Carry-overs and dogs: my favourite pieces of clothing from 2011

vintage clothes on the women's roomHappy New Year to you all! We had a lovely break, hope you did too.

When I worked as a merchandiser I would spend the week between Christmas and New Year studying the story behind the ‘dogs’ (bad sellers) and ‘carry-overs’ (good sellers we’d consider carrying over to the next season) for the buyers. I’m not sure this even happens now what with fast fashion but I loved analysing what went right or wrong.

Since I don’t have reams of green lined computer paper to wade through now, I thought I’d look at the clothes I (mostly) bought this year to identify the dogs from the carry overs and find out how I did with my own buying decisions.

Carry Overs (things I LOVE)

1) Vintage jacket and shirt (top photo)

Hammersmith Vintage fair has been a joy this year, it’s become my version of Topshop; It’s well priced, you never know what’s going to turn up and the people are entertaining. My best buys have been the floral silk Debenham and Freebody jacket, above left, a snip at £25 and the 40s silk geometric print silk blouse £14. I’ve worn them both almost non-stop since I bought them.

Reason they work? Fabric (gorgeous, I can sometimes be found stroking them) and uniqueness, I really like having stuff no one else can buy, I appreciate this not a very touchy-feely thing to admit to. I’m working on being nicer.

2) Grenson desert boots and brogues

Hands down the most comfortable ‘smart’ shoes I’ve ever bought. The desert boots went for a week’s hard walking initiation to New York after I bought them and never ONCE gave me even a hint of a blister. The Brogues were similarly well behaved, even when I wore them without socks, Every time I wear them out, the shoes get favourable comments, particularly the brogues. Reason they work? They go with everything I own and shriek quality. Who needs heels to feel good?

3) Marithe et Francois Girbaud trousers (right)

I am SO OVER trying to squeeze my lumpy body into skin tight jeans. OVER. ENOUGH. Instead this year I went for interesting casual trousers from M&FG, which were comfortable, looked vaguely on trend and moved brilliantly from smart to scruffy. I love these trousers so much I tried (but failed) to buy another pair, as I am not sure what I am going to do when these wear out.

Reason they work? They make me feel sexy and comfortable at the same time, my bum looks small (ish) and I’ve still got big pockets to slouch my hands into.

best clothes from 2011, whistles jumper and +J jumper3) Whistles metallic silver jumper (left)

I actually bought this in 2010, but it has come into its own this year as my go-to evening jumper, when you just can’t be arsed to do anything other than pull on a top and brush your hair to go out. It’s got lots of character (I guess it’s my Sarah Lund jumper) being metallic, which is interesting, and scoop-neck-drape-y, so you feel surprisingly sexy in it. It’s quite ‘look at me’ but because the metallic finish is muted (antiqued?) it is reasonably subtle. It is, however, quite heavy, so it has not gone on too many suitcase-trips with me, as I like to travel light.

Reason it works? Being interesting, t’s a brilliant diversion from the fact that the rest of you looks rubbish.

4) +J for Uniqlo merino sweater (right)

Oh dear, what are we going to do without +J? Quality fabrics at bargain prices designed by Jil Sander, +J has provided me with basics for the last two years and I actually bought four of the merino wool v neck and polo neck sweaters in varying shades of dark as I knew they were never coming round again. They are chic enough to wear anywhere but can mostly be found on me when gardening.

Reason it works? Quality basics are what we actually want wear every day, attention to detail in the +J ones (long length ribbed cuffs, beautiful yarn, long enough to cover your bum, fab necklines) make them a total joy. And they were affordable.

Dogs -things I shouldn’t have bought.

1) Sportsmax knitted dress (left)

Actually, this is a lovely dress, nice soft angora wool, tunic dress length and simple design, but it was a classic case of me buying for the body I WISHED I had rather than the one I’ve got. It is figure hugging and I am menopausally lumpy around the middle, instead of the flat stomach and sleek lines of a tall skinny person, I have undulations. The fluffy wool doesn’t help either, I look like a fat cactus in it.

Reason it DOESN”T work; I forgot my body shape. I wistfully imagined I was Kirstin Scott Thomas when in fact I am Edina Monsoon.

2) Gap 1969 flares (right)

What WAS I thinking? Flares? Actually I know exactly why I bought these. I was in the lift with Bill Wyman’s wife in the Ivy Club (going to Grayson Perry and Maggie Semple’s chat) and she had a pair on. She is tall, willowy and has thighs the size of pencils and they looked fab on her. I really don’t know where my brain went, but I went and bought a pair on the strength of this lift-trip.

Reason they DIDN”T work? A classic case of Fashion Brain, where you are temporarily overcome by what you have read in the fashion press about a hot trend, seeing someone look good in said trend, mashed up with availability (I just happened to go by Gap the next day). Step away from the ‘I remember them the first time around’ trends.

I will try and remember what worked and what didn’t as I venture into 2012, chances are we’ll all be buying a lot less anyway, so it’s even more important to buy better with our money. How did your clothes buying go last year?


  • Marv says:

    Having watched Ab Fab last night and also (I think) seen you in the green dress, I can categorically say that you in NO WAY look like E. Monsoon. So there. Or even a fat green cactus.

    I can never even look at flared-y trousers as they make me think of Shaggy from Scooby Doo which is enough of a put off, even if I looked good in them.

    With you all the way on the Grensons though. Have lived in my patent ones since getting them home, even in the wet which made the soles a bit slippy but a trip to Achilles the Shoe Man will fix that this week. Still too scared to wear my lovely dove-grey suede ones out unless there is absolutely no chance of rain whatsoever.

    Happy New Year, dearie. x x x

  • Patricia says:

    Love this post, really made me laugh! Some good sales shopping tips here I spent hours in Zara only to end up buying two dresses that were each a mere fiver off.

  • freethequay says:

    love this post. more like this please!! so helpful (or am I just fantastically nosey)

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