Friday 27 December 2013


The Tiniest Trefusis, when asked by her friends what her mother does at work, always says 'She goes to parties.' This makes me feel like Bubbles Rothermere, but since the end of November, I've started to believe it might be true. I know it will make me sound appallingly spoilt, since the parties are lavish and imaginative, but now Christmas is nearly here, all I long for is an evening on the sofa and some rubbish telly.

However, by the time parties-for-work cede to the neighbour-and-friends kind, I feel as if I'm short-changing everyone: I can barely bring myself to struggle into my false eyelashes and my liver would rather I drank hemlock than another glass of champagne (though, I note for future reference, the trend in West London is to liven a slightly dull fizz with a slug of Sloe Gin - quite delicious, I recommend it). 

By the time the last party before Christmas arrives, I've also exhausted my small talk: I end up standing next to a vaguely familiar man, who introduces himself by first name only, not that I can hear what it is over the party din, and am too embarrassed to ask him to repeat himself. I attempt the usual chit-chat but he's the kind of man who never asks one a question back, which is so peeving at a party - one ends up in interviewer-mode, but without notes, like an ill-prepared journalist, so one quickly gets to  hairdresser-specials like 'where are you thinking of for a holiday this year' and so on. In desperation, aware it's bad form, I ask him what he does for a living  - 'Well, I used to be in politics,' he says, giving me rather a hard stare, which makes me think the reason I know his face is possibly not only because I've seen him in the local Co-Op, 'Really?' I say, floundering madly because what on earth does one say to someone who used to be in politics, particularly after three glasses of SloeGin Fizz, 'Was that, um, fun?' 
'I wouldn't call it fun, exactly, but the Cabinet was quite something, I suppose.' And he gives me the polite smile politicians reserve for really dull constituents, and turns to talk to the man on his right.

I sneak off to the lavatory and google him, which takes less time than I imagine searching for 'Man with grey hair used to be in the Cabinet' might, partly because he was so prominent in parliament I can see why he might expect to be recognised. I think of a few really incisive things to ask him about Syria and fracking and the Global Economy and stuff so I can redeem myself, but by the time I'm back in the room the party has moved on.

Mr Trefusis and I have promised the babysitter - down from his first term reading Physics at University  - not to be very late, so we go home to find the Infant Trefusii still up, sitting cross-legged on the floor with the babysitter, surrounded by pages of diagrams, rapt expressions on their faces. 'They didn't want to go to bed so I've been explaining Escape Velocity to them,' he says as I give him his cash, 'They got the trick question about where gravity is strongest.'

I think I need to go to fewer parties.

Saturday 21 December 2013


Every year the task of decorating the Trefusis Christmas cake falls to the Tiniest T. This elaborate confection is her most ambitious yet.

Sunday 15 December 2013

14th-18th December; Mrs Trefusis Diary

At breakfast, the Tiniest Trefusis calmly announces that God talks to her.

Mr Trefusis & I look at each other, wondering if we've spawned a junior Joan of Arc.

'What does he say to you?' I ask.

'Well, I ask God if I can have a biscuit, and God says 'No'.'

Sensible God, Supreme Super-ego.

Another breakfast. This time at Dean Street Townhouse, where a significant proportion of the male diners is sporting hats. I could three beanies, two pork pies and a trilby and something that looks like a Fez, though it cant possibly be.

I was brought up with the -evidently archaic-view that it was not considered good manners for a man to keep his hat on at table, though I'm reminded of the story about the Royal Marine who happens to be spending the night at the officers mess of one of the Guards regiments. At breakfast the following morning, he is alone save for a single Guards officer at the far end of the table reading The Telegraph and wearing his army cap.
'Please would you pass the butter?' Asks the Marine.
No reply.
'Excuse me, please would you pass the butter.'
Still no answer.
The Marine raises his voice and tries again. 'I said, please would you pass the butter.'
Eventually, the Guards officer lowers his Telegraph and says, testily, 'when a ______Guard wears his cap at table, it means he wishes to breakfast in complete silence. The Marine leaps up and strides along the table, planting his foot squarely in the Guards officer's breakfast, 'And when a Royal Marine stamps in your f***ing breakfast, it means pass the f***ing butter.'

