I have no clear sense of style and this bothers me. Mostly because I don't know what this means. Or if in fact this means anything at all. I look at various websites plying their wares and I want to buy it all. I want to be the Warehouse winter ethereal princess or the full on boho girl, the Topshop art student who dresses so individually yet so like a clone of every single teenager, I want to bury myself in the deceptively cheap products from H&M. I want everything at the moment, and whether this is due to having had no cash recently or if I have a deeply ingrained disorder, is a hard call to make. However the realist in me knows that, no matter how may high street purchases I own, like eating junk food I will never truly feel full and wholesome.
Spring/Summer 2009 is all about being yourself. Designers have drawn such vague lines that the high street may have trouble coming up with something concrete to copy. As designers play to their strengths to wait out the recession, the regular high street shopper can be safe in the knowledge that next season simplicity is key.
At Burberry there were bookish, Jane Austin reading academics in crumpled silks and draped cashmeres dreaming of romance. Louis Vuitton provided spunky world travellers wearing their beaded/tribal/leather finds (the type you can't get past Aussie customs) with rockstar hair and attitude to match. Sportswear was as always a spring summer staple, with Stella creating blazer and trousers all-in-ones, not great for aerobics, but perfect for watching Wimbledon.
The key image that came out from all the shows, despite the new minimal tribal futuristic old lady feel, was the truly basic. Dries Van Noten created gorgeous simple tailored clothes combined with one of a kind heirloom pieces in the form of a gold jacket and a floor-length gold skirt. No doubt this will spawn many high street copies that will look cheaper than usual and pale in comparison. So although there is no way I will probably ever be able to afford an "heirloom" item, the lesson I take from here is that keeping things simple and elegant goes a long way.
As the weather slowly turns towards the inevitable rainy and wet November I find that my feet are being swept away from under me. Literally. As I rush down the hill to the station my feet slip on the wet leaves no less than eight times, three of those seriously close to being You Tube “faceplant” moments. So in light of this I am seriously considering a footwear overhaul. My plain old flats are no longer holding their own against the elements, I need something much tougher.
Biker boots. Yes I know this is nothing new, this much has been pointed out to me at work. Everyone who wanted to tried this trend last year. Everyone has a pair. But as the story of slow burning trends goes (and if you needed any more convincing), they are back this season with absolutely nothing changed, added or taken away.
Gap have once again stocked their famous ankle length biker’s in black and brown. Gorgeous, sturdy and perfect for wearing with a knitted jumper or to add an edge to a delicate dress. Not to be worn with full on black and leather however, unless you are actually planning to get in with a motorcycle gang…
Go on you know you want to.
Writing something original is impossible. Every single intern in my position has the same hopes, fears and strops.
“Why don't they notice me?"
“Will I ever be as stylish?”
“Shall I forevermore be referred to as intern?”
And in truth I have realised how completely boring all this twenty something angst really is. I have no clear sense of style, but I won’t let this define me, one day maybe I will – but I live by the fact that sometimes my clothes work, and more often than not they don’t. It is all part of the eternal search for approval. I am not bigger than this place, nor am I the ironic insider I wish I could be. Because at the end of the day I am here because I desperately hope I can grow up to be just like them.
I know I should be dedicating myself night and day in the pursuit of becoming a writer, but I just can’t find my centre. I have become numb to the effects of anything around me, and despite being immersed in a culture in which I wanted to work for so long, I am finding it difficult to come up with ideas. Where before anything I came up with felt wonderful and original, now it feels like a been-done, old hat piece of non news. No matter, in the true nature of the English way, it shall be a case of onwards and upwards – writing through my writers block. And so I apologise to my phantom blog readers for there sometimes being nothing but drivel. If I cant get on my bike (in my case cross trainer) and lose a stone, then I shall at least write an entry a day to keep the brain cells alive (and have an excuse for being a fat-bottomed couch potato). Who knows, it might actually be fun...
Now I know that for many this may seem like a slightly bizarre topic to write about because lets face it who doesn't shop in Primark nowadays? But last week I found myself entering this terrifyingly huge establishment for the first time. Don't get me wrong, I've been to Primarks around the country before but nothing like this one; the flagship behemoth on Oxford Street.
