Why I love clothes (and Mr Benn)
We all have our favourite TV programmes from when we were children: mine, in no particular order, include:
- Playdays (the woman who sometimes appeared playing the violin was my inspiration for starting, plus I love a bus)
- Button Moon “we’re off to Button Moon, we’ve followed Mr Spoon, button Mooooon” (relaxing enough to have as music during birth in my opinion)
- Mr Benn...
Out of all of them, I remember Mr Benn with the greatest clarity. For those of you who weren’t such fans, here’s a brief plot synopsis (all episodes followed the same, soothing pattern:
Mr Benn lives on a very ordinary street (well actually it’s called 52 Festive Street, so it’s quite exciting), in a very ordinary town. He spends his days in his “uniform” of a black suit and black bowler hat. But every so often, he feels the need to escape the ordinary and discover the extraordinary. That’s where the fancy dress shop comes in: having been greeted by the coolest, fez-bedecked shopkeeper in town, he leaves through a magic door in his new clothes and enters a whole new world, embarking on an amazing adventure...
Why am I partaking of this reminiscence therapy, you might be wondering? Well, put simply, the way Mr Benn felt about that fancy dress shop is the way I feel about clothes.
What I wear affects my mood, my posture, my whole approach to the day ahead. My style isn’t fixed - I put on things that make me feel good, that are pleasing to the touch and that (I hope) flatter my figure. I can have magpie tendencies and if I’m not careful can, on occasion, look a bit “fancy dress.” Occasionally I’ll find myself in a black jumper and feel a bit glum (unless it’s cashmere and very flattering - then I feel like a cool Parisian.) More often than not, I’m in something with a pop of colour or an interesting print. Just like Mr Benn, the clothes I sport transform the way I feel about the day ahead and the adventures I may have (even a trip to the park can be an adventure when you’re wearing metallic cowboy boots).
People always say I’m “brave” to wear colour (by brave I’m not sure if they in fact mean “take it off, you look like a kid’s TV presenter), but just like we should eat the rainbow, wearing colour makes me feel sunnier. A bright orange jumper makes me feel zingy. A dress with an eclectic print makes me feel like dancing. Jeans with embroidery down the side (yes I went there) and I’m ready to sing in a field, surrounded by vivid red poppies. When I wear any of my prints from Boden, I feel cheekier, giddier, more kaleidoscopic in approach. When I pop on a bright pink skirt I can’t help but want to do an imprompty freestyle interpretative dance (or join the circus, like Mr Benn in Big Top Benn...)
I also LOVE a bargain - buying “pre-loved” (or second hand as I call them) clothes makes me ridiculously smug. I love knowing that my clothes have a history, a story that’s already been told. I also get lots of the kids’ clothes from charity shops, and feel very happy about shopping and giving money to a good cause. I'm very much hoping to organise a Fashion Reboot one day...
There’s something of a juxtaposition though: one of the best things they don’t tell you about becoming a Mum is that you get to wear #mamamerch. When I put on my selfishmother jumper, I feel like I’m broadcasting the message:
“I’m with you amazing mums! We’ve got this!”
In spite of the efforts of Zoë de Pass, Erica Davies, Kat doesmybumlook40 and others, there still seems to be a societal preoccupation with the phraseology “dressing like a mum” equating to dressing in a way that minimises personality, sexuality and individuality. The older my children get, the passion I feel about expressing my identity as Laura, the powerful woman, not fitting into a specific demographic or niche. They are a personal expression of me, of my intentions, my character, my wish to be seen and heard as more than just another Mum with a buggy and a snack bag (oh the snack bag...) Just being me. That's the best adventure of all.