Saturday, 7 November 2009

Fashion's Impracticalities

Whilst trying on my new 5 inch platform ankle boots ahead of going out this evening I got to thinking about the practicality of fashion and how seemingly designers go out of their way each season to create pieces that are less and less practical for everyday life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for a moment suggesting that we should all turn our backs on trends and slob around in Ugg boots and tracksuit bottoms 24/7. Impracticality is exciting, I for one have a particular penchant for impractical footwear, hence the purchase of said platform boots and various other amazing pairs of shoes including a pair of wedges covered in black and gold sequins which, if I’m honest, aren’t particularly stable to walk in.

However, at the grand old age of 22(!) I am starting to consider the practicality of what I’m wearing. I’m sure my friends would agree that I am often the one towards the end of a night out complaining that my feet hurt and sometimes even taking off my shoes to walk to the night bus/taxi – I know, I’m not proud of it!

Being a regular visitor to I recently came across a pair of £150 wedges, part of the collaborative range with designer Ashish (see below). Although it wasn’t the price tag that caught my attention, but the design of the shoes themselves. Available in black, zebra and leopard print, the shoes are, by anyone’s standards, very high, and the thought of wearing them actually scared me somewhat. There is no denying that these particular wedges have been designed to be attention grabbing and a statement buy and I’m not for a minute suggesting that they aren’t amazing to look at but to wear? A different story entirely.

Whilst on the subject of practicality in fashion our attention ought to be drawn to celebrity examples. One particular example that springs to mind is Cheryl Cole’s rather strange outfit on the X Factor last weekend. The dress in question was designed by recent St Martin’s graduate David Koma and has sparked off a lot of discussion. Simon Cowell commented on her outfit during the show and is said to have received an angry response from Cheryl during the ad breaks. Although I wouldn’t say I was exactly a fan of Cheryl Cole, there is no disputing that she is a beautiful woman and up until this point I have liked the majority of the outfits she is styled in every Saturday & Sunday night (with the possible exception of the outfit she wore to perform her new single ‘Fight for this Love’). However this outfit was definitely one step too far. Cowell’s comment that risqué outfits such as this “just don’t work outside of a fashion shoot” is fair and is perhaps something that we should take note of when shopping for new, sometimes impractical trends: what works on the catwalk doesn’t always work in real life.

Cheryl is not the only celebrity ‘guilty’ of making a fashion faux pas. Beyonce was seen wearing a similar David Koma’s sci-fi creation at this weeks MTV European Music Awards in Berlin. Katy Perry presented the event and wore a total of 12 different costumes during the night, including a West Ham themed underwear set in honour of current boyfriend Russell Brand. Katy Perry is well known for wearing elaborate costumes to perform in, including in the past wearing an outfit that was half male, half female, and also a dress with a carousel for a skirt. However the key word here is costume, Perry dresses up in these outfits for her performances and videos but in her personal life is quite the opposite.

I think the ‘lesson’ to be learnt here, if we want to call it that, is that some designer creations are not really made to be worn by the general public, travelling by bus and tube to crowded nightclubs, queuing to get inside, queuing to get the bar, queuing for the toilet and so on. By all means, have fun with fashion, adding quirky touches to everyday outfits to reveal a bit about your personality but at the same time think about what you feel comfortable and confident in, sometimes wearing a statement outfit leaves you feeling awkward and out of place.

I will probably still end up buying shoes that are very high and uncomfortable, but I do think a line needs to be drawn and I am drawing the line at anything that resembles Cheryl’s X Factor dress and advise you to do the same.

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