In which I take leave of my fashion senses
Sometimes, fashion treats you right. This winter, apparently, it was all about Hitchcock Blondes and lots of black and a few stripes if you felt particularly daring. I rose to the challenge admirably, as my entire wardrobe still bespeaks the fact I was once a fat goth, and so is a temple to black.
Stripes? Well, when I was young we were told that horizontal stripes made you look fat and vertical stripes made you look like a cafe awning... but bugger it, I was game. I've always thought that it's probably a good idea to wear these styles of clothes which everyone knows are deeply unflattering, as it levels the playing field. Who's to know that you are a genuine fat person in skinny jeans? *Everyone* is a fat person in skinny jeans.
I went on a rare clothes shopping spree last week (for me, visiting more than two clothes shops in a day counts as a spree; more than four is a rampage) and checked out the finest the High Street had to offer. As I get older, I get more and more set in my ways over a lot of things; but in clothes terms the reverse seems to be true. I now wear things I would have openly scoffed at only two years ago.
Example: I have just bought a pair of satin ballet pumps. With ribbons. Ribbons that you lace up your legs, like Margot Fonteyn or a ten-year-old in a bun. I cannot fathom why I did this: it can't be that I long to be a ballerina. I *was* a ballerina - or at least I did ballet, for several years in fact, in an attempt to correct my disgraceful childhood pigeon-toed gait. I became obsessed with it for a while - all the photos from my First Communion feature me in first position, toolishly.
But the sad fact was, I was rubbish. I could do the arms no problem, but the leg bit totally eluded me, and eventually I was put out to pasture in the class with all the fat kids (I was then a thin kid; it all went wrong aged 12). Anyway, it's not a part of my life which necessarily kindles any strong feelings in me. Neither is my current life likely to lead me into any emergency from which the only escape is the magic of dance.
But this purchase has me worried; am I now going to start uncontrollably buying clothes I find inherently ridiculous? Has my brain become suffused with the misplaced belief that I can accessorize without looking like Coco The Clown? I don't really own any jewellery - four necklaces, maybe, mostly presents. I usually have a ring, but I've lost it and I can't be arsed to buy another one. Earrings? Well, when the holes in your lobes are a centimetre wide, your options are limited and costly.
Then last week, out of the blue, I bought a hairband. And not just any hairband. It's lace. It's - for want of a better word - fancy. It makes me look even more like Princess Beatrice than usual. In fact - god - all my new clothes are making me look more like Princess Beatrice.
Further evidence that I've taken leave of my senses came in the form of The Tea-Dress. I bought it on a whim, hoping it was summery (it's not; it's black and red, and makes me look like I should be serving antipasto with a sneer somewhere with checked tablecloths). And then Matt came over, saw me in it, and said words I had never had addressed to me before: "Oh, that's a pretty dress."
I don't think I've ever owned a "pretty dress". People who own pretty dresses watch Desperate Housewives and have pedicures. They're high-maintenance. I'm a scruffy student trapped in the body of a journalist.
I can only conclude it's my job that's changed me. Working in the smartest office in the world (TM) with immaculately groomed 40something women who work hard to look 30 is rubbing off. The trouble is, I'm also trying to look 30 now - but from the wrong side. And it's not working.
Therefore, I have devised some rules which I am going to stick to when I next go shopping, in the hope that I can restore some calm to my wardrobe. We're not having the jolly sequinned cardigan debacle all over again, I'll tell you that.
1) No more black. I am not a fat goth, and summer is coming.
2) City shorts are the work of the devil. They are merely the culottes which I so despised in the early 90s in another hellish incarnation. Why not just wear a skirt, or trousers? It's not exactly the hardest decision in the world. Pick one or other, not some half-arsed middle-ground, which will make you look like Dawn French as George in Five Go Mad In Dorset.
3) Just because I was not allowed to wear the following things while growing up is no reason to wear them now - ballet shoes, hotpants, tutus (I am serious - I feel a strange affinity with netting in skirts), red lipstick, white foundation, the colour purple.
4) I will give brown another chance. Ever since being forced into a brown school uniform - brown pleated skirt, beige jumper, brown tie, brown blazer with gold piping, brown she-brogues - I have not been able to look at brown clothes without suppressing a shudder of horror. Sadly, brown suits me, and I need to accept this.
5) I will never buy cheap shiny suit trousers because I am poor, as they look awful and sometimes go so shiny across the buttock you start sliding off your chair at work.
6) Tulip skirts - what's the point? My arse is big enough already.
7) In the epic Miltonian battle between the thong and the French short, there could only be one winner. The thong must be cast out into the wilderness and spurned like a rabid dog.
8) That which looks good on SJP does not look good on me. Ditto Sienna Miller.
9) No more ballet pumps. I love them, but I need to branch out.
10) Absolutely no cropped ANYTHING - from jackets to trousers. Just makes you look like you're in denial about your size.
Dear me, that was shallow, wasn't it? Don't worry, W has just sent me Kabbalah and Criticism by Harold Bloom, so the next post could well be about mystical Jewish texts. After a thousand words of that, you'll be begging me to write about my feelings on city shorts again.