How to dress your son as a female character in Frozen

So this week I found out that I am just like the singer Adele. Not in the being any good at singing or having loads of money or attracting legions of fans way, but in the one way that truly counts: we both let our sons dress up as female characters from Frozen.

Turns out Adele’s son is an Anna. My middle son’s more of an Elsa, complete with a little plastic crown to hurl off dramatically whenever he gets to “the past is in the past” in Let It Go. I don’t know where Adele does her shopping, but my son’s blue dress and sparkly wig were £15 at Sainsbury’s (paid for by a grandparent, who then sent me an email expressing concern at my son wearing his new outfit anywhere other than at home. He’s since worn it twice to the school disco, with no ill effects). Continue reading


The fashion industry: Just how fucking awful is it?

February’s issue of Glamour features an interview with the fashion designer Jonathan Saunders. It is, shall we say, illuminating:

“It’s reactionary,” says Jonathan, of the process of designing a new collection.

Too bloody right it is.

“Last season was about a very prim, buttoned-up, put-together woman.”


“That smart woman is still at the core of what we do, but she’s now showing more skin. And I think she’s a little younger.”

Hmm. So Jonathan Saunders designs for an imaginary woman who ages in reverse. Brilliant. And yes, I suppose it’s just a “look”, not a person. But isn’t that the whole problem? It’s not about people, and yet there’s this discomforting pretence that it is, that it could even be about you, if only you weren’t so crap. Continue reading

“Look, there’s a tranny!”: Responses to my partner, the Ugly Sister

Picture the scene: a greasy spoon café on a dark winter’s evening, crowded with people wrapped up against the cold. On a table for four a man sits alone, cradling a cold cup of coffee. He’s wearing a pink wig, an oversized pink dress and a slick of garish pink lipstick. No one around him seems to notice he’s there. The whole thing looks like a photograph straight out of a weekend colour supplement, part of an series of shots depicting the British being  “eccentric” and/or “tolerant”. I say as much to the man at the table. He tells me I should take the photo, then. But I can’t because one of our children has started climbing all over his lap and the moment for pictures has gone.

My partner does not usually wear dresses or make-up. He hasn’t worn them for years. This evening when he put them on it made him feel old and wistful: Continue reading

And this is why I wear boring T-shirts…

Nike Gold Digging Shirt: Funny Or Offensive?” asks the Huffington Post. Well, let me think. They made a pun based around women being gold diggers! Just in time for the Olympics! Ha! Hilarious! So what if it equates the ultimate female sporting achievement with becoming a WAG? Who cares? Not the majority of respondents to the HuffPost’s poll, who at this point in time are clicking away on “Nah! It’s just a playful joke”.

Playful or otherwise, I don’t tend to wear jokes on my T-shirts, not even if they’re good ones. A humorous slogan might amuse someone the first time they read what’s emblazoned across your chest, but if you’re with them for any length of time, you start to look miserably over-persistent, unwittingly telling the same joke over and over again – is it funny? Is it funny still? And it wasn’t even your joke to begin with. To make matters worse, you might wear that same T-shirt around the same people more than once. If that happened to me, I’d feel huge pressure to be a comic genuis, coming out with endless one-liners just to show that my humour extended way beyond “But what if the Hokey-Cokey is what it’s all about?”. Of course, it wouldn’t work and I wouldn’t be funny, just socially inept, if not actively frightening. So anyhow, that’s why I don’t do jokey T-shirts (plus I’m rather top-heavy, meaning some slogans get partially lost underneath the “shelf”, as it were). Continue reading

How to make a £30 dress cost £1,000

Hey everyone! I’m rich, rich beyond my wildest dreams!*

*Actually, when I say “rich”, I don’t mean Conservative Party donor rich. I mean I have £1,000 to spend on clothes at**

** Actually, when I say “have”, I don’t mean I literally have £1,000. I have £1,000 worth of credit, for which I applied.***

*** Actually, when I say “applied”, I don’t mean I applied for it. I just got given it, subject to credit checks.****

**** Actually, when I say “subject to credit checks”, I don’t mean…

I think you get the idea. Today I bought a dress from Very and uncovered a whole world of exploitative credit hell which I didn’t realise existed.
Continue reading

Oi, Courtney Cox! Wanna go halves on a pashmina?

Hey everyone! Did you know that I look like Courtney Cox? I didn’t, at least not until today. This perhaps because I’ve been suffering from low self-esteem. Alas, others have yet to see the ressemblance, presumably because they’re all suffering from low me-esteem. But they will work it out, eventually. Once I stop wearing crap clothes and looking like a clown.

This morning I received a free Colour Me Beautiful image consultation as part of an employment “health and wellbeing” day (the alternative option I could have taken was a free BMI, cholesterol and blood pressure check. Er, bo-ring!). I arrived at the stand, my consultant sat me down and promptly opened a book to reveal a massive picture of Ms Cox, while exclaiming “that’s you!”. For the record, it isn’t actually me. I’ve not been in Friends or Scream or some ongoing series about how I now need to shag younger men cos I’m in my forties and it’s liberating or something. That’s not me. I think what the consultant meant is “you look like her!”. But not in the sense of “you’re really pretty”. More, in the sense of “you and her share the same colour type” (perhaps I will tweet Courtney later and see if she fancies swapping clothes).

There are six colour “types”. Me and Courtney are both “clear”. This means we can wear full-on, in-yer-face shades without looking like total clowns, or rather, to be more specific, we need to wear full-on, in-yer-face shades to avoid looking like clowns (our own colouring is so “high contrast”, y’see). Indeed, the “clown effect” was mentioned several times. I found it very illuminating. I used to think people didn’t take me seriously because of what I said and did, but no; it’s because I’ve been wearing pastels.

The consultation lasted half an hour (perhaps it lasts longer if it’s not free). Much of it involved sitting in front of a mirror and having various cloth samples held against me so that I could see how the different shades affected my complexion. To be honest, I pretended to notice the difference more than I actually did. It would have been rude to say  “sorry, I wasn’t concentrating on which bit of cloth you were holding when. I got distracted by how old I look and was wondering whether the lighting here is particularly harsh”. Still, now and then, I could actually see the consultant’s point. Yes! I can wear red! (As long as it’s ruby and hence completely different from all of the reds I actually own.)

Obviously all of this is scientific fact and in no way meant to get you to buy more clothes, especially not the Colour Me Beautiful pashmina in the appropriate shade for your colour type, £24.99 (perhaps Courtney will go halves). It has made me want to buy more clothes because all of the ones I have right now are wrong and make me look like Krusty in the Simpsons when I could be looking like Monica relaxing with Chandler and Rachel in Central Perk. But the really funny thing is, overall this has made me feel quite good, regardless of whether I get new stuff or not. It has given me a boost, if only because I’ve realised that finally, I don’t give a toss about not looking like someone off TV. When she said “that’s you!” I just wanted to laugh, but in a good way. At long last, I think this feminism thing is finally starting to work (but Courtney, I mean it about the clothes share. I bet you don’t have any Primark. I’d see you right).

PS Isn’t Colour Me Beautiful an awful, awful name? Nothing should be called Colour Me anything after Colour Me Badd topped the charts with the dire “I wanna sex you up” in 1990. Since then, any phrase starting with Colour Me… is just plain wrong.