You've never had it so good
High street fashion is having a golden season. Buy it by the armful, says JAMES SHERWOOD
Sunday 07 November 1999
September's Harper's Bazaar photographed the season's "essentials" such as Calvin Klein's leather trench ($2,490), Armani's jet and crystal black- beaded shell ($13,125), Donna Karan's felt-jersey blanket wrap ($2,375) and Dolce & Gabbana's Mongolian lamb maxi ($6,920). The total for every item in Bazaar's "Fall Hits" list is $112,063. British Vogue's "Ten Key Pieces" in its September issue came in at a more modest pounds 7,641 - that's a small car to the rest of us.
Some people just don't care about clothes. Some of us, however, feel physically sick if we're not on-message with the new season. Last winter's grey gives us a migraine and mild depression. If it wasn't for the high street we'd never leave the house. You see, autumn/winter '99 is a golden season for the high street.
Have you been in the changing room queue at H&M recently? People shop like contestants on Supermarket Sweep. Frenzy is the only way to describe Top Shop on a Saturday morning. You see grown women grappling with over- made-up teenagers for the last small size glitter knit embroidered skirt. The high street is mobbed at the moment, and there are several reasons why.
This season is all over the place: Seventies college kid, disco diva, clash animal print, gothic punk and Bohemian princess. The overall feeling is trashy and clashy, which plays right into the hands of the high street designers. They can do animal print. Hell, they've been doing it ever since Bet Lynch pulled her first pint. They can do glittery party frocks blindfolded. They have even replicated delicate Boho beading for the mass market.
In a chaotic, stormy season, fashion addicts instinctively know that not all the latest designer quirks and whims will survive. So there's very little point spending top dollar on pieces you'll be ditching by next season. After all, fashion is ultimately about fun, and high street shopping for utterly seasonal, utterly disposable fashion pieces is the most fun you can have alone with the lights on.
How to wear it
The more clueless high street labels still handle high fashion like a chimpanzee playing with a Lalique vase. Use your fashion radar to root out the not-quite colours, the wrong shapes and the also-ran designers. Price isn't always the best indicator of a hit. H&M's stretch cling gilets are under pounds 15, but that doesn't mean they are tatty. It means buy two in every colour. For those of you who've shopped at Zara, it may look as if they've left a nought off the price. Just count your blessings and fill your carrier bag.
It used to be a rule not to buy natural fibres or tailoring on the high street. Tailoring won't make a comeback until next season, so not to worry. But look at the leathers in Top Shop, the ponyskin skirts in French Connection and the delicate beaded crochets in Karen Millen. The fabrics are luxe, the make excellent and the prices laughing-gas cheap. The only rule on the high street is take your time. Scour every rail and try on several sizes. High street sizing is like a politician's promise: totally unreliable.
Where to buy it
If you're a gorgeous, flirty (and thin) Dolce & Gabbana kind of girl then Top Shop is your new best friend. There are more sequins, feathers and animal skins in this season's collection than in Lily Savage's dressing room. If you died for Marni's clash colour palette this season, then Karen Millen and Jigsaw have both dared to do hot orange, turquoise and cerise.
Zara is for disciples of Jil Sander's sleek, minimal mood. The fit is hand-in-glove and the fabrics are natural with techno touches. What can one say about H&M? With new deliveries every day, this store demands a standing ovation. H&M has tried everything: a bit of beading, a dash of animal, naive knits and stretch stovepipe pants. Draw out pounds 100 and buy your winter wardrobe here in total. Finally, French Connection has taken all the difficult bits - knitwear, tailored tweed flares and bead-encrusted A-line skirts - and brought luxury to the high street for cheap.
Top Shop (tel: 0800 731 8284)
Karen Millen (tel: 01622 664032)
Jigsaw (tel: 0171 491 4484)
Zara (tel: 0171 534 9500
H&M (tel: 0171 323 2211)
French Connection (tel: 0171 399 7200)
Life & Style blogs
Twitter not working: Social network says problem with tweets not showing is fixed
Ebola crisis: Cases pass 10,000 as almost 5,000 killed by disease in eight countries
Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
What do the text messages between you and your partner reveal about your relationship?
Controversy over Queen's 'first tweet' at London's Science Museum
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
- 1 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
- 4 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
- 5 #AskNigelFarage: Twitter starts hilarious Q&A for Ukip leader
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...