Monday, 3 August 2015

Taking Chances







Some clothes are love at first sight – or near enough. Or whatever love at first sight feels like. Quite honestly, I’ve only experienced it with objects, sartorial and otherwise. Maybe this says something about the state of my love life thus far. Or perhaps I’m just more impetuous with my clothes (which, you know, makes sense. You don’t have to limit yourself when it comes to outfits…)

Other clothes though are subtler choices - ones made on the off chance that it might just prove fruitful. They’re more like ooh-maybe-it-might-work-but-I’m-not-quite-sure type affairs (probably quite a tad more accurate if we’re continuing with the whole relationships analogy, which of course I am). Often they’re bought on the encouragement of another, or because they’re ridiculously cheap, or because it’s a good combination of good day, good time, good garment.

Sometimes these decisions reveal themselves to be the folly they are the next day when you’re staring at a bright pink pinafore dress and wondering where exactly your discernment wandered off to. That’s ok though – that’s what eBay is for. And besides, it’s worth it for every time those unsure decisions prove themselves to be absolutely and exactly and utterly RIGHT.

Take this dress. It was fifteen euros from a second hand shop in Paris last summer. I’d picked up and put down several other things, but kept gravitating back towards this. It seemed a bit plain though. What merited it coming home with me? It was just a navy shift with some lace on it. And yet, and yet - perhaps it was the ideal shade of navy, the ideal placing of lace, the ideal fall of the hemline. And besides, my purse was still feeling a little heavy…

The upshot is that I’ve had it in Oxford with me all year, and worn it innumerable times. It goes with everything: grey Jaeger blazers, purple tights and velvet DMs; suede jackets and brown boots; turquoise socks and bright pink heels. You name it, somehow it’ll work. Well, maybe that’s a claim too far. But it’s about as versatile as it gets for me, and there’s a pleasure in dreaming up new combinations to play around with. Here it’s pictured with a yellow shirt that’s worn with similar regularity, to the point that it ended up with (now fixed) rips at the collar and sleeves.

It’s funny how this stuff works. I’ve had plenty of items I was convinced I’d wear until they were rags on my back that only get the odd outing. Others I nearly didn’t buy that get pulled out with increasing regularity. What makes the difference? What transports something from the ‘occasional’ pile to the ‘slip on whenever necessary’ one?


Maybe it’s partly comfort – it just feels good. Perhaps it’s about cut, and knowing that something will instantly flatter your body. Could be about the combination of everything else you own. As great as a garment is, if it doesn’t go with anything else (and yes, I’m bemused to say this does actually happen to me, despite my wardrobe’s best attempts to dominate the room through sheer volume), then it’ll stay folded in a drawer. Or maybe it’s just down to that odd-and-brilliant-and-weird thing that just happens with some clothes. It’s not quite magic. Not quite a superpower. Just a quiet aligning of everything, a moment of it all working out and looking subtly fabulous. This dress is definitely in that category. I spent my Euros well.

Everything I'm wearing here actually gets slung on with some serious regularity. I've had the heeled brogues for years, and they've cropped up on the blog many a-time. The shirt was second hand. And the provenance of the dress? Well, that's been covered already. 

In other news, I've had two articles published recently. First, this piece for Into the Fold discussing modelling and self-image. Second, this piece for Yahoo chatting about my curly hair, my mum, frizz, and the excellent website ThandieKay

10 comments:

Vix said...

Isn't it strange how those slow burners end up becoming our staple pieces whereas the fabulous pieces crash and burn?
You look a vision wandering the country lanes! x

mariafelicia magno said...

nice outfit snd beautiful pics..i like your shoes

Willow said...

