"British have never dressed so badly" Dame Vivienne Westwood declares at London Fashion Week
During this week's London Fashion Week, Dame Vivienne declared, “People have never looked so ugly... We are so conformist, nobody is thinking.” Dame Vivienne’s real beef was that the rise of disposable fashion has made people all look the same and lack imagination. She complains that we are such consumers all we do is consume for the sake of it without due consideration. “I’m talking about all this disposable crap. So I’m saying buy less, choose well, make it last” My sentiments exactly Dame Viv, this is exactly what I try to instill in my clients!
I regularly advise my clients to cull half their wardrobe but then make sure they end up with more outfits to wear. Our western urge to consume is clouding our view and packing our wardrobes with confusing rubbish.
But what is it with the British and dressing exactly? We seem to have a puritan view of looking chic and an inherent ‘make and do’ attitude to dressing. When we do dress up, it tends to need some sort of pageantry to validate it, weddings, the races, a garden party etc… otherwise our attitude seems to differ greatly from the Continent where dressing well is expected and being Chic isn't Bourgeois nonsense. I recently attended a talk by Dr Clare Rose, Fashion Historian and Curator at the V&A on the history of fashion and asked her, “What is it about the French?, they are always viewed as stylish and ‘well turned out?” I expected her to come up with some insider knowledge about why they are ‘better’ at dressing than the British but that wasn’t her view at all. She had spent a large amount of time working in Paris and so drawing on her own actual experience she concluded that the French are tied by all sorts of rules when it comes to dressing. They are expected to conform and that conformity is a very classic look. The Classic look is usually one I recommend to executives and professionals because done right, classic clothes lend an air of good taste and timelessness to the wearer without breaking any rules, done badly it can be very dull and it’s not particularly innovative. It is ‘safe’ and so perhaps the British’s non-conformist habits are seen as style-less?
In this country we are innovative, we have a ‘devil may care’ attitude to fashion and our rules are more relaxed. We do have imagination in Britain but the availability of fast fashion and the sheer scale of it means people aren’t concentrating on honing their individual style. Just buy what’s in this week from Primark and bin it next for something else sub-standard and badly made that won’t last more than two washes anyway. It’s not about that (Primark etc…) being all you can afford either, if people spent a bit more on fewer higher quality items that they knew suited them, they would last longer anyway. You can jazz things up with accessories and throw the odd trend pieces in here & there for fun and to keep your look current.
So, once you learn what cuts, colours & styles really suit you, stick to and play around with that format and learn to reflect your personality as much as you can, to avoid becoming a clone!