‘Well that’s different.’
‘Wow’ she says, with brows angled in a way that can nonly connote disapproval.
Silence….followed by looks up and down over the top of her bi-focals.
‘Ooh, gotta be honest I prefer you in other things’….
I have very vivid memories of a teenage me walking down the stairs, with hesistant pace, knowing that upon reaching the bottom I would be met by my mums scanning eye, which within the blink of a judgemental eye would be translated in to a review of that day’s ensemble. I had good reason for descending the staircase with sloth like speed…afterall who in that right mind would hurry towards a negative rating.
When I look back on photos from my youth, there were of course some questionable choices (by today’s standards), but there was nothing hugely age inappropriate, distasteful or just plain awful. I wasn’t ever dressing particularly controversially, merely putting together outfits formed from the sights I saw at school and worn by my class mates at the weekend or on the charity muffty days.
When I was really into football, and tended to spend most of my time with the boys, I did have a phase of wanting to wear sportswear pretty much exclusively. I remember the goal being to have as many items with the iconic 3 stripes of Adidas on them. This was also the era that I came home from Millets with a lifeszie cardboard cutout of David Beckham, after enquiring what they were going to do with it once the promotion was over. Dave still lives in my loft, gathering dust on his perfect curtain haircut and damp stains on his noticeable bulge.
For the most part, in an effort to fit in with the metaller crew, who my tastes and preference were most aligned with, I was wearing the sort of clothes that could be found in stores like Natterjacks, Quicksilver, Vans (and other skake stores) as well as the markets and one off shops of Camden.
I think mum’s fairly consistent reaction was one of confusion, with a sprinkle of disappointment. She just didn’t ‘get it’. As an adult I now understand some of her arguments a bit more. She didn’t understand why I’d want to wear trousers that were four times the width of my fragile twig like legs. Nor did she think there was any valid reason to wear dingy coloued trousers that sucked up all the puddles my bulbous DC’s and Vans stepped in. She also didn’t get why they had random chains and loops hanging off them, making any wearer’s presence known from a mile off…much like a pet with their belled collars. Although if we are using that anaology it would be some kind of goth cat of course.
She came from a generation where girls/women looked like girls/women, so I think it was probably an adjustment on her part to accept that the little girl she used to dress in the most adorable dressed and patent shoes, wanted to cover up her body in baggy trousers and hoodies and wear motif t-shirts featuring slightly unpleasant graphics and statements.
Skate-wear was originally designed to work in support of the activity, so she couldn’t fathom wanting to wear it when you’re not in contact with your skateboard or blades. In her eyes it was the equivalent of wearing a wet-suit all year round. I tried to explain using era’s and style movements she could relate to. I recalled Sex, the boutique run by Malcolm Mclaren and Vivienne Westwood in the mid 70’s, and how it was a strong force behind the fashion of the punk movement. Seeing as she always talks about her times as a hot young thing on the Kings Road I thought it may be a useful reference. I explained how these clothes weren’t worn just when attending the punk gigs, they were worn as a visible clue that you were part of this particular tribe.
I guess what I know now as fully fledged (yet faltering) adult is that there’s much more to life than fitting in and being excepted in to the desired crowd, but as a teen that’s all you want. You crave to be part of something, something you can obsess over, and something which can help to shape how you dress and think. So at that time, it’s feels so important that you have those pivotal style items that will allow you to express to everyone, via dress, what you are a part of…and what group you fit in.
I’ve slightly gone off on a tangent here, as per usual, but thankfully a lot has changed since those tense teen times. My mum is no longer saying, ‘you’re not wearing that’, ‘your’e not leaving the house in that’ or ‘I’m not buying you that’. I’m old enough to be married and have a brood the size of Angelina afterall, and after over two decades of trying to convince me to change she’s probably lost the will anyway.
I haven’t quite been able to rid myself of the fear though. I still get a sense of dread when I come downstairs for breakfast or when I pop into the lounge before going out for the evening – expecting a comment about my appearance. I hate to admit that it sometimes effects how I dress. I know myself well enough, and the thoughts that enter my head when getting dressed, that I do care what people think, and it will often mean I’ll swap a more daring/risque item for a safer option. The majority of my friends are outside of the blogging world and are just not that fussed about what’s ‘on trend’. From experience I know that when I choose to wear those more obscure or statement pieces they are greeted with jokes and teases. They mean know harm of course, it’s just friendly banter. But if you’re already feeling unsure about your outfit, or wearing something slightly out of your comfort zone, it’s enough to make you want to never wear it again. I always try and laugh it off, but I feel awkward about the focus being on my appearance, and hate the mere fact that I’m being talked about – which harks back to preference for blending in. This is a clearly huge conflict as someone who loves fashion, and is a fashion blogger who should be showcasing inspiring or fashionable outfitss.
These days mum and I rarely have a cross word (in fact she’s my greatest confident), but if we do it’s usually about my proficiency in mess. But a few years back we had a big bust up though because she said something very negative about what I was wearing, and I replied saying that I hadn’t asked for her opinion, and that I’d never dream of saying something like that to her. She knew then, she’d overstepped the mark, of course due to middle aged memory loss she did make that mistake again, but on the whole she generally says nice things about how I look….even though she’s useless as hiding what she thinks via her expressions and not so subtle questioning about the ensembles. ‘ So that’s a popular look at the moment is it?”
I think she knows now the damage cruel ex-boyfriends, untacful people at school, and even her words to me as a teen, had on me. She frequently comments that she wishes I didn’t put myself down so much when she hears me critisize how I look in my blog pictures or when checking my appearance in the hall mirror before venturing out.
I knew this look would get some sort of reaction, even if it was one that one mum was trying desperately to hide, because it’s very striking on comparison to the white towelling dressing gown and sloggy clothes I wear the majority of the week as a work from home blogger. The chunky black boots, the metallic, shiny, underwear-like dress, the bare legs and constrasting jacket decorated with neon badges…yeah, I was pretty much asking for it.
And yes, she did look up from her ironing with raised eyebrows when she gazed upon this outfit, which does looks quite out-there for Weybridge standards, but she did to her best to stifle it, bless her.
But the issues I wanted to highlight with these style stories is three fold. One… that its rather odd being an adult and still living with your parents. In many ways I feel like I’m stunted in terms of evolving as human, because in many ways I am still living the life I was as a child. I think it’s hard for parents and offspring to find the balance and an age and status appropriate way of living together. My mum knows she can’t tell me what to wear, but when we are going to family events together (like christenings, seeing older relatives etc), as a thank you and a form of acknowledgement for supporting me financially and emotionally in my adulthood I wear what I know she would like me to wear.
Two. That sometimes voices from the past have far to much say in what we do in the present and future. So we should be aware of this, but also be mindful of what we say, sometimes flippantly, to others. Who knows how long they will hold on to them.
Three. Once we realise we are letting people’s opinions restrict our creativity or the pursuit of something we love, we should do all we can to stop that pattern.
I’m going to try my hardest to start wearing the clothes I have always wanted to wear and bat away those worries that enter my head before heading downstairs or leaving the house.
If I look back on the pictures in a few years time and realise it was a car crash of an outfit, so what?
It would be rather boring if there weren’t any faux pas to laugh at.
This was my favourite of my fashion week looks. I combined my love of glam with my obsession of grunge, and I think the combination of textures and finishes makes for a really interesting combo.
Rokit Vintage Camo Jacket
Nobody’s Child Dress
All Saints Dress worn as top
New Look Bag
Etsy Nose ring
What do you think of this look? Do you let other people influence how daring you are with style?