Alice Azania-Jarvis: I want that new dress but it's not meant to be

In The Red

Fashion week and party conferences, someone recently mused on Twitter, are remarkably alike. At least to an outsider. I've never actually been to one of course – well, apart from a brief five minutes at London Fashion Week when I worked as a gossip columnist, and even then it was just a matter of a few intimidating parties where everyone was (much) better dressed than me. But you get the point: they both see groups of like-minded folk get together for lots of drinks and politics, are both baffling to the uninitiated observer, and they both take up acres of newsprint.

At any rate, with the noisy news summer having disappeared faster than last weekend's heatwave, they have become impossible to ignore. And so it is that I've found myself taking an unusual interest in the mini dresses, trouser suits and paisley prints of Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs, Céline et al.

There's something exciting about looking at catwalk photos online. There's a vague feeling of anticipation, of participation – even though I haven't the faintest hope of actually wearing any of these feted garments. Still – I can't help it. After months of wearing tattered jumpers and years-old jeans, I find myself itching for a nice dress, some smart trousers – even, thanks to Stella, a pair of plasticy pool sandals. And so it is that a familiar feeling takes hold: I start planning trips to Topshop, looking online at Asos, flicking through the Zara catalogue. My wardrobe, I resolve, will be better.

And then I remember: it ain't gonna happen. For so many reasons. First – of course – the budgetary. No matter how much I save, I can never quite bring myself to spend much money on clothes. Experience dictates that it will go horribly wrong (the most expensive thing I bought this year was a £70 jumpsuit. Nice, but worn just twice).

But it's not just that. I am a terrible shopper. I wear the wrong clothes for trying stuff on. I can never remember my size and have to carry three variations of each item to the changing room. I forget to eat lunch and then get light headed and panicky (which leads, inevitably, to my making some disastrous decisions). But worse of all: I can't commit. I have commitment phobia as a consumer. Which is why, as the four fashion weeks draw to a close, I need to put away my enthusiasm, like an old coat not to be worn again. It's no bad thing, really. Just another way of controlling the budget.

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