Today has been a sad day for footwear. Back when I was a a 23-year-old with the world at my feet and a job as an events manager which paid a tidy little sum my main outgoing other than restaurant bills and bar tabs was shoes, I was obsessed with them. For the first time in my life since I was 18 I was totally debt free. Out of my monthly salary after all bills were paid I still had an indecent amount left over to spend on myself. Though I smoked and had a fondness for Marks & Spencer sushi and sausage and onion cobs every Friday when I was too hangover to use the phone, I had no children, no mortgage and no monthly car insurance or pension payments. I was young, free, practically single and absolutely loving the independence of it all.
The boy was living a hand to mouth existence as he was still studying for his music degree but I was free to fund our outings and as one of the girlfriend of Manchester’s hardest working band I got to play the part nearly every weekend; we would all hangout backstage drinking down the riders, dragging on rolled up cigarettes and generally just hanging out feeling ever so slightly like the cool kids.
At the time I guess I knew the life we were living would not last forever. I was having a hell of a good time but work was taking its toll on my health and I’d dropped down to my smallest size since I’d had a minor eating disorder back when I was 18. I remember looking at my bank statement and feeling sad at how little I had to show for all the brilliant nights out and evenings just spent drinking red wine round a rickety table listening to music and playing cards in between musing upon our dreams for the future.
Other than Sylvanian Families I had never really felt the desire to collect anything. My sisters had their key-rings, their badges and even at one stage their dice and my brother had the monopoly on every phase and craze out there including Thomas The Tank Engines, Thunderbirds, Power Rangers and even at one stage care bears which was extraordinarily cute. It was when I realised I was spending much of my money on momentary pleasure products that I decided to start a collection and as I had no particular interest at the time in tea cups I decided I would collect shoes. As my regular readers know I am a slave to Kurt Geiger. The shoes they make are so well balanced you can stamp around in a pair of stilettos for sixteen hours straight without feeling an ache. They are creative, original and considering how well they last lusciously priced.
This then brings us to today’s dilemma. There is a man in Market Harborough, his name is Andy but I have always known him as the saviour of shoes. Many times I have brought him a forlorn pair at the end of their life and he has carefully restored them to beauty. One time he managed to restore my red or dead spike heeled stiletto ankle boots to spanking brand new in spite of me having ground the five inch heel to a mere three inches after a weekend in Liverpool visiting a friend where we danced till we dropped to sleep in his dorm just before dawn. Today Andy very kindly explained to me there was sadly nothing he could do for two of my favourite pairs.
One of them was the first pair of pricey shoes I had ever purchased. Brought in my lunch break from Berties at Kendall they were soft white leather with five inch thick wooden heels. Generally I believe white shoes should be saved till ones wedding day and even then they should be hidden and if possible cream but these were divine. Unfortunately as I tend to run in heels as well as walk whilst racing to get the bus back to see the boy after an after work drink my heel snapped on Deansgate. It was humiliating and I actually sat down and cried. I hadn’t even had any hooch but I was just so sad for my poor innocent shoe. Andy said it could be saved in an expensive operation but the job would have to be sourced out and the operators may well break the wood in the process.
The other pair are of the Kurt Geiger variety. I bought them foolishly after getting made redundant from Webb PR a month before Christmas. I was a little heart broken about losing the job and in a fine example of someone who had temporarily given leave to their senses and indeed their financial situation I sneaked away on a Christmas shopping trip with the boy, and bought three pairs of shoes in the sale. Admittedly they should have cost £400 and came to just £120 but still I had just been made redundant and with no job on the horizon it was a foolish mistake. I guess I have never regretted it because today, 15 months after the fact, I still have the shoes and they are still stunning. Unfortunately one of them, a pair of mustard yellow t-bar three inch heels was mortally injured back in May. I was chasing a story at the time and as I tore down the road the pin snapped and I had to traipse around on tippy toes the rest of the day. Andy says there is no hope for them and though I know I should consign them to the bin they are just too lovely, perhaps at some time in the future there will be better technology for such injured shoes? I live in hope.
- Today’s dress is from the wonderful Rebecca Allison. She sent this in a lovely package from the states and as well as a pair of earrings there was a beautifully written letter. I realise the dress comes up a little short on me but I hope you will not take too much of a hump at me modifying it for the workplace by pairing it with the skin tight Lycra number from Zara sent by the lovely Clara, believe me it is to protect your eyes from a legging lovely sight. Again if you do get the chance take a little look at her website. It is a fabulous way to start ones day and has given me goosebumps in the past with the sheer poetry of her posts. http://solsticetosolsticetosolstice.tumblr.com/
Last night after having a major panic about my ability to write I decided to focus on the superficial as at least it was something I might hope to change in the few hours that remained before my first day. First impressions as they say are vital and although they saw me before tomorrow is still my first proper day so I am keen to look the part. After debating with my mother over the merits of various nail polishes; dark blue was deemed too different, ruby-red too lady of the night; I decided to go with bubble pink as though it was originally dismissed for the brain-dead Barbie girl connotations once it was on it looked quite nice really.
My hair which has been allowed to do its own thing for the past few months was straightened mercilessly. I love letting my hair free to flow but there is something a lot more together looking about styled hair so I tamed the crazy curls and teased out all sign of rebellion from my locks. After moisturising and using some strange cream which claimed to get rid of wrinkles I went to bed confident I could wake in the morning with no cosmetic concern at the very least and having reversed the ageing process completely at best.
Unfortunately I had neglected to consider the dress situation. As we got in late last night I only had a chance to have a quick look through the pile of dresses I have been sent from the lovely Hannah Cantrell. This girl has gathered dresses from friends and neighbours for the project and sent them all over in a box as soon as she heard supplies were at a low. As my mother had already taken a look over it and described them on the phone I was confident there would be several suitable for work and besides as far as I could remember I had put aside a dress for my first day anyway.
