I was sorting out a cupboard last week it an attempt to organise our lives in readiness for ‘the big move‘, when I discovered a carrier bag full of photographs. Now carrier bags full of photographs, or other items of randomness are not an unknown quantity in this household. Take two people who didn’t live together until their 40’s, move them into one house that was already pretty full and add yet more crap. It’s a recipe for many a, “What the hell is in this bag?” moment.
But it wasn’t the bag that was unusual (unless you count the fact that it was pre the 5p charge for every bag, which makes it a bit of museum piece now), or the fact that it held photographs. What made this bag so unique was the photographs in question were all of me -pre The Barefaced Chic. A discovery so rare the archaeologists of Britain are knocking down my door 🙂
Why the lack of images chronicling my time on this earth? I always used to hide when I saw a camera and even if by some miracle a pic was snapped, I would usually find a way of disposing of it. You see, I had such low self esteem that I couldn’t bear to look at myself – I even avoided mirrors. Isn’t that unbelievably sad? I wish I could go back in time and give myself a talking to.
Anyway, I thought it might be fun to share a few of them and also give you a glimpse into my style through the years (or lack of style as the case may be).
The quality of the some of the pics isn’t great, but that’s what happens when they sit stuffed in a bag for years, then you have to take photographs of them to upload because your scanner is refusing to play the game.
My style through the years
1968 – aged 3. Me and my brother Ian.
Looking pretty chubby in this one. Apparently, despite the chins, I had slimmed down quite a bit here. I have been told that I was quite a precocious three year old and very outgoing. I had my own idea of what I wanted to wear and frequently put together my own outfits.
1969 – aged 4
Onstage for my first pantomime (I’m the one on the left), and I seem to be rather perplexed by the whole thing. I am also incredibly brown, which has nothing to do with the onstage lighting. I am of Italian decent and catch the sun quickly, I was always brown in the Summer before sunscreen became the norm.
Other than wanting to be a ballerina and a part time hairdresser when I grew up, I can’t remember much of my time in ballet and tap. I do know that I went for a few years, stopped and then started again. I have a vivid memory of getting tangled in the curtain and falling offstage during one performance during my second stint. I don’t think the bright lights of Broadway were beckoning.
1970 – aged 5.
I’m smiling in this class photograph (I’m the one in the pigtails, fourth from them right second row back ), but it was taken just as the bullying started. It was cruel, it was relentless and it carried on until I left school with a sigh of relief aged 17. I believe my bad school experience had a profound affect on my emotional wellbeing. Feelings of inadequacy, shyness and worthlessness followed me into adulthood and beyond.
I can’t say I had a happy time, not least because my mum insisted on creating my Pippy Longstocking hair. She was always terrified I’d get knits, so she would never allow me to leave my hair down like the other girls. Ironically I caught them anyway.
I can remember being very precious about my clothes and having a fear of getting dirty or messing them up. Mud was my enemy.
1974 – aged 9
This seems to be the Christmas of teddy bears. I cannot for the life of me remember being a bear addict, but judging by this pic I must have been – or there was a three for one sale on somewhere. I do remember persuading my brother to sneak downstairs with me in the middle of the night on the Christmas Eve before this shot was taken. I spied the orange teddy sitting under the tree and scuttled back upstairs, terrified that Santa would come and take all my pressies back!
This purple blouse and trousers was my absolute favourite outfit. It somehow felt special, I think the colour had something to do with its appeal because I had an identical outfit in green which I hated.
1977 – aged 13. Climbing steps in Paris with Martine (my French exchange student).
Martine’s father was a bit of an amateur photographer and I didn’t know how to say in French, “Take my photograph again and I’ll jump in the Seine!”
In all seriousness, it was on this school trip to France that my personality started to blossom. I remember being thrilled because I possessed the ability to make people laugh. Whether they were laughing at my humour or at my Joseph’s coat of many colours I’ll never know. I did love that coat and, although you can’t tell from the photograph, my shoes had a slight heel. I thought I was so grown up – despite the knee high socks.
