I was interviewing a Hollywood actress last week on a shoot and during the down time on set, I used the opportunity to ask the stylist what was in for party dressing.
I have a girlfriend’s significant birthday celebration coming up, and I thought I might lash out and buy something special for the event.
“I’m loving a mini skirt with a blazer,” she said. “Worn with tights.”
Wow. That was very specific and verrrryyyy 80s.
The stylist was in her 20s and clearly did not experience the 80s, but that is a fashion period I do not want to see or, in particular, wear again. I do not get wistful about padded shoulders, primary colours, garish prints and hot pink lipstick.
Nor do I like mini skirts, even if I was of the age to wear one. Maybe we all prefer fashion from a period we didn’t have to suffer through ourselves.
My favourite era will always be the 40s – it was glamorous and practical without the stiff artificiality of the 50s, and the geometric brashness of the 60s. I think a knee-length crepe de chine dress with a sweetheart neckline, short socks, suede sandals, red lipstick and a victory roll were the very best reasons to liberate Paris.
I like some elements of the 70s, more the jet-set haughty aristocrat/model Marisa Berenson version as opposed to the hippy boho sea of patchwork, and I pretty much detest everything in the 80s.
Perhaps that’s when I was finding my way in fashion, and making a lot of mistakes – mini skirts with tights and blazers being one of them. Over the next two decades, as a magazine editor I spent a lot of time in production meetings, unable to disguise my obvious ennui, when a new young fashion editor would say excitedly, “Guess what’s in this season?”.
I was always hoping against hope someone would say, “Marella Agnelli in her later life, when she wore loafers, chinos and oversized men’s cashmere V-neck sweaters with jewels,” or, “Jackie Kennedy in her Doubleday book editor period with a tightly sashed day coat and tailored pants”.
But normally the answer was baby doll dresses, cool girl hair with bangs, or over-the-knee boots – all of which I loathe.
I guess you have to let the young fashion editors take over, because those of us from an older generation would spend the whole time saying, “Isn’t there anything with a sleeve?” or, “Pleated skirts are really unflattering across the stomach” or, “Those heels are ridiculous” or, “No Peter Pan collars thanks, I will look like a pleasant, elderly nun”.
So back to my party options. I passed on the mini skirt-blazer combo and hopped online to look at the sales.
And I found it – a floral crepe de chine mid-length dress with a sweetheart neckline and long, slightly puffed sleeves. Now I just need a pair of black mid-heeled wedge sandals and Vive la France!