DRESSING DOWNS ARE A GODSEND
Who lets their husband-to-be veto their wedding dress? Stylist Liadan Hynes did, and is glad he saved her blushes
As a rule, I like to shop alone. I essentially shop for a living, so shopping to me is not a leisure activity. When friends suggest an afternoon spent browsing, I have to remind them that it would be like me suggesting that we hang out at their office. I don't want to faff around in shops. I tend to buy, then try on at home.
More than this, though, I’m generally not interested in the opinions of others when it comes to purchasing clothes.
As I get older, I find that, increasingly, I keep to a uniform. I know what I like, and what tends to work and, mostly, I stick with it. If I like it, then I'm happy. Bar one rather important exception to this rule: the husband.
I'd like to think it's mainly because if anyone shares the objective of you looking your very best self, surely it's your husband. And, if anyone is going to be comfortable not beating about the bush when it comes to informing you that you look downright ridiculous, it is he.
I bought a pair of navy, white and pink trousers in Marks & Spencer recently. “Clown pants,” the husband said immediately when I walked out of the fitting room. “Like something mothers used to wear in the Eighties,” he followed up, having taken another baffled look at said pants, which, annoyingly, is exactly what my own mother said when she saw them.
One of the first things the husband noticed about me when we met was that I was wearing what were later described as obnoxiously large Prada sunglasses. They've long since been replaced.
Once an outfit has been given a thumbs-down, I find it almost impossible to take it seriously. He's generally annoyingly right about these things, which makes it even harder to ignore when he doesn't like an outfit.
Most of these garments have never made it beyond the front door. Others have been worn defiantly a few times, before retiring in quiet defeat. A pair of MC Hammer dropped-crotch harem pants, which I fondly imagined had a sort of equestrian look to them, made it to the bottom of the stairs on several occasions, to be greeted by hilarity or head shaking. Needless to say, they never made it any farther, for which I am now thankful.
Maybe it's also to do with the fact that he knows me better than anyone — if he doesn't like something, it's probably because it's not really suiting me.
A pair of leather hot pants, which induced a subtle raised eyebrow, and a silent bewildered shaking of the head, have never made it out of the wardrobe since. I now admit to myself they might be a touch Freddie Mercury.
I have never really been able to take a leather biker jacket seriously after he pointed out its similarity to Sandy's costume in the final scene in Grease. Despite several brave efforts, it has never made it past the last outfit check in the hall mirror.
A dress bought for Christmas Day, and worn in a defiant spirit in the face of a mild query as to whether the attached flouncy cape was really a good idea, has been consigned to the charity bag.
I got married last year and, bar my mother, the husband was the only person whose opinions I took into account when it came to the purchasing of The Dress. The first option was jettisoned after I was told, in no uncertain terms, it was too short — people possibly glimpsing your underwear is not something you ever want to worry about when it comes to a wedding dress.
I'm always baffled by the notion of keeping the dress a surprise for the groom. Does any man actually care what the wedding dress is like, beyond the fact that the bride looks nice in it? Is the surprise of whether you've gone for pure white, ivory or cream really an essential ingredient to the enjoyment of his big day?
If he doesn't like it, surely this is feedback that is better received at purchasing stage, rather than in a frozen smile at the top of the aisle — we always know when our other half doesn't like what we're wearing.
It kills me to admit it, but my lovely navy, white and pink M&S printed trousers have yet to make it out of the wardrobe. And now that the summer’s over — and with it the sort of hot weather that makes wearing that sort of thing acceptable — it's unlikely they ever will. It’s probably for the best.