Archive for the ‘Accessories’ Category

Seven Days of Positive – Day 124

In Accessories, Friends on March 11, 2015 at 10:09 pm


I’ve had such an exciting day.

I’m working on updating my website, which hasn’t been touched since about 2005, because in those days once someone had put your site up there was nothing you could do to it, without getting the designer to do it for you.

It was all just too hard, so after one small adjustment about three years ago, I’ve just let it sit there, fugging the buck out of me.

The problem was that it was just too hard to get it the way I want it by remote control – and you can understand, as someone who has edited four magazines and as many newspaper sections, I really know how I want things.


That’s why I started playing around with blogs, to have that control, but now – HURRAH! – I’m finally doing what I’ve been longing to for years and I’m re-working with this blog nestled at the heart of it.

Best of all I’m doing it with someone I’ve been friends and colleagues with since 1986.

Jayne Gould is a fantastic designer. She was art director of YOU magazine when I went to work there and we immediately recognised each other as kindred spirits of the let’s do it, let’s do it like we mean it and let’s do it NOW mindset.

We’ve worked together on two other titles since (including the Sydney Morning Herald) and pretty much finish each other’s sentences.


So today, there we were, 100 miles apart, looking at the same thing on our screens and I’d say ‘Do you think we should make the sub-title a little bigger?’ and Jayne would reply ‘I’ve just done it, refresh your screen…’.

While Jayne is the expert (she’s a serious tech head) what I love is that I’m getting to build quite a lot of it myself. Because I’m so familiar with WordPress (it’s a self-hosted WordPress site – ooh, get me) I’m putting together the pages I want on the nav bar (oo er) while she does the more complicated stuff.

It’s quite a lot of fiddling with pictures, but worth it to have that editorial control I so need… cue maniacal laugh.

I’m not sure when it will go ‘live’, but if all goes according to plan everyone who follows this blog, will continue to get an email every time I post, which will link through to the new blog posting on the website.

I have illustrated this post with gratuitous pictures of a handsome man, a handbag I like (the Beamish by Village England)  and a cute animal.



Seven Days of Positive – Day 79

In Accessories, Hats on December 6, 2014 at 11:58 pm


I got my winter hat.

Every winter and every summer is defined by a hat for me. For each season it might be one of the old faithfuls I’ve had on rotation for years, but it’s always just the one. It becomes part of me over the season.

But the funny thing is, a hat that had seemed like the only thing I could leave the house in the year before, looks all wrong when that season rolls around again.

So sometimes, it just has to be a new one. Or at least, new to me.

This winter my trusty black beret looks too harsh against my older skin. My Greek fisherman’s hat sits too flat on my head. The fluffy leopard print beret I wore all last winter looks cheap. My faux fur Russian hat too much.

When I found myself seriously considering the knitted tam o shanter from my uni days (not this one, but similar…) I knew the moment had come. It was going to have to be a new hat. Or a new old hat.


Which is what it turned out to be. I found this tweed cap in my brilliant local vintage/designer sell on store and knew immediately it was the one. It has a full crown which I can perk up, adding crucial height.

It makes me feel very Left Bank, a mood greatly enhanced when Mel, owner of the aforementioned Wardrobe, looked inside and saw from the label that it’s Russian.

I’ve decided it’s just the kind of thing Rudolf Nuyerev would have worn in the 1960s. And it’s just the thing I want to wear right now.


Then on the way home through the wonderfully Christmasy-feeling Old Town, I came across some jovial carol singers at the top of Courthouse Street.

Being Hastings, one of them was dressed as a polar bear (as you do), but I didn’t realise one of them was my pal Juliet, because she’s not normally wearing a bobble hat. Juliet! Yoo hoo!

Styling stylee

In Accessories, Designers, Trends on February 17, 2014 at 10:21 am



I’m so happy. I can’t quite believe it, but a miracle has happened in fashion – or Styling, as I prefer to think of it these days.

The F word has been rather diverted by overpriced luxury status dressing and look-at-me-please-no-I-mean-it-I-was-a-middle-child-LOOK-AT-ME-PLEASE lampshade hat ‘street style’ weirdos, who are just desperate to appear on a blog, any blog (repeat mantra above).

