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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 12 December, 2018

Confessions of a woefully misguided teenage fashion disaster: The Denim Years

The flashbacks are coming thick and fast right now.

LIKE MOST 14-year-olds in the early noughties, I was a complete and utter liability on the fashion front, and regularly committed style suicide.


Put it this way, I shouldn’t have been allowed to enter high-street stores unsupervised, let alone been permitted to approach the till with a potential purchase.

In 2002, teenagers tended to look to popstars for style inspiration. As a result, many of us spent our Saturday nights sitting on damp walls looking like a pile of Pop Idol rejects.

We were peddled combats, one-shoulder tops, suede gypsy belts, and bakerboy hats, and we couldn’t hand our crumpled fivers over fast enough.

If you were very lucky, you might end up looking like a backing singer, who had been unceremoniously fired shortly after her stint on a Sugababes/ Atomic Kitten roadshow.

I wasn’t so lucky.

And that’s because as a woefully misguided teenage goon, I indulged the idea that denim was my signature look. I convinced myself it was my thing, my trademark, my style stamp, if you will.

portlandia denim jeabns

I indulged this fantasy to such an extent that when I clocked a pair of denim Nike Cortez in a sport shop, I vowed I’d get my hands on them.

Whether it was divine intervention or an actual intervention, which I have since blocked out, I never got them, and it’s at this point we must thank the universe for small mercies.

You might be thinking as fashion disasters go, denim is hardly the worst, but allow me to paint you a little picture.

My favourite ensemble consisted of a pair of enormous dark denim jeans – with legs so wide both of mine could fit in one – which I inexplicably teamed with a faded denim knee-length coat.

My one departure from my denim devotion came in the form of a woolen, multi-coloured, striped teacosy-style hat.

In fact, I was rarely seen without it, and it perched proudly upon my head, regardless of the season.

One time – and believe me, this is not an easy thing for me to talk about – I wore a denim shirt with my denim jeans and denim coat.

so much denim

‘You look dead trendy,’ my mam would tell me as I carefully adjusted my hat in the hall mirror, all set for a night of not getting the shift.

‘Dead trendy’: most teenagers would see that remark as a major warning sign. Not me.

‘Thanks’, I’d delightedly reply, as I slowly fastened the buttons of my denim coat, and primed myself for another night being asked if my mate would meet their mate, while I remained… un-met.

Joining the dots wasn’t my strong point.

I spent approximately one year of my life mooching around my town looking like a slowly-moving denim mountain. (The sheer amount of coarse fabric I was buried under meant speed and agility weren’t among my strengths at this point in time.)

And I’d like to say that I experienced an epiphany one day, stopped dead in the street and questioned why I hadn’t been saved from myself, but the truth was that I simply spent my teenage years lurching from one fashion disaster to the next.

Up next; The GI Jane Years.

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