Last week, I wrote that we could be on the verge of a new era of style in the UK where women will want to look both elegant and desirable. A number of people have said to me that they felt ‘elegant’ mainly meant old and that ‘desirable’ was not the main message they wanted their clothes to convey – especially at work.
I thought it would be worth expanding on this because I think there are a lot of issues bound up in this. First, ‘elegant’ doesn’t need to mean prissy. I don’t think we’re going backwards to a glorious bygone era or anything like that. We are moving forwards into an era where good designers are recognising that people want more for their money in terms of design and quality and want clothes that suit them as individuals.
I see many of our younger customers really starting to understand the concept of buying clothes that help build their confidence because they know they look good, rather than just hiding their lack of confidence because people notice the clothes.
Desirability isn’t a sexual thing in this context, it’s about not looking or feeling ridiculous. Contrast Pippa Middleton’s dress at last month’s wedding with so many bridesmaids’ dresses. Her dress was neither twee nor vulgar; it accentuated her body. In the work context, I do think that confidence springs from knowing that you look great and that it’s you, not the fabric that’s covering you up that people are engaging with.
The era of bling might be coming to an end too. For many years, a lot of top designers have geared their collections towards the bling-hungry markets in Eastern Europe, particularly Russia. I’ve always found it amusing that, having been forced to wear the same clothes as each other under decades of Communist rule, Russian women were happy to be forced by fashion to look the same as each other.
But this is changing as tastes are maturing: we have a group of Russian women coming to see us in London soon because they want clothes which are more elegant and less vulgar that they’re being offered at home.
So I’m going to stick with ‘elegant and desirable’ as the combination of words to describe the direction that I think and hope more and more UK women will embrace in developing their own confident personal style.