Every so often, fashion land goes through a love affair with monotone. From every magazine, editors scream about the chicness of black and white. Women everywhere buy black and white striped tops, and try on their white shirts with black trousers and skirts and, once again, are mistaken for the catering staff at a work event.
Apart from the very real risk of looking like you’re dressed in an “old timey criminal” costume in March, it’s just a bit boring, isn’t it?
And so, I decided to go monochrome with a bit of spin. Everything had to be black and/or white, but instead of classic or Parisian chic (stab me directly in the face on that latter one, but that’s for another day), it had to fit my brief – which let’s summarise as “a bit different”. And, of course, as I was wearing this to work it had to satisfy my “striding about the office” power test. That’s right, I’ve made that A Thing.
Nothing says “a bit different” quite like a skirt made with enough fabric to build a family-size tent. This beautiful girl is from Asos. If you want to swish about, this is the skirt style for you. I felt like a proper lady in this one. Although – would you like some professional career advice? Here it is: if you wear a skirt with long side panels, try to avoid running over the side of the skirt with your desk chair, coming to an abrupt and undignified halt, in front of your boss. (I spent the rest of the day lifting the long sides of the skirt over my lap to prevent any more incidents.)
Wearing a plain shirt seemed like cheating so I went for a bit of paisley instead. You can’t go wrong with something that originated in a dynasty! Had I access to any and all clothing in the whole world, I would probably have chosen something much more intensely graphic, so that the intensity of the skirt was better balanced, but this was okay. Also, I didn’t realise I was doing this at the time, but I wore a tartan print and a paisley print together, and they both have links to Scotland. It must have been meant to be.
This skirt has been eating its four meals a day and has some serious volume, so I needed to be taller, and to close in my upper body a bit. These shoes are as high as I can possibly go on a full work day (I checked, and my steps app says I walked just over 10,000 steps in these. That seems a little high) but the thick piece across my foot makes them feel incredibly secure. Paired with my trusty Cotton On jacket, they altered the silhouette of the look so that the illusion of a larger torso created by the colour and blousyness of the shirt was erased, and my legs looked like they belonged to a full size human.
Let me lastly touch lightly on the earrings [Ed note: I did not touch lightly on this, sorry about me]. As you will know, if you are reading this blog instead of having it read to you, I have very short hair and ears that could, frankly, be closer to the side of my head. For years I didn’t wear large, statement earrings on the basis that they just drew attention to my “statement ears”, as we shall think of them. And then, one day, I just thought – why not? It’s not like my ears stick out any less without earrings. So I adopted my “if you don’t like it, don’t look” philosophy, which I originally developed in respect of bikinis during a sensitive phase, and later adopted in relation to my entire wardrobe.
And I guess, that’s the point of this blog. To encourage you to wear one thing that you’ve struggled with, to try on one thing that you think is a bit out there, or to dress in your most comfort-zone outfit ever and yet still stride about your office/home/wherever you like, like you own it. Even if you did embarrass yourself earlier by nearly falling off your chair.
Humans are brilliant. We can imagine whole worlds, we can invent things that seem like magic, and we can have incredibly complex ideas about identity, belonging and community. In light of that capacity for thinking, imagining and dreaming, it's almost unbelievable to me that we shame people for the clothes they choose to wear, that we judge them and disadvantage them for how those bodies look or how they choose to express their identity - the thing most cherished by all humans, whether they realise it or not.
What we wear doesn’t dictate who we are, what our values are or whether we are “good” or “bad”. Dressing up is for you – as I’ve said before, what matters is that you’re consciously choosing something that gives you what you want. It’s not for anyone else, and although we still live in a time where an awareness of others’ perceptions, judgments and biases has to be a part of how we dress, I hope that we will, one day, move past that to a place where what you wear is less important than who people know you to be.
All that, from earrings and a flouncy skirt. Who said fashion was superficial.