It’s the accessories, stupid

Anna Lou of London

Anna Lou of London

First of all, can I just say I’ve written this blog once already? In The Poshest Café in London, Villandry.

Went in. Turned laptop on. Got wifi instantly. Was almost tearful with gratitude. Had cappuccino. Wrote blog. Then, without warning, the wifi stopped working. I thought I’d saved my draft but no, as it turned out, I hadn’t. Almost tearful with something other than gratitude. And instead of bringing me the bill, they brought me another, unwanted cappuccino. No no no!

Anyway, here once again are my thoughts on the eighties.

They should have been my decade – the era of my teens and early twenties – but I was always aware that there was something amiss. Something indefinable. Was it the me-me-me capitalism of Thatcher’s Britain, the inexorable rise of the petro dollar? Shoulder pads? The fact that although shiny blue eyeshadow looks adorable in a pot, it looks rubbish on actual eyelids? I was never quite sure.

I tried. Oh, God, I tried. I bought a Jeff Banks electric blue corduroy rara skirt. I sloppy-jumpered for England. I did knickerbockers and a sub-Laura Ashley white frilly shirt with velvet shoelace tie, a la early Diana. I did orange shorts with plum tights and lace-ups. I did off the shoulder taffeta and pearls. Nobody could accuse me of slacking in the eighties fashion department, but I was slumming it in an age that wouldn’t know style if it hit it over the head with one of Audrey Hepburn’s ballet flats.

It was the same with the music. Oh, I knew every note, every syllable of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Visage, Kraftwerk, Scritti Politti and even Dollar. I still do. But they depressed me a little. They still do. I was an Ian Dury and the Blockheads girl at heart, ten years too late for myself, and it took me years to realise it.

So when everybody in fashion-land started leaping about with joy that Jane Fonda spandex jumpers and leggings were back, that shoulders weren’t shoulders unless they were padded to within an inch of their lives, that faded grey drainpipes were hot hot hot, I went cold cold cold and ignored them.

The eighties are over, everyone. Only Marc Jacobs had any fun at the time. The rest of us are trying to forget. Get over it and move on.


I was in Topshop Oxford Street earlier today. It’s quite close to Villandry. I didn’t go down to the Dantean Inferno that is the You’re Too Old For This Darling But It Would Look Lovely On Your Stepdaughter fashion levels. I stayed on the relatively safe ground floor.

I was looking for brooches. So past the Big Bangles. Past the Oversize Necklaces. Past the Amusing Totes. To the Johnny Loves Rosie section at the back, where the corsages are. Which were fine, but beside them was the Anna Lou of Londn section and this was FABULOUS. Kitsch hairslides and necklaces and dangly earrings made out of hard, bright acrylic straight out of 1982. The hummingbird and the parrot brought it all back.

I used to LOVE those things. I hankered and hankered. I saved up my pocket money. I had a whole herd of elephants in pink and grey, with little diamante eyes and I used to line them up along my big-shouldered blazer lapels, like something out of Babar.

I wore them with my teeny-tiny real Gucci shoulder bag (enough space for lipgloss and keys) that my rich uncle gave me. They were funny and interesting and really quite beautiful. Amid their excesses, the eighties did accessories really really well.

I wanted to buy something today, but I didn’t, because as I said, Topshop Anna Lou was doing hairslides and necklaces and dangly earrings and I wanted a brooch and there weren’t any. I need one, or possibly several, to brighten up my yes-I-know-I’m-copying-Kate tuxedo for a thing I’m going to in a couple of weeks.

So instead, I’m going to dig out some of my pink elephants from the bottom of my jewellery box and dot them all over my old Jasper Conran black lapel. They’ll be vintage AND recycled AND eighties. I’m going to be so on trend it’ll hurt.


2 thoughts on “It’s the accessories, stupid

  1. Here at Anna Lou we love the kitsch feel of the eighties too!!

    The lovely humming bird as well as being available as a hair slide also comes as a brooch available in our Boutique just off Carnaby Street.

    Loving the vintage elephants though!

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