Styling is about how we dress day to day. Not what we wear to put out the bins or lie on the sofa watching the BAFTAs (oh, wasn’t Cate Blanchett just heaven?), but when we are going out and about doing our thing, presenting our best image to the world.

The trends for Styling work a little different to the shouty TREND REPORT fashion trends which come barking at us during each round of fashion shows – and we are already into the next lot of those (Northern Hemisphere winter 2014/15).

Styling trends move more slowly. They’re not about the now now now, they’re more the now – which will also work then. Looks, details and garments which will look right for at least a year, longer if you style them forward with subtle new tweaks. It can be something as small as tying your scarf differently.


Anyhoo, the miracle I mentioned at the top there is this: the most on-trend (Fashion and Styling wise) shoes you could be wearing right now are a pair of trainers. Yes!

Not those Sarkozy lift shoes ones with the high heel hidden inside (which I have really come to loathe, much as I worship Isabel Marant who invented them), but proper spongy, walk forever old-school trainers. The most comfortable shoes ever designed, which don’t give you Birkenstock moisture-hoovering cork-sole parmesan-rind fissured heels.

The only proviso about your trainers is that whether you choose New Balance (my personal favourite for decades) suede and nylon, Nike power mesh or Adidas’s re-released old school Stan Smith tennis shoes, they must have a certain élan. An interesting combination of wow colours. Or one popping bright.


Adidas Stan Smiths


They categorically should not match your outfit, but stand out as a style statement which declares: these trainers are a Look. Not a last minute desperation choice running for the bus shoe. To emphasise this point they do need to be box fresh, in fact you will need to go out and buy a new pair. Or two.


This is not a weekend downtime look. Feature trainers are great with tailored pants, a cashmere sweater and a tailored man-style coat. The marvellous Celine-designer Phoebe Philo (see main pic, in Nikes, she also wears Stans and is famous for her New Balance fetish) is the patron saint of this look. It’s a very modern, practical way to dress and perfect for work in all but the most formal offices.

It’s Styling at its very best.


Can you imagine the joy of wearing trainers to work all day – not just for the commute? It makes me want to take an office job again so I can revel in it.

(Actually I would love an office job again anyway. After ten years of going solo, I’m really missing collaboration stimulation, so if anyone wants to offer me one, consider my hand raised. Just putting the word out, like.)

The trainer joy doesn’t stop at tailored pants either. They also look great with the other key piece of the new season, the midi skirt – but more of that and the other key Styling trends for the new season next time.

Reading between the lines

In Accessories, Glasses, Spectacles, Style icons on July 16, 2013 at 9:54 pm


I confess I’ve been rather smug about my eye sight. In recent years when I went to a restaurant with any of my older siblings I’d try not to gloat, as they fumbled around to get out reading glasses, while I happily scanned the menu and then read out the blackboard specials to them.

I can still read the bottom line of an optician’s chart without much strain, but recently something strange happened to books; they started printing them in smaller type. A similar thing was going on with packaging, which now all seems to be typeset in four point and quite often in pale grey. How was I supposed to read instructions printed like that?

A routine eye check at my wonderful optometrist (Richard Banks in Woollahra, Sydney ) revealed the terrible news. I’ve used specs to look at my computer for a while, partly to protect my eyes from damage, but now I needed reading glasses. And not just those cheapies you can get in a pharmacy, but special expensive lenses with prisms for my astigmatism.

At first I was rather thrilled at the new shopportunity and immediately chose a pair of the frames by iconic New York brand Moscot, which I’d been admiring on a friend’s face for ages.


They’re the same ones Johnny Depp and Woody Allen wear (the style is called Lemtosh) and I rather fancied myself as looking rather terrifically bookish, sitting up in bed with them on, relishing the contrast between the black Superman-style glasses, my French bed linen and cotton nighties. A bit Grace Kelly – above – who wore specs better than anybody.

Then I got the train up to London and found I couldn’t read the paper comfortably. It hadn’t occurred to me I would need to take the bloody things out and about with me.

And so whole new world of anxiety has emerged; having to remember my reading glasses and worrying about losing them. Spectacles have gone from accessory to essential without passing pose.


