It is catalogue season, my friends. They can sense you panicking about what to wear on your summer holidays and they are flinging themselves through your post box in the hope that you will buy a hideous knee-length chambray dress covered in patterns of sailboats.
And I’m here to say – just pause before you buy anything, okay? Just have a pause. Put the catalogue down. Think to yourself: do I have something like this – that I never wear – in my wardrobe already? Think to yourself: do stylish people I know and admire wear things like this?
The answers are probably yes – and no.
I was minded to write this to you on receiving the SeaSalt catalogue yesterday and finding myself in a trance thinking: “Maybe a navy linen shift dress is really what I need for SS16?” or “Maybe that little dark green wrap dress in the lighthouse print is actually very cute?”
It isn’t, it’s not.
The worst offenders catalogue-wise, when it comes to dressing up basically horrible clothes as winning are: SeaSalt (just everything about how and why anyone dresses badly – except for their rainwear, which is good, and their breton tops, which any idiot with a sewing machine can run up), Wrap and Pure. Awful, all of them. But flicking through you will think: hmmmmmm…. mayyyybeeeeee.
When you do that, think of me. Put the catalogue down, take a deep breath. Stop.
Oh how true, I will be channelling my inner Esther when these things arrive on my doormat, than you!
This made me proper giggle, thanks x
Problem is, we get such a short summer that it goes to our heads and we panic. It’s why Brits abroad behave so badly – we go mad in the sun.
dr P says
I think they put some sort of gas in the plastic wrapper which knocks out your sense of taste just long enough for you to order their crap
So true!! So, what should we be wearing on our hols?? It should be so simple…..is it just me? Maybe you could do a post to enlighten? please..
Lynn I have yet to crack the formula for good holiday dressing. When I nail it, you’ll be the first to know x
Quarter French says
Have to agree with you. Mine arrived y’day and nothing appealed.
I was very close to buying a Boden shirt dress once (blue with jaunty yellow sailboat pattern). Had thought it would look a bit 1950s La Croisette but it actually made me look like Les Dawson’s mother, had she worked in a tractor factory.
Very amusing and so very true!! I have in fact just returned an entire package full of items that I ordered late at night when clearly my taste had gone right out of the window x
This is so funny and so accurate. As I scanned through the photos I could feel a little part of my mind starting to argue back that I might just look lovely in a sailboat dress!! Thank you for appalling dress sense salvation.
😂 So True! You may as well order items and put the local charity shop as the delivery address! Confession time : I do find the colours of Kettlewell alluring and temping!
I’m adding Boden to that list; especially the trousers which all have some sort of random bulging crotch issue which makes me look like I have meat-and-two-veg (I don’t!) and/or fit nicely for two wears until they stretch a bit and fall down constantly, belt or no belt. Drives me potty but does curb the urge to splurge, as I put much more thought into clothing I have to search out and try on before bringing home.
Oh, and ALL shirtdresses, which a friend once so aptly described as ‘chicken-sexers’ dresses’ (hers was white). You have to be Ines de la Fressange or don’t even try.
Glad you’re back, Esther, I have missed your posts unreasonably this week. Signed, FanGirl xx
Kristy Ward says
I feel your pain. I received a £10 voucher and a 20% off voucher from Boden this week and had a sudden “Yes, I probably their stuff” moment. Sat down with their chubby catalog, desperate to spend, but luckily all of the overpriced stuff that I wanted was on a 5-8 week delivery window. No. Just no. Vouchers and catalog in the recycling now. I need fairly immediate gratification.
Yes yes yes. Except I still end up buying it all from Fatface when we are in Cornwall.
YOU ARE FORBIDDEN. Fatface is banned
We must be on the same mailing lists … if the model can’t make it look good, then I really don’t stand a chance. The dresses are truly awful. Wrap’s stuff appears to come with added bulges sewn in – my mum calls this ‘sackless’ (which actually makes no sense, but it’s sort of stuck with me). I don’t know how some of these companies stay in business. I will throw Poetry into the pot too – shapeless overpriced sh*t (am I allowed to swear on your blog?)
Poetry! Yes yes what awful rubbish. Of course you can swear here! This is a safe space xxx
I love the photo captions. I wish there were more of them. “This only works because she’s size 6 and is on a beach in the Maldives”.
funny and true my catalogue went straight in the recycling yesterday what a waste of trees and who would wear that dress with the boats on??? Its just awful X ps why cant I find an emoji to post on here?
Came in post yesterday. Stood by bin. Opened catalogue. Sighed. Opened bin. Thud. Smiled. Very therapeutic.
