THE CLOBBER

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From the kick flares I just had to have to the reduced Chloe dress I recently bought for one of a thousand weddings I’ve got lined up this year, it’s official: I am addicted to shopping.

I’ve indulged in the Zara and ASOS sales to the point that I now know the DPD driver’s name and I can identify every click and collect store in the local area. Forget cocktails or partying, it’s clothes – particularly the kind bought for a reduced price or found lying at the bottom of a bargain bin – that have become my new addiction. Just the other day I realised that, in one shopping trip, I had bought four pairs of shoes: two boots (the exact same pair but in different colours), a pair of metallic trainers and some flat gold sandals. As I struggled to mount the train home, convincing myself of their individual worth and working out their potential cost per wear, I realised that I had probably gone too far. I was now justifying my addictive splurges and something had to give.

But then I realised.

Although I have definitely noticed an unquestionable increase in my spending lately and have absolutely fallen a little more in love with sifting through rails for hours on end, I’ve come to realise that my love affair with clothes isn’t actually quite as new as I had first thought. In fact, far from being in our honeymoon phase, high waisted skirts, baggy jumpers and black jeans and I are committed.

And I have to say, our relationship is getting better with age.

When I was younger, I would slip on any pair of adult shoes I could lay my tiny hands on. Heel or no heel. A delight to the eyes or even a vulgar wedge: I would claim them as my own and clomp around the house, leaving behind my scuffed navy Start-Rites and relishing in my new and improved grown up footwear.

As I got older, like most teenagers, I experimented with style. I went through a – not quite so Kate Moss in the 90s – grunge look, which can only be described as gross yet distinctly unforgettable. I had a bad fringe. I had a good fringe. I really loved my blue, flowery clogs. I dabbled in vintage and retro, trekking over to Brick Lane each Thursday to spend my pennies on tat that I thought was cool, basically because I had found it on a rail at Rokit. I was actually so obsessed with preloved for a while that when I fell for a pair of red ankles boots in a size 7 (two sizes too big for me and, of course, being vintage, they didn’t have them in any other sizes) I bought them anyway. And, in a typically teenage bout of stubborness, I wore them until the soles wore through, gripping my toes as I walked.

Then came university.

As probably the poorest student in Exeter (which really wasn’t that hard), I wasn’t able to splash out on the clothes that I actually wanted to wear, so I played it safe and (at the very least) tried to blend in. So, baffled by everyone’s desire to wear heels and a dress to clubs that cost no more than a quid to enter, but not wanting to break the mould, I found myself dressing up in sky highs and body con just to impress. During these years, between the ages of 19 and 22, I was at my least confident. I would regularly refuse to go out because I had nothing to wear. I would wail in front of my full length mirror, leaving behind a room that looked as though it had been burgled 5 times over as I sifted through everything I owned and, with a wardrobe bursting to capacity and draws stuffed to the brim, I couldn’t understand why. But it was all because I was buying and collecting clothes that I thought I should wear as opposed to what I wanted to wear.

And then I graduated.

Returning to London is where I regained a sense of self, re-ignited my long-lost city style and remembered that wearing trainers was okay. Not only was I far more comfortable on a Friday night, I was actually more at ease in my own skin because I was decorating my body the way I wanted to. And that’s something I think people forget when critiquing the fashion industry: it might be a billion dollar, size zero heralding power house, but wearing the clothes that you love and finding your own style? So underrated when it comes to positive body image and confidence.

These days, I quite literally wear what I want. The majority of the time you’ll find me in jeans and a t shirt. If it’s cold, I’ll have a fur coat on. I mix old and new. (A little) designer and lots of high street thrown in with some (but not enough) second hand steals. I still nab clothes from mum’s wardrobe when she’s not looking and I continue to own too many pairs of shoes. But for all this dedication to the cause, I’ve realised that whenever people ask me what I’m into, it’s as if I’m on autopilot: writing, reading, music. That’s all I ever say. But, in actual fact, fashion is a huge part of who I am (and probably of who you are) today. Fashion can transcend time, but it can also document it. One item of clothing can take you back to a different era and a pair of heels can remind you of an evening spent with friends you might have otherwise forgotten.

I enjoy shopping, styling, rummaging. I love putting pieces together that make my boyfriend crumple his face so hard I think he might stay like that should the wind change. But I also get a kick out of him being surprised by pieces I’ve pulled together. I love sharing clothes, swapping clothes and talking about clothes. I appreciate form, shape and cuts and I love how finding the perfect fit makes you feel a million bucks (excuse the cliché).

