Much like the dreaded ‘silly season’ of the media, August has been a pretty quiet month on the style stakes. The no-mans land between the dregs of the clearance and the proper arrival of new collections is taking its toll, and I’ve been existing in an oasis of pastel jeans, espadrilles and rolled up sleeves – in cool summers I’ve found channelling Miami Vice the only real answer.
This has also made style hunting a problem. On the one hand, you get the ever-entertaining outfits which epitomise British summers. I often think the best way to explain the symbiotic relationship of Brits’ love of sunshine with the reality of our weather would be in the image of women trying to run to rain-free shelter in a maxi dress and wedges. Gok Wan has a lot to answer for. The maxi dress will never be suitable day wear in these isles, and the wedge is a dubious idea at best, so making it out of raffia is never going to improve matters.
Thankfully, amongst the marshmallow skirt suits, optimistic panamas and large amounts of over-sunned flesh, there have been some real flashes of inspiration. Mainly amongst the older, cross-dressing generations. Arguably, they’re not tackling the summer clothing issue, as such, but I can forgive this in the so-good-I-can’t-stop-looking outfit combos.
Ok, so in most cases the ‘good’ is the kind of ‘so bad it’s good’, but that’s what this column exists on, so whatevs. We’ve had a good few transvestites come into the shop over August. From the retro-plausible: stonewash slack-cut jeans, faded tee-shirt and plimsolls. Yes, for a middle-aged person, they needed new clothes, but I regularly wear a similar get-up. To my personal favourite: the equivalent of an underage-disco attendee. Hello patent double-bar Mary Janes, red skirt, cerise and black swirl-patterned tunic and leggings. What didn’t come from New Look, however, was the wig -a brassy orange curly number with slightly congealed-looking flat ringlets, it may possibly have come out of a fancy dress box – or indeed the walking stick. This really was the icing on the cake for me. When I told my workmate she literally ran out of the shop in search for such a vision. To be fair, sister’s keeping up style with a limp – which is what I develop rapidly in heels.
The funny thing being that remarkable as this combo is, it’s not so different from what the average customer wears in the overpriced French boutique where I work. Trout pouts, Versache 90s throwbacks and dressing head-to-toe in one colour is fairly common. And yet, when I decide to wear carrot-leg trousers, I get the response of ‘ooh, you’re looking a bit quirky today’.August’s style inspiration of the month prize goes to the old busker guy I found in our local market town. Let’s just put it this way: if everyone who decided to murder Oasis’s ‘She’s Electric’, which was, let’s face it, not a great tune anyway, wore a straw hat complete with artificial flower arrangement, TWO tweed waistcoats, a beard and an air of derision, they’d be bloody millionaires.