I feel a bit sad for the one Spike reader who logged on this morning in her new boat dress and instantly deflated!! Hee hee x
I am confident that wouldn’t happen, which is why I wrote about it…
Esther so spot on with the observation and maybe there is a serious point here too: the number of trees and ink etc being wasted- I wonder how to quantify it? Part of problem is when to call up to take your name off they say they have but they haven’t and keep on sending. Maybe there should be an independent database of Do Not Send to me and ALL companies then have to cross check against it before they are allowed to send ?….. Or maybe it’s just Friday and I’m knackered having spent the afternoon talking FabLittleBag in Wholefoods Piccadily and I am completely overthinking this ! Gin and Tonic anyone ?!😂🍸
Kristy Ward says
But, but, but, Joules? I can’t resist a bit of Joules. #cantstopwontstop
Joules is only for children
Kristy Ward says
Noooooooooo! My wardrobe is comprised of their breton-esque tops. This is what comes of living in the wilderness of Germany for 6 years, I was starved of cute colours and patterns. Dirndls do NOT cut it for this chica.
bretons are fine. can’t have too many
Just opening today’s mail – Charlotte &Co – – 70% off nightwear any takers ? Have bought the silk pillow cases before when on sale I must admit !😆
I’ve got this problem with J. Crew now. It looks really good on the site, I must say. But I forbid myself to order any, and will just have to go to the States to try it on in a live, realistic setting.
Kristy Ward says
Go. Go to the USA. Sooooooo much cheaper there, and so much fun to shop for it in person. I’m a 14 or so though, and many of their clothes are too tight on me. Unusually, for an American brand, they don’t go big. Their outlet stores and sale rails are blissful.
Aaf apologies for this random message. I think it was you who somewhere on Esthers blog recommended to me an amazing black blazer jacket from a company I cant remember and the email is long gone. I am currently searching on this blog but to no avail. Anyway on your recommendation I bought that jacket and I bloody loved it and wore it everywhere until my fuck wit husband last night lost it drunk walking home from a party. Can you remember the jacket and link and if so would you be kind enough to email it to me MANY THANKS IN ADVANCE XXX
Esther , can you explain why no to Fatface, joules etc so I don’t make mistakes again ! (My 17 yr old son says Fatface is circa 2006 and never to buy ) but all these places do the same sort of stuff
Lulu it’s just that those sorts of clothes can only really be carried off with panache if you really ARE a seaside-dweller, wear loads of silver jewellery with sea salt swept hair and a toe ring. I’m not saying it’s not stylish, I’m just saying that the sort of lived-in pre-distressed look MOST of the time on NORMAL people comes across as just slobby…
I love that you had the balls to write this and oh so true
So funny, and true! When we were younger, my sister and I used to play a game with our mums little-woods catalogue where we HAD to choose one item from every (hideous) page! Hilarious way to pass half an hours boredom!
Mary-Jane Riley says
Love the post…the amount of stuff I have to send back because I think I will look like the model when I put it on (I never do – my feet are always wider and my body lumpier) but I still have a fabulous scarf you recommended two or three years ago from somewhere or other (not good on details, me) that ALWAYS gets comments – of the good variety…..
Helen James says
Holiday wear – hmmmm, one can so easily be swept away by the wind and sand. That would explain my numerous “surf shack” style hoodies smuggled home from Devon or Cornwall after shivering behind a windbreak for a week. Also goes some way to explaining the Minnie Mouse tshirt that I HAD to buy in Orlando. Carried away, I was. Giddy on holiday fumes.
Feel like a twat now though.
The least disappointing online shopping has to be hush or marks and spencer….
Karen Nicholson says
Just remembered another frock horror, while we’re all in trade libel mode: Gudrun Sjödén. Eek and double eek. Advertises heavily in the New Yorker. As Jeeves once said, we’re talking clothes fit only to scare birds.
I’d also like to ban all women my age (49) and above from wearing linen. This is an age for a sharp, neat look, not to “go all arts and crafts about the feet and waist” (stole that line from Cold Comfort Farm).
My holiday dressing formula: the summer clothes I wear when not on holiday + bright gel mani-pedi + swimwear 😎
I get this with Toast and never learn. I really like how they style everything in the catalogue, all beautiful and bohemian and clever, then I order it and they send me a sludgy linen sack 5 sizes too big.
Also I find the scary thing with catalogues is that the prospect of schlepping to the post office is so off-putting that you end up keeping and wearing stuff because it’s vaguely ok, whereas if you tried it in a shop you wouldn’t consider buying it.
Emma Onslow says
Esther you’ve nailed it again… I have a near marriage wrecking catalogue shopping addiction. I buy hideous things from Baujken (80s lycra stretch tastic) & Seasalt that I would never, never consider “normally”. Last week I actually sent back two parcels unopened because I couldn’t bear it any longer. I am now putting all catalogues that arrive in the bin.
Emma bin them ALL