By Barbieri, Annalisa
New Statesman (1996) , Vol. 135, No. 4796
Many years ago, when I still had a hope of pulling teenage boys, I went to a dinner party with some school friends. In among us was a girl who was impossibly stylish, so much so, that she had few girlfriends. At the end of the evening we shared a taxi: I was going home; she was going on to a glamorous party. As the journey progressed, it started to rain with biblical ferocity. As we approached her venue we remarked on how she would get soaked in the few short seconds it would take for her to run to the door. I was keen to see how the most stylish girl in the world would cope with this.
"Put your bag over your head," I suggested helpfully. She shot me a look that mixed disbelief with pity and said, "My bag's worth more than I am" (it was a Hermes Birkin bag). As it happened, there was a line of boys holding umbrellas and waiting to shepherd her in to the party without a single droplet of rain staining her, though her white Gucci loafers were ruined. I learned a valuable lesson then: unless you have a vanguard of admirers sporting golfing brollies, you can never hope to look good in a heavy downpour, so just don't try.
This parable--for that is what it has become--has kept me in good stead this past month as we experienced the wettest May for 23 years, and I have simply not tried to be cleverer than the weather. Rain is the one type of weather that's bigger than fashion: it is the great equaliser. If it doesn't dictate what you wear, it will dictate how you end up looking (drenched) and, very possibly, how you end up smelling (of wet wool). …