Stuff I bought this week…

This week’s shopping list was dictated to me by an old favourite dress finally starting to fall apart; messy hair, don’t usually care – but decided to try a new idea; wanting to wear trousers more and needing better knitwear in the freezing office and, finally, the first Christmas party I’ve been invited to in 9 years.

I bought a puff sleeve, crane print on black cotton dress from H&M about 3 years ago. I loved it so much that I didn’t wear it for a whole year. I tend to leave things on my wardrobe rail for ages while I admire them from afar – it’s very wasteful but I have an ingrained tendency to save things I love ‘for best’ – until I have a moment of clarity and realise that I don’t have a social life and the illusion of ‘best’ is just that. Or, really, a delusion.

In the end I started wearing it for work after I got a new job where I was encouraged to go for it, style-wise. I love dresses for work. They’re so easy – underwear, dress, tights (if necessary), footwear. Maybe a cardigan. Coat and accoutrements if required.

Anyway, it’s started to fall apart. I can probably keep it going a bit longer but, one day soon, I’ll put it on and it will rip or just shred. I decided to be proactive and get ahead of the grief process by replacing it early – in much the same way a black widow keeps her eye out for the next old codger she’ll make her victim.

I chose an easy shape with plenty of room because I often have to do window displays, dress mannequins and manhandle gondalas or product units at work. I need to be able to lift heavy objects, bend and stretch often and whatever I put on has to go with flat shoes. I can’t do any of those things if I’m not wearing sneakers or my trusty biker boots.

The above tiered, leopard print dress from New Look (£12 in the Black Friday sale) fits the bill. I’ll wear it with clean white trainers if I can possibly keep them that way. Otherwise I’ll just wear it with white-ish trainers.

I also needed a solution to hair getting in the way when I need a fringe trim. I’ve wanted this black headband embellished with acrylic flowers for ages but, at £14.99, it was a bit expensive for a mid month treat. It’s only a hair accessory, after all. I’ve got to be honest and admit to using my staff discount. I would have gone to Primani for a cheap alternative otherwise – but I knew they wouldn’t last as long. I like it because it’s reminiscent of late noughties Chanel. That will always keep me happy.

Despite my love of dresses, I’m going to have to give in to the practicality of pants occasionally over the winter. It’s effing freezing and the heating at work is great when we’re not busy but, with the seasonal footfall, I’ll be stuck behind a till or putting clothes on rails at the front of the store (right in front of the open door) more often. I’m planning on wearing wide legged pants with sneakers – of course – and knitwear that the two Joans (Crawford and Collins) would love. I have a reputation for being a little bit ‘extra’ at work – I once dressed 7 full body and two half body mannequins in a shift while wearing a floor length dress – and I want my jumpers to compliment my personality. Also, if you wear something embellished, you don’t have to think about jewellery or accessories. They’re on the bloody clothes, for God’s sake.

This Blue Vanilla diamante puff shoulder jumper (£30) is amusing, to say the least. If I don’t load on the jewellery, I won’t look like Alexis Carrington Colby. Fingers crossed.

And then we get to the Christmas party… I’m in uncharted territory here. I haven’t been to a work Christmas party in years. 9 years, to be exact. I work with women who are, generally, significantly younger than me. Despite my body positivity, I can’t help noticing that they’re also slimmer and less wrinkled than I am. I know that shouldn’t matter but I’m human and I can’t help being somewhat self conscious.

I used to have a pair of black velvet, wide legged pants that I wore to every smart, formal and / or black tie event. They were amazing. They survived champagne showers, very drunken dancing, all the nifty wriggling involved with escaping the office weirdo – and they thrived. They were also horribly, horribly expensive. If I say ‘mid 90s Tom Ford for Gucci expensive’, you get some idea. Actually, back then, they weren’t exorbitant – Tom Ford was still a bit of a gamble for an ailing fashion house – but they were expensive enough for a foreign language student supplementing her meagre grant with her assistante’s salary in Marseille to have to live on tins of tuna for so long that I will never eat it again.

