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  • It is your friend. Occasionally the kind of friend who encourages you into irresponsible behaviour and debt, but not the tyrannical judge-ey bitch that some people seem to think it is. If you’re not having fun with fashion, you’re doing it wrong.
  • There are no ‘rules’. There are, however, reasonable guidelines which are very helpful in avoiding mishap. Things like ‘low neck OR short skirt’, not both’, ‘choose fitted clothes over anything box-shaped’, and ‘dress like a woman, not a child’.
  • Almost nothing looks good on everyone. It’s important to know your body shape, and what kind of clothes will emphasise what bits. If you have large norks, there are styles which will reduce them in proportion to the rest of your body, and others that will make them visible from space. The choice is yours. This even applies to accessories like hats. Get the right one for your face shape (narrow brim and high crown for round faces, wide slanted brim and shallow crown for long faces).
  • There’s no charge for trying things on. Not sure if that dress will make you look like a foxy 50s chick or a bad drag queen? Get it to the changing rooms and give it a go. Changing rooms are not just for checking if something fits, they are also for checking how it makes you look and feel. That’s why they are called changing rooms. Also, don’t just trust the mirror in your cubicle, it’s too close and you’re probably focusing on a developing zit or horrifying display of split ends. Try and see your outfit from a reasonable distance to get a sense of the silhouette it is giving you.
  • Buy underwear and swimwear a size too big, to avoid overspill. As you get older, your overall body and skin tone will loosen a bit, this is completely normal and natural, and nothing to worry or indeed care about. However, it does mean you can look a bit ‘stuffed in’ to close fitting garments, even if you’re not. Size up and solve the problem. (The exception to this is swimwear that you actually plan to swim in – you freak. Diving into a pool in bikini that’s too large will leave you with ankle cuffs and a belt. Invest in something like this instead and let your bikini area grow wild.)
  • Every season, the fashion industry comes up with new ideas, colours and shapes. Boyfriend jeans! Hacking jackets! Capes! Tartan! Aztec! Harem pants! Pink is the new black! You don’t need me to tell you this is largely based on the commercial imperative to shift more stock. However, it does mean that there is a whole industry full of creative people working non-stop to come up with ideas (thus saving you the bother). The only things you really need to worry about are:
    1. Does it work with my body shape?
    2. Does it make me feel great?
    3. Can I restyle something I’ve already got? Hobbycraft and the haberdashery section in John Lewis can help you here.
  • Never believe something is a ‘must have’. This is usually something selected by the retailer because it has the biggest mark-up.
  • Never trust a retailer who does this:


Unfortunately, almost all on the UK high street are guilty of this to a certain extent, and it drives me DEMENTED. What other industry is allowed to advertise its products in such a dishonest way? They are basically saying ‘buy this skirt, even though it will look nothing like this on you! Suckers!’

    • Don’t feel judged by people who say ‘I’m too busy/too important/too clever to bother about fashion’. Maybe they DO spend all their spare time and money researching a cure for cancer or taking care of elderly relatives. Maybe they have a job or a life where their money would be wasted on a matching handbag or brightly coloured scarf that brings out their eyes. Or maybe they just don’t have the confidence to enjoy finding out what suits them, and prefer to believe it’s all beneath them. People who don’t care about fashion should be admired, pitied, encouraged, as you see fit. How they feel about YOU is not relevant.
  • Borrowed from Sophie Heawood at the Guardian: You can have physical flaws if you style it out. Don’t walk like you’re an apology for yourself. Read her full and funny article on 37 thoughts on turning 37 here.
  • Borrowed from Caitlin Moran: Big hats make you look thin.
  • Fashion magazines are not the enemy either, they are just an annoyingly toxic by product of an industry which is in constant danger if disappearing up its own backside. Buy them, by all means, get ideas, and find out what looks pretty. But bear in mind the following:
    • The cost of a magazine to buy comes NOWHERE NEAR the cost to produce. Therefore, you are basically paying £4 for £10 worth of advertising.
    • Don’t be distracted by things which are a ‘promotion’ in a magazine. Everything in a magazine is a promotion. That’s why you’ll never see a completely honest review.
    • Avoid any magazine which exclusively features size zero 12 year old girls with giraffe legs, unless you ARE a size zero 12 year old girl with giraffe legs.
    • The best magazine for high street fashion in the UK is Look. Only ever features ONE designer item each issue (under the specific badge of ‘Label Lust’), weekly distribution, minimal silly quizzes and celeb stories, and fashion features which use models who are about a size 10-12. It’s basically a weekly catalogue of what’s new in high street shops near you. They also have page spreads which feature NO CLOTHES TO BUY AT ALL, just advice on how to turn last season’s trend into this season’s newest look. God, I love it.
  • Earrings can’t make you look fat. But they can make you look deranged. More on this in my upcoming post on Accessories!