From Columbia Road flowers to defiant culottes, here’s how to have fun on the fourteenth
Ah, Valentine’s Day. Conjures up all kinds of images, doesn’t it? And few them good. On a day loaded with forced romance and chocolate-covered clichés, we advise smug couples to hide out at home with hardcore liquor and the number for Relate, while singletons and daters get out there in public and laugh in the face of convention.
Guys ‘n gals, here the PHOENIX survival guide.
THE DATE LOWDOWN FOR MEN
First things first: going on a date on Valentine’s day is BOLD, especially for men – but it also suggests a certain confident insouciance that we love. However, if you’re going for it, you need to get it absolutely right, from food to spending to wardrobe.
We strongly advise Londoners to head East for a laid-back vibe – high-end central and West London venues are too likely to be crammed with Russian sugar daddies, rip you off and make you both stiff (not in a good way).
First, if you’re going to bring flowers (and you should, it’s an alpha move), head to the florists from Columbia Road, who now have space in Shoreditch’s pop-up mall, Boxpark. These guys can make you something subtle, seasonal and bespoke. Even better? Take your date and let him or her pick out a bouquet.
For dinner, saunter over the road to Pizza East. The menu is priced just right – expensive enough for a treat, but not crippling if you’re shouldering the entire load (which you should. Dutch tonight is unforgivable). The food is relaxed but indulgent, and check out the wine list before you go to avoid fumbling over your pinot noirs. The buzzy industrial vibe with smooth over any awkward silences, and there are plenty of cosy corners to tuck into. Book now.
Wardrobe should be kept classic – tonight, peacocking speaks of insecurity. Try a pair of dark jeans, a crisp white oxford shirt, and a soft sweater that your date might be able to imagine snuggling into for breakfast – in a bright colour or daring print to add a wink of personality. For shoes, box-fresh monochrome trainers get the easy/effort balance just right.
Nike trainers, £65 / Alexander McQueen Skull Contrast Crew-Neck Knit Jumper, £715 / AMI Classic Oxford Shirt, £119 / UNIQLO Slim Fit Straight Jeans, £25
THE SINGLE WOMAN’S GUIDE
Forgive us for singling out the unfettered female population – but you’re the ones who’ll be offered the most opportunities for self-hatred on Valentine’s. If you follow these guidelines, we promise you’ll make it out alive – and, dare we say it, having actually enjoyed yourself.
Firstly, get yourself to Hawker House, Street Feast’s new indoor venue, running Friday’s and Saturday’s until April 4th in Shoreditch. With the best food, drinks and vibes around, you can stuff yourself silly without the air of desperation that creeps into nightlife on the 14th, or the worry of having to cram yourself into sexy lingerie afterwards. Win-win.
Fashion wise, Valentine’s presents the perfect opportunity for a single girl to rock man-repelling but attitude-boosting trends such as culottes, fedoras, Mom jeans or brogues. Also try the new mauve beauty trend – purple eye shadow anyone? Yes. Yes you can.
Our final word of advice? Avoid tinder. It will end in tears. You have been warned.
J Crew blue cotton shirt, £23 / River Island culottes, £35 / H&M high waisted blue jeans, £30 / Uniqlo white oxford, £15 / Grenson oxford lace up shoes, £72 / Rag & Bone woollen hat, £162 / Burberry eyeshadow, £23 / Topshop lipstick, £7.83
TO ALL THE COUPLES
A final Valentine’s plea: be loved up. Buy presents. Receive flowers. But for God’s sake, keep it off social media. The ratio between volume of Instagram photos to longevity of relationship has yet to be scientifically proved, but it’s only a matter of time. Step away from the smartphone, sweethearts.