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Why Insignificant Changes Can Be Life-Affirming

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Would you have the gall to wear a beret in Paris? Is it akin to wearing a breton t-shirt and carrying a baguette; or, conversely, like wearing a Union Jack mini skirt in London? Actually, I’d love a UJ mini skirt. I’d wear it with an Oxford University hoodie (you know, in that non-ironic way some young Americans wear Cornell jerseys because they dated somewhere who studied there) – but I have the gall. The gall is mine. I WENT THERE. Both literally – to Paris – and metaphorically – with a beret.

In fact, despite being a bit embarrassed about this new addiction, I just bought this one. I almost bought this one, too. But then I remembered that I recently did a massive spring clean and tidy and that I was meant to be considering every purchase with deep analysis and consideration. I am obsessed, incidentally, with spring cleaning. It’s literally the only way I can achieve mental clarity, sometimes.

How did it all start? Nominally when my best friend’s pal, Avigail – a wunderkind stylist and creative consultant – sent me a beret from her awesome new collaboration with Hello Kitty but mainly, when I got a fringe. My fringe is not without pitfalls – it turns into a frizzy Nick Carter type thing every 8 hours, approximately, if not tended to – but it seemed to open up so many headgear options.

This would not be news (arguably, it still isn’t) had it been that I was never able to pull off any type of hat, pre-fringe. NONE. ZERO. Fedoras; baseball caps; beanies; baker boy hats; sun hats; berets. All looked bloody terrible. I have short hair and not a huge amount of it so I looked not unlike an egg keeping itself warm before breakfast with an egg cosy. The fringe suddenly offered presence of hair, where previously there had been none. And a beret, oddly, but not oddly when I consider my affinity for vintage-inspired, Clemence Poesy-type garb, screamed YALLO to me.

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It’s odd that the small things in life can have such a transformative effect: a new duvet cover (suddenly you sleep “a bit deeper” you tell friends, excitedly); a great book; a powerful magazine article; a massage; a manicure; a short but brisk walk; a small felt hat. I don’t think these subtle signifiers need to come with a price tag, but I do think that the changes you make in your routine, your lewk, your lifestyle, can be cumulative. I read this great line by Mariella Frostrup (the broadcaster of my affections, much like Dolly feels like about Kirsty Young) in her agony aunt column for the 11th December issue of The Observer magazine.

“The greatest threat to our happiness is often our misplaced determination to control our destiny. We need to learn to be shape shifters, embracing ups and downs, fulfilment and frustration and people who move in and out of our lives… A hamster on a wheel endlessly treading the same space is the definition of hell, but we should be equally fearful about trying to control the pace of change and where and when it occurs. It’s ironic that the defining feature of all our lives – the inevitability of nothing staying as it is – is what we battle hardest against.”

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Now, a beret isn’t going to do anyfuckingthing to change the perilous state of the world right now, but it can tap into some sense of self. However small. However irrelevant. Aren’t we just a compilation, after all, of ever-shifting and tiny peccadilloes and changes; impulses and fondnesses?

Few people have commented on my new affinity for the beret. I think they’re hoping if they pretend it isn’t there, it might go away. But I’m hooked. I feel like a new kind of woman. And if a mere hat can offer you self-refreshment? Do it, my friends. Do it.

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I’m wearing an Archive by Alexa for Marks & Spencer Ellerby coat, Topshop Boutique ruffle dress, Silver Spoon Attire x Hello Kitty beret, i + i Pandora earrings (yes, she named them after me because she knows the way 2myHrt) a Diesel Black/Gold belt and vintage boots.

Ph. by Frances Davison

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