Separate Lives by Kathryn Flett
published 2012 ch 5 describing the teenage years of Pippa in the 1980s
But beyond running the gauntlet of the local Marks, there were other hazards to be encountered en-route to shopping nirvana, notably the branch of Oxfam at the bottom of the road that was at the bottom of our road….All the other local girls seemed to be unimpressed by the shop’s stock of 1960s cocktail dresses and shoes, so I quickly learned how to mix high street purchases with charity shop finds … creating an eclectic ‘style’. Or, alternatively, just a collision between garments in exciting drip-dry fabrics and challenging colour combinations. My successes included: …A truly fabulous sleeveless cream jersey shift with broad horizontal bands of brown and orange and gold lurex – which, having racked up three snogs with three different boys … on the only three occasions I’d ever worn it, I considered to be a ‘result’ dress so potent it needed to be deployed carefully and only ever after dark, preferably alongside a Pernod-and-black.
observations: There are two main female characters in this book, and the description of being a teenager and worrying about boys and trying to put together outfits could have come from either of them – they aren’t very well-differentiated. Perhaps that is the point, given their interest in the same man. But the book is still a good read, involving, and with a good few plot twists and a lot of tension. There are a few bits and pieces of plot that are either unconvincing or unresolved, and none of the characters are particularly nice, but you do want to know what happens, and it would make an excellent holiday read. The author – who was a fashion and style journalist for years – writes very well about clothes, and the way we pick them and put them together. She was very detailed in her descriptions, so much so that it was hard to find a suitable illo for any of the various outfits featured, but this beautiful giant puppet, with those big hands ready for a snog, seemed to be a sideways solution.
Links up with: More young women who are serious about their clothes here and, in a different era, here. This student would certainly have gone to charity shops.
The picture was taken at the Fremont Solstice Parade – a wonderful annual event in Seattle - by Joe Mabel in 2008. The original photo can be found here.