Seven style vices which you should never feel guilty about
Have you noticed how science and men’s health experts have become practiced dispensers of vice validation? You know the kind of thing: eating your weight in chocolate will provide enough antioxidants to power you through the inevitable onset of diabetes type 11; gym avoidance challenges the body’s status quo and may be a positive boost to fitness, etc …
Well, two can play that game and it seems only fair that fashion, with all its certainties and gridlock of do’s and don’ts should be subjected to a similar process of close examination.
1 Going “mad” in the sales can be good for your wardrobe:
Ok, we probably need to define crazy. In this context it means falling head over heels (not literally, that isn’t chic) for an item that doesn’t obviously fit into your meticulously constructed spreadsheet of requirements. Wardrobes, and for that matter, personal style, thrive on micro doses of spontaneity and unexpectedness. If your object of desire is something you have always found beautiful and life enhancing — a heavenly ball of tulle, the world’s most fluttery floor length dress, an exquisitely embroidered vintage kimono — chances are you will continue to love it for the rest of your life, and find a way to wear it. Even if you don’t? Amy Smilovic, the smart, in every sense, founder and designer of Tibi, recently told me that she has yet to wear a Loewe dress she bought earlier this year, but that the sight of it in her wardrobe brings her daily pleasure. We could probably all use a little creative anarchy in our style matrix.
2 Still thinking you’re 27 is the key to Joie de Me:
Not 22 (still wearing hotpants and skanky bargain bin grunge). Not 25 (haven’t sussed out the work thing yet) … 27 is a key marker on the style journey. You are beginning to understand what suits you, acquiring tastes that may still be above your means and ready to ditch the ironic nail art but you haven’t lost your sense of adventure. This isn’t about being delusional, but optimistic. Women who
— give or take — aren’t afraid to challenge the norms of what a 40 or 50 or 60 are the ones who most often look most comfortable in their skin. For all their risk taking, you rarely if ever see Naomi Watts, Emmanuel Alt, Susan Sarandon, Lauren Hutton, Charlotte Gainsbourg or even Gwyneth Paltrow getting their style wrong, age wise, not least because through years of experience they have refined the details. Remember too, that occasional slip-ups are better than that sinking quietly into that so called ‘safe haven’ of greige.
3 Bag fetishes can reap their own rewards:
You cannot move for bags, yet find yourself lusting after the latest Fendi. This is only a problem if you can’t bear to part with the ones that no longer bring you joy, the ones stuffed in the furthest recesses, the ones that are falling apart. In this case, make an immediate appointment with vestiare.com, rebelle.com or archlabelagency.com all of whom will come to your house and collect your discard. If necessary the first two can dispatch a professional to sort through your pile for you. Be ruthless. You can always recall them if you’re swamped with seller’s remorse. But you probably won’t, once the money starts coming in. With the proceeds you can then buy yourself the bag of your (current) dreams. Make it a clas-
sic that holds its value reasonably well, such as Gucci’s Bamboo, or brush up on the flourishing market of nicely made, imaginatively designed bags in the £300-450 range.
4 5 Sticking to the classics can still be exciting:
Even something as seemingly straightforward as pearls can present all kinds of interesting detours. “People take it for granted that pearls will cast a glow on their skins,” says Chrissie Coleman Douglas, “and if you get them right, it’s true. They’re an instant facelift. But most people end up with the wrong shade of pearls.” That doesn’t mean you can’t have the colour you want, but that you need to look at its undertones. No two grey pearls are identical. Skins that tan easily look best with warm shades. That means white pearls that sit at the creamier end of the spectrum, dusty pinks, dark foamy greens. Redheads look sensational with deep olives and frosty whites, while a dark haired, dark eyed and pale skin configuration calls out for green or pink overtones”. It’s only when you try on subtly different tones of the same colour that you see what she means. Once you have, there’s no turning back.
Repeat buying? What’s the problem?
Practice makes per-
fect. Provided you’re constantly honing your knowledge and raising your game, it doesn’t necessarily matter that you have a wardrobe full of trousers, provided you wear them all and there’s a variety of current shapes, from curve flattering paperbag waistbands to skinnies. Whatever your peccadillo, work it until you are the definitive guru on the subject. Then set up a web-blog, an instagram account and a Whatsapp support group and make a fortune selling your own brand of the world’s most flattering trouser shapes.
6 7 A daily uniform of grey, navy, black and white is NOT boring:
At least it all goes together, and when you eventually branch out into red or yellow, as the laws of colour gravity dictate you will, boy will they pop. Consider dripping olive, maroon and baby blue into the mix. Or break things up with stripes, trims and textures. For a lesson in how to work a tight palette to maximum advantage, look at lalignenyc.com. Set up by two former American fashion editors and Rag & Bone’s ex-business developer, its clothes and imagery are a mastercclass in the edited rainbow.
It’s not the same as facile: Whichever way you slice it, this has been
Triviality is good for the soul.
one of those weeks when giving a nano second’s thought to whether or not the matchesfashion.com sale will ever start on its UK site, or stressing about not being able to find time to get one’s disastrous roots situation fixed seems like a betrayal of everything we know to be actually, properly important.
The essence of this dilemma has been evident across all social media over the past few days. How soon after a terrorist attack is it reasonable to post a thigh-gap picture of yourself in St Barts (may I suggest never?). Are the endless Love trumps Fear and school-of-kumbaya proverbs any more helpful? (Depends on your tolerance levels for prayer hands emoticons). Is Snapchat the best forum for a serious debate on the demerits of each political party?
Even seasoned performers such as James Corden, in London last month to present that most American of imports, The Late Late Show, sometimes struggle to get the tone right.
On the other hand, the superficial and the profound are both human traits and sometimes they happen to overlap. Focus on the breath — and try visualising creating more space in your wardrobe while you’re at it. Before you know it, you’ve added a Marie Kondo dimension to your usual practice. Now all you have to do is enact it.