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

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The Thoughtful Dresser poll: which shape?

pear-shaped woman

The difficulties of finding my dress are based on my being pear-shaped - narrow shoulders, big hips, bad legs. One only has to go to the changing room or a gym, pool or spa to see how few women have the basis of a perfect figure. So if you could choose, which would you be? Vote as ever on the right.

Advantages and disadvantages of each type:

Boyish - easy to dress but no curves
Hourglass - hard to wear high fashion but in proportion
Pear - Small waist but bad legs
Apple -No waist but good legs

Applying make-up in public - the Thoughtful Dresser poll

A substantial majority of you believe that there is no reason not to apply one's lipstick in public. I do feel that this may be a cultural matter, with Americans more likely to regard it as something best done in private.

For myself, I see no reason at all not to reapply one's lipstick at a restaurant table, I do it all the time. Perhaps taking out a lip-brush, lip pencil etc might have the effect of lessening the mystique. And for this reason, reapplying your whole face, putting on mascara etc, I would regard as best left to the privacy of the ladies room.

I have, after an early morning departure, put my make-up on on at my seat on a train or on a plane. Why cause a queue to build up in the bathroom? And I don't often find the conditions there, the light and the general sanitation conducive to applying make-up.

I'm charmed by the sight of young women applying all their make-up on the tube, which indicates bravado and a steady hand. And you can sometimes pick up tips.

Asking for the moon update

Thank you for your many suggestions regarding my dress dilemma. My apologies for my relentless negativity, but fit and flatter is the maxim of this site.

I have decided to take the plunge and order a dress from LaDress

I have ordered it in brown and of course it may be a deep rich chocolate brown, or it may be a dingy coffee coloured brown and will have to be sent straight back, but I agree, these are lovely straightforward, beautifully constructed dresses. If expensive for what they are. I'll let you know when it arrives if it's any good.

I have just received a phone call from LaDress in Holland checking my address and telling me that my dress will be sent today. I call that good customer service.

The Ethical shopper confounded

Made in Italy? Not really.

I have a long piece in the Guardian today about the perils of buying ethically and the assumption that if you pay more you will automatically get better quality, and why so much production has moved to China, and why the major fashion houses are telling us their goods are made in Italy when they are not.

The abysmal high-street Christmas sales figures, together with predictions that we are facing recession, has led some fashion writers to wonder if the craze for fast fashion is coming to an end. It is time, it feels, to return to a more prudent and ethical way of shopping: not to forsake fashion altogether - God forbid - but to shop more wisely.

I had begun my autumn resolution with a jacket from Armani Collezioni, which cost £495. As I walked out of the shop and down Bond Street, I experienced a lightheaded elation. I had moved on and up to a higher plane, taking me closer to the source of style, and further away from mass-production.

Then the thread on the buttons started to unravel. How could this be? This was Armani, and not cheap and cheerful Emporio Armani either. Not quite couture, but, I assumed, lovingly made in a Florentine atelier by a raven-haired beauty who took a 90-minute lunchbreak to eat a three-course meal followed by espresso and adultery, and carried her paypacket home across the Ponte Vecchio in a Fendi Spy bag.

But then I met Dana Thomas, Newsweek's Paris fashion and culture correspondent, who had just published a book (Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre), which exposed the illusions of the luxury market. There are, she told me, only a very small number of companies still producing goods that live up to their own advertising. The Hermes Birkin bag costs £3,500 and has a three-year waiting list because it is made in exactly the same way as it always has been, by hand. A Chanel dress will be much the same quality today as a Chanel dress produced under the guidance of Coco Chanel herself in the 1920s. But the huge demand for designer luxury goods, initially fuelled by Japanese consumers in the 1980s, means that there are not enough skilled Italian and French craftspeople to make them, and most designer clothing and accessories are produced in China and other countries in the Far East


Read on

Thought for the day

Dressing is the one art the unqualified must practise. Elizabeth Bowen