The magic dress

Recently, I’ve discovered that I own an item of clothing that has magical powers. Once wearing it, I’m transformed – not so much in appearance, but in manner and attitude. In it, I can do anything, go anywhere (as long as I’m cautious with its long skirt on stairs and escalators) and talk to anyone.

Admittedly, it’s not the most practical item of clothing to wear in all situations, but I wish it were. Though perhaps if I wore it a lot it wouldn’t have such a talent. And what is it? It’s my very first maxi dress and I utterly adore it.

Part of its power comes from its length. Unlike some other skirts, you can stride while wearing it, meaning it doesn’t hamper walking speed – always an important consideration. It necessitates great posture, standing tall is essential; and so is an excellent bra… [Forgive me if I’m veering into too much information territory.] It’s versatile too. Fancy enough to wear to the fanciest wedding I’ve been to for quite a while, yet not overly fussy for a sunny afternoon at the park or a trip to church.

If only I had several, I could feel the power of the maxi dress all the time – I’d be virtually unstoppable. Although, perhaps some of its power lies in the fact that I have just the one and I can’t wear it all the time. Maybe I’m not meant to feel so amazingly fantastic more than once every couple of weeks. I’m already beginning to worry about what I’ll do come autumn and the end of the maxi dress season.

Around about now, you might be wondering “but where’s the photo of Liz in this supposedly amazing item of clothing?”. Well, I don’t actually have one. Photos have been taken, but by professionals and my grandmother – neither of whom will be posting them on Facebook any time soon. The only slight bit of evidence is a video you can watch if you happen to be a friend of mine and Annabelle’s – fortunately few of you are because honestly, they’re slightly embarrassing. You could be forgiven for thinking that I’m making the magic dress up.

However, if you run into me and I happen to be wearing something that fits the above description, consider yourself warned – I will be Superwoman personified.

Burn baby burn

A four-day British heatwave has drawn to a close. Miraculously, a weekend fell right in the middle of it, enabling the population to make the most of the sun. Spending much of the weekend in assorted London parks I had plenty of opportunity to observe what happens to the British when the sun comes out…

Essentially what occurs is that they (we) lose touch with reality. After all, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. Not only do the Brits head outside when the sun is at its strongest, they do so in the skimpiest of clothing and with minimal protection.

First off, let me confess that I’ve been guilty on both counts. I forgot the sun-cream on Saturday (but after purchasing more on Sunday I have carefully re-applied it diligently) and did wear a vest-top under my t-shirt yesterday so that I could avoid a tan-line over lunch in the park. [I’m slightly ashamed of doing this second thing as not quite two years ago I criticised others for similar actions.]

But, why do we seem to think that the British sun can’t damage us? Sure, we don’t see much of it and are probably severely deficient in Vitamin D, but risking skin cancer? Foolish. Don’t people realise that in most hot climates people cover up in the sun in order to protect themselves? True, on Sunday I had practically bare shoulders, but I was evening out the exposed flesh-ness by carrying off the maxi-dress thing – meaning my legs were covered and (most genius aspect) could sit cross-legged in a graceful fashion. But you should have seen some of the poor lobsters in the congregation at church that evening!

Also, can I make a plea – bring back hats! Once upon a time, the British were famous for their hats and summer meant Panama time. Now everyone simply gets overheated and burnt. (I have currently have a very sensitive patch of skin where my hair parting is.) Personally, I’d love a big floppy straw creation, 1930s style. Then I could go punting with a charming gentleman wearing a Panama and carry a parasol. (Actually, before I get carried away with this fantasy, presumably if one is wearing a hat one doesn’t also need a parasol?)

As it’ll be at least a week until the weather scorches up again, you’ll have time to read the Guardian’s guide to dressing for the heat. I would like to point out that as I started writing this post last night, I thought of the maxi dress, parasol and hat comments before its author did – it’s just that (yet again) my thoughts ran along the same lines as their writers. Honestly, they should just employ me and be done with it…

Sibling shopping

I’m looking for a new sibling…
I jest of course. How could I possibly want to replace my unique (and utterly irreplaceable) little sister?

Easter weekend has been spent back in the shire in the company of sibling and sibling-in-law. Picking me up from the station in ‘nam (that would be a nam of the Cheltenham variety) we went straight into town for lunch at its ‘similar to but legally distinct from’ Wagamamas and some shopping.

The ‘nam has excellent, if somewhat expensive, shopping and we were on a mission to buy a soon to be 13 year old boy’s birthday present. (How is he that old? Teenage boys are so hard to shop for.) In addition to presents, we also managed to purchase identical shirt dresses (on my recommendation, already owning the same dress in black) and I acquired a skirt in Fat Face that my sister had bought only the week before. It seems there is sororal telepathy and there is simply liking and recommending the same clothes…

Owning identical clothes is fine as most of the time we live miles away from each other and spend approximately 2 weeks (if that) a year together. However, I should have realised that her new dress was likely to appear yesterday morning – after all, isn’t Easter Sunday the traditional day for donning new outfits?

