Ok, I’ll be honest; I don’t really know where I’m going with this one? In fact; I’m not entirely sure of what it really means to have “style”. I guess, like many things, it’s how it’s perceived by others. The most stylish person I ever met was my Grandmother. My Mum’s mum had the ability to put outfits together and look effortlessly chic. Her hair was always on point, her outfits demure and always clutching a stylish handbag. She had a penchant for Jaeger clothing and weekly blow-dries; I cannot look at a navy or camel item of clothing without raising a little smile and thinking of her. My Mum and I joke about it often; although my Grandma sadly passed away when I was nearly sixteen, my Mum and I never fail to pick up items when we are out shopping and say “You know who would have loved this?!” So I suppose you could say, she lives on, as does her style, through us.
My Mum has always taught me to be confident in what you wear; totally own it. She’s encouraged me to explore anything my hungry little fashion-seeking soul desired (I’ll be honest, many of them are nineties fashion tragedies which I can only pray will never be unearthed from the depths of family photos); but I think it’s that sense of fashion adventure that has led me to this moment; one where I finally think I know “my style” (It’s only taken 32 years!).
I think I spend half of many days replying to people who’ve asked through Instagram “Where is this from Elle?” Lots of people start with “Sorry, you must think I’m just copying everything you wear?!” ; which I often chuckle at as it makes me think of the days I would come raging home from school shouting to my Mum that someone had dared to copy my hair/ shoes or (insert any random item here). My Mother’s retort? “Imitation is the highest form of flattery darling.” When you’re twelve that kind of line just enrages you further I can tell you; but now? Now I totally get it! Every time someone asks me where something is from I feel genuinely flattered. To me it means I’m wearing it well!
After Teddy died my confidence hit an all time low; like many postpartum mums I was struggling with my new body. That should have been the very least of my worries; after all I was struggling with the fact that my baby wasn’t even here for me to hold. While the other mums could proudly push their prams around and parade the very reason that perhaps they weren’t quite at their leanest (or in my case seemed to have developed some kind of extra kangaroo pouch at the top of my once washboard stomach?!); I couldn’t do that. In my head I just looked fat; and awful because of my constant crying/ lack of sleep/ living with grief and shock. Other people don’t see that though do they? They just see what’s in front of them. That made it so much worse for me to cope with the way I looked.
I think it was this that spurred me on, more than I could have known possible, to make the best effort to get back to me. I’ve already written about how yoga and my daily walks with Boris helped with this, but enjoying fashion again and buying some new outfits that suited me (and my new pouch) was an integral part of that too. Before I had Teddy I had fallen into a slump of wearing dark colours all of the time (Don’t get me wrong I do love a good grey/black/navy; but this was ridiculous). So I made a conscious effort to inject some colour back into my wardrobe in an attempt to make myself feel a little more cheery, a bit more confident; more like me. I talk about them often enough so most of my Instagram followers know that Fatface and Seasalt are a couple of my favourite shops, I’m also a sucker for anything bee-inspired or floral (thanks Joules). I feel like I’ve started to get back to teenage me; not afraid to step out in dungarees with turn-ups; stepping away from the staple skinny jeans and stripey top (Don’t worry, that will always be my safe place) and I’m being more bold with my choices.
At the beginning of November I took a huge step; after pretty much hiding under a blanket of long hair for a decade I had it chopped. Firstly just past my shoulders, then at the end of January onto my shoulders in a long-bob. This was liberating! I have no idea what I was so scared of? My hair had become my comfort blanket for so long; it’s so thick it had taken hours out of my week just drying it (I’ll never get those hours back?!). I had been scared to change it; but in doing so I had helped get my confidence back (not to mention many hours of drying time?). I’m not saying I won’t grow it longer again, but for now having a different style is helping me find my style again.
Most recently I changed my glasses frames too. After a very uncertain week of waiting for the frames that I had chosen to arrive, and being convinced they were “too jazzy” (a phrase often used by my husband and I to describe an awful choice!); when they came, I loved them! What’s more, I have never had so many compliments from people about the glasses I am wearing. Lesson? It pays to be bold! I think going out of my comfort zone with glasses and hair has changed my outlook on life; I feel like things might even get better this year?
So on the difficult days, the ones where I just start to wonder who I am now Teddy has come and gone? Well I just do what I think my Grandma would have done; select an outfit that makes me feel good, put on some bad-ass lipstick, blow dry that hair and step out of the door…..because things are going to get better!