Fashion: Handbags

Yesterday, I bought a new handbag.

Not just any new handbag.

A beautiful handbag, in mint green and pink – soft leather, no less – and equipped both with the standard handle for easy carrying, and a longer strap when over-the-shoulder seems like a better idea. Quite aside from the eye-catching, stunning colours, every stitch is exquisitely crafted, and each pocket placed with absolute perfection. This handbag cannot be discounted as a minor accessory, and is certainly not easily forgettable. It demands attention, justifiably so.

Alternatively: this handbag is a gift that just can’t wait to start giving, and on this momentous occasion I’m the lucky consumer expertly poised to receive.

(Well, maybe not expertly. That’s a bit of a stretch.)

Buying a new handbag probably doesn’t sound remotely impressive, and certainly not exciting. As for “momentous,” well, that’s surely a word that we should be reserving for genuinely fantastic events, such as winning something other than a rather woebegone plant on the raffle, or managing to finish a walk in England without getting rained on. Not, under any circumstances, the purchase of something as profoundly commonplace as a handbag, at least not for anyone remotely sensible.

If any aspect of purchasing a new handbag is momentous (which is of course entirely dubious), it would surely be so in a way that should rightfully only be celebrated privately, among like-minded people, and with some degree of appropriate embarrassment. It may also be necessary for that small, exclusive group to convince themselves that they do remain utterly sensible, irrespective of any handbags that they may or may not have purchased.

But it was, in fact, a momentous occasion, as buying any handbag has the potential to be.

Let me explain.

You see (or I like to think you see, even if you probably don’t, and would rather be spared the hassle), this was in fact an expensive handbag.

No, not one of those.

Well, perhaps a little like one of those.

It wasn’t quite expensive enough to merit a panicked “it was an investment, really,” or even my particular favourite: “You’ll never see another like it!” It was, however, certainly pricey enough that when my bank statement finally drops with painful merriment through my door, I’ll be offered a clear opportunity to reflect on my poor decisions, and maybe even develop buyer’s remorse, should I be so inclined.

(I am, on occasion.)

It was, as I like to think some people, somewhere, for some reason, say: an Expense.

 As such, it can, under those somewhat dubious circumstances, be considered to be a luxury item, and my purchase of it at least some indication that I have Made It, whatever “it” is, and whatever “making it” happens to involve. This is, in simpler – and slightly less ridiculous – terms, an achievement. By purchasing an item that cannot be considered to be a necessity – although it was entirely necessary to me – I have clearly reached a previously elusive point of independence.

Additionally, as a buyer of handbags, as a pose to strange little ornaments or fridge magnets, I have been elevated to a group of people characterised by their interest and commitment to stylishness and fashion. A door has been opened; a new way to live revealed, and I stand poised on the threshold, finally in possession of the keys to the castle.

This is important for many reasons, which will undoubtedly differ in each situation. The purchase of the first luxury handbag is ultimately a profoundly private experience, even if the mechanics happen publicly, defined by its considerable uniqueness. For me, it was the sense of achievement, the tangible proof that I had crossed some invisible boundary into a lifestyle previously beyond my reach that was the most important aspect (after the beauty of the handbag itself, of course). It heightened my self-esteem, proved my abilities, and gave me something to focus on for the future.

(Do I sound sensible yet?)

Honestly, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, because you might just be surprised. (At the very least, you’ll own a new handbag, which in my experienced estimation is never a bad thing.)

Yesterday, I walked into a shop to buy a new handbag.

When I left the shop, handbag on my arm, everything had changed. The world, in which handbags that I could suddenly afford were made and bought, seemed a brighter place, and my position in it vastly improved and on all accounts really rather positive. Believing in myself no longer seemed so difficult, and I had clear proof that doing such wasn’t entirely unfounded.

Do not underestimate the power of the handbag.

It didn’t matter whether I had one handbag or twenty lying in wait to leap onto my arm, and it didn’t matter whether I spent more or less than average. The point was that I had been able to afford a luxury item, entirely on the back of my own efforts. I had shown that I could achieve in my chosen field, and that I was capable not only of achieving, but also of succeeding.

That is why buying my new handbag was a momentous occasion – it marked an important stage of my life.

Buying a luxury item isn’t a solution, and it can easily make the buyer feel worse, not better. But it is a valid option, and under the right circumstances, it can have the desired effect.

