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Float like a fairy ... sting like a bee

A life in the year of Emily Shark

I'm shopping for work clothes, inspecting the labels. "Do not iron." That's the best piece of advice I've had in years. Do not iron - ever.

All right, flowery top, I might buy you. You're a bit too sweet and safe though. I couldn't control my Year 10s wearing you. I need something that gives me authority, something like ... this blue dress.

What does the care label say? "Dry-clean only." No chance! I need clothes that can take care of themselves. You'd better be tough if you want to join my wardrobe. No one gets any special treatment in there.

Honestly, look at all these ruffles and bows everywhere. It's so much easier to dress the part in winter. I can stomp about in scary but comfortable boots and bossy, don't-even-think-about-it jackets. On dark, cold mornings, I can plunge a sleepy paw into a drawer and pull out something in a vaguely military colour. I can always brighten it up with a friendly scarf.

Not for Year 9 though. They get the trouser suit of doom, the turtleneck of zero tolerance and the earrings that look like little hand grenades. I love those. They make me feel as if I have special powers. It all helps.

Then spring hits the shops and suddenly we are meant to dress like soppy, delicate little fairies with lace instead of lives.

"Spring is the season of carefree, romantic dressing. Blow away in a bubble skirt ..." say the posters. But the models they depict look half-witted, as if they have just learnt to fly but forgotten how to do everything else.

Look at this. A nice top: floppy but not far out. I could just about wear it to a parents' evening without anyone thinking I do drugs.

But what's this on the shoulder? A swirly blob that hopes it is a flower but looks like a cow pat. I can hear the designers congratulating themselves on a "witty feminine touch". But what this blouse really says is, "Oooh, we can't have you looking authoritative in May. Here's a nylon cow pat to sap your dignity. That's better."

Meanwhile, the posters coo: "Be soft and delicate in our floaty chiffon ... ". But by the time it's warm enough to do some floating, the shops won't want us to dress like fairies any more. When it's hot, they'll tell us to sizzle in tiny, neon mini-dresses.

We're sugarplum fairies until June, then child prostitutes. What do these people think we do all day?

Ah, this is more like it - the safari look. A linen shirt-dress, bold and strong, the colour of amber at sundown. This says, "I have experience and I want more." Those big buttons say, "I'm fun, but don't push me around." Oh, yeah, I could tame lion cubs in this. Now, how do you wash it?

"Gentle hand wash only. Professional dry-clean recommended. This garment is very delicate ... ".

Oh, sod off. I might as well dress like a fairy.

More from Emily in a fortnight.

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