When my son announced that he had proposed, my first thoughts were, wow! That’s grown up stuff, followed by, are you sure?/ are you happy? okay congratulations.
The heightened wave of emotions, were then quickly and brutally dampened by the announcement on the 23rd of March 2019, that we were going into lockdown due to COVID19!, and like most people, the full ramifications of what ‘LOCKDOWN’ meant didn’t immediately dawn on me, until further on down the line.
Despite the foresight to pick a date 18 months ahead to allow for full nuptials prepping, the uncertainty that surrounded lockdown restrictions being lifted, combined with, the ever moving goalpost on numbers at social gatherings, left everything hanging in the air and the eventuality of the day seemed somewhat far away. Needless to say, a wedding outfit was the furthest thing from my mind.
18 LONG MONTHS INTO LOCKDOWN..
Finally we emerged from the haze in July 2021, at which point, my son did ask me what I was thinking of wearing , but I honestly didn’t have a clue. At the best of times, it was difficult to find things I liked, and as I rarely bought new clothes , I knew this was going to be a tough call, but made a mental note , not to stress about it, – because surely, there must be something I could wear in my wardrobe.
As it happened, I was wise not to stress on the latter, as the ever unfolding perils of COVID brought additional challenges previously unforeseen. There was the uncertainty of whether immediate family abroad would be able to fly in, due to the government’s amber, green, and red light rule which changed on a wimp; the 10 days isolation saga, which meant even if they could physically be here, attending the wedding in person was unlawful, except of course they were planning to stay for more than 2 weeks!; having to keep abreast of the all the rules, and communicate on a daily basis with relatives abroad, and further down the line, trying to establish and understand which test they would need to take on day 2 of arrival, and again before they returned home, discerning which was the most reputable test kit, the sheer expense of it all, unreliable mail delivery, coupled with accommodating guests; and the logistics of getting us all to and back from the wedding outside London, all truly tested my stress levels.
2 WEEKS TO WEDDING DAY..
And I actually started to think of what I, was going to wear, and what, my 12 wear old was also going to wear. The 12 year olds options were thankfully narrowed down by her decision to be part of the groom’s train, allowing for an androgynous look. I felt a bit relieved, knowing that I wouldn’t the uphill battle of trying to persuade her to wear a dress or skirt. As matters stood, she declared her preferred wedding hairstyles as two bunches or two French plaits, the same hair styles she rocked to school on a daily basis. Yiks! I tried suggesting an up do to compliment her beautiful round face or an AFRO, but she was having any of it!.
Whilst this might have been obvious, it suddenly dawned on me, that this was not just another wedding outfit. It was the ‘MOTHER OF THE GROOM’ outfit and the person who represented that role was me! I started to cast my mind back the Mother of the bride and groom outfits I had encountered at other weddings and realised that I’d have to up my game.
I pondered on how to navigate this, albeit still grappling with the thought of becoming a ‘mother-in-law’, a role I felt too young in my head to assume. Furthermore, lockdown, isolation, living in my PJ’s and the perils of being a freelancer,- (which meant falling into the government’s forgotten category) – had subconsciously started to take it’s toll. Despite being a fashion stylist, I found myself questioning my own decisions, but over time came to the realisation that it could be an opportunity to put my sustainability mantra into play, and the thought of that motivated me.
METHOD TO THE MADNESS
First, I considered how I wanted to present and feel on the day, and narrowed it down to 3 things
1.Be myself 2. Be comfy 3. Be quirky
I contemplated on what comfortable looked like and immediately conjured up the image of a Jumpsuit! They’ve been my favourite ‘to go to’ for the last couple of years as they are easy to dress up and down, and I’d literally worn my wrangler denim jumpsuit all through lockdown for the highlights of lockdown outings – walks, exercise and grocery shopping.
A few websites confirmed my misgivings on how hard is was for me to find desired and forever pieces, and I quickly reverted back to my wardrobe where I came across an old silk jumpsuit that was given to me in return for a job with Deploy. I hadn’t worn it in years, but liked the look and fit of it, and declared it my plan A outfit. Upon closer inspection however, I noticed the frailed seams on the legs which I put down to repeatedly scrunching them up on to achieve a harem pants look.
