Paris, NY, London and Milan – the fashion capitals of the world. Exciting hubs of cutting edge design and stylish good taste. Where the beautiful flock to see and be seen, and designers fight to outdo each other, sending one unwearable outfit after another down the catwalk.
Perth on the other hand – not so much a hub as a gaping hole. The universal dumping ground for the last 3 decades worth of dodgy trends. A place that shops everywhere send their unwanted stock to, and the fashion police earn more in a weeks overtime than your average divorce lawyer would in a year.
Lord only knows why some of the clothes shops are so bad here, it’s not like there isn’t online access to the rest of the world and a constant supply of current fashion magazines. Perhaps it’s because the city is so isolated that it’s inhabitants just don’t care, or because the over zealous customs officials are rooting out all the best stuff and selling it off on Ebay. Whatever the reason, I’d have to say trends here seem to be at least a good 20 years behind the rest of the world.
Think ‘Hillbilly Chic’. A sort of trucker meets 80’s Chav meets unwashed backpacker.
Of course the limited choice of shops really don’t help. They are enough to turn even the most fashion conscious into the worst sort of fashion victim – or phobic. The options range from the likes of Kmart, Target and BigW for your cheap and cheerful basics – with basic being the operative word. Most garments seem to fall apart in the wash, beg for mercy under the heat of a gentle iron or change several dress sizes hours after being removed from the hanger. You get what you pay for of course, so for kids clothes, which have a shorter life span than the average family camera, these shops are great.
At the other end of the rather abysmal spectrum is Myers and David Jones. Both shops are supposedly the ‘Creme de la creme’ of Aussie shopping. Say no more. I’ve been into each a few times, but have never seen anything either particularly special or stylish, let alone affordable. I had a voucher to use up for David Jones recently, and it took me several visits to try and find anything that I even wanted to buy. In the end I settled for a pyjamas top. I only managed half an outfit as the top alone came to more than the voucher, and I was loathed to fork out even more for something I didn’t actually need.
Several washes later and the stitching on the top had all but unravelled. The fabric had also stretched so much on the sides that if I’d leapt off our roof, I could probably have coasted all the way out to Rottnest on a wind current.
Funnily enough a set of pyjamas I bought from Big W 3 winters ago are still going strong.
When talking to other POMS here, the one shop that most seem to miss is NEXT. If I had a decent pair of well fitted jeans for every time someone asked why they can’t open a store in Perth, my wardrobe would be overflowing with denim.
Clothes aside, there also seems to be an underlying scruffiness ingrained into the WA culture. The mullet for instance is incredibly popular over here, and it’s not uncommon to see an entire family out and about, all sporting matching scraggly rats tails down their backs. I think that like the fashion, photos in mens barbers over here must be somewhat outdated.
The other trend, one that never ceases to amaze me, is the notion that footwear is entirely optional. Now I’m not talking about going barefoot to the park or the beach – that would be understandable. I’m referring to those I’ve seen without shoes in IKEA, the city centre, restaurants, supermarkets, the cinema and the most dangerous of all, or so you’d think, Bunnings.
Revolting, dirty looking feet aside, surely there have to be some serious health and hygiene laws being broken as kids run across the urine soaked floors of the public toilets and straight down the fresh produce aisle of the neighbouring supermarket.
And needless to say, if such people don’t ever wash their feet, it’s highly unlikely they’d wash their hands..
I followed one such woman and her snot encrusted child around Coles last week, and snapped her for with my phone for proof. Given that she looked like she was probably capable of beating me to death with one of those blocks of cheese, I’ve airbrushed her features slightly. But to be honest, I very much doubt she’d ever stumble across my blog, or be able to read this post.
This shoeless woman I have to say was certainly not alone. I spotted several others, overgrown toe nails and all, hot footing it through the freezer section.
Perhaps people in WA feel there’s no point bothering with their appearance, because there’s really nowhere to dress up and go. I can relate to this, and know from experience it’s a very easy and highly dangerous trap to fall into. Before you know what’s happened, you can find that you’ve metamorphosed into a homeless bag lady, wearing the same old tracksuit for 6 days in a row and have forgotten to change out of your PJs on Sunday.
Now I’ve never been one for making a huge effort with clothes, or really caring that much about how I look, but a while back I realised I was starting to stoop to such a level. This was around the time I arrived at the school to collect my daughter and realised, as I went to get out the car, that I’d left the house in my slippers.
So the following weekend, when heading out to Coles to do the weekly shop, I dug around in the back of my wardrobe and put on a jacket, a scarf and my high-heeled boots – the sort of clothes I’d have once worn in the UK when popping out to fill the car up with petrol. Taking it one daring stop further, I took my hair out of a pony tail and dusted off my mascara, pumping the tube vigorously to break the old clumps off the brush.
My son walked straight past me in the hallway, and then did a double take as he disappeared around the corner. I don’t think he actually recognised me. How sad is that.
“Oh you do look pretty Mummy” my daughter said as I appeared from the bedroom, clearly impressed with my ‘Extreme Makeover’. I loosely translated this compliment to mean that I normally didn’t.
“So where are you off to then, seeing as you’re all dressed up?” enquired my slightly suspicious husband.
With that I realised that I had better start making more of an effort, before I reached the day where I would think nothing of going to the shops still wrapped in my duvet, or end up with skin as thick as a rhinos hide on a pair of black and scaly feet.