The time has come for me to reveal a little secret. This is important, so switch off the telly and lean in closely so I can whisper. If Anna Wintour knew I was about to reveal this, she would stab me in the heart with her louboutin.
So here it is: ‘Timeless’ and ‘Classic’ fashion items do not exist. That’s right, those pesky fashion journalists have been lying to you. Every time you invest in a piece of clothing, expecting to wear it until you’re wrinkly, you’re being hoodwinked. That ‘ultimate’ designer handbag? It’s about as real as the tooth-fairy.
Maybe you knew this already? Well, you could have bloody warned me. This is a lesson I’ve had to learn the hard way. It took me a while, what with my tendencies towards messy eating. Such difficulties to locate my mouth in my face have lead to a frugal attitude towards clothes. ‘What’s the point’, I sigh, fingering a silky white frock. ‘I’m having a curry tonight and nothing is safe’. Why splash out on something that will soon be sullied by chocolate ice cream? But occasionally I am seduced, and end up spending all my student loan on something which makes me want to vomit a month later. “What was I thinking?!” I lament, shielding my eyes from the atrocity. “How could someone so wise do something so foolish?” Don’t be sad, past-self. This is Phoebe from the future, and she is filled with handy tips that will help you avoid such repeats of stupid spending.
First off, avoid the acronym LBD in the same way that you would avoid people that smell like eggs. Sure, a black dress is suitable for all occasions, but it must be the RIGHT TYPE of black dress. There was once a time when all the cool kids were wearing tight black lace with long sleeves. Another time, it was most suitable to be seen in a black velvet skater dress. But as Bob Dylan warned us, time’s they are a changing, and the latest Topshop LBD is no more of a classic than multi-coloured leg warmers.
There is a tendency for people to mistake what is boring for what is timeless. The camel trend of 2010 had me buying a brand new phlegm coloured wardrobe, naively believing that it would always look fresh. I acted just as stupidly during the whole nude trend. No sooner had I spent all my pocket money on dresses that clashed with my skin, Vogue was telling me that I needed to invest in some primary coloured staple items.
Denim is another fickle beast. “Ooh jeans!” You coo. “How practical! I’ll never flash my knickers in these. They’re stretchy enough to let me climb all the trees in the world!” Snap out of that tree hugging fantasy, sister. We all know you aren’t seduced by the possibility of more practical, outdoor based activities. You like the colour, the height of the waistband, the cut of the leg. THAT’s what you’re paying for. As soon as the fashions change, those jeans will be cast away like a kitten that was bought as a Christmas present.
“What about shoes?” You pipe up. “We all need one pair of versatile shoes that go with everything!” Yes, you most certainly do, but you cannot go looking for these shoes. Like Mr Ollivander’s wands, these shoes choose you. I have bought the following with the belief that they would be worn at all times: Orange pumps, black biker boots, and ballet shoes. The orange pumps made every outfit look as if it had been stolen from an H&M store dummy, and the black biker boots made me look like a 13 year old who was trying to piss off her parents. In retrospect, the ballet shoes did go with everything, but I had to chuck them out after I stepped in dog poo. The only shoes I own that could honestly be called versatile are a vintage pair of navy and white Mary-Janes, which I bought once on a whim. Unlike Chelsea boots, they cannot be bought at any major store, which means they always look a bit quirky. They may not be totally timeless, but they have lasted me far longer than any other shoes which I paid a fortune for.
As the chilly months creep up, I suspect you’ll start hankering after a voluminous 80s coat. Tread carefully, youngling! By all means swap your first newborn child for such a garment, but only if you’re aware that this winter is the only time that you’ll ever wear it. Remember that cape you spent an embarrassing amount on a couple years back? Where is it now? If it’s lining your dog basket, then perhaps think carefully about how much you’re willing to spend this year. If stuck, then apply the ‘telling mother’ test. Before buying your new coat, envision yourself in the future telling your mother how much it cost. If such a thought terrifies you, then put the garment down. You’ll regret it in the long run.
I’m going to end on a positive note by revealing another secret: cardigans are classic, and you won’t regret investing in a few. When people tell me that my cardigan collection would rival that of a pensioner’s, I hit them over the head with my handbag. Cardis are the best way to show off your trendy outfit whilst still staying smug. I have a few dependable colours in a single dependable shape (shapeless) and these have lasted me for years. When it comes to the rest of your wardrobe, spend little and often. Things change, people change, the fashions change. Anyone who says otherwise is telling you porkies.
Written by Phoebe Eccles