Reasons to be cheap and cheerful
Rediscover the fashion bargain - and your lost youth - on a high street near you
Sunday 16 November 1997
Top Shop on a Saturday morning was mobbed. Style Police looked back in languor as teenage girls fought over the last sequin boob tube. Frenzy is the only way to describe these kids dragging arms-full of slip dresses into the communal changing rooms. The boob tube rivals went in together. God only knows what went on once the curtain was drawn. Then your toe starts tapping to Gina G's "Ooh, Ahh, Just A Little Bit" and you start to look at the clothes.
An incredible, smart, gold, lace and oyster satin mini skirt (pounds 3O) leaps off the rails screaming, "I'm a dead ringer for Dolce e Gabbana". A black cobweb chiffon T studded with rhinestones (pounds 20) would work over one of Top Shop's strappy column dresses (from pounds 15) or under the royal-blue, velvet, single-breasted jacket (pounds 65) and pencil skirt (pounds 25).
Naturally, there is a lot of crap on the high street. They don't use good quality dyes on their cottons so the throwaway T-shirts will fade if you even show them to the washing machine. You find the same stories - like velveteen and fake fur this season - everywhere. Then again, if you are a designer snob and wear a high-street cocktail frock to a party, only fellow high-street junkies will recognise it.
"Beware the hype about the high street," says Time Out shopping editor Lorna V. "You have to discard a lot of rubbish before you find the gems. People see great high-street fashion pieces in mags and then get disappointed because the pieces have either sold out or only sell in London. A trip to the high street has to be planned with mathematical precision. Don't just work your way from one end to the other. Find out when the new season's stock is in and beat everyone else to it."
Style Police did feel a bit like the Vampire Lestat escorting the teenager in question through the racier rails of Miss Selfridge. But you can't better this place for glossy, black, lingerie skirts with black lace trim (pounds 25) which look like Stella McCartney for Chloe. A silver sequin on Lurex halter dress (pounds 25), which flutes into a pretty knee-length A-line, may be the frock to make male knees tremble at the office party. Teenagers may not think twice about going out on the town in a wisp of chiffon and a smile, so Miss Selfridge's silver ribbed rollneck (pounds 20) is a cute way to cover-up.
Lorna V advises high-street shoppers to "go to the designer stores and see what is in fashion. Try these pieces on, so you know what kind of fabric textures the designers are using. Then go to the high street and try to match up the most directional designer pieces. Trashy and tarty is fabulous, but there are pieces that will last longer than a season. I have tops from Hennes which have lasted years."
As a rule, the synthetic viscose-mix evening dresses are what the high street does best. They are cheap, clingy and feel fabulous. What they don't do is beading that would pass the Come Dancing test. But so what? Even if you leave every sequin on the dance floor, you can always get down to Top Shop and splash out Ooh Ahh, A Little Bit More on another frock.
Life & Style blogs
Most women have lived out their sexual fantasies, survey shows
Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
International abortion laws: The six nations where it is still illegal to have an abortion
Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
General Election 2015: Sturgeon claims Scots 'appalled' by Ed Miliband's refusal to work with SNP
- 1 Qataris pledge to expand Canary Wharf
- 2 #JeSuisEd: People share photos of themselves eating awkwardly in solidarity with Labour leader
- 3 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 4 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
- 5 Watch eerie drone footage of destroyed building in Stalingrad
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...