Finding Your Fit
[This article was originally published in Issue 01 of Roundtable Journal]
I have a lot of clothes. Some people (my mum included) would say I have too many. The wardrobes in my bedroom are full to bursting, and there are more clothes in bin bags too. Most haven’t been worn in years, but I can’t quite bear to throw them out. You never know when you’re going to get a last-minute invite to a 90s party and that pink fishnet jacket is going to come in handy (don’t judge me, it could happen). Clothes are my weakness, but I’m not alone in thinking they have deep sentimental value. Our model trio, Tatiana, Maggy and Maisie, agree. Each issue, we’ll be chatting to some of our favourite girls about the clothes they can’t get rid of, the quirks they’ve grown to love, and the people who’ve shaped their attitude to life and style.
Maggy, who arrives at our shoot wearing skin-tight patent trousers and matching patent shoes (the ultimate badass attire), is an aspiring fashion designer. If she could describe herself in one piece of clothing, it would be a long, fitted dress: classic and sexy. Tatiana – who also goes by Tracey, T and Tessa – is a model with a mega-watt smile and the kind of French accent that seduces you on the spot. Sunny, happy days find their human form in Maisie, a painter. Her bare face (“my make-up consists of mascara and Vaseline”) is generously spattered with freckles her mum calls “sun kisses”– exactly what her infectious laughter feels like.
When it comes to style, Tatiana, Maggy and Maisie’s ‘go-tos’ vary. But their individual styles reflect the identity each girl has formed for herself. Cailtin Moran once said, “It’s not that I have nothing to wear. It’s that I don’t have anything to wear for who I want to be today.” But what do you wear when you forget who you are, and who you want to be? Maisie has an ‘everyday uniform’ which gives her that “release the hair, shake and go” confidence: “I wear big jumpers and ripped jeans a lot, and Vans – Vans are life.” Tatiana also sees her everyday style as a source of comfort and confidence, but prefers the classic look of vintage Levi’s and an oversized cotton shirt. For Maggy, mixing things up is her trademark: “I love to style vintage stuff with new things. I like to fuck things up a bit!”
Developing your personal style goes hand-in-hand with developing your personality and sense of self. Teenage angst is represented perfectly in fashion faux pas; the trends we indulged in but wish we hadn’t. For Maisie, it was extreme colour co-ordination. “When I was in secondary school – oh God, this is embarrassing – everything had to match colour-wise. So, laces in the hair, lollipops in the hair – I don’t know why, but it was a thing – everything matched.” For Tatiana, the red flags popped up a little later. “I had a Pacha belly ring, Von Dutch fur jackets… I never went for the G-string with low cut jeans look, but some of my friends did. I had one Juicy Couture tracksuit though, but not pink. It was black and only had diamantes on the back. I mostly wore it on planes.” Rebellious tattoos, like Maggy’s, may have more lasting power than laces and lollipops, but they carry the same incredulous nostalgia. She got the swallow on her collarbone spontaneously on a holiday, and it’s her favourite tattoo for this very reason. Indulging in tacky trends is something we can all relate to, but as Maggy points out, these trends don’t necessarily reflect the people wearing them. What works on one person won’t work on everyone: “Kate Moss is an icon but we’re not all Kate Moss.”
Dressing according to trends may be convenient, but it doesn’t show your personality. “I have friends who dress a certain way because at the moment it’s trendy”, Tatiana says, “But then they have no attitude at all, so the outfit isn’t cool because it’s not them.” Maggy chimes in: “people follow trends way too much.” Following trends may be tempting, but fashion is fickle. The Juicy Couture hoodie Tatiana regrets from her teens is now selling for $600 on Vetements, and the Von Dutch jacket with pink faux fur could definitely make a comeback in the near future. After all, who doesn’t love a bit of sartorial sarcasm à la Ab Fab? But the beauty of personal style is that it reflects who you are, and endures even when trends are constantly changing.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with taking style cues from other bad bitches. Whether it’s your mum, your aunties (Tatiana’s are “crazy, but on point”) or your friends, it’s natural to be inspired by the people around you. Taking inspiration from friends and borrowing clothes from your sister lets you experiment and figure out how to make things your own. According to Tatiana, nothing beats the feeling of breathing new life into a garment and putting your personal spin on it. “I love sharing clothes with friends. I don’t know why, but I love clothes that aren’t mine.”
Some clothes, however, are not for sharing. They’re the things we keep close to us, and never get rid of, despite however many times we move house, or follow Vogue’s advice to ‘detox’ our closets. Maisie has a fur coat handed down from her stepdad’s late sister: it oozes old-school Russian glamour but has a ‘fuck David Cameron’ badge on it. “I never wear it anywhere, but I wear it around the house,” she says. “If there was ever a fire, it’s the first thing I’d grab.” That said, clothes are best loved when lived in: “My dad always taught us to wear what you want, but get it dirty, live in your clothes. He’s definitely one of my icons. He has these Paul Smith powder pink shoes… They shouldn’t work but the man rocks it. And they look like he bought them yesterday, even though they’re older than my brother. So I’m precious with my clothes, but at the same time I’m not.”
Maggy, on the other hand, is more sentimental about her jewellery, because of the people who gave it to her. “I wear a ring that my father gave to my mother, which she gave to me. It doesn’t even fit, but every morning I rub oil on my finger so I can squeeze it on. My other favourite ring, a friend gave to me but I lost it. It was nowhere to be found back home in Paris, so I went online and found the exact one – he still has no idea I ever lost it!” True style, Maggy says, is about personal pieces and cherishing where they came from.
For Tatiana, the only clothes she’s sentimental about are her mother’s. But there are a few items she won’t let go of in a hurry. The silver lattice necklace she brought to our shoot – an ode to Parisian chic – was a gift from emerging designer Arielle de Pinto. Tatiana’s fingers coil around it as I speak to her, tracing the links of its intricate pattern. “When I did a show for her in Paris, she gave the models a few pieces to keep. It’s my night piece, I really like it.” If she had to wear one outfit for the rest of her life, this necklace would definitely be a part of it. However, her fashion life-partner would be a suit. “I love the whole suit look, like Bianca Jagger vibes. If I could have one specifically designed for me, I would never wear anything else. Just that for the rest of my life.”
Whether they reflect who we are at home on Sunday mornings, or who we want to be in ten years, clothes are how we portray ourselves, and show how we feel on the inside. Maisie makes the point that confidence comes from within, and it’s totally true: “I’m all about finding love within yourself before you can give it to someone else.” For her, being comfortable in the clothes you wear comes second to being comfortable in your own skin. “Having a white mum and a black dad but red hair and freckles confused me and a lot of other people, but I had to learn to love and embrace my features. I have about twenty birthmarks, too. My favourite is the heart-shaped one on my leg; someone once told me that birthmarks are a nod to your past lives, which I love the idea of.”
Maybe the key to shaping our identity – be it loving the skin we’re in, or finding the clothes that fit – lies in the people who’ve helped us along the way. Whether it’s a blogger who showed us a styling tip we live by, or a crazy aunt who taught us how to love ourselves, it’s the people who’ve helped to shape our sense of style and self that matter. For me, I feel most at home wearing the beat-up Levi’s jacket my best friend gave me, or the jumper my dad shrunk in the wash. I feel most confident in the pom-pom earrings my friend bought me for my 18th birthday, after having stalked my likes on Depop. Yes, fashion is fun, but it’s the people that make it personal.