:: Blogtober is a blogging challenge whereby bloggers are encouraged to post every day for the month of October. My post topics have been taken from suggestions by friends and family. In general, expect my posts to be shorter, more random and of inconsistent quality! ::
This post was inspired by my friend Becky who suggested "The Language of Shoes".
It is possible that I have on occasion and by accident been fashionable. These desultory sartorial serendipities aside, I haven't been fashionable for years. Right now, I have - if I may lapse into 90s valleyspeak - literally no clue what it is I am meant to be wearing. I also very much don't care. I have reached that time of life where I have a manner of dressing which is comfortable and which does not appal me when I look in the mirror. And that is that.
Occasionally, I will get in a flap about clothes, and I hate flapping about clothes - because they're just CLOTHES. This usually happens when I have angered the laundry gods and find myself without one of my staples, or when I go out and feel an obligation to smarten up a bit, which creates angsty feelings. I sometimes think I like dressing up, but the reality is, when it comes to putting on a non-standard outfit, it's rare that I don't feel uncomfortable. Social events always cause me anxiety (unless I'm heading out with very good friends) so perhaps I have become conditioned to feel nervous when I don something new or a bit fancy. Dressing up has become tinged with awkwardness.
I don't ever recall feeling like I had nailed the zeitgeist with my clothing choices. At primary school in the 80s, when I wasn't really in charge of what I wore, girls would show up to parties in cycling shorts flashed with neon and matching outsize t-shirts. They wore make-up and tied their hair with nylon net bows, like mini-Madonnas. My mum (who is 100 times more stylish than me) always dressed me in modest, classic, preppy clothes. Looking at photos from the period, I look good! Thanks, Mum! But I remember yearning for some day-glo.
Like many British school children, I spent the best of the year in school uniform and I never minded. I think I was grateful for the simplicity of it. I didn't hoik my skirt up too high, or do weird things to my tie. I was never in a hurry to take it off when I got home. I'd lounge about in it, watching TV or doing my homework. I felt oddly secure in it. Ben tells me he would start peeling his uniform off as he walked through the door. I see Oscar takes after me. He's reluctant to go to the bother of changing when he comes in.
Shoes were the first part of "clothes" that I resolved. At first it was Doctor Martens (or DMs). I lived in them. On a summer's day, I'd pull on a t-shirt, a pretty peach, floral ankle-length skirt - and my DMs. My mum would look approvingly at me and then sigh as she spotted my clompy, black boots peeking out from my skirt. Right from the outset, they felt like "me". When men wolf-whistled from cars and building sites, I shrugged it off and imagined myself kicking them with my big, black boots. At the time, my music tastes ranged from Metallica and Slayer through to Megadeath and Anthrax, which is to say they remained solidly in 80s thrash metal. Peak adolescence. Heavy metal. Doctor Martens. Everything was in alignment.
And then I was handed a magical mix-tape by a middle-aged muso. I shifted gear as I discovered indie, grunge and alternative rock music. I bought my first pair of Converse. Cherry All Star Hi-Tops. This was the age I have remained subjectively, ever since, and Converse have remained as stable in my wardrobe as my sense of self (possibly, more so ). I first wore my Converse with combat trousers, band t-shirts and German army shirts, with some off-script concessions to my crafty impulses. The de rigueur slogans on my canvas army satchel were painstakingly embroidered on, rather than scrawled with biro. I made the marbled buttons on my shirt from Fimo.
I'm not sure the two items of clothing I choose each day amounts to a "look", but I haven't moved on from that utilitarian approach. In the last couple of years, I've wondered whether I might grow out of Converse. I'm not talking about whether I should wear them (who cares about that?), but whether I might feel too old for them at some point. And then I remember my 80 year old neighbour who still strides out in his bottle green Converse. He looks COOL. I like to think I'll still have timeless and comfortable feet if I make it that far.
Want to read more? Who am I really?