The other weekend. There I was, happily pootling about, catching up on the new Alabama Shakes album and returning a gigantic pile of clean washing to its rightful wardrobe when a startling realisation hit me mid-hang.
Someone's nicked all my plain clothes and replaced them with a great big jumble of print and colour!
That someone being me of course. Bar a sprinkling of denim, a smattering of faux leather, generally speaking my wardrobe is a riot of print, deck chair stripes and elaborate designs. When I'm searching in haste for day-job-appropriate or in need of a basic top to fling on with a jazzy skirt, pronto, I'm clutching the closet doors and shaking my head in puzzlement. I'm battling through a cacophony of colour. I'm looking for a plain white tee that's not there.
It's entirely my fault. I'm a sucker for a bold, beautiful print and a lover of vintage patterns and blooming floral bouquets. Often I get the urge to make like the experimental street styling girls and work a print clash with swagger - but bottle it at the front door because (a) I'm a great big scaredy cat and (b) there's a fine line between chic and clown.
All that confessed, I greatly admire women who sail through life in a minimal grey Sandro tee. Those clever girls who purposefully build capsule wardrobes based on stripped back white, navy and black separates from Cos. That use nothing more than a colour pop accessory, a killer heel, or a citrus clutch to make a sensational impact.
A recent Stylist magazine offered some welcome advice in their New-Season Update. 'Stock up on crew necks to wear with wide-leg trousers or a suede skirt', they recommended, and I nodded to myself and thought, yes. Yes you're right. It's time to get minimal. I shall take your advice (and ignore the vibrant trouser from Stella McCartney leaping off the page. Which to be fair at £485 a pop wasn't too difficult). I will cleanse my colour palette with a slouchy tee or two. I'll chuck on a taupe coat in a nonchalant manner. Hell, I'll condense all my stuff into a navy backpack if that's what it takes! This is the year I become MINIMAL and unembellished.
Then cheeky Monki reopened on Canarby Street after a refurb and all thoughts of minimalism went out the window.
My eye was turned once again by a flirty print. I fell in love with Swedish womenswear brand Monki a couple of years ago. They've been in London for three years now and Monki is the cheeky sibling in a family of other cool brands including two of my high street faves, Cos and & Other Stories and the formidable Cheap Monday.
The products are excellently priced and unique and fresh. Monki doesn't take itself seriously but maintains credibility with forward thinking yet wearable fashion. It's a festival chicks haven, but working girls will succeed too with perseverance; trousers and shirts offer Scandanavian minimalism with edge. Smart with a cheeky wink.
Monki runs the gamut from clothes, underwear and accessories and all in a rainbow of colours. The newly added denim area brings fresh blue ideas in dungaree, jeans, jumpsuit and dress form. The sunnies come in 25 different designs so I hear - from classic wayfarers to kooky cats' eyes - so if you're feeling gluttonous you can knock yourself out and get a few.
Monki is one of the shops where, on arrival, I roll up my sleeves, inhale a deep breath and take my time to scour every.single.item thus ensuring no potential gems are overlooked. Don't take it personally, but I quite like going on my own. Absorbing the colours and styles that whizz past my eyes, slowly gathering a load on my weighed-down arm to take into the changing rooms and secure in the comfort that anything I buy won't shatter my bank account to smithereens.
One of my favourite dresses ever is from Monki - a long-sleeved patterned creation that accompanied me to Latitude Festival in 2014. It proved versatile for the roasting hot/freezing cold combo that England loves to chuck at us all in one day thus making it REALLY EASY TO DRESS FOR (NOT). I found it also went well with glitter and beer and withheld some tipsy dancing in fairy light illuminated woods and being bashed into while hanging out of the overspilling comedy tent.
So, on reflection, maybe it's not so bad to be a bit barmy in print. Putting the smile back into fashion with something a bit more flamboyant.
Let this brilliant brand be your sartorial guide, and have some fun along the way. Maybe you'll also find yourself bewitched by some Monki magic...
*Oh, Monki does plain stuff too. It's terrific.