Friday 13 December 2013

13th December: Mrs Trefusis' Diary

The Infant Trefusii have discovered pop music. This is extremely wearing now that I am middle-aged enough to deem the latest chart hits a noisy banality. Anyway, as I'm driving us to my parent's this evening, there's the usual pleading to switch channels. Since Radio Four is experiencing one of its occasional longeurs (plants, or something gardening-y), I oblige.

Eventually, something comes on that doesn't make my ears bleed, so I try to get down with the Kidz and ask Trefusis Minor if it's Florence & the Machine.

'No, Mum, it's London Grammar.' He says, but, trying to be nice, adds, 'They do sound slightly Florencey in this one.'

London Grammar? Trefusis Minor is nine; How does he even know London Grammar exist?

MRS TREFUSIS' DIARY, 10th December

I'm off to an appointment with the eminent Dr Russo, of which more later, and, taking one look at the traffic near the office, deduce it will be infinitely quicker to walk to Harley Street. Flicking into google maps on my iPhone for the quickest route, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Trefusis Minor a few weeks ago.

I'd picked him and the Tiniest T up from school which is an uncommon enough occurrence for me to have got us lost on the way back to the tube.

"What would we do without google maps?" I remark as I steer us back in the right direction.

"Well," says Trefusis Minor, who thinks rhetorical questions are pointless, "We would look at the sun, or the North Star or the moon if it's night."

"But what if the weather was bad, like today?" I say.

"If it's cloudy we find a cathedral and wherever its front entrance is, that is east."

"We're a bit short of ready cathedrals in Parson's Green, I think."

Trefusis Minor - ever resourceful - says, "Actually, we could find a spider web - whichever side of the web the spider is on, that is east. If you are superstitious." He adds.


I'm seeing Dr Luca Russo to show him the new creative I've come up with for his advertising in Harper's Bazaar - he's a cosmetic dermatologist of some repute, with a rather glittery client list - top secret of course - of the rich, famous and exquisitely beautiful. So beautiful are some of his clients, I wonder what work they might possibly have had. This is his hallmark, I deduce: if you're one of Dr Russo's clients you can pretend you've had nothing done, you simply look as if you've been at livery for a few months, all fresh and glossy and polished.

Anyway, we talk about business for a bit and in the course of conversation I'm suddenly very curious,
"So, " I ask him, " what could you do for me, if I were one of your patients?'

He looks at me consideringly and says, "I could not make you look ten years younger."

"Really?" I say disappointed, "But I thought that was why people came to see you, to look younger. I feel about a hundred and four."

"Well, maybe I make you look one hundred. But no, is ridiculous to try to be younger, what you want is to look marvellous." 

"Oh yes," I say, rather cheered by the thought of looking marvellous, and also thinking he's quite right, people who try to look young again always look a bit wrong, "I think I'd like that."

"You see," he says, "One look old because one look exhausted, stressed, worried. I get rid of all of that. You will look bright, fresh, as if you have never been tired."

I like the sound of this enormously, no scary Nicole 'surprised' Kidman eyebrows, but with a little light Botox, mesotherapy - which involves lots of tiny yet painless micro injections  of a cocktail of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, hyaluronic acid into the face - and some light fraxel to remove sun damage, I can have a face that no longer looks knackered and careworn.

He tells me in absolute cross my heart scouts honour secrecy about one of his patients, an extremely 
well known British actress, not young but wonderful looking.

"Really, "I say, astonished,  "You do her? But she  doesn't look like she's had any work, she looks marvellous."

Dr Russo smirks, evidently pleased with his own handiwork.

"That's what I told you: marvellous"

"Where do I sign, I say."

Dr Luca Russo, The Rejuvenation Clinic, Harley Street, W1.0870 243 2230

Sunday 8 December 2013



I take the bus to work. This is a huge indulgence, because it takes forever, unlike the tube which is practically teleporting, but I have downloaded a 'Georgette Heyer bundle' onto Kindle-for-iPhone, and am so utterly gripped I'd take the slow boat to China if it meant I could spend more time reading A Convenient Marriage. Anyway, I've not long settled myself into a window seat on the top deck, when I become distracted by the conversation between a man and his son, evidently on the way to school.

