We modern women have NEVER been better dressed

As I write, I’m wearing a snakeskin-print knee-length wraparound dress, bought in the sale of a little shop on my High Street for 39, with a short, fitted, zip-up jacket that looks like leather but is actually fake, bought for 15 a few years ago from H&M.

This outfit makes me feel good though I certainly don’t pretend — or want — to be thought the epitome of style. Like almost every other woman I know, I deliberately choose clothes that won’t make me stand out from the crowd — indeed, I’d be mortified if what I wore prompted people to stare at me.

But, according to Dame Vivienne Westwood, that’s precisely what we should be aiming for. The British, she says, have never dressed so badly. The only people with any sense of individual style are over 70: everyone else is boring and obsessed with cheap consumerism.

Dame Vivienne Westwood says Brits clothing is boring and obsessed with cheap consumerism

Dame Vivienne Westwood says Brits are obsessed with cheap consumerism

The one thing Dame Vivienne can never be accused of herself is being boring — she is, after all, the designer who created punk fashion, and the woman who dared to turn up knicker-less to collect her OBE from the Queen.

Of course, it’s possible that, as she’s now 70, she fired her latest torpedo simply to gather publicity (she made her remarks at the launch of her show at London’s Fashion Week).

Or perhaps she’s just cross that, these days, most women would rather buy ten outfits from the High Street than spend the same amount on a single Westwood dress.

But, whatever the case, on the subject of how we dress (as with much else) she’s just plain wrong.

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We should listen instead to Mary Quant, who at the age of 78 has just published her autobiography. In stark opposition to Dame Viv, Mary insists that women today have never looked so terrific.

It was Quant who really began to liberate women, freeing them from uncomfortable stockings and frumpy frocks by inventing not just the miniskirt, but the tights to wear with it (which caused outraged City gents in bowler hats to bang on the window of her King’s Road shop in protest in 1955).

True fashion liberation, however, was still decades away. In the Seventies, we burned our bras, and flopped about in hideous Laura Ashley smocks, cheesecloth shirts and bellbottoms.

In the Eighties, we wore ghastly power suits with shoulder pads that made us look like vast inverted triangles.

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Dame Vivienne Westwood says that British women have never dressed so badly

She bought them, only after a great deal of persuasion from me, from M&S when she was 75. Her reluctance to put them on was comical — but she looked, and felt, fantastic in them.

How sad that she had to wait until her old age before she could truly enjoy fashion without feeling foolish.

And how fortunate the rest of us are to be able to pick and choose sassy, stylish clothes to suit our mood and our bank balance — whatever our age.

That, Dame Vivienne, is far from boring. It’s actually quite radical — and you’re the one stuck in the old-fashioned past.


If Boris were a bus…

Boris Johnson is a womaniser and a wily politician with a genius for self-publicity.

Nevertheless, he deserves credit for the new London Routemaster hop-on, hop-off double-decker buses, which are beautiful to behold.

Their designer Thomas Heatherwick says it’s been very sad in recent years to see the old iconic Routemasters, a great British symbol loved throughout the world, morph into the unattractive, noisy and chaotic buses we have in London today.

He’s made the new ones quieter, more reliable and more efficient. I suppose it’s too much to hope that he can pull off the same trick with Boris

Ordinaire Not Carla

Nicolas Sarkozys campaign advisers want his wife Carla Bruni to be more ordinary.

Nicolas Sarkozy's campaign advisers want his wife Carla Bruni to be more ordinary

French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign advisers want his wife Carla Bruni to be more ordinary. Having interviewed her in her modelling heyday, I’d say that’s impossible.

She’s the daughter of an Italian billionaire who grew up in luxury and splendour in one of Paris’s most expensive apartment buildings and then became a supermodel. Nevertheless, despite leading me a merry dance in the interview — denying she was having an affair with Mick Jagger while simultaneously giggling and hinting heavily that she was — she was also surprisingly likeable.

I can quite see why men fall head over heels for her. She’s beautiful, witty and ruthless.

But ordinary she ain’t.

In the past I’ve criticised Downton Abbey for some preposterous storylines and leaden dialogue. I take it all back, as in comparison to Upstairs Downstairs, it’s the cynosure of Sunday night drama. Hudson and Mrs Bridges must be spinning in their graves.


Pop goes my street cred

I’ve always flattered myself at being in touch with popular culture, partly because of my job and partly through having a teenage daughter.

But pride does indeed come before a fall. I realised this week that I’d no idea who Ed Sheeran is. He seems to have come out of nowhere to become the pop singer of the moment. Only now do I realise that he’s the person I’ve seen many times on the MTV channel at our local gym, who for months I’ve vaguely assumed to be the actor Rupert Grint — Ron in Harry Potter (who turns out to be his mate and appears in the music video with him).

Just one more of the small humiliations that middle age brings . . .


Sadie Frost claims not to have read
the offensive, spiteful messages (which included ‘choke’ ‘please drown’
and ‘eat s***’) written inside the love-hearts printed on the dress her
11-year-old daughter wore to accompany her to a weekend fashion show.

Sadie Frost claims she did not read the words on her 11-year-old's dress

Sadie Frost claims she did not read the words on her 11-year-old's dress

The last time Iris (pictured with
Sadie) was in the news was ten years ago, when she was reported to have
swallowed an ecstasy pill she found on the floor at a children’s party
Sadie had taken her to at London’s Soho House. You’d have thought that
by now her mother would have become a little more vigilant.


Is conquering hot flushes all in the mind asked the Mail’s front page yesterday. I know the answer to this one. No.


Instead of forcing her celebrity chums to watch her new designs from the front row, Stella McCartney transformed a Mayfair church into a restaurant and served them a six-course dinner.

The show was an innovative triumph. Not because of the venue — London Fashion Week is famous for wacky venues, the more inaccessible the better — but because the models sat down and ate with the guests.

Yes, that’s right. Catwalk models ate proper food. In public. Whatever next Models who walk like normal people — and smile at the same time


Kelly Brook at the Giles Deacon Show, part of London Fashion Week

Kelly Brook at the Giles Deacon Show, part of London Fashion Week

This picture of Kelly Brook spilling out of her dress at the Giles fashion show yesterday was in embarrassing contrast to the high-necked, buttoned-up elegance of the women in the front row at Burberry: Bollywood beauty Sonam Kapoor, stylist Alexa Chung, country singer Taylor Swift and actresses Clemence Poesy and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.

Put them away, Kelly!


Marks & Spencer has given its control pants a makeover, claiming they’re so flattering that women will be proud to show them off to their men.

I hate to disappoint M&S, but it could not be more mistaken. Control pants, like pop socks, are never flattering.

They are a secret never to be told: flaunt them only if you no longer care.


‘It was hard being a teenager with alopecia,’ says the inspirational cycling champion Joanna Rowsell. ‘It made me very shy, so I stayed in and intensely focused on my homework.

'Working hard was the only thing that stopped me worrying about whether I’d get a boyfriend or how I’d face getting a job with strangers. Then cycling came along and I applied the same work ethic to it.’

And that’s the secret not just to success, but to life. Hard slog isn’t exciting or sexy. But it’s what makes winners.