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

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Swing swing swing

Oh, and the pashmina is back, but tied a different way, apparently

Not to be confused with pashminas of yore, which were pretty and pastel and draped across shoulders, mark II is wound round the neck and dangles down the front, school-of-Burberry style, as a deliberate counterpoint to summer’s ultra-feminine ruffles fest. If you’re aiming for androgynous tailoring, the kinda-depressed pashmina will ensure you don’t look too severe. If you’re a celebrity, you could wear one with an evening dress to show you’re cool. Think of it as a new kind of necklace, but only if it helps.

Spurred on by the success of my personal pashmina odyssey these past few months, I’ve been tempted to progress onto other scarves, successful scarf-wearing being the PhD of clothes. Unless you’re Chloë Sevigny, the dowager Duchess of Devonshire, Inès de la Fressange or Marilyn Monroe prancing around nude behind a transparent scarf on a Bert Stern shoot, it’s hard to avoid looking like BA cabin crew. Still, Hermès didn’t get this far with four customers, so there must be a knack. Unfortunately, none of us in the fashion department can identify it. It would appear that on the whole, successful scarf-wearing is an innate talent, like having the ability to bite your toe nails or be French.

I was wearing my Etro scarf to tea with Joan Burstein on Tuesday in exactly this way, and she took it off me and re-tied it. I think it helps to have a long neck

The place Lisa is telling you to buy your pashmina isn't, that doesn't work because it's wrong, but the link at the top of my very page! I'm going there straight away. So should you.

The pendulum swings . . .

Jess in the New Look

I think it was about three years ago that, during a phone conversation with Ian Katz, then the Guardian's features editor, he said to me: 'Black trousers are over.'

Now Mr Katz, since elevated to overall editor of the Saturday edition, while a truly great newspaper editor and the man who rang me up one day and asked me if I'd like to go over to Paris to 'bring back some brainy ruminations on the collections', with his Camper shoes and party shirt, is not the first person I'd turn to to fashion advice. And not the person from whom I'd welcome hearing the news that black trousers were over.

But no, he said, we have a piece from Jess going in. Jess Cartner-Morley is the Guardian's fashion editor and duly, a couple of days later, there it was. Black trousers are finished. How, dear readers, I scoffed. Because the absolute staple of every girl's wardrobe was a pair of perfectly fitting (ha!) black trousers. And one had no idea what one was going to wear instead.

Yet six months later, I realised I hadn't worn a pair of black trousers in months. Something in fashion had shifted and I was going along with it. So for that reason I tend to believe what Jess says. Volume (which she at first called 'poufy') - she announced the arrival of that. And so it went.

But now Jess tells us that black trousers are back.

Pay very careful attention:

This year, the dress is finally losing its hold over fashion. Next season's must-have is not a cocktail dress, but an evening blouse. And now is the time to find the trousers to wear it with.

The new-look trouser sits proudly high on the waist. The slightly slouchy, flat-fronted trouser of five years ago - which British women adored for its its ability to make even pear-shaped hips look boyishly slim - is nowhere to be seen. The new style is more determinedly feminine, with a waistband that is in nodding distance of your actual waist. Think 1977 rather than 1997.

If you haven't gone in for fashion-trousers for a while, the first trying-on session can be a little alarming. The style is lengthening to the leg and rather elegant, but decidedly unforgiving on the waist, hips and tummy. Comrades, do not panic. Wear a blouse or bold T-shirt that draws attention to your top half, rather than a plain vest or knit, so you won't feel quite so self-conscious. And cast your mind back to the first time you wore a pair of skinny jeans - if you managed to reconcile yourself to those in the end, these are going to be a breeze.

No, I didn't manage to . . .

And the time in my life for tucking-in, is over.