Monday, 8 September 2008


The fashion cupboard is the work equivalent of the long dark night of the soul, stirring up every anxiety and provoking every demon one thought vanquished years before. Exquisite be-spangled frocks billow superciliously on their hangers, defying you to find yourself worthy of their mythic beauty. Tiny and perfect, this season's little black dresses gang up together on the rail - mean teens thrusting you into an agony of inadequacy, reminding you that no amount of grooming, good shoes or expensive highlights will ever exorcise the fact that inside you're still that pallid, lumpen redhead, sidelined, blotchy and frozen, last to be picked for the netball team.

It's certainly not the place to be a mere hour before an awards ceremony, locked in futile combat with the zip on a catwalk sample, and where the threatening rustle of silk and scratch of taffetta seems to grow and swell in the racks into a merciless whisper of 'impostor'. Exotic regiments of impossible shoes look down from their shelf in quiet pity. Perhaps I could file myself neatly away somewhere in the 'returns' rail, and await collection.

And then I pull myself together - though it's a shame I couldn't do the same for the sides of the fabulous but hunger-strike skinny dress.
How could I let myself be whipped into a frenzy of paranoia by a load of jumped up drapery? It's just not right to be intimidated by a frock.

Evidently, I have hidden shallows. Whilst I acknowledge that most of the people I will meet this evening won't even notice what I'm wearing (as long as it conforms to the narrow confines of expectation in these circles), I also acknowledge my dependence on the armour plating good costume provides. It's a handy barrier against an aggressively superficial world, where appearance is everything and content nothing. And I do belong to this world - albeit by default - so feeling neither beautiful or thin enough for it is utterly pointless. I wouldn't dream of actually eating a chip - so there's no point having one on my shoulder.

At last, I find a retail sample, less fabulous, but not designed to fit only the etiolated or permanently hungry.

It will do.

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