Seeing JLo looking amazing on the red carpet at the VMA’s last night (and Amber Rose looking questionably so) got me thinking about my lifelong love of fashion or, moreover, glamour. Along with millions of others, I love JLo and Kylie but what differentiates ‘Fashion Fabulous’ from ‘Fatal Faux Pas’? JLo, Liz Hurley and Kylie are older women who haven’t messed around with themselves too much and still look ‘Absolutely Fabulous’. My late mother was an in-house model back in the day when such things existed. And even when she died, aged 70, her boyfriend thought she was 45’ish and she could pull it off, no problem. With no enhancement, cellulite or Botox (‘hooray’ say my genes (and jeans).
The thing about fashion it that you should find and embrace the look that suits you and not just buy pieces that will make you look ridiculous, whatever fashion bloggers say or to look ‘A La Mode’. Leave that to Apple Pie – see ‘When Harry Met Sally’ if you don’t know what Apple Pie à la mode is. From Audrey Hepburn, Coco Chanel and Elizabeth Taylor to modern day icons (including JLo and Kylie, for example) they all create(d) their own looks that are (still) copied today, both within Haute Couture and on the High Street. Going back to Amber Rose, with her body shape, she could have looked fantastic, wearing the right outfit for her shape. ‘Wow’ over ‘Boo’.
Over the years, I have worked in fashion, celebrity and travel PR and up until fairly recently, fashion magazines would have baulked at the idea of High Street names advertising within their precious pages. Today, the High Street blurs with Bespoke as the ‘A’ listers capitalise on personalised High Street brands, lending their names to what undoubtedly become huge financial successes and fantastic ways to engage with an extended target audience.
Just because a crop-top looks great on Rihanna it doesn’t mean we all need to wear one. Particularly when some of us will look more ‘Little Britain’ than ‘Little Waisted’. And this is where fashion becomes dangerous. A lot of women don’t wear what they should and particularly some of those who actually work in the fashion industry. I call this a ‘Crime of Fashion’ rather than ‘Passion’. I love seeing my friends look wonderful. I celebrate the beauty of fellow women. I generally don’t feel jealous or want to copy anyone else and I can name and shame at least three other women that copy my clothes and makeup. I find this most bizarre as we are all unique creatures with our own Goddess-like gifts.
Whilst some women worry about what men think of their bodies, normally a man will focus on your assets rather than the bad bits you notice yourself. If you have great boobs, work them; if you have a small waist, ditto and so forth. I don’t think I have ever asked anyone if my bum looks big in an outfit. Booty is a girl’s best friend and whilst every woman is born a different shape, we should all consider embracing the ‘Wow’ factor rather than a simple fashion statement for fashion’s sake. Some women look great in clothes and others just look great naked. I won’t say which category I fall into but ideally we want to feel and look great in both states.
Some photos posted on social media really should be banned or reported. It is as if some women don’t have any friends to tell them what they actually look like in the mirror or as if they have woken up after having a schizophrenic attack. This isn’t an attack on women, it’s a public plea. If women want to have more confidence and ‘look good naked (and by default, dressed)’ as the positively hopeful Gok Wan asks, they need to dress to their shape and define their own version of style. And it doesn’t matter if you are a size 20 or a size 0, it’s about finding what works for you.
French women have a knack of doing this from birth. It is as if they come out of the womb with a Style Guide. Simple outfits can look stunning, even if ‘les femmes françaises’ are just wearing jeans and a tee. They mix up their wardrobe into Staples and Specials. I myself am quite happy to mix up Primark (I love Primark) with an Italian Designer but I always focus on a few specific items that give me a ‘finished’ and high impact look. And when I travel I love a bit of a capsule wardrobe. It’s taken some years to refine but when you travel a lot it becomes a necessity rather than a wish.
I recently went to an evening function in London and I went all over Spain and the UK to find a dress that I liked and that fitted properly. I was going out of my mind and probably would have spent way over the odds to find something suitable. Being a lady who is rather blessed in the chest department and whose bottom half doesn’t fit the top, it is never easy finding clothes without looking like a stuffed Xmas turkey or a bin liner.
By chance, I went into some dodgy shopping Mall in Hammersmith and happened to find the most stunning dress for £30. Yes, £30. So I bought it in two colours: navy blue and emerald green. I wore the navy version for the party and paired it with amazing iridescent silver shoes and a stunning blue, silver and diamante ‘box’ clutch. The outfit was a winner and, as it was stretchy, the boobs and butt both clung in the right places. I hadn’t spent a lot but I felt like a million dollars. And that, my friends, is Fashion at its best.
And whilst I would never risk of calling myself a Fashionista, I do have a good eye (just one, mind you) and can always find a bargain. I can pick out clothes for F&F that they often think would never work and I just ‘know’. My good eye is like radar when I walk into a shop. Imagine Arnie in heels à la ‘Terminator’. I scan the room and zone in on the items that I want to look at. I never procrastinate or go back to a shop. If I don’t love something there and then, I never will (ditto the men I go out with, LOL). And I rarely go shopping with other people. This is a ‘Lone Wolf’ kind of task for me, one that requires utmost concentration and no white noise from the rest of the world. I take my craft very seriously.
And so to the lesson of this blog and some fashion commandments. Please have the confidence to wear what you should wear not what you think you should wear. Celebs get it wrong sometimes too and hideously so…just look on some Instagram accounts, Lord save us – ‘shoot the stylist’, I say. And talking of Instagram, I have banned myself from temptation as some of the accounts I follow are becoming like an addiction to temptation. FYI.
The heart of fashion lies in confidence and an ability to find a style that flatters and makes you feel great. Whilst JLo, Kylie and the like may have 24/7 Stylists, Hairdressers, Makeup Artists and PT’s, this is their JOB: they are paid to look wonderful and showcase the epitome of beauty and fashion. Women should minimise their need to feel envy or deny themselves their own level of Fashion Pride. Be inspired by the wonderful modern-day resources available to see what is ‘Hot or Not’ but don’t get called into ‘Fashion Prison’ where you will be held until you see sense.
Hopefully I won’t be in Fashion Prison any time soon. I pray that my good eye and genes grant me Fashion Freedom for many years to come…Fabulous over Awful any day of the week. Absolutely.