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

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Trussed up

Apparently some women have a hard time dressing down:

Slader also suggests looking at the choices made by women in the public eye to assess what works. "Twiggy looks great in her white linen trousers," she says, "but Helen Mirren, who looks fabulous on the red carpet, tries to be too vampy in black leather when she's dressing down. Kristin Scott Thomas looks classic in jeans and a simple shirt, but Victoria Beckham is bad at dressing casually - those wedge trainers she wore in LA recently were ridiculous. Sienna and Savannah Miller always look lovely in natural fabrics."


Toby Wollin said...

This article is a good illustration of one major difference between UK and US culture: In town vs. in the country dressing. I should think you'd see this only with people who own property both in a place such as New York City, Boston or Philadelphia AND a second home in the country. Even then, I think those people have the tendency to dress casually(see blue jeans and knit shirts or sweaters, trainers or loafers)outside of work even if they are still "in town" and don't dress much differently at their country homes unless they have livestock(in which case, green "wellies" or more heavy black rubber boots and the "barn coat" come out). I also think in the US, we have a huge problem with drawing the line between casual, not casual, formal, and frankly looking tatty - which has been a problem for probably the last 40 years but which has become much much worse over the past 5-10 years due to the influence of celebrities being tarted up and touted as style icons (see the Olson Twins and Britney Spears). Young women in the US consider themselves to have a huge sense of style now if they are not showing their navels and are wearing purple footless tights under a shapeless knit dress.

Phyllis said...

Dear Amanda Slader,

I just checked out the fashion on the John Lewis web site. I’m not impressed.

Your comments in in the Telegraph are some the nastiest things I have ever read about women my age. Did it ever occur to you that some of us rely on our youthful wardrobe because baby doll, peasant, empire waist, blowsy fabrics and handkerchief hems look ridiculous on anyone over 35? Some of us dress the way we do because fashion is not intersected in us as a consumer.
Perhaps if you tried to actually present clothes for this market you’d find a vast audience of women who will gladly open their wallets for casual fashion that meets our needs.

Disgusted in Massachusetts

Belle de Ville said...

"Instead of tailored trousers or a skirt, team it with jodhpurs, or chinos."


I live in a city where "model- actress-whatevers" are everywhere and casual chic is the norm. Women here never seem to be working just on their way, to or from, their yoga class, facialist, hair salon, audition, etc.
Leggings, jeans or juicy sweats are the norm, but jodhpurs...never.

Congratulations on your 100,000 hits.

Deja Pseu said...

belle, exactly! It's become de rigeur for well-to-do women in West LA to always look as if they're on their way to or from a yoga class. Unfortunately, this has bled over into how many people dress for work. :(

Ma Fraser said...

I gagged on the jodphurs too! But then, this was published in the Telegraph which is still in another century. I would question Ms Slater's taste too - I though Kristen Scott Thomas looked a mess. But what do I know, I read the Guardian.

Belle de Ville said...

Somehow here I think it is appropriate to comment on the emphsis on dressing down at the same time that our average population is aging.
Since grownups don't want to look like grownups anymore we have a fashion industry that caters to our need to prolong our youth and youthful appearance. Hence the teenage juicy sweats and leggings nonsense worn by 50 year old women mimicking their teenage daughters. Not that casual dressing is bad...we just need some age appropriate clothing... and activity appropriate clothing.
Thank you Linda for bringing our attention to the grown up yet chic clothes by Jaeger.

Anonymous said...

Oh, brother. File this in the "it's always something" drawer.

-- desertwind

Anonymous said...

I wish that some brand,maybe even a totally new brand, would start to design clothes for women 50+. Clothes, that would look silly on younger ones,but would take in consideration that the body shape of a teen and a grown-up do differ.It really is sad that we older ones have to pick stuff from the junior department to look stylish. Sure,Jaeger maybe is trying to fill in,but I would like to get something more stunning.There is a good market section here, cause usually we 50+ have more money to spend. The make-up firms have long ago found this market hole and there are lots of wonder creams women are willing to pay just about anything to make them feel fine!

/anne... said...

Why do we often have problems dressing down? Two reasons: cost, and practice. We spend most of our available money, time and effort on Monday-Friday earning-a-living clothes; when we need/want to dress for something other than work, cleaning the house or the weekly shopping, we probably just don't have anything appropriate in the wardrobe. We haven't thought out what we need/want to look like, and it's hard to justify buying those clothes when we have all those nice suit-y things already.

And when we go on holidays - ARRRGGG!! Clothing crisis!

I've recently moved back to the city of my birth after nearly 20 years away living in places far more informal. Now if I go shopping in town, I feel wrong if I don't dress nicely - so I've had to rethink what I've got.

I try to always have two denim or similar skirts - one knee length, and one calf length. With one of my less formal work knit tops, and a cute pair of flat shoes (I love Camper-style shoes) works for a wide range of day-time outings, with tights for winter.

Some of my more informal summer work skirts also convert to casual, again with cute flatties so I can walk long distances comfortably. I'm just not young or thin enough any more to wear dressed-up jeans, and since they usually also require heels to look nice, I'd rather be comfortable!

I've got a range of fitted cardigans in pretty colours (which get worn to work too), and a fitted short Kathmandu jacket which looks good in winter, and is also showerproof.

So I'm happy going shopping in town, to museums/art galleries/lunch - but I still haven't cracked the code for night time. Probably because I'm lucky to go out once a year :-(. A recent panic (daughter bought us tickets to the musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert) showed how hard it is for either of us to find something appropriate. Daughter is 20 and I'm 47; there was almost nothing that either of us were happy with, particularly if you need to hide bra straps.

I ended up buying a knee-length black and white print wrap jersey dress; it felt dressy, but I didn't feel ridiculously overdressed on the train home.

With the success of this dress, I'm planning on making a couple more. This is my first dress in years. I recently lost about 20kg (I feel that dresses really need a waist), and I have trouble buying dresses and skirts as I'm tall; unless they're long, they tend to flap unattractively around my lower thigh, and make me look like I've been shopping in the children's wear department.