It’s seven weeks after Christmas, six before Easter and we’ve just closed the book on Veganuary/Dry January, which can only mean one thing: time to talk about Valentine’s Day. Yes, the merry wheel of marketing keeps on spinning, so, this week, a truckload of heart-covered stuff in every shade of pink and red will be heading your way (if it hasn’t already) via the high street, the internet and your social feed. Never mind Justin Bieber – when it comes to the king of merchandise, Cupid wins hands down.
I don’t actually have a problem with the hearts and flowers claptrap. Yes, it’s overblown; yes, it’s just another way in which we are made to spend money; yes, it’s thoroughly depressing when you are single – but, that aside, it can be quite sweet. A moment of tenderness in a tough old world. What I have a problem with is the sartorial side. Valentine’s day/night dressing. Let’s discuss.
First up, the novelty factor. Thematic dressing is my nemesis and Valentine’s Day is simply the worst. Love hearts, lip prints, bows, rosebuds – show me a woman who actually wants to dress like the Queen of Hearts on 14 February and I will show myself the door. Where did this originate from? A marketing department needing to shift 50 surplus units of red jumpers, probably. The finale look in Saint Laurent’s winter ’16 show was a red, fuzzy love-heart jacket, so perhaps we can also lay some blame there. And, as irony would have it, red and pink *are* both key colours this season – especially when worn together. Either way, thanks to the V-Day novelty factor, so far this morning I have already been notified about a range of “lovebird” flip-flops (they come in matching his ’n’ hers styles, obvs) and a “true love handbag collection” which, as you may have guessed, has L.O.V.E plastered all over the front. (Not one for those wishing to play it cool, clearly.) There is one novelty item I shall permit, however: Girl vs Cancer’s Love Heart Tit-tees. At £28, 25 per cent of each T-shirt sale is split between CoppaFeel!, Future Dreams, Trekstock and Look Good Feel Better charities.
The unspoken requirement to wear the world’s most uncomfortable underwear on a weekday evening in February is perhaps the least romantic thing I can think of
My second issue? The myth of the “sexy date night”. According to Valentine’s law, this Wednesday evening will be spent in a ritzy bar, sipping champagne and shucking oysters. Because of said ritzy bar, a ritzy dress is required, as are a pair of ritzy high heels and a ritzy clutch bag. Something in pink or red (see earlier point) that “sizzles”, “seduces” or any other Daily Mail-esque adjectives that tend to get bandied about at this time of year (I received an email the other day with the subject line “hot to trot”. The contents? Red stilettos). Aside from being heavily cringeworthy, it’s untrue. Hands up who has ever – EVER – been on an evening like this on Valentine’s night. As far as I’m aware, Valentine’s is spent in front of the telly with an M&S dine-in-for-two or, at a push, in the local Italian. No sexy dress required – just a nice jumper like this one from Mango.
Last, but not least: underwear pressure. Matching, lacy, crotchless, tie-front – whoever invented the idea that women need to be done up like a bow (or literally in a bow) to celebrate the patron saint of love needs having a word with. According to a recent survey, men are most likely to buy their partners red underwear, with the most popular place to buy it from being L’Agent, Agent Provocateur’s sister line. Meanwhile, women prefer black or nude pants – go figure. I’ve got nothing against a saucy pair of knicks when the mood doth strike, but the unspoken requirement to wear the world’s most uncomfortable underwear on a weekday evening in February is perhaps the least romantic thing I can think of. A pair of brushed-cotton pyjamas (these from Hush) under a blanket with a pizza – now, that’s romance. (In fact, Asda has a heart-shaped pepperoni thin-crust especially for the occasion.)
With all of the above in mind, I have compiled an edit of the things we’ll actually want to wear this Wednesday. Enjoy.