Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Ooh la ladybird!

Tonight I need cheering up, so I'm going to indulge myself by wallowing in some of my favourite clothes.

Polka dots have been a passion for me since childhood.  The young Miss Charlotte was enamoured of the aesthetic chosen by gothy Scottish popstrels Strawberry Switchblade (and the music, but that's a different story).  Then as a teenager my first true love was a young man who modelled himself on the singers Iain McCulloch and Robert Smith, and had a signature look involving polka dot shirts and skintight jeans.  I taught myself to sew with two polka dot skirts and a pair of baby-pink polka dot dungaree shorts... fast forward to more recent times and even my wedding dress had an overlay of cream polka dots.  But in the last year or so, I've accumulated three polka dot purchases which are all, inescapably, in the crimson and black hues of the lovely ladybird.

Click for larger pics.

It started with this dress from Rockabilly/Punk online boutique Collectif (although they don't sell it now - or indeed much else in the same size). I bought it because of the polka dots, but also because I wanted something new to wear for the late lamented regular People's Republic of Disco club night, where red and black was the non-compulsory dress code.  I know it looks short - remember: not only am I short myself, but it's also very wide.  And look - there I am on the right, in the clubbing section of Time Out - proving that it's an excellent party frock!  It's a great standby, this: my version of the 'little black dress'.  I can wear it over trousers if I'm feeling self-conscious about my legs, it doesn't show too much boob and it isn't too dressy... but it still looks like I've put on something a bit special.

Then, as I mentioned in one of my first blog posts (here), I found a pair of super-cheap spotty low-heel shoes, meant to appeal to the kids' souvenir market in Barcelona. As I mention in my earlier post: they appealed to me immediately as 'ladybird shoes' - it wasn't until later that I realised that they match the frock.  These lovely low heels are comfy enough to be worn all night.  Around then I began to consider what it was about this particular permutation of polka dots that appealed so strongly.  The crimson tone is deep, richer than a more firey scarlet hue, and this more bluey red flatters my dark hair and pale skin (orangey reds are better for fair hair or for tanned complexions).  This red, then is juxtaposed with black - a powerful combination of mischief and strength.  Minnie Mouse sports a red dress with white polka dots, and that's a far more innocent look.  But for me, there's also something cool and cute about ladybirds themselves.  The female identity, the bright colours, the childlike pattern... ladybirds rock.

Then, last summer, when I was searching for something special to wear for my hen night, I went back to the ladybird pattern for a third time. I'd already decided on plain pink dresses from Vivien of Holloway for my bridesmaids, and now I went all out one of their showstopping frocks for myself, in what else but red with big black dots.  It's still available now - £59 for the dress and the matching bolero is £25.  The dresses are boned in the bodice and very full in the skirt - they look great on their own or even better with a full petticoat.

As you can see, it's quite a show-stopping look... you need to carry it off with some confidence.  Why do I love it?  The slightly larger size of the polka dots make it more flattering for my large build - more so than the first dress, and it's so flattering to this over-inflated hourglass body. The dress only comes in halterneck though, and although I customised a bra to fit under the halter, very big boobs make for a very painful neck by the end of the night - when I next wear it (on Saturday, for my birthday), I'll convert it to shoulder straps. Finally, a gratuitous closeup.  Photos like this make me love my body just the way it is - and what better reason could there be to have a passion for great clothes?.



  1. Vivien must have had you in mind for that dress - you look gorgeous!! Love Carol x

  2. I came across your page by accident, looking for ladybirds. I love them. I adore the dress! Will look you up on facebook!
    Dani :)


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