The Worst Fashion Mistakes I have made

  1. The Perm

That’s me on the left, holding the pork chop at my dad’s wedding.

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To be fair, it was the eighties-look. To be honest, I held on too long – okay into the next century. My husband says that if I ever perm my hair again he will take that as a sign that I want him to leave. I so wanted to be Maeve, the Celtic Queen. Clearly it didn’t work.

  1. Stick on Nails

I really loved the length of these, but the problem is they don’t stay stuck on so you tend to leave a trail of body parts behind you. I had some awkward moments when they popped off in meetings. ‘Whoops’ doesn’t quite cover it in those seconds! Also the glue (while it was not foolproof on the nails) stuck to everything else and ruined several trousers of mine where it dropped and even caused a hole in my sheet! The Bentley fashion police declared that they had to go (he was tired of finding lonely pinky nails in his car – although I am surprised he found ANYthing amongst the detritus of MacDonalds splurges, old ties and musical scores languishing amidst sweet wrappers and CD cases.) He threatened  to get a tattoo if I continued and since one should never put a bumper sticker on a Bentley (and I was damaging my nails) I relented.

  1. Golf Shirts and baggy T-shirts

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I mean look at that:. These were designed for men. And that’s what flat chested women look like in them. Have you ever noticed though that corporate clothing automatically includes such apparel, even in education where the majority of staff members are women. And for those of us who were standing behind the door when the boobs were handed out , but were blessed with fat which gravitates downwards to occupy cuddly rolls around our middles, this is not a good look. That’s why, now that I am a head of a school, we are sourcing corporate blouses in dignified styles. If I am going to wear a logo, it will be on a girl’s top thank you.

  1. Court Shoes

We called them ‘Lady Di’ shoes in the early eighties. Now on the People’s Princess they looked elegant, but on small, fat and flat feet? Not so much. And the ones I bought for my graduation caused me huge embarrassment because I walked out of both of them on my way to the stage for my moment of glory. At least the vice chancellor was smiling in my pics compared to others, but still. And they made my ankles look fat.

  1. Skinny jeans

I’ll just leave this here.

  1. Hotbrushed bangs

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You see everyone wanted to be like Farrah Fawcett. Come to think of it, it wasn’t even a good look on her!

  1. Plunging Necklines 

Sometimes less is more and sometimes it’s…well…less. And either way that doesn’t go with the ‘boss’ look. Andrew didn’t mind until we became a couple and then he was advocating full purdah.

  1. Glasses on a Chain

I was told that I look like this:

When really I thought I looked like this:

Anyway the only reason I stopped using the chain was that it broke. I found it most useful and shall probably purchase another one when I find one I like. So take that, Fashion Fascists.

  1. The Baggy Jersey 

When I was 17, my friend’s mother made me a jersey from 4 squares. It was warm and snuggly, but eventually it stretched down to my knees. I wore it everywhere and embarrassed my entire family in the process. I loved it even though it was hideous. Thank goodness no photograph has survived.

  1. Fur 

Just once ok (and it was at home) I tried on the fur stole I inherited from my mother-in-law. I did not, however, have the guts to wear it to the matric dance where I was a role model for young people. What does one do with those long ago fashions that are quite beautiful; yet so incredibly un pc that one simply cannot wear them?

So that is my confession and it is a good one. I promise never to sin again (unless I find a really cool chain for my glasses.) But hey, It could be worse: I never wore Crocs, or twerked around, exposing my lumps bumps and bulges in leggings and a crop top, even when I run (Oh no I don’t run); I never had a mullet or adorned my locks with a fascinator at a wedding. (Those things are simply dreadful: who thinks that attaching half a florist on your head will be fetching?! The only creatures who may be fascinated would be half-drunk bees.)  I do not go to the shop in my pyjamas.

Ramp model I may not be, but I still have the best accessory: a Bentley.

