A recent piece by US Vogue listing fashion risks you should have taken by the age of 30 caught my eye. At first I felt affronted, why on earth should risks only be taken in your twenties I wondered? I’m not keen on the media telling women over 40 they shouldn’t wear mini skirts, bikinis or their hair long as you know so I’m all for experimentation – within reason of course. However, the points resonated so loudly and painfully I had to have a lie down. Because with the exception of no.8, I have absolutely assessed (to a greater or lesser degree) and then taken all ten fashion risks, the memory of which gives me insight as to why some women now shop solely at Boden for chinos and Breton tops.
Have a look and see what you think, and don’t let no.1 put you off because I am fully aware that only the really hard core fashion victims among us have done this one and if you must know, I for one actually did it post 30. I’ll do it again too. So there.
1. Stepped out in thigh-high boots and a miniskirt at least once.
I have lovely black suede Top Shop thigh high boots. I was nervous about wearing them at first and so I broke them in by wearing them under a midi length dress. This may sound ridiculous and somewhat missing the point but dresses rise and reveal knee when you sit down so there was method to my madness. On collapsing on the sofa in front of my son’s father at the end of the day, he spotted the boots and said, “Ooo look at Mummy’s boots…” in a tone which suggested his next sentence might be “Let’s make Mummy a cup of tea just in case this is the onset of post natal depression”. Whoever you are and however expensive the boot, a thigh high style will always draw attention to the area of your leg you probably hate the most. People will look. Need I say more?
2. Adapted something from a school girl’s uniform-pleated skirt, Peter Pan collar, or over-the-knee socks for your working wardrobe.
My son starts school this September. His extremely middle class school doesn’t have a uniform. If he at the age of four isn’t going to be wearing a uniform then neither am I. But yes, I still have over the knee socks in my drawer and yes, I have worn them to work. With regards to their appropriateness – see no.1.
3. Exposed a cowboy boot.
Exposed a cowboy boot for being what I wondered? The wild west wannabe version of the more cool biker boot? Being responsible for Jason Donovan’s court case with The Face magazine over his alleged homosexuality? I bought my cowboy boots from Faith in 1988 for £40. They were fab, they still are and every time I go to my mum’s house I get them out of the cupboard and give them a little stroke before putting them back. My rugby playing friend Ian’s two daughters looked so horrified when I told them that daddy also had a pair of cowboy boots in the late 80s that I worry I have damaged their relationship forever. Oh well.
4. Taken to the streets in a nightgown.
Some night dresses are too good to be worn in bed only. My mum has two Janet Reger silk styles that look like Versace evening gowns. She hasn’t worn them out and neither have I but I have always intended to. On the occasion that I went out in the evening in a nightgown it was a crappy old M&S one. It wasn’t a statement but it was misguided, but that’s what being 17 is all about surely.
5. Done sequin pants for day.
OK, here’s the thing; shiny fabrics add pounds and show up lumps and bumps in the worst way possible. A sequin is a mini mirror. Cover your legs in sequins and they will appear to multiply in size by however many sequins make up the ‘pants’. Personally I like the idea of them but try a pair of sequin trousers on and
you very quickly realise not only will you make a crunching sound every time you sit down but having squished and bent sequins on your arse for the rest of the evening is not a good look.
6. Gone goth, punk, or grunge for the night.
For the night? Are they kidding? I did grunge for most of my three years at drama school. It did nothing for my figure or my confidence and I ended up briefly with a bloke who dressed the same way – totally not my thing. To do grunge with aplomb you need to be flat chested and to do convincing goth you should be milky of skin and genuinely love The Cure. I probably would have been safer trying punk.
7. Reinvented an oversize men’s blazer as a dress.
I wore my boyfriend’s tuxedo over a pair of fishnet tights one new year’s eve and I have to say it looked smokin’. I’d do it again and would urge others to do the same. It’s so much easier than worrying about cleavage spill and holding your stomach in all night.
8. Blown your tax return on a pair of skinny leather pants and regretted it.
If I’d ever had a tax return big enough to buy a pair of leather jeans I would have regretted it but only because the PVC versions I have from H&M are so damn convincing as the real thing. It’s a crime to spend more than £29.99 on something which will quite possibly give you Thrush.
9. Worn a “signature” hat.
I have an oddly large head and so buying hats is a nightmare. The last hat I bought was from a menswear department and my boyfriend asked if I was trying to look like Michael Jackson (I wasn’t). I have in the past worn baseball caps, cowboy hats and flat caps. None of them lasted long enough to be called ‘signature’ as they gave me a headache and left a ridge around my forehead. Perhaps that is my signature.
10. Referenced at least two of the following for inspiration: Joan Jett, Jane Birkin, Bianca Jagger, Stevie Nicks, Kurt Cobain, or Anita Pallenberg.
Stevie Nicks = grunge so see no.6.
Re: Bianca Jagger – I so don’t want to recount the story of how I bought a white polyester trouser suit to wear to the London offices of Vogue but I can see I am left with no choice. In my 20s I reached the final of the Vogue writing competition. Lunch was hosted by the current editor Alexandra Schulman and various other high profile journalists such as Nigella Lawson and Lisa Armstrong. I thought I looked terrific and oh so Vogue. In fact I looked like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever only with less slinky hips. FYI, those who work at Vogue tend towards a more subtle and grown up look of cashmere and silk rather than fashion victimy high street trends. I didn’t win needless to say. And I have always thought that Carrie Bradshaw’s ‘Drunk at Vogue’ episode had nothing on my ‘Badly Dressed at Vogue’ one.