What To Wear?

Confession time: I once had a denim jacket with Status Quo on the back. Bad enough? Even worse if you add a centre parting in long hair with cowboy boots. Yes we head-banged to Ozzy Osbourne’s Black Sabbath, and thought we looked cool doing it. Roll on Wayne’s World!

Despite my still occasional relapse of things that should never be worn together at Glastonbury (when I’m lucky enough to get tickets), I look more like the rest of the human race for the most part now.

Sometimes, as Elika Gibbs teased out of Debra in this week’s podcast Finding Fashion That Works, my youngest daughter has a similar look as me at roughly the same age. She likes band T shirts, but hers look better on her because black goes well with red hair.

This ‘thrown together’ look is so now according to Elika. My eldest daughter told me the other day that sweatpants are in fashion, and you can even wear them with heels. If that isn’t a thrown together look I don’t know what is because I would’ve taken it for a mismatch. I would have thought this came from the Homer Simpson school of fashion.

Elika talked about her daughter being on-trend with this thrown together look because it is also happens to be her style. Elika says in her professional life that she tries to encourage her clients to wear what is essentially them – not somebody else’s fashion. She steers them to bring out the best in their individual looks. But she also talked about what happens when this thrown together look passes, and something else becomes the fashion.

Of course being on trend can work out well too. Let me give you an example, a  couple of weeks ago we were in a shopping centre and my oldest daughter spotted a giraffe print top. Immediately my youngest wanted to buy it, for no other reason than giraffes are her favourite animal ever. Me being a fashion expert pulled a strange face as if to ask are you sure; my eldest daughter, our house fashionista, informed me animal tops are very on trend. After I was put back in my box,  I must admit it looked really good on her with denim shorts of all things.

While this worked, and my daughter is on trend at the moment, I still wonder if one day she will be left, with her band T shirts, looking as though she has bad fashion sense. This is where it gets tricky. Elika mentioned a look-book, where she takes photos of her clients so they know which clothes go together because even her fashion conscious clients sometimes manage to get it wrong.

I think the look-book sounds particularly good for young people with additional needs because it gives them the freedom (aka independence) to choose what they are going to wear, but with the subtle guidance of having had the clothes evaluated beforehand. This may sound like controlling rather than giving independence, but if Elika’s clients pay for this advice and they are more likely to be on-trend than either me or my youngest daughter, why shouldn’t we use a look-book? We need all the help we can get.

As a father I don’t want my daughter to stand out for the wrong reasons. If she looks odd, people will give her peculiar looks. If they stare at her, this will add to her feeling that the whole world constantly judges her, which isn’t what I want. I want people to look at her for the right reasons. I don’t want the confidence we try to instil in her to be ebbed away because she looks so different from everyone else, because the thrown together look won’t always be on trend.

The point I’m making is I’m not a fashion expert, so no one should wear my fashion ideas. The point Elika makes is that while this thrown together trend is current, it will pass. She wants to give her daughter the tools and strategies to move with fashion, and I think this is one of those hidden lessons on the road to independence we must give our children too. It is a skill many of us including myself don’t have, and I don’t want my daughter standing out for the wrong reasons.


In Practical Princess Perfect Wardrobe Elika Gibbs shares the secrets of her unique three-step process to wardrobe organisation.


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