Whenever I go back to the UK I always end up dressing circa 1996. That's the last time I dressed for a cold climate, and my Mum and Dad still have some of my fashionable knitwear from the 90s in my wardrobe at home.
It's a little nerve-wracking going back, particularly if you have to dress for a big event, like a wedding, and you don't want to get it wrong. It is practically impossible to get a dress for a spring wedding in California that is not diaphanous and floaty and would render the wearer frozen in an instant in THE NORTH. Plus if you make the mistake of telling a Californian sales assistant that you're looking for something appropriate for a spring wedding in England they immediately start casting around for the Laura Ashley maternity dresses.
Basically I was really struggling, and I don't have vast expanses of time with which to go clothes shopping as the creature has a ten minute clothes-shop boredom threshold and any longer than that she's running amok in the lingerie section and I'm trying to coax her sticky hands from a rack of immaculate silk negligees. My friend Jen inadvertently came up trumps by inviting me to her four-year-old daughter's birthday party. Not the ideal place to find a dress for a wedding - unless it's in size 4T, or so you would think. I turned up at the party and she said 'you can leave Anna here if you want, we'll be done in about an hour'.
It was like the jailer had forgotten to shut the door.
Three nano-seconds later I was in the Department Store across the street looking at posh frocks. My mind was racing. Must find dress. Must find dress. Of course there was nothing. Everything remotely appropriate was in this season's 'jewel tones' and I have the colouring of, well 'colouring' at all is stretching things rather. In a fit of panic I grabbed, tried on and purchased a black polka-dotted halter-neck dress.
A black, halter-neck dress for a Spring wedding. My brother's Spring wedding.
They are an amazing couple and will certainly be married for a lifetime. I would be in their wedding pictures in my accidental purchase for a lifetime.
I was terrified that I'd bought the wrong dress. That I would appear the brash, ridiculously-attired American at the English country wedding. Then my friend told me to take a long hard look at every Hello magazine littering my bathroom *admits to guilty pleasure*. It was clear that you could wear anything you wanted to at a 21st Century English wedding as long as you had a pashmina and one of those feathery doo-dads perched atop your head. A fascinator, I learned. A collection of artful feathers, and in some cases twigs? on an Alice band instantly transforms any sad sack into a wedding guest. I absolutely loved mine, despite one of my brother's friends pointing to it and saying 'I'm surprised a blackbird asn't tried to ave a crack at that' (imagine a very broad Yorkshire accent). So yes, fascinators, great things, especially if your husband keeps accidentally calling them 'fantasizers'.
I am more and more aware though how inappropriate my typical Southern Californian wardrobe is for England - and not just in terms of warmth. Basically, one mans swimwear is another mans disgusting Euro speedo. LK and I frequently look liked we've dressed for a beach party every time we land at Manchester airport. My fantastic Ebay-steal Uggs that I thought perfect for April in North Yorkshire:
Were only slightly more upscale than the fake Uggs (Fuggs) worn by every single teenage girl in the UK. Whoops.
I did however stumble on my own personal clothing Aladdin's cave. I once had a dream during a particularly uncomfortable and insecure time at College that I found a shop where every single item of clothing was perfect for me. Turns out, fifteen years later, this shop actually exists. White Stuff, or 'Caucasian Clothes' as LK coined it was like dying and going to heaven. If heaven involved a horrible exchange-rate induced financial enema with every purchase. Honestly, just linking to that website again had my index finger poised over the 'add to your cart' button. Damn that's an amazing shop.
Must go and lie down now.