Last week I did something I almost never do. I bought some pieces from a much-awaited, much hyped new collection: The Marks & Spencer Archive by Alexa collection, to be exact. Truthfully, I'm just never keen on jumping on the bandwagon and joining in with everyone else - following the crowd was never my thing, even when I was young.
So do I want to wear something so hyped?
YOU CAN USUALLY SPOT ONE OF THE PIECES FROM A MILE AWAY, AND WE ALL KNOW THAT MANY PEOPLE BUY THEM SPECIFICALLY TO RESELL ON EBAY FOR AN EXTORTIONATE PRICE.
In recent years we've had Balmain for H&M, Kate Moss for Topshop, Ivy Park by Beyoncé for Topshop and numerous other collections that have been hyped and stalked and launched - only to sell out within a day or so. You can usually spot one of the pieces from a mile away, and we all know that many people buy them specifically to resell on eBay for an extortionate price.
And everybody's wearing them (or so it seems if Instagram is your whole world).
So what possessed me to make an exception this time, and more to the point, am I going to keep these pieces and actually wear something I fear I may see being worn by another person - horror of horrors - at the same event?
BECAUSE LADY DIANA MADE RUFFLED PIE-CRUST COLLAR BLOUSES THE COOLEST THINGS SINCE SLICED BREAD IN 1981, EVERY YOUNG WOMAN ALIVE WANTED ONE.
The piece that made the difference to me - the one that actually got me quite excited - was the pink Harry blouse that Alexa Chung was wearing in the image M&S released when the collection was first announced. This blouse had my name written all over it, because a blouse like this was the first ever on-trend item that I owned, aged 10, when I had a fit at my mother because I didn't own anything fashionable. My 19-year-old sister had come home in a blouse like this, and because Lady Diana made ruffled pie-crust collar blouses the coolest things since sliced bread in 1981, every young woman alive was wearing one.
In a rare act of kindness my sister went and bought me a similar blouse (until I got a bit older I was the archetypal annoying little sister) and I ended up with my first fashionable piece of clothing.
And although I went onto - and still do - follow trends in so far as seeing what's new and picking and choosing what works for me, I always felt deflated if I saw lots of other people wearing something I'd got hold of before everyone else.
I CAN REMEMBER PURPOSELY AVOIDING RA-RA SKIRTS, FRANKIE SAY RELAX T-SHIRTS - I EVEN REFUSED TO HAVE MY HAIR PERMED IN THE 80S BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE WAS DOING IT.
I ended up being hesitant of getting things that I thought everyone would be wearing. I can remember purposely avoiding ra-ra skirts, Frankie Say Relax t-shirts - I even refused to have my hair permed in the 80s because everyone else was doing it.
Therefore my excitement at seeing the Harry blouse actually go on sale was well and truly extinguished when I saw - in the space of a day - stocks go from all sizes available to almost none.
All sold out.
This meant that everyone else wanted that blouse too, and my happy memories of wearing something that was almost the same as my first treasured piece of clothing would be spoiled by a rash of Instagrammers and bloggers wearing the same piece.
But within a couple of days Marks & Spencer had restocked and I ordered it this time - along with three other pieces: A white Harry blouse, the Ada trousers (navy, cropped) and the matching Ada blazer (double breasted, cropped sleeves). I did it out of curiosity, or maybe some other sort of unexplained desire to join the throng of excited Instagrammers and post a picture with the caption "I got one! #ArchiveByAlexa" (I didn't, by the way).
I PRAYED THAT WHEN I TRIED THEM ON THEY WOULD LOOK AWFUL ON ME, THEN I COULD SEND EVERYTHING BACK KNOWING I'D TRIED ON A PIE-CRUST COLLAR BLOUSE AGAIN, TAKEN A TRIP DOWN NOSTALGIA LANE AND HAD A GOOD GIGGLE.
I prayed that when I tried them on they would look awful on me, then I could send everything back knowing I'd tried on a pie-crust collar blouse again, taken a trip down Nostalgia Lane and had a good giggle.
But here's the rub: I liked all of them. The blouse may be a bit of a Manrepeller (the husband wasn't sure but never says he hates something), and maybe nostalgia got the better of me, but I actually liked how it looked on me. I didn't have F cups when I was 10, and that was what I thought would stop me this time around. But no, I somehow (and so did my boobs) got away with it.
The cropped trousers were a surprising winner (the first pair I've tried on) and with the blazer the suit looks very late 80s power dressing, which is no bad thing.
So the big question is: Will I keep any of it? Do I want to wear super-hyped pieces that I may see all over the place, pieces that scream #ARCHIVEBYALEXA ALERT at 100 paces?
The trousers are a definite yes. With a pair of heels they look the doggy's doo-das, and they have a double set of buttons either side which you can adjust, allowing for food baby expansion (thank you, 1972 M&S designers). The blazer looks pretty good with it, and I prefer it undone. I'll probably wear a graphic tee with them to contrast the corporate feel of a navy suit. Plus it hasn't been shown as much as the blouse, so not everyone would know it's Archive by Alexa.
BUT IT'S THAT BLOUSE... I HATE THAT I'VE SEEN IT ALL OVER INSTAGRAM ALREADY. I KNOW THAT IF I WEAR IT TO A BLOG EVENT I'LL RUN INTO AT LEAST TWO OTHER PEOPLE WEARING THE SAME THING. WILL I SEE IT LOCALLY? PROBABLY NOT.
But it's that blouse... I hate that I've seen it all over Instagram already. I know that if I wear it to a blog event I'll run into at least two other people wearing the same thing. Will I see it locally? Probably not. But in my heart I know that I own something that "everyone" else owns, and that doesn't sit well with me.
You'll find out in time if I decide to keep it because it'll pop up on the blog if I do. I quite like the idea of wearing it just to see what will happen - a fashion experiment, if you will.
So - watch this space.
Here are the pieces I'm talking about plus a couple more I liked:
The Ada Blazer and Ada TrousersDefinite keepers. Love the 80s styling of the Ada blazer and the 70s feel to the cropped Ada trousers. Expect these on the blog in time.
The Harry Blouse in pinkHere's the Harry blouse in all its pink glory: Do I? Don't I? I just can't decide whether to keep it. I ordered it in white too - maybe (maybe) I'll keep and wear the pink, and keep the white one to sell on eBay when I'm desperate for a bit of cash.
(Which is now, seeing as I've bought all this stuff from the Archive by Alexa collection.)
The Eliza Dress (left) and Misty Dress (right)Two other pieces I really liked but stayed away from: The Eliza dress and the Misty dress. I bet Holly Willoughby has worn the Misty dress already (and if she hasn't it's only a matter of time), and I've seen the Eliza worn by Alex Jones on The One Show this week: I spotted it instantly.
I rest my case.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THESE HYPED COLLECTIONS BY DESIGNERS OR CELEBRITIES FOR HIGH STREET BRANDS? HAVE YOU EVER BOUGHT ANY OF THEM? COMMENT BELOW, OR TAKE IT TO TWITTER @NOTLAMB!
P.S. LIKE THIS POST? YOU MIGHT ALSO WANT TO READ HOW TO STAR IN YOUR VERY OWN LUXURY BRAND ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN!
All photos: Marks & Spencer
Linking up to: Let It Shine, Fitness Tuesday, Brilliant Blog Posts, Friday's Fab Favourites