I tried on all of mum’s clothes and said goodbye to Topshop


babe  • 

I tried on all of mum’s clothes and said goodbye to Topshop

She says: ‘I was never really that fashion conscious’, but seeing these looks I don’t believe her

Getting a jump on high street fashion is sometimes difficult, especially when shops start stocking up on next season’s trends before you’ve even saved up for that bikini for your Ibiza holiday this August. As I was browsing through the shops last week, overwhelmed by the high price tags on poor quality garments, I had the best idea ever. I would raid mum’s wardrobe and see what I could find.

From that day I ditched Topshop, saved my pennies and got creative by rocking mum’s true 80s garms.

Unlike nowadays, with everything just a click away, shopping back then was more of a big deal, especially without the Internet. Mum says: “Going into town was an expedition. Instead, we would get the Burlington Mail Order Catalogue sent through the post, choose clothes from photos and write out a detailed order form specifying the items we liked, which were paid for by cheque and weeks later delivered to our house”.

For this reason, back in the 80s people were more particular about what they bought and it was definitely more about quality, not quantity. Mum told me: “When I was in my 20s, I spent more money on individual items but that were really good quality and lasted longer. Nowadays girls like to buy loads of clothes but don’t seem care so much about the quality, for example from places like Primark.

“Those items are so cheap that you can afford to have them and throw them away after wearing them once. But when I used to go to big parties I would save up my pocket money and buy a special outfit that I would keep and wear many times over. There was never this stigma about being seen wearing the same dress twice. You would buy things that looked good on you, so you’re obviously going to wear them again”.

Mum used to love wearing floral, colourful prints, with lots of detailed embroidery. “I used to like dressing pretty. I never wore dark colours like grey and black. White blouses were my go-to”.

This unique yellow sunflower dress was from Fresh Produce, made in the USA, whose motto is “live life and enjoy colour”. Pairing the dress with some brown Timberland boots, it was the best outfit for the summers when she lived in California.

One of my favourite items in mum’s wardrobe is this gorgeous lilac skirt with tiny yellow flowers, and it shows that the endless -buttons look has actually been around for years. (I didn’t need to buy my own from New Look after all). Mum got hers from Laura Ashley when she was about 22. She says Laura Ashley has changed a lot since then;

“It used to be one of the most fashionable places to shop, and was more for younger people, unlike how it is today. But it was one of those shops you either hated or loved. My best friend would never go there as everything was so floral”.

Our generation certainly wasn’t the first to be wearing chunky knits. You’d never have guessed that this vibrantly patterned cropped cardigan was bought from Next over thirty years ago. Mum said she would always pair it with a crop top and some denim. And you know what the best thing is? I’ll be wearing it this Spring knowing that nobody else will have one the same.

One noticeable difference between our generation and back when mum was a diva is the type of clothes women would be expected to wear for work. “I always had to wear a smart pencil skirt, a nice blouse and a jacket, and nothing low cut. We were always very elegant, and we didn’t wear trousers. Obviously since people are now addressing sexual discrimination, girls can wear trousers like boys can. I guess that’s a good thing, because why shouldn’t girls be allowed to wear trousers if they want to?”

Also, according to mum, really low rise jeans wouldn’t have been ‘acceptable in the 80s’. “You never saw boys with all their pants showing like you do nowadays. The belt was around your waist rather than on your hips. When I was younger jeans were always safe enough for you to bend over without everyone seeing your bum. There was no such thing as ‘high waisted jeans’ and ‘high waisted shorts’ because they were all like that and we didn’t know any different.”

This dark green velvet bomber jacket will be the perfect pick for this autumn, and I couldn’t get enough of these hand- made cream sandals from Paul Green that mum wore at my age. As for the cute brown bralet, well mum just laughed: “That came with a pair of matching knickers, and was definitely only ever worn as an underwear or pyjama set. It would never have been worn as an actual top. It’s funny how girls these days want to wear their underwear as clothes, but I guess fashion is sometimes rather peculiar”.

However, despite our generation always wanting to steal past trends, especially with everyone wanting the ‘vintage’ look, she admits: “I like all the sporty trainers these days that people can wear casually, like New Balance and Nike. This is great for girls. Back then there were loads of heels, but not so many casual options. Today there is so much choice for shoes. I recently bought myself some navy Superga trainers and they are so comfy!”