As I wondered round the sprawling mall the other day, taking in the stores and swarms of angst ridden teenagers, I found myself travelling back through the years when my love affair with the (at sometimes questionable) fashions of the good ol’ US of A began as a teen. My aunt would give me Old Navy clothing for Christmas and birthday presents that I would wear religiously – the shining American beacon in my boring English wardrobe.
When I came to visit my aunt for the first time in New Jersey, at the age of 14, she took me to Manhattan for the day where I experienced Abercrombie & Fitch for the first time. Taken in by the all-American charm, I walked out of there with a maroon fleece zip-up hoodie that had navy piping and a small navy ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ embroidered on the sleeve. The day ended with a makeover at Saks Fifth Avenue. A song out at the time called Summer Girls featured the line; “I like girls who wear Abacrombie & Fitch, I’d take her if I had one wish…” I wore my new American hoodie with pride for the rest of that summer and for many months that followed.
I was around 17 or 18 when I went to the west coast for the first time, with my friend L and her parents, spending time in California, Nevada and Arizona, hanging out in Vegas and riding around on the back of a Harley Davidson for the best part of three weeks. Cult shows and fashions were on the agenda and L introduced me to a store called Hot Topic. The chain of band t-shirts, cult clothing and comic books was like a revelation in my teens and I remember finding a Hello Kitty t-shirt and a Rainbow Brite bracelet, both of which were unattainable in England and that I treasured for years until the t-shirt became faded and the bracelet broke.
I don’t know that cartoon/logo tees are really my thing anymore but I love this ‘Nerds Need Love Too’ shirt that I saw in Hot Topic. It is just the kind of thing I would have worn in my teens, when Hello Kitty was, or perhaps just felt, more underground and ‘cult’ then it does today.
I’ll try and dig out some photos of my American adventures, pre-Florida, in fact I still have a pair of jeans I bought from American Eagle Outfitters from the California trip. Straight in the leg and plain blue in colour, they were the jeans I biked around Europe in a few years ago and that I wore so often I got the all-American rips in the knees that I had always wanted, but refused to pay for.
This I think, is one of the reasons I find it so hard to give up old clothes – clothes which have so many memories woven into them that I treasure too much to part with, despite stains, rips and general unfitting-ness. This is why I’m trying to enjoy what I have, using and wearing it now rather than waiting to ‘save it for best’, see excellent post by LLG.