Anxiety has always battered me. The ways it has done so has changed and transformed over the years but in one way or another it’s always been around, beating me down and ruining parts of my life that should be great.
From crippling panic attacks as a teenager that ruined my school years, to the inability to trust in relationships, to the gut-wrenching belief that I am a terrible mother – anxiety has been the underlying reason for all of my biggest doubts and fears, and has in turn ruined opportunities, friendships, relationships, and, at certain points, my life.
-TRIGGER WARNING- contains photos of extremely questionable fashion choices.
Recently my anxiety has taken a new form. It’s made me feel like I am taking up too much space, drawing too much attention, and getting in the way. The result of this is a complete change in myself; the way I act, the way I feel about myself, and especially – the way I dress.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when this started. When a pair of black jeans, a black t-shirt, a pair of trainers, and a centre-parting became my uniform. I started wearing mostly black years ago, but that was because I loved it. Now I seem to hide behind it. I used to feel sexy in all black, now I feel safe.
That, my friends, is my prom dress. Gold. 80s. Massive. Repurposed a few months later for my 80s leaving ‘do! (Yes, the hoops have been a thing for well over a decade).
I never used to feel like this, I always had the loudest, most ridiculous outfit through my teenage years. Vibrant, vintage tea dresses and trainers like a mini Kate Nash. I dyed my hair every colour under the rainbow. I certainly never shied away from being the centre of attention. In fact I fed off it. Ask anybody who’s ever been to the pub, or to karaoke, or just to the supermarket with me.
Ok, from going through my photos it would appear gold has been a thing. This is news to me. I fucking wish I still had that skirt though.
This isn’t to say I’m some kind of wallflower now. Give me a shot of tequila or even just a sniff of a glass of champagne and I’m still usually the loudest person in the room. I can put on a front in a room-full of strangers and act take complete control. But there’s always something underlying, some level of anxiety that is completely manifesting in what I wear.
Gone are the prints, or the sequins, or the random things tied in my hair. In their place are 15 (yes really) pairs of high-waisted, black skinny jeans; multiple versions of what is essentially the same black t-shirt (two sizes too big, sleeves rolled up exactly three times), seven sheep’s worth of oversized, knit jumpers, perhaps a hint of khaki or grey thrown in, and about a million pairs of trainers. Oh and gold hoops. All of the gold hoops.
Oh God, where to start. I don’t know why I have a shoe lace round my head, that skirt was from Primark and I’m pretty sure made from quilt, but fuck me that co-ord is AWESOME!
And I like that look, obviously I do otherwise I wouldn’t wear it. But it makes me sad when I realise that’s all I have now. Even if I go out I don’t dress up, I simply wear the same with a darker eyeshadow. Weddings and christenings are a nightmare as I spend weeks trawling the internet for something that looks dressed-up but still fits my strict All Black All Baggy criteria.
The amount of times I’ve ordered something because it looks amazing on the model, or I’ve seen somebody wearing it online and then the second I see it in the flesh I know I have to send it back. Because it ‘isn’t me’. Because it’s too much. Because I’ll stand out. For every 100 items I order on ASOS, I send 98 back. And the two I keep will just be another pair of black tees.
If you ever saw me out in 2008-2009 you saw The Green Dress. I bought it for my 18th birthday and wore it until it fell off. Also, this is my promising to get the three-barrel wavers out again.
I’m stuck in a fashion rut. And it’s completely self-imposed. My anxiety started it but I’ve not tried to fight back. I’ve gone along with it because it’s easy. But I’m bored now.
I walk down the high street and I see so many girls looking incredible in so many different styles. I scroll through Instagram and am completely inspired by how badass so many women look in exactly what they want to wear. I walk around Zara and pick things up that I love, but they don’t fit my ‘uniform’ so I put them back.
How bullshit is that?!
A) that fur coat is for sale on my Depop, B) yes that is a bottle of wine I was drinking straight from on the beach – Blossom Hill White Zinfandel like a proper white girl, C) yes, I am wearing a gold sequinned top AND gold pants (I still have the top).
So I’ve decided to make a change. I’ve decided I don’t want to hide behind the same things anymore. Why shouldn’t I be seen and heard? What am I even afraid of? Judgement? It never bothered me before. Fashion mistakes? I think we can all agree that never used to be a worry of mine. It’s like I’m clinging on to all black as some kind of identity, when really it’s not my identity. It’s just 99% of my wardrobe.
Red hair, pink hair, lilac hair…
Last year I went to two of my best friends’ wedding in a yellow dress. It was so out of character and nothing like anything else in my wardrobe. I received more compliments on that day than I have in years, and I felt fucking wonderful. Yet for some reason I took it off and slipped straight back into my all black ways (granted I did get pregnant the next day and we all know my issues with maternity wear).
The yellow dress of dreams.
The past few months some changes have started slipping into my wardrobe. First some pink trainers, then a pink skirt, a jumpsuit I loved, a bright red lipstick, the pant suit of dreams. I feel great when I’m wearing them. I feel pretty and stylish and me.
I still feel terrified and wrong and out of place, but those are feelings that don’t belong, those are feelings I can fight and remove.
This isn’t some pledge to start wearing rainbow dresses and floral leggings, I’ll still be in mostly black, because I do like it. But it’s time to be more adventurous again, I didn’t let worry or embarrassment stop me before – I shouldn’t now.
Because I’ve always loved fashion. I’ve always loved clothes. I haven’t always made the best choices (who has?!) but I always used to have fun.
I want to start having fun again.