 'Great Granny is dead isn't she? Where did she go?'

'Well, to heaven, I suppose. That's where you go when you die. If you're good. And she was very good.'

'What if you're bad. Where do you go then?'

'Oh, people used to say you went to hell if you were bad. But people don't tend to believe in the devil so much any more.'

'To hell?' says the boy, in extremely disbelieving tones.

'Yes, where did you think people went?'

'To Rotherhithe.'

'Rotherhithe? Really? What do you think it's like there?'

'Cold and dark.'

'Well, yes, I rather think that's what Hell's supposed to be like.'

They lapse into silence. I think that if Milton had described hell  as 'Rotherhithe' rather than as 'a dungeon horrible' full of 'darkness visible', Paradise Lost would have been a rather different sort of poem.


The Christmas decorations on Carnaby Street are defiantly secular and terrifyingly large robins, suspended over one's head. I am not wildly in favour of small animals blown up to monstrous proportions, it reminds me too much of the nightmares I had as a small child after watching 'Kitten Kong', an episode of The Goodies f , in which Twinkle, a sweet white kitten, terrorises London.


I take the Infant Trefusii ice-skating, about which the less said the better, other than the Tiniest Trefusis is like Bambi on the ice, skinny flailing limbs akimbo. She slides twenty feet on her face and knocks her head on the barrier, but soon dries her tears when she discovers she is to have an Accident Report written about her. No mention in dispatches could have made her feel more important. We will never hear the last of it.


The Jesus Man is back at Oxford Circus - not, alas, the entertaining 'Are you a Sinner, or are you a Winner?' evangelist - who I think went to Australia - but someone much more old-school, who shouts 'Repent, for the fires of Hell await you.' as you struggle through the dawdling tourists, trying to make your way home. I'm tempted to tell him about Rotherhithe, but think better of it. 
Friday seems to be all about religious preoccupations: later, in his bath, Trefusis Minor announces he doesn't think much of Reincarnation. 'Why ever not?' I ask. 'Well, if people came back as animals, cats would be more intelligent, and be able to do morse code and stuff.' Really, there's no arguing with his logic - irrefutable, I'd say, but then, unless I repent,  I'll probably go to Rotherhithe.

Friday 1 November 2013


Cast your minds back if you will, dear readers, to the mid eighties. For those of you who were only tiny tots, you'll just have to use your imaginations. Britain is in the grip of Thatcherism, the Miners Strike is drawing to a close, and I have Billy Bragg's EP Between the Wars playing on a loop on my Sony Walkman. Any telephone conversations too private to conduct in the hallway at home take place in red telephone boxes, endlessly pushing 2p's into the slot as you hear the frantic beeps indicating you're running out of money. No one has heard of email, and there is one computer in the whole school, so precious it has its own room, and only A'Level maths pupils are allowed near it.

Every inch the right-on New Romantic in my winklepickers and 'vintage' great coat adorned with CND badges, open to reveal my Katherine Hamnett '58% Don't Want Pershing' t-shirt, I march up to a door on a relatively middle-class housing estate and knock on the door.

'Hello,' I say, politely, 'I'm canvassing on behalf of the Conservative Party'. This being Oxton ward and not Rock Ferry, I don't have the door slammed in my face, although the harassed mother, pushing her curious children back inside the house, does say rather quizzically 'You don't look like a Conservative' before accepting my leaflet and waving me on.

Quite true. I didn't look like a conservative. I wasn't one. I dressed my politics. Being far too young to vote, or to have a mortgage or pay tax, I had Convictions. I was deeply on the side of right not Right, and very proud of my militant connections, though these were only my cousin's husband, Lecturer in Trade Union Studies at Wolverhampton Polytechnic and the fact my other cousin had once been to Greenham Common.

You may have spotted some contradiction here. Why was I canvassing for the Conservatives whilst carrying a copy of Marx for Beginners in my pocket? The truth, dear friend, is terribly simple: Sex. Or romance, really, if you're feeling faint-hearted.

