The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

A dedicated follower of fashion

on January 11, 2014

I should start off by saying that I am most definitely not a dedicated follower of fashion. I possess neither the original thought nor the nerve to carry it off.

I like clothes, shoes and bags but I buy for longevity rather than short term fads. I’m a conservative dresser by nature but I like vintage jewellery and have a few well worn pieces bought from the man in Muswell Hill, London who specialised in house clearances of the old folks around town. I’ve never dressed to stand out from the crowd but I do admire people who do in a way that is creative, individual and stylish and not in a I’ve-forgotten-to-put-on-all-my-clothes sort of way.

Perhaps like most people of my generation, I didn’t have a wide ranging wardrobe growing up. Clothes were functional and the only clothes shopping that ever really took place was for school uniforms. I know. On occasion for birthdays too.

Suffice to say I can’t be held responsible for anything I wore up until the age of fourteen therefore I shan’t think too much about some of the monstrosities that were handed down my way. The same can’t be said ever since I’m afraid. The misguided brown paisley shirt. The too big tan coloured winter coat that made me look like a big lump of poo. The long black gloves for my Sixth Form Leavers Ball. I think that matches your self created Ball gown Mrs Cake Pops.

Thinking about it now, the look of the late 80s and 90s wasn’t a patch on previous decades. I feel we’ve drawn the short straw. Consider the drop waist flapper dresses of the Roaring Twenties. The Rock and Roll twirly skirts of the Fifties. The psychedelic patterns of the Hippy Sixties. The Disco glitter of the Seventies and the Eighties mish mash of neon, bat wings and lace.

What did we have in our late teens? An age when you should feel truly able to experiment with style under the cloak of youth? Grunge.

Of course I never realised at the time that this was both a blessing and a hindrance. A blessing because it was quite comfortable slopping on a t shirt with jeans or cargo pants and trainers. You could wear a hoodie without David Cameron wanting to hug you. There was minimal reason to bare any flesh thankfully with thick black opaque tights being highly acceptable.

The hindrance is that I feel like I’ve missed out on a whole window of opportunity for dressing scandalously. No tutting over how short a hem line or low a cleavage. No glitter lightening bolt eye make up. No puff ball skirt or lace fingerless gloves.

Since living in Singapore and having children, I’ve basically taken a fashion sabbatical. On the one hand I’m rather relieved, on the other, it becomes very difficult to get yourself reacquainted when needs must. I’m quite pleased I’m not in a profession or living a lifestyle that requires you to constantly dress the part or be ‘on trend’. It’s an exhausting state of being. Not to mention expensive.

With ‘Grunge’ being the trend of my youth, it hasn’t set me up well for sacrificing comfort over style. Being preggers is no reason to let go of your good fashion sense but in my case when boobs expanded way down the alphabet and the bump only caught up in the very late stages, it was impossible to swan around Gwen Stefani style in a flowing maxi dress as I once envisaged.

Then after this, I entered a thicket of demands on my time and energy that required ‘practical dressing’. Dress quickly, without fuss, without things that small children can pull on, fabric that won’t stain, need dry cleaning or cause you to sweat profusely in. What I wore started to take secondary position and then all too soon you just forget how to dress. Well not really but dressing up becomes so rare that whenever I see a friend wearing a simple dress, I automatically assume she’s off on a hot lunch date. Then there’s the element of surprise in my voice. ‘Oh don’t you look great today!’ How rude that must sound too! Like I’m saying what a slob you normally look. It’s then I start thinking about how normal it used to be to wear a dress and shoes. To wear jeans and a jumper even. Not just shorts and t shirt every day. You can never look truly groomed in shorts and a t shirt.

I remember the moment I realised how long out of the fashion loop I’d been when I saw someone wearing wet look leggings for the first time shortly after #1 was born. From a practical point of view in 32 degrees heat, I questioned whether it was a sensible choice of lower garment wear. Then my next thought, is that really the fashion these days? It looked like wearing a plastic bin liner and I felt glad I was out of it.

Since then I’ve observed the long reign of the shoe boot, treggings, jeggings, neon, lace and leather. It seems everything always comes back in. Yet I’ve missed out again. I can’t say I’m too upset, I really don’t think I could rock a leather short with my usual t shirt and don’t make me shudder with the thought of any side boob on show.

I was highly sceptical of the jegging. Leggings pretending to be jeans? You’re kidding me. But how wrong I was. As Mrs Cake Pops quite rightly pointed out, the jegging is like a skinny jean that doesn’t cut off your circulation around the midriff. (Ah, the skinny jean. Once the domain of the Metallica t shirt wearing youth.) I truly was amazed at how soft, warm and above all Comfortable a jegging was! How I miss those few weeks of May 2010 when I had the luxury of wearing thee.

Fashion is often seen as frivolous and shallow but I believe it’s your pursuit of it. There’s nothing wrong with choosing clothes that make you feel good. That brightens up a dreary day. That gives you that bit more self confidence. There’s nothing to fear of shopping or whatever trends are going on out there. No one says you have to follow them right here and now.

So you know, after five years of following the trend in adult Crocs, don’t be surprised if you see me with my shoe boots, leather pinafore dress over a neon lace cut out shirt on my next return to the UK as I aim to wear everything I’ve missed out on all at once!

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