Everyone in the Western hemisphere has already blogged this but I don’t care. Perfection.
Picture credit: AFP
It was Samuel Johnson that said ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. After a recently underwhelming trip to Oxford Circus, I’m tempted to write to the fellow and request if he add an addendum to this;
'When a girl is tired of Topshop, she is tired of life.'
This shop which dressed me almost exclusively for the latter half of the Noughties did not inspire the usual pulse-quickening, arm-tiring euphoria that usually accompanies a browse of the London flagship when I stopped by on Wednesday afternoon (I’d been home for the last week and I nipped up to town for official business). Thoughts on the train home put this down to a number of reasons.
1. Being in France. When scuba divers come to the surface, they take it gradually to avoid decompression sickness. Maybe I should have taken a leaf out of their book - months of living on the continent has got me used to puffa jackets, and neutral colours, and jeans, and practical shoes. Perhaps I ambitiously headed for the mothership of Cool Britannia and the antithesis of French style too soon, and should have decompressed myself gradually via Zara and Mango.
2. Sizing. I’ve mentioned this before about high street sizes, but in my opinion Topshop is one of the worst offenders. Friends/anyone who’s seen me in a bikini will vouch that I am no Pamela Anderson or even David Hasselhoff boobie-wise. Similarly my waist is nowhere near that of Karlie Kloss’. Two Size 8 dresses proved to strain across my chest like the Hulk mid-transformation and then sag depressingly from the ribcage to mid-thigh. This means a Topshop 8 is roughly 31-27-37, as opposed to 32-25-35. Must do better, cutters.
3. Textile and prints. Bile reflex. It’s not even mid-February and most retailers are falling over themselves to flog sundresses, shifts, kaftans, blouses, camisoles etc. in an array of eye-assaulting prints. SOMETIMES they can look fantastic, Zara have certainly come up trumps (a friend having already snapped up the exquisitely floral suit trousers - dammit), especially if you’ve seen them on the website or styled correctly in a magazine. But already sifting through racks of daisy-festooned poly-blend, hanging raggedly half-inside out from it’s hanger like a drunken slapper falling from a taxi? Must I?
Zara on the other hand: love me some sequin Aztec.
4. Branding. Think of the last time you saw a Topshop campaign. Was it the grey marl t-shirt dress and simple studded necklace you so coveted? Or was it the impossibly beautiful, porcelain skinned waif staring out with all the insouciant disregard of that cool girl in VIth form who made you hate all of your Tammy Girl wardrobe? All shops sell a lifestyle rather than just the garments - look at Abercrombie/Hollister for a lesson in how a hoody will have you snogging a lacrosse player on a beach in Maine - but Topshop just seems to me more apparent. They stand out from the Euro-centric Aryans-in-monocrhome-with-a-price-tag-next-to-them Mango/Zara/H&M brigade and the catalogue-babe-with-a-boyfriend-in-blue Dorothy Perkins/Next/Debenhams, but I think in a way this rather sets you up for disappointment.
I will never look this cool. Even if I did fit into this.
5. The brilliance of the clothes. Almost exact copies of catwalk dresses are always big news, and Topshop is universally famous for this. I love affordable fashion. I would not love buying it and everyone recognising it as a copy and as something they too splashed £45 on and subsequently got tagged in on Facebook. Er…
So if you’re reading this, Sir Philip Green, please redesign your successful, billion dollar franchise to woo me back. I don’t think it’s much to ask.
Probably won’t cover this gorrrrgeous patent lambskin jacket from Chanel, £5,464. Likewise the 'some guy mugged me at gunpoint and took all my cards and money but luckily I found this old coat by the roadside' story probably won’t fly with my parents.
Photo: Glamour UK, December Edition
Black velvet wedges with chiffon ties - Topshop A/W ‘10/’11
Denim shorts - Topshop S/S ‘11
Polka blouse - Mango - A/W ‘11/’12
Tights - Wolford
Ring - Azendi (104 Kings Road Chelsea)
Eyeshadow - literally the best colour in the world ever MAC Satin Taupe
Because sleeves + opaque tights + ages spent on hair + MAC-enhanced menacing glower = being able to wear denim knickers and 6inch wedges without looking like a prostitute OR WORSE someone from The Only Way is Essex.
