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French Wardrobe Malfunction

Like most women I put away my Spring/Summer wardrobe for Autumn/Winter, and vice versa twice a year. It’s been eight years now, and I am still taking my smart city wear in and out each year. Occasionally I may get round to donating something to charity, when I realise I will probably never wear a particular item, whether it is because the idea of walking into a boardroom is less and less likely, or because it is a crime against fashion. My formal workwear is probably totally inappropriate now anyway.

It’s not just the workwear. I rarely wear any of my clothes, because they’re just not very practical. If something is dry-clean only, then trying to find somewhere to get it cleaned, at usually an incredible price, is simply not worth it.

Then there’s the mud issue. Am I happy to wear a particular item of clothing, knowing it will be quickly be ‘mudded’ or have my dog’s paw prints on it, as he jumps onto my lap in the car?

Speaking of mud, my feet are now totally unaccustomed to high shoes. They’re just not practical, as the heels seep into the waterlogged garden on the way out to an event, so I arrive looking like I’ve been trampling through a field before the party has started, which is what I have actually been doing.

The other issue is not wanting to look like a ‘la-de-da’ urbanite in the countryside. When I first went to village events, I would make an effort to dress up a bit, and perhaps put some make-up on. I quickly realised that I looked out of place. I should just wear the clothes I had been wearing that day in the garden. I still might sneak on some lippy or a change of top, but the vibe is definitely low key.

Funerals are another wardrobe calamity. Not that I spend my time going to funerals non-stop, but I was always taught to wear a smart black outfit, unless the deceased has specified otherwise. I wasn’t in the habit of doing the full Jackie O with a black veil and matching handbag, but I’d always been told that to be smart is respectful. As we are in the French countryside, there is of course an ageing population, so we often attend funerals to support the local community. I would dig out a black suit (ah, they have a use!) and walk down to the local church for the service. I quickly realised that rather than looking like a respectful neighbour, I looked more like a close family member mourning their loved one. I’ve since tried to tone it down a bit, but I still can’t wear colour, it’s so ingrained in me to wear black.

Another wardrobe malfunction are those pesky mites, and they really love the good stuff. I remember when I’d been living here a few months, I pulled out my favourite cashmere pullover, which had developed little holes. My husband said ‘oh yeah, we need to put those mite things in the drawers and wardrobe at this time of year’. Too late….and they definitely weren’t interested in the cheap clothing!

As my stepdaughter says, when I make the odd trip to London ‘I bet you can’t wait to get out of your mud clothes’.

She’s right, I love dressing up. I did try to just do the mud clothes, as they’re so practical, but actually they’re boring, and they make you feel miserable. Call me shallow – it’s nice to feel good, and so I do make an effort now to add a bit of sparkle to my dress. I may not be wearing high heels, and smart suits, but like most French women I try to make an effort with a scarf, a bit of make up and a bit of animal print! And if we’re having a party, I nearly always make it fancy dress. It’s good for the soul.