Tuesday, 24 July 2012


I have this thing about dresses. I keep buying them. And wearing them. You might call it an addiction. Could be worse, I suppose, could be handbags (expensive), or shoes (take up lots of room), or cocaine (don’t think I need elaborate), but with me it’s always been dresses. I have scores of them. Not quite sure why. I just found an old favourite hanging in the cellar behind a coat. Thought I must have left if behind in Paris in 2010. And, yes, there is an anecdote to go with that but it’s not nearly as exciting as it sounds.

Perhaps it’s because you don’t have to think with a dress, just put it on and you’re done… except for shoes/tights/leggings to go with it. With skirts and trousers you need something else. Well, you do if you don’t want to look pornographic while walking down the high street... And that something needs to match, or at least coordinate in some way and that’s too much thinking.

Problem is you tend to look all dressed up in a dress, like you made a special effort, which is ironic because chances are you just pulled the thing over your head. I’ve lost count of the times friends have asked me where I’m going. Oh to a lunch, I say, or, to see an old friend/brother/colleague/boyfriend…  It’s just too embarrassing to admit the sorry truth: I’m wearing this dress only to go home now, after dropping the kids at school, put the smelly bin bag out, sweep the floor, mess about on Facebook and then suddenly remember I need to put a wash on before rushing back to get the boys and panic buying something uninspiring for dinner on the way home. From Tesco Express.

But there is another reason I like dresses: jeans. They’re just too easy. Jeans masquerade as safety blankets, left unchecked they will rise up from the floor where you discarded them for the night (you see, you can do that with jeans), and smother you to death. Metaphorically speaking. At first you think you can handle them, just the one pair now and again at home with the husband or at weekends, or maybe socially, with food. Easy. Comfy. Don’t show stains. You might even kid yourself you’re going to alternate: best pair, boot pair, comfy pair. But if you're a mum at home, the day will come after a particularly bad night with the baby or when you’ve finally given up all pretence that you’re ever going back to work, when you reach for that crumpled pair, the ones lying on the floor from the night before, and never take them off. Ever. You spend the rest of your life wearing the faded ones from GAP with the slightly wider waistband, a bit baggier cut round the thighs…

And it’s the same with black. Don’t let it in. Don’t give it lifeblood. Once you allow one single ‘useful’ black cardigan or pair of ‘classic’ trousers into your wardrobe it’s like bindweed creeping across the hangers: an insidious inky crawl, choking the colour to death. Better to buy pretty dresses. They don’t have to be expensive, often cheaper than wearing two items. But not black dresses. Well, maybe just one or two for winter, to combine with coloured boots or shoes. But that’s it. Although, I have to admit, the dress I just rediscovered at the back of the cellar is black, mostly. Here it is it…

I bought it from a local independent dress shop, which, of course, has recently gone bust. It was about sixty quid and my friend Debbie says it’s not a dress: it’s a top. I wore it as a mini with black tights and green high-heeled shoes to a birthday thing two years ago then I took it to Paris, thought I’d lost it and just found it again searching high and low for raincoats to take camping. No idea how it got there and don't really care. Hooray for the soggy weather, I say.

Now, which dress shall I wear tomorrow to take the car for its M.O.T? Weather forecast says sunny. Could be that floaty fifties number with the red flower sprays (Warehouse: £55), it's my current favourite.

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