My grandmother, Brenda, turned 80 this year. We served her fruit and cheese and walked around her meticulously tended garden, guided by her air whipping walking stick. She is an acerbic, sharp Scottish woman with a curvaceous figure and a Roman nose. I used to look at school photos of her from the 1940’s and think that she was possibly one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. The look in her eye was so clear and direct that it made everyone else in the photo look out of focus.
Occasionally, she has offered me some advice, such as:
1) For design, look to nature. Repetition of pattern, palette of colours, layers of texture. The bark of a tree is the most interesting design pattern that you can learn from.
2) When I doubtfully tried on a 1960’s loose fitting raincoat, Brenda reminded me that style is not always about presenting the core shape of your body, it can also be about the grace of your wrists, ankles, collar bones and the surprise of unveiling a waist and hips.
3) Cover your kidneys. As a woman that grew up on a chicken farm during World War II, Brenda spent a lot of her time bent over a veg patch or crawling into a chicken coop. Out of all of her advice I reckon this is the most valuable. Having spent much over the past couple of years in the garden; digging, planting or weeding, I can confirm that the middle area is pretty essential.
I don’t want to wear baggy t-shirts to cover up that space, I want to look brilliant when I’m attacking the earth with a giant fork. Oh yes.