Last weekend India Knight wrote a great piece in The Sunday Times on why being middle aged doesn’t mean wanting to dress frumpy. Whilst we all know this already to be true, it’s always great reading a national article promoting this message to the wider masses.
But it got me thinking. What does ‘frumpy’ really mean?
Because, as with ‘style’ we all have our own interpretations of it. So whilst it’s all very well saying ‘we don’t want frumpy clothes’, if we’re unable to define what we mean in some way, then it becomes much harder for brands and retailers to interpret what we’re demanding in the right way.
According to the dictionary, frumpy means “(a woman or her clothes) looking dowdy and old-fashioned.”
Well that’s not particularly helpful. ‘Old-fashioned’ is easier to understand, but given so many past fashions are becoming trendy again, that complicates things. And ‘dowdy’ – well to be honest that’s just as ambiguous as ‘frumpy’ in a lot of ways really. So we’re back to square one.
When I think of the word ‘frumpy’, the first thing that comes to mind is shape. I picture someone covered in swathes of fabric, that totally dominates her figure, rather than compliments it.
That’s not to say I think wearing items with lots of fabric are innately frumpy. I adore midi and maxi- skirts, and turtle necks can look so chic. I do think some people see these garments, and straight away think of them as frumpy – particularly those who prefer to show more skin. But to me, as with every piece, the only way they become frumpy is if they cut poorly in width and length, don’t work on the wearer’s figure, and aren’t worn with the best pieces.
Wearing lots of fabric can look great - it's all in the proportions (worn here - our Tulips Cotton Voile Shirt by Pazuki)