Fashion is supposed to be a woman's friend. As a fashion journalism student perhaps I shouldn't be admitting this, but fashion can be very unfriendly.
I am very thankful not to have any friends quite like the fashion industry. I admit that throughout our friendship some of my friends have done some crazy things, but none of them have ever jumped out at me whilst I am reading a magazine or watching TV to tell me that I'm fat. No friend has ever recommended the Dukan diet to me, or told me to put lemon juice on my face to get rid of my freckles (actually, I lie, one friend did once. We are no longer in contact). My friends have never made me feel embarrassed about the fact that my answer to the question: 'What Does YOUR Parting / Toothpaste Brand of Preference / Cuticle Care Regime Say About You?' is 'not a lot'. My friends never make me wear brothel creepers, or lamé leggings, or geek glasses; in fact (fancy dress aside), I can safely say that the people I love would never do anything to make me look any uglier than I already am.
My friends are my friends because I love them and love being with them, but also because they love me and they make me feel great about myself. My friends know me and I know them, and whatever our faults may be, I wouldn't change theirs and they wouldn't change mine.
I have decided to apply a similar approach to fashion. I think that I have quite a strong sense of my own style, but studying at a fashion university can be overwhelming and can shake even those who have their feet well planted in the ground. When everyone else is bang on trend there can be moments when it does make you begin to wonder whether fluorescent yellow and pleather microshorts might actually be a really good idea. It is a slippery slope.
In a few weeks time I will be moving back to London and starting my second year at university, and what I hope will be a new stage of my life. I am viewing it as a new start. So my wardrobe needs to be up to the challenge.
This is how I plan to make (and stay) friends with fashion...
1) A trend that makes you want to change something about yourself, like a flaky friend, frankly isn't worth the effort.
2) Following Step 1, I vow never to wear skinny jeans again. It's all in the name.
3) Throw away the enemies (the huddle of dresses that are just that little bit too tight, or too short, or too see-through, or too... lilac). You may think you will wear them again / lose weight / gain weight / gain a different complexion that makes lilac your colour. But you won't.
4) Don't buy / keep shoes that are too painful to walk in. You will just end up breaking your feet and your heart.
5) You feel comfortable with your best friends because they know everything about you. Feeling comfortable and confident in your clothes is about knowing yourself.
6) Once you have worked out who / what you are, accept it. If you are anything like me, it may mean accepting the sad truth that you are never going to be 6 foot and / or 8 stone. But think positive. At least you will never hit your head on low ceilings.
7) Find an icon who makes you proud of your body shape. Ok, I may never actually look anything like Joan from Mad Men, but her fabulous figure makes me proud to have curves. Her confidence, her clothes and her magnificent rear end (that is worthy of a standing salute from her male colleagues) have inspired my wardrobe and made my hips happy. Goodbye 'saddlebags', hello 'sexy'.
(Other hourglass icons include Marilyn Monroe and, of course, Betty Boop.)
8) It's what's on the inside that counts. Yes, that means that personality and confidence helps. But so does great underwear.
9) Find what clothes work for you. (Which clothes get you the most compliments? What do you feel happiest in? Why? What colour and shape are they?)
10) Stick to them.
When I go back to university I am only bringing with me the outfits I really love and that are the kind of clothes the person I want to be would wear. For me, that means colourful, curvy and confident. Mad Men inspired, and something like the things below (because now that my wardrobe is looking a lot emptier, it won't hurt to make a dream shopping list...).
£69.99, Fever London, because every girl needs a red dress. Or two. Check out the three-quarter length sleeved Salzburg dress (also from Fever, £74.99) that looks straight out of Joan's wardrobe.
I bought a red version of this dress (£89) from a gorgeous lingerie and dress shop in Spitafields and it is the favourite thing in my wardrobe. When I wear it I walk taller and smile more broadly. The right outfit really can have a huge impact on the way you feel about yourself, and this dress makes me feel like anything is possible. I just found out that this dress comes in different colours and patterns (like the blue floral print above). I am seriously consider buying several and spending my life wearing nothing but this dress. Because as Joan (AKA firey Christina Hendricks in Mad Men) proves, when it comes to your wardrobe if nothing else, less is more.