Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I sense the time is near. My very favourite baggy denim trousers that I've been wearing for god knows how many years are finally on their last legs ('scuse the pun). It is quite possible that the next time I wear them on a blustery day, a small gust will render me trouserless, standing in the street in my knickers, shoes and socks with wispy threads of soft denim flying into the ether around me. The trousers are now at the height of soft slubby perfection, but the moment perfection was achieved, the danger of them disintegrating increased. They have reached their peak and now must, like all things, decay. I can't even remember where I bought them - it was somewhere cheap and high streety - maybe Mango. I've looked high and low for a replacement but nothing can match them. Funny how my favourites are not expensive "special" pieces but ordinary utility clothes that just happen to fit, be useful and look exactly right.

Because I only buy things I really, really like, I expect my clothes to last forever. I get weirdly attached to items of clothing - the ones I end up wearing all the time. The Miu Miu coat I've had for ten years with the shredded lining will not be chucked out, it will be re-lined in cute printed cotton. If I can salvage something from having to be replaced then I'm happy, since there is no perfect replacement. I don't know if it's an English thing - certainly not a modern English thing but a throwback to the old make do and mend culture. I know people think I'm very strange for being like this, especially since I like clothes and fashion so much, but I hate to have an excess of stuff I don't need or like. When I make a mistake and buy something not quite right which gets left hanging unworn I get rid of it.

Looking through my wardrobe there's no clear theme, no clear criteria for what makes something perfect. It's not really a fashion thing, more to do with the fit and the cut and the quality. Which doesn't necessarily mean expensive - my favourite T - shirt is from H&M, not The Row. T-shirts aside, I lean towards the Italian way of shopping where you try stuff on and the tailor alters it so that it's just right. I get things altered or alter them myself quite often; but there's something I never knew about until A introduced me to a tailor at one of the shops in Venice. Despite having worked for big Italian fashion houses I'd never realised that the sarta (tailor) would also alter the look of something you buy to make it suit your style. Bloody hell, it's hard enough to get a pair of trousers taken up in London. And in Italy it's of course a free service.

Anyhoo all this to say that these cheapo denim trews were in fact a cornerstone of my wardrobe and now it all makes sense why I got so upset about my bag getting ruined at the dry cleaners, or why I was fully miffed at my Comptoir des Cotonniers coat only lasting one winter before it went all bobbly. Clothes that really work don't come along every day and excuse me coming over all Trinny and Susannah but it seems to me that this is the way to structure a wardrobe: forget about "Apple shapes with big boobs must wear empire line dresses" and "Are you a skittle or a brick shape?"

So, my winter cornerstones are:
Vintage military navy heavy wool trench coat (age: 60, adopted:10 years ago)..
Teal blue H&M T-shirt.. (age: 5)..
Massive Anna Corinna leather tote (will cry when it dies) (age: 1)..
APC wide leg navy corduroy worker trousers (age: 6 months)..
Stella McCartney for H&M black silk tuxedo skirt (age: 2)..
Beige cashmere APC sweater (age: 2 months)..
Stripy Marni cashmere sweater that I hardly ever wear anymore so it'll last forever (age: 6)..
1940s blouse top with little puffed 3/4 length sleeves (age: 60 ish, adopted: 6 months ago)..
Lyell 1940s style blouse top with little puffed 3/4 length sleeves (age: 1)..
Rutzou blue/grey plaid top (age: 3)..
Vintage plaid shirt (age: ?, adopted 1 year ago)..
2 pairs Miu Miu black wool trousers (age: 10)
White leather Converse (age: 4)..
Nubbly blue wrap long cardi bought in Florence (age: 12)..
Bruuns Bazaar metallic brown/bronze cardi and scarf and Naja Lauf satin kimono dress from trip to Copenhagen (age: 4)..
Soon to be R.I.P. denim trousers (age 12?)..
Long burgundy leather gloves (age 1)..
Vanessa Bruno navy wool button down dress (age 2)..

Sounds really boring, eh? Well at any one time or another I am usually wearing at least one of these items. Hmmm, lots of navy. Only one thing bought new this season (APC sweater). And that military coat goes through phases. Some winters I don't wear it at all but it's perfect for now - although it has always vaguely emitted an odour of curry powder.

What are your favourites/cornerstones and how long have you had them?


lottie said...

your poor trousers. I can relate... I have some old sass and bide wide legged rabbit boy jeans that I got in australia over five years ago. I wore them until they literally wore through on the bum and have had them mended twice by trop cher london 'tailors' (my a*se they're tailors... more like dry cleaners with a sewing machine) but I daren't wear them for fear of them splitting again and my revealing more than I ever intend to. I've since bought two pairs on ebay but neither were right and I can't wear them either... aaaand, I'm currently wearing my much loved italian knee length boots for their fourth winter as I can't find another pair in london that even come close. I'm so afraid I'll wear them out completely and have had one zip replaced and new soles and heels countless times... I saw one of the assistants in tabio on neal street wearing a great pair of boots today - when I asked her where they were from she of course answered: 'italy'. pah.

now I've started thinking about this it is hard to stop.... do my mother's old clothes count? I have a turquoise vest, approx 35 years old - from the original chelsea girl! - that I wear all the time. cream canvas converse, 2 years old, that have holes in the toes but I don't want to replace, navy apc winter coat, 1 year old, that I think I'll wear pretty much forever and navy levi 627s, 6 months old, the perfect antidote to low slung jeans.... there are more, I'm sure!

Lola is Beauty said...

oh lottie, now am more determined than ever that we must meet for "fika" - we are surely twins - sartorially at least...

Anonymous said...

I got a pair of leather, most gorgeous slouchy, butter soft boots at Ann Taylor (a zillion years ago -- seriously, we're talking late 80s before that store wen tcorporate) and they were the most expensive thing I had ever bought in my life ($225 which sounds not so bad now, but then I was just out of college and that was more than half my rent!). twas mad. And yet. YET. I had them resoled three times and only finally put them out to pasture over ten years and 18 million times later and if I had a nickel for eveytime someone asked me WHERE did you get those boots? I would be writing to you from my home in the south of France.

lola, I have said it before and now that I see Sprink is the same-- we are SOUL sisters, mon amie-- maybe someday my play will open in the West End and I'll meet you both in London where you'll show me all your fave haunts!


Le Club du Style said...

Thank you so much for this post which totally fits my fashion mood of these days. Last year, I bought this vintage Agnès B Lolita blazer (quite a blast from the past, it was the brand that got me hooked on designer clothers when I was 11, meaning a long time ago): it's grey and houndstoothy, the sleeves are too short because it's meant to be for a 12 years old, but on me it ends up being a 3/4 sleeve. In short, it's perfect, I only paid 12 euros for it and if there is a cornestone to my wardrobe it's been this jacket. And it really got me thinking on how the perfect item for you may not be something expensive, or something flashy, bot something that makes you feel appropriate no matter what, that makes you feel totally you. Findind this jacket has made me totally reconsider my buying philosophy- meaning I buy less, and less (I call this being fashion constipated, gross, I know). My recent fashion bible has been this vintage book called Cheap Chic- do you know it?
On a side note 1) the jeweller i was trying to tell you about = Gilbert & Gilbert on rue François Miron, quite near the St Paul métro station 2) "You better watch out" LCDS

Lola is Beauty said...

bp: we most certainly will...I would like to meet up in the south of france as well!

lcds: thanks for the jewellery tip - right in "my" Paris 'hood too...and I'll check out the book...

Everyone: thanks for playing along, I knew I couldn't be the only one...