Thursday, 26 February 2009

Confessions of a Shop o Phobic

Sophie Wilkinson tells all. Or at least tries to.

Resting on the laurels of a sensationalistic article in the Shag Mag, I’m afraid to say I’ve been stumped with what to tell the attendees of this year’s superb RAG Fashion Show about, well, fashion. I could tell you all how monotonous the blonde hair, Ugg boot and gilet combo has become, but we’ve all known that truism for as long as Exeposé has been in print. As you will find in this programme, it is remarkable how many different trends, styles, concepts and fads are displayed by a university that faces all too much unnecessary criticism for lacking in diversity. What we put on to brave the erratic weather, hills and slightly overheated library is so clearly an expression of our individuality. Despite my best efforts, I am not Karl Lagerfeld. So I’ve felt wary of dogmatically telling people what they should wear, when, without too much bragging, my Shag Mag article really did seem to have a strong effect upon some lucky readers.

I’ve been a purveyor of many a trend during my studies at Exeter; an outright obsession with stash has thankfully been phased out by an affinity for knitted jumpers, baggy t-shirts, skinny jeans and a pair of, ugh...Uggs. What is there to say about such a simple look that has been so demonstrably inspired by photos of myself at four years old? I was lost. I was bewildered. I was, quite frankly, worried. I lit up a Camel Light. As it burnt down to the tip, I thought, maybe, I could talk about how bloody cool I think smoking is. However, an article attempting to justify the stylish glamour of such a dangerous habit would be deleted from an official university publication faster than the ‘Lash, Banter, Bolt, EURFC’ vests got covered in vomity cider and black at their Timepiece debut. Perhaps my fear of fashion journalism stems from a self-righteous apathy towards consumerism? Recent attempts at shopping have been somewhat hindered by two things: a crippling fear of any shops beyond Sidwell Street during ‘these harsh economic times’ and the inevitability that anything from Topshop looks good for a couple of days before you turn up to a club wearing the same dress as an acquaintance. In the past six months, girls have, statistically speaking, felt more anger towards a friend who copies their getup than one who steals their boyfriend. How could I put my problems with fashion behind me and retrieve some semblance of style consciousness? Was I doomed to remain dressed ‘like playdays’, as a good friend once put it?

I turned to the internet for answers, and more importantly, eBay. I trawled around and found the most wonderful jumper; it looked exactly like one I’d found in a charity shop a few weeks back, the one which my male friend laid claim to, as he had £2.50 spare change, and I only had my card. And you really can’t pay for charity shop fare on card. The auction was in its last three minutes, and the highest bid so far was 99p. For one moment I worried my account was inaccessible after a deabaucle in first year. I’d refused to pay for a hideous bag which I’d bid for under the misguided illusion that anything described as ‘NU RAVE FASHIONBAG brandNEW (last year)’ would feasibly look better than a poached toad as a handbag. I eventually decided there’s little to go wrong with a jumper. But by the time I placed my bid, the other bidder outbid me. Filled with rage, contempt and disappointment at my loss, I swore off eBay for the last time. Soon, the word ‘bid’ eventually stopped swirling around in my mind.

I was losing at this fashion game. Princesshay was no longer an option. I needed something more. I needed to make a spontaneous, hungover decision to go to Bristol for the day. As I entered the West Country’s biggest shopping mall, I knew what I was headed for. My heart pounded. Meeting your clothes-store soulmate is a bit like hooking up with someone you’ve met through a friend months before. You both know the other exists, and you both know you like what you see. However good a potential romance would be, circumstance has it that any indulgence of your desires would result in catastrophe. But I forgot my friends’ previous claim on the shop, threw caution to the wind and all ideas of practical student budgeting to the wayside. I stepped into American Apparel and there were fireworks. If heaven had fireworks. Now that I own half of the shop, I feel like I’m in a position to give a few fashion statements:

1. Always borrow clothes. Keep them. Deny taking them.

2. Don’t read the writing on a t-shirt out loud. Never beg people to read your own t-shirt.

3. Sam Ronson and Lindsay Lohan are here to stay and they look fucking brilliant.

4. Hairspray and backcombing is not just for those from Surrey and does not cause follicular damage.

5. Trippy patterned jumpers are for life, not just Christmas.

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