I’ve got a, yup, new look and it’s somewhere between the cut-price high-street clothing shop and Dior’s post-war collection.
I cut my hair off into a short bluntish bob and an even shorter fringe, or minge (a gut-bustingly funny portmanteau of mini-fringe) as I’m referring to it, beating potential mockers to the punch. I’d say good doppelganger would be Amelie while bad (and probably more realistic) doppelganger might be Hey Arnold’s girlfriend Helga.
But yeah, new hair, new silhouette, new look. A subtle shift, mind you, not necessarily an excuse to rush out and buy a whole new wardrobe (I don’t need excuses…)
The way you dress and style yourself is, whether you like it or not, a profound unspoken signal to the world. It follows then, that it needs to cohere as an idea. For example, those boho blouses or flowing 70’s empire-line jobbies look superb with artfully mussed up centrally parted hair, just as a sleek column dress paired with a delicious chignon just seems right. (Spoiler alert: OBVIOUSLY there are no hard and fast rules OBVIOUSLY and the beauty of getting yo style up in here is doing what the hell you want). But I think the heady zenith of finding your own style, a way of articulately telling the world who you are, is to pledge full allegiance to a form that works for you, whatever the weather.
Hence a slightly unexpected foray into sharp lines and shoulder-pads.
My blunt new barnet can take a bold new shape, and I’ve found myself wistfully pining for a little androgyny in my life. Just call me Diane Keaton, I’ve fallen in love with a blazer.
Until now, I’ve always rather had impostor syndrome when it came to tailoring. I’m not a hard-hitting business woman, I’ve said to myself, I’m not a supply teacher who dresses in a quest to be taken seriously. It always summons up something inherently corporate and not a little depressing- ill-fitting polyester, trouser hems too high, sleeve length inexplicably too low, like a 1st former being bought school uniform which will last until his final year.
Anyway, it’s uncomfortable, dated and expensive. OR SO I THOUGHT. For it is not so, mon frere! I’m debunking those myths once and for all.
-Uncomfortable- untrue! Sure, badly-made shit is, but then all badly-made shit always is. I had to chuck a ‘cosy’ jumper made in the synthiest of synthetic fibres because I could have powered the whole of Las Vegas with the amount of static I was creating.
So invest- and go a size up. This makes all the difference and looks so much more effortless than simultaneously trussing up and spilling out. I like the ‘What, this old thing?’ vibe something oversized gives an outfit, all the while making you look all svelte and lovely because I JUST CAN’T FILL THIS?!
-Dated- not necessarily. Again, the size up is your friend here, and as long as you add it into an unexpected mix: a mini-dress, opaque tights and long boots maybe, or over a polo-neck, boyfriend jeans and sleek ankle boots; and not down the matchy-matchy jacket and tailored trousers plus shirt route, the job is very much a good’un. I also want to say that the usual ending point for blazers or tailored jackets (stopping just short of the widest point of the hips) makes me look like a sofa. Which is why I’m favouring the long-line blazer, i.e. stopping underneath the bottom which avoids being dissected like meat in a butchers.
- Expensive- ah, you caught me. Yes, good quality tailoring is spenny. I’d say buy as good as you can afford. Places like Whistles, Reiss, Jigsaw and french brands like Claudie Pierlot or Sandro regularly have beautifully crafted pieces, and in the sale they become down-right affordable. I’ve got around the scary price-tag conundrum by buying mine at half-price rates.
Even at a slightly higher price-point, I can justify it because of the trusty ol’ cost-per-wear algorithm. Now I’ve thrown off the shackles of worrying whether or not I’ll look like a poor-man’s Hillary Clinton, I genuinely see myself wearing this silhouette, and more specifically these pieces, for years to come. So, it’s an investment, see? (Although I whisper that to myself even as I consider a pair of white pointy ankle boots, so it might not have much authority coming from me. But when it comes to suiting, it is true).
So anyway, my haul: One Sandro, one Jigsaw, both bloody lovely, built to last, and very classic.
My Sandro-sale find is a wool-blend brown houndstooth with a pleasing (metaphorical) whiff of the grockly old gent’s members club. Over a logo t-shirt, high-waisted jeans, and pointy courts or ankle boots, or polo-neck and mini-skirt, it immediately comes into its own. It looks chic but effortless, old-school yet unforced. It neutralises the potential naff of anything (my penchant for over-the knee boots and crotch-grazing hemlines are swerved sharply out of Pretty-Woman-territory with the addition of some heritage tweed lapels) and gives everything a bit of structure and class.
The Jigsaw specimen is again a wool-blend, and (almost) warm enough to earn coat-status. This one is a solid colour, a dark denim blue, rather than patterned, which renders it (if possible) even more versatile. Incidentally- don’t really worry about the patterned stuff, even if it’s quite a punchy check or tweed. Treat as a neutral and take any resulting clash in your stride.
I’m pleased I stopped giving big shoulders the cold shoulder and have welcomed these items gratefully into my (ever-so-slightly tweaked) wardrobe, embracing my new look while looking to the new season ahead.