February 26 2010
Lucia van der Post
It’s been some time since I’ve thought of myself as a jeans sort of person. They’re for skinny beans with slinky hips and washboard stomachs rather than for mere mortals with imperfect shapes. And yet: a really good pair of sleek dark denim jeans solves a lot of life’s sartorial dilemmas.
They’re nicely democratic to start with. And of course, they can be dressed up – add some high heels and a great top and you’re set to go. And they can offer a million different looks. Team them with Chanel jackets if you can afford them, comfy sweaters for dress-down days, Inès de la Fressange-style crisp white shirts, floaty bits of diaphanous chiffon, cute Audrey Tautou-style blouses and you can, in fashion speak, “ring the changes”.
Which is why, deep down, I rather wished that I was a jeans sort of person. Yet my disbelief was deep. When somebody called Edwina who turned out to be a divinely beautiful blonde rang me about this amazing jeans shop called Donna Ida, I brushed her off. “Oh, no,” I said, “jeans aren’t for me.”
“What do you mean?” countered Edwina. “Everybody can wear jeans. ”
“You haven’t seen me,” I replied. “I’m five foot two, not thin, not young.”
Suffice it to say that Edwina enticed me in to see what Donna Ida could for me. The answer is a lot; and if the shop can sort me out, believe me it can do the same for you. To begin with, Donna Ida concentrates entirely on jeans. That’s its USP and though there are various tops deployed around the shop, they are there only because they work with the jeans. Donna edits the collection and the brands all the time, keeping in mind that her customers range from women in their eighties (“Yes, quite a few of them”) to fantastically grand and elegant women with very fancy lives to fashion-alert teenagers. She understands women’s shapes and all the problems that beset them.
She goes for labels such as J Brand, which does them high-waisted in a lovely soft, stretchy fabric (third picture, pencil-leg jeans, £195), and Goldsign which is even more super stretchy. She also has the very hot jeans for the younger set, low-slung baggy boyfriend jeans and distressed ones as well as labels such as Earnest Sewn and Citizens of Humanity (second picture, Avedon Twiggy jeans, £215. Also shown, first picture, Rich & Skinny Boyfriend jeans, £200.).
But the real point of the shop is the service. They can, they promise, find something for almost everybody. If one pair doesn’t suit, they’ll go on bringing them out until something does. The prices start at about £135, while the average price turns out to be £185 – not bad for a garment that is such a sturdy staple.
She doesn’t make you feel small – or round or fat. She got my shape in a flash and brought out a pair of Serfontaine jeans in a chic dark blue. Most satisfyingly, we had to go down two sizes (“They always stretch”) but in the end they fitted like the proverbial glove. So now I am the proud owner of a pair of very smart, deep indigo blue jeans, made in a soft, stretchy fabric, that are actually flattering, that make my legs look longer, my bottom smaller, my stomach flatter. And I can already see that they’re going to be a fantastic addition to the wardrobe and will be comfortable enough for me to be able to wear them travelling.