Monday, 30 July 2012

Rockabilly Baby

My fashion sense is really not all that; nonsense, more like. As a child, I had a beautiful pair of purple trousers with a watermelon print all over. I have fond memories of these, and thankfully no pictures. Then there were the mint green ski pants, the fluorescent bumbag, the bird hair clip that made me look like I had a streak of blue hair... beautiful. Plus to crown the image, a pair of pink, wide-rimmed Eighties glasses so large they covered my whole face.

We didn't have a lot of money and so many of our clothes were hand-me-downs from another family. Clothes from a market stall would arrive in binbags with out of date Eighties patterns and popstar prints (I seem to remember Michael Jackson and Bros). In my early teens, I had a burnt orange skirt, a crushed velvet top and some hot pink culottes. I wore the culottes to the local shops once and saw someone I recognised from school, and was instantly mortified that they'd seen me in something so shocking to the eye.

As I grew older and more embarrassed of drawing any attention to myself, I dressed in white, mushroom, navy; baggy band t shirts in a male size L and ill-fitting jeans. I still had the giant framed glasses because I was scared of change. Me and my best friend used to sneer at the other girls brushing their hair in between classes every time there was a spot of wind - we were at school, we didn't care about impressing anyone. How vain! There is more to life than looks!

Then one day I came in, and my friend was brushing her hair. It was a Forever Alone moment.

I genuinely used to lay my clothes out like this when I was five...

At college I bought a red t shirt and it was the bravest thing I'd done for some time. I could feel people staring at me and it made me hot and uncomfortable. (I might have been hot following a 30 minute brisk walk to class, rather than because I was surrounded by eyes, but as a teenager you are so self-conscious, every minor change to your image mattered). Once I left I felt I could start afresh, and so my glasses became smaller and delicately black framed.

At university, I was more of a classic rock hippy. I used to roam Southampton in a pair of enormously flared purple cords, with a multi-coloured belt and brightly coloured t shirts. Eventually Vision Express helped me on my way to getting some contact lenses, and I feel less bogged down by not having to wear specs all the time any more.

I've always been interested in alternative fashions, albeit a mild version. I'm not content with dressing in plain, inoffensive high street 'blands'. My favourite band is Pulp, and their dark, twisted, mouth-wateringly quirky bleeps. They appeared to champion corduroy, velvet, plastic rings, and stripey jumpers. I tried buying all these things, in a mish-mash of fashion. The band were well-known for shopping at charity shops, but in my local town, you wouldn't go in one unless you were over the age of 70. I think things have happily changed now.

Candida Doyle... adorably quirky rings and jumpers
Something has happened to me recently, and I have gone a bit rockabilly...

According to Your Scene Sucks, "The Rockabilly lifestyle is generally what happens when punk scene veterans suffer some sort of trauma in their late twenties.  As a result, they start believing they are the stars of a 1950's period piece, where they can idealize aspects of a simpler time."

I like it because of the different aspects. There is the tough, rock chick patterns and tattoos, then there is the glamour and femininity of the hairstyles and floaty dresses.

I wear flowers in my hair, polka dots and pearl bracelets. I now own a pair of cheetah-print trousers, and sometimes I am brave enough to wear them out. I can't wear little flicks of eyeliner due to being a heavy user of eye drops though. I recently visited the lovely ladies at Rockabilly, and they cut in some Bettie Bangs, a cute little, slightly puffed out fringe. Now I am one of the people taking my comb out at every opportunity to check they are in place. I don't yet have any tattoos, but I've been considering them for years, and no doubt I will get round to this. I'm even trying to buy nicer underwear, for goodness' sake.

All of this change and trying to fit in isn't something I'm doing for other people; it's for me. I feel more like the person I knew I was back then, but didn't look like, if that makes sense. I don't feel like I have to hide any more - and it feels good.

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