Thursday, April 06, 2006

Desiccated Follower of Fashion

I am going to have to buy some more clothes for summer on account of things falling apart beyond repair. I find this a truly miserable task, as I have little money, I am a rather odd shape and I am generally rubbish at this stuff. However, since I have to suffer through the ordeal of clothes shopping, you're coming along with me. One will have to excuse the British and feminine bias to the following, as well as the general dullness. There is however a picture of the sexiest hat in the entire universe to follow.

There’s bad news this season, as the Boho look is apparently out. I liked this Boho look. I had dressed in a certain way for years, and all of a sudden I found myself at the height of fashion. No longer, alas. There now seems to be a fad for wearing braces to hold up one’s trousers and shirts with ties. Now in my own gender exploration phase, I regularly wore a bow-tie and on occasion, a silk cravat. But I never wore an ordinary neck-tie; that would have been plain weird.

Colours that don’t suit us Celtic types, especially my own complexion comme la mort réchauffée, are also coming to the fore as well. Cream is the new ivory, baby pink the new carnation and nude is the new... full-dressed? I really don't understand this stuff.

Of course the Goldfish makes her own fashion and will still be covering up her shapeless legs and avoiding all pale and pastel shades which make her blotchy bits look blotchier and her pale bits look blue. She did however fall take a fancy to this dress from Dorothy Perkins for some reason, until [...] said it would make her look like Aunt Sally. She doesn’t know who Aunt Sally is, but this didn't sound like an endorsement.

There are many disadvantages to shopping for clothes on-line. Postage and general expense, obviously; there are no dirt cheap shops on-line. Colour, texture and fit is not always obvious from a photograph. Whilst we have all had a laugh at how some items have been photographed by ordinary folks auctioning their wares on eBay (Lady Bracknell gives a good example), many professional attempts leave a lot to be desired when you are more interested in the garment than the model's face, legs or décolletage.

Take this item on the left from La Redoute. I reckon that this is a clingy fabric which is unflattering on the midriff of even this slender model. However, since the eye is drawn down the front of the blouse rather than to the blouse, one isn't quite sure.

Catalogue shopping was ever thus, but La Redoute is by far the best mainstream clothing catalogue available in the UK. They can cope with the idea that women who do wish to exercise some modesty in their dress don't necessary wish to do so in calf-length pleated skirts and twin-sets all in a seductive shade of beige. They also have a sale on just now, as do Debenhams if anyone's into that.

For the top-heavy among us, Bravissimo offer a really excellent if limited range of clothes designed to fit bosoms from a D to an H cup. These include really smashing strappy tops like this one with integral bras as well as a fitted shirt and a suit available in varying degrees of curviness. I wish I could afford some of that stuff but it is somewhat of a revolution.

One great advantage of on-line shopping is that it is possible to visit more Fair Trade shops on-line that one could ever find in any ordinary town. I am not about to get sanctimonious about Fair Trade; some items are not available or affordable as Fair Trade goods, but where you can do it, well, it is better value for everyone.

My favourite clothes shop has to be Nomads, which sells
extremely groovy Fair-Trade clothing, most of which is very reasonably priced. It's funky stuff, but not that sort of cosmic hipppy festival ware which makes one look as if the colour-bunny had an accident on one.

Lots of nice long freesize skirts in natural fibres, dyed using vegetables (some very interesting coloured vegetables, but we'll take their word for it). Very good for the summer. And the winter. And the bits in between.

If you hate this sort of thing, The Green Apple sell less eccentric things which are Fair Trade, jeans and t-shirts as well as other bits and bobs, although the best bit is their soaps named after Beatles songs.

I also found an interesting shop called American Apparel (I can give you the US store front too). They make clothes in Downtown Los Angeles and describe themselves as vertically intergrated. They try to look after their employees and the stuff is simple cotton t-shirts and things but in a very good range of colours for both chaps and chapesses. On the dear side, but then I like to be careful with my hardly-earned cash.

On the accessories front, Nomads do loads of lovely bags and sarongs as well as the clothing. The India Shop and TradeCraft have some nice bits and pieces of jewellery as well as other stuff.

Pachauti sell Fair Trade hats and they are not too dear, not really. They sell this on the right; the sexiest hat in the entire universe for just £20. If I were a man, or the sort of woman who could pull it off, and if I wasn't a wheelchair-user who has to look up at people's faces a lot, I would definitely buy such a hat. And wear it. All the time. Probably have to dye my trenchcoat black. In fact I can imagine a whole new and sexier life I might have if only I possessed such a hat.

