Kirstie Clements: The special magic of wearing what makes you feel wonderful

I was chatting with a friend recently: Annabel Ingall, an Australian-born, US-based designer who started her career in millinery and now makes beautiful handbags, sold from her online store.

I mentioned I had been eyeing off one of her lovely vegetable leather bags (a cross-body shoulder bag with small a turquoise motif) for ages but I was feeling conflicted.

It seems to be a constant conundrum now – on the one hand, you see lots and lots of lovely things, some of which you’d like to own and incorporate into your wardrobe, and on the other, you’re feeling guilty, cognisant of the fact that you should be using what you already own and not contributing to the great pile up of discarded fashion.

Annabelle understood my conflict, but she made a point that I think is true. When a woman buys a beautiful fashion item, she’s injecting a feeling of magic into her life with the purchase.


Guilt free: Buy the spectacular piece, and wear it constantly. Photo: Getty

There is a joy in wearing them, but unfortunately with a lot of things in our wardrobe, this joy, this magic, disappears over time.

Chances are, if we find a truly beautiful piece that makes us feel wonderful every time we pull it out, we will also wear it out pretty fast.

Perhaps that’s the ultimate solution: Buy the spectacular piece, and wear it constantly, casual and formal, summer and winter, night and day.

I saw this philosophy played out beautifully this week when I visited the wonderful vintage markets at Porte de Clignancourt on the outskirts of Paris with a friend.

We both spent a happy three hours browsing through racks of satin slips from the 1930s and ’40s, those beautiful blush and apricot pieces of gorgeousness that I have loved and worn since I was a teenager.

I used to buy these slips when I lived in Paris in the ’90s and I’m still constantly surprised how many there are in the vintage stores, and how well preserved so many of them are.

flea market

Fleamarket treasures to be found at the Porte de Clignancourt vintage markets.

We came away with several beautiful ankle-length slip dresses, later toasting our success over an Aperol spritz at an outdoor café.

The next morning, I was sitting in the floor of my room, oohing and ahhing over my purchases, marvelling at how delicate and heavenly they are, when my friend walked in wearing one of hers.

She had paired it with pale green espadrilles and a shopping basket and said casually, “Let’s go to the supermarket”, while I picked my jaw up off the floor.

Now that’s the spirit, buy the lovely vintage dress and then put it on the next day, and wear it with casual aplomb. None of this ‘Now let’s hang it in the wardrobe and look at it and admire it and wait for an event that it will suit perfectly.’

What event would that be anyway? My friend had exactly the right idea – the dress is the event, and it is the way to put some magic in your day and make sure that your hard-earned money is well spent.

The other bonus to this story was that it was a vintage piece so it’s getting a beautiful second life. Win win.

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