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Nobody Has Any Style These Days

pinafore, polo neck, style, autumn, garden walk, garden winter,

pinafore, polo neck, style, autumn, garden walk, garden winter,

About three weeks ago I did a show wearing a long-sleeved black dress. It’s vintage 1940s, with a high neck, lace sleeves (partially sequinned), and fully sequinned on the body. A fantastically-dressed old lady came up to me during the gig to compliment me on my dress, and said conspiratorially, “Nobody has any style these days”. I left thinking, “she doesn’t realise I’m one of them”. I’ve owned that dress, and about half my wardrobe, since I was in my early teens. Aged 14-16 I’d spent hours excavating charity shops and carboots for vintage treasure. Most of the clothes I bought during this time are still knocking around my wardrobe.

I took these photos in the Autumn as I so loved the leaves at that time of year. Once home and editing, I couldn’t bring myself to post them as I just look so boring. Teenage me would be disgusted – I stuck out like a sore thumb everywhere I went in mismatched, abrasively patterened and customised clothes aged 15. I took inspiration from films and costumes in anime and old musicals. Where do I take inspiration from now?

I often tell people that my style has barely changed since I was about 14, but that’s not strictly correct. It’s true that my hair, make-up and beauty style have stayed at the same level since I was 14 (aka, of minimal interest). My thought process behind what I wear also hasn’t altered much. The main qualities I want in my clothing are comfort, durability and what you might call “versatility”. You know, stuff that works equally well for going out, being on stage, or sitting at a desk all day.

I am still drawn to bright colours or dark colours, never neon and rarely pastel. Favourite fabrics are still fake suede, sequins, velvet and corduroy. Preferred decades are still the sixties and seventies. I still detest “loungewear” and anything made of jersey. None of those things have changed much in the last decade.

pinafore, polo neck, style, autumn, garden walk, garden winter,

What Went Wrong

What has changed is that these days, I look incredibly boring. I could be anyone. In these photos I’m wearing an eco-friendly FairTrade polo neck and vintage pinafore, with my Dad’s boots and Grandma’s old handbag. The items are meaningful to me in a way that chimes with my teenage self. EXCEPT unlike with teenage me, you can probably buy replicas of this whole ensemble from Topshop. I’d likely pass a doppelganger outfit within minutes of leaving the house. I’d say about 50% of the time I leave the house looking “passable”. Younger me wouldn’t have settled for that more than 5% of the time.

I’m trying to pinpoint where it all fell apart. When it comes down to it, teenage me had a lot more time and effort to plow into my appearance.I like fashion that looks like a film, fashion that creates a whole other world. Teenage me didn’t just like an outfit in a film, she studied it: tracked it down, sniffed it out and trawled charity shops until she found it’s exact likeness.

I don’t think it’s just me either. Nearly all my favourite style bloggers are teenagers; the big bloggers around my age seem to have stopped creating interesting looks. What the hell happened to interesting fashion? I’m not sure where to find that anymore. Blog after blog (especially large style bloggers) has morphed into the same thing and nothing seems cutting edge or new anymore.

Maybe none of us have enough time these days to try and pull interesting outfits together. Perhaps large blogs are all getting sponsorship from the same brands, or under the same management. Is it just a casualty of growing up? Perhaps the advent of fast fashion and nothing being unique?

pinafore, polo neck, style, autumn, garden walk, garden winter,

Making Changes

Personally, I think I have stopped wearing clothes in interesting ways. I still own a lot of interesting pieces. I stopped buying high street as my 2015 resolution, and now have a 100% vintage, secondhand and independent designer wardrobe. Most of the actual items in there are fairly unique. The problem is that I am just putting clothes together in a boring way.

I’ve also stopped looking for inspiration. In my teens, devoid of social media, I would spend HOURS watching old films and TOTP2 for inspiration. I would google street style in other countries and save all these images to my desktop for inspiration. Obviously Pinterest does the same thing nowadays, but if you follow a couple friends and pin a few similar images then that’s it. The algorithms have you by the neck and you’ll be stuck in a fashion echo chamber forever.

