Thursday, 25 September 2014

The Slattern’s Guide to… The Wardrobe

Angie baby: über-slattern?
Newsflash: Angela Merkel is our sister.

Yes, you heard me.
Angela Merkel - German Chancellor,
über hausfrau and scourge of struggling EU economies - is a slattern.

It’s not a conclusion I arrived at easily, believe me. I certainly don’t feel much natural affiliation with the lady, her politics, her material conservatism or her fiscal housekeeping fetish. But a quick flick through her cuttings file will soon reveal why she belongs to the international sisterhood of slatterns.

No matter what’s she’s up to – having a go at Greece, irritating Italians, or trying to put Putin in his place – one thing never changes. Her clothes: smart trousers, neither tight or baggy, topped with a boxy jacket in a variety of fabrics, colours and finishes.She found what works for her and she's sticking to it.

It’s her go-to signature style, giving her a serious, presentable image suitable for the world stage, but ultimately comfortable and requiring minimum thought when opening the wardrobe door at the beginning of each new day.

The way of the slattern is born in our intolerance for the trivial and fundamental refusal to waste time and effort on fripperies (unless they're purely hedonistic and possibly hilarious). That’s why Merkel’s the ultimate ‘slattern-posing-as-highflying-professional’ solution is just the thing for us, circumventing our natural instincts to slouch around in shapeless t-shirts and baggy thousand-times-washed jeans and offering a rising world leader a sartorial entry to the corridors of power.

So, in this special edition of The Slattern’s Guide, we asked our unexpected soul sistah Angie to give us some of her style counsel tips:
  • Take a tip from the boys to get ahead by getting a suit. Even that snapped bustenhalten strap held in place with an aged nappy pin beneath your shirt will look smart when hidden under a jacket.
  • A jacket also gives you the freedom to wear a variety of shirts, blouses and tops, without worrying about the coffee stains and smears of strudel on the sleeve, the rip in the back or even about ironing anything but the front panel visible between your lapels.
  • Avoid linen like the plague – unless you want to look the state of the Greek economy in jacket form. Favour instead crease-resistant sturdy fabrics with the staying power of the Berlin Wall (erm, no, scratch that), I mean a Panzer tank or a top-of-the-line Mercedes.
  • Steppen out, slattern style – Eliminate the risk of falling over and making a fool of yourself by steering clear of vertiginous heels and going for a safe, smart and (above all) comfortable sensible shoes, a la Queen Elizabeth II. Believe me, lieblings, the last thing you need when you mean business is worrying about the risk of twisted ankles and crushed pinky toes.
  • Keep hair and make-up basic, simple and constant. Never give anyone reason to comment on your style and you’ll be able to carry on your no-thought, no-frills wardrobe choices ad infinitum. Tucking your hair behind your ears and adding a slick of lipstick also has the advantage of taking 1 minute every morning, tops.
  • Accessorise! Detract attention from the fact that you’re wearing the same trouser suit for the evening gala that you had on when ripping the opposition off a strip in the Reistag two days before, by replacing your standard string of pearls with a fancy or whimsical necklace. 
  • Don’t sweat the kilos – isn’t there enough to worry about without pinching an inch and stressing out about your BMI? In best EU style, what you can't streamline, cover up!
  • At the end of the day, when you’ve closed the doors behind you and kicked off your sensible shoes into the corner, let yourself go. Pull on those smelly sweat pants crumpled beneath your dispatch box, shrug on your favourite dressing gown and slump down with a bier and a wurst sandwich in front of the telly. No-one will ever know, I promise.
So there you have it, ladies. You too can be yourself and yet fool the world that you are totally im Kontrolle with a minimum of fuss.

Next step: World domination!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Embrace your inner slattern (you know you want to!)

Have you ever arrived at the office with a smear of toothpaste on your collar or a ladder offering a stairway to…   somewhere creeping up the back of your leg?
Is your guilty pleasure (when no-one’s looking) scoffing a cheese & onion crisp sandwich with slabs of butter, preferably eaten in front of the telly in sweat pants older than your best friend?
Do you regularly perform the rummage and sniff test (in the laundry basket) when planning your day’s outfit?
Have you ever eaten cold baked beans straight from the tin or leftover cold pizza for breakfast?
Do you throw away more mascara and eyeliner-stained pillowcases than you do cotton wool balls?
Have you ever ripped the wrapper off that forbidden ready-made pasty and stuffed it into your mouth in an ecstasy of gluttony and crumbs before you reach the car with the rest of your supermarket haul?
Do you believe a regular skin-care regime is something that only Disney Princesses have time for?
Have you been known to wipe that spilled olive oil left from your latest culinary experiment onto your head thinking it will be good for the hair?
Did you ever find yourself yanking your skirt back down to knee level after your frantic waddle to the bus stop bunches it up around your oh-so-visible panty line?

If you are, have been, or are ever likely to be guilty of any or all of the above, then - my dear - you are a slattern. 

Welcome to the Club.

It’s an all-embracing sisterhood, unlike those bands of perfect poppets flung in our faces via TV ads and mail order mediocrity. You won’t be thrown out for having chipped nail polish or poorly plucked eyebrows. A smudged line of what started life as a cute kitten flick across your lash line will be laughed off (and possibly wiped off with a lick of spit and the edge of a coat sleeve). And as for those elsewhere unacceptable visible roots, well we all need to know where we’ve come from, don’t we girls?

If there’s more books, lipsticks minus lids, mismatched socks and empty tampon boxes decorating your bedroom than carefully-coordinated duvet cover and curtain combos, join us. You won’t regret it.

The only unforgivable crime is losing the ability to laugh – particularly at yourself.

But first, let’s get down to basics. What exactly is a slattern?

The term probably dates back to beyond the 1600s, coming from good old down-to-earth northern roots: possibly from the Scandinavian slatter (to slop), the Old Norse sletta (to slap) or slattari (idler), the German schlottern (to hang loosely, slouch) or the Dutch slodderen (to hang loosely).

You get the picture, right?

It is usually used to describe a woman who is “negligent of her dress, or who suffers her clothes and household furniture to be in disorder; one who is not neat and nice; a slut, a sloven”
Or perhaps someone who simply has better things to do than obsess about the skin-deep.

I’m not saying that we’re above making an effort to be respectable and presentable, we’re just not going to beat ourselves up when we fall short of the mark. We know that the ability to enjoy a good belly laugh is a greater life skill than never having your lippy bleed into those crinkly lines around your mouth. We also know that even Nigella, Angelina and Uma all have days when all they want to do is just flob out on the settee in their hubby’s oversized socks, overstretched leggings and a t-shirt that stands up on its own in the corner when you take it off.   

It’s time to come out of the closet, sisters (yes, even that one in the back room where you frantically stuff all the unironed laundry when mother-in-law pays an impromptu visit). Stand proud, brush those pet hairs off your chest, tug that stray lock of hair behind your ear and look the world square in the eye to declare “Yes, I’m a slattern. You got a problem with that?”

Not only are slatterns experts at forgiving themselves for not being perfect, they are smart cookies with a (messy) shedload of tricks to help fool the world that they’ve got everything under control.

But more of that later, as we introduce The Slattern’s Guide to…   well, to paraphrase someone somewhere, Life, the Universe and Everything.

For now, pull up a cushion, flop down on it with the elegance of a sack of spuds and join us. We may not look good, but sure as hell know how to be real.