My Holy Grail fashion items are the things I really want in my wardrobe, but have never found. In some cases they may not even exist - like a pair of white jeans that don't shine a beacon on cellulite or the perfect polo neck.
Learning how to make clothes has been on my list of things to learn pretty much since I emerged, overweight, from my mother’s womb. Too many times I've found something I love, only to turn it around to discover an unsightly exposed zip, or an incompatible ruffle, rendering the item useless to me.
I’m not a fussy customer, I’ll sew a button here, crop a hem there - but you can’t customise everything to how you want it (see ‘can’t dressmake’ above) and there are some things I’m still looking for. These very things are my Holy Grail fashion items…
The Perfect White Jeans
Probably my most prolific HG item, the Perfect White Jean (I hate how fashion makes everything that comes in pairs singular. A red lip; a seasonal boot, vom) has evaded me the longest and I’m beginning to think they do not exist anywhere in the form I want them. I’ve been looking for the perfect pair for the past twelve years. My non-negotiable requirements are below.
High waistSlim fit and leg (not skinny skinny)No gold buttons or other Versace-esque detail anywhereNo visible stitching (white thread only)No ankle zipsThick denim (ideally less than 3% stretch)
The Perfect '50s Bikini
There have been some pretty good contenders. Topshop (above left) did an alright one in the summer, the pants were awesome but the top wasn’t fifties enough and you couldn’t buy separately. Esther Williams (right) also has a good pop, but the bottoms aren’t quite right and the top not structured enough. Ideally I’d find a place selling actual '50s bikinis and buy straight vintage.
The Perfect Black Shift DressQuite an easy one, you might think. Not the case. There is a real trend at the moment for a shift-with-extras* - a fold, a ruffle, a dipped or bubble hem (is there a more disgusting hem than the bubble? No, there is not) and I don’t like it. I need to find a black shift dress that is more or less an oblong in its simplicity but with carefully and subtly sewn darts that ensure sufficient waist definition without altering the classic shape. Also, not in polyester or with any panelling.
*Side note about the Exposed Zip: Never has one trend ruined so many potentially fabulous items. When did everyone decide to put zips out there?
The Perfect White ShirtThis is one of Phoebe’s HG items too. My requirements are: not too stretchy (hello, sweat) but not pure cotton (hello, yellow stains), slim-fit enough to avoid baggy flap when tucking but not so much you look like a sexy teacher porn-star and on that note looking NOTHING like a school shirt. Where are you?
The Perfect JodhpursNow I’m not a horsey person but I just dig these trousers, man. I want jodhpur-style trews that are comfortable, not too light a beige, preferably not too high in spandex, sexy with the right contrast inner thigh patches, but ones not meant for actual horse-riding. This one is a bit of a stab in the dark I know.
Those are my main ‘uns.
Holy Grail items also fit into two other categories: Things You Saw And Loved But Decided Not To Buy And Regretted Forever and (the much more painful) Things You Lost.
Finding the former on eBay is a joy. Never having shopped at Lipsy, I tried on a cute as hell '50s-style playsuit but listened to my wallet and didn’t buy. ‘If it’s in the sale, it’s meant to be,’ I thought. Obviously it sold out. After three years of sifting through my eBay saved search alerts, there it was. In my size. I ‘Buy It Now’d and the rest is history.
Now to Things You Saw And Loved But Decided Not To Buy And Regretted Forever. The phrase ‘It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’ is unequivocally NOT TRUE when it comes to clothes. Never is that more the case than when the thing in question is an HG item you discovered to your absolutely heart-pumping joy, then lost.
A Lost Holy Grail fashion item is the Absolute Worst. My worst case of LHG happened only last month - my gorgeous, black, cropped cashmere jumper. It was my favourite item. Not one of those favourites that suddenly becomes a favourite because you’ve lost it when in actual fact you just dug it out from the bottom of your wardrobe, shrugging ‘this will do for tonight’. I mean ACTUAL FAVOURITE. From sight > love > purchase > wear > wear again and again > cherish. This is an item I’ve already mentioned on xo and it even stars in my profile. I’m getting a bit emotional thinking about it.
I was looking for a cropped, black, cashmere (not a deal-breaker but ideal), long sleeved jumper with a dainty turtle neck. It had been on my HG list ever since I saw Clueless, realised how many shirts I owned that could be its BFF and my desire was fully cemented when I saw an episode of SATC. I found the exact item two years ago. Here it is.
I have set up an eBay alert for it – as I have for all these items – but if you know anyone who owns the Antipodium Covetable Cashmere Cropped Pullover Jumper I will pay them a small fortune to have it back in my life. Speaking of eBay alerts, if by some crazy reason you don’t know what they are, get acquainted immediately.
There is no greater joy than removing something from the Holy Grail list because you’ve find it. I checked off ‘Perfect Chelsea Boots’ in 2007 and man, it felt good. So if you know where I can find any of these HG items or somewhere I should look, hit me up toute suite!
Tell me your Holy Grail fashion items and maybe I can help! Have you ever lost one? Come forth and unload your sorrow to me...