Teenage me stood out for her weird and bizarre fashion choices. Current me is not impressed about being a boring wallflower. My main inspirations have either stopped inspiring me or disappeared, and I’ve stopped taking time to put outfits together. What to do? Where to look? What do you do for inspiration?

pinafore, polo neck, style, autumn, garden walk, garden winter,

pinafore, polo neck, style, autumn, garden walk, garden winter,

pinafore, polo neck, style, autumn, garden walk, garden winter,

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15 Comments

  • Reply Belle El-Zubab

    To be honest, I just don’t have the time to shop like I used to. I used to love spending a saturday walking around little independent stores, but now I can’t imagine having that much free time. When I have time I spend it with friends or on a side project or just recharging. My style is black tank top, black yoga pants and changing the feel of this black canvas with accessories. Right now I’m feeling metallics (docs, backpack) or iridescent stuff (trainers, headphones). I like etsy for finding original things, like handpainted scarfs, or chunky or lacy knits or unique rings or pendants.
    But I like your look in these pics. It’s a very innocent, 70’s sweetness which I think is rebellious in a time of everyone wanting to look and dress and wear makeup like a kardashian.

    February 18, 2017 at 11:35 am
  • Reply Laura

    i feel a bit like this about my style choices too! i used to dress so much more uniquely and quirkier when in my teens (especially early teens) and now i feel like a lot of my outfits are a bit boring – especially when comparing with those earlier ones. partly i think it’s because fashion in shops has become more to my taste and, for example, more people wear vintage and second hand, so my outfits won’t stand out as much anymore. but it’s also definitely because i’m not putting as much effort in. and even though i love my vintage dresses etc, i tend to gravitate towards “easier” and simpler choices in every day life. i was also just talking about how basically every single girl at my uni looks identical when it comes to fashion right now. so really, what even is personal style?

    anyway, i don’t think you look boring here and i love the pinafore! also, am now going to catch up with all your posts! xxx

    February 18, 2017 at 11:47 am
  • Reply Lauren Aitchison (@thetartandevil)

    I still scrapbook from magazines and use Pinterest but I find that my style has completely changed since I turned 28. I don’t know who I am any more!

    February 18, 2017 at 12:07 pm
  • Reply Jane

    Teen me would hate my style right now as well! I used to be an emo/scene kid and make it a point to stand out. I’m still interested in style and clothes, but I’m now very much into basics and looking low key. I feel like wanting to stand out was important to me as a teen to reinforce my identity and independence but that’s not as much of a priority to me anymore.

    February 18, 2017 at 12:27 pm
  • Reply Natasha

    I definitely feel this way too Laila, but I’m at an awkward stage in my life where my style and some of my interests have also changed quite a bit too. When I was younger, I was very much into quirky styles, with lots of bright colours that I would balk at now, and I also went through a grunge/goth phase where I lived in band t-shirts and baggy jeans, and black was the only colour in my wardrobe. Now I’m a lot more casual and I prefer prints over slogans and block colours and a lot more earthy tones, but black still plays a big part in my wardrobe too. I do like websites like Pinterest for helping to structure an outfit, and Pinterest is also good for lots of different styles, from moure outlandish looks to casual ones as well – they’re shot of street fashion in Japan are always fun to look at! I think the thing I most go for with clothes now is feeling comfortable and confident – if I feel one of those two, I know I’m doing OK, and I try not to worry too much about trying to ‘fit in’ with styles or trends now, if I like something, I generally like it for a long time and I’m also starting to explore different styles and clothes which I used to avoid like the plague, now that I’m 26 and have a different view of the things I like, so that also makes it fun. Having said that, I do love this outfit you’re wearing, it’s lovely and knowing all of the items have a little backstory and character is really nice too, it gives the outfit something more. I definitely echo the thoughts of those in the comments above and in your post, so know you’re not alone! 🙂 – Tasha

    February 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm
  • Reply Kirsty Colclough

    I found this really interesting to read. As someone who is considering doing a few fashion posts over the next few months, it’s true I have looked at other plus size fashion bloggers for inspiration. I find it hard to put my own spin on things when shops like Primark and New look are so much cheaper for those that can never find there size in charity shops or at vintage fairs etc… Pinterest might be good for inspiration?

    Kirsty Leanne
    http://www.kirstyleanne.com

    February 18, 2017 at 3:50 pm
  • Reply Brittany

    I know exactly what you mean! My teenage self would be totally frustrated with my current wardrobe. In high school, I loved quirky and vintage fashion (I was so obsessed with Kate Nash!) and loved hunting for treasures at the thrift stores. I’ve been teaching high school for the past four years and I look about five years younger than I actually am already, so I’ve had to modify my wardrobe a lot. I feel like it’s important to make myself look a little bit older, which often means boring, teacher-y outfits. I often daydream of seeking out some cool, work-friendly vintage pieces, but then there’s always the issue of time. As some others said above, my style change has mostly come from a shift in my priorities.

