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Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

I’m not known for my sense of style. No-one will ever ask me for fashion tips. I’ll never appear in the Sunday Times Magazine summing up my personal style in two words*.

I do actually adore clothes, just not generally so much that I let what I wear get in the way of more practical considerations. I love funky shoes, true; but I also love to walk everywhere so end up alternating between flat sandals, Converse All-Stars and Merrell walking shoes. I look at my trendy colleagues with envy; but resent spending money on work clothes so tend to choose more classic officewear that will span the seasons.

So why, when fashion isn’t that much of a concern for me, do I spend so much time thinking about it in Perth?

It’s probably just homesickness in another guise, but I have really struggled to get used to clothes shopping in Australia.

In the UK, I was a chain store girl. But what chain stores we had to choose from! Top of the list was H&M, which allowed me to indulge my love of the quirky for minimal cost. Miss Selfridge kept me in casual tops with interesting features (I’m a big fan of unusual sleeves and pockets), and I was enjoying the previously-rather-staid Marks and Spencer and Next, which were beginning to really up their game around the time I left.

There are several Aussie chains that I suspect think they are a kind of down under H&M. Cotton On and (the horrific) Supré spring to mind. But there’s no originality in their goods, and with the hugely inflated prices we suffer in Australia I just can’t bring myself to buy. They would probably claim I’m not their target market, but I missed the memo about having to restrict yourself to Witchery and Country Road‘s oh-so-boring and oh-so-expensive beige creations when you pass 30. Myer and David Jones do their best, but they’re no match for Debenhams.

Locals tell me that city centre chain stores are not the way it’s done here. All the best clothes come from suburban boutiques, they say. That may be true, but when one of the biggest proponents of that theory used to turn up to work in…well, let’s just say outfits that weren’t exactly my style, I began to have my doubts.

Maybe I’m foolish to expect things to be as good as back in Blighty. Our isolation and smaller population must have an impact. In the UK, the sheer quantity of merchandise available meant that with some clever styling, you need never see anyone in an identical outfit – even if it was purchased from a store with a branch in every high street. Here, I spotted others wearing my first Australian purchase – a maxi dress from Just Jeans – numerous times within my first few weeks of owning it.

The weather has an influence too. Is it really any surprise that in summer, the shops are full of denim shorts and vest tops when the temperature doesn’t drop below 40 for weeks at a time? 

But understanding those factors doesn’t help. So while I continue to ask for suggestions for stores I might like in Perth, I shop online, and look for any opportunities to buy European.

I left space in my suitcase when I travelled to Sydney recently, knowing that Gap had recently opened a branch in the city and Top Shop had a concession in trendy store Incu.

Gap was a huge disappointment. Yes, I appreciate that they are known (in the northern hemisphere at least) for their jeans and in a Sydney summer it must be hard to sell heavy denim trousers to shoppers, but only two styles to choose from? A range of candy-hued cotton crew-neck sweaters didn’t have me reaching for my wallet either.

Top Shop was better. Its concession in Incu’s Paddington store is clearly aimed at the fashion-forward crowd. A pair of dogtooth woollen shorts caught my eye, as did a long-sleeved chiffon blouse, but I frankly don’t have the kind of social life that requires such things. And woollen shorts should really be worn with opaque tights and boots, but unless you really crank up the aircon, you can only do that for a few weeks a year.

I’m heading to China in a couple of months, and will be spending the last few days of the trip in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has eight branches of H&M and the same number of Marks and Spencers. Let’s hope there’s also somewhere that sells suitcases, because I think I might need an empty one.

* Although, for the record, they would probably be ‘clean’ and ‘comfortable’.

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I’m going a bit off-topic here but it’s for a good cause.

My friend and colleague Freya is raising money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation by wearing a different frock every day of the month for Frocktober. She’s blogging about it so I thought I would send some of my readers her way, hopefully with their credit cards in hand!

I’m fond of a frock myself and have even made a few. I do hope you appreciate this picture of me in one of my less-successful creations. It was beautifully made – just ridiculous to look at. It has since been dismantled and is likely to be turned into a plain skirt at some point soon.

Trust me, all the dresses Freya has worn so far are MUCH nicer than this one, so she deserves some sponsorship for the effort she’s made. Get over to Freya’s Frocks and get giving.

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