Today, I’ll probably buy teabags. I won’t emerge a better, changed person from the experience, transformed and reinforced by fresh belief in myself and in my abilities, but at least I’ll have tea.

~

In the blogger’s spare time, she is:

Reading: Shadow Warrior by Chris Bunch

Watching: AMC’s Preacher

Listening to: The FoolRyn Weaver

Fashion: winter coats – yes or no?

In the really rather lovely confines of my over-active brain, this blog post is named: ‘the perils of winter, from the perspective of a woefully short individual with a marked distaste for fluff.’ But, in an effort to present myself as the well-adjusted, mature young woman that I certainly am not, I decided to rethink a little, a process that culminated in the title you have just (hopefully) read.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Anyway: to business.

It’s woolly coat season!

And if those words fill you with A) Fear, B) Loathing, or C) Fear and Loathing without a handy helping of Las Vegas to ease the burn (more’s the pity), then this post is for you.

Not just for you, but rest assured that you sit firmly inside the pool of my intended target audience.

You lucky thing.

My problem with woolly coats is a simple one: They just don’t fit.

Oh, sure, I’m small. But the problem isn’t that I can only find options that trail uselessly on the floor, collecting all kinds of rubbish and forcing me to strut back and forth like some particularly badly dressed extra from the latest historical drama. The problem is that I feel swamped inside them – and probably look it, too. I don’t wear the coat – the coat wears me, and it’s not exactly flattering.

In case that wasn’t enough, adding insult to grievous injury, the alternatives – think less fluffy, more buttons – seem to have been designed under the terribly problematic assumption that the individuals purchasing them are naturally located in far warmer climates despite the fact that they just happen to be buying a winter coat.

Ultimately, there are two main options for the brave individual sallying forth to purchase a winter coat:

  1. Drown
  2. Freeze

I shouldn’t have to tell you that this isn’t exactly an ideal situation.

Happily, there are other options, and I’m here to give you the salient details.

I’m practically your fairy godmother, just without the wings, the wand, or the magic.

  1. First up: layers. Cardigans, fleeces, jumpers, jackets over shirts over t-shirts – the whole nine yards. Whether it’s for the sake of fashion or because you like being able to feel your toes, this is clearly a viable alternative to the huge winter coat. Extra layers will generate extra warmth, and this option has the added bonus of a practically guaranteed additional cuteness factor.
  2. Settle for a jacket instead. Abandon the dodgy woolly coat with masses of fake fur and dubiously positioned buttons for something smaller but equally durable. Barber has been trying to corner the market here for years, and if you’re looking for high quality with an absence of fuss, they’re the brand for you. Alternatively, if Barber jackets sound a little too much like ‘ridiculous expense,’ there are plenty of other options for individuals with a more realistic budget, so don’t panic if high street options are a little out of your price range. Trade secret: they’re a little out of mine, too.
  3. Scarves, hats, and…wait for it…gloves! This option works on the same principle as option A). Layer up with accessories, covering exposed skin to generate extra warmth. This option also allows for the fashionably inclined to go all out, as well as meeting the basic need for warmth in bad weather, and there are many cute options, should that prove to be a concern.

To wrap things up – do you see what I did there? – if you happen to be someone that doesn’t like woolly coats, don’t worry. You’re not alone. And there are other options that are both viable and sensible. It might take a little more work to accumulate what you need, and there will always be those tall, statuesque goddesses drifting around in oodles of fur, but you can look good too – and, trust me, you will.

Go forth, my friends, and conquer.

~

Do you have something to say about winter fashion? Drop me a line on Twitter and I’ll feature you in my next post and/or shower you with my eternal devotion.

Fashion: a semi-thoughtful foray into the difficulties associated with shoe shopping

DSC00486

Originally, this blog post was entitled: ‘The intricacies of fashion from the perspective of a 5’2 blonde with a fondness for energetic dance classes,’ which says everything you need to know about my previous run-ins with the aforementioned ‘fashion.’ I scrapped that, however, primarily because it was too long, but also because it sounded as if I intended to start a bizarre journal entry detailing bad fashion mistakes, and as much as that sounds rather fun, it’s not something currently at the top of my to-do list.

Shoes, on the other hand, are.

