Last week, I took part in a really fun photoshoot with Agnes B in which I had to style up one of the chic French brand’s classic Little Black Dresses as I would wear it. As you may have noticed by now, I’m more than a little bit obsessed with "Mad Men"’s Megan at the moment. And as the dress I’d chosen was quite slinky and had a vaguely 60s feel to it, I decided to add some poppy, plastic accessories in the style of the second Mrs Draper. A Tatty Devine bow ring (and my Tatty xoJane necklace of course!), plus a polka dot cuff from Sonia Rykiel were worn with red suede court shoes from Asos, my trusty Luella bag and a little black hat with a veil just for fun. I went to town with the make-up, creating a camp, over-the-top black cat’s eye with Rimmel eyeliner and lashings of MAC’s Russian Red lipstick.
But the most interesting thing about the experience was the reaction of my colleagues. When I emerged from the loo all dolled up in my finery, my ever supportive, tactful teammates said “Wow! You look really… nice!” in hushed, shocked tones. The implication being, I don’t know, that normally I dress like Worzel Gummidge? Thanks guys!
But actually it’s sort of true; my usual office attire tend towards the "relaxed." You will never find me clopping into the kitchen in stilettos and I keep accidentally wearing this shirt that has a giant hole in the side… Anyway!
There was also a time, years ago, when I was sneaking into work and my horrible boss at the time hissed “Gosh Phoebe, you look so smart! It’s almost as if you’ve been to a job interview! Ha ha ha!” I had, and handed in my notice the following week. Ha ha ha! The point is, when you make an extreme departure from your ordinary style, people notice and comment and sometimes that’s not ideal. If you’re making an effort to dress smartly and it’s a drastic departure for your regular style, you can feel self-conscious.
This is why I love fashion week. It’s a fantastic, totally legitimate opportunity to Show Off. To wear all your coolest clothes, plus accessories, plus heels and know that no-one’s going to tease you for going all fancy. Far from it –- they’re more likely to congratulate you on your efforts and celebrate the time and imagination you’ve put into creating a look. Because this is the thing with fashion folk: contrary to the popular misconception, they’re not bitchy or judgmental –- well, no more than the general populace anyway –- they just like it when people make an effort. You don’t have to be tall or thin to be accepted, you just have to try.
So I have planned five swanky outfits (for me anyway) for London Fashion Week right down to the last earring and I will be wearing them, come rain or shine. Or snow.
Of course, the ideal scenario would be to remove the extremes altogether –- to never look so scruffy or so dressed up that it invites comment from your friends, colleagues or mum. There will always be days when you are so late, tired or hungover that you need to roll out of bed and straight into something comfy that requires no thought. But from now on, my aim is to at least make sure that it’s not the shirt with the giant hole in the side.