This is the first of my new column for the Sydney Morning Herald (Thursday, Essential Style) and The Age (Sunday, M mag), which I’m going to post on here the following Wednesday each time.
I’ve stirred up a lot of indignation with this one, which is brilliant – controversy is mother’s milk to a columnist – with feelings equally strong on both sides of the argument.
Not surprisingly there’s a big lean to the AGAINST camp from Melbourne, where they feel as strongly about their right to wear black to any occasion as Republicans do to bearing arms…
What I wasn’t so prepared for was people thinking I was dissing Kate Middleton for being a ‘commoner’. Far from it. What I can’t understand is why someone from a normal happy family like hers, would aspire to enter such a disfunctional one….
Anyway, I look forward to hearing from what you think and being able to respond right away via this wonderful global water cooler we call the internet.
It was all going so well. Not a see-through skirt or blouse from auntie’s wardrobe in sight.
Then that perfect dress for the engagement interview, from cool – but not faddish – label Issa, by London-based Brazilian designer Daniella Helayel. In a shade of blue that had fashion appeal whilst also broadcasting: I’m thrilled to be part of the Establishment. And went so perfectly with that engagement ring.
Then Kate Middleton wore black to a wedding. Head to knee black. Not even so much as one of the Queen Mum’s old sparkly brooches to alleviate the gloom. Cheers! Oh alright, the shoes and bag added a touch of burgundy, but that’s nearly as gloomy. Maroon.
What was she thinking? It’s hard to believe that a girl at the top of an upward social gradient so steep she must have needed crampons to get there (mum used to be a hostie, the family business sells party balloons on the internet), could make such an elementary blunder.
Especially someone who has successfully negotiated that most insider of upper crust dress codes: the shoot.
Madonna famously flunked that one going way too matchy matchy in brand-new tweed kit from gunmakers to Kate’s future in-laws, Purdey.
But Kate has swanned them in jeans and a well-worn quilted jacket for the early autumn variety and even looking relaxed in quite scary full camo for a deer stalk at Balmoral.
If anyone ever doubted she was up to her new gig, they only need to look at the picture of laughing in a fur hat, a £60,000 shotgun in her hands, appearing to have a marvellous time ritually murdering feathered creatures, while experiencing the early stages of hypothermia in a Norfolk field. What a girl.
So it seems amazing that someone this gifted at analysing and adopting the subtle codes of a different social group’s clothing (and please note the use of ‘different’ there, not better…) could have made such a fundamental gaff as wearing goth black to a wedding.
Even the one note of frivolity, a high quivering feather atop the bow on the pillbox hat, was coal black. Incredible. And worse: rude. Because wearing black to a wedding isn’t just lazy – some people believe it’s bad luck for the bride
Making things worse, it was a classic British day wedding, where .it’s the done thing to wear a rigout only really relevant in Australia at winter race meetings. Buttoned-up tailoring and a statement hat.
The men’s dress code for such traditional nuptials is called a ‘morning suit’. Kate seems to have read it as ‘mourning suit’. At least she’ll be able to wear it all again to her first state funeral.
But while the strict cut of the velvet coat made the Princess-to-be’s all-black get up look particularly funeral director (not to mention, fashion director…) this emotionally loaded colour is no more acceptable in floaty evening wear for an Australian wedding.
It might be chic, elegant, slimming, practical and timeless, but black just isn’t a shade associated with celebration.
So even if you think the happy couple are making a terrible mistake, get in the spirit and seize a wedding as a chance to splash out in joyous colour.
Just make sure it’s not white…