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.
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:
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.