Yesterday we went for a very civilised and delicious afternoon tea to celebrate thirty years of Jen’s existence. Conversation turned to Notable Fashion Highlights of our youths.
It may surprise you to learn that I have not always been as effortlessly stylish and put-together as I am today.
(I have about 400 cardigans but only ever wear three of them, in constant rotation. Each September, I buy one pair of cheap black boots and one pair of cheap brown boots from New Look, and wear them solidly for 7 months until the soles literally fall off. 80% of my socks have animal faces on the toes.)
Here are some of my Strongest! Looks! Ever!
Circa 1993. Floral, crushed velour, stirrup leggings.
They were a muddy muddle of autumnal shades. Of course, then, I paired them with a royal blue sweatshirt featuring a happy kitten chasing a butterfly with the slogan JUMP FOR JOY! What combination could possibly have been better?
And talking of strong combos…
Circa 1994. A navy sweatshirt with a puffed paint polar bear print, tucked in to a red and black, mid-calf-length kilt (complete with kilt pin).
Please take a few minutes to picture that.
Got it? Marvellous. On to the next one.
1997. Lycra cycling shorts. One leg dayglo pink, the other dayglo green.
I could not ride a bike until I was thirteen. I did not let this deter me from bici-chic.
1997 (again). Four stripe poppers.
Four stripe, though! So near, and yet so far. I knew they were not actually right, but they were the closest thing to cool trousers I owned, so I wore them solidly for the majority of my final year of primary school. Often, though not exclusively, I would pair them with a black, knock-off Spice Girls t-shirt that I had somehow convinced my mum to buy me.
And talking of the Spice Girls…
(Still) 1997. The dress I loved more than any dress before or since.
A royal blue corduroy minidress, with inbuilt matching giant-silver-buckled belt. Susannah bought it for me from Tammy Girl, and I honestly cannot imagine ever having stronger feelings towards a dress. It was The Very Essence Of Emma Baby Spice Bunton. I wore it with some oddly chunky, high-heeled black lace up boots I’d got at a church jumble sale (which, in retrospect, sound quite awesome, but were at the time deeply out of fashion and an odd choice for an eleven year old), and a necklace that was a silver teddy bear on a black string with a blue gem on his belly.
I felt like I could conquer the world.
I was 14, quite sheltered, and had barely kissed a boy. I wore this A LOT.
Which you will see I have made into an especially strong look by combining it with a big purple hoodie and a black snakeskin handbag.
There is nothing objectively bad about this top. It is a good top, in fact. It is very comfortable, it is flattering, it has a charming apple design. The trouble is, it was basically the only top I wore for the entirety of my first year at university. Going out: apples top. Going to watch the rugby: apples top. Shift in the college shop: apples top. APPLES TOP APPLES TOP APPLES TOP.
It was already two years old by the time I went to university, and had been a staple of my weekend shifts at eponymous giftshop-cum-tearoom The Snow Goose, and of many a trip to the pub. I had worn it on dates; I had worn it at home; I had worn it to school (in a rubbish mini-contravention of the dress code).
When I first started an office job and could not afford a new wardrobe, the apples top saw me through.
[Yes, of course I still own it].
- Bracelets made up of big plastic star shaped beads that I’d bought from The Moon and Sixpence in the market. At least three on each wrist at any given time. Possibly in combination with some good clacky tiger’s eye power beads and/or a pink plastic Hello Kitty bubble watch.
- That one Quiksilver vest top that I got in Year 7 and only stopped wearing when it literally disintegrated in my second year of university.
- The denim miniskirt I wore whatever the weather for the whole of 2006.
- Roughly 37 sets of novelty hair bobbles.
- Dresses over jeans (06-07).
- Board shorts (I have never surfed).
- A bright red coat, for six winters straight.
- Nude fishnet tights, because I read a blog post in about 2009 that said that they made any outfit look instantly classier and more elegant. I wore them once, felt ludicrous, and immediately tore one of the legs.
- Enormous belts (2006).
- A hand-me-down Global Hypercolour t-shirt that had become permanently mottled.
- Ring watches.
- Clear plastic bra straps under vest tops because they are definitely completely invisible and God forbid anyone should see you are wearing a bra.
- A t-shirt with the slogan FRUITY. No suspicion that there could be any double meaning.
- Flip flops as going out shoes.
- A silver lurex v-neck vest with one strap made out of a metal chain, that I wore on my first ever underage foray into a nightclub because it was the most sophisticated thing I owned.