Counting Down the Days Till You’re Flat On Your Back (15+)

 

Ah, the advent of take-away coffee and the days before Facebook. Another wee spot of nostalgia for you. Part one here.

2006.

“Gareth, you’d better have anticipated my every need this morning!”

Gareth raised his eyes to the heavens and let out an exaggerated sigh. He specialised in those, sucking in his cheeks and blowing out breath loudly. “When they all warned me what you were like to work for, I said, ‘No, no Gareth! One can’t allow oneself to be unduly influenced by the naysayers. I’m sure ‘unreasonably demanding bitch’ isn’t at all true’.”

When he said, ‘I’m sure’, he reminded Lillian of that terrible sitcom from years ago—Keeping Up Appearances. The main character, Hyacinth Bouquet, had tried her best to emulate posh tones. Gareth (real name Gary) decided long ago to get ahead in fashion meant disguising his native accent. Sometimes it worked.

“Ay’m sure”. Not so much.

She poked her tongue out and grabbed a coffee from the tray he carried. A stint in New York ten years ago had given her a taste for strong, syrupy take-away coffee. The coffee shop trend was only just beginning to take off in Glasgow. Fashionistas were obliged to buy it in lieu of breakfast. John had stared at her in disbelief when he witnessed her buying herself a hazelnut Frappuccino with soy.

“Two pounds fifty for a coffee? You’re kidding me. You could buy yourself a bag of beans at that Italian deli in Merchant City and have hunners’ of them for that price.”

“Hungover, are we?” Gareth carped, plonking himself down at his desk. He waggled a paper bag at her, the grease stains marking it out as something deliciously fat and sugar-filled. She snatched from him. Last-minute crash diet plans be damned.

The headquarters of Glitz were on Bath Street. Lillian paid fearsome business rates for the privilege. But in fashion you had to appear successful, and the appearance of that meant locating yourself in the heart of the city. Their basement office was shivery-cold eight months of the year. They burned extra calories thanks to trying to keep warm, Gareth said—something to be thankful for.

Glitz wasn’t something Lillian had envisaged as an art school student. In her first year though, she’d discovered she loved working with textures and materials, and that’s what she had focused on during her four years.

Post-art school, she drifted. A rich background had many benefits, not least that of not needing to work. Then, a friend of the family got her an internship at an up-and-coming fashion house. Lillian fell in love. Because it was a small company, she got to experience everything. From design to pattern cutting, to sourcing fabrics, making clothes and then fussing over models as she sent them down the catwalk.

It was every bit as glamourous as it looked. She dressed Kate—the highlight of her time there. Even snorted a few lines with her. When the internship ended, she persuaded her mum and dad to pay for yet more tuition; this time at a polytechnic that concentrated more on the practical side of clothes designing and making.

Glasgow was the natural choice. It was far cheaper to set up a business there than London. And she had all her old art school friends, who’d welcome her with open arms.

Right? Sort of.

Glitz started life in 1999. Then, it had been her, two professional tailors who called themselves seamstresses and an assistant, a shy and retiring Gary who had long since come out of his shell. There had been ups and downs, but the last few years had seen solid success. The catwalk shows were greeted with enthusiasm and praise. Clothes sold in reasonable quantities and she achieved a reputation for quirky menswear.

“At least I can claim I’m single because I’ve been working too hard to establish myself.” It became a mantra; a comfort blanket of a statement. Love was for those who had time to spend on it. Lillian’s working hours ate into her evenings and weekends. Holidays happened seldom as she was too frightened to take time off.

But the aching loneliness hit her now and again. She was in her mid to late 30s. Lately, evidence of how easily other people found partners seemed to be everywhere. The unlikeliest of folks made it look easy.

“What did John say?” Gareth wore her clothes exclusively; the reason she put up with his backchat. Today, he’d prematurely anticipated spring. He wore the sandstone gilet and matching chino shorts with a long-sleeved pink shirt. She’d need to get pictures of him later.

“About Richard? He gave a useful gay guide to blow jobs. And advised on clothing.”

Gareth nodded, stretching out an arm to switch on his computer, and rattling off the subject lines of the emails that had come in. Lillian said yes and no where necessary, the coming weekend with Richard distracting her.

A whole weekend with someone you barely knew! Yes, they’d shared some drinks. Even gone out for a couple of meals together. She knew about his job, some of his personal history and that he’d been married before and had a daughter. He knew…less than that about her. On a first date years ago, Lillian blurted out intimate details of her life. Her date stared at her, muttered platitudes and bid a hasty farewell not long afterwards.

The first and last date she had with him.

“Haud your wheesht, Lillian,” as Kippy far more Scottish than her or John might say.

The paper bag held a large chocolate chip croissant. The flakes scattered everywhere as she ate, Gareth watching her in fascinated disgust.

“Are you sure Richard agreed to take you away for the weekend?” he asked. “If he’s been with you while you’ve eaten anything?”

She poked her tongue, realising too late it was covered in half-chewed bits of pastry. Gareth screwed his face up.

“Yes. And fuck you. Get on with your work.”

The croissant finished, she got up and made her way to the back room where they kept rails of clothing. Lillian favoured an androgynous style. As a tall, straight up and down shaped woman, tailored trouser suits, over-sized jeans and shirts suited her. John had said stick to that style but choose the more flamboyant stuff.

“Are you sure?” Lillian queried. Sixteen or so years in fashion taught her that men who appreciated the style and clothing she loved weren’t the majority. Shouldn’t she be picking out pencil skirts, wrap dresses or those full-shirted, narrow-waisted skirts? And stilettos, preferably Louboutins?

