Is it me, or are there lots of blogs and articles around right now telling you what to wear and how to wear it and what "flatters" you and so on? I'm old enough to remember Trinny and Susannah, and just because we're past outright shaming people, it seems to me that the "you go girl" faux body positivity of its contemporaries and on blogs is just a fig leaf. It's still just people telling you how to dress.
I can see the appeal - it's easy to feel strangely existentially challenged by fashion, and no-one wants to risk public humiliation (and its worse for women). Hell, I've even written about suspender belts in such a fashion, for people who have the angst about them. But the older I get the more I think nothing works for everyone, and most of us don't need anyone else telling us what to do.
So new guideline for myself - no more prescriptive rules! From now on feel free to tell me off if you catch me saying "suspender belts should sit on the natural waist" rather than "many people prefer suspender belts to sit on the natural waist".
In the spirit of rebellion and personal preference then, I give you a fairly random selection of my personal fashion experiences - and I would love to hear yours?
1. Just because it doesn’t look sheer doesn’t mean you won’t be able to see stuff when you get the photographs back.
Pic by Paul SoSo, all wings by Twisted Twinkle
(also, wings cause chaos in crowded environments. I like to wear the spikier ones, it stops people walking into me as much).
2. If you wear a white top to a goth night, and then inadvisably decide to separate a bar brawl, your visiting mother will surprisingly calmly ask you if its your own blood you are spattered with when you get home.
(The only winner in said wrangle was the heavy oak table that inflicted the head wound. Both goths and drunks are really ineffectual at brawling. Why drunk goths were even trying, I don't know)
3. Pointe shoes on a marble floor covered in glitter from a previous dancer are a health and safety risk like nothing you have ever seen. I would rate "mashed potato on the dance floor" as very slightly more risky, but rarer. Basically, burlesque performers should probably insure themselves up to the eyeballs.
Do not go onstage after some of Lolo Brow's acts (seen here just chilling pre performance in her KMD) unless you've seen them give it a thoroughly good mop!
4. An easy way to give myself a cracking headache is to get a wig or hairpiece that doesn't have the weight over the centre or is a short, light piece. Also, they’re sweaty as hell. See also: tiaras.
5. I have a horrible tendency to store my card, keys and whatever else I need on a night out in my bra, because what women's outfits involve pockets? This sadly is fine at the time but looks like I've got something really odd going on in the photo. But on a night out, if you take a bag/purse, you'll find you can't leave it anywhere safely, you can't dance with it, and you can't find where to leave it in the loos while you deal with whatever other complications there are so you can have a wee. Backpacks, arm things, pocket belts or whatever don't exactly go with most style choices. Basically, I need a butler to come with me to events. Where is my event-butler, world?!
6. NEVER WEAR SANDALS TO SLIMELIGHT. OK, that's an actual rule. But hear me out - the venue for this club night has been cleaned up in recent years, but you're still risking god knows what exposing your skin and toes to whatever the HELL is on that floor! I've seen plenty of clubs during the day in the course of this job, and honestly, the difference between a cheap club and an expensive club is whether someone scrubs the floor in between opening times.
7. Speaking of footwear, yes, it's ridiculous to run in heels. But plenty of us can't run anyway, so why not just use heels as an excuse for your cab habit and value the fact that you're now wearing what is basically a weight on a metal spike?
8. It doesn't matter what you wear, once you're over 35 the doorbitches for "exclusive" nightclubs will really not want to let you in. Even when you're there because you're running an event for them. I have had to vehemently argue my way back into at least two of my own events.
9. Want to get chucked out of London Fashion Week? Being over a UK size 12, wearing pants and being extroverted seems to be a good start. Maybe add wings (but I mean when is that not true?)
10. Latex is surprisingly low maintenance - just swish it about in soapy water then rinse it off - but a hole in it will rip an entire panel. It turns out that no-one really wants to deal with me when I'm absolutely enraged, shouting, and clutching the torn remains of a pricy latex dress to my nipples. This is possibly one of the very few times rule 34 didn't apply, because if there's one thing that can break libido, it's abject terror.
11. If your job for the evening will involve running up and down four floors of a narrow town house, you may want to consider if 4 inch heels, a full length wiggle skirt and a corset are actually the best plan you ever had. Certainly I did, about once every 10 minutes, for 5 hours.
12. Tassels or fringes are great. They look amazing. They also get tangled on absolutely everything. Your coat, other people's clothes, the door handle to the loo, and in the fist of the man you just put in an armlock FOR PERFECTLY GOOD REASONS. Consider this before drinking alcohol.
13. Speaking of unwanted entanglements, complicated arm jewellery in a venue where people wear fishnet catsuits will mean you get to know people very fast indeed.
14. You can pull off any outfit, no matter how ridiculous, with enough confidence and poise. Thank you, Mr Fabric Supplier.
15. That said, sometimes I wish I didn't spend so much time standing next to people who Look Good In Photos For A Living. But I do believe that wings, insane head gear, and space catsuits can basically improve almost any possible situation. There is nothing you cannot do in a space catsuit.
16. I vote trains - everything from the little puddle of fabric behind you through to cathedral length acres of frock - as the least practical thing ever. They get mucky, people stand on them, and they like to trip you up when you're not concentrating on them.
17. Meringue frocks, on the other hand, will almost certainly mean you need the disabled loo plus some assistants in order to have a wee. Preferably sober assistants. Either way, most wedding are a logistical nightmare for the dresses alone.
18. Wearing tight roll on shapewear? Did you know if you get changed in a tiny cubicle and an elbow springs out unexpectedly you can chip the end off the bone? I'm so glad I learnt this from someone else.
19. Mixing any sort of long trailing sleeve with candles is a recipe for needing a fire blanket.
20. If you get blood on your peroxide blonde fringe, the next day it will look singed. The subsequent conversation with your boss will be awkward, even when that boss is me.
21. Karolina, at the Lingerie Awards “I’m a bit worried I’m going to fall out of my corner”. Me “Do you not have pasties?”. Her “yes, but they’re in my handbag”. Me “they might be more use on?” Her “ I didn’t bring tape”.
Always bring lingerie tape. Tape can solve almost any outfit problem. Admittedly you might need a whole roll sometimes (also, some people are fine with gaffer tape over their nipples, which is just baffling to those of us for whom that would actually be torture!)
22. If you work for a lingerie company and your boss is asking you what you think of the fit of this bra and you can see their nipples, is this sexual harassment? We could never work this out.
23: Cats can tell when you’re wearing expensive hosiery, and will shred it.
They're just waiting for you.