It’s London Fashion Week and the magazines are full of wondrous photos of models wearing stunning clothes. I’m not saying I like all of them but the collection from Antoni and Alison which opened the week had me staring wistful, breathless at the page wondering how I could get my hands on one of those witty, easy, yet oh so original, gorgeous, little dresses.
Ever since I can remember I have had a deep and complex relationship with clothes. But really to put it simply I love them. Not all of them, of course – I’m not that easy. I’m not in to designer labels, don’t like ‘rich women’ clothes at all, not very keen on tight clothes (uncomfy), don’t like suitable evening wear (dress codes put me in a mood) or stuff designed with the ‘mature woman’ in mind. Hate, hate, hate that last one – frump city, yuk!
What I do like though are the clothes that I feel talk to me personally, like they’ve been designed and crafted with me in mind. One of my earliest memories of my love affair with clothes was my mother returning from her trip to Israel with a dinky tunic for me. I was only four years old but I knew this miniature masterpiece looked great on me. It was a deep blue, not navy, not quite royal blue but vivid and perfectly toned and it had two lines of intricate fascinating embroidery running down the front. The shape was good for me, A-line and loose and it just slipped over my head, comfortable and cool. And the fabric – soft, soft cotton. Perfect for a little girl. Was it this little number that started my life-long smooch with ethnic stuff and my horror for all things synthetic?
I became a fat child so clothes were a problem as I grew and grew (well, don’t judge me, Kit Kats are so nice and chips are salty and yummy, you know that they are). Things didn’t look so great pulled tight over my round tummy (was it this that triggered my loathing for tight clothes?) and the proportions were all wrong with my skinny legs.
But as I hit adolescence something marvellous occurred – all that weight just fell off me – and I was off again. The brilliance of my emerald green pvc mac with the zany zip with the loop. The cheesecloth top in that crumbly cream, so soft, so far out. The pink flowery dress with square neckline that I wore to my cousin’s wedding – so pretty, so feminine.
Oh clothes – you are my friend and my salvation. You comfort me when I am down, you entertain me on boring evenings out. You’ve worked for me on dates, you’ve won me jobs, got me noticed and singled out. Oh tweed hacking jacket from my Cambridge days – you upped my popularity with the boys no end. Will I ever forget how when I slipped you on to go study in the law library one dismal, dull evening, a dashing prince (Tom Dumont to be precise – I know, great name) sidled up to me and whispered in my ear, ‘Sexy jacket.’
Sweet, sweet moment. Tom, where are you now?
And as a young professional it wasn’t my dazzling personality or ambition that Micky fell in love with. It was my black, flower-emblazoned, cotton jersey playsuit that I wore to our ridiculous first double date when he hadn’t yet realised that I was the woman he would spend the rest of his life with. I knew though. And so did you, my darling outfit.
I could go on and on. I recently went to the wedding of my gorgeous nephew and his beautiful bride – my black, loose jumpsuit with the massive, embroidered necklace and glittery platform sandals made me feel so so good.
As I get old I have to plan my outfits even more carefully, concealing this bit of droopy white flesh, disguising that unpleasant age-related undulation. I don’t mind – I know my sweethearts won’t let me down. They’ll hold tight my wizened hand as I totter forward and they’ll make sure I don’t fall victim to the rules and regulations of what’s considered appropriate for old age. And hopefully they’ll be honest yet tender with me when frightening horses becomes an issue.
Next weekend I am going to a reunion at my old college in Cambridge. I’ve planned my outfit. But of course.
There’s a lovely diaphanous tunic waiting patiently in the wardrobe. Super colourful and whirly with a few glammo sequins scattered around the neckline. I’ll clinch it in at slightly below the waist with a big, black belt and then underneath the whole shebang I’ll wear this real tight long sleeved lycra t shirt, (NB tight and synthetic perfectly ok in this context – playing with shape here you see) and black leggings and chunky black suede boots. I’ve got this black feather boa with sequins that I’ll throw round my neck for extra va voom and over the top I’ll wear my old black goat skin that is a touch rock-starry yet very Himalayan mountains. I may wear a hat. Unless I feel it’s too much.
Or I might wear something else.
The invite says black tie. Do you think I’ll be alright? That I’ll be noticed? Will I get the attention I crave? Is it seemly for a woman of my age to still want to define herself by her outward appearance? Probably not and believe me I am working hard on my interior life. But when I want to go out and have fun it’s my clothes I’m going OUT LOUD with – not my self-improvement webinar recording.
That’s all I’m saying.
Are you having a love affair with your clothes or some other form of self expression? Or maybe you have a hidden passion that you are yearning to be OUT LOUD about? If so please contact me at and we can start the conversation.