It was all worth it, though. I don’t regret a penny (well, a franc back then) that I spent on them. I never had a better time than when I was wearing those pants. I bought the blue ones featured in the picture above too. Although I didn’t wear them as much – somebody said something mean about them being ‘clichéd’ and, back then, that was enough to put me off.

Last week I reconciled myself to the fact that I needed a replacement for the legendary pants (I also found out that I get seriously hung up on my ‘exes’) and did a quick Google. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Then Facebook heard of my dilemma and gave me an embarrassment of riches. I’d like to say that I bought the entire forest green velvet suit – but I didn’t. That soft fabric doesn’t sit well on my bust. I bought the green wide legged pants (£35) to try because I loved the colour.

I also bought the cheaper black velvet pants (£25) because I’m one of those people who obsess about buying neutrals in case they’re more versatile. I don’t know why, since I rarely go out. I’m beginning to think that I should just buy what makes me happy nowadays.

On that positive note, I also decided to try the navy velvet pants (£25). They’re supposed to be the same as the cheaper black versions but the fabric is a match for the green trousers.

It’s worth noting that I have every intention of returning two pairs. I have a dilemma, though… Put simply I love them all. I am slightly cheered that the green and blue ones are my favourites. It’s kind of a hint that I may be starting to properly enjoy fashion again. It’s wonderful to indulge in it – guilt free, as well.

I had a real flight of fancy as I happily tapped away on my phone from the comfort of my bed. After an evening watching Ocean’s 8 with the girls – for about the millionth time, I decided to see if I could find anything approximating the evening gown that Tammy (played by Sarah Paulson) wears to the Met Gahhhhla – no, not gayla – in the film. Specifically the top half. As you may have gathered, I do like a puff sleeve. And I also love sequins. Especially on a velvet base.

Hey presto! On my travels around the rabbit hole that is interweb shopping, I found my forever top. This is the volume shoulder, navy sequin top (£28) that I want to be buried in. That or leave to someone who will really appreciate it (please let me know in the comments if you want to be considered). It’s a size 16/18 because I wanted to be able to tuck it into either my new velvet pants or an H&M jacquard weave skirt I’ve had my eye on for ages. I prefer a little volume so I can actually eat on a night out.

I’m practically salivating over the idea of the contrasting textures. It’s not healthy to be this obsessed so let’s call it ‘passionate’. That makes it sound vaguely artistic.

So there we are. In conclusion, Very has done very well out of my pay packet. New Look comes second and it looks like H&M may get a look in too.

There’s also an honourable second on the dress… After buying some black patent loafers (£19.99) last month – and not wearing them – I decided to try a shorter length dress (£22.99) than I would normally choose. We’ll wait to see how that works out. I’m not sure how confident I’ll be when performing the everyday contortionism required for my job in a shorter length.

I’m also pleased that I invested in the Sleek ‘Face Forming Contour Palette’. I woke up this morning with a cold and bad skin. I didn’t use any foundation – with just a bit of concealer, this palette, some Benefit They’re Real! lengthening mascara and Maybelline brow satin I looked relatively human for an entire Black Friday sale shift.

What I’m definitely keeping…

Well, probably… The green velvet pants aren’t locked in yet. I still love the blue – and the idea of the black as a safe option. However I can’t afford more than one pair so I may leave the decision in the hands of the real fashion experts at home. At the moment Child 1 favours the green. I’m not worried about looking like a peacock. After all, peacocks are lovely.

The dress is succeeding a much loved predecessor. I’m hoping it’s not my rebound choice.

However, the puff sleeved, sequin embellished top is a dead cert. I love it so much that I’m thinking about buying its sister. I can’t help myself. How can anyone resist the lure of twinkling, silver sequins?

And, on that note, I bid adieu to Fashion Friday. Although it’s Saturday as I finish this. Researching links and finding decent images takes a lot more effort than you might expect.

If you’re planning on shopping the Black Friday sales, go early and have a plan. Don’t be led astray by full price items. In the run up to Christmas most retailers will have flash pop up sales for a day or two at a time. Keep your eye on their social media platforms and sign up for updates. That’s the best way to catch a real bargain.

Most of all, enjoy yourself. Quit before you get sick of the entire process. Have a good breakfast before you go and wear flat shoes.

Love, Sophie