In my defence, this photo was taken in 2004. Or something. And I was at a work function. The dress is Willow. The jacket Sass & Bide. The boots Miss Louise. The bag: a vintage clutch that is in the shape of a folded up magazine. The look: TRAGIC.
But man, did I feel like I was rocking it off the charts that night. * wince *
So anyway, with that in mind, here is my Sunday Life column that was published yesterday. Perhaps you can relate…..
There’s a hole in my life called ‘fashion’ and I’m not sure how it came to be there. For years my world was saturated with fashion. I never met a ridiculous trend I didn’t embrace and I rarely saw a red carpet outfit I didn’t covet.
Wandering around shops occupied my lunchtimes and my weekends. Shoes, bags and trends featured heavily in conversations with my girlfriends and sometimes, when I couldn’t sleep, I’d mentally flick through my wardrobe planning future looks.
For much of my adult life, fashion was my sport, my indulgence, my stress-release and my therapy. And now it’s not. Now I don’t care about it and I struggle to remember why I ever did.
It’s been a while since I fell out of love with fashion. I stopped reading high-end fashion magazines long ago and I’ve been largely ignorant of trends ever since I left the industry in 2005. I still have lapses, naturally. There are three pairs of harem pants hanging in my wardrobe near a pair of baggy boyfriend jeans and they all fight for the title of The Most Unflattering Garment Ever To Grace My Body. Generally though, my relationship with fashion seems to have reached an entirely different level. And it’s left me a bit baffled.
Recently, I went to my school reunion and when I mentioned to a friend how much I was looking forward to it, the first thing she said was: “What are you going to wear?”. My reply was this: “……………” That’s how little thought I’d given – or wanted to give – my choice of outfit.
On the night of the reunion, as I quickly jumped into a pair of jeans, black top and black jacket, I suddenly realised how peripheral clothes have become in my life. Once, I would have taken great pleasure in planning just the right outfit for a significant occasion like that. Once I would have used clothes to tell a story or to make a statement about myself. Once I would have spent time trawling my wardrobe for JUST the right thing and after not finding it, would have then trawled Westfield.
But now I want my clothes to disappear into the background. I don’t want to make a fashion statement or any kind of statement. Not with my clothes. I don’t want what I’m wearing to get in the way of conversations or create preconceptions. I just want to be me. And ‘me’ no longer cares about being on-trend.
Wait, I don’t want to sound sanctimonious about this. I don’t want to be all, ‘I’m so much more evolved than silly people who like fashion’. How you dress has no bearing on your IQ and it’s entirely possible to be fashionable and still be yourself. For some women, it’s the same thing.
A few weeks ago I saw a newspaper picture of Heidi Middleton and Sarah Jane Clarke of Sass & Bide. They looked amazing. I was going to describe to you what they were wearing but I just tried and it looked ridiculous written down so I deleted it. Instead, I’ll just say the overall picture was of two women in their thirties who looked extremely fashionable, totally comfortable and utterly authentic. These two live at the pointy end of the fashion world and always have. Sarah-Jane and Heidi are around my age and they’ve always dressed in a unique, fashion-forward way that has been completely appropriate. For them.
I am in awe of such women. Oh so many times I’ve seen a picture like this and slavishly tried to copy it. The results have ranged from sad to stupid. Frequently, I’ve looked like a child playing dress-ups or a poodle wearing a jacket. But when fashion is in your DNA, you never look try-hard. You may look different or eccentric but you carry it off. Finally, I’ve realised it’s not what they’re wearing but the way they’re wearing it that I want a piece of. Unfortunately, that’s something you can’t buy in a shop.
While writing this column, something suddenly occurred to me. Is it possible I’ve finally arrived in that elusive place where you find your ‘look’? That place I’ve read about in interviews with women who insist they exist outside the insulated fashion bubble where it sometimes seems like designers are playing a giant joke on women, convincing us to wear poo-catcher pants, giant shoulder pads and Minnie Mouse shoes…currently all at once?
If indeed I have found my signature style (well, less signature, more….non-style) I will greet the news with a mix of relief and disappointment. Because I used to derive so much fun from getting dressed. True, there was a degree of pressure involved with pulling together a look that would impress my fashionable colleagues and still enable me to walk without falling over but it’s a form of creative expression I sometimes miss.
The little fashion light inside me hasn’t been extinguished entirely, however. I really, really want to buy one of those jackets Heidi and Sarah-Jane were wearing.
So what about you? Does your attitude to fashion and shopping change depending on your life stage? Or is it an age thing? Do you have that passion for fashion or are you ‘meh’ about the whole caboodle?