Monday, 20 June 2011

Last-Year Buy: Tops ... and about feeling top

Yes, more stuff has magically found its way into my wardrobe. It's down partly to the brilliant sales at the moment (and for the other part keep reading). While my fancy is normally captured by dresses, skirts and shorts, for once I've been 'relatively sensible' - note the desperate air of self-justification about that phrase - and bought some new tops.

I don't know about your colleagues and friends, but Whistles is definitely my office's high street crush of the moment. This pretty blouse with embroidered collar and cuffs came as part of a frenzied office outing on Friday afternoon (the spoils of which are fairly evident this Monday).

It's not so exciting on the hanger but I'm hoping this denim blouse will be extraordinarily versatile - I love its 50s, rockabilly look. It's from Ravishing Mad via The Moon and Mars.

And finally, this Minimarket blouse purchased via Skirt Boutique. I'd been lusting after it full price and whipped out my wallet the second it went on sale. It looks like a fantastically colourful stained glass window - it reminds me of the beauties of Chichester Cathedral. I look forward to it bringing some more colour to my wardrobe.

As evident on this blog, I've been on a bit of a shopping spree recently. And lots of new stuff, rather than vintage, which is unusual for me. I'm blaming a self-confidence wobble. If I was forced to name some of the things I was most proud of about myself, right up there would be - I can dress well. Not the world's greatest achievement I know, but a source of pride nonetheless. I'm not sure why but recently I've been doubting this ability and have been determined to shake my wardrobe up a bit. My style evolution started, as does most peoples, as a teenager. I began second-hand shopping (as it was known back then) and, with some awful mistakes along the way, ended up with something of a 50s style that really suited me: the perfect shape for my bosom and relatively small waist. I went on with slight variations of that look and a large proportion of my wardrobe is now vintage pieces that I've been wearing for years.

However, I feel my love for this look has deserted me a bit. On one hand, I think it can look a bit too cutesey - dangerous turf when you're now at the stage when you need to be taken seriously about stuff. I'm not rock and roll enough to pull off the proper rockabilly look either and instead think I end up looking like a bit of a fifties high school square. On the other, it's such a good cover-up, respectable style, I think I'm almost too young for it - let me wear longer skirts when my legs are in much worse nick that they are now and let me look prim and proper when I stop staying out past midnight.

Then, of course, it's hard to stick to your style when you are surrounded by the thousand of stylish dressers on the streets in London - and that you see in cities around the world courtesy of blogs. Not to mention, when you work in a place with hundreds of objects designed by the finest couturiers in the history of the world and with a workforce of hundreds of wonderfully dressed women, wearing outfits normally put together on a shoestring budget.

I look at the fashionably dressed teenagers of London and know I don't want to dress like them (a return to grunge - how awful!). Aged 30, I want to show my age a bit and the fact I care just a little less what people think of me, without looking past it. As part of my experimentation I've been wearing clothes I know just don't suit me as much as a neat 50s silhouette does, like long skirts that make me look dumpy or baggy tops that give me no shape, trying to push my own self-inflicted fashion rules. In a good mood, I enjoy this. It's sticking two fingers up at the judgement that fashion should make you look as skinny and sexy as possible. On my off days, however, I only feel dumpy and unfashionable. The other result of this experimentation is that I've been buying a lot of stuff just to try and see how it could work. Will this new stuff be with me as long as the Red or Dead pinafore dress I've had in my wardrobe since I was 15? Will they get worn as much as my Emma Cook top that has a Lucienne Day style print? Or will they attract as many unsolicited compliments as my colourful Lisbon sixties dress? I'm really not sure. I'm just hoping that they are small, and pretty, steps back to me being able to state 'I can dress well' with some confidence again.
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  1. Frances, we have such similar taste it scares me - I've tried on the Whistles and Minimarket blouses, and I just bought the Minimarket dress. Really interesting post; I often wonder whether my ragtail vintage outfits are why people always think I'm younger than I am, or rather, less professional thanI'd hope to be.. Everyone senior at my work dresses very boringly, and that's not for me, but I don't want to be a 31 year old clown.

  2. Sarah - that's utterly bonkers ... the Whistles I can believe, but the other stuff is much less obvious. What can I say? We clearly have excellent taste!

    It's a depressing thought that authority brings with it boring clothes (or is it the other way around?). Maybe it just is easier, like a uniform that signals grown-up dom.

    Keep with the vintage Sarah, I never think you look like a clown - just lovely and colourful and different - 'different' as a badge of honour!


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