This being an unsophisticated decade, and not awfully yoof-friendly, there were very few places to go for the enthusiastic teenager to meet members of the opposite sex. Church was out, naturally - far too much chastity and singing - so that left politics. I simply couldn't bring myself to fancy anyone with from the Young Socialists, all dirty-fingernails, Real Ale, irritable vowel syndrome, and making you go Dutch on everything.

I'm afraid that then, as now, I fancied Tory Boys. I preferred them with a small 't', since I was much less interested in their politics than the fact they tended to have an allowance, access to their mother's car, decent manners and nice clothes. I probably should never have been allowed to watch Brideshead Revisited, since it seemed to have imprinted a 'type' upon me at an impressionable age but certainly it left me with the idea that the working-class hero wasn't going to work for me. Tory boys weren't deeply trendy, but then, life was ever a compromise and I have a passion for posh.

Nor did I admire the dreary sincerity of the Young Socialists: their meetings were full of earnest discussions about society and they talked a lot of politics. The Young Conservatives Association didn't bother with anything so obvious: apart from wandering about with a few leaflets come the council elections, I don't remember politics coming into it at all. Oh, except once, when in a wave of enthusiasm we had a debate: I stood against the motion, This House Wholeheartedly Supports the Nuclear Deterrent, and I won in a resounding victory, rustling up a little support for Conservatives against the Bomb in the process. On the whole, going to the Young Conservative meetings meant drinks, idle chat, illicit cigarettes and the promise of a Saturday disco.

In retrospect, I do wonder why they let me hang out with them, given that I was as volubly anti-Thatch as Ben Elton, and literally wore my opinions on my sleeve, given my predilection for slogan badges. I think they were simply too polite, and too middle-class to mention the elephant in the room, enthusiastically waving a red flag. Possibly I had novelty factor. Certainly, I enjoyed trying to shock them with my subversive opinions, and it gave me a nice warm feeling of contrariness which is always pleasing when you're 16 and full of yourself.

As a dating strategy, it was a great success. The tory boys had frightfully nice manners, and conducted themselves chivalrously, hugely in favour of making sure you had a seat and buying you a drink. They also took the trouble to properly chat you up before getting sweaty-palmed and pouncy during a slow dance to Careless Whisper. Good snoggers without exception, they'd had evidently taken an O'level in undoing bras with one hand. And these being more innocent times, seemed content with an above the waist and below the knee diktat. I still get slightly quivery when I think about the rough border terrier feel of a tweedy tory boy embrace and the hot steamy smell of damp wool rising from sports jacket during an enthusiastic tussle in the front seat of a VW Golf.

I think my appeal lay in the allure of the transgressive, of snogging outside one's postcode. A date with me looked like rebellion particularly since I made great show of reading The Guardian and Cosmopolitan in an entirely fictitious attempt to look liberated and sexually enlightened.

Nearly a quarter of a century on, the placards and badges long since consigned to the dustbin of history, I only read The Guardian online, and never open Cosmo, and my political opinions have mellowed to a point where they're not even brought out for dinner parties. As I watch Mr Trefusis leave for work, dressed in a very snappy suit and an Hermes tie, all properly polished shoes, good cuff-links and an innate knowledge of the correct use of the apostrophe, I realise that I've never quite outgrown the appeal of tory boy chic.

PS: Mr Trefusis would have you know that it's not that I like the politics, I just like the floppy hair and the well-cut clothes....

