Question: What’s a style staple?
Answer: A term meant to imply qualities like timelessness or longevity, but actually another commercialized phrase often used to encourage consumers to buy whatever’s been marched down the catwalk several months previously.
Question: Wait, so basically ‘a classic must-have’ dressed up in different words?
Answer: All too often, yes. Sometimes you will be advised to ‘update’ your ‘style staple’ according to how it’s been re-worked by designers. Take exhibit number one. The leather jacket. This is usually an item claimed to be a ‘fashion necessity’ - something that ‘your wardrobe really can’t be without.’ However, there will be permutations according to the trends on offer. This leathery ‘staple’ can take a variety of forms: the biker jacket, the buttery soft jacket, the long jacket tied at the waist, the sexy jacket, the boyfriend jacket, the tailored jacket, the retro nineties jacket, the zip-up jacket, the aviator jacket, the jacket covered in buttons (each more expensive than a decent meal). Then we have the humble shearling jacket, beloved every several years and sniffed at when not currently on sale. Like 70s maxi-dresses and 80s power shoulders, it will flare bright for an instance and then subside into the murky depths of a coat-rack.
Question: But what if I love shearling, and to me it’s a staple year after year – even if the industry aren’t too keen at a particular moment on big fluffy collars and outer layers that will keep me cosy?
Answer: Well then wear it! If you like it, and it looks great and makes you feel good, then go ahead – knock yourself out. Parade that fleecy bundle of warmth with pride. Who am I to stop you?
Question: Yet if I do that, doesn’t it make a whole mockery of the idea of trends? Won’t fashionistas look at me, aghast, with carefully manicured eyebrows raised and voices lowered to a muted grumble of “what on earth is she wearing? Doesn’t she know that Burberry did shearling in 2010 and we’re not quite at the point of rehabilitating it back into the mainstream ‘must-have’ lists?”
Answer: Actually, no. Little secret. Have you seen the latest Burberry campaigns for AW14? They’ve got shearling coats with floral patterns and everything – all belted and pretty. Cara Delevingne and Suki Waterhouse are doing some grade-A hair flicking in the ads. Then Prada did big, colourful shiny ones. They also turned up in various forms at Coach, Topshop Unique, Isabel Marant and a few others.
Question: Wait, so my plan to launch into a carefully orchestrated, very articulate tirade about being able to wear whatever the hell I want has been scuppered? You mean that this sartorial decision, which I thought was going all off-beat and individual in showing my complete disregard for what’s hot and what’s not, is actually going to look very carefully timed with what can now be bought in various high end stores? That all my protestations about another sprinkling of leaves on the lawn not requiring a new statement coat will be overshadowed by me looking like I was keeping this jacket hidden away for the next time shearling graced the list of top ten trends? And I only had to wait four years!?
Answer: Yeah, sorry about that…
I did indeed dig this jacket back out, having said to my mum, "Oooh, I really want a good leather jacket this Autumn" - her answer being, "but you already have one?" It's second hand Escada, bought from a charity shop five years ago. Mum helped me to turn it into a gorgeous shearling number in 2010 with the help of an old sheepskin baby blanket (my dad's!) that had already had a second life as a seat cover, before beginning to fray at the edges. It was then salvaged to shape into this collar . You can also see the life of the jacket pre-fluffy collar here in 2009.
In this post I'm wearing it with a charity shop silk dress, vintage jewellery (necklace from a jumble sale) and second hand, velvet heels from eBay - that of course are only ever worn to stand or sit in (walking being ridiculously impossible).