Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ready to wear

I frequently mock myself as shallow, but my love of clothes - nice clothes - goes back a very long way: to my early childhood, probably, and dressing up in shiny fabrics and embroidered capes from the dressing-up box; but definitely before I was ten, because I remember going shoe shopping with my mum and being absolutely definite about the shoes I wanted, even though she thought the heels were a bit too high for me (they were brown leather with pale brown plastic wedges, decorated with raised ridges in a box pattern, from Clark's in Dalkeith). Sophisticated I might not have been, but I loved beauty.
I still like to walk around Lane Crawford touching all the clothes as I pass the racks, running my fingers down chiffon sleeves and across cashmere collars and satin bodices. That I could actually own beautiful clothes still seems like an impossible joy to me.

I grew up wearing clothes passed down by my older sister, or made by my mum, or bought in jumble sales, until I could afford to buy my own; and I always seemed to be wearing something that was too small, or made out of strange fabric, or patched, or had holes in it, or was really made for a boy. I longed to look the same as everyone else. The pain of being different; the pleasure of wearing something beautiful, of looking good: these things are intermingled.

My favourite era is the 1940s, and the style epitomised by Lauren Bacall. I don't know where this comes from, because I don't think my mum ever felt the same way as this about clothes, and my sister's style is quite different from mine.
The picture above is as close to perfection as you could possibly be.


Claire said...

I would say your style is more conservative than mine, and my life is slightly more constrained by my circumstances to be able to dress the way you do, but that doesn't mean I don't aspire to wear pencil skirts and heels every day. I love that style too.

Why, you would have our mother and I drifting around in voluminous kaftans and Jesus sandals!

Claire said...

The clothes epitomised by the 1940s are incredibly flattering to our figures, which only adds to my love for them. Like you, I am disdainful of ostentation in any form, and my idea of clothes hell is a Versace gown. Or a Pucci number. You know what I mean though.

Sorry, I didn't mean to sound so hurt and indignant in my previous comment!

Mummy said...

There is something to the link to your childhood. Growing up I always wore my sister's hand me downs, or things my Mum had made (money was short) so looked different from everyone else just at the point when I was desperate to fit in. My Mum now loves coming shopping with me down Bond St or Harvey Nics when I am home, and is a very good judge of what looks good on me and persuades me to spend far more than I should.

And circumstances are what you make of them. I am, after all, the person who went shopping with you to find the highest and prettiest heels I could as my "coming home from hospital after labour" shoes.

LottieP said...

"Different" doesn't mean you're wearing palazzo pants and trailing scarves - we can leave that to Auntie Jane. My sister is one of the most stylish women I know.