Allow me, if you will, to tell you the story of this dress.
I passed it in New Look a few weeks ago while browsing for something that would be totally striking and location appropriate for my trip to Holland (in the end I got flustered, gave up and subsequently spent the trip looking like a bit of a troll but that’s another story). I noticed it not in an ‘oh my god I need that’ way but in a ‘hmm. That looks like a very useful item that it would be sensible to buy’ way.
I liked it immediately, obviously, or I probably wouldn’t own it now, but I wasn’t tripping over myself to make it mine. Clearly, this isn’t an item many people would be tripping over themselves for; it’s not going to be the ‘it’ piece and it’s not going to get Instagram going omg pal where’s your dress from I must make it mine immediately, and it didn’t, on the surface, make my heart sing.
It is, however, very useful. Neutral, striped (name me one person who doesn’t like stripes), typically ‘flattering’ shape (gag), very versatile, very comfortable.
And that’s why, although I wasn’t racing to grab it on first sight, I did take an interest when I realised it was in the sale and I might miss out on ever owning it at all. There I was, rifling through the hangers, when I spotted the stripes, remembered the dress, and seized it. It was 4 sizes too big. I looked up, and along the row another poor, oblivious woman was looking at another. She went to put it back and the instant the metal touched the rail I was practically elbowing her out of the way to secure it.
£10, my size, and the only other one left in the store. A done deal, my friends, although in all honesty it wasn’t something I had any particular level of excitement to wear beyond the general first wear feeling.
Naturally, because clearly my inner shopping brain knows me best, I wore it the next day. A couple of days later I took it out of the washing basket (don’t pretend I’m the only one to ever do this) and wore it again.
I washed it today and I’ll probably wear it tomorrow.
Turns out, it’s not ‘just okay’ now. It’s an essential.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about shopping habits that I really need to stop, but there is one shopping habit I think I’m actually really really good for; buying sale items that become my most-loved and most-worn staples (even if they’re not very sexy).
Allow me to explain. There are lots of reasons to buy only stuff you absolutely, desperately love on sight. But there’s another type of clothing love as well, my friends, and it’s a slow burning one. It’s the items you pick up because you think they’ll be really handy, half suspecting that you’re being a bit boring by not solely buying things that make you giddy with excitement, and then a month later you realise that you’ve worn them on half of all days and don’t know what you would do if you didn’t have them to rely on.
Okay, so some of them might not be very ‘instagram’. They might not get the compliments rolling in for the item itself. They do tend to garner comments on how bloody lovely you look today though, because the likelihood is you’ll feel so comfortable and you in them that that’s what will shine through.
I’ve picked up a pair of £9 black culottes that I’ve worn approximately 400 times, some £5 boots, a £4 tee, the £7 trainers I’m wearing here that haven’t left my feet for a while and so many other things this way – and this is the newest addition to that little family. I’ve grown to love it, and I know it will never let me down. It will see me through days at work, drinks straight afterwards, picnics in the park, brunch, shopping, holidays and more. I could pop a black roll neck under there for winter or wear with sandals if summer ever arrives.
Every time I wear it I know I’ll feel comfortable, no matter how much eating and drinking is on the cards. I feel like a very natural, easy version of myself in it, and we all need a bit of that for the days we wake up with not even an ounce of desire to put together an outfit. The power of clothes is a wonderful thing.
So okay, sometimes it’s not love at first sight, but here’s to the seemingly ‘boring’ clothes that turn out to always have our backs. Got any much-loved pieces that do the same? Let me know in the comments – oh, and get yourself to the sales, they’re really good at the moment.
What I’m wearing
Photography: Robert Poor