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22nd February 2016

The memoirs of toddler tailoring and adolescent atrocities

Taking a step back into the past, Sophie Soar discusses how her experimental rugrat wardrobe brought her to her current fashion choices

When hearing about friends’ childhood wardrobes, numerous favourites resurface from the early noughties era: white tights and light up shoes at the age of 5, pinafores and dungarees aged 7, and matching sibling outfits (until 18, if some mothers have their way). The eclectic scattering of family photographs around the house often tell an interesting story of our parents’ control what we wore, until free reign was finally given and we could dress ourselves.

Whilst I, too, was subject to Mini Boden knitted cardigans, teddy bear pyjamas, and the gift from Grandma forced upon me for every visit, my parents were perhaps a little more liberal with my input to compiling my wardrobe (and probably liable for sparking my interest in fashion).

Whilst the fairy costume and Barbie heels were a personal favourite, Jeans for Genes Day saw the annual emergence of my denim catsuit (along with the inevitable fight with my best friend who wanted to wear it, too). Stripped tights, tutus, and florescent beads were another that emerged at the school discos, and even an electric blue pair of leather flares—an item I still regret throwing away to this day.

I also confess, with my head downcast, to my 12-year-old obsession with the idea of owning a pair of jeans in every colour; this I quickly gave up on after pocket money ran out five pairs into my mission. This still could never rival the Jack Wills phase when I was 14, for which I had to borrow my friend’s clothes to brandish the JW logo as my mother deemed it ‘too expensive’ (Pfft, as if).

Photo: The Mancunion

In amongst these carefree “fashion” choices, I also learnt the important lesson of the lasting impression clothes can have on a person. The day I started secondary school, I panicked for fear of not making a good impression and I turned to my dear Mum to save the day. My friends still won’t let me live down the moment I walked through the door with leather boots, a khaki mini skirt, a fur shrug, sunglasses poised on my head, and a t-shirt with the slogan:”Who Needs Chocolate, I’m Sweet Enough”. I continue to blame her to this day…

But some loves never change, even when cultivated from a young age. My favourite orange velvet dress I wore every day for a year (along with the liberating freedom of not having to vary accessories at 6-years-old) still remains to be my favourite colour and fabric. My current daily footwear of clomping lace-up  heels also scarily resemble the school shoes I eventually convinced my Mum to buy me in Year 5, which were soon renamed the “clod hoppers” as I stomped from room to room.

It was an eclectic collection and I often look back in slight bewilderment at what I deemed the height of cool. However, it is a rite of passage of every child as they explore who they are and how they shape their personality through their dress; mine would apparently be mad and rather scary.

Mostly, I applaud my parent’s never-ending patience (probably mixed in with extreme amusement) as they witnessed one car crash outfit after another. They smiled politely to avoid any teenage tantrums over their dislike for what I deemed to be life-essential choices every time I walked out the door. However, I must especially thank my mother who, to this day, I shall forever praise for calmly talking me out of creating tops from our spare pillowcases, and most nobly with a straight face.

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