1977 – aged 13. With my friend from the age of 11; Carol-Ann
This was taken on the same school trip. I know I was traveling along the Seine, but I have no idea what I was looking at. This is probably the look I wore for most of my childhood and adolescence – utter and deep confusion as to the world around me.
The hair was a result of my Charlie’s Angels obsession. I desperately wanted the full Farah Fawcett Major cut, but my mum drew the line at my fringe. This was probably for the best as I remember leaving the hairdresser on a high, only to be devastated by my inability to recreate the look at home. As you can probably tell, this was pre braces.
1980 – aged 16
Taken next to my parents’ caravan, which I hated with a passion. I think I went away with them twice before begging to be left at home. Not very happy people (my parents split a couple of years after this pic was taken), and very close quarters proved too much for me.
I seem to have got my way as regards the Farah Fawcett hairstyle, and found a way to style it. I’m not sure if you can tell how thin I am in this pic. To give you an idea, my clothes were all bought from the children’s section of C & A (remember them?). If I had to guess I would say I way a size UK4 (US 8). I used to eat like a horse, but never put on a pound – and no, it’s wasn’t great. I so wanted curves, and boobs!
1983 – aged 19
This pic was taken just before I left the DVLA (fast keying section). I was 19 and dumb, so I got married and moved to London – as you do!
This was the era of owning as many court shoes in as many different colours as possible. I can guarantee that my feet are shoved into cheap, high heeled, bright red shoes to match my belt and necklace – of course.
I seem to have decided to wear ALL the make up. I remember loving my bright blue and bright purple eye shadow with a fierce passion. I think I realised that make up was a kind of mask in which to hide behind. Enter a longterm love affair.
I was still very thin here (and was until my early 40’s), but I think my boobs (tiny as they were) had finally kicked in. Again my confidence had started to grow, and I liked the fact that I went ‘in and out’ instead of straight ‘up and down’.
It was after this pic that images of me become rarer than hen’s teeth, my confidence went right down the drain. But here are a couple that survived the shredder:
1990 – aged 25
This donkey absolutely hated me! It tried its damnedest to bite or throw me, even going so far as to wander into the bushes. That look on my face is sheer terror. Looking at this pic it’s hard to believe that my first child was four. It’s also hard to believe how baggy those trousers are 🙂
1995 – aged 30
This was taken under extreme duress. It was either my ex husband, or my mum who talked me into going for a free photo shoot which had been thrown in with a shoot of my children. I felt uncomfortable and didn’t like any of the pics, I’m amazed this one survived.
Looking at it now, apart from the Spock like essence (just me?), I think I look pretty darn hot! Not so sure about the short hair though.
2005 – aged 40
This was the Summer before my ex and I split up. I hadn’t been eating and this mind-numblingly boring khaki top is about as adventurous as I got. I literally lived in beige – most of my clothes and my home decor consisted of hues of it.
2007 – aged 42
The year of Mr Chic – we hadn’t long met when he snapped this (I was 42). I was probably at my happiest body image wise here. I had started to gain weight but had a full-on exercise routine, which kept me trim.
Unless I find another bag full of pics, the above is the last one taken of me until I got married in 20011.
2011 – aged 46
As soon as the words, “Will you?” popped out of Mr Chic’s mouth I was convinced that I would wear a very understated dress on our wedding day. What I knew I didn’t want was: strapless, full length, ivory or a train. Yeah, so that totally happened. It’s a very long story, and you gonna need to gird your loins for this — the dry cleaner lost my dress two days before our wedding. I spent the evening before I walked down the aisle frantically trying on stock dresses (I used to sell pre-loved wedding dresses).
But serendipitously (favourite word EVER), I actually loved this strapless, full length, ivory number with a train. Go figure! I would have felt OK in my original dress, in this one I felt like a million dollars. I sashayed down that aisle as if my middle name was sass. Just goes to show; when it comes to wedding dresses, TRY EVERYTHING!!
I hope you enjoyed this little wander down style road with me. Has your style changed over the years? Are you more confident in your clothing choices? Leave me a comment and let me know.