How did your personal style evolve throughout your life?
Contrary to popular belief, I was not born wearing Louboutins and shouting “Bring me a green dress! With a bow! And some stripes! Also: dots! Bring me dots!” Quite the opposite in fact:
Yes, readers, I was once a little boy. My secret is out.
OK, so maybe I wasn’t a REAL boy, although like Pinocchio and George from the Famous Five, I did often behave like one, for in my formative years I was a bit of a tomboy and my interest in clothes extended no further than wondering how many days in a row I could get away with wearing that bathing cap my mum bought me for swimming lessons, but which went just PERFECTLY with a pair of Wellington boots:
(I’m not joking: I refused to take the bathing cap off. I thought I was IT. I was, like, SO EDGY and ahead of my time. If I’d only realised, I could be an up-and-coming British fashion designer with a trademark line in “crazy” by now, but sadly I was too busy pulling worms out of the ground and presenting them to my next-door neighbour as a “gift”. Another promising career ruined!)
Sadly for me, things didn’t get much better, fashion-wise. Some would say not ever, in fact. As I got older (this is the serious part of the post coming up, by the way, so quiet at the back please, and stop rustling those sweets) and reached an age when I was starting to realise to realise that clothes could look NICE as opposed to just providing a good excuse to never have to brush my hair, I was being pretty badly bullied at school. We’re talking parents in regular meetings with the head teacher and considering removing me from school, me being kept behind after class to make sure my classmates didn’t try to kill me on the way home: that kind of thing. And actually, as surprising as it may seem, none of the bullying was connected to my appearance: it was just stupid, petty schoolgirl stuff, but it got WAY out of hand, and it totally destroyed my confidence for a long, long time. One day I left school to find most of my classmates waiting for me outside the gates: they followed me home, surrounding me and hemming me in, while the ring-leaders hit me with rolled-up umbrellas, which were apparently the weapon of choice at the time. Thank goodness guns weren’t legal!
After that, my only real aim in life was to not stand out, and not give people any reason to want to pick on me. This was difficult for me, because I pretty much always stand out, and not JUST when I’m wearing a bathing cap in the street. Once I grew out of the tomboy phase, you see, I started wanting to dress up. It’s always (well, OK, not ALWAYS: see above for evidence) been my instinct to be slightly-to-outrageously overdressed. I tend to feel most comfortable in the kind of clothes that make people ask if you’re off somewhere special after this, and this tendency in me first reared its head when I was about ten, and came to school wearing a bright green coat and kicky little matching beret. This was the era of designer sportswear and shell suits, so you can imagine how well THAT went down.
For the next few years, then, I did my damnedest to just blend in. I always got it WRONG, though – sometimes really badly wrong – and that’s why there are no photos of me from this era. (Well, there are, but I’d rather eat my own eyeballs than put those photos on the Internet.) This was the early 90s: it was a disastrous time for fashion anyway, but I was also “growing into myself”, as my mother put it. I had a horrendous, frizzy perm, a fringe which I “styled” until it stood up perpendicular to my head and… those were some bad times. But! Better times were… actually, no, better times weren’t coming, because once I realised I sucked at the whole “blending in” thing, I decided to rebel. Grunge was big at the time, and I embraced it in the way that only a angst-ridden teenager who is pretty damn sure Kurt Cobain is, like, the ONLY person who understands her, can. I had Doc Marten boots, long skirts, lumberjack shirts, and a collection of shapeless black sweaters. I also had hideous, high-waisted jeans with slightly tapered legs, because those were the only kind of jeans they had in the 90s, CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE?
Because I refused to have my photo taken, and because my parents were probably worried that my scowl would break their camera anyway, this is the only photo I could unearth from that era:
Also the only photo you’ll ever see of me voluntarily using a phone. This was the day my 6th year exam results came out, and I was calling my grandparents to tell them my results. (I got straight As. No, you WOULDN’T think it, would you?) The shirt was my dad’s, the leather jacket was from a second-hand shop in Glasgow, because I was just too ALTERNATIVE for normal shops, and the jeans were straight-up hideous. Luckily you can’t see my feet, but I was wearing my DM boots, and was pretty sure I would wear them FOREVER, which just goes to show what I knew, eh?
Just in case my parents decide to ground me over this post, I feel I should point out here that they DID try to dress me like a little girl sometimes:
That’s Snoopy (he of “doing the toylet in the cichon” fame) I have in a headlock. My favourite thing about this photo is the very undignified doll in the background.
Oh, and I ALWAYS liked stripes, apparently:
I’m pointing at the ground to indicate where Snoopy had just done the “toylet”. Because if there’s a funnier thing than a dog peeing on a child’s sandcastle, well, my younger self didn’t know what it was.
To be continued later in the week, or possibly never depending on how I feel…