Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1986: You are the magic

Who remembers when Next was all the rage? I was around this time, and before it over-stretched itself and got truly ghastly, it was considered quite innovative and stylish at the time, with every other shop trying to have a piece of the chain's huge success. I was far from alone in adding the odd piece from there if I could afford it, and in my provincial university town it soon became our clothes shopping destination of choice.

There was this fantastic emerald green cardigan I owned, and a very nice white shirt with with red diamonds on it, though when teamed together it did look like someone had over-dealt at bridge. All sorts of Next garments passed through my hands over the years after that, but my favourite of all at time were a pair of dark purple - perhaps we'll call it aubergine - suede loafers which I'd coveted for a while. I think they may have been about £17, a smallish fortune back then, especially on student money. They were out of my reach.

But I didn't have to wait long. One day they were presented to me after my housemates rather touchingly clubbed together and bought them. I can't recall why they decided to do this - it was autumn and my birthday was in June - but whatever it was it was one of the kindest surprises anyone has ever sprung. 

Naturally I wore them to death, so much so that I had to replace them myself eventually. I finally went off them when my brother got a pair. Three years younger than me, that wouldn't do at all. (In later years I felt much better if he came shopping with me, him being the gorgeous one, the one shop assistants didn't ignore, the one who did manage to attract the attention of the aloof shop assistants in Red Or Dead who were always far too busy frugging to the background music to catch the eye of this lumpy old pongo).

I've often looked out for a similar shoe over years but never found one. They were subtle, autumnal, comfortable, stylish. Things like that never - or should never - go out of fashion. Unlike Next itself, which ranks one up from BHS in the style stakes these days.  Oh whither Foster Menswear, Woodhouse (another one with snotty assitants), Jigsaw Menswear and Chelsea Man, all littering the high street in the Eighties?

Though I like clothes, I hate clothes shopping. The key is being super-confident, and if I'm in the mood, then you notice how assistants dance around you. But there's nothing worse than feeling overweight and every inch of your 47 years and having the boy in Ted Baker addressing you with 'Alright geez?'. That's guaranteed to have me making for the internet where you can shop inappropriately for your age and no one judges you.

Anyhoo, this song, with it's highly wintry feel from a film on one's ever seen, really reminds of marching down the high street at 21, liking the way I looked and looking the way I liked, getting into that autumn/winter wardrobe and enjoying every minute of it. 

Golden days indeed.


  1. Ah yes, I remember when Next was cred. I believe the one which opened in my University town was the first one EVER, so it was hugely exciting. My top buy was an oversized navy and white striped shirt which I thought made me look ever so cute and vulnerable. I wore it to death and was broken hearted when I snagged it on a nail and ripped it.

    Jigsaw Men filled the gap very ably for chaps once Next went rubbish (presumably not THAT well, though, as they closed it down.). My hubby won't set foot in Ted Baker or French Connection these days as he can't bear having to scream over the music at the pipe-cleaner legged hipster slackers in their 'retro' Ramones t-shirts. Being addressed as 'boss' recently also did his head in. At least you don't get any of that nonsense when you buy online.

  2. It's all that that puts me off. I always feel - and am often made to feel - so old. I really don't like being addressed as boss, mate, squire, captain or anything other than sir. In fact, I demand it.

  3. Isn't Next fashionable any more then? Oh, I never got that message.
    When I worked with the public I always addressed people as 'sir' or 'madam'. I hate this thing in eateries these days where waiting staff address you and your companion as 'guys'.