We throw money at the high street like it's going out of fashion (ha) but how much of what we actually buy holds a real place in our heart? How often do we put on an item of clothing and look in the mirror and think anything other than 'this'll do'? Who else goes out looking for 'a few basic items that'll see me through the season'? Very rarely do we make a single beautiful item the main event.
I am ever-so-slightly OCD when it comes to cleanliness - I saw it as a bad omen and bad luck when, the first day I wore a new one of my beloved American Apparel chiffon shirts, I marred it with a small pen mark. The opportunist, creative type would smile at how this made the garment unique - my clothes are invariably marked with pen and chocolate stains and that indicates a little of the sort of person I am - but I viewed this as both the thing I feared the most and the release that allowed me to stop treating this like a treasured luxury item and treat it as something I could just 'throw on'. To me, wear transfers a piece from a statement to a staple. As soon as you first wear an item, and definitely when you first wash an item, it loses its sanctity and becomes a part of you.
But I desire to own beautiful things - the few precious, well-made and often expensive pieces of pure joy. When my mum took me shopping a few weeks ago and offered to buy me a gift, I decided to use the opportunity to buy something that fit this category - a well-made, beautiful, feminine and lovely piece of joy.
And I chose this.
This is the Whistles Lottie skirt, a shorter version of last year's runaway success Carrie skirt. This is ASOS' photo of it. I chose it because the model in the Whistles photo looked sullen, aloof, and generally not revelling in the joy that something like this should give. At least this model is doing a decent job of attempting to capture the kind of joy something like this will bring.
A coveted item, in a lovely, soft colour (that I inevitably wore with black leather) that flatters and floats, that looks feminine but in a sea of tough outfits, that marks the wearer out both as soft and feminine but also brave enough to wear light blue in a world of newsprint, coffee and waterstains. I lived in fear all day. But the fear was nothing compared to the joy of the simple twirl.
Today is payday, and after bills are paid and birthday presents are bought, I'll be on the hunt for another truly beautiful, lovable item that deserves a place in my wardrobe. Not something I need, as has been the excuse for so many 'basics'. But something I see and feel my stomach flip, something that I know will make me smile the moment I put it on. Because clothes that make you feel this good will make you look better than any number of 'basics'. This isn't about dressing up for a crowd, for an audience at all. This is about celebrating the fleeting moments of placing such a value on yourself that you feel worthy of beautiful clothes. And when that feeling comes along, you gotta grab it.