The Outnet is a website that perhaps you might not be familiar with. However, the sister site – Net-a-Porter – has been well established as the go-to destination for female porn fantasies…an online shop of all things designer.  Like a voyeur you click through different labels, designers, trends, heart thundering in your chest as you imagine owning and feeling and touching all those glorious clothes.  The only issue is the price-tag, for the fantasy allows you to shop through the site right until the check out, when you realise that the Yves Saint Laurent shirt will cost 3 months salary and that perhaps you won’t be buying anything today thank you very much. Well the Outnet is a different beast altogether. This is the discount partner of net-a-porter, the repository for all those dying trends and designer embarrassments that simply are Not Fashionable Anymore.  To the socialites and stylists and editors of the world, this site is social suicide – a pair of Balenciaga jodhpurs from 2 seasons ago? Not on your nelly. To all the impoverished and starving fashion-enthusiasts of the world, this site is social salvation. Lanvin and Bottega Veneta and Marc Jacobs and Chloe at a fraction of the price? You can’t afford not to buy. And herein lies the problem. There is an Outnet mail-out once a week – arriving on a Monday morning usually, when the excesses of the weekend are only beginning to shift. It breezes into your inbox stealthily and slyly. It creates a sense of intimacy between you; the reader and it; the nurturing, benevolent fashionable friend. You are on the list aren’t you? For only the most up-to-date, clued-in and with-it women of the world have knowledge of this great site.  It then begins to whisper sweet nothings in your ear – look at this beautiful Fendi dress – so pretty! so flattering! and 70% off, oh my! For a mere £888 pounds , you can be one of us, part of the designer gang, separate from the high street swamp. But look, what’s that? There are only 5 in stock and they are selling out fast! And like the concerned older sister that it is, the Outnet posts a discreet but ominous warning sign on your screen that tells you to ‘Hurry Up! Only a few left!’ And then you start to feel the panic rising. Yes, you’ve put it in you basket, you’ve checked your bank account, but the dress is only reserved for half an hour – well the Outnet is nothing if not equitable, somebody else will want it – so you can’t think rationally about the practicality of the dress. When will you wear it? Do you have shoes for it? Is it actually flattering? Will it crease? Will it stain? Will it still be in fashion next month? All of your thoughts collapse into a fevered static, as you move, on autopilot, to type in your credit card details. And then, thank the heavens, you are interrupted by a phone call. At work. And you realise that you are not floating away on a Fendi cloud of social balls and handsome men and sky-high stilettos, but sitting at your desk at work, distracted and sweating slightly.  The blurred vision meant that you had less money than you thought in your account and on reflection, that dress is actually quite horrendous, it was just momentarily elevated in a cloud of Fendi. And a sense of sheepish calm restores itself.
Below are a selection of almost-impulse buys from the Outnet. None of them are items I would ordinarily look twice at in a shop, none of them really fit in to my social engagements or reflect my personal style, and none of them really scream designer. But I almost bought them last Friday. Until I realised I had to pay for the gas bill and my car insurance and sundry other mundanities and that the landlord doesn’t really care if I have an Anna Sui dress (4 seasons old) on when I ring for an extension on the rent.

BUY BUY BUY

Alice&Olivia

Anna Sui

Moschino Cheap&Chic

Sass&Bide

On an entirely unrelated note, we somehow got nominated for a Best Beauty/Fashion blog in the Irish Blog Awards sponsored by spinnakerpro.com. Haven’t a bog how that happened really, but it is so refreshing to know that people other than my mother are reading us.

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