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Northern women have no sense of style?

Jennifer Leeming takes on Janet Street-Porter and her narrow-minded view of the North

Published on April 21st 2011.

Northern women have no sense of style?

‘A national embarrassment’.

‘Tell me this is fancy dress?’


YOU may be wondering what monstrosity could have caused such heated and scathing reactions. No, Frankenstein’s monster has not just been voted Best Dressed Man 2011, instead these comments are reserved for the photos taken of certain outfits from last week’s Ladies Day at Aintree.

Where besides Liverpool does preparing for a night on the town start two days in advance? And where else does a shopping trip mean a marathon stint, complete with tracksuits and rollers in hair?

dm.jpgOver the last few days, I too have found myself pouring over these images, scoffing in disbelief like a true fashion snob and calling my friends over to join me in sniggering at the shocking outfits that were being paraded around the races. I’m also willing to bet that I’m not alone – after all, who can resist a good laugh at those who’ve tried so hard but got it so very wrong?

However, are these few photos really enough to back up Daily Mail columnist Janet Street-Porter’s recent proclamation that ‘Northern women have absolutely no sense of style’?

Having grown up in Leeds, I can safely say that I have first-hand knowledge of all aspects of the North, fashion included. Call me biased, but I think we more than keep up with the South in the style-stakes, something my recent move to Liverpool confirmed.

In the three years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen that for some Scouse women, style is much more than a way of presenting yourself - it’s a competitive sport. Nights out with the girls or events like Aintree may be the finish line, but, as most professional athletes would advise, you can’t reach your goal without hard training first.

Where besides Liverpool does preparing for a night on the town start two days in advance? Where else does a shopping trip mean a marathon stint, complete with tracksuits and rollers in hair?

image.axd.jpgWith such a competitive atmosphere, it's hardly surprising that the lovely ladies of Liverpool are so often ridiculed for their apparent ‘more is more’ approach to fashion – style in the North West is about being the centre of attention.

Still, love it or hate it, you simply can't deny that Scouse women have very set ideas when it comes to fashion, and for all the bad press they get from scornful Southern journalists, who here can say they have a concrete image of ‘London Style’?

Yes, our capital may thrive on its eclecticism, but it does lack the sense of community within fashion we see so strongly in Liverpool. Still, unlike Janet Street-Porter, I never really felt as if there was a huge divide between fashion in the North and the South. For every Alexa Chung, we have an Agyness Deyn, and for every one of our Aintree mishaps, they have a Jordan or Jodie Marsh. Don’t even get me started on ‘The Only Way is Essex’. The accolade of ‘best dressed’, in my mind, lies outside of Britain, with the eternally chic French or Italians.

265_Agyness_Deyn_photo_3.jpgEvery image of ill-fitting and overly bejewelled gowns, nausea-inducing colour clashes and the all too familiar glimpse of buttock escaping from underneath a precariously short skirt can be contrasted with thousands of women who look classy, beautiful and stylish, but ultimately remain unphotographed.

Perhaps the real issue is not concerning Northern style, or the lack thereof, but rather the constant attempts of newspapers such as the Daily Mail to attract readers by any means possible.

After decades of lusting over photos showing us impeccably turned-out celebrities (most of whom rely on a team of stylists to make sure that they remain impeccably turned-out), it’s almost refreshing to see images of women that make us think ‘well, even I could do better than that’.

There will be always be extremes of fashion, regardless of geography, so maybe it’s time people stopped associating any place north of the Watford Gap with dodgy pies and even dodgier clothes. Janet Street-Porter needs to remember that style is a state of mind, not a place on the map.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

JoeApril 23rd 2011.

Well said, I think because media is London-centric I always feel a tinge of embarrassment whenever Liverpool is mentioned nationally - we seem to be portrayed as a city of thieves and/or WAGs when the truth is Scouse culture is a mix of all demographics. Perhaps if journalists spent more time here we'd see a more balanced portrayal instead of the extremes, not just about fashion but in all areas.

E GregiousApril 26th 2011.

We've got some shows like everywhere else, but when we lived in London my missus always commented on how drab/scruffy the women looked/dressed. It took a 10-year influx of glam Eastern European females to put them to shame and make them buck their ideas up, the miserable mares!

Liverpool WagApril 26th 2011.

Liverpool women have always been glamorous. This is not the same as 'style' however, which belongs to the confident few, nor elegance which is the exclusive domain of the French woman

Kristin Hansen HayApril 27th 2011.

Liverpool is multi-cultural and has some of the noveau fashion. Shame on you for following stereotypes and small minded thinking. Scouse Proud!!!

Diane GreenMay 3rd 2011.

has jsp looked in the mirror recently?? I'd rather be me than her any day of the week!!

Janet Street PorterMay 4th 2011.

Personal comments about Sarah Jessica Parker are completely unnecessary

Absinthe & TurksMay 26th 2011.

She looks like a goat.

Janet Street PorterMay 26th 2011.

She looks like Roger Daltrey's goat

Absinthe & TurksNovember 15th 2011.


Hardly AmiesFebruary 7th 2012.

These Londoners always like to have a go at Liverpudlians. The sad fact is that women in London appear to dress to protect themselves from dying of exposure - tatty vests, grubby, un-ironed rags and what looks like un-laundered army surplus. And these are the one who work the media!

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