I love love love the way girls in London dress. I swear, this is the most fashion-forward place in the world. A well-dressed North American girl transplanted in Camden would be lucky to look average at best amidst all the fashionistas of every age-group strolling to class, work, or pushing prams; however, it's not the fact that luxury fashion lives here that makes London so stylish. Yes, it might be the home of stores like Asprey's and Harrod's and designers such as Stella McCartney, Phoebe Philo and Jimmy Choo, to name a few, but it's the budget fashions that have caught my eye!
Everywhere you look, London ladies are wearing what I call "the credit crunch look." Get a note-pad and a pen and I'll tell you how to work this sexy, thrifty and politically savvy style. First off, you take a dainty summer floral dress made out of cotton or chiffon, then you put a pair of dark tights or leggings that you probably wore all last fall and winter on underneath to make your ensemble weather appropriate, and finally, top the look off with a pair of flat black boots suitable to withstand the oncoming cold and to survive the rainy London weather. This look is feminine, ironic and affordable. The noticeable contrast between dresses made of summer fabrics and dark, fall-appropriate hose and leather boots is striking. It forces the viewer to realize the girl in question has actually recycled her clothes from one season to another. In a world where women are taught to spend, spend spend, this is a radical act of rebellion.
It is worth noting that three out of four floors in the Oxford Street flagship Topshop are devoted to Women's clothing, and only one is for men. This highlights how women's fashions change drastically once every six months, making old wardrobes all but obsolete (if you listen to the fashion advice dispensed in American Vogue). Men's fashions, however, evolve from three to four-buttoned suits over periods of years, while women's fashions become unrecognizable seemingly over night. Last summer, we were meant to be wearing yellow, and now everything is supposed to be purple or berry-coloured. Those don't even go very well together! Plus, I'm sick of my skirt-lengths changing by two feet all the time. It's expensive to keep up and it creates so much waste as we amass clothes we'll wear for a season and never again. In a world where the economy is going to hell and climate-change is only getting worse, should being fashionable really require us to go shopping so often?
London girls have created a socially responsible style for this season. Practical black boots that go with everything are ubiquitous, so that you can look stylish without having to buy ten new pairs of shoes to go with each of your trendy new looks. Mixing classic fall and summer pieces, like trench coats with the bohemian scarves we all wore all summer to jazz up tank tops, creates a fresh new look without requiring you to spend a dime. Even British fashion mags, like Grazia, are praising the new thrifty approach to fashion, telling readers not to buy a new dress, but to team a belt and some knee socks with an old smock dress for a fresh and current new look.
English girls have rebelled against the system that put so many into debt in the first place; the consumer culture that told women we weren't good enough unless we owned as many shoes and skirts as Carrie Bradshaw. They're saving money, saving the environment and looking hot, all at the same time! The "credit crunch look" is just fab! Its mix-and-match ethos proves you can have new outfits without buying new clothes....