On Saturday evening, I was once again running late. This phenomenon no longer surprises those who make social engagements with me, and my flatmates do not seem phased by my mad dashes around the flat in search of some item of clothing or jewellery that I have misplaced and SWEAR is not in my organised chaos of a bedroom. On one point though, they were a little incredulous. In the midst of the usual ‘oh-my-life-I-should-have-been-there-five-minutes-ago’ mayhem, I cry out in exasperation that I have NOTHING to wear. None of my dresses are quite right for the occasion, and it’s really a dress that I want to wear. Too short, too long, too tight, too loose, too formal, too casual, wrong fabric, the only cardigan that goes with it is in the wash. You get the idea. It is seven o’clock, so I know all the shops will be closed, and the panic hits in. I should have planned this better. It is at this point that one of my flatmates turns round to me and asks how exactly this is possible. I have more dresses than she has items of clothing, she argues. I cannot accept this. How could I? I am told to go and count them, and to my horror, there really are more than I expected. I return to the living room hanging my head in shame as I reveal the awful total. Thirty-four. Perhaps I am being a little ridiculous.
But then clothes are one of my things. I remember going through a phase (before the days of paying rent and bills and student loans) where I bought a new item of clothing virtually every week. I always thought I probably would have been even worse if my height and build had not – much to my annoyance – prevented much of what was in fashion from suiting me. I just love clothes. Oh my life, I am SUCH a girl. I tried to trace back to the root of my obsession (running very late by this point) and came to a few conclusions.
1) My mother has more clothes than just about any other woman I know, with the possible exception of my live-in godmother. Admittedly, they have both had thirty years to develop this collection, rarely throw anything away and can pull off almost anything. But that’s not the point, or so I try to tell myself.
2) I have an uncontrollable affinity to fashion magazines, an almost endless source of inspiration. I refuse to contemplate how much money I must have spent on ELLE, Vogue, their American teenage variations, InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar and other such beauties.
3) Having established my love of clothing for glorified shopping purposes, I saw this dress, back in Alexander McQueen’s A/W 2008 show, which suddenly made me appreciate the beauty of clothes and fashion in a more mature way. It is not just about feeling good – fashion and clothing can be an art form – a way in which we express ourselves. I think this dress reminded me of Swan Lake in a really bizarre way – its beauty and lightness and feminity. I just fell in love with it. Alexander McQueen quickly became my favourite British designer. I love his work – it is artistic, it is unique, it is pretty, it is boldly expressive. And Sarah Burton’s work for the label has been fabulous so far as well. I am a fan.
For the record, I eventually decided to go back to the same dress I had originally been planning on wearing on Saturday night. Sometimes I am such a girl it borders on ridiculous. It was black and white and had two birds on it, although sadly one of the McQueen variety remains in my taller, skinnier, richer dreams.