Shoes are great. Whether they’re a fashion statement, a practical necessity, or picked out just because of the way they look with those jeans, they’re there to serve your needs, whatever those needs might be. They’re dynamic, versatile, and the fashion conscious person’s best friend, and even when they’ve suddenly and quite unexpectedly become a problem – think thin white shoes on muddy ground – they’re always there for you, and, to be honest, that was your fault, not theirs.

However.

As I mentioned previously, I’m 5’2. Which is, in the grand scheme of things, reasonably short. A nurse once said that I make Tom Cruise look tall, which, to be entirely honest, was easily the worst part of that day.. To clarify: I need heels. Preferably high ones. Possibly even stilts. My friends are all of the considerably taller variety, which I have been semi-reliably informed is actually the ‘average’ height, and, as such, when I stand next to them in flats, I might as well be a gnome.

Not ideal.

Compounding the problem is the fact that I have a bad record with the aforementioned ‘high’ heels. I have a minor joint problem that mainly effect my knees, and it gets particularly bad if, yes, you’ve guessed it, I wear heels for long periods of time. To sum up: I need at least four-inch heels to reach ‘average’ height, but I can’t manage them.

Forget it.

So what’s the solution?

  1. Wear flats. Abandon my insecurities over my height (or lack of), and settle for the comfortable option. There are many lovely flat shoes around, so it’s surely just a matter of finding the rights ones. Compromising in the name of comfort doesn’t mean throwing out my sense of style (if my fashion choices can be considered to even slightly contribute to a ‘sense of style,’ that is).
  2. Wear low heels. Potentially kitten heels. That way I get some extra height, and the opportunity to appreciate a really rather pretty pair of shoes.
  3. Wear higher heels, and ignore my feet in the name of fashion, height, and looking as un-gnome-like as possible.

Thoughts?

Fashion: My first ever trouser suit

Suit up

(Image borrowed from http://wallpaperswide.com/suit_up-wallpapers.html)

My very first trouser suit, neatly and carefully packaged, came by post.

It arrived in the middle of the day, utterly distinguishable, sophisticated even in the relatively extreme amount of wrapped it was protected by, and practically demanding to be unwrapped and worshipped, and yet it sat in my bedroom for at least two days before I finally plucked the beautiful garment from its confines and held it up to the light of day.

(Well, the light of my bedroom, but let’s not get picky)

Why did I leave it so long? Leave it to suffer unacknowledged and uncared for, when it should have been hung up immediately, wrapping discarded, and properly appreciated?

Because it wasn’t just a trouser suit. It was my first trouser suit. Wearing it, I would go forth with ambition and resourcefulness to improve my future and change my life, leaving behind the awkward teenage years to embark upon a new era of markedly better fashion choices and growing responsibility. A terrifying prospect, of course, but with that suit, I would be very well equipped. The trouser suit is a symbol of strength and determination, and I intended to be strong. To do that, I needed to wait for the right moment.

The opportune moment, if you will.

Finally, that moment came. (That moment being the day my mum yelled at me for leaving it as long as I had and endangering the possibility of a refund, should it not fit). I removed it carefully from the several layers of wrapping in which it arrived, put it on, determined that it did in fact fit, and wonderfully, and descended the stairs with as much majesty as I could muster. (Which, if you know me, is woefully little. But, I digress).

I wandered into the kitchen to find my parents, eager for their opinion on what I was convinced was a masterstroke in regards to the first impression I would give in an interview, and was met with the following:

“You look so grown-up!”

Needless to say, that was not the response I’d hoped for. I’d anticipated disbelief, excitement, and perhaps a touch of wonder. But what I got transformed me straight back into that ten-year-old girl buying a new pair of shoes. In other words: it was somewhat less than ideal.

So what did I do, you ask? (Or, potentially, don’t ask, since I have no way of gauging your interest in this little story, and I’m not here to make assumptions – this time)

I persevered. ‘Grown-up’ was something akin to what I had hoped for, of course, so I simply tried again, wearing it to two interviews in the space of about a week.

And you know what? It was great. I felt strong, I felt resourceful, and I felt powerful. The woman in the trouser suit means business, and I felt like I meant business, even if I wasn’t quite sure what that business was or why I meant it.

Buy that trouser suit that catches your eye. Or that blouse. Or those knee-high leather boots that you just know you’ll feel good in. Because when I started writing this, I didn’t intend to leave a profound message, but I did (sort of), and when you wear the clothes you love, you’ll do things you didn’t think you could do as well.

Go forth, friend, and conquer.