Ready To Wear: There's nothing wrong with dressing in a jolly, exciting way


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Why is it that most designers live in black, usually polo-neck sweaters, but insist that we must buy, buy, buy lots of jolly, bright and exciting clothes at great expense?" mused a reader of The Independent's online edition and following publication of a portrait of Céline's Phoebe Philo wearing just that garment on the cover of this paper's magazine last Saturday.

The writer has a point, though in my experience it is the V-neck sweater, which is easier on the eye for all but the swan-like of neck and most slender of shoulders and upper arms, that dominates. As fashion editors we are often similarly guilty as charged. We rave about print, colour, texture and so forth but personally – for me, certainly – our wardrobe choices lean towards the black and classic.

Last week, a colleague and friend showed me a picture of myself she had taken a good decade ago, notable both for the fact that I seem about 12 (shocking) and am dressed in just the same way as I am now. And this despite the fact that a good 20 fashion seasons have passed since that time. The words "practise", "preach" and "huge, enormous hypocrite" spring to mind.

Imagine, though, how boring the fashion pages would be were we to feature only what we wear. Look, here's another pair of jeans. Or how about the 100th trench coat we've shown you this past month.

Call it sensory overload, but spending one's waking life pondering the interest/relevance/beauty and so forth of a new collection doesn't necessarily mean having the time, money or will to reinvent one's own wardrobe ad infinitum. In fairness to Philo, while there's nothing wrong with dressing in a jolly, bright and exciting way, the raison d'être of her label is less attention-seeking, focusing on the reinvention of timeless pieces that a woman can rely on without having to spend too much time and energy on her appearance.

We all have our moments, however. In recent(-ish) history, mine have included a poppy red cashmere jumper and a navy blue dress. Radical, at least for me.