YOU DO YOU
My little sister was the first person to introduce this phrase to me (she thinks she made it up, but I think it’s one of those hip new phrases that’s been floating around in the cosmos for a while. Sorry Rach.) The first time she said it to me, I was getting ready in our hotel room in Manchester and she piped up that she liked my outfit. I turned to her with two berets in my hand and the conversation went like this:
Me: Pink or black?
Rach: Oh, you’re going to wear a beret with it?
Me: You don’t think I should?
Rach: Babe, you do you. (Beat.) Pink looks good.
It sounds like an insult at first but once you get over the initial jagged edge of those three little words, there’s a pretty refreshing subtext and it’s remained at the front of my mind since that day. Rachel would never wear a patent mac and a logo tee saying ‘Cute Girl’ on it, let alone with a beret. But she knows I would and she fully supports and encourages this - like most weird things I do. Rachel is my little sister, sure, but she’s also one of the kindest, most encouraging humans I’ve ever met and she is the person I go to whenever I need a bit of clarity around what I’m doing and whether or not I’m making good decisions. NB. Usually these decisions are slightly more life-altering that what colour beret to wear.
When we were in St Andrews for Christmas, we dressed up (and layered up) and went for a jaunt into town to burn off the 456 Yorkshire puddings we ate at Christmas dinner. I was wearing a pink checked Sister Jane dress and my black beret and patent boots which, to me, is a pretty average outfit, nothing out of the ordinary. We popped into a little ice cream shop on the high street for milkshakes and there were two teenage girls sat with their parents near the door. As we waited to be seated, one of the girls made a comment about what I was wearing. It wasn’t meant for my ears, obviously, but we heard exactly what she said and I immediately turned pink and felt uncomfortable. I’m 28 and I’ve been away from high school and silly, snarky jibes from 16 year olds for a very long time and yet, somehow, it still kind of stings. Why is that?!! Jeez.
When we sat down, I went a bit quiet for a while, feeling a bit silly about what I was wearing, even though it was exactly what I wanted to put on that morning when I woke up and I definitely hadn't thought twice about it, until that moment. She explained that everyone in the café was dressed exactly the same (jeans, jumper, puffy jacket) and so the only reason the girls had made a comment was because I looked a little bit different. This kind of outfit wouldn't raise an eyebrow in London at all, it was possibly just slightly eccentric for St Andrew's notoriously preppy, smart/casual sartorial taste. Thanks Rach, you may be six years younger than me but sometimes I need you to tell me to stop being a sensitive sally. Jeans and a puffy jacket? Basically, if you see me dressed like that, unless I'm climbing a mountain, you’ll know something is up. Don’t get me wrong, my chic as hell pal Kim looks bloody dreamy in a slouchy Cos jumper and fuzzy khaki parka. I’m sometimes a little envious because she always looks so relaxed, comfortable and understated, three words no one would ever use to describe my dress sense. But that’s not me, it’s Kim. And she does Kim in a way no one else could. I used to wish I was a bit more like her; I definitely emulated some Kim style outfits for a while but it just didn't look right on me and more importantly I didn't feel like myself. Besides I like my fanciful (some may say impractical) approach to getting dressed in the morning and I wouldn’t swap my wardrobe of whimsy for anyone else's. Actually, maybe Laura Jackson's. Or Alexa Chung's.
I’m going to try and remember this this year and not let a few raised eyebrows throw me off track. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
Here’s me doing me in a frilly pink blouse and a shiny matrix/stripper mac. And a beret.
Thanks to the aforementioned Kim for the photos - check out her blog, it's top banana