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Editors Story - Do You have One of Your Own?

Posted on November 26 2017

What Gets People Into Fashion?

Jackie Teen Magazine - Britain 1970sI think what got me interested in fashion was when I hit my teens. It was born more out of frustration than the clothing itself, you see… I was considered an odd shape, short and a bit over weight. I had pigeon toes too.

As a 13 year old in the mid 70’s, the fashion was flared trousers including bell bottoms, platform clogs and t-shirts, very American influenced. My best friend was tall and slender and wore this style. She looked amazing like she had just stepped out of a teen magazines aimed at our peers like “My Guy” and “Jackie”.

As a very young child, my mother was the epitome of the 60’s, 70’s fashion. A beatnik at heart, my mother was guided by Mary Quant, Laura Ashley and Bob Dillon, she really had an anarchic fashion style of her own. What she could not buy in the stores, she made at home, including my outfits. (Below, Mary Quant and Laura Ashley)
Mary QuantLaura Ashley Welsh 70s Fashion Designer

My mother wore the controversial mini skirts, the bright pink lipstick and dark sunglasses. Yes, she wore the very fabric of the popular (suggested) causes of social moral and family decline in Britain. The mini skirt was responsible for “family moral decay” as was preached by the likes of Mary Whitehouse, Conservatives and of course, the church barked at women who showed a little “hussy thigh” and “brazen bear arms”. God forbid, if you wore no bra... Well that meant you were definitely a witch and should be burned at the steak at once. I can still remember some of the comments from other women when she and I walked down the street, some women would take a sharp intake of breath and shake their heads in disapproval, while others would say with distain “Shocking, you should be ashamed of yourself”. Some women even feared that my jezebel mother may go after their husbands, I kid you not. 

More men, on the other hand, they loved the fashion. I can still hear the building site workers wolf whistling at her, making a lot of other strange noises too. My mother would squeeze my hand then turn to me and say “Just ignore them”. She walked on by, head held high until we had passed the menagerie then she would carry on chatting about this and that. My mother, even back then, was a feminist. All she loved was the fashion, the music, the poetry, the books and art. My mother was and is a great example of “I don’t care what you think of me” and best part is, she really meant it. My dad was the most fashionable man around town, with his 60's beard and paisley shirts and flared bleached and tie dye jeans.

Fenwicks of Bond Street 1960s - Fashion for the weathyMy whole family had style, our clothes (my brother and I) were all bought from Fenwick’s of Bond Street in London, still exists today. It was a place where the rich and elite would shop for their children. My mother would buy her clothes and my fathers’ at Carnaby Street.

What I did not mention is that our family, in the 60’s, were as poor as church mice. My mother saved and saved until she saved enough to buy me two dresses from Bond Street and one pair of trousers. My Brother got two pairs of trousers and a smart top, this would have to last us one year. Most of our trousers had elastic waistbands. My Mother would hem up my dresses and trousers, this way if I had a growing spurt she could unstitch the hem to adjust to my height. If I grew extra tall, my mother would cut a long triangle shape from the side of the trousers and add a colorful patch of fabric, so what started out as full straight trousers became ¾ length bell bottoms, if the elastic was good, what started out as a pair of trousers became Bermuda shorts.

For all our other clothes, my mother would hand make them and all without a sewing machine. If I remind my mum of those days, she will say. “We had no money but we had style. Unfortunately, people do judge a book by it’s cover and I never wanted anyone to think they are better or wealthier than us”. Maybe I was already into fashion before I could walk, but at least I wasn’t body conscious then. Thanks Mum x

I became body conscious in my early teens as most young pre adolescent girls do. Nothing ever fit me properly and a smile would hide the way I really felt about myself. But here’s the thing, I found out much later on that everyone going through puberty felt exactly the same way, if only we had all talked about this maybe our self confidence levels would have been less stressful.

As an adult with children of my own, I say the same thing my mum used to say… “It’s better to be different than being a sheep. You will get noticed and the doors of life will open more for you than others.” She was right.

Now more than ever my message to men and women of any age and any size, just be yourself, wear what you like and don’t be sucked into what outsiders think you should look like or wear. Strive to be different, forget the fashion norms and get creative and noticed.

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