It was more in sorrow than in anger that I approached Marks & Spencer yesterday to see what had gone wrong. After woeful figures for its womenswear sales, I scooted round the nearest store and found not a lot to love.
Clearly the designs and range were at fault. For once, the excuse trotted out couldn't be the weather.
Yes, the weather is terrible and who'd want to buy a white broderie anglaise dress when it's cold and grey outside, but no one wants to buy a garish, fussy, embellished, wobbly hem dress, no matter how hot and sunny the day.
So I did get angry in the end. How Kate Bostock got paid £944,000 to sign off on gold hotpants and pearl encrusted sweatshirts beggars belief. I wonder if she actually wears any of the merchandise she tried to foist on us. The lacklustre offerings on Britain's high streets – it's not just the weather or M&S that is leaving me cold right now– make me glad (for once) that I'm a hoarder. I've been "shopping my own wardrobe" – a hilarious fashion industry euphemism – and it's been a blast.
In the course of researching the fall of M&S I found a butter-soft matelot top from its Autograph range at least five years ago. Out from a canvas bag under the bed came a navy and a white version of a fab Day Birger et Mikkelsen shirtdress that I remember I bought in a sale during a mad pash for the label in 2005.
A seersucker trouser suit from the never-not-trendy French label APC was next. OK, so the seams were creaking, but as long as I don't sit down, I think I can pull it off.
The point being, the combination of undesirable clothes, unpredictable weather and low-level anxiety about money might just be the cure for our addiction to fast fashion and buying into ill-considered trends.
There have been moves in recent years to persuade Britain's women that a £3 T-shirt from Primark is not good for the person who made it, the environment or the wearer (who might find it doesn't look quite the same after several journeys through the wash). Sales have still been strong. But the perfect storm of circumstances might just succeed where edicts from on high have failed.
If that's what it takes to make us buy less, buy better, buy less "on trend", lasting clothes, then I'm prepared to suffer the rain.
Meanwhile, retailers must be desperate to put the raincoats and boots into their shops that usually arrive at the beginning of August, heralding "the new season". It's their only hope to shift stock in this peculiar "sprautumn" we're having.Follow @lisamarkwell Reuse content