A few other curiosities on the accessories front.
Romp sells, would you believe, ethically-produced fur. No, me neither, but I thought it was an interesting concept. Smart Tart is a Fair-Trade handbag shop which made me giggle somewhat for a number of reasons; the style, the price of the things and the entry in the guestbook which reads Thank goodness it's washable - it survived a litre of cranberry juice being poured into it!

Attractive shoes are a must for wheelchair-users because everyone looks at our feet. Guess they're looking to see if we have any feet or something. I'm on the look out for also some ridiculous impractical sandals to shoe off my painted toe-nails. I consider my feet to be all right, it's just where my legs begin that it all goes horribly wrong.

Most Fair Trade shoes are expensive and generally quite ugly. There is also the problem that following ethical shopping links, you get shoes which may be suitable for vegetarians but not necessarily those of us concerned with human exploitation. Beyond Skin covers all bases and makes beautiful footwear, Terra Plana doesn’t do the vegetarian bit but does all right otherwise (including the shoe pictured). Unfortunately in both cases the shoes cost an absolute fortune. Vegetarian Shoes sell very ethical shoes at not ridiculous prices, but there are all really rather sensible.

United Nude sell weird shoes. They are just weird. Like this on the left here. Obviously they cost a bomb too but they are interesting to look at. Well, I think I like them.

At this point I was obviously getting a bit bored of the whole shopping malarky and started investigating how patent leather comes to be patent. Apparently they used to use a linseed-oil based lacquer but these days it is usually a plastic coating. So there you go.

As with most real-life shopping trips, I have given up and come away empty-handed. You weren't a whole lot of help, I have to say. And another disadvantage of on-line shopping is the distinct lack of anywhere to get a cup of tea and a slice of carrot cake as a reward for our efforts.


pete said...

Wotcha Goldfish,
I am sorry to hear that you are feeling bad about the whole clothes shopping thing.

This article started an old Kinks song rumbling around in me head.

You missed a wonderful shopping experience in the original Barbara Hulanckis shop BIBA. Now that was an experience. I was fortunate to being going out with somebody who loved all the wonderful colours, hues and textures.

Now, where did I put my purple crushed velvet loons, platforms and multi-coloured tank top?

Anonymous said...

Since I have already blogged on my own wardrobe, I feel qualified to state that the top shops are Sue Ryder Care, Age Concern, Help the Aged, British Red Cross, and the RSPCA.

If our local Friends of the Hospital shop could get away from the mindset of beige twinsets they could be a contender also.

From Round the Horne:

Daphne Whitethigh (Betty Marsden) "Trouser suits are out!!"
Kenneth Horne: "Oh, blast, I've just bought myself one."

pete said...

Fabulousa Tam!

The Goldfish said...

I used to be a charity-shop aficionado, but I need to get out into town and then into the damn things - here almost all of them have steps and are crammed full of stuff such that it is rather hard to browse.

It also takes a fair amount of stamina, since you really have to rummage to find something you want and which fits.

I do think I probably like clothes. It is not as if I don't care what I look like. But it is a terrible bore shopping for them.

BloggingMone said...

You shouldn't have taken me with you on a shoppingtour. I am a total write off, if it comes to shopping for clothes. It is boring and I hate trying on things. but your blog was a good inspiration. I feel I have to tell you about my shopping habbits. Well, the ones I used to have. Nowadays I am shopping at Ebay. It's great. Cheap and good. So far I was really lucky. Just last week I have got myself a spectacular pair of trousers in bright orange for just about 20€. One of my friends is using a wheelchair and also is absolutely crazy about shoes. She is taking huge pride in being able to wear shoes in which I would never be able to walk without possibly breaking my legs.

The Goldfish said...

I have bought clothes on eBay, although it can be a bit hit-and-miss with sizes and things. Bright orange trousers sound... bright! ;-)

Total shoe freedom is the one major aesthetic advantage of using a wheelchair. :-)

Anonymous said...

How bizarre. Hello Rosie's sister. I was searching Google for something entirely random (the nice cup of tea song sung on Round the Horne) and you appeared first, even tho nothing to do with what I was looking for. Congrats are in order I hear :)