Kerry McKittrick asked some well-known women to ‘fess up to those wardrobe malfunctions.
It's the dirty little secret everyone has. The unopened shopping bag at the back of the wardrobe or the misshapen lurid outfit that holds many fond memories. Every woman in the world has some article of ‘cringe clothing' that they're embarrassed to own, according to a survey by Lambrini.
The survey polled 2,000 women in the UK and the results were to be expected. Nearly half the women polled admitted that a pair of leather trousers is their most embarrassing garment followed by that old favourite, the shell suit. And everyone does it, even TV personality Kate Garroway has weighed in with a newspaper article about some of her wardrobe disasters over the years. These include a Union Jack maxi dress, velour tracksuits and of course, leather trousers. Despite the fact they, ‘made my backside look like a helium balloon'.
Kerry McKittrick delves into the wardrobes of well-known women in Northern Ireland to find what their fashion disasters are — and if they've ever owned a pair of leather trousers...
Beth: I’ve only kept this outfit as it cost me £800
Beth Robinson (54) is a partner in Templeton Robinson estate agents. She lives in Belfast with her husband, David. She says:
I have a pair of trousers and a jacket from Armani that I bought for a wedding 12 years ago. It's not a suit, the jacket is quilted and the trousers are pyjama-style. I haven't worn it since but I kept the outfit because it cost such a lot of money — around £800.
It sits in its dust cover in the wardrobe and I take it out every now and again then put it back. I would sell it but I don't think anyone would want it because it's so awful!
I'm very strict about my wardrobe and clear out anything that I haven't worn in more than a year. A lot of things go to charity shops but if they're nice clothes then I take them to be sold at Deja Vu on the Lisburn Road.
I have had leather trousers in the past although I think they're a bit young for me now. I will admit to wearing leather-look leggings a couple of years ago.”
Claire: I bought these boots in fit of madness
Claire McCollum (38), a freelance broadcaster, lives in Greenisland with husband Alastair and children Samuel (5) and Rosa (3). She says:
I'm quite conventional in my tastes but sometimes I go for quite out there shoes — I still wear silver high-top trainers. The worst thing in my wardrobe though is a pair of pointy-toed pink and multi-coloured sparkly stilleto boots. I bought them in a fit of madness in Amsterdam about six years ago for £50 — they called to me from the shop window and I thought, ‘I need those'.
I've worn them once. It was out on a Saturday night and under jeans that hid them as much as possible. I don't know what I was thinking. I go for quality pieces most of the time and a I try to be ruthless when it comes to clearing out my wardrobe. Clothes that I haven't worn for two or three years go to the charity shop. These I'm actually keeping because my little girl really likes pink. She might like them eventually!”
Tracey: I’ve the proof this coat is truly horrific
Tracey Hall (44) is the director of the Style Academy model agency and lives in Belfast. She says:
I have one wall of my bedroom covered with five sections of Sliderobes, a stand alone wardrobe in the spare room and a wardrobe in my parents house that are all full of clothes, I never throw anything away.
I keep clothes because I can use them in the dressing up boxes for the models at the Style Academy or I can use things when I give vintage fashion shows or talks on the history of fashion through the ages.
There are some absolute howlers in my wardrobe like the 1980s velvet orange trouser suit from a boutique in Belfast years ago.
Yes I have got leather trousers but I don't wear them anymore.
I got myself a PVC catsuit as a treat 10 years ago and I have lots of thigh high boots, even a pair by Louboutin.
I haven't got Crocs, a bum bag or a puffa jacket — they're too unflattering. Everything else on the list I have.
I've chosen three items. One is a lime green faux fur coat — there's one in lilac too, they cost £60 each at a stall in Camden Market. I wore the green one to a meeting and the woman meeting me looked horrified.
There's a pair of flared patchwork trousers. I can't remember what they cost but they came from a boutique so they weren't cheap.
Finally there's a pair of electric blue suede ankle boots that I bought in a moment of madness in London and I don't think I've ever worn them because they go with nothing. I could go on!”
Brenda: I’ve held on to this dress simply for its sentimental value
Brenda Shankey (40) runs Jason Shankey Male Grooming with her husband Jason and lives in Belfast with their children Lauren (10) and Will (8). She says:
The worst thing in my wardrobe is the going away dress from my wedding. It was the dress I wore after my wedding dress so I could dance and run around at the disco in the evening. It's a cheap and cheerful white slip dress from River Island and I've kept it for the last 13 years for sentimental value — obviously I kept my wedding dress too. I haven't worn it since and I wouldn't wear it again.
I'm sure I've had some other fashion disasters but thankfully I'm normally pretty ruthless when it comes to clearing out my wardrobe. I do it with every season and the things I get rid of go to the charity shop or — more likely — to one of my four sisters.
I don't like a lot of clutter and if something hasn't been worn for six months then it goes out. We don't have the space for lots of stuff anyway.”
Naomi: I’ll turn this top into a cushion
Naomi McMullan (31) lives in Downpatrick and is a business reporter for UTV. She says:
There are two embarrassing items in my wardrobe, one embarasses me and the other embarrasses everyone else!
I have a black sweatshirt with a 1980s style face picked out in white and red-sequinned lips. I bought it about three years ago in Oasis and my niece asked my why I had a face on my T-shirt — I haven't worn it since as it's so 80s and so awful. I've held onto it though because I've thought I might manage to turn it into a cushion at some point.
The other item that I love is a pair of floral patterned trousers. I bought them about a year and a half ago and they're so comfy and good for running around in. My friends hate them though, they were all scandalised when I wore them out recently for a hen party. I don't really follow fashion though and I grew up with four brothers so I'm immune to insults!”
Caroline: I was once called Bet from Corrie
Downtown Radio presenter Caroline Fleck (40), lives in Coleraine with her 14-year-old son Jack. She says:
I was shopping in Portobello Market with the daughter of a friend of mine. We found a faux fur, leopard print evening jacket in a shop that sold reconditioned clothes. It only cost £15 and the girl I was with goaded me on, so I bought it.
Unfortunately though this was six years ago before the trend for leopard print came back. Also leopard print doesn't suit me at all. I wore the coat on a night out and someone said to me ‘here Bet, pull us a pint there love', as in Bet Gilroy from Coronation Street. I was mortified and I've only worn the coat once since then.
I don't buy clothes for their patterns or their trends, I tend to go for the cut over anything else especially as I get older. I'm more likely to invest in key pieces that I can keep for a while. Of course I buy things from the high street but I'm more likely to be ruthless about those and get rid of them once they are done.
The stall in Portobello Market that my coat came from is the same place I got a lovely black glittery evening jacket. There's no label but you know it's an expensive, well-made piece and must have gone to some glamorous dos in its time.
Of course I've had leather trousers in my time — any self respecting rock chick has to. I bought mine in a charity shop in Belfast but I don't have them anymore. Unless you look like Kate Moss with drainpipe legs then don't bother.