First off, I adore these pictures. They are so sunny and joyous. The first and 4th are just gorgeous, as are you and your lovely smile. That dress is definitely surprisingly captivating. I know what you mean; I have clothes that I have bought from charity shops with so much excitement - hardly being able to believe my luck in such a gorgeous find - that I still haven't worn, but I have no idea why. And then some things that I have had only a slight interest in on first meeting, but due to not finding anything else, have bought so as not to leave the charity shop empty handed (silly, I know) - and they have been some of my most worn items. But then, when I'm going through my wardrobe to get rid of things, those beautiful clothes I never wear are inevitably hoarded with excuses of "I just don't have the right shoes to go with it yet", while I stupidly throw out the pieces that I often wear because I think "well, it's not THAT special, I suppose I don't need it..." and then wonder why I'm always trying to find something to wear! I can relate to your opening paragraph as well; if only boys were made out of cashmere...

I liked your article on curly hair. My hair has always been curly, but the curls have got tighter (but my hair bigger) as I've got older. I got my hair from my dad, who kind of looks like there's a small black lamb sitting on his head (he uses clippers on his hair to trim it, and it comes off like sheep's wool). Throughout most of my life I've hated my hair, and it's been only in the last couple of years that I've started to love it (and also find the secret to managing it). I find it funny that when my hair was misbehaving for all those years, I was going for nice haircuts all the time and trying out all sorts of weird treatments and special brushes, but now, I just cut it once a month by bending over and doing a quick snip (which also layers it), and about every four days I wash my hair (thoroughly) with either honey or conditioner, and my hair curls instead of frizzes, never ever gets oily, is soft, and barely knots. Although, despite this, I still get the odd bit of insecurity about it, so reading your piece helped me again remember my fortuity. I think both you and your mum have gorgeous hair, and you both look all the more beautiful for wearing it with pride.

I really enjoyed all your other posts below, too, but as I've already made this comment so long, I'll just say that I thought they were great (especially the writing for 'Woman in Clothes', the delicious descriptions in 'I capture the castle' - and the glorious photos, and those beautiful, tender portraits in 'Treasure, Trinkets and the Occasional Diamond'). ...I saw on an instagram post of yours that you're off to Sweden, and just want to say that I hope you have a great time. x

Anupriya DG said...

Somehow, I am REALLY into the colour Navy right now....am loving all things navy and I think the colour itself is as versatile as it gets...the possibilities of working this colour into combinations is endless and always pleasantly surprising!
And yeah, there are these pieces in our wardrobe which just makes an outfit right by being in it! And then there are others, that we just don't know how to wear coz they never seem right! Maybe clothes have their destiny too, you know... :)

Leigh Ann Fisher said...

Oh how I wish for a sweater. So warm here!

Lola Byatt said...

I first need to comment on your photos as they are so beautiful. I have to also admit to something rather embarrassing...the other day I took outfit pictures after an absolute age and because of this pressure I had placed on myself I couldn't quite get into picture taking mood so I googled pictures of you....you have the BEST poses!!

there was a time when I absolutely loved buying clothes that were a little out of my comfort zone... in most cases i'll have seen it on somebody else looking quite fabulous and convinced myself that I too could look equally fabulous. and i loved this idea of having different garments to project different personalities but most of the time I'll keep going back to the things that i love because they are "me" so i stopped doing this as much!! It is so very wonderful though to find a piece that you're unsure of and yet it will go seamlessly with everything else. x

FASHION TALES said...

I think this type of thing seems to happen to me a few too many times. There has been several pieces of clothing that I thought I'd wear forever, didn't think I would love them, and vice versa. I've a muted colour cardigan that I just adore these days, it's very simple, not too fabulous, but oh so comfortable. These photos are your own countryside runway. Beautiful.

Melanie said...

Yup, the most unlikely items become favourites. Sometimes I think it's like that with humans too. Heh. There's a satisfaction in wearing something until it gets holes, but it's too bad that's the reward for being well-loved.
Your photos are divine! Always so. Congratulations on your latest published works!

Zoé said...

The truth is that sometimes you can't simply opt for the pieces you've fallen in love with. One needs something that may take a while to become a wardrobe stable, that may not be so glamorous as to make one immediately fall in love, but that will work in many quiet ways. I shop a lot in charity shops as well as vintage shops, so this is always apparent to me! :)

The Magpie said...

I'm seriously in love with your pictures, your colors, and your smile! I can completely understand how certain clothes will kind of sneak up on you and you find yourself wearing them unexpectedly with delight.