Some people remember meals they’ve eaten, places they’ve visited, people’s faces, evocative smells, I remember what I wore (and often what other people wore.) In fact I think I was born to be a fashionista! By that, I don’t mean I spend my life in designer clothes, far from it, but I do ‘think’ a lot about clothes. It’s a passion.
One of my earliest memories is a white party dress, the top layer was soft net with a self-pattern. It had a blue satin ribbon around the waist and I had a baby blue, angora bolero to wear on top. I wore it to my dad’s “works’ party” and I was three. I don’t have any photos of the dress, just a picture in my mind. The following year I had a yellow dress, with turquoise flowers attached to the waistband, the next a white, ‘broderie anglaise’ dress with a wide blue satin sash, copied by my mum from a dress worn by Princess Anne. Then there was a pale blue dress with a sheer top layer and satin ribbons attached and lastly, a white organza dress covered in pink rosebuds. The following year my dad changed his job, we moved to another town and the annual party and annual party dress ended. From those early years, I remember too, the teal and orange dress with matching knickers I was wearing when, aged six, I fell out of a tree into a load of stinging nettles. I can also picture the dress I was wearing the first day at a new school when I was eight, (and importantly, the outfit the girl who became my best friend was wearing.) I know what I wore the night I went out to celebrate finishing my ‘A’ levels and the outfit I wore on my first day at uni….. I could go on!
My mother was a fantastic dressmaker and in my teenage years, with aspirations to be a fashion designer, I used to draw a picture of an outfit and she’d make it for me to wear the next Saturday night. I spent a lot of my childhood standing on a chair having clothes pinned on me and didn’t own a ‘bought’ winter coat until I was in my twenties.
There was a time when I too, made most of my clothes and I still own a sewing machine, but these days fabrics are expensive and time is short and it’s so much easier to sit with my laptop gazing at clothes before pressing a button to order something new.
My passion for fashion, of course, requires inspiration and since my teens, it’s rare for a month to go by when I don’t buy Vogue. I religiously study the reports on fashion weeks, look at Elle online if I don’t buy the magazine and am always excited to look through the Sunday Times Style at the weekend.
It’s this endless interest in the ever-evolving world of style and fashion I want to explore with you, looking at how we can get the most out of our clothes and ensure we look endlessly fabulous.
HAVE YOU GOT SSS * ?
*Shoe Shine Style
“HOW many pairs do you have?” ……Including flip-flops, trainers, Converses, Vans, Supergas, wellies, boots just to wear on skiing holidays, rubber shoes just for the beach. Eek! I really wouldn’t like to hazard a guess…….
The great thing about shoes is that they always fit. If you’ve got yourself all miserable because you’ve put on a few pounds and don’t want to buy any new clothes until you lose the weight, you can still buy a pair of new shoes to cheer yourself up! Yep! Been there, done that! Break up? New shoes rule! My daughter once had a cat that got run-over by the road sweeper – at SIX o’clock in the morning. We were devastated, but later that day, I found myself looking into a shoe shop and 2 pairs of new shoes later, I felt a lot better. (Please, don’t judge me, I’m not always that shallow!)
There is a catch here however. As we get older, even a lot of women with style seem to morph into the wearing of “comfy” shoes. These often look like adult versions of a kid’s school sandal, (though maybe in pastel Nubuck,) or worse, black, flat, square things that make your feet look cartoonish and seem to produce a waddle. I’ve had conversations with women who say, “Oh but I can’t wear heels anymore, they hurt my feet.” Well I’ve got news for you, they hurt younger women’s feet too! There’s a reason why you’ll often find a basket of white flip-flops at the side of the dance floor when you go to a wedding, and why even young girls at parties end up dancing bare-foot. High heels always hurt! They can successfully be worn when you go to dinner and need only walk from car to table. Obviously this dramatically helps your entrance. But, if it’s a long-winded affair then, be warned, they might hurt by the time you leave. Only sometimes, let’s face it, a bit of pain is worth it, heels look fabulous and give you a swagger. So please, don’t give them up altogether.
On a fashion note, the shape of heels change. Sometimes they’re straight, sometimesconical or curved. Wear the wrong shape and you’re out of fashion. You might be lucky, but the chances are, those classic black courts you bought ten years ago, will have the wrong shaped heel. And on that note, suede is usually more giving and forgiving and therefore more comfortable than leather. But if you have the kind of feet likely to swell in the heat of the moment, then you’ll probably find sling backs are more comfy and never buy tight shoes! But try boots…you can get fabulous, high-heeled boots that look good with the sexiest of evening dresses.
Still it’s not just about heels. There are boring flats that look as if they’ve been designed for people with the flattest feet ever, and there are stylish, fashionable flats that will tip your image from screaming: “I’m getting old!” to “I’m sassy and this is my style”. Chelsea boots, bright coloured or print loafers, silver brogues…..these will elevate your style without causing pain. And a pair of white “tennis shoes” can do wonders to elevate the style of many an outfit. Of course, there are some middle-aged women who defy this desire for comfy flats and stick to what they’ve always worn. A few weeks ago I walked up the volcano on the Italian island of Vulcano. It took nearly 2 hours and it was really hot and as I sat on a rock for a bit of a breather, a French lady of ‘a certain age’ breezed by, in high wedge sandals, a pink floaty dress and wide-brimmed straw hat, looking totally out of place, but also totally fabulous. I’m not advocating this look for mountain walking….but some people will never change.
In the end, it’s about the ‘total look’. Looking great, whatever your age, is a ‘top to toe’ effect. So move out of the aisles of boring shoes, starting looking for inspiration and make sure you’re striding into the next season with #SSS aka: Shoe Shine Style.