One of the things about being a scruffy young lady writer is that you assume that, given all the evidence, you’ll only ever have to bang out one cheerfully dismissive column about fashion. Just one. At the start of your career. And then you’re done.
“I reckon I can deal with all of fashion in 850 words, tops,” you think, as you write your first – and, you believe at the time, last – column on the subject. “It’s just a load of trousers and shoes, right? One big hour of thinking, and I’m out of here – for ever. See you later, fascinator.”
But, as the years go by, you realise … no. Just like cleaning out the filter on the dishwasher or telling your children not to say “ballbag”, however much you want it to be, “dealing with fashion” is not a once-in-a-lifetime task. This stuff just keeps coming at you. It attacks in waves. You’ll have just seen off the mid-calf culotte – something that makes each leg look like one of those circular shower-curtain cubicles – and then someone will invent the mid-calf frayed-hem jean, which makes each leg look like Dave Hill from Slade’s forehead. And so the battle continues. Fashion never rests. This stuff never ends.
Bearing this in mind, then, let us join hands once more, and see what spring/summer ’17 has in store for us.
“The trenchcoat is BACK!” the headlines yell. Can we not refer to it as what it is – the “flasher’s mac”? That’s its “street” name. I’d like fashion to show its courage and acknowledge the years of hard work Britain’s perverts did in keeping the trenchcoat alive, while everyone else was wearing Puffa jackets or duffel coats. To ignore this is cultural appropriation. Very bad.
Stripes are big this year. On the positive side, there’s a simple bracing, nautical jauntiness to a striped item – which I like to pronounce “stri-ped item”, as if I were some elderly Victorian professor, surprised by humanity’s invention of “lined clothes”.
On the other hand, if your body actually exists in three dimensions and has features that, on an Ordnance Survey map, would be described as “elevated areas”, stripes can begin to look like a distressed polygonal chain. In striped trousers, chunky thighs can make a borderline epilepsy-inducing “strobe whirlwind” in the camel-toe region. Despite all the rules of geometry, the stripes will appear to go round in circles. It’s best to avoid, unless you actually are a balloon on a stick, which is the ideal – and, indeed, only – bodyshape for stripes.
Last year’s fad for the backless slip-on shoe has led – as I predicted it would – down a dark, dark road. With the “pool slider” as the gateway, people are now actively condoning the hard stuff: Crocs. For spring/summer ’17, Christopher Kane sent them, fur-trimmed, down the catwalk – seemingly in the belief that the one thing that would finally make Crocs socially acceptable is “giving them a little minge each”. Although I’m all for a shoe that can double up as a tiny boat for hamsters when playing in a swimming pool, the fact remains that, when walking in Crocs, they will keep falling off. If you want to spend all day Cinderella-ing down the street, be my guest. Or attach them to your trousers with a piece of string, like mittens. Your choice.
4. The ‘deconstructed pinstripe shirt’
Spring/summer’s obsession with the striped shirt is a wholly different thing to its obsession with “stripes in general” (see left), because while fashion loves, and is kind to, “stripes in general”, fashion appears to be angry with, and hateful towards, “the pinstripe shirt”. Fashion is punishing the pinstripe shirt by “deconstructing” it. “Deconstruction”, we learn, is fashion code for “ruining and enshittening”. An asymmetric hem; one sleeve longer than the other; mad bows up the side; a random pleat – anything that makes it look like it was made by someone “overambitious” yet unskilled, who leaves in the first round of The Great British Sewing Bee in disgrace, after accidentally sewing their own head to the table. My favourite “deconstructed pinstripe shirt” is from Topshop – which, at £34, is the most affordable way to look like you’ve failed your Brownies sewing badge and are on board with spring/summer ’17’s “KILL THE PINSTRIPE SHIRT!” vibe.
Fine by me. Although it’s a colour that does seem to attract a lot of wasps/bees. Be prepared to occasionally punch an incoming one out of your way while sashaying.
Fine by me. Although these also attract a lot of wasps/bees. If worn with green tights – giving a “stalk” or “stem”-like appearance – the problem increases fivefold. With both yellow and florals, the best defence is to give the impression you are a carnivorous plant, by applying red mascara with a drop of sticky mucilage at the end of each eyelash, à la Venus flytrap. Anyone demurring from this on the basis that it’s both impractical and ugly needs to be reminded that Christopher Kane sent Crocs with minges down the catwalk for no reason at all.