Carter Burden Party Hosted By Woody Allen

Within a few weeks, I realised I needed a spare pair, in case I did ever lose them – imagine not being able to read! It would kill me. Also, so I could have one pair by the bed and another in the kitchen in case I needed to check a recipe. Like a total NANA.

But now I’ve moved into a whole new area of spectacle stress: reading in bright sunshine. After the most gruelling winter and crappiest spring I can ever remember in the UK (which is saying something…), we suddenly have some good weather, so I thought I’d spend Sunday afternoon lying on the beach reading, while my daughter splashed in the water with her pals.

I couldn’t read a thing. If I wore my reading glasses the glare was too bright, if I wore my sunglasses, the type was too small. I realised I need reading sunglasses. Especially as I’m off on holiday in a couple of weeks and plan to spend most of it horizontal, reading.


My crafty plan was to take a cool pair of vintage frames I found in an op shop to the nearest optician, with a copy of my reading specs prescription and get the dark lenses put in.

Not so easy, it turned out. I was crisply informed – and it was the same in the next two I tried – that heating the 1960s frames to put the lenses in would probably make them crack and break. What I needed to do, was to buy a pair of their really nasty new sunglasses, with prescription lenses. No thank you.

My friend Tom Herrington, who has the brilliant eyewear company Rockoptica came to my rescue and said he would get the special lenses fitted into the vintage frames for me. (I have his style Key Largo, below, as sunnies.)

keyblack_1316167558So it seemed I had it all sorted, but then I was standing in a shop this afternoon and a woman came in with two pairs of glasses perched on her head – one clear, one dark. Presumably one for indoors and one for strong sunshine.

I suddenly realised that would be me on holiday. Constantly swapping between reading sunglasses and normal sunglasses – because I can’t see a thing when I look up in my readers.

Grace Kelly glasses


I could clearly picture the scene where we’ve yomped for miles over rough terrain to get to a secret secluded Croatian beach, I’ve blown up my special back rest, laid out my padded mat and then realise I’ve left my bloody reading sunglasses behind.

So it will have to be those ones that go from lightish to darkish, which I now discovered are called ‘photochromic’, which is another word for even more expensive.

But before I make this major investment – can any of you tell me, are transition lenses any good?

PS I’m rather obsessed with Moscot -here’s the link to their site

When I was in New York, earlier this year I stumbled upon their original shop, still there at Orchard and Delancy, which is a pretty iconic address, for such a legendary Manhattan brand. Here’s what the outside of the store looks like, a detail of the quirky interior and one of their brilliant ads.


moscot 2


I’m not rich enough to buy cheap sunglasses

In Accessories, Designers, Friends, Sunglasses on September 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Over the past couple of years I’ve had a series of what felt like killer sunglass finds, in the form of really cool frames at ridic knock down prices.

Access to such style steals was one of the consolations of moving from beautiful Australia (sob sob), back to the UK, where there is such a plethora of great cheap fashion chains stores.

The first was a pair of oversized very black-lensed Jackie O-style numbers that people always asked me about. They were £2 in Primark. I grabbed the last pair (before running screaming from that horrrrrrible shop).

Then I found another really good shape, a kind of pumped-up cats eye from Dorothy Perkins for the greater investment of £6.

I’d love to show you how great they were but I can’t because both pairs have long since been assigned to the bin. They fell to bits. An arm fell off, a lens fell out, that kind of thing.

This year I headed back to the high street stores and found a pair similar to the lost oversized cats eyes, scaling up to a massive £8 outlay. The flare on the lenses was so terrible in bright sunlight they were dangerous to drive in. I threw them in my daughter’s dressing up box.

I had the same problem with a pair of pretendy vintage, actually made in China, Mad Men-style true cats eyes I bought on holiday in Corsica, for a rip off £25. They’re a great shape – for wearing indoors, on dull days.

A pair from Top Shop were a good big television size, but so heavy on my nose they were actually painful. They went to a charity shop. I think they were £12.

My next manoeuvre was to hit T K Maxx, the hugely successful chain which sells off terrifying amounts of random unwanted stock. They always have a large choice of low-rank designer sunnies pretty cheap. That’s because none of them are quite great.

But at that moment I was desperate for some serious sun block-out shades, so I dealt £22 for a pair by Moschino, despite the fact they have the designer name on the arm, which makes me shudder. And a little diamante which, in retrospect, makes me feel quite sick.

