On Saturday, I spent the day with my younger sister. As well as discussing her impending nuptials and visiting high-end department stores to look at shoes, we also chatted about her MBA and an idea she’s had for starting her own business when she finishes. A few years ago, I could see a day with her featuring shoe shopping and not much else, but now we’re both older and wiser it was possible to wander through Harrods chatting about marketing concepts whilst also stopping to admire the workmanship in an expensive beaded evening gown. This reminded me that Polly Vernon wrote the last of her What I Bought This Week columns for The Observer the other weekend and decided to dedicate it to why it’s OK to be a fashionista. Vernon says:
Don’t feel bad about caring about fashion. It is not a bad thing to do. The presumption that those women who concern themselves with fashion, with clothes, with style must be dim, superficial, vacuous or some combination of all three by definition is a straightforward expression of misogyny. It’s founded on the belief that women’s brains are too small to deal with more than one preoccupation at a time and that we must be protected from our daft, vain, shallow, anorexia-aspiring selves or heaven knows how it’ll pan out.
Personally, it took me a fair few years to realise that being a fashionable feminist was OK. When I first discovered feminism for myself, I thought that my obsession with clothing was far too superficial to co-exist with this vastly more important interest, but my 30s have taught me that is a complete load of crap. As Vernon points out, it’s no different to being a foodie or a sports fan – it’s just one aspect to my life. I love how good being well dressed makes me feel, can appreciate the look and feel of well-made garments, am intrigued at how designs filter from catwalk to high street (and vice versa), and am fascinated by the politics of cheap mass-market clothing. Just as not all football fans are drunken hooligans, not all women with an interest in fashion are shallow.