A rail of clothes

Nothing takes me back to my heyday like a bit of Wham!.

Club Tropicana, I’m your Man, even the Wham Rap! I love it all.

When I was at school (back in the Dark Ages), all the girls in my class swooned over George Michael (how ironic). Andrew Ridgeley was routinely ignored, even though he was doing just as much of the work.

George was the (beautiful) star so he got all the attention. By now, as a mature, somewhat rational adult I have realised that Wham! would have been nothing without Andrew behind George (and even behind Pepsi and Shirley most of the time) doing his bit.

This sort of misconception perfectly illustrates an interesting conundrum that has been presented to me by quite a few of my clients in recent months.

We all know that many, many women claim to ‘have nothing to wear’ while their wardrobe is threatening to explode under the pressure of squeezing just one more silk camisole onto its already sagging rail.

But, why is this such a common problem for so many people? I think there’s a bit of a clue in the Wham! story.

Time and time again when I am helping a client with her wardrobe it is seriously lacking in basic pieces. It’s all George and no Andrew.

When we shop, we are drawn to exciting items, patterns, unusual colours or cuts are all on display, pirouetting and twirling before our eyes and we buy them excitedly, bring them home, pop them in our wardrobes and there they stay, gathering dust because we don’t know how to wear them.

I remember one particular client, many years ago, admitting that she never, ever went shopping and came home with a complete outfit. She loved to shop and was often seen setting out to walk the miracle mile of Bluewater or Oxford Street. She had no trouble finding things to buy, but she kept coming home with new tops and new trousers or skirts.  She had, literally, hundreds of items of clothing in her wardrobe but (she felt) not a single outfit.

On a similar note, a more recent client explained to me that, yes, she was wearing the exciting pieces in her wardrobe but only ever with a plain, black polo neck. She asked me for inspiration, and for more ideas about how to wear her ranks of scene-stealing, embroidered or heavily printed skirts.

When I had figured out the personal style rules for this particular woman, it became clear that, for her, keeping the remainder of her outfit very basic and plain was exactly the right thing to do. If she had teamed her leopard print pencil skirt with a coloured blouse she would have looked over the top and overwhelmed by the outfit. Wearing it with a black polo was just right; she looked sophisticated, up-to-date and super- chic.

Is ‘prima donna syndrome’ a problem for you? Do you have enough workhorses in your wardrobe or do you keep coming home with exciting pieces?

Maybe it is time to take stock. Invest in some good quality t-shirts. At this time of year long-sleeved t-shirts in the colours that love you back are incredibly useful to layer underneath jumpers, shirts and cardigans. In the months to come, as the weather warms, you can wear them alone with printed trousers or skirts.

Personally, I rate Uniqlo and their pima cotton range which washes and wears well and comes in a good variety of colours.

My tip to you is to take a look at your wardrobe and make sure that when you open the door you don’t see just a row of Prima Donnas who never come out and do their thing, but a full Corps de Ballet waiting in the wings.

Essential basics include:

  • Good quality t-shirts (not washed-out, faded or bobbly)
  • Plain jumpers and cardigans
  • A well-cut jacket
  • Plain black, grey or navy trousers.
  • Decent basic accessories in good working order (yes, I’m telling you to buy shoes, just don’t get the red ones!)

And, on your next shopping trip, remember to bring Andrew Ridgeley home with you as well as George Michael. (If ONLY!)

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