This past weekend, in London, I went shopping with one of my daughters… I love hearing her take on what’s hot and what’s not… her eye is sharp and I admire her sense of fashion…. she knows how to enjoy fashion, have fun with it and not take it too seriously. I also appreciate her truthfulness… her very incisive… ‘you must’ or her very spot on, ‘I don’t think so’… We were talking about this season’s must haves… the clothes and the shoes… the different looks that we were coveting… when we started talking about ‘trends’.
‘There is no such thing as a trend’, she said.
‘This season’s trends look exactly the same as last winter’s trends’… she mused. As we wandered around, looking at the ‘trends’ for this coming winter we both agreed that the styles are no more than repetitive fashion cycles… This is no revelation to a grown up fashion junkie like me but I was surprised that my 23 year old daughter had joined the dots… and appreciated that there is nothing much that is new in the fashion world. Perhaps it is because fashion these days offers so much more choice… it is less rigid and more individual. It would seem to me that I have been wearing the same ‘look’ for years… and while the colours may change, the hems might dip and rise or the trouser legs widen and narrow… There is nothing in my wardrobe that hasn’t been there before in some familiar way.
Fashion is not exactly about trends, because the word ‘trend’ suggests something original, different… a ‘trend’ is meant to take us off piste and lead us in another direction. I believe fashion is about cycles… cycles of colour, of shape… cycles that reflect the world we live in… our economics and our politics. The beauty of fashion cycles for the mature woman is that they are familiar… Most of us, by now, know what works for us… We understand how to interpret ‘the look of the season’ to our personalities and body shapes… because in all probability we have worn it before. With the knowledge that fashion is a cyclical business has come my understanding or my own ‘rules’ of what to buy… My daughter had never thought about shopping with these ideas in mind… She has always simplified choices down to… liking, suitability and affordability… never long term consequences. I try to buy well… a mixture of ‘investment’ pieces and good basics. I have fun with the basics and endeavour to stick to my ‘rules’ with the investment pieces…
My shopping mantra goes something like this…
1. A piece must not be a duplicate of what I have at home… How often do we buy exactly the same thing? I have been so guilty of that particular fashion crime… over and over… I reach for yet another LBD… only to realise that I have one in my cupboard that is so similar…
2. A piece must look better than anything I already own… There is no point buying an expensive item if, at home, I have one that looks better on me. I have to be ruthless… because I know that if it isn’t different, edgier or more flattering… I will always revert to my old faithful. I have to be certain that the piece is a winner.
3. A piece must make up an outfit. No random skirt or jacket that won’t work with what I have already. I forget this sage advice all the time… my closet is full of ‘bright ideas’ that don’t work with anything.
4. A piece must be love at first sight… If it doesn’t sing to me straight up, then it’s not for me.
5. Don’t rush in… there will always be something to love… it’s fashion after all.
Fashion… trends… cycles… my favourite subjects to talk about … nearly as much as France, and all things French… subjects that are not mutually exclusive, as I think many French women would agree with my buying ‘rules’… French women are the masters of investment dressing and fashion strategy… and most probably, now that I think about it, responsible for my way of thinking… xv