It’s tricky to wear texture upon texture or print on print. This much was clear when my dear friend Gloriana sailed into the room looking as though she’d had a brawl in the wallpaper department at B&Q. What, I asked, was she up to? Why the leopard-on-leopard-on-jacquard-on-lace? Surely this was a risky move, a bridge too far for a quick coffee at Prêt?
‘Ah,’ said Gloriana, with the wisdom of foresight. ‘This is very much the Look of Now. You really need to break out of your doldrum neutrals, Mimi, and embrace the call of the wild!’ With this, she took a great sip of soy latte, leaving an additional element of décor upon her upper lip.
‘But you look like a quilted bedspread of the sort made by the Amish. It’s disruptive. My eyes hurt. I need a double berry muffin this instant.’
The idea is to ladle on textures and layers in a bid to arrive at something creative and devil-may-care
But Gloriana is right. This season is not for pussies, unless that pussy happens to be a leopard. The idea is to ladle on textures and layers in a bid to arrive at something creative and devil-may-care. You want pattern and nap, weave and warp, rib and relief. You want to stand out. Anyone who has spent the past few years streamlining their wardrobe into an elegantly segued flow of single-tone neutrals will have their work cut out.
This, though, is something new. So I have decided to go the whole hog in the run-up to Christmas, attempting in the process to look as if I am indeed a fashion writer and not simply a housewife whose daily highlight is a trip to see if there’s anything exciting in the fridge. My experimental combinations thus far include wearing a lace miniskirt (with a view to channelling Charlotte Gainsbourg), coupled with one of those silken blouses that are currently ever so à la mode; I added – audaciously, I thought – ribbed tights and a pair of peep-toe ankle boots by Pierre Hardy at Gap.
Finally, feeling reckless now, I threw on a jacquard coat (it had a Lurex thread running through it, which seemed de trop for picking up the kids from their swimming lesson, but, I figured, in for a penny…).
The effect was electric. My daughter, being old enough to understand irony, asked if I was doing it for a bet. My son, who is not, wondered if I was dressing up for Pudsey, and offered to give me half his pocket money. Not a dazzling success, I’ll grant you, but this new textural-printy-patterned overload feels truly emancipating after what seems like decades of calm good taste.
The bottom line is that anything goes: a brocade dress from H&M, sequined jeans from Guess, a River Island jewelled ankle boot, a lace blouse from Warehouse. You might add a paisley bag (they’ve got them at M&S). The idea is to load up on the feel of your clothes, and not just on shape and colour. The effect is provocative and interesting, though an undoubted challenge to the shy and retiring among us.
Says Gloriana, with sympathy in her voice as she reaches for a chunk of my muffin, some of us simply aren’t up to it. Which is a bit rich coming from someone dressed like the back seat of a carpet salesman’s Vauxhall.