As Victoria Beckham is carving a new career in the shape of a ‘professional style icon’, why is it that fashion writers and fashionistas alike are still asking why she continually gets it wrong? It’s certainly not the fault of the clothes – there was nothing wrong with the Giambattista Valli dress she sported some weeks ago, or the Louboutins she wears at every photo opportunity. She’s got the figure to carry off almost any style (though the measures she takes to achieve it are somewhat extreme) and she was some steps ahead of the pack with her gamine bob. So what is it about Posh that is working against all the good work? Few took her fashion book That Extra Half and Inchseriously, despite the fact that it was actually penned by esteemed Guardian fashion writer Hadley Freeman, and Grazia continue to critique almost every outfit with savage wit.
The problem, I believe, with Victoria is that no-one ever warned her that less is more. The poor woman is clearly so desperate to be accepted by the fashion community that she’ll try to fit in as many trends as possible into one outfit, or wear one designer’s catwalk look head-to-toe (note the Alexander McQueen ensemble she wore last fashion week). Kate Moss, or Mary-Kate Olsen, women universally regarded as style icons, never look like they gave their outfits more than a moments thought – and this works. It’s the look pioneered by Rachel Zoe, infamous stylist to Nicole Ritchie et al – that louche, slightly rock-chick cool that looks effortlessly glamorous (but requires as much styling as one of Posh’s ensembles).
Victoria could never manage this look because her heels are always that little bit too high, her top is a tiny bit too low or her dress is just too tight. It’s all a bit much. Having said that, if the OTT dressing was the only problem, I don’t think Victoria would be as victimised as much as she is by the British press. She so wants to be accepted that we never see her less than perfectly groomed – never in flats, or an old t-shirt, or even without full make-up. This makes her seem partly desperate and slightly unreal making the public feel as if they have a freer rein to criticise her. What also adds to the equation is that she never really looks happy – it would be nice to see her without the perpetual miserable pout – come on Victoria, you have a lot to smile about, a handsome husband, three adorable children, billions in the bank!
So is true style really anything to do with clothes at all? Well I wouldn’t go as far as to say they’re irrelevant – fashion is a multi-billion pound business for a very good reason, but I honestly feel that there’s a lot of truth to the expression ‘it’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it’. Even betterâ€¦â€¦ ‘Wear the clothes, don’t let them wear you’ and there is no doubt that you’ll shine.