7. One-shouldered items
Although this trend will delight those who believe that their best asset is “one shoulder” – and, because women are insane, I know some will be reading this and going, “Yes! That’s me! My only acceptable bodypart is my left shoulder! Everything else is hideous!” – there are two drawbacks here. a) Lady pirates will find parrots sitting on the bare shoulder feel uncomfortably “claw-ish”; and b) nine times out of ten, someone in the room will point at you, shout, “Hey! Don’t give me the COLD SHOULDER!!!!” and then laugh hysterically at their own joke. You will enable that joke. People will come over to you specifically to make that joke. You will have to remain drunk for as long as you wear a one-shouldered item.
8. White dresses
Anything white is bad. Anything. I marvel that anyone would ever buy something white. When I see women contemplating a white outfit, I feel like a grizzled old veteran, played by Robert de Niro/Jack Nicholson, putting my arm around them, and leading them over to a window.
“Look out there,” I say, pointing. “What do you see? The world. And what is in that world? I’ll tell you. Mud. Grass. Dogs. Children with filthy hands. Unexpected periods. Ketchup. Dirty walls. Spaghetti. What chances do you think you have of spending a whole day in your white item without coming into contact with one of these things. Huh? Huh? Do you feel lucky? Do you feel lucky, punk? I’ll tell you the truth. YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE SOUP.”
9. The kitten heel
“It’s BACK!” screamed the blogs. “The kitten heel – the walkable heel!” Brushing aside the oddness of the phrase “the walkable heel” – it’s like seeing “the eatable food”, “the drivey-around car” or “the eye-able face” – we must explode this bare-faced lie. Kitten heels are not easy to walk in. It would actually be easier to walk in a kitten. Even if they were alive, and squeaking each time you put your foot down. There’s a reason why autocorrect on iPhones changes “kitten heel” to “kitten hell”.
Kitten heels are not easy to walk in. It’d be easier to walk in a kitten. Even if it were alive and squeaking
The teeny-tiny heel gets caught in pavement cracks, gratings, parquet, lawns and between atoms, plus comes with the added weirdness of suggesting that you might, just might, be wearing them because you want to look like Theresa May. “I’m not wearing these because of Theresa May!” you will have to say, quickly, every time you walk into a room – thus breaking the first rule of clothes: “Don’t wear clothes you have to explain as you walk into a room – unless you’re a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race.” It’s too much admin. No.
10. Dressing gowns as daywear
Obviously I am in favour of this, as this doesn’t really qualify as a “fashion innovation” – merely the acknowledgement of an imperishable truth: that the dressing gown as daywear is the cherishable uniform of the triumphant loser and the comfortably crushed. The planetless Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. The Dude in The Big Lebowski. Germaine in Raised by Wolves. Everyone on Christmas morning, hung over, watching children open presents. Those “too late to worry now” swashbucklers outside hospitals, holding a drip while smoking a fag. This is their uniform. They have a packet of fig rolls in one pocket and a can of cider in the other. Shine on, you crazy diamonds. Shine on.
11. See-through skirts and dresses
These are to be worn over trousers, as an extra, diaphanous layer. From within your cloud of pale net or chiffon – or “ethereal mist”, as Marie Claire called it – it looks as if either a) your spirit-body is starting to leave your physical one, or b) as if you’ve been born inside an amniotic sac, made of tulle. This is a useful effect to be utilising when going to a difficult meeting. It’s an ace in the hole to suggest that, at any moment, you could become either a) non-corporeal, or b) suddenly burst out, in a gush of warm fluids, and start screaming until wrapped in a blanket and given milk.
12. A single, gigantic earring
Why not? Makes you perpetually look like you’re a woman in an Eighties movie, about to take an important phone call. A palpable air that you’re about to scream, “Screw you, Dex Dexter!” Cool.
13. Bra worn over a blouse
Another win from me, as this is a visual gag from a film about an alien who comes to Earth, adopts a human female body and gets dressed for the first time. See also: knickers on head with leg-holes over eyes; legwarmers on arms; gloves worn on feet.
So that’s fashion. That’s spring/summer ’17. See you in six months for autumn/winter ’17, because … this shit keeps happening.