Sunday, November 7, 2010


Although I am not its slave by any means, I have to admit that I’ve always found fashion endlessly entertaining, setting aside an evening each month to read both Vogues, US and UK, cover to cover.  With a cup of hot tea and a gingersnap or two at the ready, I get lost in the exuberant creativity that teems between those glossy covers. The visionary work of artists such as photographer Tim Walker, or stylist Grace Coddington, often rocks me back on my heels.  I pore over the tailoring of a Stella McCartney suit, marvel at the boundless imagination stitched into an Alexander McQueen gown and always close the issue completely inspired and often rather hungry for a new pair of boots, or at least a change of lipstick.  To me, fashion is an art form as vital any other and I’m always fascinated by how people express themselves sartorially.

 One of my favourite pastimes is to sit in a cafe and people watch.  As I study their clothing, I imagine them all a few hours earlier, sleepily rummaging through their closets, deciding what to put on for the day. 
 Did they examine themselves in the mirror before leaving? 
 Did they change once, or twice, before giving approval to their ensemble?  
What made that person choose the blue coat over the red one?  
 That gentleman’s tie in a prominent plaid?  Was it a gift, or did he choose it for himself?  
 I notice how often best friends seem to dress alike, right down to the shoes and the handbags.  Rarely do I see a preppy with a rocker, or an artist with a senator’s wife.  Curious.
I create back stories for the people I observe, much like Miss Marple at a seaside hotel.  This one went to Wellesley, but veered from the path set out for her and left in her second year to travel through Asia.  And despite her impeccable black suit and red-soled heels, that one is chafing in a corporate career; her jewelry gives her away. 

Now I am well aware this is a pretty superficial analysis on my part, and I doubt I would ever wish to volunteer my wardrobe for such scrutiny.  But I do feel that how we choose to dress speaks volumes about us, telling the world who we are, or often, who we wish to be.  Just think of the two Hepburns, Audrey and Kate.  Didn’t their wardrobes tell us so much about their very different personalities?  Today I love to watch Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton, both masters at dressing to reveal or accentuate their delightful individuality.  And I was happy to read, just this week, that Harper’s Bazaar UK  named the luminous actress Carey Mulligan, pictured below, as the best dressed woman of the year.  Her unique style sets her apart from the pack, beautifully.

My mother tells me that from an early age I had most definite opinions about my wardrobe.  Even now, I am rather impervious to trends.  But I can still be surprised by secret facets of my own personality, unknown parts of my psyche just waiting to be given voice.  By way of example,  I was once boutique shopping for a fancy dress occasion The Songwriter and I were scheduled to attend.  Not finding anything that charmed me, I was preparing to leave the dressing room when the elderly saleslady opened my door and said, “Here dear, do try this on.  I think it would be perfect for you.”.  She handed me a dress I would have never pulled off the rack in a million years.  Gold (!), with a deep vee neck and metallic threads running through the fabric, I held it out in front of me, and fixed it with my most disdainful stare.  But thinking it might be worth a giggle, I decided to slip it on.  Turning to face the mirror, I was astounded.  It was lovely.  I felt like a princess.  I couldn’t purchase it fast enough. Who knew?   I had obviously unlocked a hidden room down one of the side hallways of my nature, and discovered that golden dress waiting patiently inside.  That, I suppose, is the fun of fashion.  As we grow and change on this twisting journey of days, clothing helps us translate ourselves in colour, texture and style.

My purchases so far this winter season have been a divine red tartan jacket,
 black and tweed spectator shoes
 and a fabulous pair of grey trousers, in a size smaller than last year!  
How about you?