How much influence do you have?

I was frankly shocked when someone on Twitter added me to a list entitled “Trendy.” Now I can think of many adjectives to describe me but trendy certainly isn’t one of them. In fact I would go as far as saying that I’ve never, ever been trendy in any sense. But, just to be on the safe side, I checked on its definition: “modern and fashionable, influenced by the most recent fashions or ideas.” No, that’s not me. Maybe they were being ironic?

Casting my mind way back to when I was younger, it’s not a description to which I ever aspired, quite the contrary. I have never been easily influenced. Also, I’ve always been a very conservative dresser. From the age of 14 onwards, no one ever asked me for proof of age, other than bus conductors who were reluctant to issue me with a child’s ticket. I’ve never tried to look older than my age or worn much make-up but I was always the one sent to buy the cinema tickets for x-rated films and drinks at the bar. Go figure!

I worked a year in a bank as part of my degree course, before I spent three years studying at university where I was regularly mistaken for a member of staff. Most asked me which department I worked in rather than which course I was studying. I suspect this was largely because I wore what might be described as a smart working wardrobe rather than denim and t-shirts. I’ve always striven to buy what’s called investment clothing, classic styles which never go out of fashion and can be brought up to date with accessories.  For example, I still wear a coat my beloved and I call “old faithful.” It’s by German brand Bogner and I bought it on sale for half-price (about Euros 450) back in 1989. While I don’t wear the coat in France as much as I did in the UK, it still has regular outings and its cost per wear can be measured in centimes.

I’m still a very unadventuresome dresser and I typically batch buy – just like I batch bake and cook. By which I mean, if I find something I like, I’ll buy it in a number of colours. Consequently, my wardrobe is dominated by a handful of brand names. Even though I no longer have to wear a working wardrobe, I still favour the basic colours I wore when I worked. While I have a handful of dresses, my preference is always for trousers.

My weakness, if it can be described as such, is accessories, specifically scarves. Here’s where I own up to having around 1,000 scarves. While you pick yourself up off the floor, do bear in mind that I have amassed these over 50 years. I still have and wear the first scarf my mother gave me, a small denim blue and grey one, which was one of hers. I also still have the first one my father got for me. It’s a pink, white, blue and grey floral pattern, bought to wear in the neck of a pink shirt-waister dress. They had their maiden outing when he took me to watch GB v W. Germany in a Davis Cup final which was played at Edgbaston Priory Tennis Club in the late 1960s. We went out for lunch before the match to the Albany Hotel and met the W German players who were lunching on the next table. How times have changed!

The collection has grown apace and while I’ve not bought so many in recent years, I still wear most of them regularly and indeed never go anywhere without a handful in my luggage to ring the changes. My collection comes in all sizes. For example, I have a collection of smaller scarves which I like to wear knotted at a jaunty angle with my cycling kit. I also have some larger scarves, more properly shawls, used to enliven evening outfits and fend off the chill if I’m outdoors or on a plane. My collection is carefully colour coded, packed in plastic bags and stored in large clear plastic boxes.

I also love shoes – who among us doesn’t? These too are carefully maintained with shoe trees in clear plastic boxes so I can readily see which ones are where. In recent years my passion for very expensive shoes has been mitigated by my desire for comfort. I’m more likely to be found in colour co-ordinated trainers, Birkenstock sandals or flat ballerina style shoes than those from Ferregamo, Emma Hope, Gucci or Christian Laboutin. Shoe styles do tend to go in and out of fashion and nothing gives me more pleasure than a spot of shoe shopping in my closet. Or indeed a spot of clothes shopping in my closet.



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