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The Samson Factor: Men and their Hair

“I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polka-dotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!”

by Galt Gerome Ragni, and James Rado from ‘Hair’

It is a truth, seldom acknowledged, that men are really fussy about their hair. They may project an air of nonchalance in either style or attitude, but when push comes to shove, do not mess with a lad’s locks.

One of my earliest feelings of failure as a parent (of the thousands I don’t remember, which my offspring do, naturally) is of taking my eldest son to a budget stylist for what was meant to be a ‘Caesar Cut’ (short all over except for a small-gelled up fringe, all the rage in the nineties). I use the term ‘stylist’ loosely because no sooner had I given her the trimming instruction, than the inattentive apprentice took a number one razor straight over the poor child’s head from forehead to neckline.

I watched with impotent pity as she completed her sheep shearing and the tears rolled silently down his eight year old face. Not even winning the lottery that very night would have rectified the butcher’s work.

He went on to have a complicated relationship with his curly, red mane, keeping it really short; growing a truly impressive ginger afro in his first year at university and even, one memorable summer, having it relaxed – only to discover that he probably shouldn’t have swum an a chlorinated pool with it. Today he has a deep red, hipster beard which would make a lumberjack proud and is the envy of his brothers. The strawberry mane is receding ever so slightly, much to his horror at having probably inherited his maternal (always your mother’s fault) grandfather’s male pattern baldness.

By contrast, his younger brother has opted for the New Romantics’ foppish and floppy look so popular at the moment. When the ‘stop the knot’ craze was circulating on social media, at least three people posted the clip (get it?) on his Facebook page (pun not intended). He too has had some salon nightmares, but they involved his mother (twice) marching back into the hairdresser with a mortified and mulish son in tow, demanding to see the ‘person who cut this boy’s hair’ and insisting that they sever the offending, inappropriate strands. Needless to say he now frequents a different barber. Michael’s hair is brown, yet he sports a ginger beard which assures me that I brought home the correct child from the hospital back in 1997. Each reluctant shaving of his face at the end of the school holidays is recorded stage by stage for Instagram and mourned with Prep Cream moistening and dirge-like whistling.

The youngest boy in the house has yet to develop facial fuzz, but has reached that heightened stage of hair-consciousness known as adolescence. He alternates between the jagged Sonic the Hedgehog look and a beanie-smarmed Superman (sonder kuifie) do. He too has perfected the boxer-like bob which avoids anyone ruffling his coiffeur, which is so typical in young men. His only brush (hey another pun!) with maternal ire over haircuts was when Michael (spot the pattern here) took him to the local Pakistani barbers who regularly cut his hair and allowed them to shave him a glorious Mohawk. Note to self: Never send Michael to accompany a sibling again.

My husband, on the other hand, has forsaken the elegant shaved pate he had previously resigned himself to (as his mother’s ancestral baldness reared its head in competition with the encroaching grey) in the vain hope that someone will play with his hair, so he is expectantly in the process of growing out his spikey tonsure.

I have noticed at school too that boys are most touchy about rules limiting their tresses and bristles. Wannabe hippies have been known to convince their parents to change schools for them to avoid Samson’s fate at the hands of discipline Delilahs. On one notable occasion I sent a youngster off to shave in the bathroom, having repeatedly warned him to do so at home a la the school code. He cut himself rather spectacularly, having only ever used scissors on the long walrus wisps up until then (unbeknownst to me – I must defend myself). His elderly parents stormed the building demanding I apologise for such ‘child abuse’ of their son, never mind that the hirsute little blighter had gained serious street cred for being the first Grade 8 to be made to shave.

We women in the house are boring by comparison (okay except for Shannon’s mercifully brief ombre phase) as all of us have long hair, sans much styling. But who am I to criticise: I have a history of questionable hairdos, from a perm and big eighties teasing to listless pageboys. So I shall remain mum and console them when Grandad Markey’s genes catch up on them all.

Picture from clipart.com