    February 18, 2017 at 4:50 pm
  • Reply Siobhán

    I’ve been feeling this so much lately. For me part of it is not fitting my vintage collection anymore (boo to gaining 2 stone) and part of it is that I don’t think I have the confidence I had then. Where I would add extras all the time, work to make my outfits pop. Now I just have blue hair but that is getting common too. I’m trying to shop less. This month I got a Hawaiian shirt and a yellow rain coat. Things I would not have had the confidence to wear last year. I still go to vintage shops but my electric blue brocade shift dress is currently hung in my wardrobe unworn. I think I’ve become afraid of standing out which is totally weird. I think we need to find that creative eye again. Find the thing that makes it pop. Though (getting super duper long winded now) for me part of it has been losing my identity. Stuff with my ex really messed up my sense of self so my outfit last night took so much faux confidence to wear out the house (skinny jeans, sequin dress, sequin bomber jacket and printed slip on trainers.) I could feel people looking at me. It felt weird. I felt bad. I think think capitalism is encouraging us to be unique by being the same more than ever. So incoherent comment but you’ve given me a lot to think about x

    February 18, 2017 at 5:22 pm
  • Reply Gemma

    You could never come across as boring!

    Gemma
    http://www.fadedwindmills.com

    February 18, 2017 at 8:29 pm
  • Reply Denise

    I think you have style and it’s beautiful – I liked the outfit you showed now! And I am sure I would have loved the dress with sequins you wore to the gig. I agree that fashion bloggers are now a bit boring; I know some that during winter wear uniforms in grey, beige, black and that’s all. But I know a few that are really edgy and that I like. I, for example, wear what I like, mismatching for sure, because I feel better that way! I hope you have a very beautiful weekend!
    DenisesPlanet.com

    February 18, 2017 at 9:47 pm
  • Reply Emma Copland

    I feel like my style is way less exciting than it used to be but is much more me. I used to buy stuff because I felt like I had to, to be ‘on trend’ and because I was still working out who I was. Now I am comfortable with myself and in turn with the clothing choices I make.

    February 19, 2017 at 4:47 pm
  • Reply Rebecca

    Ohmygosh I feel you. My wardrobe has gotten really boring.

    My problem is that I now have a “professional” job – I’m a young female academic and I’m way too hung up on how people perceive me. 🙁 When I was a PhD student I had a lot more time to thrift and find interesting things. Now, most of the time I just go to work in a very conservative environment. Even though I’ve toned things down considerably, I still feel that I stand out.

    February 19, 2017 at 10:49 pm
  • Reply jessthetics

    I think you look more interesting than you give yourself credit for Laila – this dress is gorgeous! I know what you mean though, I do care about clothes and putting outfits together but I dress to be comfortable / presentable most of the time, instead of dressing to be interesting. My most worn outfit is jeans and a jumper which teenage me would have been horrified at! I think a part of it is that my job is public facing and I don’t want to scare people away, haha. My priorities have also changed – now the majority of my disposable income goes on food and travel instead of clothes, like it used to. I’ve noticed the change in the style of big bloggers too, I think they realised they would have a wider reach (= bigger audience) if they dressed in a more “mainstream” way. I am much less inspired by personal style blogs than I used to be. I am not interested in what the latest collections are from high street shops, but that seems to be most of what’s out there xx

    Jessthetics

    February 20, 2017 at 11:42 am
  • Reply Cherie

    I found this very interesting to read. And we all know you’re a slick dresser! Admittedly, I was a more adventurous dresser in my teens/in uni fo sho, rocking dem coloured tights and bright colours. Nowadays, because of work (boo) I’m usually drawn to more simple and fuss-free styles. Then again, part of the reason I’ve swtiched up my style also has a lot to do with the way people perceive me – I feel like (sadly) if I decide to go for a overly bright shirt + crazy earrings they’d think I’m a whacky 16 year-old who don’t take work seriously. I mean, I know I look super young but honestly I think a lot of the times this happened and I’ve not managed to get a message across and people don’t think I’m being ‘serious’ enough…

    One thing is for sure though, I always dress for comfort!

    Cherie ✽ sinonym

    February 21, 2017 at 11:03 am
  • Reply SHEINTHEKNOW (@Sheintheknow)

    I don’t think I ever had a sense of style if I’m completely honest, it’s only recently that I’ve taken an interest in what I’m wearing and to be fair I’m really digging some of Missguided’s stuff at the moment. I can’t imagine having the patience to rummage through charity rails for clothes haha! x

    http://www.sheintheknow.co.uk

    March 2, 2017 at 11:59 pm
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