Out with the old: which fashion persona to adopt for 2014

By deciding on a failsafe method of dressing, perhaps I can avoid hours of indecision in front of the closet

Ahlya Fateh
Ahlya Fateh
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Welcome to 2014 and good riddance to 2013! As I write this, I have just bellowed the words “GOTOSLEEPFORGODSAKE!” for the 200th time to my children who are still drunk on the excitement of school holidays and too much sugar. So, there goes my New Year’s Resolution to try and be a kinder, more tolerant mother to my offspring. Instead I am going to be completely selfish and focus on my outer appearance; yes I am that shallow, for the next 12 months.

My horoscope for this month implores me not to embark on any kind of changes to my physical appearance so the liposuction I had planned for next week is now on hold, along with the radical hair cut and Botox. Instead I spent New Year’s Day at London’s biggest and fanciest shopping mall, along with every Arab family vacationing in London, checking out which fashion persona I am going to adopt for the coming year. Despite having had some serious practice at this I still don’t feel like I have cracked my true fashion self.

At my worst, I suffer from sartorial schizophrenia which means I just don’t know who I am style-wise as I pile one trend on top of another. Then exhaustion sets in and I revert to wearing black with black accented with more black, or more worryingly black with white or cream and end up looking like a sales woman at Chanel (there are worse fates). I just don’t seem to know who I am anymore, which is a strange state of affairs when one is supposed to be all grown up. You would think that I would know how to dress myself and express my fashion likes and dislikes effectively by now, but it seems to get harder and harder to get it right.

I have consulted fashion magazines at length, I even talked to a pretty well known stylist but then you end up with someone else’s version of how you should dress and not your own. As we never see ourselves the way others do, perhaps this is not a bad thing for a special event where one wants to make a change. However, for everyday it would feel too much like wearing shoes on the wrong feet. Even if they are from Sergio Rossi! In the end I decided that in order to move forward it might help to look backwards and so I consulted the family photo albums. Yes, dear reader, real photographs, encased in cellophane, in a leather bound album.

At my worst, I suffer from sartorial schizophrenia which means I just don’t know who I am style-wise

Ahlya Fateh

What I did notice was that as myself and my friends have gotten older we seem to be dressing younger. At 20 I wore boucle tweed jackets and high heels with everything; now I live in skinny jeans and leopard print trainers. I have closets full of chic little suits that I wore every day to work, in a bid to look more mature and now I don’t even bother with a jacket. So going ahead into 2014 I have made the decision to become the best version of my style self – simple, classic and elegant - think Truman Capote’s Swans – Princess Soraya of Iran, Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness and my name sake, Queen Alia of Jordan.

By deciding on a failsafe method of dressing, perhaps I can avoid hours of indecision in front of the closet waiting for inspiration to strike. If we are getting younger sartorially, or at least embracing our former fashion selves Benjamin Button style, then as I get older the only way forward will be to create a “uniform” of some sort. For 14 years I wore the same thing every day five days a week and now I think about it, it took a lot of the stress away from one’s life. So I am going to Harrods to buy five identical outfits to rotate during the week, only I think I will give the school uniform department a miss!


Ahlya Fateh knows all about fashion and publishing. As the former managing editor of Tatler magazine and the managing director of fashion brand, Tata Naka, she has combined a strong creative vision with an understanding of strategy and management. Ahlya lives in London and is a mother of two.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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