Posts Tagged 'Clothes'

Regrets, so painful, that I’ll carry forever.

In St Mark's Square, Venice, wearing an outfit that I didn't even like back then, let alone now.

Things that I regret:

  • Not allowing moments to be special. My prom, leaving school, even being at school, birthdays, holidays, being part of big stage productions, I let it all flash past without taking any notice of it.
  • Not taking more photographs. I wish I had pictures, to help remember the memories I try to look back on.
  • Not properly bothering about what I wore, or how I looked.
  • Being too afraid to take chances, and letting opportunities slip past.
  • Not having enough confidence to feel comfortable physically.
I have a feeling, though, that it might not be my fault.  In the last ten years or so it has become Zeitgeist to celebrate the special moments, to photograph everything, to cherish moments with friends, to appreciate how special every day at high-school and college actually are, to revel in and enjoy wearing clothes every day, to have an identity.  It was only when I was about twenty that I discovered clothes, real music, photographs, memories, special moments.  Before that time, around 2002 I would say, it seemed that we just existed, getting from one moment to the next, just *being*, and not celebrating it.  I’m almost sure it has to do with background.  Nineties, northern, working class, being special just didn’t happen.  At school we all had identical pencil cases, shoes, coats, bags, hairstyles, no-one was different.  It was a very dreary, rainy, grey existence, where you didn’t have chance to appreciate something as being special.  I watch episodes of Glee or The OC now, and everything they do is a celebration; one long prom, and high-school is magical, just as it should be.  Looking back, I did have magic, in my small group of friends, we laughed and had moments, but never appreciated them.  I think I might have seven photographs of me, if that, for the whole time I was at school and college.  In one of them I’m wearing a Manchester United football top, lying on the grass in London.  I wish I could live then, as I am now.

Glee's American Dream

On the night of my prom I got ready in the bathroom at home.  It was the first time I’d ever had a proper up-do, and my dress was from Topshop (before Topshop was popular in Runcorn).  I heard the limo beep downstairs, panicked because I thought I had to be in it NOW, and ran downstairs.  My family were all waiting with cameras, but I wouldn’t stop, I ran straight past them, out of the house, and into the limousine, and my Grandad just managed to get a photo of me from behind that’s a bit blurry.  Everyone else has beautifully posed photographs, a treasured keepsake of their sixteen year-old self, to keep forever, and all I was bothered about was that I might keep the driver waiting.  In fact, they’d come early, specifically to give us chance to have photographs taken.
I’m not exactly cool now (far from it), but I wish I’d had the confidence that I have now to defy what I look like and at least *feel* cool, back then.
At primary school I was always a tomboy, never quite felt like a little girl. I’m on the front row, at the end on the left.
Everything was identical, nothing was allowed to be creative or pretty, it was black, ugly, and smelled slightly of sweat.  I’m at the front, crouching on the ground.
The person in the tracksuit is the teacher.  She wasn’t even a P.E teacher.  I liked her though, she once said that when I go on stage I ‘light up’.
 Even in rehearsals, doing what makes me what makes me most happy, I never allowed myself to feel like a real actor, never enjoyed the moment.
One exception to the rule, a moment always guaranteed to make me feel special and glow with pride, is taking the final bow at the end of the performance.

This was one of the first nights when I hadn't planned or expected it to be special, I'd just gone out to a local amateur dramatic awards evening, not expecting anything, and it turned into one of the most special nights of my life. Even though I hadn't thought much about my outfit, it felt right, and I felt confident in myself. As I walked casually onto the stage and was presented with the trophy and handed a bottle of champagne, I was grinning. It was a truly special moment, that I hadn't seen coming.

Maybe that’s the point, perhaps when you plan something so strictly, and build your expectations up, waiting for something perfect and significant, it somehow never manages to *feel* significant.

This was the night of my twenty-first birthday. It was one of the first occasions when I'd spent time thinking about my outfit, and really made an effort. Somehow, I managed to feel radiant.

The good thing is that I have, thankfully, learned.  I still haven’t got it perfected, but I’ve learned that that feeling of surety and inner-poise doesn’t come from how you look, or from careful planning, it comes from feeling confident and at ease in your own skin, and THAT is what I have learned.  I still look as awkward and freakish as ever I did, but I’ve managed to overcome it, and to feel good about myself, even though I know I don’t look how I’d like, or sound how I’d like, or anything how I’d like.
I try to stop myself regretting, and to only allow positive thoughts to develop, but I can’t help wishing I could have those times back, to live those days again, as myself as I am now. (If only to be thin again.) I’d listen to more music, wear better clothes, and cherish every single moment of the the youth that is so precious.  I feel sad and terrified that it’s slipping away, and at twenty-six next month, there isn’t much sand left in the hourglass.

The Start of Summer Outfits

Dress: Dorothy Perkins, Cardiagan : Jack Wills, Sandals: New Look.

