Earlier last week on Instagram, I posted a little note giving people options for getting in touch with me if they wanted to ask me a question or for advice etc. I love getting messages, so it was nice that some of you got in touch as a result of that post; some of you just wanted to say kind things to me that you were too shy to say in public, and a couple of ladies should be feeling very lucky that their partners wanted some advice for something a little special for the upcoming holiday season. What I want to share with you this week, though, is something that comes up a lot in my life – both in a positive and a negative light – and that is: why I dress the way that I do.
Before we start there are, of course, variations on this question: just last week at work I got told I have “such lovely dresses” (which obtusely brought to mind a Glamorous Housewife post I read recently, although that post doesn’t apply to the person in question); it can be the ‘funny’ looks I get walking through town dressed in what others might call their “Sunday best”, or conversely, it can be the smiles and random compliments I get in the same situations.
I’ve briefly mentioned that I was a goth when I was a teenager, but I’ve never been particularly ‘mainstream’ – there’s quite a gap between myself and my two older siblings, so growing up some of my favourite things were the Star Wars trilogy, Blur, and The Ren & Stimpy Show – all well before I should have been “in to” them; as I grew from a child to a teenager, although I tried a lot of mainstream media didn’t really interest me so I soon found my way from pop music to bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, and my beloved Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Around the time I was fifteen or so, my friends & I started to get a little “hassle” when we were in town – it upset me a little bit, but bullying was nothing new to me – as a quiet, glasses-wearing kid I was a prime target, and as I moved from infant to primary and primary to secondary school my slender, shapeless body didn’t help my situation much.
I realised I had a choice to make: I could either carry on the way that I was (i.e. being me), and keep this (extra level of) bullying, or be ‘like everyone else’ but be bullied less. I knew the only way forward was to stay true to myself, and surround myself only with people who knew that the way I chose to dress wasn’t a “green light” for verbal abuse (or worse).
Life continued on like that for a time; I continued to explore the gothic subculture as much as a teenager on a limited budget in a small town can. As I matured some more, I dated a few boys, and I thought one was “the one”, and we moved in together. At some point just before or in the early stages of this relationship, I found Pinup Girl Clothing, I loved their style and while I wasn’t yet “in to” pin up, I felt I could incorporate some things into my style, although it would be a while before I would pace my first order.
I loved those early pieces I had, and I often still wish I had them today (especially my Greta dress), although the reasons why I don’t are beyond the scope of today’s blog post. As I turned more & more towards the pin up culture, I also turned a blind eye to what was happening in my own home, or rather I became enured to what was going on; needless to say that it was not the kind of relationship I believe anyone should be in, and with the help of some good friends I was lucky to be able to get out of that situation.
Sadly, in the midst of leaving that situation, I discovered that I had to get rid of most everything I owned – leaving me with a very bare wardrobe of jeans and t-shirts, after a few months I also traded my New Rock boots for trainers. I knew this wasn’t the part of me I wanted to show the world, but I had very little option at that time – I was pressed for time and had only a modest income, most of which was being used to reduce the debt I was left with. Over time, as the debt slowly decreased I was able to start treating myself to little bits & pieces here & there.
In a way, I’m thankful for the time I spent with little money and a very small wardrobe – it gave me a chance to consider who I really am, and how I want to present myself to the world – it gave me time to think about what’s important to me; I can’t really remember when I made the decision, but I know one of the things that came out of all of this that’s personally important to me is that I wanted to feel as good as I could in my skin every single day – and for me that generally means stockings, dresses, skirts, cute tops & blouses, and occasionally swing or capri trousers. Sure, some mornings I’d rather have some extra time in bed, but – to me – there really is no other feeling quite like feeing happy & confident in my own skin.
As a thank you/reward for making it through this rather wordy post, here are some photos from my most recent photoshoot at Alt.Studio in Manchester: