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It's Saturday afternoon and I am walking the dog on London Fields, making friends with trendy young boys with long ginger beards and whippets in coats, and I get a text from a friend.
'I am in Top Shop and there appears to be some hideous conspiracy to make us all wear a horrible shade of mustard this spring. Is this your doing?' I text her back, 'I'm afraid it might be, sorry'. To which she replies 'I thought so, well there's another trend I'm going to dip out of.'
Said friend and I and a group of other women have been meeting on Friday mornings for coffee/dogwalks since our children were tiny, to discuss our kids, husbands, politics, local gossip and of course fashion. My friend marks the beginning of a new fashion season, by listing what trends/colours/shapes she 'won't be wearing this season'. Which usually means she will be sticking to her trademark black with touches of monochrome and animal prints. Don't get me wrong, she is a very stylish women, but has quite simply has got to the age where she refuses to buy into trends that she knows won't suit her. From time to time, when she asks for fashion advice, I try to persuade her that she would look great in a pair of coloured tights or shocking pink, but while she makes small adaptations to update her wardrobe each season, she sensibly steers clear of anything that screams 'high fashion' or 'on trend'.
I wish I could say the same!!! Since I was old enough to buy my own clothes, I have been in relentless pursuit of the 'next big thing'. Often managing to track it down before it becomes mainstream, meaning I was wearing trucker boots/puffball skirts/flares/council workers jackets etc etc before everyone else. This of course opened me up to much ridicule on the streets of the Northern towns where I grew up. But undeterred I paraded around looking strange, secure in the knowledge that I was 'in the know', 'on trend' or 'swagger on point' (as the teens would say).
I have calmed down as I've got older and try to incorporate my passion for the latest thing with what actually suits me and try to mix fashion pieces with more subtle basics (gosh that sounded quite grown up!), but it's not always that easy.
Where I (and many other women I know) struggle most is shoe shopping. I have been looking for a pair of new shoes for over a year now. The last pair I bought were my beloved Churches black patent brogues, which believe it or not, turned out to be somewhat of a bargain, as I haven't bought a pair of shoes since.
It seems I have been reduced to a very small capsule wardrobe of footwear, consisting of brogues, Birkentstocks and Converse. And to be honest the Converse have seen better days and are in danger of looking a bit middleaged women trying to be 'down wid da kids', except the kids don't actually wear them anymore!
I have tried and tried to find a pair of fashionable shoes that A. I can walk in and B. don't look like I have had some kind of orthopedic problem and am wearing specially built up shoes, which I understand are fashionable if you are 20, but simply wrong for the over 40's!
The thing is, I want to be able to walk - very quickly, run for a bus, stomp off angrily if need be, and look nice (can't believe I just said that!!). Plus I hate high shoes, they make me walk like Dick Emery! (See below)!!
I have always favoured masculine styles and was frankly never happier than in the 80's, when Doc Martins, huge crepe soled creepers from Robot, or army boots were my preferred footwear of choice. Consequently, I find shoe shopping quite hard, when all I can currently find is super high heels, or the kind of wedges I wore to school in 1978.
So when I recently spotted a pair of flat mens style ox blood lace ups behind the counter in COS, I think I slightly scared the shop assistant. ' Are they new', I bark, ' yes' she says nervously. 'I'll have them' I say slightly hysterically. 'Dont you want to know how much they are'? 'No I don't care, I'll have them' I almost shout, feeling slightly unhinged, and shove my credit card into her hand!
At last I have found a pair of shoes I actually like, they are not 'on trend', or even slightly feminine and I don't care. They look a little bit Comme Des Garcons 1985/Margaret Howell any time in the last ten years, but in a good way, and they are very very me, which quite frankly at my age is all that matters!
Fast forward to 2.07.