Archive for January 2010
this video, of the charming and graceful lou doillon modelling the vanessa bruno ss10 collection, has quite made my morning.
i love the black skirt she wears while she’s stamping around in the flour. long and floaty in the front, knee length in the back .. i can see that working great for a windy summer in wellington, moving into autumn with tights and killer boots. hmm .. thinking, thinking ..
kiwi fashionistas take note: glassons‘ annual collection of breast cancer research tees has dropped, and it’s wicked cool. i think my favourites are either the karen walker design on the left (it comes in grey and white too, but i think the black is the most rawk) or the stolen girlfriends club one on the right (the tiny type says “her essence was rare”, which is a nice little nod to the gang of four, i think).
the other shirts feature designs by trelise cooper, cibèle, lonely hearts and zambesi. we’re kind of starved of designer – high street collaborations in new zealand .. so this is a great chance to snap up some kiwi design talent while helping an excellent cause. go get
so i got dressed this morning but haven’t quite had the courage to commit fully to this outfit. i am wearing my wayfauxrers (couldn’t face putting my contacts in), a lazy oaf t-shirt which has “j’aime paris” written on it, a black miniskirt from glassons, grey tights and red russell and bromley brogues. i tucked in my shirt and felt like i was channelling alexa chung, a little bit.
but then i stopped and thought: is this outfit mutton?
mutton is a difficult concept for those of us in the latter half of our thirties and beyond. it basically means that you’re dressed age-inappropriately. i have a dear friend in london whose sister refers to him and his husband affectionately as “les moutons” because they wear north face jackets, worn jeans, trainers. i think my friend looks terrific .. he’s consistently one of the most stylish people i know. but in an era where hipster girlies at mighty mighty wear clothes that my grandmother might have considered too frumpy, where smart teenage boys wear clothes which hark back to music videos made before they were born, where the most stylish women i can instantly name — carine roitfeld, daphne guinness, amanda harlech — are all older than me and still rocking it really hard .. what does age-appropriate even mean?
more fashionable minds than me have considered this question; indeed, it’s a staple of the glossy mag to run “age issues” where they look at style through the lens of those in their 20s, 30s, 40s et cetera et cetera, pass the ambien. the 20s are always represented these days by alice dellal, whose fearless style i admire; the older women, well, it’s the usual array of your helen mirrens, your mary quants, your duchesses of devonshire. all, in their way, fabulous. none, with all respect, that helpful when it comes to interpreting rules for ordinary women.
i used to have quite strict rules about this stuff, purely for myself. no midriff. no short skirts. no upper arms on show. no bikinis outside latin america. oh you know, i was quite the self-editor. but then i realised something. none of this made me feel more confident about the inevitable process of getting older, the unavoidable slide into what is (for women) the uncomfortable invisibility of middle age.
like any person who’s nearly forty, my body is showing the signs of a life well lived. my pale skin shows the tracery of veins beneath. i have scars, laughter lines, freckles (or, as a dermatologist would probably term them, permanent sun damage from living half my life in the southern hemisphere). i fail the pencil test. but you know, i feel better about myself now than i did when i was a skinny, tanned, neurotic little thing of 17. on the whole, my body’s holding up pretty well. what’s disintegrating as we speak is my ability to give a toss what people think. i don’t think i’ll miss it.
as i have grown older, my confidence in my taste has grown. i am not afraid to wear clothes that are a little challenging. that call attention. that the 17 year old me would have rejected as too weird, not attractive to boys. glasses? in public? are you crazy? i squinted for years because i was too shy to wear my corrective lenses outside of darkened lecture theatres. now, i don’t care. maybe boys would think i was a nerd these days. but i’m not interested in those boys now.
so a pox on my rules, such as they were. just as the term “middle aged” loses its meaning as one approaches its ambit, the words “age-appropriate” might need to be banished to the charity shop pile of language.
i’m not saying that there should be a free-for-all. at least, not for me. there are certain things that a woman of my age should avoid, i think. barbie pink. any outfit that would look adorable on my super-gorgeous four-year-old niece evie. any t-shirt with a slogan that says “princess” or some such. egregious embroidery of hearts. cartoon characters, no matter how ironic.
