FASHION winnie caw 2002
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did you miss me?

I was beginning to despair. For years, the most noticeable feature of the 'young and trendy' were those 'Doc Marten' brogues.

Well, I didn't get out much in the '80s. Life went on without me, I suppose. When I finally ventured into a pub one evening in the late '80s, I thought I had inadvertently stumbled upon a meeting of the local coven. All the 'girls' were clad from head to foot in a black shapeless uniform.

My feeling was, "How can a bloke decide which one he fancies, on current showing?" No doubt it was egalitarian. You couldn't make out what any of the girls were made of (let alone the sugar and spice) and there didn't seem much point in fancying anyone in particular. I made a few protest noises... everyone knows women of a 'certain age' haven't got a clue where it's at and should shut up.

God forbid we should all parade the streets showing what we're made of. It really isn't to be recommended in the tipping rain, or when the temperature outdoors dips below freezing.

My clothes are 'me'. Unmistakeably. I am unlikely to bump into someone wearing the same outfit as me at a party or, indeed, complimenting me on 'me garb'. This is a given. But they do not define who I am as a general rule of thumb. I spent too many years in bottle green uniform (including evenings and weekends) to want to conform to any standard. I am not one to lay an outfit out in the evening ready for the next day. I dress according to my mood in the morning. I have been known to spend weeks wearing 'drab' because that's how I happened to be feeling. But it isn't my outfit of choice. And choice I do have. I am in favour of charity shops, so I believe in quantity over quality. My favourite outfit is never likely to be at the cleaners and you won't catch me saying, "I'm desperate to wear the pink-top-with-the-zig-zag-braiding but it's in the wash." I am lucky to be a standard size and height, and there is a vast array of new/nearly-new discarded garments hanging up and waiting for me at the charity shop. How often do retailers deceive us into flashing the credit card for a bargain size 16 when we're in a rush to get back to work, and then we never get round to returning the item, and it goes into the bag for charity?

When I was at school, I loathed needlework. It wasn't so much the crawling over the floor because the table was never big enough to cut out pieces A to H. I hated ripping out the seams and re-sewing them, to make them look more professional. Professional to whom? Unless the dress turned out too tight to fit me, what difference did it make? I've yet to get off with someone who expresses the weird desire to see my 'neatenings'. And no way was I keen to show off my seamstress skills in an exam room, for further humiliation. However, I was chosen to do sewing at school and, by hook or by crook, it took. The skills I learned stood me in good stead when I became a student. I was able to choose my own style of material and a pattern to suit my personal body contours. The resulting garment was unique to me. Most of my clothes were hand-made, including crocheted dresses and knitted jumpers.

I have never been mistaken for someone else from the back, because of what I may be wearing. WMC

winnie caw 26 May 2002 (amended 25/11/02)

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