Wearing a red dress, perhaps because of all of the popular culture references which stand alongside it can be a bit like playing a part in your own private theatre. There are few things in this world which lend femininity more readily than a red dress. The little black dress the six inch high stiletto and the black pencil lined silk stockings are a short cut to traditional sex appeal but the red dress is more about the way it makes the wearer feel.
Wearing it today I feel stronger than I have been in some time and throughout the day I can not help but be pleased as punch with my reflection which betrays someone who is smiling, actually smiling! The colour is so bright and vivid that whenever I walk the light catches the red in the windows and just for a moment I get a glimpse of the person I become when I wear red. Though I have been at war with my body for months I finally feel happy with what the dress is draping.
At one stage a pigeon swoops over my head whilst I’m passing by Sainsburys and though the wretched things usually scare me stiff my body just folds forward away from the tips of its wings and standing as it soars up and on above me I smile at the strangeness of it all. I do not respond so well to compliments these days but in this dress I accept them with grace. A man in the market tells me I am a sight for his sore eyes and rather than frown, looking away and having a sulk I turn and thank him.
When I woke up this morning I did not feel confident. I fell flat when I caught sight of my now 26-year-old reflection. My footballers wife blow-dry had fallen flat and one too many glasses of wine saw circles round my eyes more fitting for a panda. Yet once I put on this dress I felt strong, feminine and elated. This will be one of the dresses that I wish I could keep if only for the way it made me feel.
- My good friend Monica Kenny picked me this particular red dress up from one of the charity shops in Kettering. It is originally from Next and the material is wonderfully heavy so it clings kindly. I don’t usually push this as I do not know when the dresses will go up for sale but whoever gets this one will be a lucky lady.
I was lucky enough to come across a fantastic blog the other day in which a girl who is really into flea markets has given herself a budget of 365 American pounds to dress herself for a year by scouring flea markets and re-working dresses she finds there. I saw a brilliant post where she took a faded lavender nightgown, dyed it and reworked it into a stunning dress worthy of London Fashion Week. This is a worthy example of how re-working a dress to make something far cooler and most importantly more suited to yourself; the dress I am wearing today is an example of why one should be careful of assuming DIY dress design is not for everyone.
When I was head bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding her incredibly talented mother made my bridesmaid dress from a vintage Vogue pattern from the 1950s. Being involved in the process of creating a dress is a brilliant experience. You might get the occasional pin in an unexpected place but I got to watch as what started as a pair of old cotton curtains got turned into a fantastic fitted silk dress with a tiered petticoat which was carefully stitched and crafted by my friend’s mother. It was an absolute honour being maid of honor and having a dress which wasn’t being worn by every other bridesmaid around the country added to this privilege. Dress making is tragically a dying art in the majority of households. Back in the day mothers used to make the majority of their children’s clothing; my grandmother would knit us cardigans for school and indeed one of my friends received matching booties, hats and cardigans for her baby from a wonderful elderly friend of hers.
The difficulty with dress making and indeed clothes making is that with clothes available now so cheaply there is no incentive to spend considerable amounts of money or what is more important for most of us these days, our time, in creating something from nothing but material, needle and a love of design. In our time then it makes far more sense to take the clothes we have, particularly those which have gotten a little frayed, loose, tight or faded and create something new. Stitch and Bitch classes are at large all around the country and for my Manchester followers I know of one taking place at Fuel Cafe on a Sunday. What you have to be aware of though is that re-working a dress is not as easy as taking a pair of scissors to a demure hemlines and turning it into something suitable only for showing one’s smalls.
This danger is I am sorry to say illustrated by the dress I am wearing today which was purchased from a girl on eBay. Though I thought it looked quite cute when I brought it I failed to look carefully enough at the hem of the dress. Bare in mind, a bad hemlines and stitching will ruin an outfit and can make one look crumpled and cheap. Whether you buy your clothing from Primark or Prada make sure you check the quality of the stitching on the hemlines, cost is not necessarily a guarantee of quality.
When this little frock arrived I was a tad worried for two reasons; first it was not as I had originally thought a hand-made frock, it was brought by its previous owner from Bay Trading and re-mastered into a foxy little bustier dress/ boob tube. It is undeniably sweet looking and reminds me of Manga but has unfortunately been cut so short it would only be suitable for someone who is around the 5ft mark. At 5ft 5″ I am hardly tall but on me, as the boy takes great pain in pointing out it looks as though it is designed for a 13-year-old girl.
As I packed in a hurry last night and had not previously tried it on I only realised the unsuitability of the outfit this morning. As with the T-Shirt dress of last Sunday I felt as though once chosen I have no choice but to wear a dress till the day’s end and ignoring the boy and struggling into a pair of form-fitting 60 denier black tights and my life saving M & S T-Shirt I bit the bullet and went in search of a full length mirror. To be fair it has been a reasonably nice choice and once I got used to having to keep my back to the wall when in company I started to warm to it.
It is so brilliantly cheerful even though I was woken four hours after i got to sleep by the enthusiastic alarm clock that is the best friend’s son, I felt rather chirpy. After I had gotten up and persuaded him to wake the boy as well we spent the day pleasantly telling stories, taking it in turns to snooze and fighting off the hoards at M & S to get the dine in deal. In spite of my disheveled experience me and the boy had a lovely dinner date together and got to relish in a rare opportunity for it to be jut the two of us to dine. When you are in a long distance relationship and both have a dream you want to pursue the time you do get to see each other can I find at times be rather stressful as you are so concerned about fitting a weeks worth of dates into one weekend; we try to see our friends; go out to gigs and restaurants and movies all the while trying to make sure we look our best and don’t end up having a tiff and ending the weekend on a bad note. Perhaps because of this then it is when we get to just chill out on our own together, catching up on the week behind us lazy eyed and unkempt with my panda eyes and his weekend stubble that we often have the most fun together. When you get a night to relax in it can sometimes be the nicest thing in the world, even if you are disheveled and sleepy it can be really great slowing down with someone especially with someone with whom the clock is always ticking on your time together.