Coming from the middle of nowhere (kind of) in Sweden to one of the fashion capitals of the world, aka London, it's a bit overwhelming in terms of fashion. Going from nearly a year of just going to a few classes or the supermarket and then maybe popping into the one H&M, to helping out at a major fashion desk and travelling around London each day means I don't have the routine or wardrobe to deal with it. The routine I settled into in Sweden made me feel guilty over every purchase (which resulted in £80 overweight baggage fees anyway!) and I only needed to dress warmly anyway. The Uni I went to was far more fashion orientated than the Textiles school in Manchester, mostly because my course there is more retail based. My classes in Sweden were very small though and were all international students, who had a range of styles but only the Asian students really followed fashion and dressed uniquely. It was really cool to visit the canteen each day at the 10am coffee break, as classes always ran 8.30 - 12, and see a sudden sea of tall, blonde girls in all black with over-sized circle scarfs and lace up boots.
Now I'm almost back to the routine when I was in Manchester where I had to go to lectures every day, but in London while I'm interning I have to go to work each day, and that's a different kettle of fish. I don't live here so I had to bring a week's worth of clothes with me, and on the first day I had no clue what to wear! I planned out loads of outfits but didn't know if it would be a more formal environment or if everyone would be walking around in sky-high, designer heels. In the end I wore my newest thing, but that's a different post, and over the week had to hit Oxford Street to stock up on skirts and flats. Half my tasks are packing and posting out samples, and there was even an exciting (for me!) visit to the 'cage', which holds loooads of bags from every shop you could think of full of samples ready to be sent back. So a little dress and heels isn't appropriate when you're moving and sorting through bags full of shoes or rummaging through a cupboard full of lookbooks, and it's more about getting the job done well than sitting pretty.
But a month like this is what I've always dreamed about; waking up in London and travelling to work in fashion with people who love fashion too. Sweden was a different time but when I'm in the UK mostly at Uni or home in Birmingham, I'll buy new stuff all the time. The reality is I could go to lectures in a hoodie and uggs, but I dress up each day, or at least where 'nice' clothes. About once a week I'll have one of these days where you really think about your outfit and wear something maybe new or part of a future trend or something a bit different. Then you kind of think, well who am I trying to impress? I dress for myself, but say if I'm wearing a £30 foundation each day, is that a waste of money if I'm just going to a lecture?
If there was any time to invest in clothes and makeup, it's when you're working at a top publication or company (if only for a short time!). When you're faced with dressing for a certain occasion or time though, you can get really overwhelmed by your wardrobe and think what am I going to wear?!?!? Especially when it's over a series of days or weeks, it's a chance for everything in your wardrobe to get a wearing. But I get 'dresser's block' and set out in the the morning wearing things I like, but I tend to be quite meticulous and can pick out fine points to doubt myself.
I feel very lucky to be doing work experience where I am and walk out of the building thinking 'wow, just spent a day there!' There is nothing more fun than sitting in the canteen and hearing people around you dictating articles that thousands of people will read, or hearing a buzz across the office when there's a sudden election announcement. It's really cool when the people at the fashion desk start having a conversation about Sex and the City or discuss a magazine cover; it's so cool to reinforce that people who work in fashion aren't scarily discussing obscure labels and designer friends, although they work damn hard! I love living in London for a bit and getting the bus or tube around, as there's so many faces and places that it doesn't matter what you wear as no one has time or the need to judge you. In my local high street at home, people may pass about ten girls around my age a day, but in London there are thousands and if you see someone wearing a different outfit, you just assume they have a place to go to where that outfit is damn cool and they could be very important.
So if I'm in a place where anything goes, and the people at work have incredible fashion knowledge and appreciation, it's a time to wear whatever you want and have no second thoughts. You should wear what you want all the time, but for me it's more about the thing I'm doing that day, and the fact that I don't normally need to look fabulous if I'm going to a lecture and then to Lidl! It's not sustainable and I don't have the time to wear and choose incredible outfits every day, and of course I don't have the funds to spend on loads of on-trend, amazing clothes constantly. I am only a student after all!
