Writing, Confidence and Dressing Like A Tree Surgeon


I think many people who know me from recent years, would be surprised to discover that (aside from pizza) I spent most of my student loan on fashion magazines from Borders bookshop during my University years, or that for a long time I assumed I’d end up working for a magazine. After my first Reading Festival, the daft diary I kept over that long bank holiday weekend was published on an unknown website, but it made me cocky enough as a seventeen year old to presume that This Is It, and that I’d found my calling.

Not the face of a future journalist after all.

Despite doing an art degree, I spent the three years hoarding magazines, doing no writing whatsoever, but presuming I’d end up in a magazine’s HQ at some point sat behind one of those giant Mac computers. When I graduated, I bagged myself the offer of two weeks work experience at a fashion magazine, which ended up lasting just two days. I stepped foot in the office, and knew immediately it just wasn’t for me (I also couldn’t navigate a Mac and jammed a photocopier), and somehow this dream was quickly discarded.

Things are different now. Social media ‘influencers’ and ‘bloggers’ have forged their own path, and sometimes I’m really envious of them for being able to do so, and other times I think it’s so great that they have. I’ve also realised that if writing was really for me, I should have been doing it all along, instead of using the excuse of giving up at the first hurdle. If I had stuck with the first blog I set up many moons ago, my writing could be at a much better standard by now. A lot of the bloggers lure people in with great magazine photoshoot quality pictures, but their writing is appalling! If they don’t have time to click spell-check and can still get paid then I am not going to be overly precious about what I put down. I think at this point it’s more important just to Get Shit Done.

Style bloggers have really got me thinking lately. I’ve spent many years dressing mannequins in my day jobs, but not paying much attention to how I dress myself. My ‘style’ (if you can call it that) has long been jeans and either a t-shirt or a plaid shirt. It was a long time before I realised that by anyone else’s standards, my sartorial choices would only be suitable for tree surgery, or crying while listening to Nirvana. However, I was taking this ‘look’ from day time, through to evening, and Hell, if someone had invited me to a funeral I’d probably have bought a plaid shirt in shades of black and run a wet sponge over the mud crusts on my Converse.

It’s not that I can’t see how an outfit should be put together. It’s a lot to do with lacking confidence. It was easy in my latter teen years to hide in baggy band t-shirts, and to carry this through university. I was terrified of the thought of wearing a dress or a skirt, and if I’m honest I didn’t want to wear anything that would draw attention to me. There was a voice in my head telling me that dresses and skirts were ‘pretty’ and that I didn’t deserve to dress that way. I’ve no idea where this voice came from, it might have been concocted from my Mum choosing to dress me in the drab brown ditsy print dresses (which, I hasten to add, I would wear now) over the shiny satin party dresses the other girls had, or maybe the voice was concocted from the voice of one of my male housemates laughing and exclaiming “I could never see Sarah in a dress”, or maybe it was concocted from me presuming that any compliment I could receive from looking pretty must be a joke.

I haven’t been genetically blessed with a cleavage, and while I never lost sleep over having no boobs, it made me lean towards covering up and adopting a more ‘tom-boy’ style. Under a plaid shirt or worn-in band t-shirt, no one could judge me by my cup-size because they couldn’t see it. No one could see that I didn’t exercise because they couldn’t count my belly rolls. I felt comfortable, and as a thirtysomething, these are still my favourite clothes to wear.

Cookie cutter style: I’ve really excelled myself by creating this image.

It’s only since turning 30 a few years ago, that I’ve become more aware of my choices. Social media is heaving with ‘style bloggers’ now, but unlike the years I spent pawing over fashion magazines, I can’t help but feel that these aren’t the influencers we need. Every twentysomething fashion blogger has the same references; Alexa Chung, Francois Hardy, Jane Birkin. Sure, they have great style and I’m not going to knock and icon, but is there really anything influential about everyone making the same style references time and time again? It’s about as imaginative as walking into Topshop and buying whatever the mannequin is wearing.

I’m not afraid of wearing dresses and skirts any more, but like anyone else, I know there are certain styles I’ll lean towards and others I’ll avoid. I’m perfectly accepting of my lack of tits and my gut over-hang, and know that style has nothing to do with size, it is about confidence in what you’re wearing. I’m always going to be a champion of jeans and band t-shirt but I want to make more effort with my appearance and style before I get to a certain age and reflect back and kick myself for not trying different things.

I have no intentions of turning into a style blogger, but I would like to perhaps use this as a space to document trying new things, even if some of these outfits might look bloody awful. I am also going to make sure I write regularly, and not be so precious about it. I also have some less obvious style influences to share with you, and I’m currently drafting posts on Lucy Moran of Twin Peaks and one of my all-time favourites; Janet Street-Porter. (Please come back!)

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