1. What do you think are some of the top fashion don’ts? (Things you would never be caught dead in and cringe when other people wear them.)
For me personally it is Ugg Boots. As a young girl in Australia I owned a pair of Ugg boots. They were what I wore around the house as bedroom slippers to keep warm in winter. I never wore them out in public.
In fact we were conditioned to run away from people who habitually wore them out of the house as real footwear for fear of being thumped. They were the sort who also wore skinny black jeans, checked shirts, had lots of ear piercings and shaved their hair into mullets (that was both the men and women and even their young kids).
Now in the suburban wastelands of Australia during the eighties they were just a scary social tribe. Ironically in modern day London they are actually fashion icons. In our day they were called bogans and they were never very nice to people who were not bogans. Given their vocabulary didn’t stretch far beyond “ugg!” before they threw an empty beer can at you it's no wonder they so proudly embraced the hideous Ugg Boot as part of their winter uniform.
If you lack the cultural context of what a bogan was I understand that they seem like comfy winter boots and what is good enough for Kate Moss to wear in public is going to be adopted lemming-like by the fashionable.
However for me the Ugg Boot is forever tarnished with the bogan brush. I'm not going to sully my blog with a photo to illustrate but if you google bogan you can appreciate the sartorial horror yourselves.
2. What previous fashion don’t do you now wear with pride?
Double denim. I don’t wear with pride per se, I just end up wearing it because sometimes I'm wearing jeans to run around in and will wear my favourite denim jacket as well because it’s a practical cover-up.
I guess I had never considered it off limits prior to it becoming a trend. It is actually easy to avoid looking like a builder in double denim if you put some thought into it. But then the fashionable got all excited about it this Spring and suddenly my double denim outfits were le dernier cri.
I also decided some time ago that I was going to ignore all those ageist fashion don’ts. You know the ones: anyone over the age of twenty-five shouldn’t wear shorts, mini-skirts, feathers, body-con, strapless, spaghetti straps, backless, sheer, biker chic, the latest trends, blah blah blah....
You name it, it has been declared off limits for us by snooty style guides, nosy relatives, even girlfriends who think they're doing you a favour. (Boy what a dull decade I would've had if I'd taken heed!)
Why don’t you just ask women to bury themselves when they hit twenty six? Or take up wearing the burkha? And you know who the worst perpetrators of this kind of advice are? Other women. Don’t see the men complaining. Nobody tells men to put their crepey arms and legs away at any age.
I’m not advising anyone to dress like a stripper or in anything they aren't comfortable with. Everyone has to know themselves and what their best features are, but that applies at any age. I do think the whole mutton dressed as lamb thing gets taken to a demeaning, intimidating and catty extreme. It pits women against each other and doesn’t contribute to a healthy body image for women as they get older.
How many women do you know who could otherwise rock something they feel they're too old for but resort to looking dowdy because of these fashion don’ts or because, to quote one distressingly young blogger I came across, they fear being given looks of pity? Think about who is giving out those looks of pity. I bet they’re mostly female. Let’s stop being our own worst enemies shall we?
My favourite stylist is the UK based reality TV fashion stylist Gok Wan. Gok always styles up women of all ages in less fabric, not more, and in fashion forward, figure hugging, downright sexy designs. They always come off looking fabulous, they make their husbands cry with joy and even my boyfriend always comments they look about ten years younger.
3. Do you think there is a universal fashion do?
From a philosophical point of view: be yourself and wear your choices with confidence! Nothing looks worse than someone feeling uncomfortable in and with what they are wearing.
From a wardrobe point of view: the little black dress, beautiful shoes and choice accessories never fail, either altogether or as starting pieces for an outfit.
4. What items lately, either recently in style or coming in now, do you think should never make it off the retail shelves?
Crocs. So. Phenomenally. Ugly. Who invented these monstrosities? Why do so many people insist buying these?? I read recently that the company share price is going up and that they’ve extended their range of designs and colours!! Just say no people!
I also take issue with cheap, super thin, clinging leggings that manage to show what colour underwear you’ve got on. Unfortunately I often see leggings that border on transparent combined with a short top that doesn’t cover the wearer’s behind and yes, I can see their knickers and not in an intended Dolce and Gabbana way. Never mind VPL, sporting camel toe is never a good look. This is a major fashion crime I see being committed far too often and more often by younger girls.
I love leggings but ones as thin as I've seen being sported in London need much more coverage than crop tops. If your leggings do not come in at least a good, thick, single ply jersey, then girls, they are technically hosiery. Sheer needs to be sophisticated if it is not to look trashy. If you must indulge wear with a dress or long tunic. Please.
5. In your opinion, is there any blogger, fashion icon, celebrity who somehow manages to pull off some fashion don’ts and still look good?
Carrie Bradshaw. Patricia Field exploited just about every Fashion don’t in the book and made the Sex in The City character a style icon. Take the first photo's fashion don'ts: crop tops and long hair on the over thirties, combining dark on top and light on the bottom, horizontal large stripes on the hips, wearing a bum bag years before they came back into fashion, and yet we probably all swooned.
And I think Anna Della Russo is awesome. Always fearless in her fashion choices she looks amazing, confident and happy in her own skin. Don’t wear designer head to toe, don’t wear short, sheer or feathers if you aren’t young, the list of don’ts tossed by the wayside is endless. She ignores it all.
Images of Anna Della Russo from The Sartorialist