Never really understood why the 'scavengers' come out to prey over the weekend until you realised: when there is no work, no school and no more Guylian chocolates to nibble on - you are one of them. It is interesting to see how fashion can become an overbearing addiction that feeds off the vulnerable or the fact that it is so intgriuing it would even fascinate the imagination of any non-conformist. So, ask yourself the ultimate question any fashionista would ask themself: what is it about fashion that captures so much of our time?
For someone like myself, the sheer creativity and the fact that there is no rule book. This thing called 'fashion' swallows you up, but instead of spitting you out, every muscle known-to-man consumes you, spriralling into a labryinth leaving you breathless and delirious because there is so much of everything for you to consider, yet you can't help but ask yourself the penultimate question: if this is what it does to you, why do you love it so much? And this is where real confusion and soul searching sets in, often uprooting some hidden insecurities you thought were dead and buried, but has a sneaky way of rearing its ugly head. A question we never really answer, but for the presentation of a bemused look and heavy sigh of a non-existent burden and frustration of never coming up with any valid reason other than 'versatility'; fashion is fun' and 'limitations are not an option'; we prefer to leave a blank space supported with that blank stare one so often uses when they know the answer but feels playing the fool as the perfect get-out clause.
From century to century and generation to generation, and nowadays, season to season; our style is like a revolving door, when the trend for the season is bound to come back around again, but with a slight difference. Even those who adore a particular era will always add a twist to their style because they can. It is fair to say in recent years, even I have become more and more fashion conscious than ever before.
So many women, especially as they get older, their bodies start to change in size and shape, and like so many women, I find myself in those brackets. I remember when people would say, "but your only in your twenties" even though I was fast approaching my thirties at the time, and now, I can say I am firmly in my thirties. My body was changing and continues to do so whether I like it or not. Clearly, plastic surgery is not an option, or should I say I couldn't afford it, it meant one thing only - fashion is the solution. Taking an in-depth look into what fashion is about has left me restless and anxious, as my new found quest of personal style without feeling guilty for making necessary spends continues to consume my sub-conscience for wanting and needing that all important high, before I am let down with a heavy blow because my pockets are slightly lighter than usual, again.
I have always loved fashion, and used it as therapy to escape from the world and its problems, but never realised it could be used as a tool to set you apart from the rest: to show character, personality and express your personal, social and poilitical statement as so many designers do nowadays. Like many of us, I have always been aware of the impact fashion can have on others but not truly aware of the impact it has had on me until now. Maybe it is something that springs with age or maybe that is just the way it is. Nonetheless, the older we get, the more conscious of our bodies we become and that makes a huge difference on how we see fashion and how fashion perceives us to be able to draws us in at times when we are most vulnerable.
Of course, anyone who does not fit into society's perception of what is the norm (whatever that is) is bound to draw attention to themselves, especially if they live in the demographics of Birmingham - 'Big City, Small Town' thing - and that is not to say that we are less outrageous with our style but it is worth pointing out that fashion breeds confidence and confidence is what makes fashion a lot of the time. Having the confidence to not do what is branded as the norm is one of our many weaknesses. Too afraid to set ourselves apart from the rest.
Once upon a time, living in Birmingham used to be a struggle for inspiration because everyone tried so hard to be like each other. Now, we have come full circle, yet there is still the odd raised eyebrow to the person wearing illuminous knee-high socks and mahogany loafers, but since the arrival of the Bull Ring, The Mail Box and our infamous high streets jam-packed with the latest trends straight off the catwalk in a store near you has made all the difference in the world. Not to mention, Style Birmingham, which has well-known celebrities doing the mileage along the M1 to be apart of an amazing event contributing to the new found fame here. And more recently, the Midlands Fashion Awards is steadily rising through the ranks making headlines for providing a platform for talented individuals with exceptional creative vision based right here in the Midlands.
It is common knowledge when we think or talk about fashion, we think womenswear more than menswear. Although it is rapidly changing, and there are more fashion conscious men than ever before, who like to look good just as much as women do, but since the idea of womenswear is, generally, at the forefront of our minds; let us continue. Fact: women shop more than men. We have more options. Our clothes tend to be cheaper. We are more likely to find that all-important bargain. The most pleasurable activity you can find that may break the bank, allow us to get so excited and work up a sweat just by simply taking off our clothes in the changing room to try a garment on or musing through numerous online sites is the ultimate high. But, does it open the floodgates for us to transform into blood sucking creatures succumb to the watchful eye of the fast rotation of the industry? At times it is nothing more than an outlet for so many of us a chance to unwind and remove ourselves from the realities of the world. A dear friend of mine was very open with her thoughts when I told her I was writing this article and she hit the nail on the head and summarised it beautifully: "It gives us the opportunity to express our personality. There are no boundaries in fashion; no class or status issues. Regardless of whether you shop in Primark or not, it is about self-personification. It epitomises your own sense of style and reinforces the fact that you don't need excessive amounts of money to be fashionable nowadays nor do you need to be in fashion to be fashionable. Just be creative. More importantly, just be you. It's like a voice that speaks to you."
One thing for sure, fashion has nothing to do with age, it maybe a contributing factor to the changes we make in our wardrobes because of how are bodies change and as we continue to evolve as individuals, however it is not the sole reason for it. What we choose to wear in our twenties, when we are on the road of discovering who we are, for some of us, is naturally not what we would wear ten or twenty years from now, and this is how and why we are slaves to it.