A New Year! It’s a whole new year and I have been busy launching my new book At The Library of Memories published by Waterloo Press as well as being involved in Queer in Brighton the exciting new heritage project. That’s my excuse for not doing all those things like detox/exercise programs people do in January. Now it’s February, so it’s probably too late to start them anyway…


But I have been making lots of public appearances, which is how I’ve come to think about what (not) to wear. If you are reading this you too may be wondering what to do about that old blue jumper or even whether artists should concern themselves with fashion…

All these questions will be answered but first I must digress. There is a scene in the Devil Wears Prada where the ingénue intern, hapless Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), makes a throwaway remark to her formidable boss, Miranda Priestly (the wonderful Meryl Streep), suggesting she (Andy) doesn’t really distinguish between fashions. Miranda rounds on her. In scathing, icy tones she explains the history of the fabric, particular type of blue colour, shape and style of the very jumper Andy is wearing – its progress from designer to catwalk to high-street and second-hand shop –  making it clear that there is no free or random choice involved. A Marxist historian couldn’t have done a better job.

So no throwing on any old thing, ahistorically. We are constantly responding (hopefully sometimes creatively) to someone else’s agenda – whether in our checked shirts and DMs, monochrome tunics or frilly shirts and pixie boots…

It all goes back to that internal censor (previous blogs) who is so influential in our obsession with appearance.  Luckily, while we make choices based on a top-down communication things also happen from the bottom up. Governments get toppled, systems change, people’s perceptions change. There’s hope.

So what should you wear (to next the party, reading, event…)? Please excuse the binary nature of this advice, I know full well that gender is not binary, so you will need to self-define (always best) or read between the lines… Let’s just say I go to a lot of poetry events.  From my long observation of such occasions: Guys, do shave/trim and do ditch that baggy (blue or otherwise) jumper. Dolls: wear what the hell catches your eye and do believe you are gorgeous.

Winter !cid_image0

Photo at top of page courtesy of Michaela Ridgway.