions have tried and failed miserably to imitate.

ImageOne of Cheryl’s most famous tattoos

Leading tattooist of Loaded Forty Four tattoo studio Danielle Mills explains: “Celebrities like Cheryl Cole, Rihanna and Harry Styles have a lot to answer for.” The celebrities in question constantly make headlines for their poor, mismatched tattoos which people seem to admire. “It kills me because celebrities have the access and the funds to the best tattooists in the world and they come out with the worst. Rihanna and Cheryl’s hand tattoos are abysmal and Harry Styles just gets random bits of crap everywhere that aren’t even placed properly. This leads people to want to copy them, not knowing what a good tattoo even is.”

ImageIt’s safe to say Harry looks a bit like a doodle pad

So how do you know that you’re getting a good tattoo? “Normally any studio who designs the tattoo specifically for your body and has a portfolio to back up their work,” 26 year old Danielle explains. “Anyone charging under a certain amount shouldn’t be worth going to. Normal studios charge a minimum of £25 for any tattoo.”

Adding to that, any studio willing to tattoo hands and fingers without any other part of your body being tattooed is another sin that adds to falling of the tattoo industry. It dates back to tribes where your face and hands are the last parts of your body to be tattooed. These days, those serious about tattooing start their journey with ink in hidden places, then slowly move onto more visible parts, eventually ending in their hands, fingers and knuckles being the final parts of your body to get inked. However, more and more people are taking to getting these body parts tattooed first, without being aware of the implications it may cause. People often turn to scratchers for these tattoos, who are people tattooing from their own home without gloves, a studio and a gun they purchased from the internet.

“Scratchers need to have their fingers cut off,” laughs Danielle, who has been professionally tattooing for over two years. “They have completely ruined the tattoo industry, leading people to believe that if they go to a cheaper alternative, it’ll be easier, but that’s not the case. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a case where someone has gone to a scratcher and gotten a good tattoo. I know this because I spend a lot of time covering them up.”

So with celebrities setting bad examples, scratchers and people losing sight of where is appropriate to begin your tattoo journey, it’s perfectly easy to sum up why it’s giving heavily tattooed people a bad name.

So how can we stop this? “There’s no way we can completely make it stop. People just need to realise that tattoos cost money,” Danielle explains. “Don’t go to scratchers, and work closely with your tattooist for a tattoo that’s best for you.”

ImageOne of Danielle’s famous pieces of Bane from Batman

If it’s just the one tattoo you’re after, then hopefully this article will still speak to you. Hopefully it will help you get your wrist tattoo pointing the right way (the bottom of your tattoo should always face the floor) or will inspire you to go to a studio, and not your friend who recently decided to open up a business from their kitchen.

As for me, I hope to continue my tattoo journey until a lot of my body is covered, but I won’t be touching my fingers or hands until I’m established in a career. Tattooing is a part of my life, it’s who I am, and if you tell me I’ll regret them when I’m older, I won’t. My skin will sag and wrinkle like everyone else’s, but my skin will at least be colourful and have pretty pictures on it.

ImageSome of the work on my body, by Beau Redman at Loaded Forty Four in Swinton

Find more posts by Leigh Morley here

Australian Invasion: Black Milk Clothing

Black Milk is a quirky clothing line originating from Australia that has got the world hooked with its unusual style. The brand specialises in leggings, but also create eye catching dresses, bodysuits, swimsuits and tops .This unusual brand provides stunning, high quality clothing that will get you completely addicted once you make your first purchase (and that will happen!).

Black Milk grabbed the attention of a few popular Australian micro bloggers, such as ‘punkrockmermaid’ and ‘Daisy Lola’ back in 2010. Already hugely popular down under, the rest of the world seemed to catch on when the two ladies began sporting leggings from this unique brand. Pretty soon people were popping up all over the world wearing Black Milk’s signature game boy bodysuits, mermaid leggings and the amazing Artoo dress, taken from their hugely successful Star Wars: Attack of the Clones range.

However despite it’s popularity, there has been some controversy surrounding their prices. The average pair of leggings will set you back around £50, with dresses and bodysuits coming in slightly more expensive at between £60 and £70.Black Milk are actually being pretty reasonable with their prices, considering the amazing material, the printing so it fits the body shape and licensing for their famous Lord of the Rings and Star Wars lines.

