Scouse style

Sunday, 30 March 2008

This week's Sunday Times Style magazine has finally picked up on what I've been saying for years - Liverpool is a massive front-runner when it comes to fashion in the UK.

I remember noticing it when I was about 14 or 15. If you looked at what kids in other cities were wearing, it was usually stuff that we'd been sporting at least 6 months before. Going shopping in town on a Saturday afternoon took preparation and thought when I was a teenager, and continues to do so. Before GHDs were invented, regular hair-straighteners just didn’t do the job and several of my friends would literally put their hair onto an ironing board and iron it to the point of paper-thin straightness (no lie). Bronzer and fake tan were then, as now, extremely important, hence the general view that most Liverpool girls’ skin is an unnatural shade of orange or terracotta.

The biggest challenge though was dressing for a night out. I remember when I was 17, the big place to go to was Garlands and we’d all try to outdo one another with how ‘funky’ we could look. My favourite outfit from back then was a pair of cowboy boots, a lilac tutu, a brown embroidered sleeveless smock and a string of pearls. Honestly…

Now though, grooming and style has been taken to a whole new level. In a city where everyone just seems to focus on going out at the weekend, looking good has become an art of painstaking preparation and complexity. The girls are coiffed to within an inch of their lives. Volume is in, so hair is generally BIG, backcombed and hairsprayed into either solid, unbelievably tall quiffs or candyfloss-esque waves. The clothes are generally a selection of bright colours, ruffles and bows, all teetering on platform stiletto shoes. It is the standard opinion that you don’t go out in Liverpool wearing an outfit you’ve worn before. If some people go out every single week, this begs the question, where the hell do young people in this city get their money from?! (I don’t have an answer for that, sadly)

It’s the ‘WAG’ style that seems to be the generally accepted norm in Liverpool, with girls like Coleen Mcloughlin and Alex Curran being hailed as inspirational fashionistas. Of course what really appeals about these girls is that they are living the fantasy of all materialistic, self-obsessed teenagers everywhere – they have a seemingly limitless bank balance with which to shop. But when more and more little girls, on being asked what they want to be when they grow up, reply “footballer’s wife”, we should really be worried.

Sure these girls look good, of course they do, everything about them is fake – their tans, their hair, their nails, even their eyelashes! It’s easy to look good when all the work’s being done for you and you’re wearing expensive clothes. The ones I really admire in Liverpool, and who really do define it as a fashionable city are the ones who dare to be different and who have a genuine eye for style, who can take a plain dress from H&M or even a quirky vintage dress from one of the boutiques in Grand Central and make it look a million dollars. But with all that platinum blonde hair and orange skin all over the place, it’s easy to miss something a little more subtle…

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