This old thing: the new fashion brag

The skirt I’ve worn most often recently is long, blue and as comfortable as it is flattering. ‘Why, thank you,’ I reply with a satisfied smile when I’m complimented on its delicate floral print and the way it swishes as I walk. ‘It’s Dorothy Perkins, 2011.’ I may not be able to distinguish Dolce & Gabbana from Dior or have set foot in a clothes shop fitting room since 2020, but when it comes to the newest form of fashion bragging, I excel. Nowadays, you see, it’s not the number on the price tag that counts, but the number of years you’ve owned the garment you’re wearing – and my

The language of lounging around

At the Austrian embassy in Naples, a German diplomatist asked the great beauty Madame de Ventadour if she had been in the Strada Nuova that morning. ‘What else have we to do with our mornings, we women?’ replied Madame de Ventadour. ‘Our life is a lounge from the cradle to the grave.’ How true. The observation comes in Bulwer Lytton’s novel Ernest Maltravers (1837). I was put in mind of lounging by remarks that Anne McElvoy made on the wireless about the use of video-conferencing and broadcasting allowing people to attend to their visible top half while wearing lounge pants below. I wasn’t too sure what lounge pants were. I

A short history of the kimono

‘Fashions have changed’, said the Japanese writer Ihara Saikaku in 1688. ‘Certain shrewd Kyoto people have started to lavish every manner of magnificence on men’s and women’s clothes. By then, everyone in Japan was wearing a kimono. But it was the new, eye-catching, sumptuous ones wrapped around a flourishing breed of fashionistas that Saikaku was talking about. How to show off your wealth and status in Edo-era Japan? Wear the latest kimono. This was the starting point for the V&A’s exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk, which opened, then hurriedly closed just days before the lockdown. Those of us lucky enough to catch it can tell you it would’ve been the