Earlier on today, I read this piece by Hadley Freeman in The Guardian about that bloody M&S suede skirt. It made me think and I reached an epiphany: I am never going to be fashionable. And do you know what? Despite the fact that I read fashion websites, follow the Twitter accounts of fashionable ladies and read magazines almost obsessively, I have made my peace with that fact.
I’ve been obsessed with Audrey Hepburn since I was a teenager (and before she was trendy and appearing posthumously in creepy chocolate adverts), but I always knew I’d never look like her. Similarly, I’m reading every book I can about Alexander McQueen before I go to the exhibition in a couple of months, but I know I’ll never wear couture.
It’s nothing to do with being a mum- I was never particularly interested even when I had disposable income/a house free of suspicious smears- but I do know that if I bought The Bloody Skirt, it’d have jam smears and highlighter ink on it within seconds of putting it about my person, and those stains would have absolutely nothing to do with D.
As a kid, I grew up in the shell suited 90s and loved my knock-off version of a Global Hypercolour t-shirt. My hair stuck out, in unruly mockery of my mum’s efforts to try and make me look vaguely neat for school (I remember the other kids laughing at a photo I’d had taken in Year 2 because- gasp- my pony tail was more electro-shock than Elnett smooth. I didn’t really give a monkeys, IIRC.)
I never had the confidence, or (I thought) the figure for fashion when I was a teenager. I dressed baggily, or in HUGE flares that I bought from the Corn Exchange in Leeds before it went all gentrified. I wore a t-shirt with the original line up of Charlie’s Angels on it without really knowing who they were. I had pink hair and I was free of the constraints of fashion, as I thought at the time.
Now I like to keep it simple, although also very much in the confines of my “secondhand dress/less than a fiver, thanks” philosophy of clothes. I knit stuff, I don’t own a Breton top and, despite my repeated attempts, I still can’t sew a seam straight. As much as I’d like to say I’m channelling Stevie Nicks, it’s probably safer to say I’m more bargain basement. And I’m cool with that. I’ve had 31 years to get my head around it, after all.
So what about the M&S skirt that so repulses me? It reminds me of my GCSE maths teacher, a woman who was probably very well meaning, but a total cow- and she LOVED skirts in that shape and cut. She had all the flare of a frustrated nun (we had a much cooler maths teacher, who I never had the luck to be taught by, who the girls found MUCH more exciting- she was all birds’ nest hair, slightly dishevelled glamour and there were rumours of a very French seeming illicit affair with a married Science teacher) and I think she disliked me as much as I disliked maths. So not even the apparently divine touch of The Patron Saint of Fashion, Alexa Chung, could make that skirt appealing to me.
Oh, and it costs nearly £150. I could buy a ton of dresses on eBay for that.