Can one trip to the High Steet restore your inner chic?
As a woman who is based largely at home: wife, mother, writer, accountant, general dogsbody (I am a veritable CEO although that’s another story!), I frequently struggle with the mundanity of my attire. I live in a rural idyll with a road that floods each time it rains and day to day, I seldom see anyone other than the postman. Consequently, it is almost de rigueur to don a uniform of jeans and tee on a daily basis and accessorise it with wellies in the winter and flats in the summer.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my jeans! They are entirely practical and completely reliable. I have several pairs in varying hues and lengths and they are wholly appropriate for almost every occasion. Teamed with a jacket or a little cashmere they give me New York style nonchalance and worn with a fleece and a beanie, I am ready for just about anything else.
However, bubbling under the surface of the daily denim-clad-me is the latent style conscious woman I used to be. So with the Autumn settling in, I thought I should rediscover my inner chic. Where to start I pondered, and took a trip to my local high street which brims with aspirational middle class labels. It was exciting! The shops are yet to overflow with Christmas shoppers and midweek there is still a sedate, almost intimate, atmosphere that encourages indulgence. A sweater dress in simple charcoal grey I decided: cosy, casual, comfortable and forgiving, so good for every day but also with great potential for being dressed up. Perfect! It seemed like the midway compromise that would fit easily into my lifestyle whilst also fulfilling the long-lost feeling of understated elegance that I remember so wistfully.
So my search began. I thought it would be easy but it seems that it is a mistake to shop for clothes by design. I scoured the high street, which was exhausting in itself, as no shop was left unvisited or rail unrifled. There was an abundance of dresses but nothing was quite right. Too short, too man-made, too transparent, too bright, too cheap, too expensive. With potential shrinkage issues, I cannot bring myself to spend an exorbitant number of pounds on a woollen sweater dress that I merely like not love and yet the manmade alternatives which may hold their shape better, have a price tag to match their counterparts and look like the poor imitations they are. Worse than that, almost every item had at least one of the clichés that I hate, such as over-embellishment taking it from stylish to fashion-victim.
Just as I was starting to completely despair and think about hoicking myself away from the misery, I heard a siren call. There, tucked into the corner of a high street stalwart was an item that sang to me in perfect pitch. Not a sweater dress but instead, a skirt!
There was every reason for walking away. Firstly, it was a skirt not a dress. Secondly, it was silver thereby rendering it utterly impractical. Thirdly, it was dry clean only, ditto. Fourthly and most importantly, despite being completely sequin free, it had the potential to make me look like the oldest fairy in town. However, I slid into it. The length and fit were impeccable, the silver was not gaudy but had a gentle sheen and the cut gave it wardrobe icon status: for winter sparkle, gorgeous with a plain crew neck jumper and tights and equally fabulous with a slight tan, wind-swept hair and bare legs in the summer holidays.
It was a total no-brainer and it will not come as a surprise that although my life remains sweater dress free, there is a gossamer shimmer to me as I write this and a faint smile of recognition. Hello me. I am back. Inner chic restored. All thanks to an impulse buy.
Now all that remains is for me to ask the postman what he thinks.