THE comedian Rhona Cameron used to do a routine about middle-aged women going on holiday.
I can’t quote it exactly, but it revolved around the idea summer holidays compelled women of a certain age to wear trousers five inches shorter than normal.
I was reminded of it this week when I popped into Marks & Spencer and found myself surrounded by rack after rack of lumpy, tired- looking, shorter-than-normal trousers.
I have nothing against the capri pant. In fact, I am on the lookout for a pair simliar to those worn by Ava Gardner in Night of the Iguana. Do tell me if you see any.
But La Gardner’s sculpted sexy trews bore no relation to the misshapen holiday trousers found in Marks & Spencer. And as for the colours. Who knew there were 50 shades of sludge?
This week Marks & Spencer reported a slump in non-food sales. The UK’s biggest retailer announced it was catapulting in Belinda Earl, formerly of Jaeger and Aquascutum, to stop the rot.
Looking around the offerings in the Princes Street store this week, I’m amazed it hasn’t happened sooner. Frumpy, fussy, flouncy, flowery – these are clothes almost guaranteed to bring out the worst in any woman’s body.
Where is the tailoring? Where is the style? Why on earth is so much of this stuff in completely repellent colours which do not exist anywhere else in nature?
Hopefully Ms Earl, who has worked with designers such as John Rocha and Jasper Conran, will be able to bring a bit of much-needed pizazz to the tired racks of good old M&S.
Perhaps it is the adverts, but people really do want Marks & Spencer to succeed. Despite the appeal of disposable fashion from places like Primark, there is still a need for a mid-market retailer which caters for women of various ages and miscellaneous shapes.
But even the faithful are finding it hard to love. In the Edinburgh store I run into Madge McLean, who says she has a wander around Marky’s every week. She shakes her head in despair: “It’s all a bit Auntie Beanie, isn’t it?” she says.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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