A Week In My Best Friend’s Shoes

LOTTIE UNWIN and LAURA DENNEHY swap their entire wardrobes for a week and see what life’s like in each other’s shoes.

clothes swap helena izett

Arms laden clumps of clothes, carrier bags of shoes hanging round our necks and jewellery dripping out of our fists one Monday evening we moved our wardrobes into each other’s rooms.  The rules? For seven days we agreed to borrow nothing back from each other, underwear stayed and everything else goes, all in the name of a fashion experiment.

“What I have found out?”


A whole lot about Laura – that she is as ill equipped for the modern world as her failure to pick up her phone, ever suggests.  Practicality really doesn’t play any role with a wardrobe full of clothes she never wears and a coat that doesn’t fit her.  The lining is shredded from attempts to stuff jumpers underneath it and the sleeves only just pass her elbows.  She pairs this white fur number with short leather gloves and not only did my fore arms shudder but I felt like a child molester.

But, while I felt so much more at ease in some stripy elbow high mittens I dug out of one of her drawers I did learn that glamour is fun.  One day I emerged in a pair of grey jogging bottoms and everyone assumed I had given up – the prospect that Laura, who has been know to put on fake eye lashes so she’s in the mood for an essay, owned such an item was ground breaking.

When they got dirty I had to take the challenge more seriously.  Getting up in the morning and putting on one outfit that only has lipstick and a blazer added to it until midnight, with a wardrobe that didn’t allow for me to lie around in hoodies was liberating.  Dressing to indulge in a bad mood or hangover does only make it worse, and that is news to me.


Lottie dresses like a grown up. Her wardrobe is full of classic pieces. It seems like an intelligent wardrobe, things go together and mix and match creating exciting new concoctions. I felt like a genius in a lab. I had discovered the simultaneous equations of dress + jacket = cindies and dress – jacket + leggings and belt = lectures. Who knew what could happen if I squared it all and divided it by boots. My normal approach to dressing is closer to that of an excitable child faced with a dressing up box. This week taught me that clothes do actually look better if they are the correct size and flattering cut. Whereas before I would go for sequins because I could pretend to be a princess, now I could see that I could go for a well fitting floral dress and still feel like a princess, without the downside of sequin rash and tiara induced headache.

Nevertheless, it was weird to dress in someone else’s clothes; the clothes you wear do change how you feel. I felt a bit like I was pretending to be Lottie all week but still as shambolic as ever.  It is also way more time-consuming. You can’t shove on a comfy default outfit without thinking because you suddenly have a wardrobe full of strange clothes. Even simple skills like colour matching seemed difficult as I fumbled around each morning getting dressed.

“What could I never bring myself to confront?”


The s-n-o-o-d.  I am in what circumstances this terrifying item could ever not be considered an item stolen from the dressing up box or be seen to have any practical value.  There are no arms.


Her chunky biker boots. Who am I kidding, I have the disposition of a baby fawn; I would never be able to pull them off.

“What I most want to keep?”


The pale pink cropped jumper in that I never took it off and found it made so many evening dresses a day time option.  But, I know the coffee stain from the awful supervision I wore it to will never really fade and so I will always be a part of it, if it can’t be a part of me.


Her red dress. I have been eyeing it up since I first saw her wear it in Michaelmas. Something about the red makes me feel like a brilliant person. I definitely am way more interesting and beautiful and funny in this dress. And this has nothing to do with the bottle of wine I drunk at formal whilst wearing it.

“What I missed the most?”


My jeans.  If I wear leggings as trousers, or treggings, or urgh no, wet look leggings someone would have to call the police.  Yes glamour is fun, but digging around for tights without a hole in is not.


I kind of missed the madder pieces in my wardrobe. Although the small sensible side of me knows that Lottie’s wardrobe is way more timeless and beautiful, I can’t quite stop the irrational craving for pompoms. And glitter. Lots of it.

Illustrations by Helena Izett