Sunday 19 May 2013


'Do you remember Mummy getting ready to go out when we were little?' I ask my sister as we share a quick cocktail in Claridges in the lost half hour between leaving the office and going home - the unreliability of the Central Line providing an excuse for sneaking in a drink and a gossip before dashing back for the children's bath-time.  'She used to lie on her bed for ages under a Charles of the Ritz face-masque before putting on her party make-up - Max Factor Crème Puff and the Charles of the Ritz cream eyeshadow that came in little pots of peacock blue and bronzy gold - and her mascara was the block kind you had to spit into.'
My sister gives a moue of disgust, evidently wondering how women escaped conjunctivitis in the early seventies if that was the sort of primitive cosmetic on offer.
'I don't remember the makeup,' she says, beadily watching me hoover up the last of the olives, nuts and cheese-straw-ish things, 'But I do remember her evening bag: it was all shiny black sequins and there was never anything in it other than spilt face powder. And she had a long velvet skirt from Jollys of Bath worn with a white frilly shirt and patent shoes with buckles and a chunky square heel, very this season Vuitton actually.'
'I loved that outfit - it was what she always wore to go out.'
'She must have had others: She was very glamorous in those days,' says my sister, 'She can't only have had one party look.'
'No, no,' I say airily, 'in the 1970's there were virtually no shops, so it was hard to get anything new, and even if you could, you were basically expected to wear the same thing to everything, or get a reputation for hopeless extravagance, spending all your husband's money.'
'What rubbish,' says my sister with some justification, despite being not quite three in the days of the sequinned evening bag, 'You could get all the latest fashions from Jollys of Bath in 1973. And anyway, there was definitely a dress with big bell sleeves and a swishy skirt that went all the way to the floor.'
'Like Princess Anne's wedding dress, but floral?' I ask, and my sister nods. 'I think that came later, for dinner parties at home. You know, when everyone turned into Margot in The Good Life and wore false nails and carmen-rollered their hair and tripped over their long dresses.'
'I liked being on peanut and crisp passing duty. Don't you think it's weird how much proper booze people drank before dinner in those days? It was all sherry, or whisky or warm gin and tonic – people must have been plastered before they sat down to eat.’
‘They’d sober up during dinner,’ I offer, ‘There was never more than two bottles of wine – some kind of German number for the starter and the fish, and a claret with whatever was in the Hostess Trolley.'
'But then they'd get stuck into the Cointreau or brandy or port after the cheese. And drive home.' Says my sister with thundering disapproval. 'It's a miracle no one got killed.'
The conversation diverts down a health and safety track, taking in Jimmy Saville's 'Clunk Click Every Trip' and the road safety squirrels - the Tufty Club? - before we realise the time and hurriedly pay the bill.
And on the tube home, I find myself thinking about this Saturday's scheduled supper party  - no starched linen napkins coaxed into waterlily shapes chez Trefusis, or slavishly followed recipes involving things flambeed in brandy and doused in cream. Nor will women don evening dresses after an afternoon relaxing with a face-pack - dressing for dinner in West London means swapping Converse for heels after frantically wrangling the spawn into bed before the baby-sitter arrives. Smokers will volunteer to light up in the garden, rather than fug the dining room with fag smoke and bibulous guests will take themselves off home via Hailo or Anderson Lee.
Home Entertaining in 2013 is a far cry from what was de rigeur in the years between Ziggy Stardust and The Three Day Week. Nevertheless, some things will never change: the Infant Trefusii will be co-opted into politely handing round the olives, Kettle chips and crudités before being sent to bed, where, like my sister and I nearly forty years earlier, they'll watch the evening unfold from a vantage point at the top of the stairs.

First published on

For my latest Harper's Bazaar post, on beauty, botox and de-ageing, click here

Friday 26 April 2013


I'm very pleased to be writing a blog for The Prime of Mrs Trefusis.

Here's my first post:

'My Mummy is the most beautiful of all the mummies.' said the Tiniest Trefusis to her best friend when I picked her up from school last week. By any objective aesthetic benchmark, I am very far from the foxiest creature at the gates of the Lycée, surrounded as I am by a sea of Moncler-clad young Mamans, all of whom are part Beatrice Dalle, part Charlotte Gainsbourg in their long-haired, long-legged lissomness, their inimitable Gallic chic making me feel eccentrically British by comparison. [to read more, click here....]

I'm going to try to post there every week (and I'll put the post up here as well) - at least, that's the intention, but as regular readers of this blog will know, the road to hell is mostly paved with my good intentions...

Friday 15 February 2013


Somewhere in the years after Baudelaire expired from an excess of absinthe and poetry and before Proust had everyone madly eating madeleines as a memory aid, it became fashionable for your average Haute Bourgeois to keep a mistress, who he'd visit on the way home from the office. The French, having no truck with our mimsy, pursed-lip disapproval of infidelity, coined a phrase for these two relaxing hours wedged between the responsibilities of work and the duties of family: 'Le Cinq á Sept' entered the language as a little lost time in the early evening when one could indulge in some 'no-questions-asked' philandering. 

