Clockwise from top left: Dress, £40 (previously £60), Cheap Monday at Urban Outfitters; shirt, £40, Topshop; necklace, £10, River Island; skirt, £30.78, Nasty Gal; shoes, £110, Jeffrey Campbell at Office; bag, £20, ASOS; earrings, £14, Chelsea Doll at Spoiled Brat.
Thank god for feminism. Not only has it granted us equality in the right to voting, gaining employment and entering education, its given us the power over our own reproductive abilities and helped to at least loosen the shackles around female sexuality. Our recently found vocal chords gives us the ability to talk about subjects affecting women worldwide, shout back at sexism and, not least of all, wear whatever the fuck we like.
It used to be the case that women dressed for men. Now we dress for each other, with many of our sartorial choices in fact driving the opposite sex to run for the hills. Enter in the advent of ugly clothes: items so hideous that they render us a squealing mess, clumisly grasping for our credit card. Although there has always been less-than-pretty clothing within fashion (80s and 90s, I am looking at you), the acknowledgment that something can be both vile and covetable is a recent one.
Take, for example, this season's advent of the "ugly shoe" - a trend that's been sneaking up on us with everything from mannish brogues and loafers to clumpy flatforms and brothel creepers. None of these shoes were particularly pretty, but Autumn/Winter brings us a whole new beast that we can finally bite the bullet with and call what it is - ugly. Best described as "the exact style mums try to force upon their children in a visit to Clarks", this new adaptation has emerged from the chrysalis in full tribute to the nostalgia we feel towards our childhood and the arguably ugliest of all decades, the Nineties. Jeffrey Campbell has managed to conjure up everything you could possibly love and hate into his Trance style (above), including everything from buckles and cut-outs to that strangely matte leather and caterpillar treads.
Another ugly favourite is the garish print. Whether brightly coloured, bizarrely abstract or completely nonsensical, prints so repulsive that they in fact attract women in flocks leave nothing sacred, covering everything from clothing to accessories and even underwear (Disney in the bedroom, anyone?). Case in point: this brightly coloured, marble impressioned number from Cheap Monday is heinous in that it harkens back to almost every year since the whimsical 1967 whilst Nasty Gal's manages to make the normally neutral leopard print eye watering by casting it against cyan and yellow check. For those looking for something a bit more out of the ordinary, flash the cash with Topshop's dollar print shirt which, whilst featuring a fairly distasteful money print considering the current economic crisis, is fairly unlikely to break the bank in its process of making you look like a Hip Hop legend (maybe).
Not to be forgotten in the line of of fashion's best/worst offenders is the overtly tacky. Metallic and hologrammed pieces have been popping up all over the shop, but ASOS' across-body satchel takes the crown (or the biscuit) with its ability to turn something normally so reserved into an in-your-face box of nasty. An easier entrance into the world of vulgar dressing, however, is jewellery. Pile on the gold with an ironic nod to Mr. T and the noughties' much-reviled chav with this double chain monstrosity from River Island or adorn ears with a unlikely combination of beetles and gems from Chelsea Doll for a dab of messed-up glamour.
Naturally, wearing these frightful beauties can become quite a challenge, particularly in workplaces filled with those uninitiated into the difference between "unattractive" and "ugly". Take things one step at a time and don't, by any stretch of the imagination, jump in at the deep end - unless, of course, you want to look like you've rolled around in a charity shop and then left wearing whatever stuck (hey, some people can really pull off that look). Keep the look nine-to-five friendly by only jazzing up an otherwise conservative look with garish accessories, for example, or frump up a feminine dress with some huge, playground shoes. Alternatively, pair plainer items and accessories with one horrifically printed piece for a more in-your-face embrace of our innate ability to love the unlovable.