I don’t want to sound like a naysayer, but some of the things I saw while walking through the midst of LFW attendees this weekend were INSANE. Don’t get me wrong, I’m truly for choice and applaud anyone who can walk with confidence down the streets of London wearing a huge red PVC cape or a furry dress in that deeply distressing shade of orangey-brown called buff.
Such people are part of the bold, pioneering spirit of London which we so need – but I don’t want to dress like that simply because those stupid tiny beaded handbags will never accommodate my possessions and I can’t manoeuvre in clogs and point blank refuse to try ever again.
The main thing though, surely, is real fashion people don’t need advice on what to wear – not really. They exist in a state of such otherness that they only really need to gratify a tiny circle of people and themselves with (I assume) a huge budget and/or friends in fashion houses who’ll lend them their garb.
But I do not live like that. I need fashion guidance when I go to the shops to buy my clothes, partly because I live in London, which means I socialise with people for whom dressing well (well = modern, neat-ish, with a personal twist, aka the holy grail in my eyes) seems to be second nature – seems being the operative word. Because these people work at their fashion sense. They learn which trainers are cool, dissect which ugly colour is current in vogue.
And while you might often hear me decry fashion dictums (as a natural rebel, I will not be told what to do, particularly when it comes to the way I look), it’s only half truth to say I ignore these things because, by nature of where I live, I’m immersed in it.
Which brings me to the two women who give good advice when it comes to clothing.
First, Esther Coren in her blog The Spike. Esther has a busy life (two kids, journalist, blogger, owner of a beautiful house I can only imagine needs a lot of organising), but she is committed to the cause of feeling comfortable and up to date, without slavishly following the kind of fashion that made that poor unfortunate woman wear that stupid cape.
Second, mega stylist Bay Garnett. She’s a bit harder to get advice from as she doesn’t have a blog (though she links to a lot of her work on her Instagram) but Nivea, the official sponsors of LFW, arranged a sit down for me with Bay and I asked her a few questions which should hopefully clarify any sartorial matters about which you are currently confused //
Me (not verbatim): Bay, I’m a bit of a moron when it comes to shoes. Could you please confirm that I can legitimately in the eyes of fashion people wear trainers everywhere and, if so, which ones are okay?
Bay: I’ve really gone off designer trainers – I think Nike, Adidas, and Reebok are cool. The originals. I think people will look back a bit more going forward – it’s culture hunting, in a way, to look to the source.
Me: How about piercings? Should I continue to pepper my ear with them?
Bay: It’s entirely up to you – but when every mum in my kid’s playground turned up with loads, I closed a bunch of mine up (that’s how pathetic I am), and then had my tragus pierced as I thought most people would be too squeamish to get it done.
Me: What evening wear should I don if I don’t want to conform to the whole ‘pretty girl in a dress’ thing but still feel dressed up?
Bay: Again, it’s a case of what make you feel great – the silhouette now can be whatever you want it to be (though I would say the bandage dress is a bit dated). You can do an oversized t-shirt and trainers with great make-up if you like, or swing the other way and do Saint Laurent lame.
Me: But you’ve just highlighted something I’ve long suspected about fashion people: make-up is considered to be a thing in and of itself, so doing a very coiffed look with full make-up and really done hair isn’t very cool. That right?
Bay: Yes, there is truth in that. That said, that’s the thing within my tribe – if your people are different, then you might be more inclined to do a fully done look. Breaking convention is hard.
Me: I need a shopping list. Where can I find good t-shirts?
Bay: Sunspel do nice ones. I like classic t-shirts and don’t love logos on them.
Me: And jeans? Where do good ones now?
Bay: It’s not so much a case of where (though I love 70s Pierre Cardin jeans, but they’re a mission to get), but more a case of what: I’ve never been crazy about skinny jeans or flares – basically, opt for a jean that isn’t a statement.
Me: I struggle to find good non-mumsy swimming costumes. Where’s good for them?
Bay: I’m with you – I don’t wear bikinis. Zimmerman do some really great swimsuits, and La Perla do lovely 50s heiress-y costumes. I’d go to Selfridges and have a look around. Personally, I love black. I don’t want to parade around in a costume – I like to be in one as little as possible so it’s a job done situation when I find one I like.
NIVEA has partnered with London Fashion Week for their limited edition Black & White Invisible Deodorant.