This morning I was going out shopping, dressed in summery patterned trousers, suede ankle boots, and an oversized, hooded (and rather scruffy) sweatshirt belonging to my husband. He said to me, "You look as though you're on the way home from Glastonbury". It occurred to me that perhaps, mentally, I am always on the way home from Glastonbury - the Glastonbury of 20 years ago, anyway (older person getting sniffy about how such events aren't what they used to be!).
On the way home from Glastonbury, 1993!
Anyway, I was thinking, on the way to Morrissons, not only about how we dress to express our personalities in a conscious way, but also how we tend towards different styles, as a subconscious thing. A few years back I worked for a woman who was younger than me but much more 'straight' (please note: I am not talking about sexual orientation here!! - I mean that her idea of a fun night out was probably a Celine Dion concert) and I remember her asking me if I would ever get my hair cut.
"Why don't you have it cut into a nice bob?" asked she, to which I replied, "Because I'm not a 'nice bob' sort of person."
Not a 'nice bob' sort of person ~ 1990
Which kinda summed it up, really. I always found office clothes difficult, which is because I am not one of nature's admin workers. Couldn't do that neat skirt, tights and shoes bit. It was easiest when I was just given a uniform, like for the Nationwide Building Society - I love jobs with uniforms, you don't have to think about what to wear each morning! I used to find that my work clothes were too 'square' (lovely old-fashioned phrase!) for my normal wear. I felt almost restricted by them, in the same way as I did the daft office rules. I think the preferences of your younger days stay with you, too. I wouldn't wear it these days because I think it would make me look like Bet Lynch, but I always find myself edging towards the leopard print - I try to keep it just for things like make-up bags now, though! Though my husband is not in the first flush of youth by any means, I am instructed, when buying clothes for him, to ask myself this question before I make a purchase: Would Liam Gallagher wear it? If the answer is "you gotta be kidding", I must leave it in the shop.
When I was at the height of my rock chickery I always wore short skirts, suede boots, denim, leopard print, huge belts, etc; but I didn't think I frequently go to The Town & Country Club to see Thunder, thus I must dress like a rock groupie - I just did. I don't anymore; I've moved gradually into the slightly boho-chic look, though not always with a great deal of chic, it has to be said. It wasn't a conscious decision but, of late, my eye tends to be caught by patterned trousers, floaty tops, odd jacket-ish-shrug-ish-waistcoat-ish garments, and the odd scarf! I try to resist the scarf thing a bit, though - have you noticed how writers always wear them, artfully draped?! I don't want to look like a middle-aged writer, I really don't. I draw the line at witty earrings, too.
Me and my pal Lesley, 2012.
We may be in the autumn of our lives but we spit on colour co-ordinating separates!!
My sister, who is much more conservative in outlook than me, usually dresses like a smart city office worker. Okay, she can do 'bag lady' as well as I can, when at home, and can still be seen in an Aerosmith t-shirt if you catch her early enough on a weekend morning, but her well cut dresses and classic tops express how she is, I suppose! How anyone can be bothered to wear posh dresses when they don't have to is beyond me, but we're all different! She wore lycra mini skirts and and over the knee boots twenty-odd years ago, too (Julia, remember the black stetson?) but we've just moved in different ways.
Jools in one of her many smart frocks!
Often, though, people use the way they look as their identity, don't they? The uniform of the punk, or the biker - or, one that always makes me laugh, the new age traveller types who want to be so 'individual' but actually wear as much of a uniform as the conservative city gent - the dreadlocks, the facial piercing, the tie-dyed trousers, the ex-army jacket.
As instantly recognisable as the stockbroker in his designer suit...! People who really are individual don't need a wacky hairstyle to prove it (that's a quote from a character in one of my books!).
For the lacking in confidence, assuming a certain mode of dress can given you an 'in' into a certain club, too - think geeky oddball blokes wearing heavy metal band t-shirts, for instance!! Um.......
Wayne and Garth... or is it???!!
Last of all, I give you the truly insecure ~ the fashion victim who spends £800 on a handbag because it's 'the thing to have'... because that handbag is not a handbag at all. It's a placard saying "I am not only at the cutting edge of what is hot, I also have enough disposable income to buy it. Thus, I am better than you". They don't realise that on the back of the placard it says "I am desperate for approval and admiration."
Not quite sure where else I am going with any of this, huge subject that could be a much longer article - I'd love to hear about your own clothing preferences and any general opinions on this!