I’ve had it with you. Almost 18 years of answering your questions, and it takes just one look around to see you haven’t been listening. Well, that’s it. I’m moving on to more worthy pursuits. As a final good riddance, here are some parting pearls of wisdom. Do with them what you will. See if I care.
Let’s begin by saying goodbye to the most egregious of fashion crimes: cut-off shorts. I don’t care whether your thighs are perfect (0.1 per cent of you) or better covered up (the remaining 99.9 per cent). I don’t need to see your, um, cheeks, thank you. Let’s save millions of young girls from the hideousness of this interminable trend with a blanket ban.
Ignore trends if they don’t inspire you. Fashion should make you feel like the best version of yourself, not an inferior version of someone else. That is, unless you feel superior in cut-off shorts.
Know yourself and what makes you look good. Be honest. Buying a small size may stroke your ego in the shop, but it will also make you look fat when you wear it. Dress for your body as it is now, not your age or who you wish you were. Since most of us are incapable to seeing ourselves as we are, enlist a style consultant to help.
Ask questions. Lots of them. Find out where your clothes come from and what is their true cost to our society and our world. If you cannot find that information on Google or directly from the brand, then you know they’re hiding something.
Shop with a plan. Make a list. Be ready for the dressing room with the right underwear and shoes. And don’t forget to check how it looks from behind, and in different lights for potential transparency. Beware impulse buys and sales. You don’t have to buy it just because it’s cheap.
Buy the right lingerie for every occasion. If you don’t know what that is, see a specialist. Banish granny pants from your life.
Invest in classics. They never go out of style or fall apart.
Make an alterations tailor your new best friend. You aren’t a fitting model, so off-the-rack clothes weren’t made for your body. A good fit is everything. They can also help you make old pieces new again, from new buttons to a tweak in silhouette or new hem length. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.
You may be shocked to hear this from me, but shopping isn’t always the answer. Nobody has the budget to buy new couture for every single day of their lives, despite what social media might have you believe. (Bravo, Kate Middleton, for wearing dresses more than once!) If you give yourself the time to plan in advance, you’ll be amazed by the new combinations you will discover. Anyway, climate change is real so we need to reconsider how we consume if want to still have a world in which to dress. Spacesuits are so restricting.
Get organised. Arrange your wardrobe by autumn/winter and spring/summer, then by type of garment and colour. Doing the switch next season should reveal a lot about what you actually wear. If you haven’t put on an item in a year, give it away, recycle or re-tailor it (never throw it in the bin).
Find your uniform. Make a list of the top 10 things you wear most to give yourself a better sense of what you need. Everyone has a uniform, but they may not know it. Think about your colour palette. Having coordinating hues will make getting dressed easier and limit the number of clothes you need to buy.
Dress up, not down, for every occasion. Wait. I didn’t say “sexy”. You don’t need to show lots of skin to look good. If you find yourself inspired by a Kardashian, get help. Conversely, you don’t need to wear sloppy clothes to be comfortable. Balance loose with tight, mix high fashion with high street, and always show skin strategically. Bonus: you don’t have to wear jeans if they’ve never felt right for you.
Re-consider how you accessorise. When in doubt, finish an outfit with nude or metallic, not black. If the shoes hurt in the store, they will kill you when you wear them. Don’t wear heels unless you know how to walk in them. Trust me. Most of you look and sound like horses being trotted out in Happy Valley.
Be polished. Dirty hair or chipped nail polish will ruin even the most soigné of looks. Suck in your stomach. If you don’t know how, take Pilates. And if you must have cosmetic procedures, aim for realistically human. Your face should move.
Fashion is not for children. Babies in jeans too tight for crawling, or mini must-have trainers that make them stumble are not a good look.
Make your own rules. Only take advice from people with good taste.
Finally, to those of you who tried to commiserate with me on the “stupidity” of readers’ questions: you’re stupid. I found each and every query fascinating and worth exploring. Let’s all start the new year with more questions, self-awareness and altruism, shall we?