I'm not really into fashion, in fact if you asked any member of my family or particularly truthful friends you would come away convinced that I insist on dressing with my eye's clothes each morning and simply hoping for the best. I've gone way beyond that stage of looking through photos of your early years and cringing at the clothes you deemed "cool" I do that every morning when I look on the back of my chair and see the combination I had attempted the day before.
The awareness of my impending trip to jail, escorted roughly by the fashion police, didn't arise recently from a general look at normal outfits around me or the continued disproval of family and friends "Lesley, you look like a dag, go back upstairs and change or your not coming out with us". No, I've always had a feeling deep down I was destined for a life of odd looks and sad muttering.
Who could forget the hand shirt I wore for about a year that not only linked me to the joyous members of the toddlers band "high five" but invited anyone I passed to to either snicker inconspicuously then high five their friends or simply touch the shirt with an open hand as if I had asked them to do so (back in the days that this wasn't considered a sexual offense).
One of my favorite clothing blunders came about on a sunny "book day" in Primary. I had begged mum to help me make a cinderella costume, unlike most girls my age I was slightly boyish and thought cinderella in rags was far more appropriate attire for a parade in front of the entire school, so mum diligently stayed up late that night sewing paper patches on a few of my clothes that already looked a bit worn (side bar - this was almost my entire wardrobe). Walking to school the next day busily adjusting my head scarf and ripping some new holes in my skivvy I also thought it a good idea to smudge dirt on my face. It never occurred to me that it didn't have to be actual dirt, it could instead have been anything brown in colour, but I guess I wanted to be authentic.
I strolled proudly into school, stinking of fertilizer, in what I thought was such a kick ass outfit I'd be asked to lead our year in the parade. Head held high I walked straight into my friend who reeled back disgusted as she attempted to wipe my copious amounts of dirt off her gorgeous gown and then straightened her tiara flustered.
"wow Lesley, you look…. umm (I think she wanted to say dirty but instead said)… what.. aggh, who are you?
"Cinderella" I said proudly - pah, as if she didn't' know. Her eyes took in my outfit, looking through the dirt she saw the patches and it suddenly clicked
"Oh right, you're like, Cinderella in rags right?"
"Yep" I swished my skirt proudly "I put the dirt on myself, I wanted to be authentic"
"mmmm, looks, umm, looks authentic" she smiled sympathetically "I'm Cinderella too actually… the princess" - As if she had to clarify.
I wasn't fazed, I loved my dirt and the conversation was dropped.
Later that day it was time to have the parade. We gathered in the hot sun, parents, teachers and children, as each year took turns to walk around the circle. As I had predicted I was chosen to lead the parade - with my friend, little did I know the teachers had only agreed to have me accompany her as they liked the concept of seeing the before and after. A quarter of a lap in and I realized what people were laughing and pointing at, I was no longer the hard done by girl of the fairytale that had to work hard at life and happiness, I was just simply the princesses dirty cousin… Even my little sister shuffled back from the crowd head down when she saw the negative attention I was getting. I looked down and began to wipe some of the dirt off as discreetly as I could, my friend saw and it was in this moment she really became the definition of friend. She held her head up, took my hand and taking the tiara of her head, placed it on mine.
After that the laughing stopped and people began cheering, now this could also have had something to do with the fact that someone dressed up as Tigger from Whinnie the pooh did a small summersault behind us, but I like to think it was because people had seen the kindness of my friend and thought it was about time they did the same.
So if you see someone wearing something a little quirky or you think they may have gotten the dress code wrong, don't laugh, don't make fun - they're most probably aware of the blunder already, all they need is a little cheer, and I guarantee you'll make their day.
So in the words of Ellen
"Be kind to each other"
Your fashion backward correspondent