From the age of 12, I’ve been obsessed with clothes. From about 13-15 I definitely thought I was one of, if not the, most fashionable person around. I’m going to cling to teenage arrogance and not being old enough to know better as an excuse for such behaviour.
For context, I’ve always lived in the middle of nowhere and until sixth form, coincidentally when I was rudely awakened to the fact that I was not the most fashionable person alive. It’s safe to say that fashion wasn’t exactly high on the agenda for most country folk back then, making the competition for best dressed pretty slim – except for my mum. I remember thinking my mum was one of the coolest people alive because she shopped in places like All Saints and Topshop and had a shoe collection to rival that of Carrie Bradshaw’s, whose existence I (devastatingly) wasn’t aware of yet. My mum and I would go on these shopping trips for my birthday or to stock up when the seasons changed. I specifically remember she would pick out all of these daring items and tricky trends that I would never have been brave enough to try myself. At the time, while definitely apprehensive, I trusted her choices more than anyone else’s and it’s a good job I did. It was these shopping trips that fuelled my love of the fashion world today.
The story takes a turn for the worse when I got a little too big for my boots and clothing confidence got the better of me. I started trying tricky trends, previously encouraged by my mum but this time without her consultation, taking an accidental turn towards tacky town in the process. While growing up, it’s obviously encouraged to make your own decisions and not rely on your mum’s approval for everything but it this instance of trend experimentation, I wish I’d listened to her more.
And so, we enter the leggings phase.
Not any kind of leggings but a specific pair that just writing about makes me want to hide behind my hands for the foreseeable future. These leggings – the same ones I thought I’d wipe the fashionista floor with – were…leopard print. Now imagine a leopard print legging. Thin material. Said leopard print stretched across my leg. Skin tight. Definitely see through and the tackiest version of leopard print you can imagine. Let me tell you TSE readers, I thought I looked H-A-W-T. I most definitely didn’t.
I wore those leggings at every opportunity. Biker boots. Fur coat. Bodysuits. You name it, if I could make it out the door without my mother noticing, I wore it with those leopard print leggings.
It’s taken me a long time to get over such a painful fashion faux-pas so you can imagine my horror when I discovered that not only was animal print back to haunt me but so were the leggings. Some may say I was on to something. In most cases I would lap up any suggestions of being a trendsetter but in this instance, I’m much too embarrassed to accept such claims.
This time around we’re blaming (read: excusing) the return of leggings on our obsession with athleisure. Earlier this year, Forbes reported that athleisure trainers outsold performance-oriented footwear so the resurgence of the leggings seems logical in the continuous upward trajectory of sport-luxe. It’s all very Kim K and Yeezy inspired although, Sienna Miller recently stepped out sporting the trend with a jumper and baker boy hat. Rumour has it, more of us are incorporating fitness into our every day lives and thus, we, the customers command trends that respond to our needs of going from gym to dinner with friends, looking chic while doing so (hopefully not forgetting a post-gym shower in the process). The reality probably has a lot more to do with it being winter and we want to bundle ourselves up in comfortable clothes without having to compromise on style. My biggest concern is that these new legging styles, particularly stirrup style and leather look leggings, seem to be drawing me back to the dark side after all these years.
Designers are on coaxing the trend too. Tom Ford and Victoria Beckham, both of whom are associated with fashion-forward, sophisticated styles, brought leggings to the runway during the AW18 shows. Ford’s approach, unapologetic in its entirety, encouraged leggings worn with everything and anything – tuxedos, t-shirts, wet look, sequinned and most importantly, tighter than tight. Beckham stuck to her sophisticated guns, championing leggings for their more wearable and flattering nature (something I previously embraced much too readily) layered carefully under military coats and parkas.
As the days go by and the Instagram scrolling continues, I’m caught in a vicious cycle. While I feel myself resigning to the trend again, I’m met with traumatic flashbacks from the ghosts of my not-so fashionable past. I guess, I’m as fickle as the fashion trends before me.