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.