John smiled ruefully. “Yes. If you wear clothes you aren’t comfortable in, it’ll be obvious. It shows in your face. And didn’t you tell me Richard talked a lot about how you’re not his usual type and that’s amazing?”

The back room smelled of clothes, brand new fabric and overtones of hot cotton that came from ironing. Lillian took deep breaths of it. She came here to refresh, the sight and smell of the clothing charging her up, battery-like.

John told her to choose the shorts from 2004. That collection was on the third rail at the back. She took out a hanger and held them up in front of her. Men’s shorts, brocade pantaloons embellished with Swarovski crystals roughly modelled on pre-French revolution court fashion. They hadn’t sold well.

Worn with bare legs and sliders though, they’d work. A silky tee shirt on top would complete the look. Glitz did a line of silk tees that sold in industrial quantities, bought by men and women who loved their quality.

She picked a Paisley-patterned purple one from another rail and then changed her mind. Plain black would be better. Perhaps Richard did think her difference from his usual type a virtue. Best not to push that to the limits though, eh?

Main outfit picked, she added a few other basics. Two more silk tee shirts in various colours, the super skinny jeans that made a virtue of long legs and a utility-style jumpsuit that doubled up as daywear and evening wear if dressed up with heels and a silk scarf.

Her phone buzzed. “Can’t wait! Don’t expect too much sight-seeing. You’ll be too busy on your back…”

Seconds later. “Sorry! 😊 Seriously, tho. Can’t. Bloody. Wait to get you into bed.”

Her heart and stomach clashed together, the one beating super-fast, the other squirming in a combination of super-charged nerves and excitement. And something else. A man had only ever told Lillian once before he couldn’t wait to get her into bed. It hadn’t ended well.

She folded the clothing she’d chosen over her arm. “That was then.” Another mantra. “This is now.”

Wouldn’t every woman be flattered that a man counted down the days, hours and minutes until he tumbled onto a pristine-clean bed with you?

©Emma Baird 2018* Copy this and claim it as your own and I. Will. Hunt. You. Down.

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Meringues: Delicious to Eat, Best Avoided as a Dress

Ahem, part of me really loves this dress…

You wouldn’t really believe this is supposed to be a wedding blog would you, given that I’ve been writing it for approximately three months and have made scarce reference to the WEDDING DRESS.

There are many, many talented fashion bloggers out there so I felt my own attempts at describing a dress or attempting to correctly name different parts of it (fishtails? Peplum? A-line?) would just be embarrassingly bad. So, I desisted and contented myself with the odd trail through wedding dresses for sale online.

They all looked very similar – sleeveless, strapless, kind of column goes into wide bit at the bottom thingie. [It’s that kind of keen fashion observation which guaranteed that Vogue’s editor with a job offer wasn’t going to materialise.] And blimey, the amounts of money you could spend on a dress that really can only be worn once was incredible.

The charity Oxfam have wedding dresses in 11 of its stores (sadly, I live nowhere near any of these shops) and there are various online options – second-hand dresses for sale, eBay etc. I hummed and haw-ed with a non-wedding dress option and found a fabulous red dress at www.sexyher.com. I even tried it on, it was a fab fit and pretty flattering.

But at the end of the day, the pink, frothy tidal wave that is weddings has sucked me up. I think I need to go and try on dresses in a shop while taking advice on shapes that will suit from an assistant who will no doubt manage to persuade me to go for a garment way beyond the price I had initially imagined. (£100. Yes, seriously.)

To this end, a girly weekend beckons. I’m off to Dragonfly Designs and A.N Other (I’m not being coy, I intend to be spontaneous and head to one of the shops that doesn’t do the appointment thing) armed with my fab mother, sisters, a good friend and their sage advice.

[Wee aside – sister in the middle is bitterly disappointed that DD doesn’t do the whole glasses of champagne while trying on dresses thing; she’s an avid watcher of Don’t Tell the Bride so she knows the whole wedding routine thing like the back of her hand.]

Finally an update on Nigella. The coffee ice cream was absolutely lovely – gorgeous flavour and lovely texture. I decided to try her Tuscan fries recipe. ontroversially, she puts chips in cold oil and heats them up. I wanted to believe, I really, really did. The chief taster (not moi, as a wee bittie frightened of fried carbs) opined that the chips did taste nice as they were helped by the addition of garlic and herbs to the oil. Crisp chips though, they were not…

Cinderella Missing a Glass Slipper?

 

Katie Holmes can now wear heels this height

Does anyone else build their outfit from the shoes up? With a wedding dress, in most cases this might seem pointless as the shoes won’t be visible under acreages of tulle and satin sinking to the floor.

But as any shoe freak will agree – that really isn’t the point. When you’re wearing kickass shoes, you move and stand differently (as any chiropractor will warn against). In an interview, Sarah Jessica Parker once said she put heels on for head and shoulder shots and that snippet of info has stayed with me for years.

Oh – and when you’re 5ft 2” marrying someone who’s a foot taller than you, a four-inch heel is going to help place you higher than your partner’s stomach in pics.

My photographer friend tells me there has been an increase over the last few years of brides getting the photographer to take shots of their heels. Naturally, these babies ain’t from the Primark end of the market – they tend to be Manolo Blahnik’s with the label prominently on display. Ooh, a girl can dream…

Anyway, I’ve attached a pic of my favourite shoes (I talk to them occasionally) and some sites where you can find cut-price designer shoes:

http://www.piperlime.com/products/discount-designer-shoes.jsp

http://www.bluefly.com/Contemporary-Shoes/_/N-8kqi/list.fly

http://www.buymyheels.com/

http://www.stylesequel.com/shop/shoes