So, the word on the street is that Gen Z have been gobbing off on TikTok again about how tragic we Millenials are (yes, I am one. Just. OK? So shut up!) and the world is debating the very urgent and important question – are skinny jeans, like, sooooooo over?? Well, yes, according the ‘the kids’ – they are, and women in their 30’s all over the Internet have been letting out a collective shriek of indignation ever since. And me? I gave a little shrug and went back to my day. Because honestly? I just don’t care. So this post is not a witty and clever response pointing out that we, too, also wore bootcuts and mum jeans once upon a time. Nor is it a snarky rant about how, actually, skinny jeans are way cool, Gen Z just don’t know it yet. It’s just to say exactly that – I don’t care. And here is why.
Clothes have always been a huge part of my identity. But for the longest time, I had it backwards. I thought the clothes made me who I was. As a girl who spent most of her early years blending into the background I mistakenly believed that somehow clothes would be my saviour, and that if I could just find my ‘look’ I would magically be welcomed into the realms of the cool. Cue years of wearing what I thought would make me accepted. Years of following every trend. I dressed like every one of the Spice Girls at some stage. I tried Sporty chic in a borrowed pair of Adidas popper trackies. I dyed my hair pillar box red a la Ginger. I did the whole baby doll slip with platform trainers thing. And of course there was a floor length, halterneck leopard print dress with a slit to the thigh (shudder) and oodles of Posh-esque strapless party frocks, usually in some god awful two-tone fabric. There was even a feather boa at some point. Yes. A feather boa. Then when the Spice Girls were deemed too juvenile for a teen, I moved to my All Saints phase and spent my days in huge baggy combats and tiny crop tops. In those days, not having the right brand of trainers or a Kookai bag was effectively social suicide and as we didn’t have vast amounts of disposable income, insecurity over my wardobe plagued me. I will never forget the heartbreak of being what seemed like the only girl in the world who didn’t have the Miss Selfridge tie dye heart motif tee of the moment. As I moved from my school days to university life, the need to fit in remained firmly in my psyche and I continued to jump on every passing bandwagon. These were the years of one shouldered varsity sweaters (yeah I know, I can’t believe that was a thing either!) Lonsdale bowling bags, huge belts slung around my hips and string vests over neon Wonderbras. It did not matter if they suited me – that padded bra looked pretty daft on my completely flat chest – it didn’t matter if I felt comfortable – the vast majority of the time, I did not – it just mattered that it was what everyone else was wearing, and it probably wasn’t until I was almost 30 that I managed to break free of this nonsense cycle.
It was around the same time my body began to show it’s age. Throughout my youth I was naturally slim, never really thinking about what I ate or going to the gym, but as I edged out of my 20’s that all changed. I finally got my long awaited boobs, but they brought hips with them and plenty of extra padding around the middle. At first I was alarmed when my clothes no longer fit me. I allowed myself to fall victim to the constant barrage of marketing aimed at young women and assumed I must be ‘fat’, so half heartedly vowed to diet and continued to squeeze myself every day into size 8 garments that did nothing for my new found figure. Obviously, I did not feel good. But I still chose to believe it was me that needed to change. Thankfully, one day something clicked. I gradually learned that when I dressed in styles that actually suited my bigger, softer shape I felt good, and it was like being reborn. Somehow it led to me finding the confidence to wear clothes I actually liked rather than trying to force myself into things that just didn’t look right on me, and a new found passion for fashion was born.
Honestly, feeling comfortable with who you are? You can’t beat that feeling. It is worth 100 times the buzz you get from feeling like you ‘fit in’ and to be frank, while at times I look at my slowly sagging postpartum body in the mirror and feel a pang of nostalgia for that washboard tummy of my youth, I wouldn’t want to be 22 again for anything. I have enough things to feel insecure about, thanks, I have absolutely zero desire to go back to a time when I feared wearing the wrong thing might make people not like me. Now, I get to wear things that bring me genuine joy, and I’m not willing to let anyone make me feel like they shouldn’t. Do I still worry about how I look? Yeah, sometimes. Do I still get influenced to wear certain things? Hells yes – I blame you, Instagram, and my tribe of fabulous, stylish Insta friends! And of course, I get a little thrill everytime someone tells me they like my outfit – I’m still human, afterall. But when someone tells me they don’t? That’s ok. I really don’t care. Because it’s been a really long time since I dressed for other people’s approval, and I’m not about to start again. So I don’t care if my skinny jeans are no longer cool. I don’t care if my 50s style circle skirt is a bit too girly or my heels are overly dressy for the cinema. I don’t care that you personally wouldn’t pair pink with red or think only attention seekers wear hats. I’m not dressing for you, I’m dressing for me – and it feels so much better than ‘cool’ ever did.