The New Awkward

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Life is hard at thirteen. It’s a battle of epic proportions, where the sight of a burgeoning pimple is understood as a call to arms and tactical school yard ambushes are planned out weeks and weeks in advance.My own experience yawed between extreme insecurity and a drive to push myself into a confident place. I felt like I would never be cool enough (cool being the only currency in the school yard) and my way to work through that was to take control of what I could. Fashion was that outlet for me and even if  the choices I was making were misguided, it made me feel good about myself.

A new sort of awkward fashion is emerging across the world and I can’t help but compare the look to the clothes I would make and wear as a young teen. In our messy global climate, the idea of regaining control is an attractive one and by taking a stand with designs and doing whatever the f*** pleases them, the fashion world is standing tall in their cherry Dr Martins, slashed jeans and whatever else it is they choose to wear, thank you very much. It’s not always pretty, but it reflects the worlds need to pull together heavy infantry and stomp confidently.

The revived idea of customised clothing is trickling through the recent shows and has definitely been clocked on the racks of major fashion chains. For high end designers, it’s about attacking garments in unexpected, low-skilled and attention grabbing ways. Hacked up fashion was my look as a thirteen year old.  I would take an old tee shirt and turn it into an off-the shoulder slouch top, always with badges sewn on, some fancy rouching detail up the side or an unnecessary hem embellishment. Oh it would have looked a mess- uneven hems, wonky shapes and clunky stitches showing. I wasn’t allowed to spend money on hip new clothes- to be honest I wouldn’t have known what hip was anyway- and so these mashed together pieces of fabric became my way of working out who I was and stitching green faux fur onto jeans was part of that awkward discovery process for me.

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The fact that my wardrobe also contained hand-me-downs from my older brother forced some interesting sartorial curations in my teenage years. I was ok with baggy clothes, as hip-hop was my thing. I wanted to be the fourth member of TLC, wearing loose jeans and Timberlands, hair in cornrows and big gold hoops in my ears. I could wear my brother’s cast offs  and still be super fly. In reality, I was a dorky white four-eyed girl, with braces and dull lanky hair and skin, and even if I thought I looked ‘ill’, my clothes were actually just ill-fitting.

What seems to be happening in fashion at the moment is a shift toward exaggerated shapes, volume and ill-fits, leaning to androgyny and an almost novelty take on what an outfit can be. We’ve had ‘norm-core’ drive sales of grey marle tshirts, New Balance sneakers and tan slacks over the past few years and now I think the kids want to up the ante on this look, pushing the idea of what casual dressing is.

Fashion isn’t going to change the world, but it does represent a changing world. No one wants to be dictated to and everyone is driven to constantly reinvent, pivoting to regain control and outwardly express what it is they are feeling,  regardless of what that looks like.

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images via vogue.com and pinterest

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