Sunday, 4 March 2007


This is quite an interesting area for me. As a teenager I was teased mercilessly for wearing straight trousers when flares were in, or for having my hair cut at home rather than by an expensive stylist, and so on. Partly as a result of this, I have always had a strong prejudice against fashion. It seems to me simply a way of persuading people to throw away perfectly serviceable things and persuade them to buy new things they do not need - and also to provide excuses for the fashionable (and particularly those with the money to buy new stuff all the time) to despise and tease the rest.

Anna however has a different view. She explained to me that people wearing colours that clash or clothes that don’t work together is as painful to her, aesthetically, as listening to discordant music is to me. Merely because I have no visual sensitivity, I shouldn’t rubbish it. What she is after is developing a sense of style, and she sees fashion as a fun manifestation of that exploration.

So she is keen to encourage the kids to find and establish their own styles.

She has mixed success. Ant only cares about what she wears for climbing, walking or sailing: it has to be good kit, but not the sort worn by those who kit themselves out expensively for everything and then do it only once. So ideally it should be well worn (though she was delighted with the new climbing harness Anna bought her for her 16th birthday a while back).

Bernie is quite stylish, to her mother’s delight. Charlie is more like me - a walking mess, and Dom likes to look pretty, but is happy to accept her mother’s view on what that means.

The bottom line for me is that as long as they keep it in proportion and don’t wear things that make them look like tarts, I’m fairly relaxed about this.

The tart thing does worry me, though. When I see kids at primary school age dressed to look like street walkers, it raises real questions about what their parents think they are up to. Girls may not realise the effect sexy clothes might have on boys or men, but their mums surely ought to.

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