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It’s Just Clothes.

I was thinking about blogging about year long anniversaries, Easter or our first taste in socialising for a while and then I went off piste so this week I’m writing about “It’s just clothes.”

A few weeks ago I got chatting with someone about Frock Up Friday and they proceeded to tell me it’s not for them because” fashion wasn’t that important and at the end of the day “it’s just clothes.”

So this person who I like a lot and has lots of cool points of views on loads of stuff hit a nerve, for at least a second. He wasn’t prepared for the long discussion that happened next.

Fashion is an important world wide industry and the designers who make it whether high end or high street are highly trained and highly skilled that was just the start of my discussion. Fashion/clothing can gives us clues to peoples lives and culture. We can use fashion to document the past.

It was my fascination with clothes and what they say about us that led me to write my university thesis on women and underwear , documenting women’s relationship with underwear and their status in western societies. I only documented the change from Victorian corsets to the 1980s but with votes for women and more women taking part in sports to the roaring twenties and the burning of bras in the late 60s to underwear for comfort in the 80s underwear tells a complete story of how women’s lives have changed.

Clothes have always fascinated me from making my dolls clothes to saving up for a waistcoat with appliqué and feathers on, my childhood was spent loving clothes.

As a student at art college I loved to know what designer was doing what but never felt compelled to own anything expensive or hanker after designer things as I’ve always liked to make do and mend and love a-charity shop bargain. I was never the dedicated follower of fashion, although I love everything about great design and applaud the brilliant designers of our time. I guess like many people on FUF I like what I like and I like to dress up, because it makes me feel my best self.

Anyway I digress; back to the chap who thinks it’s only clothes and I wanted to make a point and I could think of one very real thing that happened to me that made me realise it’s not only clothes.

A few years back I went to work in Lesbos as an NGO sorting clothes from the mountain of donations given for the refugee crisis. My friends and I sorted clothes for hours a day in huge warehouses. Other times we worked in the camps handing clothes to the new very exhausted scared arrivals.

Children, women and men of all ages arrived constantly throughout the day. Their clothes soaked from scary boat journey

Their travelling clothes were replaced with dry clean clothes, but the rule was the clothes they arrived in were taken from them washed them recycled into the clothes storage, they were not going to get their own clothes back! The clothes they were wearing were all they had left from their previous lives and understandably they were loathed to give them up; these clothes held precious memories . I have to admit I’m a rule breaker and I could see how important these clothes were to them, so I put them in bags and sneaked them back to the owners they were incredibly grateful.

A little girl newly arrived to the camp spotted a pink sparkly jumper and we gave it to her, her smile said it all, the jumper meant the world to her. Then there was the man, who I imagined in his previous life in Syria had been that of a wealthy businessman, he had trousers that were too large and wanted a belt I found him a smart leather belt and he was near to tears a belt to help him keep his trousers up while he prepared for a long journey to a country where he could find work and look after his family.

Perhaps the most poignant thing that happened was my friend was looking after a woman just arrived she asked my friend if she could get some lipstick like hers. My friend gave her her lipstick the woman was so happy because it made her feel pretty. She was there in a camp her life in shreds but lipstick reminded her of her past but also gave her hope for the future. This struck a chord. For some of us clothes aren’t important and appearance isn’t everything but for others it’s the glue that holds them together.

So my point to my doubting friend that it’s just clothes, yes they are just clothes I know this! But clothes bring comfort , safety, joy, memories and they allow us to express ourselves.People through time have adorned themselves with clothes and Jewellery and we should never take for granted the power of clothes had fashion.

I explained FUF has become so much than a fashion parade people can celebrate their own Fabulousness, express their uniqueness and be fearless in joy of dressing up. People blossom they feel more positive about themselves and learn to love themselves. We never set out to create a group that did this but with the amazing freethinking frockers we have in this group, FUF is most definitely not just clothes it is so much more!

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Pam Seymour
Pam Seymour
Apr 07, 2021

That is very well put! Your story reminded me of how the Jews were deprived of their clothing and belongings when entering concentration camps. If they were lucky enough to live they were thrown any old rags to wear and had to try and 'rise above' the humiliation. What a lovely thing you did for people in different but in some ways similar circumstances. Another thought this brings to mind is how my dad was always stylish and 'dapper'...even with dementia and when it was still possible took huge pride in presenting himself with coordinating clothing, often adding a hat with a flourish! Self expression and hanging on to who we can be.

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