I would apologise for abandoning my blog for the past few months, but, you know, as I consider myself a bit of a Diva, I think nothing works better for a career than a spot of time in rehab and public avoidance, to keep your audience wanting for more.
I have been sunning myself at a lavish Californian Yoga retreat, cleansing my mind, body and spirit for a forthcoming world tour, which will involve an all-male dance troupe, wearing feathers and chainmail, & making grand entrances with dry ice waterfalls from a giant golden clam shell.
As that over dramatic, somewhat camp explanation is out of the way, I’ll just get back to my reality.
When I was a kid, my favourite thing was my Nan’s dressing up box. Now this woman was Queen of the village Jumble Sale, despite her dignified gait, chic pepper pixie crop and array of pastel duds, she was a tour de force when a bargain was on offer. She collected over the years THE most terrific wardrobe confection from every nook and cranny of her Stock-broker belt village. This collection of sparkling, ostrich feathered, costume jewelled finery would find new additions for every visit. As soon as I arrived, I’d be rifling through the box to find the latest addendums, and would shriek with absolute delight.
There was no fear to be found in the dressing up box, no peers within 100 miles to critique my couture inspired ensembles, and as this was the pre-camera phone epoch (there was one exception, as I frequently wore a hand crocheted tea-cosy, which was captured for posterity when I was about 9), I was free to express every crazy conception of dressing myself that I saw fit.
This freedom of spirit was inevitably diluted to fit into grown-up life, with each passing year, my dress code became more and more chic and indistinct. I’ve luckily grown out of the dull and samey phase, and have been for the last 10 years or so, the well-adjusted but individual version of myself that cuts a maniacal look on Supermarket strut.
For me there’s little more pleasing that opening yourself to new ideas, and trying things that I never considered I could convincingly carry-off. A great way to stretch my fashion lexicon is to buy vintage, or trawl charity shops, and if I find I’m not winning in my latest acquisition, it can be returned to a charity shop for re-sale, to a happier ever after. It’s also a whole bunch better than overspending on the high street on stuff I’ll wear once; for the environment and for my tortured soul.
Of course I still get fearful, or spend the day feeling lifeless, and on those days, I’ll hit the old favourites, and it is times like these I give myself a metaphorical kick in the ass to change it up. My favourite way to do this is to invite my friends for a swishing party.
I’ve hosted a few of these to raise a bit of cash for Water aid, and another for the final show of my student peers. My friends are usually happy to part with a few pounds (cover charge), to dig through a pile of off-casts, and enjoy a scheduled appointment for sharing a few glasses of something fizzy.
The great thing is that you find a plethora of lovely things that just haven’t found their best light, and you can try on things you wouldn’t usually even cast an eye over. This bird dress is a classic example of such a happy find. I struggle with prints, and although I am a sucker for a cute frock, I never feel that comfy in them, so avoid buying them, at the risk of looking too Mumsy. I loved the print, and the cut was flattering, so I gave it a shot, a tentative start and some experimentation, we bonded over casual shoes/boots and masculine leather or denim jackets. A happily ever after if there ever was one.
Swishing is like opening up your dressing up box, and not giving a damn about the outcome, it gives you the opportunity to play with ‘new to you’ things, and see if they are you, or just a bit not you, no loss and everything to gain.
I’m a recent member of a facebook giveaway page, and things that didn’t go on the evening were advertised to the group, and snapped up for the price of postage, or re-homed at a local charity shop.
Find a swish group, or start your own, it’s a win win for creative dressing up box management, and the universe will thank you for your best anti-consumer efforts.
See you next week!