Saturday, 5 November 2011

what would mary say?

I seem to have been haunted recently by the voice of Mary Portas passing opinions or giving me advice on the way I dress! I quite like Mary Portas – she’s all the things I’m not; opinionated, straight talking, passionate about what she does and very stylish. So I watched Mary Queen of Frocks on 4-oD with great interest. Her mission to rescue women in their middle years from the joint perils of frumpiness or looking like a teenager is quite laudable and I’m sure the Mary range in House of Fraser will be a big success.
Despite being a “high street” brand though, it is still too expensive for many of us. I love new clothes and I love fashion, but I grew up in an era when you mostly had two or three of any garment – one on, one in the wash and one just in case. I’ve moved on from that point, obviously, but I still expect my clothes to work hard. I try not to buy things that I won’t be able to wear with several other things in my wardrobe and, generally speaking, I continue to wear things for quite a long time. I realised today that one of the long sleeved V neck tops that comes out as the weather gets colder as a layering piece (see, I know the jargon!) is 19 years old, but that is a venerable exception. Five or six years is not unusual, though, so of course it is impossible to be at the cutting edge of fashion (as if!).
I don’t need “office” clothes any more and my day to day dressing is more often than not jeans, a loose top and a cardi. Yet I don’t want to give up all aspiration to dressing with a bit of style; there’s no doubt that knowing that I’m dressed well can boost my confidence and lift my mood. It’s nice to have a few things in the cupboard for special occasions or just because I fancy dressing up a bit.

Meanwhile I can just dream about being tall and slim with coat hanger shoulders, sailing up an escalator in my gorgeous understated clothes with my elbows akimbo, taking space in the world!


  1. I also love Mary; but find it interseting that all such shows (Gok, Trinny & Soos etc) seem to end up as therapy rather than simple transformation, be it a shop, a house or an individual. Mary's approach to those running businesses in previous series was similar. But there's something about fashion that seems to cut to the heart of modern Western women in way that is slightly worrying. Surely we're not that shallow? Are we?
    And I'm speaking as a superficial woman...x

  2. D'you know, Tracey, I almost put a superficiality alert on this post, but actually the more I think about it, the more I think that as human beings we are all in need of confidence and clutch at whatever props we can find. Clothes and other adornment have always been such powerful signifiers (of wealth, status, power, the desire to be different or to shock)that we can't dismiss our love/hate relationship with them as merely shallow. I'm very interested by the fact that Mary, T&S, Gok (tho' I've not seen much of his stuff) focus very strongly on wanting to look "sexy". It's not particularly high on my wishlist, but I can see that it would be for younger women, so perhaps "sexiness" is the C21st power symbol? I never thought when I posted this that I would be able to make a link with the morning bell message I receive each morning from our friend Ian Adams, but he has been focussing this week on saints and souls and on Thursday his message was "Saints don't hurt easily because their sense of belonging is deep. You are loved. This is enough ..." Sadly most of us struggle to find this enough. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can always hurt me (sometimes very deeply)". Phew! Almost a new blog post there!
    Lots of love to you. xx