Monday, 3 March 2014

A tribe called parents

On Sunday we went for a family fun afternoon in trendy Balham. I mention this because there are areas of London that I find a bit intimidating - Balham isn't one of them, but the relevance of geography will become apparent. The kind of areas that house the trendy types that out-of-towners think all Londoners are. I grew up in West London and for a few years in the mid seventies we lived in Greenwich - before it was gentrified. I have an aversion to North London and the East End leaves me cold so I rarely bump into the painfully cool inhabitants that typify those places.

Except on Sunday. The noise of screeching children and the general din meant it took me a few minutes to realise that the venue was filled with hipster dads. You know the chaps who wear needlecord drainpipe jeans and questionable facial hair. In this day and age there's no excuse for a moustache unless you're a Sikh, an eccentric or into steampunk. If you're going for the full effect it has to be a handlebar style groomed with old school wax or the stuff my Dad used when we were growing up - Fixo. It made his beard all stiff and scratchy, but it also meant it survived all sorts of freak weather. Anyway, I digress.

You see the hipster style isn't genuine eccentricity it's finely created artifice - the 'devil may care' casual look that eschews the appearance of effort. Oh this old shirt ? Oh yes I got it in a thrift store in Brooklyn and this belt was made by a designer friend who sells out of her loft in Shoreditch. As I quietly curse under my breath that Next do one just like it. The Dads were milling with their offspring being all laid back while Oberon, Mylo or Bunty ran amok. One Dad gave up trying to get his boy to share the tunnel that he was gripping onto and left him to "fight it out" with another boy. I was willing him to fall into the puddle of pee left by the child of the man who had been bending over and putting his butt in my face for about half an hour before shuffling off to "tell Mummy your tights are all wet Araminta." Oh how I laughed.

On the other hand hipster women I quite like - the fakery of low maintenance and sensible shoes seems suitably empowering and it's a cute look. I admire the nerdy glasses and satirical cardigan wearing. As someone who needs glasses and whose cardigans are for comfort and warmth I accept that I am more hip replacement than hipster, but that's ok.

Pre-parent Boho me
You see it's all about tribes and being a parent doesn't give you automatic membership to the 'fabulous parent' tribe. In my late teens and early twenties I was all about tie dye, fringed skirts and sensible shoes. At university all my friends were the same in our goth/greebo/indie stylings. When Boho fashion came along I was delighted that I was already equipped for that - albeit quite a few pounds heavier.

Since becoming a Mum I've gone from Boho Chick to Hobo Chic. I was never trendy, but I did once care about what I wore and how I looked. I'm hoping to get back to some semblance of pride in my appearance again. Out of trackie bottoms and into slimline jeans. From hooded sweat tops to fitted shirts. I'm wearing scarves again and sometimes I even remember to put on a watch and some jewellery. I've no idea if it's a look, but I'm working on it.

I'm hoping there's a tribe that will have me - any takers ?

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