They got me home in strong low sunlight, but I very quickly came to hate them. I knew they were a compromise style I would never have bought at full retail. And they felt flimsy and naff on my face. I’ve stowed them in the car glove box in case of future driving emergencies.

Still determined to have a new pair of sunnies, my next move was a designer consignment boutique. I was tempted by a pair of massive D &G in a Union Jack print, but resisted when I realised they looked like they had cost £2 from Primark.

After trying on every pair in the shop, I finally dealt for a pair of discreet very dark tortoiseshell Calvin Kleins, once again compromising on the dreaded logo, for £26.

They have very good lenses. I hate them.

At this point I stopped and took stock. Over two years I had spent nearly £100 on sunglasses and still had nothing decent to wear. Shortly after that sunk in, I caught up, separately, with my two best gal pals and both of them had amazing shades on.

Really glossy black frames, in great, dateless shapes, fabulously dark lenses. Proper UV screening glass. They were both from Cutler and Gross, so we’re talking about £279.

That’s when the truth hit me. I’m too poor to buy cheap sunglasses. I need to invest in one really amazing pair.

So when I got an email telling me that my friend Tom Herrington (pictured below, wearing one of his own designs) had his new range of frames Rock Optika – available as specs or sunnies – in store, I waddled off there as fast as my fat little legs would carry me.

And I bought these fabulous sunglasses – the style is called Key Largo -but with much darker lenses, which I was able to specify. You can’t do that in Dorothy Perkins. They weren’t quite as expensive as Cutler and Gross, but very nearly. They were worth every penny.

They’re handmade in the Jura region of France, from super duper finest organic grade Italian acetate. The lenses are the highest quality and they sit lightly on the nose and ears, while feeling completely secure on the head. And the logo is discreetly hidden right at the tip of the arm, so it’s hidden in your hair. Here they are in the tortoiseshell (on Katherine).

For further endorsement of the excellence of the range, check out the post on RockOptika on the highly respected ‘eye wear’ website The Spectacle Showcase. And here is a link to the brand’s own site.

I’m absolutely mad about them and whenever I put them on I feel like a film star and because they were so expensive, every time I take them off I carefully put them back in their neat protective case.

I will never buy cheap sunglasses again.

NEWS FLASH: So many of you are asking on comments where you can buy RockOptika… Tom tells me he has had interest already (before this…) from a Melbourne retailer and they’re going to meet up at the big eyewear exhibition in Paris later this month. So fingers crossed. I’ll get him to keep me posted on stockists after that and will report back.



What should women politicians wear?

In Accessories, Older women, Politicians on August 9, 2011 at 5:52 pm

The question above -what should women policiticans wear? – is one I normally ignore. It shouldn’t matter what a woman politician wears – what matters is how good she is at her job. And if she’s Prime Minister, or Home Secretary she must be pretty bloody good.

Then I saw Theresa May wearing those pearls while she was making an official announcement about the London riots last night and I suddenly minded very much what women politicians wear. I definitely don’t want them to be wearing that.

I went back on to Twitter – where I was glued until nearly 2 a.m. last night, feeling sicker and sicker about what was unfolding in the city of my birth – to find someone else had already posted a sarcastic comment about them.

There was just something jarring about the Home Secretary wearing oversized ‘fun’ beads on such a dark night in the history of Great Britain. Then she showed up on the news again this morning, sporting a jaunty little choker. (Not this one, but something similar.)

It just seemed so frivolous. I could imagine her getting ready, fossicking around in her jewellery box going, Hmmmm, the heart choker, or the bright blue beads?

She hasn’t got time for that right now. She’s the one who should be persuading the Prime Minister (who had the sense to wear a black tie for his announcement this morning) to get the water cannon sent over from Northern Ireland.

Then they need to rush through emergency legislation permitting the use of rubber bullets, and mobilise the army to drive tanks towards the mobs of 15 year olds who are looting shops and burning down buildings, just because they can.

The whole thing is making me – your typical lily-livered liberal – want the kind of response normally demanded by right wing tabloid readers (see list above, just add ‘bring back the birch and National Service’…).
But this isn’t the moment to be wondering what has happened to our society to lead to such a loss of the rule of law, it’s just got to be stopped.

