I’m having an identity crisis. Don’t worry, it’s not about Europe. Long, long gone are the days I told anyone from outside our parochial little island that I was from anywhere other than Ireland. As the pound plummets and those who previously couldn’t be arsed to queue for a stamp, race to the post office for passport forms, my identity crisis is much closer to home. It isn’t in Brussels. It’s in my wardrobe. I’m at a weird age and have nothing to wear.
I’m too young to parade about in Per Una and too old to totter about in Top Shop. I don’t want to Instagram myself in a changing room pulling a face akin to the early stages of Stroke. Even if you take age out of it, where does a short arsed lady in her EARLY 40s go for her garb these days? A trip into town last week told me the answer is nowhere. And that after a couple of gins in your washed out joggers you won’t care.
From my research I have discovered that the look for this summer is tat. The rails in the stores are packed with cheaply made garments with crass logos of places you’ve never been, or some empowering mantra like #selfieslut (cough, cough, feminism). On a cycle home I encountered a girl in a hoodie with ‘SWEETNIPS’ emblazoned on the back. I nearly ended up in the hedge. Who let her out of the house like that? My dad would have had a heart attack. If I had a hoodie with a message about myself on it it would more likely say ”I’m mostly tired but i love art and books and tv and a glass of wine or 6 with friends’, but there obviously isn’t the market for that. Not snappy enough perhaps, hence sweetnips.
And I struggle with the cost of clothes. It’s all so cheap. As I run through Primark for a shortcut and shoppers are pulling stuff from piles with wild abandon, shoving it into massive baskets I am reminded of a little ditty…
‘They’re turning kids into slaves just to make cheaper sneakers.
But what’s the real cost?
‘Cause the sneakers don’t seem that much cheaper.
Why are we still paying so much for sneakers
When you got them made by little slave kids
What are your overheads?’ Flight of the Conchords.
Even if you find something that isn’t covered in lettering, and doesn’t have the faint smell of the blood of the poor children who had to make it for 50p a day on it, you have to worry about fabric and cut. I wander the aisles instantly discarding items, because I know that even on the coldest day the fabric will make me sweat the minute I pull it out of the bag. There is the top you think is gorgeous, but as you hold it up to your body you realise there’s a big cut-out on the back, perfect for showing off your pasty skin and greying bra, so you’ll need a vest underneath, and that’ll ruin the shape, and make you sweat more, and sod it, back on the rail it goes. I don’t need this, I’m not Cher. And why do arm holes have to run all the way down to your waist? No amount of tit-tape would disguise the sexy glimpse of hard-earned wine-tummy peeking through if I rocked that bad boy to Tesco.
So I went home empty handed. Well, I bought shoes. Comfy ones with laces, you can’t beat a bit of comfort, they were silver. But if I had found the perfect ensemble therein would lie another nightmare, makeup. The adverts tell me I need a big, fuck-off brown crayon to make my naturally round face V-shaped, for some reason. This Morning has given me tips on how I should apply fake tan to my back using a bogging oven glove attached to a wooden spoon with an elastic band. I don’t think I own any elastic bands. Who has time for this shit? It’s no wonder our self image is under attack.
So this summer I shall be mostly wearing the same jeans I wore in autumn, paired with the cleanest tshirt I can find on any given day that doesn’t need ironed. It may not be on-trend. It may not set the bloggersphere alight. But it won’t make me feel uncomfortable either. And my face will still be round.