She left for choir practice whilst I was in the shower, so I hadn’t even glimpsed what she was wearing; it also wasn’t visible during the service owing to her cassock/surplice. Not until I met her after the service did I discover we matched, albeit in different colours. [I suppose I should be thankful that the identical dress I’d bought didn’t quite fit – despite being the same size as my original black one – such is the way with Primark…] We may have got away with though. My rather purple jacket seems to distract attention away from any other item of clothing, and it was too cold to be without layers. Plus, even her husband didn’t notice till late in the evening.

I’ve just put on the grey skirt we both now own. (How could I resist a £13.50 Fat Face bargain that’s perfect for work?) I suppose I’d better pop into the lounge and check what she’s wearing. Identical clothing two days running would be too, too much.

Before I do, I have one more issue to mention. Because of our similar taste, I’ve often had a habit of passing cast-off’s onto her – especially ones that no longer fitted. Now that I’m back down to her size again, there were one or two things I’d rather like back. Specifically, an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt I bought years ago in Hong Kong. I’d bought her one too (different colour), so if I got mine back it’s not as though she’d be left with nothing. However, she is immovable. I ‘gave’ it to her and thus it is hers. Apparently it also fits better than her original. I find this grossly unfair, especially as she has a very full wardrobe and I’m struggling to rebuild mine.

Hmph. Maybe I should look for a new sibling after all.

Dress code

I’d like to think that I’m one of those people who can usually be relied upon to dress appropriately for the occasion – whatever that occasion might happen to be.

Yesterday I had a rather big-deal presentation to give to a big crowd of rather big-deal people. It was significantly important enough to merit a couple of meetings with a senior manager to ensure that we were heading in the right direction in terms of content and style. At the end of the first meeting, the manager suggested that I wear something ‘sparkly’…

Fortunately, he was largely commenting in jest, but went on to describe a dress that his granddaughter owns that lights up – usually worn with sparkly shoes. Now, whilst I have beautiful sparkly footwear, I draw the line at flashing dresses. However, the insinuation that we should dress smartly was not lost on me and I duly arrived yesterday clad in a smart black dress and colourful cardigan.

The presentation was something of a disaster. Not actually our fault, more to do with the audience and some history, but we came away feeling rather broken and depressed.

This morning, I spent some time talking over this disaster with various colleagues. Someone who had presented later in the day (after we’d left) asked how it went, as all he’d heard from those he met was the fact that my co-presenter had been wearing bright red trousers. A couple of hours later another colleague arrived back from their session this morning, their only comment to me was “I hear C’s red trousers made quite an impression!”.

The aim of our presentation was to share our vision for transforming statistics. (Yes, I now seem to be an evangelist for statistics being fun, this saddens me deeply.) It appears we failed in this respect. Clearly all these distinguished people will remember of our hard work was that one of the researchers wore red trousers. Fabulous.

Incidentally, these comments came from a group of people largely dressed in a very casual fashion – including men in slippers. Ironic? I think so.

Distinctive clothing

I have a tendency to be just a tad paranoid and read negativity into peoples’ comments even when none is intended. Nothing weird about that, I suppose, but it does mean that I over-analyse things people say a little too much, especially if they relate in any way to my appearance…

On Sunday I was wearing one of my current favourite items of clothing – a stripy blue cardi that I picked up in Gap in New York (no, 6 months on I’m not tiring of dropping “this? Oh, I bought it in New York darling…” into conversation when asked about the origin of clothing). It’s terrifically cosy and, even better, never appears to have been on sale in the UK and is therefore fairly unique, unlike most of Gap’s ubiquitous lines.

Sunday night we had something of an unusual service at church, during which members of the congregation had the opportunity to go up to the front and share things, after which others prayed for them. I went up, shared my thoughts and, as I headed down the steps, heard the vicar say:  “If any one else connects with what Liz just said, she’s down here wearing a particularly distinctive stripy cardigan…”

Oh the shame. It carried on after the service – sure, I got some compliments on the cardi, but others simply said “hmmm, that is quite a distinctive piece of clothing isn’t it?”. And thus the paranoia set in…

As it happens, off the back of what I said, our new Associate Pastor suggested meeting up for coffee to discuss my ideas – catching me as I headed out the door, no doubt noticing the stripes. I’m now wondering if when we meet in a couple of week’s time, I’ll need to wear the cardi again so that I’m recognisable?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering what it looks like:

(And that’s my little sister, looking a lot shorter than I’m sure she actually is. Maybe she was bending her legs a bit? I’m thinking she probably doesn’t like this photo as much as I do, but hey, it’s my blog…)