Every item is totally worth saving up for. It will last you forever, will  look fabulous and there is no feeling like being an honorary ‘sharkie’, a famous term for people who purchase Black Milk.
Fellow ‘sharkie’ Louise Railton, 22, explains what Black Milk clothing means to her.
“I first ‘nommed’ the jellyfish leggings with some birthday money just over a year ago,” Louise said, after confirming that ‘nomming’ is a popular term used for purchasing Black Milk clothes. “Once they came through the post, I saw how well the design was printed and after wearing them out realised how practical and comfortable they were. I was hooked.”Since then Louise has collected a whole wardrobe of Black Milk leggings, bodysuits and dresses. “They’re so versatile,” Louise adds. “You can wear the leggings and bodysuits with anything, and they’re so quirky, everyone approaches you and asks where you got your clothes from.”

When asked to pick her favourite piece, Louise shakes her head. “That’s probably like picking my favourite child. I’m serious!”

Louise’s collection includes the Shark vs Mermaid Bodysuit, Cross Leggings, Mafia Black Leggings, Reef Dress, Day of the Dead Leggings and the Lawn Leggings, just to name a few.

Here are some of our favourite designs here at Polka Dots & Potions:
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Artoo 2.0 dress: You’ll definitely turn heads in this number. It’s instantly recognisable, and you’ll look like a character from Star Wars. What’s not to love?

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Fellowship Rider leggings: Definitely for fans of Tolkien’s ground breaking Lord of the Rings franchise, these beautiful Fellowship leggings look amazing without the pattern being too over baring, and they will flatter your legs!

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Gamer Pink swimsuit: One of Black Milk’s most famous designs, this totally girly and fun swimsuit will add originality to any outfit!

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Jellyfish suspenders: There’s probably not much to say except we bet you’ve never seen an item of clothing like this before! Dare be different in this bold item of clothing and have everyone talking about your outfit!

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Zombie Red leggings: Perfect for the little part in us all that loves zombies. These leggings will add instant grunge to any outfit and have you looking fabulous!

So there you have it, folks! If our top five pieces aren’t enough to have you filling your basket with edgy leggings and insane dresses, well, we can guarantee you’ll be buying something from Black Milk soon enough anyway!


Find more posts by Leigh Morley

Style Icons: Gwen Stefani

As the front woman of ska-punk superstars No Doubt, Gwen Stefani has been known for her style status, as well as her numerous other projects. Not content with fronting one of the world’s biggest alternative bands, Gwen has formed an amazing solo career, has created L.A.M.B, her hugely successful clothing line and has worked for numerous charities, whilst still finding time to be a wife and loving mother to her son, Kingston.

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No Doubt released their first album ‘Tragic Kingdom’ in 1995 and soon became one of the biggest bands of the 90’s. Their commercial success led them to record breaking heights, when they stayed at number one for 16 weeks in the US Billboard Hot 100 for ‘Don’t Speak’.
It’s (no pun intended) no doubt that Gwen has had an astonishing career, but she’s also known for her addictive and unique style. These days she’s noticed for her trademark platinum blonde locks, teamed with scarlet lipstick.
This bold look first came to Gwen when she was just 25, after spending eight hours in a salon to achieve her white blonde hair. She said that she applied the bright red lipstick her Grandmother gave her in high school and instantly loved it.
Gwen says of the discovery: “I remember sitting in my ghetto, beat-up Honda Prelude and putting on that lipstick in the rear view mirror and being like, ‘Uh-huh, I like that. That’s the shit right there.’ I never stopped after that.
However, Gwen’s signature look did come after some experimentation in the 90’s, where she was rarely seen without a bindi, flashing her stomach and bright pink or blue hair. She even rocked adult braces, the only trend she didn’t set.
Even when she had a few rare faux pas, like the braces and having No Doubt music video ‘Looking Hot’ taken off YouTube due to cultural appropriation [the band were dressed as Native Americans and suffered criticism for being politically incorrect],Gwen is still well and truly, a fashion icon. Her adventurous, fun loving style and timeless beauty has firmly placed her on the style map
Gwen Stefani, we salute you!