1991-2000 : My Fashion Wonder Years

It took me a long time to learn how to dress my shape and find my own ‘style’. As a young child I was a total princess and most of the photographs of me from then see me styling up my outfit with plenty of accessories – something which hasn’t changed to this day…..

Accessorising from a young age

Accessorising from a young age

However, my brothers were my best friends and living in a tiny village we spent summer after summer going on adventures and camping out. As I moved into adolescence and my body was changing I was ashamed of it, I didn’t want to be different to them and I spent many of the oncoming years coving myself up in shapeless tracksuits and t-shirts which only accentuated my curves and size, rather than hide it as I wanted to.

I have always harboured that passion for clothes though, and would dream about all the things I would wear when I had the body I wanted rather than the one I had. Despite winning a place on a highly sort after fashion course, I continued to shackle my body with bit, baggy and unflattering clothes. I never really liked anything I owned, it was all purchased because of what it covered. I had a self imposed ‘uniform’ for work and an array of huge jogging bottoms and men’s polo shirts (mostly from my uniform from the pub I worked in part-time) for casual wear at the weekends.

This carried on well into my 20’s. When I started at the company I work at now back in 2000, I was informed in my first week that they had a dress down Friday policy. The thought of this evoked the same fear I had when we had dress down day at school– only it was every week. I had one casual top which wasn’t part of my ‘work uniform’, but wasn’t a pub polo top. And I wore it with a long black skirt – every Friday! (I met my husband at work, and he still talks about my Friday top!)

Sometime in 2002 I became of a TV show called “What Not To Wear”. I will not beat around the bush, Trinny and Susannah revolutionised my life! By watching that programme, and seeing women who sometimes matched my body shape and size, end up dressed in really lovely clothes opened a floodgate for me. I sat up and realised that maybe I could wear something like that. Slowly but surely, different items made it into my wardrobe – a form fitting t-shirt here, a fine knit cardigan there. I was finding my feet and losing my fear.

Then in 2005 they released a book called “What You Wear Can Change Your Life”, and that was it – I was off. This book was all about what sort of colours suit you best, and when I’d worked out what I should be wearing I headed out shopping – literally the same weekend I read it. I remember walking into Primark in Tooting High Street (one of the first one’s open in South London at the time) and it was like the Trinny and Susannah gods had waved a magic wand – I literally got 3 skirts, 6 cardigans, a few scarves to compliment each of the looks, a couple of gorgeous tops which looked like they were from Monsoon rather than Primark. I still remember the elation I felt on that trip to this day. I’d found my style and what sort of colours suited me and I literally wore those clothes until they fell apart.

Since then I’ve never looked back. I only ever wear clothes that make me feel good and never just sling something on for the sake of it. If I wear sportswear at home for housework (or actually, shock and horror, working out!), I always change to leave the house and would never walk outside in it. My husband sometimes despairs that we can’t just jump in the car and go somewhere without a quick change, but he tells me he’s glad that I make those extra efforts with my appearance.

Red top + Denim skirt

I’ve attached a picture of today’s dress down Friday look, and were all sale purchases. The top is a couple of years old and is from Phase Eight and the indigo denim skirt is from Boden. Tights are from M&S (best ones by far!) and the ballet shoes are from New Look.

I’d love to hear what stylish outfits you wear on dress down Friday at work!