Flowerpot Dress: Utam London at Dorothy Perkins, Cardigan: Jack Wills, Plimsolls: River Island.

My Favourite Things This Spring: London, Trousers, and Moments.

These are the things making me smile this Spring…

1. London 

One thing I love, and it isn’t a new thing, but something I’ve been obsessed by for years, is when Londoners put ‘The’ in front of a road name.  For example, someone from London doesn’t just say ‘King’s Road’ they say ‘The King’s Road’.  I love anything which is intrinsically and traditionally ‘London’.  I love the people, the streets, and buildings, and parks, I love London as a living entity, and so I love anything which makes you instantly aware of its own metropolitan authenticity. It’s like music to me, that intoxicating London lilt; ‘Where did you see him, Bill?’, ‘I saw him down The Tottenham Court Road’.

This picture was taken backstage at a production of Rocky Horror, at The King’s Road Theatre, in 1976.  It embodies the King’s Road atmosphere and reputation for punks, theatre and creativity.

I love this quote, which I found with the photograph; “Back again.  This time, the first ‘West-End’ production at The Comedy Theatre, re-staged by the original director, Jim Sharman. It was only towards the end of this run that we noticed a strange phenomenon; American tourists who seemed to think they were part of the show  started shouting out stuff, much to their own amusement …

We just thought they were twats.”

The photo is a beautifully typical snapshot of unseen London life, one of those moments that happens with people who aren’t beautiful, aren’t scripted, but are alive in a room together, somewhere down a dark street in London.  This brings me onto my second item…

2. Moments

I love the moments in life, the moments that aren’t planned and often only seen by one person, or a few, which are breathtakingly beautiful.  I was on the train today, it was early evening, about five o’clock.  I was listening to The Cure, looking out of the train window at fields which were green, shining with the rain that had been falling earlier in the day, in bright sunshine.  The carriage was quiet and empty, and it was a beautiful moment.  I think I may have written about this before, but just in case I haven’t… Last year, early in the summer, I was walking the Dog, and I turned onto the Heath, just as the sun was setting, and I looked out across the fields of horses, and boys playing football, and the empty Heath, just as For Lovers by Pete Doherty started playing in my earphones.  I feel like a pompous prig for saying this, but that moment almost made my cry.

I recently wrote in a poem;

What about the English air
steeped in home-cooked chip fat
in late-afternoon sun,
and that place in the Colosseum
where every wayfarer stands to have their photograph taken?
Moments of well-worn summer
like comfortable clothes
in the quietness of a moment alone,
an outfit that no-one will see,
a minute’s picture-idyll,
the light catching the natural arrangement of blonde hair,
like cotton against your legs
that only you will feel.

3. Trousers

Being short in height and somewhat rotund, it isn’t easy to find clothes which are flattering.  In my head I look like a Jack Wills model, in reality I look like a Julie Walters character.  However, I recently found a pair of trousers which I like.  I always believed that I could only get away with certain things, and that I couldn’t go near anything chic or stylish, but these trousers are chic.  They were from Zara, around £22, which is a bargain in my eyes.  I love them, and will wear them all summer.

(I’ll add a picture to this Blog when I don’t have a towel on my head).

I have a thing for clothes and flowers

Okay, it’s probably fair to say that it’s an obsession.  I love seeing clean washing blowing in the wind, and wild flowers, and the sun in the garden, and the green of the grass.  Over the Winter it’s necessary to dry your washing on radiators or maidens, indoors, with the heating on.  Once or twice, this Winter, I did put my washing out, and went to retrieve it a couple of hours later to find it frozen solid.  I even put some washing out when the garden was thick with snow, because I needed clean bedding.  However, when Spring comes we can hang clothes and sheets and white fluffy towels outside in the sun.  It’s a fact that sunshine is good for washing, it’s salubrious and somehow healthy, not to mention it dries it really well.  In the Spring and Summer there is a beautiful satisfaction to working hard all morning; sorting and piling and hauling clothes downstairs, washing them, putting them in a basket and carrying the heavy load outside, then to watch them blowing elegantly on the line, delicate rays of sun shining between them.  It is one of the greatest pleasures in life, in my life anyway.

The sight of washing in afternoon sunlight is so incredible to me, and so comforting, that I’m often compelled to photograph it, or write it into a poem, simply because I want to preserve the moment; I need evidence.  I feel that if I just tell people how beautiful it is, they won’t believe me.  I have a compulsion to fossilise and treasure the aesthetic, the feeling.

I recently wrote the line; ‘White towels blowing in the heather chives,/wild and purple where you planted them’, in a poem about the people in my life that I’ve lost, in particular my Grandad, who planted the chives.  I wanted to make the sight that I could see from the kitchen table as I was writing become part of the poem.

This is probably very boring to almost everyone else in the world, but just in case, here are some of these moments.

Why I’m a Trendsetter

My sister with Pete Doherty, three years after telling me how awful he is.

