When I was younger my Mum used to say ‘you always want what you can’t have,’ and I think, when it comes to how I wanted to look, she had a point. As a teenager, awkward and boyish in stature, with mousy hair and uncontrollable eyebrows (thanks for those, Dad), I desperately wanted to look like the famous ‘role models’ of the time. Gisele, Britney Spears, all of Girls Aloud, even, god forbid, Jordan – the message was that, in order to be pretty, a pretty girl, you should have big boobs and a tiny waist and long curly hair (preferably blonde). We were all Victoria’s Secrets models in training, the days of Jane Birkin and cute sixties dressing far, far away. For some of us, this felt as unnatural as getting dressed in a wet suit. I will never forget tightening the bra straps on my white M&S training bra to try and get a cleavage in my pink lace Hollister top, staring at the roots of my dyed blonde hair as the ends stuck in my bubblegum lipgloss, wondering if everyone else felt as stupid or as alien as I did. Sadly, here is a photograph of that moment. I have done a good job, to be fair, of looking like a man in drag as Britney Spears.
Indie fashion would have changed my life with or without Alexa; I am so jealous of teenagers now who have a third way – I feel like, in my era, it was chav or goth, with the only other option being ‘clothes you wouldn’t be seen dead in that your Mum bought you from M&S’. Kate Moss, Chung and her fashion rat pack, with their Topshop-rock-cool and their easy, jeans and t shirt style, gave an alternative to getting your boobs out for no reason. They looked good, sexy without being sexual, and I attached myself to this style like a limpet, never to let go.What do you think of my transformation? (I'm on the left!)
Alexa Chung is my favourite mostly because she never truly strays from the classics; somehow she takes preppy and grunge and clashes them with a lot of black eyeliner into perfection. Breton stripes with cut off denim shorts, flowery dresses with Barbour jackets, dungarees, a white summer dress with brown clompy boots, ballet slippers on a night out, double denim, Mom jeans, leopard print ankle boots, cable knit jumpers; these are just a few of the trends I would never have been brave enough to try without Alexa’s calming influence. I’m not saying they looked as good on me as they did on her, with her endlessly long legs and Disney Princess eyes, but that isn’t the point. You’re meant to aspire to look like your role models, you’re not necessarily meant to achieve it. Alexa gave me, at least, something to aim for that I actually liked; something that actually suited my personality and could adapt to.
It isn’t just that I liked Alexa Chung’s message – that you can dress like a tomboy and still look cool; that you don’t have to be voluptuous for people to think you’re attractive; that you can still pretend you’re in the sixties and it’s quite cool. I like her because I think she is real. Her Twitter is real; sometimes funny, sometimes awkward, sometimes pretty, rather like Alexa herself. Her book was real – almost a real, breathing thing, in places hilarious, in others achingly sad (I wrote a review here). And her clothes are real, an expression of herself, of a mood, and if I could attain one thing with my dressing it would be that – to dress for who I was, every day, rather than for the person my wardrobe said I ought to be.
So thank you, Alexa Chung, for changing my outlook towards clothing, to sharing your life on Instagram (why not? It’s fun) and to going out in the morning looking kind of like you’ve been out all night. Because of you, my life is a little bit more fun, and (I like to think, behind close doors) a little more rock n’roll. And most importantly, I will never ,ever be on Snog Marry Avoid, telling Pod that Jodie Marsh is my inspiration. If you ever feel like you’ve never achieved anything, tell yourself you managed that.