This last weekend was my company conference. Imagine, a hundred or so women, most of whom are “of a certain age” (as the French so delicately put it), all of whom are beautifully and colourfully dressed in a vast range of styles, all of which suit them and showcase their figures and personality. It’s always an amazing, uplifting and inspiring couple of days.
And, yet again our lovely directors were attempting to inspire us to actually use the fashion update material they provide us with twice every year.
Now, until this past weekend my reaction had usually been “Oh no! No again: it’s only been six months since the last one!” This time, however, I did actually “get” it. The reason it actually came home to me this time was that, looking around the room, I realised that I had allowed myself to become just a little dated. Nothing I was wearing had anything to do with any of the five main “looks” this season. Fashion-wise, I was irrelevant.
Because I know the huge impact our appearance has on the way we’re judged, if we look out of date, the obvious corollary is that our ideas are out of date too.
Now, don’t get me wrong; very few of we Image Consultants are dedicated followers of fashion, but we do strive to be relevant and contemporary. We need to know what’s going on out there in the world and fashion because it’s about a lot more than just clothes. It can escaped nobody’s notice that the gift catalogues are full of 1940’s iconic images. My favourite is “Keep calm and stroke the cat”. It’s hardly surprising that sharp waisted jackets and fur collars are everywhere, combined with long hair in stylised waves and red, red lips.
But I’ll write about the forties another day.
what I want to write about today is another style that’s all around; Punk Grunge.
OK – so who, as soon as you saw the word “Punk” thought about safety pins, Mohican hair styles and the Sex Pistols? Oh yes, me too! Because yes, we were around in the 1970s and I was Mary of the Fourth Form when the Boom Town Rats had a hit single with that name. How difficult was it for me, a bespectacled, pigtailed swot, to live that one down?
Well this time round, the style is very different. Instead of thinking Sex Pistols, it might be more appropriate to think about the Bay City Rollers having a huge party with Cheryl Cole. Because there’s tartan; lots of it, and stylised roses (the sort that get tattooed onto bottoms*), tight leather trousers and leopardskin. Nary a safety pin in sight!
They say (whoever they are) that if you can remember a style first time round, then you’re too old to do it when it comes round again, and I would be the first to agree that this look is youthful, rebellious and probably not one for the office – certainly if you work in one of the stuffier professions. But I would definitely consider taking a few careful bites of this look, just for flavouring.
How you do it, of course, is up to you. This is the trouser offering from Zara
Do any of us have thighs that are that concave?
And now Marks and Spencer’s contribution to the fray:
Now, I will willingly admit to bias here, because I could quite fancy those M&S ones – and at less than £40 would be willing to wear them for a season just for fun. Would I wear them with my leopard print cardi? Um, probably not: that one I feel is best left to the catwalk. Will I be wearing the grungy oversize sweaters that also go with this trend? No. But a neatly fitted top with pink or yellow roses on – well, yes that one might be rather nice.
It’s always a case of spotting the bits of a fashion look that you can do successfully and steering a wide course around the bits that don’t do anything for you at all. Even with a look that at first appears to have nothing for you, a deeper understanding will reveal some hidden gems: you just have to put on your Frank Sinatra hat and “do it your way”.
* and for anyone who has not seen it: Cheryl Cole’s bottom.