It was 11am in the morning and the rest of Oxford Street was as usual on a weekday eerily quiet. Primark however was already abuzz with activity. I am a highstreet snob, and I am ashamed to admit that although most of the people I know shop there, it still gave me the creeps just to think about purchasing an item that wasn't destined to be shredded and used as costume. Everything about Primark scares me, from their fast and loose approach to ethics (which sadly probably isn't my biggest irk) to the sheer volume of clothes thrown about the place while women desperately scramble for the final size 10 inevitably hidden amongst the remaining 18s.
Primark is the epitome of fast fashion, the clothes aren't bad, in fact most are scarily fashionably up to date, they aren't particularly well made but then the highstreet isn't famous for its tailoring; no, it's the crazy disposability of it all that gets to me. When I entered the shop, I felt like I was going in slow motion whilst all the bargain crazed shoppers darted around me stuffing their extendable netted baskets with all they can contain. Stopping for a moment to take all this in under the harsh fluorescent lighting I noticed that the vast majority of shoppers were normal. Now I know this sounds like something slightly insane to notice, but despite the odd chav, nearly everyone was either foreign or a student.
I picked up a blue gingham 1950s style strapless dress with a bubble hem (the last size 10) and whilst deciding whether to try it on I was approached by a teenage girl who wanted to know if I was going to "take that or put it back". I'll give Primark shoppers this, they've got balls. So out of spite more than anything else I decided to join the half hour queue for the fitting rooms, all the while berating myself for being so stubborn. When I finally made it into the changing rooms, and after receiving many strange looks for only having one item I decided that as pretty as the idea had been with the dress it wasn't for me. I told myself that this was because it was badly made, and it was, but the real reason was that I have realised that no matter how OK it is shop there I will never ever be comfortable wearing clothes that are so mass produced, that no matter how much individual style you have you will never quite be able to make it original.
Yes, I shop in Topshop so this probably makes me a hypocrite but I like to think that while some shops enable style others make you become a slave to the fast and cheap way of looking at things and once you fall in its difficult to get out. Nothing keeps, nothing is reusable, nothing will look good in 6 months when you fish it out the bottom of your wardrobe, you can't even give it to a charity shop, so what on earth is the point of it all? Fast fashion for all for next to nothing is a slippery slope into a shopping addiction. I walked out without the regulation brown paper bag and felt as though I'd crossed a bridge, it might be cool and it might be cheap, but spending £100 on ten items is still at the end of the day almost like throwing money away.
I suppose i'd like to think that i'm a seasoned fashionista, but in truth I am nothing of the sort. Its easy to read magazines and fashion supplements and its almost impossible to keep up with it all. I end up being bombarded with photos of clothes that I can't wait to own, and am left with a feeling that what I do own hasn't got any sort of flare or originality.
So many people stick to what they know, they stay within their comfort zone rather than experimenting with something different. Its easy to go to Urban Outfitters or Topshop and to feel like an alien, these shops lay it all out for us - you can look different and funky by copying what the mannequins are wearing, but when you get home with your bags of purchases it doesn't look like it did in the changing room. I want to look classic and elegant, and yet when I do venture onto oxford street wearing high heels, I long to be the teenager in plimsols and leggings. It is a conundrum that I partially blame on my indecisive nature, and also the fact that I am so often confused for a 17 year old that I think that I still have the right to dress like one. At what point is a girl (woman?/young lady?) supposed to dress her age?
Nobody wants to be mutton dressed like lamb, although I think I am probably still a few years shy of being the former, I still envy those who have their own very individual sense of style and aren't afraid of what people think. This particular point hit home yesterday as I wandered through Zara and wasn't sure if I should be shopping on the Ground floor (Womens) or -1 (TRF Teenage Fashions). What struck me about the womens collection was how old it feels, everything is in muted colours: beige, navy, coral and far too tailored for someone who isn't over 30. Go down one floor and I feel almost octogenarian as I get blinded by the sweetshop colours and ogle the teeny tiny denim skirts I once felt so comfortable wearing.
Where do twenty somethings fit into this mess? I think it comes down to confidence and individual style. In our twenties we have the freedom of experimentation without the teenage hangups and insecurities. Rather than worry about which box or bracket I belong to I intend to enjoy freedom of style while I can. Until of course inevitably the twin set and pearls catches up with me and i'm forced to grow up gracefully.
