2018 : An Ode To My Wardrobe...

By Lucy Harbron - 18:10

I don’t want to write a summary of my year or reminisce on the ups and downs of a tricky year. I don’t want to run through the triumphs and trials, drag it into the new year, or moan about the struggles as if the whole world hasn’t been plagued with them this year just like every other, especially since we voted for Brexit… but anyway.  So I won't, instead of diving into the deep end, I'm going to stay in the shallows, I want to keep my feet on the ground in a pair of snake print boots, and thank you, my love, my vanity project, my secret shield, my wardrobe.

If there's one thing I'm certain I've learned this year, it's the lesson of power dressing. While I've always been one to do the most, raised to take pride in my appearance and put my best foot forward, this year I started actively considering what my outfit is saying, crafting its voice into one of affirmation. It's easy to laugh that off and consider it a wholly vain and pointless use of time as I spend over an hour each more hunched over my mirror, but believe in it deeply, in December 10X more than I did in January. And upon reflection of the year, it would feel wrong to not notice that, thank my wardrobe for helping me build myself, be scaffolding when I needed it, faking it till I made it.

And so here's to you, wardrobe.

Here's to my burlesque basket, full of odd ripped stockings, pieces of costumes for abandoned concepts, stained bras, and lost gemstones. 2018 was the year I began performing, and that was undoubtedly a major player in my year. Joining burlesque and being adopted by my Steel City Sirens family has been transformative, for my relationship with myself and others. To get up on stage, armed with nothing but your own fantasies and imagination and push yourself off the cliff of your comfort is terrifying, and this year terrifying became magical. The odd mix of leaf bras, leather garter belts, and maid aprons made me fall in love with adrenaline, to reprogramme the feelings of anxiety and fear into opportunity.  In these looks, I learned the comfort of character dressing, the feeling of anonymity you can get from simply deciding to be someone else for the day. Within months I was heading out to the pub with my best friend, dressed as Lolita and Madonna because why not, both inamoured with the confidence and power we've gained from taking our kit off.

Here's to my polka dot culottes and pink fluffy jumper. I refused to let myself mope about in PJs, clutching my phone in one hand and tissues in the other, desperate for that boy to call. Instead, I wore trousers that felt like PJs and clutched a glass of rose, letting the wisdom of Samantha Jones and the Sex and the City girls wash over me. I coated myself in pattern and colour when I felt grey just so I could see happiness in the mirror. I draped long coats over the top and enjoyed the wind catching in the shapes when I dragged myself out for seaside visits with my friend and my mum. On the worst days, I managed to get dressed.

And on my best days, what I dressed in changed things. Here's to my bodycon dress, worn with confidence and assurance that I looked damn good, curves and hips and tiny boobs and all. As strange as it is to say, I think 2018 was the first time I saw and confronted my body. And god, nothing is more reassuring than having women cheer you on, nodding along in agreement. This year I talked about having curves, and the struggle to come to terms with them after being raised in a pre-Kardashians society. I talked about the feeling of being the curvey one and the challenge to not re-define that as the chubby one, learning to accept that these birthing hips will always look like this, so I might as well like them. And damn, in that dress, I worshipped them.

To my bikini; the holiday isn't one I care to remember just yet, I've accepted that this porcelain skin will never let me be a beach baby, but you looked good. And you look even better with some wide leg jeans, peaking out from a duster coat, on a November evening in Sheffield. Who knew a black bikini could be a symbol of reclamation?

Here's to my Mum's killer boots, my favourite secret weapon. Stomping my way across a rooftop in Camden, on my way to my dream internship at ASOS, in 2018 I learned to make noise. My very own kinky boots, this year I learned the power of the heel, forcing you to stand up straight and tall, making your footsteps heard, forcing you to walk with certainty when you might feel wobbly.  But mainly, stripping away the metaphors, here's to my Mum, for keeping me stomping on and cheering me on always. And one day I promise to forgive you for not keeping more clothes from the 80s, at least these boots make up for a lot.

Here's to my snake print coat. Not to be too dramatic, but I feel like my summer pivoted when I dug this yellow monstrosity out of the sample sale racks. My summer in London was described best by Dickens;

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

I was nervous to walk into a fashion setting at my lowest, terrified that the Devil Wears Prada stereotype would ring true. But instead, I was assured of what I believed deep down, that fashion is good. ASOS wanted me to feel my best, the brand and all the people there are motivated by empowering others, and I felt that each day. I walked in day one in a basic jumpsuit and left on my last day in a sparkly star print dress, white mules and one too many animal print items. The coat sums it up. Before the summer I would have never put that on, and my sadness sure didn't match the happy yellow, but it felt right. Stomping round Camden in heeled boots, flare jeans, and yellow snake print felt right. When I couldn't feel my pride yet to celebrate myself, I could wear it through a one-of-a-kind loud jacket. And since, that piece has become me. The summer built me up until I could be that confident character, and now when I'm heading out to Tesco, oh I'll just throw on that bright yellow mac, just casual.

Here's to my pink and red clash, stood next to my best friend's animal print dress. Here's to living, drinking cheap wine in a mansion in Hampstead, winning free drinks in a dance-off, applying glitter eyeliner outside the tube stop, and crying on rooftops in pink denim.  Here's to Natasha, my partner in character dressing. Meeting a woman that loves fashion as much as I do was a blessing this year, but meeting a woman that also encourages me to wear my stupidest clothes for a simple pub trip, shout about my achievements, treat myself like a girl boss was an absolute miracle. We got through it all, and we looked fabulous while doing it. I feel like my year started in Summer, crawling out of heartbreak in a full face beat, animal print, and stupidly impractical shoes. Turns out if you dress like your Absolutely Fabulous heroes, you can adopt some of their spirits. Escapism becomes realism.

Here's to my fur coat, surviving into its third winter, still holding me like home. I didn't need new clothes to play a new role. My trusty fur coat feels like comfort and looks like a rich bitch at Christmas, and I wear it well, moving back to Sheffield still recovering but strong. And I end the year in that, my favourite coat, holding all the potential for any character I need to play to get me through the day. With leopard and red lips, or a jumper and jeans, all or nothing, screaming or quiet; I can dress for what I need, wearing soft fur as armour.

On the precipice of a New Year, I feel assured. When I put on my day, stepping into its spirit, I don't feel like I'm forcing it anymore. The snakeskin isn't hiding me as I've come to accept the multiplicity of the person I am, enjoying getting to know each side of me and the power of my sensitivity. I've got through a lot, but I've achieved even more. I finished my second year of uni with a 2:1, I put on six killer performances, I moved to London solo, I smashed my dream internship, I made some of the best friends with the best people I've ever know, and I carried myself through it all in some 10/10 looks.

Here's to the new year and the new people I'll be.

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