Lady in a Cos camel coat and trousers

FASHION HONESTLY

Why finding your high-street groove takes a bit of exploring

Photo: Cos

When some boxy trousers made her look like a Morris dancer, Stacey Duguid accepted she will never be a Cos woman

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By Stacey Duguid on

During my first maternity leave, six years ago, I spent an inordinate amount of time ferreting around Cos. Located just across the road from my boyfriend’s bachelor pad, I made a beeline for Westfield, White City, every single day. His pad was small, so the choice was either be trapped in a tiny hot flat on your own all day with a furious bright pink thing that won’t stop screaming or go to Cos. I chose Cos.

Even before the madness of maternity leave set in, I’ve always found myself having a good old ferret in Cos. There is something deeply appealing about the simplicity of a square-cut dress in a light, Scandi-hued cotton. Everything hanging in Cos feels like a “wardrobe solution”. They sell the kind of tops and shirts you can wear to work every single day – simple cotton T-shirts and lovely woollen jumpers – all fab for the weekend, too. The shoes – totally unsexy, and not just because they’re flat; they’re flat, clunky, lace-up, with a big dash of weird – are nothing short of amazing. Throw on a square-cut dress with those bad boys and boom – you’re ready for the Morris dancing association’s annual club meet. Or Frieze Art Fair…

I once worked with a woman who wore nothing but Cos and it was she who started this obsession. Tall, darker-skinned than me, black hair, brown eyes, those toned arms you only seem to see on Instagram, she looked fucking marvellous in Cos. An oddly cut dress on her was a masterpiece; when she wore weird flats, they were “arty”; a bright pink dress that ended at an odd length was “sexy”. As for the three-quarter length, wide-cut trousers – yup, she wore them with high heels and a white T-shirt, and looked “thrown together” in the best possible way.

DD boobs in a square-cut top may work for some, but when you add in narrow shoulders and wider upper arms, I feel like I'm wearing a crisp packet

More thrown up than thrown together, my maternity quest to wear Cos always ended terribly. The majority of the time, I’d leave empty-handed. But, on the odd occasion, I’d come home with a small black bag with a long handle that was “perfect for pushing the pram around”. (Around where, dear? Cos?) I didn’t need those bags (the same bags were purchased in both brown and black) – they were my consolation prize. I had to return an awful lot of white shirts, having convinced myself they were The One.

If I had a friend doing this to herself, I’d take her for a large drink and say, “Listen, love, we need to talk – this shit’s gone too far. Step away from the square-cut co-dependent cardigans, wide-leg trousers, oversized shirts, flat shoes, avant-garde dresses, long mannish coats and, for God’s sake, enough of the long-handled box bags. It’s not you – it’s them! Oh, come on, please don’t cry – there are plenty more fish in the sea.” (This is the bit where snot shoots from both nostrils and the barman brings over another large white wine.) “BUT I LOVE THEM,” she’d explode. “Even if it is a bad look, I need to make it work!” Oh, Christ, someone’s got to tell her the truth. “You tried – you tried for years and it has never worked. It’s time to move on. Babes, you and Cos are over.”

I'd rather not open the can of worms that is body shape. ARGH. But with Cos and me, it definitely IS to do with body shape. DD boobs in a square-cut top may work for some, but when you add in narrow shoulders and wider upper arms, I feel like I'm wearing a crisp packet. & Other Stories, on the other hand, I live for, even if it's looking a tad teenage at the moment. I have to go up a size. But who's counting? That's what scissors were made for. Snip, snip. Zara fits, in a size up, or sometimes two. But we could go on and on about fit for hours – it's personal style and remaining true to yourself I'm more interested in. Sometimes you just have to call it quits. Sometimes you just aren't that woman.

The find your style groove edit

@StaceyDuguid

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Photo: Cos
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