Fancy a half decent frock with that hype?

In a heartbeat I would choose a plain and good frock that suited me well over a faddish bit of fashion tinsel, hyped to the nines and racked on a campaign so pumped and glamorous it makes my eyes bleed.

But that’s just me. What do you think of me? I suspect not a lot because, from what I can gather recently, every girl and her poodle — especially you, dear reader — is thrilled to the gills to engage with those hyped and tinselly fad frocks at the expense of the good and/or plain kind I like so well. Fashion’s fundamental purpose in other words, encapsulated in the word “clothing (say it with me: “c-l-o-o-o- thhh-ing”. Remember clothing, boys and girls?) is in danger of being lost in a blizzard of designer logos, celebrity endorsements and endless, droning mind-bogglingly boring anecdotes about where you got your latest, bloody, bollocking, stupid frock. I don’t care. Flying purple figs I care more about, but you’re going to tell me anyway: “Om’god!It’stheZacPosenone likeKatie/Nicole/Kylie/wore!Igotitin size10fromTarget!Lastone!Om’god!I couldn’tbelieveit!Isn’titGORGEOUS?! FitsabitweirdlooksabitcheapbutaPosen fortwohundredbucks!” Can’t beat that.

Lately, every scrap of frocky flotsam has a story. I know, because I hear them. Say “Hello. You look nice”, and you will, too. Cheap or not, designer or not; doesn’t matter. I’m frocked with the lot: brand and type, location of shop, marital history of shop owner, time and date of purchase, unrelated personal events in the vicinity of time and date of purchase, and price, of course, embellished with relish re discount percentiles and useful comparative data of similar tinselly fashion flotsam available in LA, Antwerp or Arnhem Land. A vision in summery Proenza Fancy a half-decent frock with that hype?

From the hotly pursued collection by Zac Posen for Target. Schouler string-strappiness approached me at cocktail thing recently. “It’s Proenza Schouler.” I hadn’t asked but it was very nice: a skimpy cotton affair with structured bra-cup bodice and skirt prettily gathered off a high-ish waistline. “Thirty bucks you-ess,” crowed the owner proudly. “Amazing, eh? Got it in New York. Last year. Spring. Target. Last on the rack.” And so on. Suddenly, I couldn’t see the frock for its simple prettiness at all; only its designers, its logo, it’s paltry price (“Well done!” I said. Well done? What am I saying?). I could see the meanness of its fabric, too, the unsuitability of its colour for her complexion, and an ugly little pucker in its bra-cups that I wouldn’t have even noticed were it not so cheap and were I not thinking: “Well, that wouldn’t have happened if it were twice the price and half the hype.” Would it?

Once, in a time long forgotten, you could say, “Hello. You look nice,” and a person might smile haughtily, as you do, and answer simply, “Thank you.” But frock shopping is a hybrid of cut-throat blood sport and Mensa quiz now and the compulsion to brag about your tackle/think exploits on its global playing field has become irresistible. “Part of the fun!” some idiot explained to me once. The saddest little fall-out fact of all this hype and hoo-ha — this storytelling — rising above the real relevance of clothing, however, is the increasing number of women who brag about their faddled fashion conquests, wearing frocks that might look and fit a damned sight better, if they only spent as much thought and energy on look and fit as they did on its logo, provenance and pursuit. Amen.

 Janice Breen Burns