Lately, it's struck me that this incredibly louche phrase should be revived for the twenty-first century. I'm not advocating adultery - after all, who has the time or energy - but I wonder if le cinq á sept could be repurposed to mean a stolen hour where one can go off grid. My days are spent ricocheting between one meeting and another, the tiny gaps between meetings punctuated by frantic blackberrying just to stay on top of the demands of the job. Then I hurtle home to wrangle the infant Trefusii into bath and bed and make dinner by the end of which I'm too wrung out to do more than snarl at Mr Trefusis before collapsing gratefully into bed. How much more agreeable I might be if I carved a little Cinq á Sept into my day, a very modern take on 'me-time', and - switching off all mobile tracking devices (because as far as the blackberry or the iPhone know, I could be stuck on the underground) - idle into a smart bar for a reviving cocktail with a good book or in the company of an interesting friend. Please don't take 'friend' as a euphemism: to be properly relaxing, my take on le Cinq á Sept is easier if the agenda is uncomplicated. But the sweetest pleasures often need an illicit element, and in the case of my Cinq á Sept, this means home thinking I'm still at work, and work thinking I've gone home...when all the time I'm lounge-lizarding.

Why? For the super-chic euro-crowd and the unbelievably flattering light after dusk. 
Where to sit: At the bar, no one interesting sits at the tables at this time of day.
What to drink: Better Negronis than any bar in Milan
Cecconi's Mayfair
5A Burlington Gardens
T: +44 (0)20 7434 1500

Bar Americain
Why? For the Gatsby-esque glamour and Bollinger by the glass
Where to sit? The tables nearest the bar are perfect if drinking a deux
What to drink? A Sidecar - it's not on the menu, but Bar Americain's alchemy turns this classic mix of Remy Martin, Cointreau and lemon juice into something spectacular 
Bar Americain
Brasserie Zedel
20 Sherwood Street
London W1F 7ED
United Kingdom
020 7734 4888

Coburg Bar, The Connaught
Why? Sink into the warm embrace of one of the Coburg's velvet armchairs and you'll never want to leave.
Where to sit? The table near the fireplace under the Julian Opies offers good people watching opportunities
What to drink? The extremely comprehensive cocktail list reminds one why 'cocktail' is a verb as well as a noun.
The Coburg Bar at The Connaught
Carlos Place

Thursday 14 February 2013


It can't only have been me who found Jeremy Hunt so depressing on the television news the other night, giving us the oh so marvellous news that the government was capping care home costs in 2017.  Grinning punchably as he always seems to regardless of what's coming out of his mouth, he told us all that we should make provision via insurance or savings in case we degenerate inexorably into a less than perfect old age. Well, Jeremy, can I just say that the unfortunate slip about your name made by Radio 4's Today programme last year is looking increasingly less unfortunate?

I'm talking about this whole crazy-ass issue of accelerating decrepitude with a friend and I say, Bugger care homes, I'm taking the precaution booking myself into Dignitas at 78, with an option to extend should I not be bonkers and a burden by that age, there being nothing like a deadline for a writer after all. And my friend says, absolutely, top idea, me too, book into Dignitas before one's lost one's marbles, say good-bye to nearest and dearest, all that kind of stuff. Have a wonderful last meal, even.

Last meal? I say, What kind of a last meal is one going to get in Switzerland for God's sake? I'm not going to do the decent thing and save the family fortunes from being spanked on a care home in Western Supernightmare for assisted suicide after a Cheese Fondue and half a toblerone. I have in mind a more elegant death: ideally one in which one can choose to discreetly expire in a velvet armchair somewhere not dissimilar to the Coburg Bar of the Connaught, at an elegant and still witty eighty, in exciting shoes and a mink coat, clutching a three-quarter's drunk glass of Krug, whilst a white haired yet still atttactive Daniel Craig reads softly to me from the collected works of Yeats.

What about you? If you could order the manner of your death, what would you choose?

Monday 11 February 2013


Stacked heels - back in?

