Monday, 18 October 2010


I'm having a wardrobe dilemma. This is nothing new. I have always had problems buying clothes, but now I'm in my 40's, it's got worse. Let me explain. I am not one of those stylish women who effortlessly establish their signature look, which they update each season with the addition of a trend item which says, 'I'm not a slave to fashion, because I have my own unique style, but I do have my finger on the pulse, and will add pieces seamlessly when it works for me'. No no no. If you see me regularly you will know that more often than not my outfit will say, 'yes, here I am again trying desperately to dress with style, but not quite deciding if I am going to embrace my mid 40's and dress at Fenn Wright Manson or cling doggedly to my youth and insist on Top Shop'.

The age problem has not helped the fact that I have started being greedy with styles - one minute wanting to look all rock-chick, the next lady-like in a fifties suit, the next 70's in flares and wedges. I sort of try them all, but cannot settle on one, and it frustrates me. I have read interviews with women who have eclectic wardrobes, and they always say 'I dress to suit my mood; I never feel the same from one day to the next blah blah blah' - and position it as a positive thing. I just end up feeling fake and frustrated that I can't decide on one look and properly invest in it, rather than just bits and pieces of every look that only give me a total of four outfits, because nothing is interchangeable.

You would think that entering middle age would simplify things. You only have two choices really - classic or classic with a twist. Except when you're greedy. And it's very easy to be greedy when fashion is so fabulous and diverse - which let's face it, right now, it is. If you were in your twenties in the 1990's you will get this. It was the worst decade for fashion BY FAR. Look, I like minimalist clothes (as one of my looks of course....) but all we had year after year was dull shift dresses (hopeless on a pear-shape with hollow back), kitten heels (even worse with thick ankles), hipster trousers (flat abs anyone?) tops that barely brushed waistbands, only to reveal a not so tasty muffin top. Clothes were either coma inducing or designed to make your 20-something body feel 40-something. I didn't have the confidence to branch out, but I was desperate for prom dresses, platform heels, sloppy Joe jumpers, high-waisted flares - oh wait, that's what's trendy NOW - right?

So, therein lies my problem. I just want to stick my nose in the fashion trough and suck it up - gorgeous gladiator heels that make you feel fabulously confident (since when did a kitten heel do that?), voluminous layers that are comfy and flattering, whimsical dresses which cinch at the waist (hurrah!), sheepskin jackets that are tough but cosy, military coats which embrace your inner Russian heiress. But there's my perennial problem again - no one style, thoughtfully put together. Just a gluttonous desire to feast without sensible, budget controlled consideration for the merits of the capsule wardrobe. Urgh - even the phrase sends me to sleep. Capsule Wardrobe....snore...

It doesn't help that I am so influenced by my surroundings. I now work in Soho and am regularly exposed to Top Shop Oxford Circus and a myriad of even better boutiques. I buy say, some chunky ankle boots and peg trousers (not too 'mutton') and then won't wear it to the school gates because I'm afraid that the Boden mums in sensible shoes will think I'm trying too hard. Next day I'm in Old Amersham, buried in middle-England conservatism, pop into Phase 8 and find myself buying a nice little waterfall cardie which I wear to pick up the kids but instantly hate when getting dressed for work.

I know I've waffled on, but you can see my problem(s). Does anyone empathise with this double (triple? not sure which) life dilemma or are you all thinking I'm a total flake who needs to get a grip? Better still, and much more fun, just vote for your preferred shoe, and I'll get the picture.


  1. Hi,just popped over from British Mummy Bloggers. You need to adopt an easier 'uniform' of some sort and save yourself a whole load of hassle. For me it's pretty much jeans and t-shirts as I'm a SAHM so don't have to fit in with work and couldn't care less over fashion anyway. Far less aggro and much cheaper too!

  2. Hi.. just read your post. I know how you feel - style is all about experimentation and it can take time to find a blueprint that works. (And I don't think there's one that will guarantee you'll feel fabulous every day!) I identify with the peg trousers vs Boden brigade at the school gates... and for the record I love both pairs of shoes! Come on over to my website and see if The Online Stylist can help... if any of the three packages don't fit then drop me an email and I'll see if can do something a bit more specific for you xxx Amanda

  3. I am trying to streamline more, as like you, I am a greedy fashion consumer. Like Tilly suggests adopt a 'uniform' of sorts but then if you need to satisfy your style urges, buy amazing shoes, or a statement piece that can be worked with more basic stuff- that is what I am trying to do anyway ;)Check out my most recent post (with a pinch of salt)and let me know what you think of my theory?

  4. Topshop all the way. Growing old disgracefully is so much more fun - plus you get to embarrass the kids. Win win!

  5. I have over 40 wardrobe problems too.
    Mine are possibility as different to yours as Soho is to Cornwall.
    Read my clothes and shoes 'anxiety' posts and you'll get the picture.
    Either, way, you'd think we could have grown out of, not grown into, worrying about what we wear.