I woke up this morning feeling pretty darn rubbish (with fabulous PMT to boot), and having taken myself in hand over the weekend following a good cry on Friday, realised even the longest of journeys doesn't start with "the first step", its starts with my being dressed to even take that first step! Get the clothes and shoes right and THEN you can take that first step....
Having moved to the country from London, the first thing that went into immediate hibernation was a vast quantity of my wardrobe, and almost my entire shoe collection. Given that I'd worn heels every single day of my life this was a big adjustment. Being a dancer and then working in an office, I had grown accustomed to a type of uniform depending on my day. Until moving here this barely ever included jeans, tracksuits, flat boots and wellies!
I miss fashion! I miss getting ready in the mornings for work, and I miss dressing the part- (whatever that part may be), but I also realised that without that uniform to hide behind, I felt hideously naked! Re-adjusting my wardrobe to fit in with my new life, my new roles and my new friends has been one of the hardest things about moving for me and becoming a mother. And when practicality is supposed to reign, (breastfeeding and mud), I know now that the one thing I should not have let go of was my style.
The odd occasions when I do dress how I like and want to, I certainly get comments and in honesty I am never quite sure whether this is a bad thing or a good thing. In a small place where land rovers and farms are the norm, even in the height of summer a short play-suit is NOT "de rigour" for the school pick-up. Despite it being perfectly acceptable to do the school run in leather trousers and chanel knee high boots in Chelsea; Chelsea it isn't!
The line between fitting in and being true to yourself to me has been very lost over the last couple of years, and only now as I approach (gloomily) near 30, do I seem to feel that my wardrobe does define me, and not the other way around.
Going for a dinner party outside London invariably means Boden, and not Bottega Veneta, and walks means Barbour and dogs and not Balenciaga and Kings Road, but what if you aren't a Boden-Barbour sort of person all the time? Should we fake it? I am a better person in in a shirt than I am in a fleece!
I'm certainly finding out that this year, unlike last year, is the year for change for me, and funnily enough its not a change forwards, its going to be all about a change back. Back to my own comfort zone, of Phillip Lim and vintage Lacroix, tea-dresses, shirts and silk.
I've found new passions for fashion over the last few years, indulging more and more in ebay and online shopping given my location, and as heels just AREN'T possible, I've swapped high altitude heels for high-end expensive underwear and statement jewellery. These have become my latest things, along with handbags and coats, things that I CAN wear to nip to the shops in with jeans and not feel like I've completely lost touch with who I am, and not be frowned at either.
Its a fine balance with fashion between not wanting to stand out and not wanting to look like you've made an effort but I often get the feeling with any moms, new or old, TOO much personal attention to your attire gives the impression you may have somehow neglected your young, and could have been spending better more conscientious time sterilising bottles and keeping a better home. Its as if we DON'T look stressed out and slightly out of time to do our make-up at 8am, then we must be doing something wrong.
I certainly feel that many mums look to each other for approval, and nothing is less approved of in my opinion than being a little bit selfish. After a long chat with H on the phone on Friday, she assured me, in only the way an OLD friend can,
"Babe- you tried, you FAILED! I knew you would, but maybe it was a good lesson to learn, you can't always fit in everywhere with everyone, and just because something looks ideal to you, doesn't mean its always right for you, be yourself. REALLY be YOURSELF. In the last 4 years you don't even look like YOU.... don't try and be someone else, you're time will come..."
Wise words to a sobbing 27 year old...
Its always been a favourite track of mine, "Vienna Waits For You" given the type of character I am, I want it ALL, NOW, and I can't wait... So whats truer than just slowing down and not trying to be the best, not trying to get to the end as quick as possible and concentrating on who we are NOW.
"Slow down, you're doing fine, you can't be everything you want to be before your time, you're gonna burn out before you even get half way through, when will you realise; Vienna waits for you..."
So bravery came through for me this morning, and the voice of change stepped into my wardrobe, on went black tights, (yes tights!) on went a black knitted (designer) dress and the skinny cinch-waist belt, on went black biker-look boots, and on went the mascara, (all before 8am) and you know what, I feel good... Now all that remains is if I can keep the bargain with myself, to be ME! every day, no matter how scary that may seem... Its a long cry from my comfy tracksuit bottoms and uggs but its putting my best foot forward to start that first step, and I AM going to take it easy...