For most of us out there, the deepest we'll entrench ourselves in the Fashion Weeks of the world is a quick squiz at the Mail Online to see who's wreaking scandal in the latest Burberry. We're far too busy paying the bills, washing our smalls, administering Calpol and watching Sport Relief's Bake Off.
And we're the lucky ones.
For many others, the seasonal circus is a complete non-event because they're too ill, too exhausted or too weak to pay it any attention. As a personal stylist who specialises in individuals emerging from periods of physical and emotional stress, I follow a hugely diverse range of people on social media, from high-end designers to cancer charities; celeb fashionistas to those suffering from chronic illness. What has struck me most over the last few weeks is the profoundly dichotomous picture of fashion this has created. On the one hand I've had a feed full of the latest trends; on the other I've had image after image of the many young and beautiful individuals who are interested in fashion yet totally isolated from it because of their ill health.
Perhaps you're waiting for a game-changing transplant, or you're struggling with a new-born baby. Maybe you're feeling too low to leave the house or you're strapped up to a bleeping chemo catheter. Whatever your situation and wherever you're reading this, I would just like to personally salute you, send you all the positive vibes in the world, and let you know that you are the most important purveyors of fashion of them all. You may not be strutting around in the latest ready-to-wear or air-kissing a bottle of Cristal but you are, in no uncertain terms, the number one group of individuals most deserved and most receptive to the power of a good outfit.
Now, as most of us will know, when you're feeling rotten who can be fugged even brushing one's hair? Or getting out of your jim-jams, let alone looking in the - God forbid - mirror? But what is vital here is an understanding that the absolute opposite approach should be embraced. If you are battling a long-standing health issue, never forget that your illness does not define you. You are your own person with your own identity and a great way of reigniting that individuality is through what you choose to wear.
Here are a few simple tips for anyone looking to build up their style esteem:
1. Be ruthless with your wardrobe
Take a long hard look at your clothes. I get it; you want to be comfy and cosy but my advice is to dinghy anything that's holey/rudely bobbled/not been worn in the last 2 years/a crime against fashion. (Disclaimer: we are all allowed to hoard a few secret, treasured stinkers. Mine include UGGS you can see my toes in and an old ratty once-white thermal vest.)
2. Combine comfort and style
A mega priority. You've enough going on without nailing a PhD in stilettos. The high street is full of awesome trainers and comfy flats.
Charlotte Simone, LFW AW16
3. Pop on some sunnies
If you've not been out in a while, chances are your inaugural jaunt will give you the heebie-jeebies. Get yourself some lovely sunglasses to ease your way back into the world and add some instant pizzazz.
4. Wear lippy
E.S.S.E.N.T.I.A.L. It gives your face an instant boost and is the most effortless injection of glamour known to mankind.
5. Embrace the roomy
I have long been an advocate of over-sized attire. I love buying clothes that are a size too big and have never understood the bodycon culture. It's a rule to suit all shapes and sizes, so give it a go!
A mother of two fighting an aggressive cancer recently told me that whenever she feels at her absolute worst she makes sure that she looks her absolute best. Her thinking? When you look great, you feel better. Another young woman with ME told me that she likes to put on a full face of make-up even if she's not able to get out of bed. Her thinking? A slice of normality helps her cope with the abnormality of her situation. And that is the absolute essence of our Fashion Weak. It's about empowerment, self-esteem, identity, health and wellbeing. Let us rejoice in those pioneering health-related products, from cheerful colostomy bag covers to hip handbags that hide mastectomy drains. These are the survivors to idolise at a time when Fashion is well and truly in global focus.Suggest a correction