Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Sunday 13 July 2014

Shoes and Bags and LBDs

I got on the train yesterday morning... The early train, very early. Yesterday was Saturday and I was already on my way to London before eight o’clock in the morning after about three hours sleep.

I know! right?

Anyway, to wile away the hour, I bought the Guardian. I bibbled through the review section, did the soduko, and flicked through the magazine. I couldn’t face the news. Who can face the news before... I don’t know... brunch time?

Anyway, I like clothes. I’m not exactly a fashion victim. I’ve got clothes older than my children that I still love (the clothes, not the children (OK, it's true, I love the children more than the clothes)), but I like nice things that suit me, and I like quality.

As a consequence of my liking for clothes, I do, from time to time, check out the style sections of the weekend papers. Saturday’s Guardian has a regular column by one Jess Cartner-Morley. She’s young and blonde and good looking, and there’s always a photo of her accompanying her half page article. I rarely like anything she showcases in her pictures. I’m not saying that she chooses things that aren’t perfectly good, on trend, appropriate or classy. I’m only saying that, for the most part, her tastes and mine don’t tend to mesh.

Flicking through the magazine today, I landed on her article, and I thought that Jess Cartner-Morley had never looked better. She was wearing a very simple, very flattering black, figure skimming dress. No fuss, no frills, no anything. Everything about it looked right on her from the neckline to the hemline. ‘At last’ I thought, 'she’s finally got it right. I can finally get onboard with this woman. She looks elegant and grown-up. I’d buy that dress.'

I started to read the article. It began with a bit about the Irish Elk. OK then. Pretty quickly, it became clear that the article was actually about the It bag. It was about the sheer size of the It bag, in particular, in proportion to the size of the average WAG. 

I wondered where this was going. When was JC-M going to get to the dress? Two more paragraphs, three, and she was still discussing handbags: statement handbags, fun handbags, small handbags... The entire article was about the handbag.

I don’t really ‘do’ handbags.

Some of the shoe and boot boxes
in my not terribly well-organised
dressing room
I have thought about this. I have a shoe collection that spans decades, and I mean that literally. I keep shoes in their boxes and bags, if they come with cloth bags. I clean them and I have them cobbled as necessary. I have suede brushes and I know how to steam clean shoes and remove stains. I have specialist polishes for special leather finishes. I do not mess about with shoes, and I have a lot of them. As a child, I am told that I would insist on taking new shoes to bed with me.

Handbags, not so much. The husband bought me a very good handbag a few years ago. It is my everyday handbag and I use it... every day, for every thing. I do not anticipate needing another. If I look after it, which I do, this bag could last me for two or three decades. I have two other bags that I occasionally use for... Well, occasions. I also have one larger bag for those odd times when I need something approaching hand luggage... And that’s it.

I had not noticed that there was a handbag in JC-M’s photograph. In fact, it would appear that the reason that JC-M had chosen the plain black dress was in order to showcase the bloody bag. Odd that, because what she actually did was showcase herself to her very best advantage... OK, her stance was a little awkward in that slouchy, pigeon-footed, fashion-y way that appears to be popular, but that’s fine. She looked good in that dress.

The handbag looked like the sort of thing I might have bought the dort when she was nine or ten. I suppose it was cute in its way... or macabre, depending on your take on it. It was a cartoon head. It was Lucy’s head, in fact: Lucy from the Snoopy cartoon strip. It didn’t look like a grown woman’s handbag. Perhaps that's sort of the point. We don't have to be serious all the time. Even properly grown-up women, looking fab in sexy dresses can have a sense of humour, and accessorise with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks. I certainly hope so.

The dress was definitely grown-up.

I checked the details at the end of the article. You can buy both the dress and the handbag from Urban Outfitters. The dress is by Cheap Monday and costs £20- (I know, I was surprised too. It’s hard to tell from the pic, but I’m guessing it might be made from t-shirt fabric, so it’s probably one for the very brave, or very toned, but still... £20!) The bag is by Rodnik X Peanuts and costs £95-

As I’m wont to say under these sorts of circumstances: Go figure.

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