Accessible Fashion РLagenlook 

Over the past year I’ve been struggling with clothes on a number of levels. My mission has been to find clothes that meet ALL of the following:

  1. Are stylish & individual, but not “fashionable” (I’m 36 fgs, my teenage clothes are now “retro”)
  2. I can get on & off without dislocating & with minimal help
  3. Are comfortable EVEN when my joints ache, my belly bloats by several inches for no good reason, I’m sat in my wheelchair all day, I’m sitting awkwardly because of my weird bendy back
  4. I can get out of to go to the loo.by myself (big, important consideration even if this is way TMI)
  5. Won’t tangle in my wheelchair 
  6. Won’t be too hot & make me Tachy
  7. Won’t be too cold & turn me to stone
  8. Are considered modest enough for work
  9. Aren’t frumpy
  10. Won’t fuel my “I’m fat” thoughts

So, you know, I’m Easy.

But over the past few weeks, I’ve found a style that rather meets all of this. Lagenlook is a German creation which literally means layered look. It is a style of dressing that flatters almost all figures and sticks two big fingers up at the perfect body type. That rather suits me seeing as the body I once adorned with home sewn flared dungarees so enormous that I used to trip over the hems seems to have spread out, twisted, & broken. I digress.

The look can be adjusted to suit whatever your particular style is (for me, I’m more the 2nd lady in from the left without the standing, and some extra padding). In my case my colour choices are black, grey, natural greens, and the occasional royal blue for funsies.

So today, Mr Geek took me & the kids over to Brighton to address the lack of uniform shopping for the kids & identify some items to stop me making a face every time he gets me dressed & bemoaning my lack of clothes that don’t either hurt my stomach or look frumpy.

Each morning I’m greeted with “what do you want to wear?”, and without fail the answer has been “something comfortable”. This is going to suck when I go back to work and I have to dress in smart & professional clothing. This is great in theory, but when you’re battling a body that has wild temperature fluctuations & inflates because you smelt a bread roll, a pencil skirt isn’t practical.

Lagenlook solves the looking like a human with some form of style, and because of the layers I can add or remove layers as and when needed. The majority of the bits I bought allow me to wear leggings or linen trousers underneath which is where I come a little bit unstuck – our dress code states no leggings – I can’t successfully undo trousers & get to the loo by myself (apart from my linen trousers which are elasticated which breaks my heart, but hey). I’m hoping if they are worn as a type of completely opaque tights, I can get away with it.

I think I’d always planned this Bonham Carter-esq look as my midlife crisis style of choice anyway & looking through my pre-shopping wardrobe there’s already a few petticoats, DMs, and cardigans just waiting to be layered up. And I guess 36 is an ok age to have a midlife existential crisis. I’d always planned to have to go and “find myself” in Tibet where I would meditate and plan my sky burial.

Instead, I am finding peace through painkillers and the acquisition of comfortable clothes in Primark. I’m a terrible hippy. I will however happily settle for expressing my repressed rebellion through slightly odd clothing & my trademark super red hair.

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I Want To Look Like The Cool Lady

BeanPole is having a pre-teen crisis. I apparently have the beginnings of an angsty tween on my hands and its all about her special style. In recent weeks, we’ve had to have ‘the talk’ about double denim, and she’s now starting to take style direction from her mother, which is frankly dangerous.

She has decided that she is ‘alternative’ and wants to dress her way, or rather the way she has decided is cool rather than the standard fashionable stuff for kids (I’m totally up for this). Cue 8 yr old pulling teenage pose…

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This also means that our current preparations for the new school year are now hindered by her inner need to be immensely cool and school uniform adjustments are being demanded. Luckily (for her, not me) their school uniform is a guideline rather than a strict adherence to specific clothing. Although while more expensive, it would certainly cause me less heartache. So instead we have commenced the ‘I want to wear shorts and tights’ argument along with the ‘I need a slouchy cardigan rather than a back to school one’. Slouchy? Ahh. You mean a chunky knit, rather than the standard school issue one. Really? You’re nearly 9! I had reckoned on a few more years!