I took it to MANUFACTURED FICTION , a designer who also restores vintage clothes, and lives round the corner from me. Vi had previously done very good alterations at a fraction of what my local dry cleaner charged. She pinned up the alterations on me, but under her studio spotlights, we both noticed that there was some discolouration of the front of the Jumpsuit. She advised dry cleaning, before commencing any alterations.
The dry cleaner asked if I sweat a lot, to which I answered no, he then suggested that perhaps I had sprayed a perfume over it, which was more likely. (NOTE TO SELF – NEVER spray perfumes on clothes, as it could ruin the material, especially if the fabric is delicate). He recommended a special cleaning treatment, and I believed it would resolve the problem, so I started planning the rest on my outfit around this jumpsuit.
To my horror, the treatment hadn’t worked, and the discolouration was still evident, especially under spot lights.
I reluctantly took the jumpsuit back to the seamstress and explained the state of play, but asked her to go ahead with the alteration, and made a mental note to demote it to my PLAN B outfit.
The next fitting took place 7 days to the wedding , and I was yet to find anything else in my wardrobe or online. she did a excellent job on the sleeves and legs, and apart from the discolouration, I thought it looked fab and she concurred, emphasising that ‘CONFIDENCE’ was the key ingredient to pull it off (something I have always been fully aware of, and preached, yet needed reminding, post lockdown)
With that decision made, I focused on my accessories, which then had to take on an additional function of distracting from the discolouration on the jumpsuit.I finally found my stylist flair – and figured that simply jumpsuit, meant go wild on accessories!
‘Should I just style my hair with my lacy gold Hennumi hair piece I normally wear for occasions, or should I go for a hat’? I had never been a ‘mother-of-the-groom’ before, but if I chose to wear a hat, I wasn’t prepared to dawn the typical ones synonymously associated with the role. Vi had also cautiously pointed out, that it was important not to upstage the bride, – something that had never crossed my mind to do anyway, but that was now added food for thought.
I reached out to a few edgy milliners like Uptownyardie , which I tried on and liked, but their existing hat blocks were too big for my little head.
Next up, was a loan from ACHILD OFTHEJAGO; – I have always wanted to own one of their hats.- this was good to go, but without a fitting appointment before collection, my gut feeling said, have a back up plan.
I braved online shopping yet again and found a hat from THEHOUSEOFBRUAR, which arrived 2 days before the wedding.I tried on my plan B hat, and instantly knew it would be joining my collection of hats. (by collection I mean my 2 existing hats!) – I did however, feel the need to put my own individual stamp on it. I had been messing around with the many chop sticks that I brought back from Japan, and wanted something to point outwards to contrast the roundness of the hat. I tried a few brooches, a £5.00 note, a few barges, two chopsticks, then one. Bingo. Head gear done.
Price of hat and next day delivery – £42.90
Going bare-lipped for the last 18 months had not perturbed me, and admittedly, I was probably in the first group of people to mask up when the debate kicked off at the beginning of lockdown. I had brought all these masks whilst abroad many moons ago, but I’d only ever worn a couple whilst vacuum cleaning at home. Lockdown meant I could officially wear them out without explaining myself, and it actually helped with my hay fever allergy.
For the wedding however, I took comfort in knowing that I could still confidently rock my ombre lipstick look. To my dismay however, I discovered that a lot of my makeup had gone off, because they tingled on my lips or made my eyes water whilst trying to create a look.
Thus, with the relatives that had descended upon my flat, my daughter and son in toe, we embraced the West end, for pre – wedding male grooming treat @refinery (I cannot recommend highly enough), some tourism to please, the collection of achildofjagohat and lipstick shopping!, something I haven’t done in years! as I live off all the samples generous gifted to me, as perks of the job.(I ALWAYS SAY, THERE HAS TO BE PERKS TO ANY JOB YOU DO)
Reticent about trying anything on my skin post lockdown, meant I spent a lot of time trying lipsticks on the back of my hand, but knew I’d eventually have to try them on my lips – the one part of my body that instantly manifested any kind of allergic reaction! – Thankfully the lovely makeup artist at NYX in boots was very patient, and after what seemed like 50 blurbs/swatches of lipstick on sheets on paper. I found one perfect metallic shade and a second possibility to create the ombre look.I purchased the former, and went all over Oxford Circus but got no satisfaction, so reverted back to my first point of call to buy the other lipstick, but it had apparently been discontinued! She knew I actually needed it for the wedding and was desperate, so she suggested scooping some from the last sample available into a small container for free, and I managed to get four uses out of it! Phew!