Okay, so I haven’t actually set any trends, but I’ve noticed a fair list of items, fashions, objects, which I sported to much mockery from family and friends, and which subsequently became ubiquitously popular; from the F.R.I.E.N.D.S pencil-case which I was the first to have and later became the favoured pencil-case of every girl in the year, to the desire to wear skirts over jeans or trousers, which my mother told me made me look ‘a lesbian’ but which, following the Spice Girls girl-power era, became a fashion staple for a couple of years in the mid-nineties.

This isn't me, I'm just illustrating the trend.

I don’t wish to sound like I think I’m some stylish trendsetter, because it couldn’t be further from the truth, but I just find it curious, sort of like when you’re reading a book and the word you’re reading is said aloud in the room or on television, at exactly the moment you read it, it’s a strange peculiarity.

An example is Jack Wills.  Now, I’m not claiming that I invented Jack Wills.  No, that was the ingenious work of Peter Williams and Robert Shaw in Salcombe, Devon, back in 1999.  However, long before I knew anything about Jack Wills or had even heard the name, my family used to call me scruffy and weird for wearing tartan pyjama bottoms and chunky knit jumpers.  I used to love nothing more than coming home from college, or later, work, and settling down on the settee in comfy pyjamas and a jumper, it’s just so cosy.  Now, Jack Wills charges £49 for what they call ‘Loungepants’ but are essentially very well-made, high-quality tartan pyjama bottoms designed to be worn during the day, as loungewear.  When I first discovered Jack Wills, walking into their shop in Chester was like walking into my own mind.  I felt they’d captured every idiosyncratic thought I’d ever had about an outfit, and made it reality.  Does this mean I’m a genius?  I think, more probably, my predisposition for wearing pyjamas in the daytime was shared by a great many other people, mainly students, to be fair, and this was noticed and capitalised on by Jack Wills, who have since made it extremely popular.  Nevertheless, at the time, it felt like they’d stolen my thoughts.

My next point of conjecture, good people of the jury, is The Libertines.  Now, this point is more personal, but still serves a purpose.  Back when Pete Doherty and Carl Barat actually played together, before they broke up and reformed for a lucrative festival deal, I loved them.  They were the epitome of everything I worshipped about music, and their songs were good, too.  Some years later, when my sister reached that age when teenagers start forming their own opinions about music, I tried, as a big sister, to make suggestions.  I was desperate for her to experience what I had experienced, feel what I felt.  The Libertines had been broken-up for years, their music was never played, not many people ever mentioned them, they’d faded into musical memory.  I wanted to show my sister the wildness of those early gigs, when they’d line people up and tattoo Libertine across their arm.  I wanted her to hear the music that was full of passion, energy and poetry.  She refused.  Still not quite over the break-up of her beloved Busted, but never into McFly, she said the Libertines were junkies, dirty and refused to listen to a single song.  Fast-forward two more years.  My sister began going out with boys who loved the Libertines, and so began listening to their music and very quickly warmed up to them.  Nowadays, she knows more lyrics to their songs than I do, is a personal friend of Pete Doherty, goes to parties at his flat, has been photographed in Elle and Grazia walking down the street with him, has been in a taxi with him, has Libertine across her arm, which was drawn by Pete himself and then tattooed over.

My sister in Grazia with Pete Doherty.

My point is, I begged her to listen to them, and now she’s more of a Libertine than I am.  So, does this mean I started a trend, if only in my sister?  I think so.  I have very similar stories for the films Withnail & I, the film (coincidentally) The Libertine, and Sylvia Plath.  She always resists but concedes in the end.  Also, The Smiths, but I can’t take all the credit for that one.

My sister at Leeds, wearing a Libertines jacket to see the long-awaited reformation.


Back in, probably around 1997, I was the first person in my year at school to have a mobile.  To be fair, this is probably less to do with the fact that I’m a perspicacious mogul and more to do with the fact that my Dad was flogging moody phones that topped up £10 every time you turned them off and on again.  Still, I started the trend for mobiles at my school, in one way or another.

So, you see, my point is not that I began trends and influenced people, more that I had a desire to wear, listen to, or do something, which later became very popular.  Back in 1990’s Runcorn, I longed for a vague ‘something’ which I couldn’t define, which involved loving good music, wearing floral dresses, a sort of mixture of 80’s, 70’s, 60’s, something cool, vintage, old-fashioned, and which later developed as a little trend we know as ‘Indie’.  I was indie before I even knew what it was.  Growing up, we wore tracksuits, listened to whatever was number 1 in the chart, bought our cd’s from Asda with the weekly shopping, went to McDonalds, and didn’t really think about anything else.  I had a tingling; an itch which was finally scratched when people started talking about indie.  I’d come home.  Just like, I suppose, all of us.

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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up ( with your thoughts.

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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Pete Doherty,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Will it ever be alright for Blighty to have a Queen Camilla?

One less tree from our window each day

Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road

Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

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