Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Friday, 4 January 2008

What is a girl to do?

My friend Jo Craven writes a wonderful piece on how to dress when you are in your thirties and no longer features editor of Vogue

Last September, as I was about to leave my job of five years as features editor at Vogue, I spotted the much-lauded jacket of 2007 that had been called in for a shoot - the Balenciaga blazer. Ever since it was first seen on the catwalk last spring, it had been referenced non-stop in the fashion world, and cost around £1,500. I could never afford it. I just wanted to see what it looked like on. I squeezed my arms into the sleeves, but became instantly, comically stuck. I couldn't take it off. I was like one of Cinderella's ugly sisters; a flushed, undignified sight - particularly as at least one other editor had just tried it on without incident.

Several minutes of sweaty hysteria later, and after gentle tugging by two colleagues, my arms were free again. But perhaps this was the moment when, for me, fashion began to stop making sense. It wasn't so much the price of the jacket that alarmed me (nothing strange about rare things costing more), but I did take against the fact that it was unwearable for someone like me.


Alice Olive said...

Indeed a sobering moment. I recently had a similar moment (not that I've ever been in the fashion industry) when I finally tried on the fabulous hot pink Lanvin billowy shift as it came on sale at Barney's. I had such high hopes but alas, they were dashed in a sweaty instant in the dressing room.

maria de montreal said...

I read that beautifully-written article in the Guardian earlier this morning (our time) - my only quibble is with her final comment that it is easier to dress in one's 50s than one's 30s. That might be true for a businesswoman or MP, not for an artist-type. I'm 15 years older than Jo Craven and of course facing the oldest-person in a at one client's... but I do NOT want to look either like their mum or a banker.

Happy 2008 to the Thoughtful Dresser and everyone who reads or comments on this board, by the way.

Deja Pseu said...

Great article! This part also resonated with me: My vintage leopard print blouse looks less jokey Cavalli and a bit Barry Manilow. My trusted Ferragamo patents aren't retro-quirky any more: they make me look like my mum. My jewellery, which used to be witty, now looks tacky.

Fashion can be like a language that's just jibberish to those who don't speak it. That probably comes across as snobby, but I don't mean it that way. In certain environments, I can wear some things in a quirky/ironic way and feel totally appropriate; in others I probably would appear a bit unhinged.

When she says that it's easier to dress in your 30's than your 50's, I think she's buying in a bit to the notion that we want to dress more conservatively as we hit that mid-century mark. As maria noted, and as Linda's discussed many times, "'t'ain't necessarily so."

Phyllis said...

Frankly - I think it get tough in your 30's and just stays that way. By your 50's (entering next year for me) you just get used to the problem. This is precisely why I sew most of my wardrobe! Great article.

Anne (in Reno) said...

I think her issue is less her age and more her change in situation, honestly. If she stayed at Vogue into her 50's I highly doubt she'd stop wearing all her unusual clothing, but she moved to a village in Suffolk and I think that is reason enough to rethink a wardrobe that involves leopard-print and Ferragamo. But then, I live in the Wild West so maybe I'm just simplifying it into a city mouse/country mouse situation.

Teresa said...

"...but I did take against the fact that it was unwearable for someone like me."

Oh dear - this has been my problem for as long as I can remember trying to buy clothes. From the time I was a young girl and just always a little too tall for everything... buying bigger things so they would hang down longer.

Does this mean Vogue passed me by when I was 10? :-)

Gina said...

Interesting article, and it's very illuminating how location can make a difference in clothing selection. Although I suspect that the extreme of high fashion would not translate the same from the Vogue office to another office in London. My only quibble is that I disagree that it's easier to dress yourself at 50 than it is at 30. I'm 41, and I see no light at the end of this dark fashion tunnel -- at least if I don't want to fall into a fashion stereotype of a 50-year old woman.