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I can see her point. Her version is more stylish, but it’s for SCHOOL! I think I may have found an issue with having my own oddball sense of style.

Then came the glasses. The kid needs them, and the NHS will fund a certain amount. But she has a rather large head and as such needs ladies glasses. And the kid did her research. Not by looking at her peers, not by taking hints from pop stars (I’m actually quite proud of that), but by trawling through my WordPress reader and coming across the Goodnight Mush blog. On there she caught sight of a lady named Jill and made the decision that she exuded cool from every pore and must have her glasses. Im hoping that this woman that we have never met, but who is now influencing my baby’s self image sees this imitation as flattery rather than all a bit creepy! We ended up with something very similar, although they are full rims as her right eye requires something akin to a bottle in thickness and an ongoing argument over her not being able to maintain a Betty Page fringe (I do from September to about Easter, then get lazy and grow it out over the summer).

So what do I do with a kid who is fighting for her identity? I make a list.

I will – Let her adapt her uniform mildly – she can have shorts. The cardigans will be a compromise.

I will not – Buy her DM boots for school (mainly because they’re ¬£90!)

I will – (and have) cut her hair into a more grown up style with some feathering and a bit of an emo fringe.

I will not – allow make up under any circumstances. No way. Not yet.

I will – apparently part with ¬£75 for the ‘right’ glasses.

I will not – try to make her change her style unless it’s inappropriate for her age. I’m actually quite proud that she wants to be individual.

I may need to apologize to women thousands of miles away for my child obsessing over their fashion choices.

I may also need to take a trip to the Laines in Brighton with her. She and I need to do some shopping.

It’s about style, not fashion. (Said no daughter, ever. But eventually she might…)

My afternoon to myself has consisted of sorting the kids clothes into various piles:

1. Too big for beanpole
2. Too small for beanpole, but too big for Tinypants
3. This will fit them this summer if it ever comes
4. Too small for Tinypants

The first three piles have gone into vacuum bags to be stored away, while pile 4 is in a bag waiting to go on to the next child in the line. And of course the cat feels he is helping in his own special way…

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This is a valuable tradition within friends and family of passing the kids clothes on when they haven’t worn holes in the knees. If the clothes are still good, a friend can always benefit from a bag of ‘stuff’. The recipient then keeps the bits they need and passes the rest to a charity shop. When their munchkins grow out of the clothes, the cycle starts again.

We have not yet got to the point where the kids object to the idea of hand me down clothes, and whilst they are developing their own unique styles (even at age 7 & 8!), they already understand the value of upcycling clothes rather than buying new wardrobes every season.

Tinypants possibly has more of an issue with this as she is in a set of friends who are mainly the eldest child from middle class families who are quite focused on their physical appearance (at age 7!!). The poor kid is doomed living with parents who are of the breed who worked out their own fashion and couldn’t give two hoots what people thought. I still happily wear giant flares that I made combined with bright red hair and smartie nails (5 different colours). LSH spent his youth in massive skater jeans combined with some sort of offensive tshirt (this was reigned in a bit once the kids could read) and a giant Mohawk. He ended up a lot more sensible once he landed a decent job, but as he works at home most days while he’s developing SharePoint stuff I cannot claim to understand, he does indulge in some particularly dubious Hawaiian shirts. Poor Tinypants is trying to find her place in the world with very normal friends whilst still being happy in her oddball family. It can’t be easy learning that harsh lesson that girls are often obsessed with the perception of who they are rather than just getting on with being them. Hell, it took me nearly 25 years to work that one out!

So why is the hand me down cycle so important for a child’s mental health? Well, for a start, it is a lesson in valuing those around you by receiving loved items, but also by giving them away. But also, it’s a lesson in making the most of what you have. Not everything is about fashion, but style is important – and stylish isn’t always fashionable. But stylish is you.

Oh, and mummy isn’t made of money!