Welcome to part two of our Mothers & Daughters: Talking Style with Alison and Barbara. Here we continue our conversation starting with their memories of past favourite outfits. This final part ends with their personal advice from both women on style and life in general, with a nod to fifties fashion.
Read below or click on the picture links to listen at your leisure.
Introduction - Alison was asked about an item of her favourite clothing.
Alison: "It’s a blouse that she (Barbara) bought, I believe, on the Kings road which would have been her first birthday in the UK – you came at 20, right? It’s a beautiful vintage blouse. If I could fit in it I would wear it now. People would compliment me on it. It’s so beautiful and classic that you could wear it decade after decade. I’d probably wear it with my ripped jeans and my Supergas* (a type of trainer for the uninitiated). But you could also wear it with a full taffeta skirt and look stunning".
"It’s lace and ribbon layers with a high neck and sheer sleeves. Yeah. Beautiful".
00:57 Q: "And you’re keeping it?"
Alison: "I’m keeping it for my daughter. YEAH!"
Q (turning to Barbara): "And you were saying about your velvet skirt".
Barbara: "That was Marks and Spencer. Just a long, velvet skirt".
01:14 Alison: "When Marks and Spencer were designer and lasted forever".
Barbara: "It had a little slit coming up. It was straight but not tight. That skirt would look just as good today. That’s the thing with my choice of things'.
"I liked (clothes) to be timeless. I think it’s a sort of economy. When I look back, and most people would say that, you can get them out and look good anytime. That’s really the key for me, personally. I don’t like to be like anyone else. So if something is in fashion this year I might buy it but I wouldn’t wear it for two or three years. And then people say ‘Oh! This is nice!’ and I say 'It's from a chain store'."
02:31 "I am not a follower of fashion".
Alison: "I do follow fashion but I still have to put my twist. I do buy out of season. So I’ll buy Summer stuff in the Winter and Winter stuff in the Summer. So although I’m following the fashion I might be a little bit late. But because I put my own twist on it, it will still work for me".
Q: "Did you mother ever buy you anything you hated?"
02:58 Alison: "Oh I’m sure there have been a few if I’m honest. Because it just wasn’t me. It was maybe her idea of me, or how she would like to see me. Just not me."
"Clothes speak to me. They speak to me. I’m quite black and white with what I like. Sometimes it changes. I might have bought something five years ago, really loved it at the time then fallen out of love with it, don’t wear it for years then thought ‘Oh yeah you know what I really like that again. I wanna wear it. I want wear it THIS way this time’"
Asher tries to join in with our conversationat this point. A ripe strawberry distracts him and we continue on...
Q: "Can you think of anything in particular she (Barbara) has bought you".
04:04 Alison: "There was a dress and a pair of shoes. I’m a really girly-girl. As a kid I was a really really sickly Barbara Cartland kind of girl. I loved big pouffy dresses. I never had one. My sister had the petticoat with the netting, tulle - crinoline. I loved that kind of real camp girl dressing".
Barbara: "I hated it".
Alison: "I wanted to look like a dolly when I was a little girl".
"There is a picture of me in a dress when I was two. Its just an orange and white check dress. Not particularly big but its just a really pretty little girly dress. Very seventies. Orange and white gingham. Only in the seventies would you get orange and white gingham".
Barbara: "Did my mum send you that dress? From Trinidad".
05:23 Alison: "Then for my 4th birthday my Godmother bought me these little tiny wedge shoes. Red. Bright red shoes with an ankle strap".
"And I thought those shoes were The Sh*t. Yeah. If they wanted to create a shoe for me at that age that appealed to the camp girl in me? Those were the shoes. Dorothy. Yeah those were the shoes. Nothing ostentatious. Just a small little wedge, a round toe. Bright red leather".
Claps hands together
Q: "Has your attitude to fashion changed over the years?"
06:00 Barbara: "My fashion has remained pretty constant to be quite honest. For me it was more to do with finance than anything. Economics. So my attitude has been pretty constant. I know what I like. I wouldn’t have something, I wouldn’t buy it if I didn’t like it or I didn’t think it would suit me. I have to feel comfortable. I don’t think my attitude changed after having Alison. It’s evolved over the years".
Q: "Any advice for Alison, style or otherwise?"
07:00 Barbara: "Well just follow your own instincts and just believe in yourself. Being positive. Because that’s what I’ve always done. Not to be influenced by other people. Take ownership of your life and your destiny. Because are the only one who has that sort of power to control what you do in the future. You are the only one that can master your destiny. That's all because thats what I have done".
Q: "Alison do you have advice for your daughter?"
Alison: "Don’t be a style sheep. Be individual. Be elegant and graceful. She’s much more tame than I am with my fashion. A LOT more tame. So I do me. My mum has actually, funnily enough, been a big influence because from a young age she instilled that ‘Nooooooo, you don’t want that fashionable tracksuit that everyone's got! You don't those expensive trainers! You want these from C&A!’"
00:50 Q: "There’s a blast from the past!"
Alison: "C&A was a big part of our wardrobe as kids. And my sisters, actually, and there’s a big age gap between us".
Barbara: "C&A and H&M. I used to get her things from John Lewis sometimes when it was just her. But these were like classic things but I know from an early stage she just wanted to get away from that".
01:17 Alison: "Funnily enough I’ve inherited a fashion sense from a grandmother I never met. Because when mum talks about her mother and the silhouettes that she liked. The colours, the patterns. Its me. The bright red lipstick. All of that stuff. All of that good, sexy, fifties fashion. Really structured, busty, nipped in waist. My favourite fashion era is probably the fifties because its so feminine. And sexy and bold. The 50s were bold. (*in some senses). In a fashion sense it’s one of the bolder decades".
"That’s always been interesting to me that I never met this woman but she’s almost like my... fashion spirit animal. Style muse".
How fascinating, that final observation about Alison's style link with her late grandmother. I find it so interesting how we are able to feel such astrong connection with people from the past through clothing and heritage. An invaluable healing process for many.
Do you have a favourite style era? Do you have items that maintain your closeness with a relative? We would love to hear your thoughts.
Watch out for future posts featuring amazing women and their relationship with fashion. Don't forget to join our mailing list so you never miss out!