I’m not saying I’m Henry fucking Holland, nor am I saying that you’ll see me enrolling for CSM in September, but I think it’s time I accepted the fact that one of my greatest passions (if you will) is fashion.

It’s an art form, a confidence builder and a chance to express yourself.

And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

THE GLAMOUR

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I wear jeans.

That’s it.

Jeans and boots. Jeans and sandals.

Winged eyeliner and scruffy hair.

Flat shoes and denim.

Whether it’s a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon, I dress the same. Long gone are the days of spending a couple of hours getting ready to go out on a Saturday night, toying with eyelash glue and worrying about whether or not I’ve shaved my legs; I now take no longer than thirty minutes to leave the house, regardless of where I’m going. Granted, frequenting the likes of Peckham, Deptford and Brixton doesn’t really allow for anything other than comfy shoes and a rucksack, but I’m happy with this way of life. You know, the easier way, the less need for two make up wipes and fifteen Blister plasters way.

But I must admit: I sometimes miss the glamour.

When I was younger, I would have killed to go out in flats every weekend. My friends were staunch advocates for heels and dresses and I always felt as though I had to brave sore feet for a bit of height, better legs and to aid in my teenage attempts to look a little less like a foetus when trying to get served in Wetherspoons. Younger me would be oh so envious of older me and my endless opportunities to wear comfy clothes and have a good time, but twenty six year old me is starting to feel a bit samey. A bit blokey. A bit bogstandard. After years of yearning for everyone to convert to wearing converse on a Saturday night, I’m starting to question whether or not I should’ve been careful what I wished for.

When I picture the women I party with, I see boots. Trainers. Duster jackets. I see a lot of black. A lot of high necks. No glitz. No frills. And don’t get me wrong, I think they look great. But where did the femininity go? One of my favourite things about being a woman is watching other women experimenting with fashion, make up and style. I love that I have boobs, hips and a bum. In fact, I think they’re cause for celebration. But somewhere on the road to emancipation, we seem to have lost the glamour. Which I get, because we’re making a point, but can’t we have both? A friend of mine wore a backless top the other week and you’d have thought she had walked into the party butt naked from the reaction she got. She looked hot. But not because she was showing some skin. She just looked feminine. And there’s nothing wrong with celebrating that. Even if it is for just one night a month.

My friends and I were discussing this lack of glamour over dinner the other evening and we subsequently decided to arrange a night out where we drink expensive drinks, wear stilettos and style our hair with tongs in order to relive our seemingly more glamorous youth. We spoke – at great length – about sipping from straws and tanning our legs. It’s two weeks later and we’re yet to book in a night like that, but have managed to find the time to buy tickets to gigs, have dinner at a pop up and book a trip to a literature festival. None of these require too high high heels and a night bus home. They just require friends. And, ironically, flat shoes.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? The glamour hasn’t actually vacated my life, it has just shifted and looks a little different now, that’s all. As it happens, the glamour I used to know wasn’t actually so glamorous at all. In fact, I hated wearing heels and a dress and I was always really cold.

Although, from the outside, I might look increasingly like an extra from This is England and less like a pin up from the 1950s, the decadence of my late twenties is, in fact, immeasurable in comparison to my younger years. Being able to afford to drink drinks that I actually like and not worry about facing a night bus home due to the birth of the omnipotent Uber is the height of glamour in comparison to a sausage in batter on the N11 at 4am, I’m sure you’d agree.

Perhaps a glamorous lifestyle doesn’t have to look like a photoshopped still from Keeping up with the Kardashians? Perhaps I’m learning that the key to authentic glamour is finding out what suits you and then wearing it with a smile?

Marilyn suited low cut A line dresses, Gisele looks great in anything leggy and I suit jeans and a t shirt. Each to their own, I guess. So here’s to being glamorous, in whatever way that means to you.

WOMEN FASHION POWER

The Design Museum. Never been before, never actually heard of it.

Boyfriend suggested it. I googled it.

Women + Fashion + Power ? I got dressed immediately.

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Well worth a browse, the exhibition spans over one hundred years and celebrates the empowerment of women through the ages- from Victorian corsets and dropped waists to the shoulder pads of the glamorous 80s. The exhibition features designs worn by Lady GaGa and pieces by Vivienne Westwood. I was mesmerised; genuinely one of the top 5 exhibitions I’ve ever been to.

Don’t miss out. It’s only on until the 26th of this month.

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This is only a sneak peak. I didn’t want to ruin it.

But go. Just go.