If by 'stacked' you mean the low, chunky, square-ish, sixties inspired heels like those seen at Vuitton and YSL (their Ingenue is attracting a lot of press), then yes, they're in. Should you wear them? Unless you have the coltish legs of Alexa Chung, you're under thirty or have an obviously 'fashion' edge to your look, absolutely not: they are to the WI what peep-toe platforms and spray tans are to footballer's wives, something of a trademark.

Tights with open-toed shoes, nude, opaque, both, neither?

Black opaque tights may be worn with black open-toed shoes as long as the opaque is of sufficient denier not to reveal your toenail varnish. Nude sandals must only ever be worn with bare legs - holiday in the Bahamas, get a spray tan or buy new shoes.

Bootleg jeans - back in?

Are you mad?

Skinny jeans - still in?

Of course. They are the Ford Model T of jeans -any shape you like as long as it's skinny. If your bottom is enormous please wear something long on top.

It's freezing, can I wear fur?

During the snow, I saw more vintage fur in Town than in an auction of Steiff bears. It's controversial, of course, but the theory seems to be that if your coat is very clearly an ancient something inherited from your mother-in-law's mother - by which I mean the styling is well out of date and there's a hint of moth - you can get away with it.

New fur is unacceptable, of course, unless you're Italian or Russian. So, the fur rules are, wear something twenty-third hand or learn to speak with an impenetrable foreign accent. Failing that, buy a thermal vest.

  PS: I like a lot of what's around this season, even if it's too cold to wear it yet, but I can't quite get into the mega-sixties vibe that seems to be so prevalent. I really struggle when fashion revives a period so emphatically because whenever I put anything on, it makes me feel as if I'm off to a fancy-dress party.   That being said, I don't very often embrace a trend full-on these days - mainly because I'm too broke to do it properly, and too old to do it courtesy of H&M or Top Shop. I'll adopt accents, so it doesn't look as if I'm absolutely immune to the lures of fashion - whatever this season's smokey eye is, for instance, or a shoe shape (stacked heel aside) or a colour accent that's particularly strong - but mostly I think the image of Edina from Absolutely Fabulous looking wonderfully ridiculous in head to toe 'this season' is still too strong in my head.   What about you? Which fashion-trends are you struggling with and why? Or which have taken your fancy?

Monday 4 February 2013


Every working woman knows what a struggle it is to shrug on something halfway presentable for the office each morning. It's not simply the lack of time, it's the need for five outfits which are simultaneously suitable for office-based meetings, a lunch with clients and a boardroom presentation not to mention fashionable enough to reflect the modernity of one's ideas yet not so hip as to indicate a lack of independent thought. And, unless one is in an extremely creative industry, one is really hoping for elegant anonymity rather than a strong style statement.

Small wonder I've started to pine nostalgically for the days of school uniform. I mean, not my exact school uniform which was composed entirely from different weights and weaves of wool and, because I was educated in the dreich far north, meant we all smelt of wet sheep for nine months of the year. But ugly as it was, uniform meant not having to fret about what to wear every morning, thus freeing up one's head so it could be filled with other, more interesting, things. Ideally, I'd like to get dressed in about three minutes, with minimum fuss and without a single agony of indecision

So, I've resolved to create a workwear uniform of my own: obviously it's in fashion's default colour, black, but two pairs of well-cut trousers, two black skirts (all worn with black cashmere jerseys when cold and white shirts when, erm, less cold) and a black dress will form the daily staples and then it's down to accessories and jewellery to dial the look up from unexceptional to interesting according to what the occasion requires. Such a pared-down look relies heavily on good grooming: a decent hair-cut at the very least, and, in my opinion, on a little more thought given to one's makeup  - it's not really possible to get away with a scrubbed face and a slash of bright lipstick when one's wardrobe borders on the monastic. It's also essential to invest in really good pieces - I spent a decent sum of money on a black wool trouser from Armani six years ago and they're still working as hard as they did when new, making cost per wear about tuppence ha'penny. The same is true of a great DVF wrap dress - again, six or seven years after I bought it, it's still a wardrobe staple. As the saying goes, you can have two out of three - good, cheap and quick - when it comes to workwear, go for good and quick.