Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not your usual fashion guide

I was laughing out loud when I was reading The Guardian's Hadley Freeman's guide on Looking Good. It's definitely not your average run of the mills fashion guide. She covers things from boots, cleavages, sunglasses, to various overly-used cliched fashion phrases like "homage", "inspiration", and "experimentation is key". Whether you agree with her or not, it is a hilarious piece of reading.

Fashion that girls get and boys don't

The prime example of this is patterns. You see a patterned dress and think, golly, isn't that summer dress with an old Liberty print rather fabulously kitsch, with its connotations of England of yore? He thinks, how about that? I never noticed how much she resembles my grandmother's sofa. Ditto with wedges: you're thinking, kinda cool in a 50s pin-up kinda way; he's thinking, hmmm, orthopaedic shoes. Prom skirts - how fun and they make my legs look thin, versus why is she dressed like the mother in Back To The Future? And so the list goes on: tunic dresses, empire lines, cocoon and egg-shaped skirts and dresses, anything with superfluous buckles and bows, handbags the size of TV sets.



The trenchcoat, like the pencil skirt, little black dress and "a proper handbag", is one of those items fashion magazines always say one simply has to own as part of one's grown-up, basic wardrobe, but actually just makes you feel as if you're trying to pretend you're in some terrible French film. The fact is, like the pencil skirt, the trenchcoat doesn't suit all that many women. It's a coat - but not very warm. It's for outdoor wear - but shows up dirt like billyo. It's a similar colour to a lot of women's skin tone - which will just make you look jaundiced. And yet, on it lingers, haunting the pages of fashion magazines like an old smell of cabbage in a dead relative's flat.


Fashion speak

· Homage is a conveniently trussed-up word for 'blatant copy' and can be used without the niggling fear of litigation. It has a soothing sheen of intellectualism, as though one is suggesting the designer in question spent long, noble hours in some dusty library.

· Inspiration, often used to denote the desperate recourse of a designer who has still not come up with any ideas two weeks before the collection is due. Off they hie to their teenage music obsession, a cinematic hero of old currently enjoying a bit of a renaissance or painting in some heavily publicised exhibition - and copy the bejesus out of it.

· Invest gives an aura of gravity to an undeniably frivolous pursuit, implying, say, that getting another Whistles party dress is on a par with prudently buying stocks.

· This season's essential or must have is the baseline of fashion writing. And, really, one's response can only be, bossy, bossy, bossy! Fashion people love a good imperative; it helps trample over any bleating objections to a...#8239;£1,500 handbag with a handle made from the bone of a woolly mammoth and stitching from the hair of an albino virgin.

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