I’m not a trend setter. I learnt that at Leeds. Well I didn’t follow the trend – the high tops, the tiny denim shorts, the baggy t-shirts, the unwashed and out of condition hair – I went for a more manicured look, the high heels, the cocktail dresses and the curled hair. In some respects therefore, by not following the alternative fashion trend, I was actually the one being alternative. I can assure you that I was a minority.
In my last year of Leeds a large portion of my female contemporaries, as ever ahead of the game, started to dye the ends of their bedraggled locks. Half one colour, half another. ‘This’, I remember thinking ‘is the final straw, I need to get out of the North, its addling peoples brains.’ And I did, I left Leeds homeward bound, to the un-edgy greenery of Hertfordshire. I worked the summer at the cafe of an antique shop in Debden. I served carrot cake to the elderly, smartie cookies to the young. I was happy in my rural bubble – no high tops in sight.
September arrived and with the money saved from the summer, I set off on a 6 month adventure around India and Kenya. Bollywood stars, tigers, beaches, mountains, forests, plains, lions, crocodiles, leopards and a great deal more flora, fauna, people and wildlife wove into the expedition. But no dip dye.
March swung round and I returned to the promise of spring. I enrolled in the London School of Journalism, and embarked upon a new urban lifestyle. It was here, that I encountered what I had glimpsed at the end of my time in Leeds. It was back. The lighter tips, the blended blonde, the dip dye. But something had changed – these women didn’t have the strawy lids of their predecessors, these women were groomed and looked, well, actually rather good.
But though it had been a year since I’d first seen it, it still felt too soon. I needed to be sure that I could handle it, that I wasn’t at risk of being original, or the unthinkable – of being edgy. So I was patient, I finished my postgraduate diploma, I finished writing my novel on India, and I sought out a job in Journalism. This was a struggle. I’d assumed that with a degree in English and a post-grad in Journalism, that I would walk into a writing job. I was wrong. Months passed, a stint of head-hunting happened, before finally I got a response – the online magazine The Upcoming wanted me to write for their culture section.
I investigated their website, they really were a real magazine. They were a young, trendy and fashion heavy magazine. I had a meeting with the editor the following week. It was now or never. Time to ditch the preppy blonde highlights which I’d been donning since puberty. I needed change. This was demonstrative of the new section of my life – Alice Audley, writer. Not Alice Audley, overqualified, desperate and unemployed. And I did it. I went from:
And I had it redone yesterday. So herein lies the question – if I followed a trend, when the trend was pretty much over, does that make me trendy – sorry edgy? Or does it make me a sheep – an injured sheep that is desperately clinging on the noises of the herd that it can’t keep up with?
I suppose by getting it done so late is alternative…whatever the reason, I have done a full circle – what I saw in Leeds and disdained, I now sport on my head. I’m Alice, I have a dip dye and I like it.