Monday, November 9, 2009
On Saturday I bought what I believe to be the single most expensive item of clothing I have ever bought: a beautiful red Alannah Hill dress that I cannot find a picture of (ie: it is neither of the AH dresses pictured above, which are also very cute)
It was more expensive than any pair of shoes I own, more expensive than the handful of very pretty silk dresses hanging in my closet and more expensive even than the so-ridiculously-expensive-I-won't-even-tell-you-how-much-but-it-was-worth-it seamed silk stockings I acquired back when I decided to turn myself into a 1950s-style floozy.
Before I made this latest and greatest of acquisitions I sat down with The Boyfriend to discuss over lunch at the Belgian Beer Cafe, as a sensible Girlfriend sometimes does when she wants to pre-emptively ease her guilt. I showed him change room photos of me in the dress, discussed the NUMEROUS places I could wear it and whined for a bit about how it had been aaaages since I bought anything (grateful he hadn't been home when the amazon.com boxes arrived). Andy, being equal parts charming and disinterested shrugged his shoulders, said I could do what I wanted with my own money and then sweetly asked if I could go and order him some hot chips from the bar.
The only bit Andy didn't get, as he explained to me while dunking chips into aoli (god they do it well at the BBC), is why I was so excited about my impending acquisition. To Andy, clothes are just clothes: some of them look better than others but they are still just clothes. To me, as I explained while stuffing my gob with chips, every new outfit - particularly a radically new outfit unlike anything you already own - is a new chance to reinvent yourself.
This is not a new realisation of mine.
Many years ago a (now ex) boyfriend convinced me to buy an adorable 1920s-style bucket hat. The hat was beautiful but not, strictly speaking, very practical. I was not, I told the boyfriend apologetically, really A Hat Person. Wisely he responded with the observation that if I bought the hat I would become a hat person. In essence, if I bought it (the hat), it (the hat-implied lifestyle) would come.
He was right and he was wrong but the thought has stuck with me ever since.
This dress, for instance, gives me a little glimmer of hope that I could yet become one of the Alannah Hill girls depicted in the ads: hair bouffed, lipsticked smile genuine, spending my days faffing about on a garden swing or looking like I'm about to have tea with the Mad Hatter. Instead of, say, spending 10 hours in front of a computer five to six days a week, typing until my eyes glaze and my wrists start to throb.