I’m pretty sure most of us have had moments where we’ve looked back over our past style choices and had a little cringe, right? I’m fairly confident it’s something almost every person who cares about their clothes has done at some point. Heck, I was even kind enough to post my horrifically embarrassing fashion past on the Internet so that everyone could cringe with me! Given how dramatically trends can change, it’s not surprising that we might view those past ensembles with a more critical eye, but have you ever wondered how your younger self might feel about how you dress today? I have, and I can only deduce that she would be absolutely horrified…
High Waisted Trousers
One day my Mum came into the living room while we were watching The Box (yeah, remember those days? Hanging around glued to the TV with your friends for approximately 7523 hours waiting for the song you requested to come on, which was almost definitely always Backstreet Boys, Everybody…) when the video for Britney Spears’ ‘I’m Not A Girl’ came on. My Mum was completely baffled by Britney’s jeans, which, granted, did appear to have been spray painted on. ‘She must have to get a bikini wax to wear those!!’ she exclaimed, ‘Why would anyone wear jeans so low??? How are they staying up??’ I sneered, because these were the days where my stomach was practically concave and I didn’t yet know that one day I would resign myself to the fact the hair on my nether regions had taken on a life of it’s own. ‘I will NEVER wear high waisted jeans. NEVER!!! They are DISGUSTING!’ I swore, and I meant it. I really did. It would be at least 10 years before I gave in and accepted my stomach was no longer a washboard I wanted to display at all times and succumbed to the flattering lure of a sucked in tum. And now, honestly? I can’t imagine I’ll ever go back! Sorry, 15 year old me.
Much like high waists, 15 year old me just couldn’t imagine a world where boot cut jeans weren’t standard issue. Skinnies just weren’t a thing. Even in the Winter we tucked all that excess fabric into our boots and went on our merry way. I almost wouldn’t have the heart to tell myself that by the late noughties even my MUM wore jeggings. In fact, we would even go on to buy the same style from Dorothy Perkins. My little mind would have been blown, because 1. only Emo girls wear skinnies. 2. As if I would dress the same as my Mum?? and 3 DOROTHY PERKINS??? Ugh!! So yeah, 15 year old me has some harsh truths coming her way once she hits her mid twenties!
15 year old me very much stuck to THE RULES when it came to fashion. It was all new and getting it wrong just wasn’t an option. I was so obsessed with following the rules that after reading (probably in Sugar magazine…) that wearing shoes with ankle straps makes your legs look stubby I refused to wear them for years, despite the fact my calves have never been anything other than slender. One such rule related to accessorizing – there was really only one option when I was a teen and that was to ensure everything matched. Not just your shoes and handbag, oh no. We took it further than that. We also had the belt, the bangles, the earrings, the eyeshadow, and if we were REALLY cool, hundreds of tiny, perfectly matching butterfly hairclips. The idea that you might wear a clashing colour was bad enough, but clashing prints?? Unspeakable. My teenage counterpart would most likely have told me I look like I got dressed in a charity shop. And that’s another awkward convo altogether….
Midi Length Anything
These days midi length skirts and dresses make up the vast majority of my wardrobe. And why wouldn’t they? Comfy. Classy. Casual with flats but dressy with heels. They can even be worn all year round thanks to their cooling floatyness in the Summer and extra coverage in Winter. But 15 year old me would not be caught dead in anything that hit anywhere other than a few inches above the knee, unless it was a ballgown, and frankly, 15 year old me had no cause to go formal so that never happened. I absolutely believed that something that hit mid calf was the height of frumpiness that only old ladies would wear. Well, I am ANCIENT now by 15 year old me’s standards so maybe she has a point…
Growing up the child of two staunch liberals and in the decade that gave birth to The Spice Girls and GIRL POWER it’s no surprise that I came to call myself a Feminist from an early age. Sadly though, as honorable as my intentions were, I really got the wrong end of the stick. It was also the age of the ‘Ladette’ – a trend which saw girls shun anything traditionally feminine. It just wasn’t cool to be ‘girly’ anymore. Real girls liked sport, drank beer, wore short skirts with army boots and swore like troopers. Real girls did not wear pink, frills, bows or anything tulle (unless, of course, it was ironically…) and they had no interest in relationships or marriage because WHO NEEDS A MAN, ANYWAY?? I so wanted to be that girl. I wanted to be the girl that all the guys liked because she wasn’t ‘like a girl’, she was ‘one of the lads’. Sadly, in my rush to jump on board with that tantalizing ‘GIRLS CAN BE ANYTHING THEY WANT TO BE!’ message that I completely failed to realise that it was, in fact, just a new way of telling girls how they should look and how they should behave if they wanted to be considered ‘cool’, and like a numpty rejected all things that I believed to be stereotypically girly. Yeah, I fought the stereotype by being a stereotype. Cringe. Anyway, thankfully in my twenties, after I realised what Feminism actually meant, I fell in love with vintage style and slowly allowed myself to enjoy feeling feminine again. These days I feel no shame at liking to indulge in a healthy dose of pink, donning high heels where they aren’t really necessary or wearing a fancy dress for the hell of it. Not everyday. Other days I feel more at home in a shapeless smock, or jeans and trainers. But ‘girlyness’ is no longer something I fear, it’s something I embrace with open arms.
I’m sure there are more things 15 year old me would hate. I mean, she would not at all understand why I used my beloved straighteners to make my hair curly, for starters, and let’s not get started on the size of my eyebrows – she did not spend a year getting them as thin as possible only for me to go and draw big fat slugs on my face for God’s sake!! But I’m certain the thing she’d be most upset about is the fact she did not end up married to a Backstreet Boy? How did that happen? WE HAD A PLAN, DAMMIT!!
What would your 15 year old self think of your wardrobe?