At the Los Angeles premiere of the movie ‘You again’, Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver committed the ultimate fashion sin, they turned up on the red carpet in the same David Meister teal dress. This was just a publicity gimmick to promote the film rather than a serious faux pas, but it did get me thinking. In the world of fashion there are only so many dresses, so many shops, so many designers, but there are a hell of a lot of women. So, it is natural that people will turn up at the same place in the same outfit from time to time, both in the normal and showbiz world. Yet this is possibly the most embarrassing fashion mishap that can occur, with magazines further pillaring the poor fashion ‘twins’ by comparing them in magazines and asking ‘who wore it best?’ Why is this?
It’s another sign of style double standards. When men all turn up to a black tie event, nobody giggles at how unfortunate it is that they all choose the same outfit – a tuxedo, no-one hides in the corner in shame all night, yet if two of their female partners wear the same evening gown , this is mortifying, a total disaster. Fashion hell – you might even go home and change outfits.
I discussed this topic with my mom and sister on an overlong train journey recently. We had perused the picture of Sigourney and Jamie Lee in the Evening Standard and I mused aloud – why is it so embarrassing, it’s a great dress, doesn’t it just show the same great taste? My mom grimaced. In the mid 1980’s we’d been invited to a family wedding and she had a floral print Princess Diana style new suit. We got to the church to find that another guest was wearing the exact same floral suit. My mom was mortified (as was the other women) and they spent the rest of the night trying to avoid one another. However, the room was small and it just didn’t happen, they were bookends in the buffet queue, snap cards on the dance floor and provided perfect symmetry on the two different sides of the room. We were too far away from home to go and change, so mom had to put up with this embarrassment until we left to go home. ‘It was awful, I never wore that suit again, just in case…’ Mom shared with me on that train journey.
My sister Jodie shared her own anecdotes on that journey. She couldn’t remember it happening to her, but did remember it happening to our cousin Terrianne on a couple of occasions. The first had been on a night out on Birmingham’s Broad Street and had concerned a bright floral coloured Morgan dress. Terrianne had arrived to find another girl wearing the same dress. She had also done her best to ignore this fact, but found that people(i.e. men!) kept pointing it out. ‘Do you know there’s a girl over there wearing the same dress as you?’ was something she got so sick of hearing, she decided to go into another room in the club, only for someone to come up to her and say ‘Do you know there’s a girl in the other room in the same dress as you?; Some choice expletives later, Terrianne left the club, only for the same thing to happen on Jodie’s 30th birthday a few years later. This time, Terrianne couldn’t give a hoot and just danced the night away, but the other girl was noticeably angry and embarrassed throughout the night.
But it doesn’t just happen in the real world. Showbiz stars have exactly the same problem. Whether it be Jennifer Tilly and Vendala at the Oscars in figure hugging, sequined dresses, Kirsten Dunst and Reese Witherspoon at the Golden Globes (with poor Reese embarrassed because Kirsten had worn the dress first, quite a few years earlier) or everyone wearing the same dress by, first, Roland Mouret, and now, Victoria Beckham, fashion icons are not immune to snap dress syndrome. In addition, stars face the indignity of votes to decide who wore it best.
I hate the ‘who wore it best?’ vote. Women being ‘faced off ‘ against other women, and one usually found wanting. I look at these polls and have noticed that the younger. taller, prettier model is usually the one voted as looking best, whilst older, curvier,less pretty counterparts are found wanting. Sometimes, the feature can be a whole host of stars wearing the same outfit to show how it travelled from A-list to Z-list in a few months. I saw this with the Galaxy dress, which moved down the fashion scales swiftly, from being worn by Cameron Diaz and Victoria Beckham, to being worn by Carole Vorderman. It didn’t matter that Vorderman looked great in it, the fact that she was wearing the same dress as Mrs Beckham was something to be sneered at. Victoria Beckham has actually been on the receiving end of poor ‘who wore it best’ ratings recently, when she came second in a poll whilst wearing a dress she designed!
Women need to start to fight back. So what if we’re wearing the same outfit, it shows we like the same designs, have similar tastes, shop in the same shops. It’s hardly a disaster. But if this proves to be too difficult, here at some tips for avoiding this ultimate fashion faux pas.
- Buy vintage!!!
- Try to avoid buying a complete outfit you’ve seen on a mannequin. If you thought it looked great chances are lots of other women will have seen it and thought so too.
- Avoid outfits from high-profile ad campaigns and shop window displays – they’ve been seen by too many people.
- Customise – add/chop/dye/cut. Add your own stamp to any outfit. If you’re not handy with a needle and thread, you can add coloured tights, belts, brooches to put your own stamp on any outfit.
- You could do what my sister does. She stores new clothes away for a few months to avoid being seen in the same thing as anyone else. Then she pulls clothes out when people have forgotten about them. You may not be the total height of fashion – but you could be the height of style and originality.
- If all this fails – have a giggle about it, and then carry on with your day and night. If anyone else comments, praise their observational skills and move on. Life’s to short to worry about ‘snap’ fashions.