Say No To The Dress

An avid fan since her me-titled album was released in 2012, I'll click on anything featuring Taylor Swift. It's always baffled me that she has to justify writing "confessional" song lyrics, when basically the whole of male literature is one long navel-gazing mope. Anyhoo, I read her article in the latest Elle online, but the main thing that struck me wasn't her observations on what makes good pop music, but the captions underneath her brightly coloured fashion shoot.

Who is this information even for? Showcasing an eleven grand impractical dress seems pretty insensitive when this is literally more than a call centre worker from Wigan makes in a year. I often wonder what the point is by listing the prices of things when photographing hot babes in expensive tissue paper. If fashion is meant to be aspirational, how are we meant to reconcile ourselves with the reality that we've failed?

If nice clothes, coveted style and luxury are unattainable from the offset, what then? Why do we accept our diamond-encrusted overlords and their constant attempts to make us feel like shit? Like the Queen on her golden throne talking about austerity, the only real reaction any working or lower middle class person could have to a magazine shoot like is hearing the Nelson Muntz' "Ha ha!" laugh over and over in their head.

Put Taylor Swift in a Pull & Bear sweater. Show her wearing a £20 H&M dress and making it werk. If the celebs-from-the-block want us to believe they're just like us, then where are their awesome charity shop finds?

I know, I know. It's just just clothes. Who cares? I don't need to stay dripping with rose gold to feel successful, but still seeing these pointless displays of wealth listed under the pretty pictures like IKEA instructions for assembling one's worth feels tacky in this current economic and social climate.

Sweaterdress, $3,920, Swarovski crystal earrings, $500, all, Isabel Marant. Leather and diamond fringe boots, Each Other, $865.

(Or, as I like to call it: three years and eight months of bus travel; £2960, two years of phone bill payments; £375, just over a year of council tax; £653)

Tulle dress, Dolce & Gabbana, $3,295. Gold earring, $5,200 (for pair), bracelet, $5,500, both, Tiffany & Co. Her own hoop earrings.

(Otherwise priced as: sixteen years of pet insurance for one cat, £2490; ten years of water bills, £3930; thirty four and a half years of car tax; £4157. My own bitterness.)

A pair of earrings and a bracelet from Tiffany & Co costs the same as putting down a deposit on a reasonably sized home where I live. I could literally get on the property ladder with what this woman has hooked in the holes of her body. Elle magazine is sold in Asda. The cognitive dissonance of fashion editors, man.

The class divide has never been more apparent. The richest man in the world would need to spend 28 million dollars every day just to avoid getting richer. Gone are the "think of the starving children in Africa" perspective-inducers; poverty is happening on our very doorstep. With one in four children in the UK in low-income families, will "think of the starving children in Skegnes" soon become the default phrase?

It's easy for somebody like me, managing to just about scrape by month to month, to judge what complete strangers do with their money. And then I think about the kind of person who is currently adding a thousand pound polka-dot skirt to their online shopping basket and I get communisty. You could sneak £50,000 out of the pocket of one of the top fifteen richest people in the world and they wouldn't even notice. That's currently just shy of four years' wages for me, if I'm being optimistic. That's a house in Todmorden. You could buy someone a house.

As we spend half our monthly salaries on rent, saving just enough to cover any emergency payments like car or utility breakdowns, we must also attempt to maintain a decent enough quality of life. The pressure to "live to the fullest" is reflected back in every targeted ad telling us what we need and what we are missing, only to be judged for our wastefulness as soon as we acquiesce. And if you know it'll take five whole years of saving before you can maybe reason with the bank to give you that mortgage, why not just buy yourself a book or a takeaway on Friday evening to perk yourself up?

"You just have to work for it" is thankfully a myth that is in the process of being debunked. The millennials are fighting back, and all y'all baby boomers are looking pretty silly dying on your avocado hills.

It's things like £11,000 dresses which set off that feeling of panic, of doom, of "will I ever?" We're sharing sardonic memes and tweeting our breakdowns because life feels claustrophobic. I'm incredibly privileged white woman who had the option to escape back to my parents' house to recover from life for a bit, and I can't afford stability. It breaks my heart to read about those awaiting universal credit verdicts and all but begging for the basic essentials.  No, with an estimated three hundred thousand homeless in Britain, people are actually begging.

Just when I think I'm on track to pay my rent someone else's mortgage and feel hopeful about one day owning four walls to raise a child in (tick tock) I see an eleven thousand pound dress in a magazine that's marketed to people like me, the womenfolk, and I'm reminded that life may always be a financial struggle. And I can't be arsed with that on a Friday morning.