Halp! Style crisis!
After the longest, coldest, just plain nastiest UK winter in decades, it looks as though spring may actually arrive. (Not that it’s here yet — the temperature is still about 50° F and an icy wind is howling through London. But it’s sunny, and things are definitely blossoming!) This is the moment I’ve been looking forward to, but also dreading — it’s time to think about clothing for spring and summer.
When confronted with the task of conceiving, planning, shopping for (and sewing) a wardrobe, I tend to crawl under the duvet with a groan and hide there. Not that I dislike clothing — I like my body, I am a massive showoff at heart and I used to go bonkers buying, remixing and parading around thrift-store treasures. It’s just that a) I no longer have any idea what to wear and b) clothes shopping in the UK is about as fun as a mammogram.
Clothes shopping was fun when I was 19 — I was stick-thin, everything looked pretty good on me, I didn’t have particularly expensive tastes and my job allowed me to wear whatever I wanted. But sadly, I had no money, so I had to shelve my longings for style and wear what I could afford. Fortunately, I lived in Toronto, where new, vintage and indie designer clothing were plentiful and reasonably inexpensive.
Now I have money, but I live in London, where “vintage” means squashed, battered ’70s boots priced at £45, charity shops are full of used clothing that was cheap and nasty to begin with and the high street shops are full of shapeless, tissue-thin knits because it’s cheaper and easier to make drapey rags for gullible 19-year-olds than structured, figure-flattering, high-quality clothing for grownups.
So this is my dilemma:
My figure, tastes, budget and wardrobe requirements have changed in the past six years, but because I haven’t been spending any of that time in fitting rooms, I no longer have any idea what to wear. This means that every sewing project is riskier because not only do I not know whether the finished product will turn out okay, I also have no idea whether it will suit me if it does. This is particularly a problem with vintage styles, which I may never have attempted to wear before making them.
The dilemma is complicated by the fact that I work in a pretty staid office environment (can it get any more staid than Parliament?), so any fashion risks I take have to err on the side of propriety — tweed and vintage hair I can get away with, acid-washed skinny jeans and zebra-print bodysuits I can’t.
Readers, I need your favorite resources — vintage and modern — on dressing to suit your body shape, putting together coherent ensembles, using color creatively and working vintage into a modern wardrobe. Links to good sites for vintage and modern fashion inspiration are also most welcome. Help me learn to dress like a grown-up lady!