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:

 Copyright David McGee

Copyright David McGee

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).

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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!”

 Power of Mum Selfish Mother jumper Giovanna Fletcher collab

Every time I put on my mutha.hood Strong Girls Club jumper, I’m telling the world that I’m part of a very special gang. An Essex Mama tee is not just clothes-it’s support, warmth, inclusivity.

In spite of the efforts of Zoë de PassErica 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.