Posted by: Natalie | March 26, 2010

Fashion Envy

Basse Mode have set their first challenge – to write an article or other that says what fashion means to you (or me in this case!). So, I’m going to have a go! Not usually someone who can write easily about fashion, I thought it would be a challenge for me, something I feel I want today.

Fashion Envy

I suffer from this, I think it may even be a medical condition. I am waiting for the day when medication is available on the NHS to cure me of this disease. I feel it everywhere I look; I am jealous of the confidence that people have with their ensemble, the creativity in their ideas, and their talent for bargain shopping! I have often looked at friends and strangers and been in awe of their style, their uniqueness and their ability to wear their personality on their sleeve. I want so very much to find my own style and now at 28, I finally feel like I may be somewhere near accomplishing it.

I grew up pretty much a tom-boy, playing with my big brother and cousins on my Grandad’s farm. The vast majority of my clothes were either hand made or hand-me-down, so never quite fit and certainly didn’t correspond with anything vaguely fashionable in the 80’s (although, that’s not a shock!). In fact, the first outfit that was entirely brand new to me and 100% my own was my High School uniform. Nice. And even then I was wearing a below the knee, full pleated skirt – I may as well have been seventy.

High school was something of a black hole for me – I realised how insecure I was, I felt frumpy and out of place, never really finding a niche. My ‘style’ was cast and marked in my first year; not only was I wearing the granny skirt, but my feet were so big my Mum couldn’t find girls shoes big enough in our price range. The solution? I wore boys shoes. Eeeek. You can safely assume from here on in that school was pretty miserable for me. At home was no better as I would always run to the safety of my jeans and football shirt, never really showing anything feminine about myself other than my long blonde hair (always tied up though).

So ‘Fashion’ for a very long time was something that I avoided, it was foreign to me and not something I should even contemplate. I could never compete with all these beautiful confident girls, so why bother? I was never going to be accepted, so why force it? But secretly, like every girl, I wanted to be pretty, I wanted to be welcome, I wanted to not be mocked and bullied every time I made an effort. What I wanted was some help, but I never had the guts to ask.

Bit by bit over the years I began to relax, began to be (slightly) more comfortable in my skin – College and University did wonders for this. I found skirts and realised that I actually had legs! I discovered that certain tops gave me a brilliant cleavage! I discovered how to put make-up on!  I realised that I could start to alter how I look, and enjoy doing it. This is when the envy really started. It was at University when I realised just how ‘style’ really meant ‘personality’ and I had been hiding mine for such a long time. I was frightened of being judged because to be judged on your outfit, to me, is to be judged as a person and I couldn’t stand any more rejection. I watched and looked and wondered at all the remarkable people that swam in and out of view, but still could not find the key my own shine.

So here we are now, many years after those boys shoes and pleated skirts, and I finally feel I have some confidence. Through talking to my friends, reading blogs and having a good old mooch, I think I might have finally found something nearing a style; something near to showing the world who I really am. I don’t feel trapped in a shell any more – don’t get me wrong, I still occasionally tailor my outfits to the suspected expectations of the people I will pass that day, but the baggy shirts and jeans combo are reserved for my hermit days only now! I know with each wearing of something new, something that makes me feel bright and happy I will grow in confidence, and eventually have an entire wardrobe that I can call my own!

My current favourite outfits are catalogued below:

Joe Browns Dress, Tom Wolfe Roll Neck, Tights, Matalan Shoes

My beautiful Matalan coat with removable fluff!

Back of my floral number.

Everday: New Look jumper and skirt, leggings, Joe Browns Boots, scarf from Greece!

Matalan top, New Look belt, Laura Ashley Outlet skirt, Clarks Shoes

I think I am getting somewhere, I feel better about my clothing decisions anyway. For me, Fashion is all about being confident, all about having fun. Fashion is unique and personal and special. Fashion is allowing your personality to shine and saying to the world, “Here I am!” It is not something to be envied, but something that should be relished and shared, something to be proud of. I just wish teenage girls appreciated this, and maybe it wouldn’t take some of us until nearly 30 to find out who we really are.