It turned out I had but had forgotten to try it on. The dress which was sent to me by a wonderful fashionable friend turned out to be a little on the tight side. It was red and spotty, quirky but quite conservative enough, unfortunately it was also impossible to get over my ridiculous coat hanger shoulders. I did attempt to slip into it but only managed to get myself trapped within the folds of the fabric. Thankfully my mother was on hand to pull me free but there were a few frantic moments where we were both convinced I would be trapped in there forever.
I turned in a panic to the box of dresses but by this time the clock was ticking and my usual knack for turning a t-shirt into a dress had escaped me. As my regular readers will know I am not one to shy away from a short skirt but I was very aware of the necessity of not looking like a loose woman on my first day. Hemlines on the majority of the dresses were deemed to be too short and the ones which were long enough were more suitable for summer. There are some brilliant ones which will be perfect for the office but needed a nude coloured slip to go under them to avoid further frock fumbles as seen on day 81. Panic was settling in and just as I turned to slacks one dress caught my eye. Though it had a crazy colourful paint splash print when I saw it the previous evening I had been rather taken with it and though I tried it on as a last resort it actually looked quite wonderful and with its conservative cut and cute little belt we had finally found a frock suitable for my first day in the office.
Though usually I would not have bothered with the extras I was still conscious of going in looking too conspicuous and with a mind to the men I would be working with who were wearing smart suits when I last saw them I pulled on a grey jumper and a purple suit jacket. I love my mother so much, I do not know how I would have ever got through the dress crisis without her and once that drama was over with the rest of the day just seemed somehow more manageable.
- Today’s dress was sent by the lovely Hannah Cantrell who was my neighbour back when I was a baba. Her mother told her about the project after seeing the article in the Harborough Mail and she has been incredibly supportive since. She sourced dresses from all over the place and has sent over a dozen so far which I can not wait to showcase at weekends, in the summer and, once I am clear on the office hemlines policy, during the working week. Hannah has approached celebrities such as Daisy Lowe on my behalf in an attempt to get hold of more dresses and has promoted the blog to many more. The jumper is by Coast and is silk and incredibly soft wool it feels lovely on my skin and is suprisingly comforting. The jacket is from Primark, gifted to me by my Mum’s friend and though the buttons have fallen off the velvety feel makes it feel more riches than rags.
As I am having a mini-tis at Marks and Spencer and have banned the boy from buying flowers from there or going there to buy a Valentines-day meal; last year we rang up and reserved it the night before and it was lovely but this year Didsbury’s manager is a stickler and apparently “this is not something we would ever do.” So I have decided that buying their food, flowers or cards is not something I shall be doing. I am also a bit crotchety with them because I have tagged them and sent track-backs to them several times over the past weeks and never have I heard a word of thanks, harumph.
Anyway before I start acting like a diva about Marks and Spencers, charity shops who charge too much and other such grievances I would first like to thank those visitors from freecycle for their generosity in terms of dresses, two people have come back to me so far offering to rummage through their wardrobes or lend dresses for one wear. I would also like to thank the super star theatre lady that is Ms Anna Clayton, she has leant me two pretty dresses for the weekend and I look forwards to sharing them with you.
Well that’s now over and done let us get down to the business of today’s blog. As I could not justify my beautiful boy spending his hard-earned cash on overly priced flowers he has volunteered to instead buy me some dresses. I have told you in the past of dresses I have purchased from e-bay for minimal sums, many of which when inclusive of postage and packaging barely tip the £5 mark. Yesterday whilst searching for dresses, thinking I might be able to get for £20 at the most I was horrified to see how snooty many branches of charity shops have become. I noticed it before when I went to purchase books and was charged £5 for copies of Harry Potter that were so battered and smoke smelling you wondered whether they had been re-free-cycled five times over. i have no problem buying from charity shops, I enjoy knowing that when I buy things the money, well the percentage of it not given to expensive advertising campaigns, will be going to a cause. I also enjoy gifting clothing to them which is in a reasonable condition, clean and of good quality knowing that someone else will be a ble to get wear out of it and that it wont end up in a landfill someplace else.
Vivienne Westwood this week said she thought people should stop buying clothing for at least six months to stop the increasing landfill problem. Whatever your views about climate change no one can deny the harmful effects of excessive wastage. Wherever it end up every bag we throw out is one more to add to an increasing pile of crap in Scotland, China or even the local tip and the only way to stop this is to stop buying. However in an economy largely driven by consumerism to stop buying is to continue to damage the economy, so what can we do? Well we can have swap shop parties, or we can take our old unworn clothes to charity knowing they will go to a good home.
The problem we found however, is that charity shops, spurred on by the age of Vintage becoming cool have become carried away with their pricing and are somehow managing to justify charging up to £13 for a Next dress and around £7 on average even at times for Primark and George. It is a total joke because we went in yesterday ready to spend £20 and left in disgust at the fact this would buy us only two dresses and had we went to eBay we could have triple the amount of dresses. It is silly because people spend more when they feel they are getting value for money, less or nothing at all when they feel they are getting ripped off.
I wonder whether charity shops need to get with the rest of the fashion industry and realise the importance of discounting fashion otherwise they may find themselves getting left with people unwilling to give away old clothes when they know they are demanding an unreasonable amount for them. I wish charity shops would use a system of credits whereby if you give you get credits to buy new books or clothing, not a large amount just a quarter or a third of the proposed selling price, either that or they just stop ripping people off and get down off their high horse upon which they ride with Marks and Spencer’s Didsbury branch.