Today wasn’t the first time I realised I was wearing the same shoes as a toddler. Last summer I spent a few humiliating days out where I had arrived at the agreed meeting place dressed in an almost identical outfit to my five-year-old niece. “I like your shorts, Auntie Anna”, she said. I was about to comment that I liked her (identical) pair too, and that wasn’t she a bit young to be dressing in those animal print leggings, when I realised – actually – I am a bit too old.
Upon closer inspection of my wardrobe I do have a ridiculous number of sparkly shoes. If I am completely honest, I do think shoes without glitter are really quite boring. I am short, so cannot pull off a ‘midi’ skirt, so I choose shorter, above the knee (usually frilly) skirts that you can still just about cross your legs in without showing your knickers. I very much enjoy a black cardigan, which I have actually worn as part of every school uniform that I have ever been forced to wear, and I do have a bit of a penchant for blazers. Although my bags (of the accessories kind) have begun to get exponentially larger upon every year that I have aged, I do still like to take a small, pretty yet completely impractical thing with me if I go out that could just about fit a Polly Pocket in and not much else. I admit I still own Hello Kitty hair slides, and light-hearted hair bands have always been an essential accessory for me (that was, until I was sent home from work once with a migraine only to have it miraculously disappear as soon as I got in and took off my headband, which I had bought in the children’s section of H&M).
I have, however, made small steps to dressing more towards my age in the last year. When I was pregnant I seemed to morph into some sort of onesie-wearing adult baby; sporting over-sized tunics, floaty floral tops and those thick woollen tights that you often see on infants. Since then though I have tried to make an effort to replace those with 40 denier tights, empire lines and more age-appropriate underwear that does not have butterflies or a pink frilly trim on it.
I feel like society desperately wants me to start shopping in Next. I have always resisted this; shunning their high necklines, sensible hemlines and slightly-too-mature knitwear. I just can’t seem to leave New Look alone – I’ve shopped in there since I was 11 years old and it hasn’t let me down yet (we’ll ignore that top that gave me a suspicious-looking shingles-type rash, and those jeggings that made me look like I have two bottoms; an upper one and a lower one). In recognition of my recent 30th birthday though, I did buy a very mature fitted jacket that I sometimes flounce around in at work to make me feel important. On most mornings though I bypass the classy jacket and choose my favourite green parka to throw on, and weave through the throng of 13-year-olds on their way to school wearing that exact same coat. “Cool coat” a teenage girl said to me last week, her hair in a fashionably dishevelled bun and sporting ridiculously high heels for school. I know what she was thinking – ‘I wish my mum were as cool as you’, obviously. I think I’ll stick to New Look after all.
By Anna Trevelyan