there are some overall styles that don’t work, either. the gothic lolita style, much as i think it’s cute, isn’t for me. if i went for the feral tank-girl look, i would not look sexy; i would look like i need to be put on some kind of watch list. the preppy-princess look so loved by blair waldorf just looks matronly on me; i will never be the kind of girl who can wear a chanel suit, but my credit card will be the better for it. and i think too much skin, in a setting other than the beach, is just a little tacky. if i get my legs out, i cover up the rest.
but you know what, ladies? those are my rules. they’re not necessarily anyone else’s. if barbie pink makes you happy, wear it. if you feel good in cutoff jeans and a midriff top, who cares if you’ll never see 40 again? pair them with a flannel, cowboy boots and a stetson and i think you’d look pretty rocking, to be honest. if you’re wearing dreads and combat boots and it makes you feel cool and powerful, then i bet people turn their heads in the street to check you out. be confident. work it. pick things that suit your body, pick colours that make your skin glow, the rest is up to you.
so, then. i am not sure that i’ve added much to the debate here. but i will walk out into this beautiful summer day in my mini-skirt and brogues, head held high. no mutton today, not here. not ever.
forget the art deco; on a blue, blue sunshiney day in napier, the thing to photograph was the funfair, sitting silently, awaiting customers.
hello, my name is ninetwelvetwentyfive and i am addicted to melissa shoes. seriously. the clever designs. the intelligent and forward-thinking selection of collaborators. the fact they’re vegan and recyclable. the delicious smell of bubblegum. the sheer comfort factor, whereby i can wear even the most vertiginous of high heels for hours. all these are huge points in melissa’s favour, but what i love most is the sheer fabulousness.
yes, they’re all vivienne westwood anglomania. left to right: ultragirl II, lady dragon, three straps elevated.
if you are lucky enough to live in brazil, you can get the melissa range in the fabulous galeria melissa in são paulo .. or in shopping centres all over the country. i like the jelly stores .. they carry the complete range as well as accessories, and the girls in the shops are super-friendly. if you’re in australasia then the best place to get them is the melissa australia online store. the discovery that they ship to new zealand may be very damaging to my poor credit card.
and then, there’s these. a top competitor for all-time best vintage shopping score. i bring you: my new chloé boots.
found lurking in the footwear section of the ever-fabulous recycle boutique .. taken home, re-soled and re-heeled with new insoles (i think you should always do this with vintage shoes; apart from lengthening the life of the shoes, it makes them new and sparkly-looking and banishes any memories of the previous owner’s feet) and massaged with nourishing polish, they’re just everything wonderful. i find it hard to track down knee high boots that go all the way up to my knee, but these do. perfect for banishing cruel southerly breezes in this lovely summer weather we’re having :-/
what are some of your recent finds?
the rockstar and i got back from brazil on the morning of the 31st. thirty hours of travel and we were wiped out .. valiant efforts to stay awake came to nothing and we slept most of the day, waking in time to see the fireworks in auckland live on bbc world news. i was really not in the mood to get dressed up and go out but the rockstar insisted. so at about 3am, we ventured out. courtenay place was carnage, all the good bars were either full or closing. but i charmed a bouncer into letting us into a place that seemed pretty jumping, and indeed it was .. full of young drunk people dancing to house music. i decreed dancing was the order of the evening and so we danced a lot, drinking steinlager pure from long-necked bottles and smiling like crazy people. another bar, giggling at completely wasted people, nipping into burger king where i had a chicken-pineapple burger bought for me — i ate it because i felt bad, but that’s the first time i’ve eaten chain-store burgers in about 15 years and nothing’s changed :-/ but somehow it felt right, as we wandered home watching the sky get lighter and the sun rising .. not for the first time, thanking the universe for the blackout curtains in the bedroom. it was an unexpectedly excellent night and was the perfect farewell to a year that’s been crazy delirious fun. i can’t wait to see what 2010 will bring.
i owe you about a dozen posts about brazil and you shall have them. i got kind of busy there for a while, but i have a lot to tell you. for now, though, the rockstar and i are heading to napier for a couple of days. see you soon.