A few months ago I dressed for work, nothing unusual about that it’s something I do almost everyday, but this day turned out to be a little different. This day started to change the way I felt about fashion, what I noticed about the clothes I wear and the way I wanted to feel about the clothes I put on my back.
That day I wore a pair of baggy blue jeans, striped T-shirt, pinstripe jacket, wedge pumps and an oversize silver ring. For me this is an everyday look, it’s easy to work in and always looked cool when I was serving in the boutique.
That morning at my local café I lazily flicked through Instagram while I waited for my cup of tea. I flicked and flicked and flicked and then there was a post in my fashion-drenched feed that stopped me in my tracks. I’ve seen this kind of post (almost) literally a million times, a fashion influencer dressed head to toe in sponsored clothing. The dress was beautiful, as were the perfectly matched shoes and handbag. The whole look was gorgeous, enviable in fact. For some reason on this particular morning it all felt a little off and as I looked down at what I was wearing I said to myself “Those clothes don’t really mean anything to her”.
So here is a little background on the bits and pieces and I wore that day:
The pair of baggy blue jeans – a pair of very oversized mens jeans that I roll up with super wide cuffs. I found them in an opp shop and only recently has my beloved stopped commenting on the ‘Giant Man Pants’, it made me laugh every time.
The Stripe T-Shirt – I made it and we sold the T-Shirt in the shop! The hand painted stripes was a look I discovered back in high school when I would hand paint Bonds singlets for my sister and I. I’m not sure my sister loved them as much as I did, but I have loved a hand painted stripe top ever since.
The pinstripe jacket – I bought this Scanlan and Theodore jacket back when ‘Scanlan and Theodore’ was still written in cursive script and came in lime striped bags. I started out my working life as a Milliner working with the astounding Peter Jago and I bought this suit to wear to my first ever Melbourne Cup straight out of Fashion School. This jacket has been with me for well over 20 years and has so many memories attached to it, it’s been to everything from weddings to funerals, it could write a memoir of it’s own.
The wedge pumps – My vintage Walter Steiger brown silk pumps have quite a story to them. These 1980’s survivors came to me through a friend whom may have needed to get a little community service done after a particularly wild Saturday night. Luckily for me she chose clothes sorting at a particularly famous (now gone) St Kilda Salvos to pay back her questionable behaviour debt. I am forever grateful for the long arm of the law and these gorgeous pumps.
The oversize silver ring – The ring I wore that day was a large George Jensen Moonlight Grapes ring, a 40th birthday gift from my loving and super stylish family. I often wear it with the Jensen grapes ring my father bought my mother in Hamburg back in the 60’s.
This was certainly not the most amazing or instagrammable outfit I have ever pulled together but I love all of these pieces of fashion. They remind me of wild nights and wild friends, the beginnings of my creativity and experimentation with fashion, the people I love and some of the most glamorous times of my life. To me it seemed that this lazily put together outfit is actually My Story.
In the light of a beautiful but quickly glimpsed instagram post my everyday clothes suddenly felt important, of so much more value than could ever be measured with likes and a row of love hearts. I know it still happens but I suddenly felt like I missed the days when a conversation with a friend would start with “Oh wow, I remember when you wore that dress to (insert amazing event)” and when the question “love it, where did you get it?” is answered with a story not just the name of a shop.
That morning a few months ago rattled me and made me realise that, maybe, what I truly love isn’t fashion. It’s clothing. I love the way clothes (and of course accessories) are made, the way they feel, the memories attached to them and the potential of them.
I feel I need my clothes to be part of my story, part of my life. In the face of the dreadful impact clothing has on the world I need my clothing to have a deeper value. And a past. And a future.
I need to make my clothes my story. What’s your story?