A Good Bag Gets You Good Service

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A Good Bag Gets You Good Service

In economic terms, there are two kinds of dressing: throwaway and investment, and they can co-exist happily. Every wardrobe looks livelier for a bit of instant frippery (the sweet chilli dressing) and more consistent for some well-planned, classy substance (the meat). Yet because high-street clothes are cheaper in relative terms than they've ever been, there's a ten­dency to allow the throwaway side of things to dominate.

The traditional status symbols (leather bag, pearls, diamonds, good suit, gold watch, mink) to which fashionable women once aspired no longer deliver in the way they did, even in France, where women have held on to the "quality is for life not just for Christmas" ideal longer than most. Yet owning expensive "iconic" items – a Vuitton bag, for instance – won't protect you from wanting other bags in seasons to come.

This doesn't mean there are no more good investments. I recently dragged out a 13-year-old navy Chanel jacket – then I thought it was what I should wear – we didn't have Zara then. It's in mint condition (I was about 13 years too young for it) and perfect for the way I want to dress now. Handily, Chanel will happily alter it. That's the kind of commitment to longevity that you don't get at Zara.

I don't want this to turn into an exhortation to spend exorbitant sums, unless you can easily afford to, but spending more but buying less involves recognising the pieces that will form an enduring backbone to your wardrobe. If Chanel is out of the question, get any velvet tuxedo jacket, so long as it's well-cut and well-made. You may not want to hang out with it all the time, but it's nice knowing it's there when you need it – and here it really isn't always about the price-tag. I'm not allowed to tell you who designed the trousers in Marks & Spencer's new Limited collection, suffice to say they are gods of the trouser world. There are other pieces to invest in: something tweedy, knee-length skirts (both have become fashion perennials), flat boots. Avant garde items tend not to have the same innate obsolescence as more obvious fashion items. And if they do pass into the mainstream, at least you'll have had a head start.

As for bags, Hermes, Chanel (and their many copies) will always be in style. If they're too predictable, investigate labels that build to last (Mulberry, Tanner Krolle, Tod's) and delve behind the season's hit to find something less date-tied. Make sure it looks classy; one of life's lessons is that a good bag gets you good service, even when the rest of your outfit's no great shakes – shallow, but true.

None of this should stop you chucking the odd shekel at a one-season wonder. But finding the balance between disposability and lasting style is the trick. Get five perfect investment pieces, and the fripperies should look after themselves.

L. Armstrong. HT

PROGRESS TEST 2 (part 2)


Topic 3. EXPRESSING Embarrassment / Confusion

I. General

Practicum 3.1

Study the communication strategy of Expressing Embarrassment / Confusion

Step1 Use an appropriate expression to reveal your embarrassment / confusion
Step 2 Explain what makes you feel embarrassed / uncomfortable
Step 3 Ask for feedback from your partner

Practicum 3.2

When practicing Expressing Embarrassment / Confusion you may need the word combinations to follow

an embarrassing situation, I feel embarrassed, this causes me embarrassment, embarrassingly, to cause / create confusion, confusingly, to clear up confusion, in a state of utter confusion, confused (statement, account)

Practicum 3.3

Translate into English the sentences to follow

Я оказался в крайне неловкой ситуации

Давайте попробуем прояснить это недоразумение

Я совершенно сбит с толку

Его сбивчивая речь произвела на нас двойственное впечатление – мы уже ничего не понимали

Как это ни неприятно, я должен вам сказать, что это создает путаницу

Он был слишком настойчив, и это смутило меня

Practicum 3.4

Arrange the Expressing Embarrassment / Confusion vocabulary in 3 groups relating to 3 steps of the communication strategy (some stock phrases can refer to more than one step), e.g.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
Oh, what a shame! I’m sorry for having been unable to cope with the assignment on time Is there anything I could do to make up for it?

I am embarrassed / so sorry

I feel ashamed / awkward

Oh, no

I am terribly sorry to hear this

I feel uncomfortable about

I am in a state of utter confusion

I shouldn’t have done that

I could have been more careful / cautious

It makes me feel embarrassed / ashamed / confused

Is there anything I could do / that could be done in such a situation

Could we, please, forget about this incident?

I am terribly / awfully sorry for / to

II. Expressing Embarrassment / ConfusionPractice

Practicum 3.5

Rely on Expressing Embarrassment / Confusion strategy in the situations to follow

1. Out of the blue arrives the news of your demotion. There is nothing you remember that could have led to it. Express your confusion (a) to a colleague; (b) to your superior; (c) to the HR manager.

2. You have received a bottle of champagne as a gift from one of the regular customers with your company and drunk it during a family reunion. A week later you are approached by your boss who is willing to collect his gift which you were supposed to pass to him. Express your embarrassment.

3. You have received a notice about an outstanding payment from a very important supplier. You are confused as you are certain the payment was made on time and in full. Call them to clear up the confusion.

Text 3a

The text to follow deals in talking office politics / policies. Study the text and use it as a starting point for communication

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