A generation raised on junk food and Grand Theft Auto, and bombarded with information about the lifestyle of an over rich elite no better them (Jordan, Peter Andre, Cheryl Cole, John Terry et al), has to be put back in its box. Then we can start sorting out what caused them to grow up so morally, as well as socially, impoverished and try to change it.

What? Where was I? Oh yes, Theresa May’s stupid jewellery. You can see why she thinks she needs to get with the flirty accessories. She first came to fame in British politics when she took to the stage at the Tory conference in 2002 wearing leopardskin high heels and she’s been working an attention-seeking shoe ever since.

But now she’s Home Secretary, she really needs to put aside such childish things. She’s doing a very grown up job and it’s time she started dressing like one. She clearly loves glamorous clothes, which is fair enough, but not during working hours. It just doesn’t fit the gig.

If she needs some help, I suggest she checks out former French cabinet minister, now the head of the IMG, Christine Lagarde, who has written the rule book for how women politicians should dress.

Of course, Ms Largarde is French and very beautiful, which gives her two extreme advantages, but beyond that she’s shown that the best way for a woman politician to project authority is to play down her clothing as much as possible.

The simplest sharp tailored suits, in dark colours, set off by a white shirt or T shirt. That’s it. In short, a female version of male politician’s dress, enlivened – as a male politico might wear a jolly tie – by some small pieces of good jewellery. Not something that looks like it came out of a Christmas cracker.

Despite the odd segue into red suits, I think Australian PM Julia Gillard mostly gets it and I like the way she has made the white tailored jacket – appropriate for Australia’s bright light – her signature. (Although I have already had comments from Aussie readers shooting me down on this – tell me more, I want to know what you think…)

These pictures of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, show exactly how the dark suit looks so much more authoritative than the bright one.  They really need to leave jolly brides’s mother colours – in clothes and accessories – to the Queen.

So nothing fussy, nothing bright, nothing ‘fun’. Politics is a very serious business – especially at the moment – and requires very serious clothing.

Got it Ms May?

Mrs Tannenbaum

In Accessories, Fashionistas, Older women on June 14, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Oh the joy of social networking.

Thanks to Facebook, my friend Stephanie Turner could show me this wonderful slideshow (link below, I can’t work out how to embed the bloody things in this blog…) of legendary fabulous oldie Iris Apfel’s apartment.

This is the stuff of John Pawson’s nightmares. I’m sure in one of the shots of the hall I can see pictures hung on pictures. I love it. Especially the mirror with the herons (I think they’re herons). I need that in my bathroom. Makes the two gold mirrors I have in there seem positively plain.

So I posted that on Twitter and emailed it to my friend William Petley, who sent me back the fabulous video here.

‘My mother worshipped at the altar of accessories…’

Oh, I love her. Oh, I wish I’d come out with that line.

Anyway, I call her Mrs Tannenbaum because when I met the amazing woman I am now sure was here, in a shop in Paris years ago she told me her name was Mrs Tannenbaum, which is German for Christmas tree.

I’m trying to find the column I wrote about that encounter, it’s around here somewhere on papyrus, or etched into a stone tablet. When I do, I’ll put it on here.

Rule: some trends become new classsics

In Accessories, Celebrities, Famous people, Scarves on May 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm

The long soft scarf, worn loosely looped around the neck, is not a hot new look – but it’s not a tragic démodé one either. In fact it’s right in the middle of making a rare transition from key trend to wardrobe staple.

It all started a few years ago when the black and white keffiyah scarf, came back as a youth fashion. These traditional Arab scarves – as worn most famously by one Yasser Arafat – first became trendy among the young and radical in the 1970s, when they were taken up as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinian uprising.

This political message quickly became submerged as the scarves were taken up as generic youth cool signifier and I’m embarrassed to admit I got about in one for months in my late teens with no idea what it was broadcasting. Until a man in Paris took issue with me and explained.

I’d just thought it was a nice scarf which looked great worn tied loosely round the neck with the point in the front. I was mortified when I found out the rest – not because I had committed views on either side of the Middle East situation, but because I hadn’t known my scarf did.

But there were clearly plenty of other people who had no idea about the semiotic message of these comfortable pieces of loosely woven cotton – or didn’t care – and keffiyahs were still very much the go into the early 1980s (Bananarama were big fans).