That's why it's really hard to choose what to wear because I'm could essentially wear whatever I want, this is my time to shine, forget the inhibitions! But honestly, I don't need to. If I look around right now (I'm writing this in some spare time at work, FYI today I opened all the post and called high street stores for samples, so cool!), the fashion desk are of course all dressed amazingly. But it's not about wearing Anna Dello Russo or André Leon Talley outfits each day just because you can, it's essentially about wearing what suits you and what you feel best in. Well I would probably feel pretty good strutting around in Miu Miu swallow print everything right now but at work, you dress to get the job done. And really, you have nothing to prove. I always think that if I ever bumped into a reader on a normal day, they would be pretty disappointed as I don't wear heels and fierce outfits everyday like some bloggers. I'm not a daily outfit post blogger because I don't feel right and, like I said, I don't have the time or funds to strut around just to get a coffee and make my outfit incredible in loads of ways. In fact the stares would bug me after five minutes. At first I felt a bit rubbish that I was wearing skirts, tights and tops to work that I felt didn't particularly make people look at me and think 'wow, I bet she has a cool fashion job or at least is really fashionable.' Sometimes on the tube, as this is London, you get to see amazingly dressed girls and guys who just have cool style, and in a Snog, Marry, Avoid way (but totally different!), you couldn't imagine them not having that style as their whole look is cool. I don't think I'm one of those people, although I do always have certain outfits at every point in the year that are my super outfits that I'll wear to a press day or an event, because I've indulged my love of fashion and bought something I think is really cool. They're the outfits that really come together and you love to wear, do you have those?
It's almost impossible to wear those outfits every day, at least for me, so sometimes I beat myself up a bit about not being eternally fantastic and inspiring. But you don't need to be! You don't need to prove it, and you can have a huge love of fashion without having to be 'fashionable' yourself. If you love sports and are a sports expert, you don't need to be an amazing player, or if you are a music producer it doesn't mean you have to be able to play anything or sing. Like the women who wear trainers with their posh suits on the tube while they travel, you essentially need to get from A to B, and you could write an amazing fashion piece, yet sit at your desk in jeans and a tee. Like the ladies here, most likely amazing jeans and a lovely tee, but still nothing that screams out 'I'm so fashionable, you have to look!'.
There's no burning need to make people aware that you love fashion and I'm trying to remind myself not to feel bad if nobody would take a second glance at my outfit today, especially not in London, because I'm wearing things I like and trends that I feel great in. You could argue that the people out there who just look constantly amazing are more 'fashionable' as they have that edge and that natural talent to put together a whole look and effortlessly keep up to date with trends, yet embrace their own style (this is my dream to be!), but style and fashion are different things and you don't need to turn heads to love fashion. I put a lot of pressure on myself to try my best to make people at work think I was good because I looked the part, but straight away realised you prove yourself through your actions and not necessarily your appearance. I would like to say I dress purely for myself all the time but I am only 20 and probably don't have that total self awareness or confidence. Also when working or studying, isn't it impossible to change or adapt your style just a little? I look at some bloggers and know they would dress really amazingly in their stuff every day, but maybe as a 'normal' girl or a British girl, I feel normal in the fact that I don't always command attention with fabulous outfits and would choose not to wear something because it wasn't right for the occassion. sky-high designer heels to lectures? Ain't gonna happen!
Maybe we're too hard on ourselves (or maybe it's just me) as fashion is a measure of culture and wealth and everything that psychologically puts pressure on us as a human being. I was just in Pret for lunch and the cashier guy was like, 'Are you a model?? Ah you have that look!' and I was like huh? If realistically I'd got a picture of Abbey Lee and then myself and compared them, obviously I am not a model, but I cheekily said 'I do work in fashion!' (even though officially I don't work here or anything!), and he said 'ah I knew it, the compliment is true, see!' It might have been because he was an older Italian guy (and Italian guys love the red heads), but today I was only wearing my long flared jeans with wedges and a stripy top, and I would never be on a street style site. So it could be the measures we set ourselves against. I aspire to be like the people on street style sites and if I don't think an outfit would be featured on one, I don't think it is 'good enough' Can you ever be good enough in your mind? Maybe in those 'favourite outfits' that I usually have one of at a time, but no every day.
Finding your personal style is the hardest task and once you do that you won't feel the need to buy into every trend. When you look at fashion week, most people who work in fashion are dressed lovely yet comfortably, as they have nothing to prove, they've earned their job title. And once you totally satisfy your own tastes and ideas of the best trends out there, you will be the most fashionable person you know.