My fashion campaign – bring back ‘the outfit’!

27 Mar

I still remember my first ‘corporate’ suit (called a ‘power suit’ in those days). It was a fire engine red skirt suit – a cropped jacket with a (rather short) skirt in exactly the same colour. It was very Amanda Woodward (Heather Locklear’s character – see photo) from Melrose Place. For memory, my Mum bought it for me when I was about 20 – but I know for sure we bought it from Sportsgirl. The reason I’m so sure is that, some 15 years later, I still have the jacket, it still has the Sportsgirl label, it still fits, it’s still in great condition, and I still wear it – but never with the matching skirt.  Walk into Sportsgirl now, and you’ll find an amazing array of fabulous separates – but you won’t find anything resembling a corporate suit, and you certainly won’t find a matching top and pants/skirt in the same colour – or anything that resembles a co-ordinated ‘outfit’. And it’s the same in all the High Street chain stores – from Portmans to Cue, Events and Country Road. I used to own a rainbow collection of different coloured suits from all of them – a cream skirt suit from Portmans, a pastel pink skirt suit from Events, a beige pants suit from Cue. At the time, I was working in TV journalism – and wearing a suit like I’ve described was like a uniform. It was easy, it looked polished.
At some point over the last 15 years, the concept of the ‘matching’ outfit went completely out the window – wearing a jacket in exactly the same colour as your pants/skirt is pretty well out of vogue, except if you work in a very conservative workplace where black and grey suits are like a uniform – or, if you’re over 50 years of age. Our Governor General is the ‘Queen’ of that look (see photos at the end) and I think she always looks fabulous – polished and appropriate. Even the concept of a ‘co-ordinated’ casual outfit has gone out the door. When was the last time you walked into a shop and found a pair of pants sitting right next to a top, designed specifically to ‘go together’. So why did it happen? Well, for a few reasons, I think. The workplace has become more casual – and fashion has become more ‘individual’ – that is, the trend these days (according to the fash mags I read) is to mix and match designer ‘pieces’, with chain store ‘cheapies’ and vintage ‘finds’. And – maybe I was just a complete dag in my early 20s and failed to realise that matching suits and outfits were completely uncool. But – I, for one, think the death of ‘the outfit’ is a great shame. Namely, because it’s made shopping so damn difficult. You might find some great pants in one shop, and then spend another two hours scouring other shops for a fabulous top to go with it. Frankly, with two kids under 2, I just don’t have time for that any more. I’ve got a wardrobe full of tops and bottoms that I love. But nothing ‘goes’ with anything. I know that a fashion magazine would say that I should be able to pull a ‘look’ from all these disparate items by mixing them in an interesting and witty way – but I don’t’  have the eye. Or – here’s a revelation – maybe I should ask a shop assistant about what goes with what. But – let’s face it – when does anyone ask a shop assistant for real advice? What I want is to be able to walk into a shop and walk out half an hour later with a complete outfit – with no help, no fuss, no fashion styling degree required. Anyone with me?  

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One Response to “My fashion campaign – bring back ‘the outfit’!”

  1. Anonymous April 5, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    if the GG hitched up her skirt a little she could work at D&D Advertising…

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