They disappeared mid-decade and weren’t seen again – outside news bulletins from the Gaza Strip – until their recent re-emergence around the necks of young people clearly as ignorant of their implications as I had been.

This time, though, the message seemed to get round more quickly (the internet?), but while you rarely see that very particular black and white weave now, the softly draped big scarf has remained a key look.

The Alexander McQueen skull print scarf was the next stage, an instant cult hit, worn in the point-front keffiyah manner.

But it was the Stephen Sprouse-archive leopard spot number by Louis Vuitton (as modelled at the top by la Moss), which heralded the arrival of the long looped scarf as a new fashion staple.

These lightweight stole-length scarves were snapped looped loosely around all the key one-name celebrity necks – Kate, Sienna, Kylie, Nicole, Liv, Coleen, Ashley, Kiera and so on (and not forgetting SJP, who is one set of initials…) and suddenly no outfit felt right without something similar.

Anyone who adopted the look soon discovered this trend had a lot more going for it than your average celebrity style steal. It’s astonishingly flattering. Softening necklines and the harder lines of tailoring. Skirting over inconvenient body issues like muffin tops and PMS bloating. Generally softening down and loosening up any outfit, adding instant confidence. Looking equally good with jeans, tailored pant suits and summer dresses.

What’s more they’re incredibly practical, providing the perfect trans-seasonal layer for the days when there is just that uncomfortable nip in the air – but instantly removable when it heats up. Take it off, stuff it in your tote.

For warmer weather, they’re great in loose cotton and linen weaves, but come the colder winter days, bring out the wool and cashmere and you won’t need a coat.

And here’s a wizard wheeze. Worn looped around the neck in this way, you’ll find a whole new lease of life for those 90s pashminas you never thought you’d wear again.

Rule: Do not go gentle into that good night

In Accessories, Famous people, Older women on March 15, 2011 at 5:00 pm

What are you going to be wearing when your next big birthday has an eight on the front of it? Comfort slacks and a fleece? Well, actually you could just about wear that and stay uber stylish as long as you followed the example set so perfectly here by Birgit ‘Gitte’ Lee, wife of Dracula/Saruman/Rasputin/Lord Summerisle (from The Wicker Man – shudder), AKA Sir Christopher Lee.

What this Danish former model (now 76) understands so perfectly is that the older you get the more you can carry off – and the more you need to wear – crazy statement accessories. Bolder is better the older you getter. Or Gitte, in her case.

The trick is to keep the actual clothes simple (and comfie), so the accessories burst forth distracting attention from the droopy bits of your anatomy and attracting it to your undimmed charisma. This technique is guaranteed to make people say things like ‘Isn’t she faaaabulous?’

I’m so excited I feel the need to coin a term for it. Do we like Foldie – for Fabulous Oldie?

Foldie Lady Lee first crossed my retinas on the red carpet at this year’s BAFTAs (above). Those knockout spectacles with the severe hair, the red lips, and that magnificent pewter collar projected me straight into a new style crush. And a frenzied Google search yielded even greater Foldie treasures than the outfit shown here.

At a charity gala three years ago she wore a jacket which appears to be made out of raven feathers, very much like a costume from one of her husband’s films. Another outfit was all black silk jersey brightened with just one short necklace of huge spherical red beads, exactly the same colour as her matt lipstick. So simple, so effective. So easy to copy.

Even more thrilling is the shoot she did with Italian Vogue, for their October 2010 issue (above and top), where she is again in all black, simple draped shapes, with her signatures specs and lippie, and the most outrageous oversized gold jewellery. Cuffs, collars, humungous rings. And a pair of humungous mittens like furry boxing gloves. Brilliant photography (by Tim Walker) with stylised Angus McBean-style poses.

The next goldmine I tripped over was my new favourite blog Advanced Style, which is photographs of stylish people found on the street, like The Sartorialist, but all the subjects are over 65. (On further investigation, his taste isn’t entirely reliable, but there are some great people on there – worth a look.)

The blog’s creator, Ari Seth Cohen, is a big fan of Lady Lee and in one she shares her pragmatic daywear style system. She always wears the same combo of comfortable loose pants and a T shirt or roll-neck top, with a long soft coat over the top (varying the weights for the season), with flat shoes – and always a wide-brimmed hat. Felt in winter, straw in summer.