I have noticed a very strange trend in the suburbs of South East London (North Kent) and as it doesn't have an official name I suppose the only way to describe it is the "black French knickers and 50 denier tights but no skirt and no shame" trend. I couldn't quite believe my eyes the first time I saw a girl in such apparel, I thought that there must have been some sort of wardrobe malfunction. There she was walking down Bromley high street on one of the coldest days of 2008 wearing a white t-shirt, grey jumper, thin black tights and black knickers. Now this isn't a trend a la Sienna Miller, who famously wore some giant granny pants over her tights. This girl was wearing her black French knickers under her tights and appeared to have for all intents and purposes actually forgotten to wear a skirt. As she walked past, I turned to see her bum cheeks on display for all of Bromley to see. Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when this began to emerge as a trend of sorts. More often ascribed to going out wear the knickers, tights and no skirt seems to have become a Bromley staple, and as I am informed by people from other suburban towns, it seems to have taken quite a hold all over the home counties. It also has become clear that you don't need to have a rear of the year in order to wear this trend, pear shaped, large, small any and all derrièrs seem to be clad in this exhibitionist trend. So for those who feel brave enough to try i am suggesting the Bromley look, but with a pinch more class. I suggest the Suzi (pictured above) from agent provocateur as it provides maximum coverage but still displays enough bottom, Charnos 40 Denier tights (from www.tightsplease.co.uk) and enough confidence, dutch or otherwise to walk down the street and face the questioning stares. Good Luck!
Kate Moss for Topshop is back. I can’t help feeling that like its predeceasing collections this is just as big a flop. Ever since the first collection launched to queues of girls waiting expectantly to catch a glimpse of the “designer” herself and to fight each other for a few measly items (only 5 per customer) there was an expectation of great things. After the initial 24 hours where you could only look at certain items online, because everything was sold out – even the ugly t-shirt which made you look like a brown bumblebee – shoppers began to see it for what it really was. I fell for the hype and purchased two items which remain with their tags on in the back of my wardrobe, too embarrassed to admit that no, I didn’t look just like Kate Moss when I put them on my 5ft2 size 10 frame. With the average price of the items being at least £10 more than you’d normally spend for something in Topshop, only the die hard Kate Moss wannabes are really buying anything now. This third collection is much like the others, floaty tops, skinny jeans, gladiator sandals, dresses so long you need to be 6ft to wear them and of course the dreaded hot pants. The one item the British girl dreads as the weather gets warmer and that the Kate Moss collection seems to take great joy in pushing under our noses. It isn’t all bad, some of the clothes are actually very cute and wearable but this is undermined by the ridiculous prices which mean that instead of paying for the clothes we are paying for the name. Despite the negative publicity, I highly doubt that this collection will go anywhere, it will be back in the autumn and probably at least once more in the spring before Topshop get Agyness Deyn to design something because by that time she’ll almost definitely be ready to cash in on her “coolness” too.
I know that the "It" bag is supposedly dying a rather deserved death, but somehow i'm finding it hard to jump on that particular negative bandwagon. I have never really lusted after the Paddingtons or Birkins of this world, my main obsession is definitely Mulberry. A quintessential English brand which has so far managed to avoid becoming overly cheapened by the likes of WAGs and cut price knock-offs. The reason for this is probably that although paying £700 for a bag is somewhat excessive, in price at least, it doesn't really hold a candle to its £2000 competitors. Mulberry is the girl next door, beautiful and yet at a push obtainable by a regular person on a regular salary. The gorgeous redesigned "Roxanne" which is now a giant vinyl shopper, a sidestep from their traditional leather designs, and is in my opinion patent perfection. I know I shouldn't, I know that even £400 is far too much for something which essentially is still just a bag, but it's still on my wish list. So as I shall most probably not ever own it, I have provided a photo for everyone's viewing pleasure!
Teenagers thrive on feeling like individuals. When I was younger this meant that while we were all wearing identical ensembles from Tammy Girl the few who dared to be different were Goths. They wore dog collars and were head to toe in black, but in doing this they achieved exactly what they wanted to, they stood out and were seen as different. Teenagers are all insecure creatures, but none more so than those who see being Londoners and therefore knowing how to dress as a birth right. Topshop has been around for decades, and yet despite being a high street staple never really stood out from the rest. Then they did something amazing, and ironically highly original, they started selling individuality. Teenagers in