Saturday 3 February 2018

Some people are born with it; the rest of us are just jealous

Consider the fashionistas. Those effortlessly sartorially gifted people who waft about in unique, glamorously styled outfits, leaving a trail of awe, wonder and dropped jaws in their wake.

Well, here at the Out Of Favour (OOF) shop we are lucky to have two such marvellous creatures in our midst.

Separately, they are a truly eye-watering sight to behold; together, they are practically traffic-stopping. Literally. I have literally seen traffic screech to a halt to let these two sashay across the road (truth be told it was either that or run them over: fashion diva school clearly doesn’t cover the Green Cross Code).

Theirs is a sea of colour; a truly eye-catching conglomeration of fabric styles, patterns, textures and layers.

Such is their impact upon our little market town, they rarely venture out unaccompanied by their ‘minder’.

Well….. their careworker.

Rocking a look I like to describe as Glam Rock does New Romantic does Pound Shop does Worzel Gummidge, they resemble nothing less than a circa 1974 Brian Eno, and a rock and roll weary Nigel Tufnel from Spinal Tap. (Oh yes, they’re men. Didn’t I mention they’re men? They’re men).

These are The Spinal Needs Twins. And they cause a stir wherever they go (although, to be fair, that’s often because they need a very long, very hot bath).

Photo: Brian Eno, 1974. wikimedia commons.

Photo: Nigel Tufnel.

I last saw Budget Brian Eno when he sauntered into the OOF shop a few weeks ago, dressed in a silver teddy-bear fur onesie (grubby; partially on), a 6ft pink chiffon scarf comprising more pulls than material, and a grunge-look, peroxide blonde woman’s wig, worn jauntily on the wonk. He then proceeded to leaf through the rails whilst having a very loud conversation with someone outside by shouting repeatedly through the shop doorway.

I say conversation; nobody was standing there and nobody shouted back.

My only other customer was a conservative looking Russian princess type, who stared in barely suppressed terror, whilst clearly assessing her exit options and throwing me regular panicked glances. I happily took these glances to mean: “Kudos to the grubby silver teddy bear: he wears that jumpsuit way better than I ever could.” But in all honesty I think she was one accidental bladder-squeeze away from pissing herself.

She needn’t have worried; Budget Brian Eno suddenly stopped yelling to his invisible mate and scooted out the shop. The last I saw of him was the almost magical sight of his silver-teddy-bear-and-blonde-wig-combo wafting back past the shop on a very large, very old-fashioned bicycle, billowing metres of tatty pink chiffon dramatically behind him and leaving a trail of startled and confused faces.


And then, the other day, Nearly Nigel Tufnel breezed into the shop.

The outfit du jour was a purple fringed blouse with non-coordinating badges, a sort of sarong wrap skirt made, as far as I could see, from the tailcoat of a Prince Charming fancy dress outfit, complete with braiding and frilly edges - worn inside out, and a battered black leather jacket.

The crowning glory, though, was a short, ratted, bobbed wig in pillar box red, liberally augmented with streams of wool and ribbon in various shades of yellow, orange and red, which reached down to his chest.

Subtle it was not.

He made a bee line for the most expensive stuff in the shop (the style of which is basically: ‘unimaginative noughties housewife does, ‘safe hippy,’ and thinks she’s cool’), and said:

“Is this something Toyah would wear?”*
“Yes. Toyah. Would she wear something like this?”

Now, not wanting to needlessly fleece Nearly Nigel of £80 he could clearly ill afford to lose, but still sensing a possible sale, I tried to wheel him towards the cheaper stuff in the shop (which was obviously no closer to what Toyah would wear than a flowery smock is to a nice pair of bondage strides, but, well, needs must), but he kept returning to the extravagant stuff. Then his carer appeared and we had a brief but illuminating conversation:
“Don’t show him anything. He hasn’t got any money”
“I get it. I’m not very flush this month either.”
“No, he hasn’t got any money.”
“Oh, I see….are you in charge of the money then?”
“No, I mean he hasn’t got any money.”
“Yes, well…we were looking at the cheaper end of things, but…..”
“No, I mean he really has no money. He’s spent his weekly allowance. He’s got about £4.25 in his pocket.”
“Oh, right, I see……. (Crap; that’s that sale buggered then), perhaps charity shops would be your best bet (and most definitely more your style…which is a good thing, not a bad thing).”

Clearly feeling we had got off the salient point a bit, Nearly Nigel Tufnel interjected and brought us straight back, ‘on topic.’

“Will I be able to find something like Toyah there? I want to look like Toyah.”

I was impressed with his tenacity and fashion focus, if not his economic skills, and assured him he would very likely find something in a charity shop to make him look like Toyah. Probably not for £4.25, but I didn’t mention that.

We then had a brief conversation about how we both very much liked Toyah Willcox, which basically went:

“Do you like Toyah, then?”
“Yes I like Toyah. Do you like Toyah?”
“Yes, I like Toyah.”
“I like Toyah too.”

And off they went.

Easily the best customers I had all day.

*If you don’t know who Toyah Willcox is: 1) You’re clearly younger than me, and I’m envious. 2) Look her up. And I’m still envious.
Picture: chris limb,

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