  1. *smiles* I can totally relate, Natalie.

    Oddly enough, I went from the black hole of high school to teaching personal style to other women, many much older than 30!

    It’s a true joy to find comfort in one’s skin, and you took me through your journey with a nod tot he memories of my own.


    • Hi Heather,

      Thank you so much for reading, and for such a kind comment. As with anything I write, I want to connect with people in the real world, and I now feel cheered beyond belief that I have managed that today! I might have a celebratory cuppa now!!

      Its truly amazing what high school can do to people and their self esteem, but I guess all those mothers out there are right; whatever doesn’t kill us, will inevitably make us stronger! What they don’t tell us is that is might take a while!

      Thanks again,
      Happy Friday!


  2. Hi Nat, thanks so much for taking the time to write this for the Basse Mode project. I love the Joe Brown’s dress, I’d say you’re doing great style-wise. And I sympathise about your school shoes – I had to have the same style every year through high school because that was the only pair of black lace ups that came in a size 9. Big feet are great, aren’t they?!

    • oh so it wasn’t just me! Excellent! I feel much better now, sorry to revel in your own teenage misery!! I think I now over compensate for my past by finding shoes with wicked heels! I love feeling tall – it also makes me feel like my feet are in better proportion!!
      Glad you like the post Fi, it was fun to write!
      Thanks for reading,


  3. Took the words right out of my mouth Nat – have you been peeking inside my head? 🙂 You know you’re one of my favourite people, and have been since I first met you; as long as your fashion choices allow your lovely personality to shine through, you know you’re on the right track! Cxx

    • Ok, what have we said about making me cry?!! You are too kind my lovely. and the difference with my confidence when I’m around you, has nothing to do with what I’m wearing – it’s simply being around you! You are good for the soul! Mwah! Nxxx

  4. I’m nearly 40 and it’s taken me till now to really become confident in my own personal style.

    Also, those Matalan shoes, and those Clarks shoes? LOVE THEM! And that purple top is stunning on you, simply stunning 🙂

    • Aw thank you Selina. That’s very sweet of you! I love any shoes that look a little vintage – anything that makes me think I am somewhere between the end of the 1930’s to the end of the 1950’s is perfect for me! And both Matalan and Clarks make excellent shoes that always fit my slightly odd feet!

      Thank you for reading, and for your comment.
      Have a lovely weekend,

  5. That purple and black ensemble is so fabulous! I love a full skirt!!

    • Thank you!! I like this outfit too, but my boyfriend is less keen – I am never sure why, but it doesn’t stop me from wearing it! I love the skirt . . . you can’t tell to well from the photo but it has embroidered circles, almost bubble like, around the bottom edge and pockets – I don’t know why but I love a skirt with pockets!! It also rustles beautifully as you swish around. I wish alllllllllllll skirts and dresses were full like this – bring back the 1950’s!

      Thank you for reading, and for the kind comment! Happy Monday!


  6. Love this post. Now I need to get working on mine.

    • ah, thank you very much! I’m loving reading all these ‘themed’ submissions – its fascinating to see each person’s take on it. Looking forward to reading yours! Thanks for reading!

      Nat xxx

  7. I can so relate! I was raised the only girl in my family, and almost always kept my hair short until a few years ago because I had no idea how to do anything with it. Handmade and hand-me-downs were constant, and now I sell (much better looking) handmade and vintage clothing and still feel awkward about style even as I sell it and advise my friends on what to wear. Slowly feeling more and more comfortable being a girl and loving it!!!

    • Thanks for reading Bethany, and for the comment! Its so good actually to hear that so many of us experienced the same issues growing up – and even now. Makes me feel a little better placed in the world! Thank you for making me smile – good look with the vintage clothes!

      Nat xxx

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