Do you remember being seventeen? I do. Vaguely. I was finishing up A-levels at a girl’s grammar school where I never really fitted in with anyone (although I’m not sure anyone else did either) and more interested in boys than school. I drove a beige mini cooper with a maroon top that broke down on a regular basis, usually when I was hanging out late at my friend’s house and had to get his dad up at 2am to jump start me and send me on my way. I had an unsuitably ancient boyfriend who worked in the city and cooked me cheese on toast with herbs on at the weekends (the height of sophistication when you’ve never even boiled an egg) and I earned enough money waitressing at a variety of pubs in the area to pay for the car, until I was old enough to pull pints and graduate to the heady heights of ‘barmaid’, when I used to spend my wages on drinking pints when I wasn’t serving them.
I wore jeans, t-shirts, or long paisley skirts with tassels on, and owned a short black skirt for work. On my feet were usually a pair of ‘chinese sandals’, awful flat misshapen things from Chelmsford market for a fiver, that were almost compulsory for every sixth former. I used to occasionally trade these in for a pair of jazz shoes to dance in, or boots, if it was wet weather.
When I was seventeen, my idea of a career was non-exisitent. I had no idea what I wanted to do, I didn’t mind too much, and nor did anyone else. I wrote a diary, not a blog. I didn’t know about fashion and fashion didn’t know about me, and we got along fine that way, because I was young enough for it not to matter. I thought the pink and orange chiffon top I bought for a party at Chelmsford City Football club was the height of sophistication. I owned a black cotton bag with sequins on the front (again from the market) and lived in my black cardigan with buttons down the back until it rotted off my shoulders. My hair was curly and out of control and done by my mum’s friend when it was done by anyone. I owned eyeliner and mascara and an old Clinique lipstick from a multi pack my mum didn’t want. I danced to the Happy Mondays and the Farm and mixed Bacardi into a bottle of coke to take to parties.
I was considered fairly cool, I think, although slightly odd (not much has changed in 20 years). How would have I described my personal style? Top Shop meets Miss Selfridge. Whilst I’m aware than a few decades have passed since then, and we are admittedly living in a very different place to the chavland of my youth (although sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference), I wonder at what strange creatures Dubai has managed to produce, for example the teenager I happened to stumble across on the back pages of Grazia Middle East this week:
‘This trendy twin describers her personal style as classic and minimal. “I tend to stick to a monochrome palette when dressing.” she says. Here, she works her style magic with this ultra-feminine white and nude ensemble. She teams a slouchy white tank top by Michael Kors with a pair of cream lace trousers by Cameo, adding a vintage Chanel belt to nip in the waist. She finished the look with a pair of nude Louboutins and a beige Chanel bag.’
You’re seventeen, FFS. You’ve got years to covet nude Loubs and neutrals. Go out and get yourself a pair of Havanias and a crop top from H&M and have some fun, girl. And give me your wardrobe. I may be old enough to be your mother but I’m not above borrowing your clothes.