Real Clothes: Little miss mix-it

This story was inspired by a young mother I saw, pushing her baby in its pram. She was obviously knackered, with great dark circles under her eyes, constantly yawning and yet she looked fantastic - like she had got up and reached in her cupboard for the first things she found. And out came some very of-the-moment looks - her skirt was floral vinyl, her shoes Western-style stilettos; but with those were some back-of-the-wardrobe favourites, a baggy sweater and a PVC rectangular shoulder bag circa 1981 (in silver, do you remember those?). I love this ability to mess looks up. As we grow older we tend to forget how useful those adolescent "dressing up" sessions in front of the mirror were, where we used to endlessly try out new combinations. Back then it was done out of necessity - how many outfits could you make out of nine pieces of clothing? Now it should be done at least once a season, slightly drunk if possible, to see what strange garments you can marry together.

Main picture: Pink cashmere applique cardigan (sizes s-l), pounds 375, The Scotch House, 2 Brompton Rd, London SW1 (tel: 0171 581 2151). Floral duck skirt (sizes 8-14), pounds 175, Unstable by Scott Hensall, Koh Samui, 65 Monmouth St, London WC2 (tel: 01429 282744). Floral sandals (sizes 3-8), pounds 30, Ravel, 184-188 Oxford St, London W1 (tel: 01458 444712).

From top: Pink floral shirt (sizes 8-14), pounds 29.99, Oasis, 292 Regent St, London W1 (tel: 01865 881986). Grey cotton stretch skirt (sizes 10- 14), pounds 45, Morgan, 393 Oxford St, London W1. 129 Regent Street Crescent, Trafford Centre, Manchester. (tel: 0171 499 4101). Fruit print bag pounds 32.40, Miss Sixty, Robot, 37 Floral St, London WC2 (tel: 0171 700 6470).

Pink/white shirt (sizes 6-16), pounds 85, Whistles, 27 Sloane Sq, London SW1. 15 Princes Sq, Glasgow (tel: 0171 487 4484). Washed denim skirt (sizes s-l), pounds 95, Earl Jeans, Harvey Nichols, London SW1 (tel: 0171 935 9393).

Grey knit top (sizes xs-l), pounds 149, Nicole Farhi, 158 New Bond St, London W1 (tel: 0171 499 8368). Grey paisley-print skirt (sizes 10-14), pounds 40, Warehouse, 24 Long Acre, London WC2. 30 King St, Manchester (tel: 0171 278 3491).

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