I was getting ready for a speaking engagement recently and instead of just admitting I was nervous, I got myself into a state decided that I had nothing to wear. I had a black trousers and jacket but what I had was no blouse. “I have no blouse,” I said to myself, whilst fingering and flicking aside at least six of them. What I meant was – “I have no blouse which will make me feel better about myself. No blouse that will lift my spirit and make my nerves go away and make me look to other people as if I am a serious person who is cleverer than I actually am. Yes, I have blouses, but I have no blouse that actually suits me.” The reason for this, (and you would think that having been dressing myself for forty odd years I might have spotted it by now), is that blouses do not suit me. However, this fact had not halted my ongoing graw for the sexy-secretary look, the pencil skirt with pussy-bow collar worn in a post-modern ironic way. Every season it comes back and every season, (despite the fact that I have abnormal feet and cannot wear high heels and therefore pencil skirts), I decide that blouses are ‘the thing’. However, blouses do not make me look like a sexy secretary. They make me look like a middle aged old woman in a blouse. For pussy bow blouses to be sexy they have to be worn by eighteen year old fashion models. Otherwise you’re in Angela Landsbury/Miss Marple territory.
None of this entered by conscious mind, unfortunately before I made it into a TopShop. Imagine my joy when I found not an ordinary blouse, but a “directional top”. It had cropped frilly sleeves, a high neck and a slit down the back. I could barely contain my excitement when I looked at myself in the dressing room mirror. This was ‘it’! Directional, great with jeans, “funky” – I had, at last, deservingly – found my blouse. So I bought four. One in every colour. It cost me 125 euro but as I said to my underwhelmed husband when I got home and ripped open the bag, “I won’t need to buy another thing this winter. “This,” I announced holding the frock/smock/blouse confection aloft, “is Morag – Autumn/Winter 2010. This will carry me day-into-evening, casual-to-smart. This is all I need.”
Two days later I decided I was ready to present “Morag – Autumn/Winter 2010” to the public. As you can imagine people were lining the streets. Not.
Except that when I actually put my miracle blouson on it turned out to be an absolute monstrosity. It looked beyond ridiculous. Instead of a looking like a middle aged woman in a blouse, I looked like a middle aged woman in a horrible blouse. Worse again I realised that where my fashion mistakes once were an unfortunate mishap one could overlook, they now look almost comical.
I did give my blouson top a single outing, to a business meeting with my writing partner who is so utterly disinterested in clothes that she wouldn’t notice if I turned up in a bikini.
“How do you like my blouse?” I asked on the way home.
“It’s very frilly,” she said – far, far to quickly.
When are they going to start putting security guards at the door of Top Shop to stop old people like me getting in and buying things which are too young for us. Is it wrong to grieve that I have moved a fashion season closer to the “smart-casual/tailored-seperates” phase of my life?