And my advice is, please don't listen to those grande dames of decluttering, and ladies of high fashion who insist that if an item of clothing has not been worn for a couple of years, then the only thing to do is to toss it smartly into a bin bag and consign it to history.
No, the granny fashionista knows better - and in fact, I have come to the conclusion with matters of fashion and style, then the older the better, and even better if it is so old that you have forgotten that it belongs to you.
|Many moons ago|
Last Friday I found myself in the unusual situation of deciding what to wear to a party more than one hour in advance (mainly because those dastardly admirals were keeping me waiting, and I had time on my hands) and I stood in front of the mirror gazing sadly as this year's party frock purchase, and finding it sadly wanting.
I made the mistake of buying a new dress in the spring, thinking that three rather exciting parties in the offing justified such impulsive extravagance and would of course reduce the CPW to a mere nothing (fashionista-speak for cost per wear, a concept about as useful as that of investment dressing which somehow implies that spending large amounts on clothes is akin to putting the money into the bank or a pension. Take it from me, the more you spend on fashion, the more you spend and the less you have in the bank, whatever the CPW).
And as for my little piece of investment dressing, it has not stepped up to the mark for any party as yet. 'It is a very pretty dress,' said Princess Bunchy kindly. 'I think I might be cold,' I replied as I tried leggings and a variety of cardis, and every single pair of shoes to my name, and felt the sinking feeling that this fatal frock was not really up to a Hollywood theme in a rather lovely venue in the Great Wen, or anywhere else for that matter. In fact, this dress came under the category of Big Mistake, and contrary to the effusive affirmations of the shop assistants, it was not a dress for me but a dress for somebody else. I am not sure quite whom, but definitely not for me.
As you might gather, we were not getting very far: shocking pink and purple chiffon in layers, no, too strappy for granny arms. Pale grey and cream silk with pearl buttons from Singapore - dropped waist and boxy shape far too girlish. The princess dug down into another layer - only twenty years this time - heavy black velvet with a wonderful drape on the skirt. Beautiful - a dress of dreams and probably only worn once, and I still don't regret the purchase because I would wear it again if someone would invite me to a winter party (but I don't get out much, especially in winter). But a touch warm for London in August, even one as chilly as this.
And then, hiding behind everything, covered by dry cleaner's plastic, the princess pulled out a dress only a year older than she is. Scarlet and black, chiffon and burnt velvet, a whole raft of memories came spilling out with it. A mere fourteen years old, from a time when the Commander-in-Chief occupied a position which required his daughter to have one or two rather smart party frocks. And a sad time for other reasons, and I remembered the other velvet frock in ash grey and dark blue, rather roomy in its cut, which I had discarded because of the sad memories attached to it.
And this one in scarlet and black - bought after the grey one, for a summer party which I can't quite remember, but I remember feeling not quite at ease in the dress, and trying to forget things and be cheerful and graceful in a dress that was a little too tight and a little too bright for my feelings.
Scarlet and black, hidden away for all these years, and from memory, and now not too tight and bold at all, quite perfect for wearing on a red carpet and having its picture taken.
So this frock did go to the ball after all, and the story had a happy ending.
And the moral is, never throw away a party frock, because they come festooned with memories of all kinds, and far better to wear a really old one, where the cost is historic (and that is a genuine economic concept) and thus more thrifty than buying a new one.
Or you can buy a really old one, older than you are, which has been emptied out of someone else's bin bag, and thus become a genuine granny fashionista. Just like I did last week.