Pic from Advanced Style

Then it’s scrape back the hair, on with the lips, the specs and several tons of costume jewellery, scoop up a large designer bag and out she goes. How simple is that? And once you’ve assembled the statement pieces – and remember by this stage you’ve had fifty adult years to do it – how economical? Just a few fresh tops for each season. Lady Lee says she’s stopped shopping. So chic.

Growing into such joyous Foldie style is one of the great compensations for growing older. You may not be able to flaunt your knees, but you can carry off spectacles bigger than your face.

All gloved up

In Accessories, Shopping on February 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm

It’s that time of year again – the ready-to-wear shows have just kicked off in New York – and it always makes me nostalgic for my days at the fashion frontline. So this is a Saturday archives special from 2002, which reminds me of one of the reasons I must go back to Milan one day soon. The other being the food…

Dita gives great glove.

One of the greatest pleasures of going to Milan twice a year for the fashion shows is the shopping. But I don’t mean Prada and Gucci – you can do that anywhere – I’m talking about the specialist shops.

On a frosty morning in March, I was fitted with a pair of new kid gloves in a specialist ganteria in Milan and it really was an extraordinary privilege. I don’t think I’ve experienced service like it since I was measured for my first pair of Start Rite school shoes.

I felt the presence of Charles Swann – or at least his creator, Marcel Proust – at my side, as the glove-eur, or whatever you call a master glove fitter, assessed my peasanty paw by eye and produced a selection of gloves of exactly the right size. He fanned them out on the counter in one perfect sweep like a Monte Carlo croupier.

Once I had chosen my preferred glove – black kid, unlined – he stretched them using one of those mystery-object glove stretchers and much flamboyant snapping and slapping, that only an Italian could carry off. He then showed me how to place my elbow on the counter with my hand pointing straight up with yogic precision for the grand fitting of the glove.

Then he didn’t simply put that glove on my waiting limb – he ravished it. My hand felt taken by that glove. Hhe fitted each finger with a vigorous smoothing motion, so reminiscent of condom application it was hard not to dissolve into giggles. But I didn’t because I was so awed by the perfect tight fit of my new gloves. Six months later, they still fit with a glossy skin hugging tautness that would delight the Marquis de Sade. Venus in gloves.

On another visit to Milan I had a similar experience (although not quite so pervy) at a sock-eria. Although it had a chich modern interior, it was as far removed from our own sad sock shops as Rockpool Bar and Grill is from Burger King, and it was staffed by women who were sizing experts equal to Signor Glove.

They took one look at my stubby little foot and declared me an ‘otto’. So while my shoe size may be 36, in Italian, my sock size is eight. And it absolutely is, the socks fitted me perfectly.

But the size was just one part of the socking process. There were three weights of wool to choose from, from a stocking-like fine denier, through to a chunky rib and various mixes of wool, cashmere, cotton and silk. There was also the length to consider – to the ankle, the knee, or the cheeky thigh – and finally, the colour.

And what colours! Apart from the obvious black and very dark navy, there were camels, maroons and various shades of grey and green, before you even got into the fun colours and the ones with contrast toes and heels.

Apart from the wonderful selection – and bear in mind that these are socks totally devoid of those terrible circulation-stopping elastic tops – the real joy was the sincere concern and interest of the sockinistas at every stage. We lived through it together, they took great pride in their expertise, and at the end, they seemed as pleased as I was with the result. It’s a good job we got on, as they now have a customer for life.

So that is gloves and socks sorted, but my latest discovery is a specialist slipper shop. It had every kind of indoor footwear from the luxurious pig skin flats, to the funky Scandinavian felt, via all imaginable variations of sheepskin moccasin and fluffy mistress mule – and a resident expert slipper-ista sista just waiting to help me with my Cinderella selection.

I had shopping fatigue when I found it, not to mention a bag full of expensive socks, so I didn’t feel up to another intense consultation. But come October, I’m headed straight there to find out what my slipper size is.

Dita gloved up again at the couture shows. Does anyone know who the other babe is?

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Style Notes

Style Notes

Maggie Alderson

author, journalist, fashionist, motherist

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