September 5, 2013 by lucieromarin
Evil! Evil! You know what arrived with my bank statement the other day? I’ll tell you – stuffed in the same envelope as the bank’s list of ‘service fees’ was a brochure entitled ‘The Little Book of Online Shopping.’ It was the combined effort of the bank, Visa, and a women’s fashion magazine, in which various editors of said magazine shared their favourite online shopping sites, and encouraged us, the card-holders, to visit them.
It was full of lines such as ‘Dare you to spend a lunch break here without adding at least something to [sic] cart,’ and ‘This skirt is such a statement. I only need add a tee and a pair of heels and go.’ It was directed entirely at women. It urged us to consider a $749 pair of trousers, a $650 necklace, a $429 bedhead, an $813.17 clutch, and a $220 belt. It was also pink.
Suddenly, I felt that there was something to be said for a) a conservative dress code which absolutely precluded ever being tempted by a pair of $700+ skin-tight faux leather trousers, b) a culture of alms-giving, and c) Lent. There’s also something to be said for having no credit card.
Still, it must admitted that we have our own sartorial challenges, and, if you don’t have a sense of humour about them, and personal ideals beyond not-accidentally-looking-Wrong (because, to my mind, any obsession with clothing is bad, whichever end of the spectrum it occupies), they can cause a burnout of their own. Getting dressed in the morning is not meant to be exhausting! So, here’s something I wrote for fun – the checklist that goes through the mind of a devout trad (choleric) girl preparing for a big night out (such as a fundraising dinner or a charity ball):
WANTED: The Perfect Outfit.
It must conform precisely to every social requirement, but be utterly unique.
It must conceal every bulge. It must emphasise every curve.
It must make me slender where I am too round and round where I am too slender.
It must keep me looking and feeling fresh and comfortable during every possible change in temperature across a period of several hours.
It must generate admiration, but must not generate scandal. It must attract the attractive, repel the repulsive, and be immediately forgotten by the professionally celibate. When they see it, half the women in the room must exclaim, “That’s just what I wanted!”, and the other half must exclaim, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
It must fulfill the demands of modesty by drawing the eye to my face. It must fulfill the demands of dating by…well, you know.
The colour: It must be bright enough to be stunning and mute enough to be understated. It must so tone with my skin that all blemishes disappear and I become radiant. It must work the simplicity of monochromes, the boldness of primary colours, the sweetness of pastels, and the richness of jewel tones, so that I need not choose between them. It must also match the lighting, the décor and the ambiance of a room I have not yet seen.
The cut: It must be long enough to be statuesque and short enough to be chic. It must be streamlined and slinky, full and floaty, flippy and flirty, cinched and classy.
It must be on-trend, fashion-forward, nostalgic and timeless.
It must declare me available, but not easy; mysterious, but not unattainable; capable, but not controlling; perfect, but humble about it; and it must suggest all manner of talents, without making any actual false promises.
It must not turn out to look better on my sister, my flatmate, my neighbour, my younger friends, my older friends, ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, or my nemesis.
It must make the two-finger rule look like a four-finger rule.
In short, it must be the perfect expression of Grecian-Medieval-Renaissance-Regency-Victorian-1950s-prairie-gypsy-boho-steampunk-preppy-rockabilly-gunnesax-babydoll-gothlolly-indie-JacquelineKennedy-GraceKelly-AudreyHepburn-awesomeness.
It must cost no more than $25.
Where is such an outfit to be found?
And we haven’t even started thinking about shoes!