Price of lipstick £8.50
Even though I hadn’t worn most of the boxed shoes under my bed in ages, I was au fait with what I had as they ere all keepers. I embraced the dusted lids in order to unearth the kicks that would complete the outfit. My daughter and myself were originally going to wear these sunflower high-ups for vans, which would have been in keeping with my son’s outfit and the wedding theme, but alas, there was a delay in the order and the shoes didn’t arrive.
hence it came down to my old ‘irregular choice’ metallic lilac shoes or my 15 year old fuchsia pink 6 inches Kurt geiger and the latter prevailed.
I’m a sucker for a good ear-cuff, and think it’s next next best ear statement after piercings, and a simple yet effective way to quirk up any outfit. I found a triangular cuff online which looked amazing, however on arrival, it turned out be cheap and fragile looking. Anti-climaxed, I reverted to my small jewellery box for other options. I had lost my favourite cuff at the back of an Uber whilst darting from shows during London fashion week, and still sometimes lament over that.
This meant, I was down to my 2nd and well worn favourite, from, would you believe? Claire accessories, so I wore that in addition to a single diamond magnetic stud, which sat in the hollow of my ear. Which also came from my jewellery box.
I knew I had to find something catchy that could be brandished across the front of my jumpsuit to distract from the discolouration,- I contemplated a big bag, small bag, loose belt, big belt, but in the end , my good old wardrobe didn’t let me down, and I went for this clear rectangular boxed bag that had sequins on the inside and a long gold chain handle, which would worked well as a cross body bag.
The trouble was, I had forgotten, that I dropped it a few years ago , which caused the hinges of the clasp to became quite loose, hence the bag wouldn’t shut. The last time I carried the bag, I had to seal it with super glue! and that worked well for a party!
However, on this occasion, I actually needed it not only as a nice prop, but for practicality. i.e. distraction, phone, lipstick, tissues, keys to hotel room…e.t.c, and had to find a way to delicately pry it open.
After many failed attempt’s, I asked my sister’s partner, – who liked a good challenge to pry it open, on, the morning we were packing and heading out of town for the wedding. He took on the challenge ,which produced one of the desired result, as well as a notable crack along one side of the bag! Now what to do? I took a plan B bag, but was still intent on carrying the cracked bag, I planned to just style it out!
THE D DAY..
Alas the wedding day came, and I liked my look. I wrapped the chain around the bag to stop it from popping open, and kept it close to the huge sunflower corsage around my wrist. No one seemed to notice the discolouration as the nuptials took place outdoors and I was seated on the front role, followed by a seated reception, then dancing under disco lights, then star gazing outside.
I got a lot of compliments on my outfit, especially on the hat, and I’d achieved the comfy, quirky and expression of me that I wanted to portray. In hindsight, I realise the HAT was actually the main distraction, and the bag instead just complimented my outfit.
The total cost for my whole look cost – £69.40 and comprised of old stuff from my existing wardrobe, bar the hat and lipsticks. It actually felt good to put my sustainability mantra to yet another test, and succeed. I suppose having good quality pieces in the first instance, means they stand the test of time.
Finally, a few styling tips…..
Alterations and accessorising, can make a big difference to any old outfit if you are stuck for something to wear or on a budget.
Jumpsuits works on every figure, you just need to chose the right one for your shape.
You are never too old to wear a Jumpsuit
Anyone can wear a hat, you just need to find the right hat from your face shape and size.
It’s okay to wear the same outfit to different occasions even if you’re seeing the same crowd. The secret is Rework and be confidence . Ps: WHEN COMPLIMENTED ON YOUR OUTFIT, DO NOT, POINT OUT APOLOGETICALLY THAT YOU YOU HAVE WORN IT SO MANY TIMES, JUST SMILE AND SAY ‘THANK YOU’
Sustainable living encompasses every area of life, however it’s a journey of discovery, not a race. We learn and embrace new things along the way with no eco anxiety as baggage.