If you read the extracts from my teenage diary which I posted a few weeks ago, you’ll already know that my younger self was pretty far from what you’d call “stylish”. Or even “acceptable”, really. (She did look almost exactly like Neneh Cherry, though, so there was that…)
When I read back over those diaries, or see old photos of myself, I always wish I could briefly go back in time and give my younger self some much-needed fashion tips. Don’t worry, I’ve seen Back to the Future – I know you’re not supposed to change the past, but COME ON, people: one less 90s teenager with a bumbag and shellsuit can’t hurt, can it? Here’s some fashion tips I’d give my younger self…
Fashion tips I wish I could give my younger self…
Red lips will fix almost everything
Dude, I hate to break it to you, but you got no lips. You’re a no-lipped wonder… only without the “wonder” bit. That quick slick of gloss you think looks so effortless on models? That look isn’t for you. You need colour on your lips, or people will keep on asking you if you’re feeling OK, and whether you need to lie down. Trust me (er, you…) on this.
You can’t wear low-rise jeans
Or trousers. Or skirts. Or ANYTHING that sits on your hips. This will make your life difficult in the early 00s, because low-rise will be pretty much the ONLY rise you’ll be able to buy for a while, but stick it out, because the fact is, you have a long torso and short legs, and anything low-rise will emphasise that, and make you look like someone used a shrinking solution on your legs. (The shrinking solution is a reference to Harry Potter, by the way: you’re going to LOVE Harry Potter. Do yourself a favour, and don’t just dismiss it as a children’s book when you first hear about it – we both know you still love children’s books, don’t we?)
Where was I? Oh yeah: look, it won’t be easy for a while, but you’re going to have to wait until high-waisted clothing comes back into fashion. Clothes that sit on your natural waist will elongate your legs, and make you look more in proportion. As an added bonus, you won’t have to keep sucking in your belly every time you stand sideways. (Yes, I know you do that.)
Look for retro-reproduction brands
On the subject of high-waist pants, you’ll find it easier to buy this kind of stuff if you search out retro reproduction brands. It might take you a while to come around to the dresses and skirts, because I know you’re trying really hard to be “trendy” right now, but you know all of those capri pants and boat-neck sweaters you like, but can never find in Topshop? They have them, and they’ll look much better than the standard black trousers and saggy cardigans you’ll keep buying on the high street, thinking they’ll look “classic”. Look for brands like Collectif, Pinup Girl and Stop Staring – you’re going to LOVE them.
On the subject of being “trendy”, though…
Forget about following fashion
All of those Benetton sweaters and branded sneakers you keep begging your – er, our – parents to buy you? You know you don’t actually like them, don’t you? You’re just wearing them to try to fit in, but here’s the thing: you will never fit in. And before you go throwing yourself on the bed in a fit of tears (yeah, I know you do that, too), you will be OK with that. No, really. You’ll find out that wearing clothes YOU like, rather than the clothes everyone else likes will make you look better and feel happier. And once you’re out of high school, no one will care about what brand of sneakers you’re wearing, anyway*…
(*You won’t wear sneakers again after high school, unless you’re working out. Yes, you will work out. Sometimes. That’s a whole other post, though…)
“Oversized” just looks like the wrong size
Every time you see some girl wearing a slouchy, oversized sweater, and looking all cute and delicate in it, just back away slowly: you can’t wear that stuff. On you, “oversized” just looks like “the wrong size” and “slouchy” just looks “sloppy”. You will never work out why other people can pull this off, but in general, anything baggy or even just boxy, will make you look 5 months pregnant. Yes, this means you’re never going to look like Twiggy, in a cute little A-line shift dress. Sorry, kid. (While we’re on the subject, you don’t look like Neneh Cherry, either: look, it’s better you know…)
Stop messing with your eyebrows
Even if you ignore all the rest of this so-called fashion advice, for the love of God, PLEASE STOP MESSING WITH YOUR EYEBROWS. STOP IT NOW. Seriously, put down the tweezers, and listen to me carefully: YOU ARE RUINING YOUR WHOLE FACE. For one thing, those super-skinny brows look like ass, and for another, when you’re older you’re going to have giant bald patches on your brows, which you’ll have to spend ages filling in every morning. I know bald patches on your brows sounds awesome to you right now, because you’re so obsessed with stopping them meeting in the middle that you’ve adopted a “the balder, the better” approach, but you are SO going to regret this later, I promise you. I actually wish I could, like, ground you or something right now, just to get the message through your patchy-eyebrowed head…
Yes, you can wear pink
You’ve avoided it for years, because people say it clashes with your hair, but pale pink can actually be quite flattering, and if you don’t try it, you’ll never know.
You should maybe lay off the black, though
When you get to your early twenties, you’ll decide that black is chic, and you’ll try to dress in head-to-toe black outfits for a while. Then you’ll wonder why you look like a vampire (Oh yeah, vampires will become REALLY popular. I KNOW.), and where all that lint came from. The fact is, black drains what little colour you have from your face, and leaves you looking like you’re about to keel over and die. It’s also pretty high maintenance if you buy the wrong fabrics (and you will ALWAYS buy the wrong fabrics…): it fades quickly, and is a complete lint magnet and because you’re a bit… let’s go with “fussy” here – about that kind of thing, it’ll drive you mad. Lighter colours look better on you: remember you’re clumsy, though, so wear some kind of “bib” when you’re eating…
(You will never actually take this piece of fashion advice to heart, by the way – you’ll keep on wearing back, but at least you’ll abandon the “all black, all the time” uniform you had planned, so that’s something…)
People care less about what you’re wearing than you think they do
You know how every time you leave the house you spent hours agonising over what to wear? Stop doing that, seriously. I mean, do you really think anyone cares? Well, OK, maybe they do right now: maybe they’ll snigger over your tres uncool sneakers (No, you’re not ever getting those Travel Foxes you want, by the way: sorry to break it to you…), but if you could fast-forward a few years – or even to tomorrow, really – you’ll discover that no one remembers what you wore to that party. Trust me when I tell you there are no 30-somethings sitting around right now going, “Remember that time Amber McNaught wore that really ugly sweater to Susan’s house that time?” (And not just because you don’t actually know anyone called ‘Susan’, either…) No, they’ll be more likely to be going, “Amber who? Did I know her?” because you were so paralysed by your stupid self-consciousness that you didn’t actually speak to anyone. So stop worrying about what you’re wearing, and whether it’s “right” or not, and join in: I promise you will not regret it.
Heels really do make your legs look better
In a bid to end on a positive note, I’m going to give you this one: you’re right about the heels. You’ve always thought they made your legs look better, and yes, they do. Sometimes people will make fun of you for your dedication to heels: they will imply that you’re an airhead, and say you’re stupid for wearing heels most of the time, but you’ll get the last laugh, because, as with the high-waisted trousers, heels will create the illusion that your legs are in proportion to the rest of your body. So ignore everyone who clutches their pearls and says they just don’t know HOW you can walk in them: we both know you can, right?
(I’m not even going to get into the whole “don’t buy a bumbag/shellsuit/whatever” thing – those aren’t “fashion tips”, they’re just common sense…)