When I was quite little, my anonymous sister Bridget told me that I had no sense of style.
It hurt. Not only because it was delivered with the kind of purposeful flippancy that only an older sibling can bestow, but because, in my opinion, it was not entirely true.
When I was about six, my anonymous mother Susan bought me what can only be described as a purple clown suit. Onesy. It was a fiesta of spots and stripes, had smart black buttons down the front, and a comically large pointy collar. I loved it. Not only was it stylish, but it also had the practical element of disenabling me to wear my usual tracksuit pants backwards; a scenario that, at that time, happened more often than not. Perfect!
I wore my purple clown suit (PCS) around the house and to school, and the love affair continued until one day my friend’s pet mouse ran up the sleeve and could not be extracted.
Throughout much of my early adolescence, my wardrobe choices revolved around a pair of overalls (a similar idea to the PCS, but with greater access for removing unwelcome rodents), a skivvy, and a pink and white striped hat that my anonymous Aunt Sara had bought for me at a local Geelong market. I thought I looked great. Hell, I did look great. I was Alex Mac.
I wore my ‘ovies’ most days, apart from school days when I was forced to turn into a blue school uniform.
My school uniform was a prison in clothing-form. It consisted of a blue boxy dress, blue jumper, blue socks, blue shirt, blue tie, blue kilt, blue socks and - the bane of my adolescence - a blue blazer. Sports days were for blue tracksuits (at this point generally worn the right way around). I still struggle with ‘blue’ as a general concept.
So, with all this blue to deal with five days a week, high school clothing decisions were mostly restricted to ‘boxer shorts or bike shorts’ under my school-dress, whether my ‘royal blue’ scrunchie was close enough to the ‘sky blue’ outlined in the school’s dress policy, and what to wear on casual dress days (overalls, of course!). For one glorious month in 2001, (to my seemingly easily evoked delight) the school trialed a ‘no tie’ policy, which led to such an immediate flurry of wild behavior among the ‘ladies’ that ties were swiftly re-instated. And just in time, no doubt.
It was when I started university that I decided that I would become a dress wearer. In those days (the olden days of 2003), dresses had not yet come back into fashion (though my mother’s LL Bean catalogue would say that tracksuit dresses, and skorts, had never left!). So I decided that if I was going to wear dresses to uni, I would have to do it from day one, so that people who didn’t know me (and my overall inclined behaviour) would just assume I did that kind of thing all the time. “No big deal guys, that’s Kathryn Kelly - she wears dresses”. Totes.
Like they cared.
My first dress was a pink floral number. I wore it on my first day (and by that I mean second day… I forgot to turn up on the first day.), with my carefully practiced guise of confidence. I felt summery and pretty and special and I loved it. I wrote songs about it. I never looked back.
Luckily, the rest of the world was watching (as I had evidently assumed they would), and so dresses came back into fashion quite soon after.
So it comes to the point where I reveal I spent the next nine years accumulating enough dresses to be able to quite comfortably wear a different one every day for one month, and still have quite a few left over to keep my wardrobe satiated.
Yes, that’s a lot of dresses. No, I am not ashamed. (Note that I am slightly ashamed.) I love them all. And if you go back through the ‘Coming Up Kathryn’ archives to October last year, you will find dorky and sentimental dedications to 31 of these dresses.
If only there was some kind of month-long celebration of overalls.
My first dress. And some chickens.