Sunday, in all it’s inexorable tranquillity which saw me through a lie-in, a home pedicure and a leisurely lunch with my flatmates (what is it about Sunday that makes eating two fajitas and some salad last two and a half hours?), has resulted in poring over the first bouts of London Fashion Week show reports for S/S 2012. And without using the dreaded Carrie Bradshaw refrain ('So then I got to thinking…' - good for you Carrie! Great story! Tell it again! ), this leads to the eternal fashion mystery that is prints. What is it about prints? On the one hand there are Mary Katrantzou creations - Salvador Dali-esque works of intricacy and colour:
And on the other there’s Cameron in Emanuel Ungaro (Oscars 2002), which while sounding perfect in theory is so attacked-by-a-curtain-awful I want to pour Rouge Noir over my irises.
Its like driving or cooking or successfully flashing boob to get served faster. Prints divide people into those who can, and those who can’t*.
My own relationship with prints started early. I say ‘relationship’, ‘arranged marriage’ is more likely. My mum would make me outfits from Liberty prints for nearly every social occasion possible (when you live out in the sticks, this isn’t nearly as lavish as it sounds) - pleats and full skirts and yards of just gorgeous floral cotton. I loved it (although it’s safe to say I *couldn’t).
My brother who had to wear a matching waistcoat? Less so. From Stockholm Syndrome alone I’ve always loved Liberty and was really keen to wear this by Jones and Jones for my birthday in August.
Just the muted colour and downplay of the print combined with the striking silhouette was really great. Upon trying it on in an 8 in Oxford Circus Topshop it was both gaping at the waist and strainingly tight across my definitely-not-buxom chest and shoulders - I resembled something between a weightlifter and an ironing board. Unlucky.
Leading on from the frustrating inadequacy of poor fitting clothes (cutter ‘Ooohhh you have liiimbs! Shit! Well that’s just totally not going to work here unless you’re ok with the seam cutting off circulation at your armpit’) there is the other great offence that is high street prints. Sometimes they can be fabulous. Just an exact interpretation (rip-off) of whatever Erdem or Jonathan Saunders has sent down the catwalk 6 months prior. Everyone covets it, some people manage to buy it, then for the rest of the summer (because prints are only really a big deal in summer, seriously, where have you been?) you’re either reading about Pippa Middleton wearing it on Daily Mail online (don’t judge me it’s not like I’m the one leaving the comments) or you’re weighing out whether the jealousy of your friends is worth the risk of running into someone else wearing it at the wedding/pub garden/Chinese buffet. (you’ll probably be OK at the buffet). OTHER TIMES (most of the time), a stroll into Topshop/Miss Selfridge/River Island et al between the months of April and August becomes a visual assault akin to the final scenes of The Last King of Scotland. This is where I lose faith. A poly-blend blouse that looks like a village flower show through the eyes of someone who is both colour blind and under the influence of LCD? A body-con minidress with large graphic roses that everyone will recognise instantly as being from the left-hand rail of Exeter Primark? Even Cath Kidston, print connaisseuse and floral queen knows the nearest you should get to wearing shit that graphic is on a freaking apron. I’m not even going to find a picture as an example for fear of inducing migraines on my one reader (hey Mum!).
So before I go vomit at the mere thought, here are some of my faves from Jonathan Saunders show. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/)
And the full-skirt wonder that is this:
Just maybe think twice if you’re a chubby 4 year-old at a family wedding with a glorified bowl haircut.
I’ve done it. No, not only moved to France for 9 months (since the invention of the T-Mobile Euroboosters/parents to contact for money there is no longer any scope for exciting 'girl breaks out on her own and goes to France to find herself'). I mean usurping the idea that blogs are the Internet equivalent of that person you get stuck talking to at a party who decides to regale you with tales of their holiday or haircut 'fiaaaahhsco' whilst you’re using peripheral vision to source the nearest alcohol source, and starting one myself. Mostly themed around my three faaaaave things (gluttony and vanity X 2), hopefully the added bonus of totally unoriginal British insights into French life 'How are their municipal areas so tidy and their women so thin?'. Also a tertiary benefit of filling in everyone with what I’m up to without having to waste valuable Skype conversation time, when I could be discussing whether Norsk Blue or Duck Egg would look better in the new bathroom (Mum) or if Kim Kardashian’s husband gets neck-ache (assorted friends). Whatevs, follow if you like but I’m going to start deciding what to cook for dinner.