my journey to fashion (part i)

Recently, I went home to Bristol for a week and saw my family, ex-colleagues at Cirencester, and some of my friends, and it was genuinely lovely. I enjoyed seeing Karina for the first time in six months, and we went to Tart on Gloucester Road and talked about love and life. For me, life now consists of working in London, trying not to be broke (and usually failing), writing for my blog, socialising with my friends and writing music. Now, my music is effectively on hiatus for various reasons, and my main blog has evolved a London tube station motif, a cookery motif (as I add dishes to my repertoire), and I’ve been posting on it sort-of regularly. However, I have been conscious that my posts have been less insightful than they perhaps used to be.

For Karina, life includes her current studies – she’s doing an MA in Fashion. Now, as you know if you are personally acquainted with me, or if you have been reading my main blog for a while, I am quite fond of fashion myself. Meeting with Karina and talking about fashion really inspired me, but I didn’t know where to start. I think that I need to lay the foundation for more interesting and contemporary fashion-related discussion, so I am going to start off with my journey to fashion. Thus, I thought that it would be an appropriate introductory post on this blog.

I wasn’t always the person that I am today (as one might reasonably expect). Looking at pictures of myself when I was little, I remember that my favourite colour was green, and then pink and purple (I was going through my early “gay but I don’t know it / androgynous” phase). My nan duly knitted me jumpers in gold and in pink (which now make me shudder – I am fortunate that there is no pictorial evidence!), and I used to love wearing tracksuit bottoms because they were “comfy”. As a larger-sized child, I hated shorts, and as a normal-sized man, I still hate them – I feel uncomfortable with exposing my legs, despite the fact that they are one of my favourite parts of my body and I think that they have a nice shape (and my calf muscles are crazy!). When I was about 6 or 7, I discovered jeans, and haven’t looked back since. I entered into a phase of wearing really tight jeans, alongside baggy t-shirts (to hide the belly flab, in part) – mmm, stylish! But clothes from supermarkets, my mother’s old clothes, my father’s old clothes… anything was fair game and I would mix and match to my heart’s content. Although many aspects of my style and fashion have changed as I have grown up, I have never really followed the crowd.

I also realise that a lot of my fashion choices were centred around my own body image consciousness, and trying to slim myself / disguise my body. I soon realised that baggy clothes were unflattering as they disguised the figure but turned it into a completely shapeless cloud, and so I didn’t fall for that trick. I did however fall in love with black. It was slimming, and yet that wasn’t the only reason – I still wear a lot of black / dark clothes today because I find them sophisticated, and easy to team up with anything. Other than my very early misguided childhood, I have never been one for particularly daring colours.

For my 8th birthday, my Nonna bought me a slim 9ct gold box link necklace with a small cross on it. Now, at the time I believed in God (it took me another 5 years or so to decide that I didn’t really believe in any god), but later on I removed the cross and kept the necklace – which I wore more or less constantly until it finally fell apart when I was about 23. 15 years is not bad for a £10 chain from Argos!. I would collect other necklaces – it didn’t matter what colour – and clash them together. I loved wearing jewellery because it made me feel special. When I was 16, I went through a rebellious phase in terms of my school uniform, and testing the boundaries of how much I could get away with (e.g. we weren’t allowed to wear denim or leather jackets. Naturally, I started wearing a denim jacket with leather segments to school). I remember one time, under my suit jacket in 6th form (we had to wear suits, which sounds stiff but was actually kinda cool), I was wearing a sleeveless black shirt. The weather was hot, I removed my jacket, the teacher was speechless – but it wasn’t against the rules (or more precisely, wasn’t in the rules as I don’t think that the unimaginative teachers who had written them had ever anticipated a guy wearing a sleeveless shirt to school), so I got away with it! I would also wear a leather cuff with some short metal spikes (a couple of younger students asked me if I were a goth, which made me laugh because aside from the bracelet, there was nothing remotely goth-like about me!), a copper bracelet from my mum’s gift shop, rings, chains, necklaces wrapped multiple times around my wrist… It was a statement that I didn’t give a fuck, and I chose to make that statement because I really gave a fuck about looking as if I didn’t give a fuck. Ah, being a teenager! (I am not at all like that these days, honestly.) I did have to take the jewellery off when doing exams in class though, because the jangling of all of the metal against one another was too cacophonous for people to concentrate!



About alan

singer / songwriter / fashionista / aspiring novelist

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