Decorous

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When she woke up the next morning, Maria found to her great surprise that her riding-habit had not been put ready for her. Instead there had been laid out a very decorous dark-blue gown with plain white linen collar and cuffs, a dark-blue cloak and a dark-blue straw hat with delphinium-blue ribbons.

Maria was not very fond of this costume. In spite of the ribbons, it was rather a sombre and serious outfit, and it made her feel as serious as itself. However she knew better than to put it away and get out her habit, for she realised now that what she did day by day was not left entirely to her own choice. She was more or less under orders. And it seemed that her orders for today did not include riding.

The Little White Horse – Elizabeth Goudge. The dress here actually is a rising habit and from about 40 years later than The Little White Horse is set, but as soon as I saw it it reminded me of this passage. Photo from @katestrasdin

Burns Night

Hooray for a chance to eat haggis and cut a caper at a ceilidh!

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If all tartan dresses could be like this I’d wear them more often.

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Also, whilst following Kate Strasdin’s Instagram feed this year I’ve noticed that the outfits that appeal the most are those with colour and pattern (sure), but where the shapes might be quite simple and the detail is in the tailoring and use of a single fabric cut against itself to form a pattern.

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Pucci whirligigs

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This air stewardess outfit (!) is from the Instagram feed of the Goldstein museum, and what really cracks me up is that my primary school uniform was basically a maroon and olive green version of this. I hated it (the winter style was very Dr Spock, to be fair), but now I love it!

Get travelling

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Fascinated by this video collection called The Sari Series, which shows you how saris are worn differently across the subcontinent. The aim is to remind younger women how versatile the garment is, how they can mound it to their own style and how it doesn’t have to be relegated to occasion wear.87738174-A991-48E4-AB2A-82EE7B7A46D2

You can search by region, and again there are several styles that are standard here, with some styles that cross state. “borders”.

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For anyone who’s followed Instagram feeds and wondered what the different style names refer to, this is your guide.

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Eating dresses

Talking of pockets – this time I mean pockets and not votes/social justice –  I think this piece by Sali Hughes is brilliantly spot on. “Eating dresses” – “neat at the shoulders, sleeves and neck and shoulders, but with enough fabric around the middle to invisibly conceal a bottle of red and more than 19 calories” are a genius description for what I’ve mooched up and down shop aisles looking for, ditto Sali’s call for the kind of occasion wear that is basically whatever you need in the day but will look good with red lipstick and a funkier pair of shoes than what you’ve worn at the office.

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Finally, check out Sali’s list of dresses every middle-class woman of 35 and over wants. It’s probably the only time that a capsule wardrobe has made sense and is exactly what the fashion industry ought to lobby retail for.

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Photos: Oliver Bonas shift dress snapped by me – would be a good weekend dress though ideally more colour please, and possibly even pattern. Libby London dress from their website – a good 15 hour dress, but not really enough waist room for an eating dress & pretty pricey. Their shirt dresses are good though, if you suit that style.

Margiela revelations

When I was 15, a friend’s mother kindly introduced me to a curator at the V&A’s fashion department, where I spent a week’s work experience. The exhibition they were putting on at the time and I remember listening with bafflement to tales of Martin Margiela, unsure why I was meant to admire a man for putting mould on tweed suits and deliberately making “ugly” clothes. I liked McQueen and Galliano, but avoided searching out Margiela any further.

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I was surprised therefore to see that the show at Antwerp’s MoMu (fashion museum) was titled Margiela: The Hermes Years. What would this designer have to do with a rather stuffy fashion house best known for its scarves and handbags? I couldn’t imagine it, but the show was a revelation.

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Simply displayed against plain white or Hermes-orange walls, the clothes were ultra-luxe, genuinely timeless in emphasising quality over passing whims, and yet not boring.

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There were defiant surrealist touches – a dress made out of fake engagement rings, a pair of stockings for a coat belt, a string of plastic jewels “staining” a dress with light or blood – but mostly just superb plays of texture against each other and immaculate cutting.

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It’ll never be my budget, and Margiela’s colour palette wouldn’t suit me anyway, but you see totally why these clothes were #lifegoals for his audience.

all photos August 2017.