Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

When we were very young

I was touched and amused by the supermodel Erin O'Connor's short memoir of her fashion youth in the Observer this weekend. She writes:

Then something wonky happened to me at 14; my friends and I evolved a look that (we thought) proudly proclaimed: 'I don't give a shit!' The basic uniform involved tie-dye gypsy skirts, crucifixes worn upside down as necklaces, and piercing in inappropriate places (although I was never allowed to get one of those, either); we dyed our hair pink with food colouring, and developed a passion for stripy tights, Doc Martens boots, and everything purple. These grubby-looking, salvage-effect items were all shop-bought and overpriced, but - oh, how happily my friends and I wore them, and danced to the folky diddly-di music of the Levellers, or dreadlocked each others' hair, while hanging out in the back of the bus. (NB, all photographic evidence of this time has since been destroyed and I find it hard discussing such a painful and unfortunate period.)

The great joy of being young is making your first stab at a definitive style. You have no idea that you don't look good, and yet you will never take such pleasure in clothes again. For the first time in your life you are dressing yourself, and understanding the power that comes with it. The pleasure derives from the certainty: I am dressed just right, exactly like all my friends.

I'm reminded of the moment several years ago when a friend's teenage daughter came down into the kitchen in tears because, she wailed, she had looked all through her wardrobe and she had nothing to wear. Her mother took her on her knee and together she and I imparted the wisdom that only an older generation can hand on to the next: 'However old you are, and however many clothes you have, for the rest of your life you will always have nothing to wear.'

(Erin O'Connor, later)


Hedera said...

The link is trying to direct me to a place called 'ifeandhealth'; could it be there's an 'L' missing?

mq, cb said...

Yes, there's an "L" missing. However, when you insert the missing "L", you get to read Erin's article, which is brilliant and very funny.

Toby Wollin said...

'However old you are, and however many clothes you have, for the rest of your life you will always have nothing to wear.'
Truer words were never spoken.
The corrolary to this is: If you have an event and wait until the last minute to shop for it - all the good stuff will be gone.

Linda Grant said...

That link is fixed now

dana said...

yes toby! and -- If you need it, you will be able to neither find it nor afford it, and when you are short of funds and occasions, the most fantastic things will turn up. Which you will then either hate yourself for buying, or not. It's fashion's double jeopardy lose-lose proposition.

lagatta à Montréal said...

I daresay Erin O'Connor would look good in a bin liner... she has that lovely Dark-haired Celt complexion and porcelain skin. And I'm sure she looked splendid as an indie teen.

Her article was extremely funny and down to earth; I enjoyed it immensely .

Linda Grant said...

I have met, briefly Erin O'Connor and she is indeed delightful. She also goes out with (follow closely) a friend's boyfriend's best friend. He's a builder. Totally down to earth.

Peregrine said...

Reminds me of the day (ca. my junior year in high school) I wore an elegant updo, featuring a bunch of plastic grapes swiped from my mother's table arrangement and a small white dove of the type usually only seen on Christmas wreaths.

I think I don't have pictures of these kinds of things because, at the time, I felt I would always dress that way.

Ah, those were the days! I have grown less adventurous now that I have a job to dress for.