I went to Topshop this week where it's wall-to-wall vintage (except it's not; it's new, but you know what I mean). Granny-style dresses in bonkers floral prints, roomy trench coats, Mary Quant-style shift dresses, faux-fur fuzzy coats and oversized ponchos nestle between flower-power flares and rock tees. In part, we have Gucci's new creative director, Alessandro Michele, to thank for all the vintage-inspired clothes about to hit the shop floor of our favourite high-street stores. I felt a pang of nostalgia as I clicked through his debut collection for Gucci – my vintage-wearing art-school days seem so long ago. Then I went to Topshop and the whole thing came flooding back like a rage of teenage hormones.
For almost an hour, Stacey Duguid, 41, mother of two, is 18 again. Rummaging through the endless Topshop bounty, I gather the maximum amount of psychedelic print I can carry – which is a lot – and head straight for the changing room. I haven't worn clothes like this in two decades: fun, frivolous, carefree, except the mini-dress-wearing woman in the mirror looks BONE TIRED. I glance at the millennial shop assistant trying to get his attention, but I am invisible – I am just another middle-aged woman wearing a too-short dress. I drop the beatific gaze and consider a full-blown sob. “Would you like a bottle of water?” he asks (so he wasn't ignoring me; he was being polite – aka trying not to laugh). DOES MY FACE LOOK OLD IN THIS? I almost shout. Shit, it's happened: I'm finally too old for Topshop. *Insert earth-shattering scream*
I decide that pretending I'm styling a “friend”, instead of sobbing, is the only way to go. What advice would I give a 41-year-old “friend” trying on an A-line babydoll festooned in flowers? “Oh look, there's a really nice floral midi skirt over there instead and it will look great with a denim shirt.” I leave the changing room having a word with myself, literally, while the kindly millennial wishes me good day. “I'll be back,” I shout over my shoulder, sounding every bit the cyborg assassin.
I leave the changing room having a word with myself, literally, while the kindly millennial wishes me good day. “I'll be back,” I shout over my shoulder, sounding every bit the cyborg assassin
Back on the shop floor, I take a chill pill (I couldn't find ecstasy). “This is not 1992,” I tell myself. “You are not 18, looking for something to wear to the Haçienda.” I nod in agreement. God, I'm sensible. I rummage through rails for a further 15 minutes until I uncover some real gems. An Indian-style hippy dress: the sort that never goes out of style; a grown-up cocoon coat that's got a touch of the Isabel Marant: cream and woolly and therefore perfect to wear with jeans in early autumn. I find an oversized, double-breasted navy blue suit jacket reissued as part of the Topshop Archive collection that's a tad Stella. I end up buying a denim shirt that, unlike all other denim shirts, doesn't make me look fuddy-duddy – the denim shirt may be “back” but, generally speaking, they make me feel a bit 80s and booby. Tophop Boutique's denim shirt is more shirt-jacket hybrid and looks modern (not young), especially when worn with a midi skirt and trainers.
Being an older customer in Topshop takes patience (and a changing room where they offer water, a chair and a load of fashion therapy when you're dressed as the 18-year-old version of yourself). As I leave, I spot a mum in her late forties shopping with her two teenage daughters. Mum is sporting a black A-line skirt, block-heel sandals and a dark, nipped-in denim jacket; her daughters are in leggings, boots and bomber jackets. They all look great and they're all dressed in a way that's appropriate for their age (in an ageless kind of way). I smile at them as I walk past because they look like they're really enjoying themselves. I've always had fun in Topshop, I'm glad the party ain’t over.
How about this for a grown-up outfit?