Oh So Unfashionable

I have been accused throughout my life of being something of a trend-setter. In fact only a few days ago, someone pointed out that lots of people were wearing steam-punk goggles at the Download Festival. I assure you, this is purely accidental.

The fact is that I’ve always been contrary and wilfully non-conformist. The moment lots of people wear something, I need to wear something different.

As a child I was subjected to my mother’s fashionable whims. She was big on travelling and used me as a kind of global doll, from bright saris, Japanese kimonos to 60s Kaftans. A cross between cute and ridiculous to satisfy her rather warped sense of humour. ‘Day’ wear was often second hand from the auction house. I remember a particularly nasty pair of blue nylon trousers and, perhaps for the first time, put my foot down and refused to wear them.

The big change of course came when I left the clutches and whims of parental influence, when I arrived in England in ’78. At last the rebellious streak which had been simmering for some time was allowed to come to a boil.

My boarding school was remarkably unfashion-conscious. The girls generally lived in jeans and jumpers and the boys didn’t seem to mind. I don’t recall anyone bothering with make-up either. I was quite a tomboy and refused to wear skirts, so this suited me fine. But I still had to do something different! Flairs were still en vogue at the time, so I grabbed needle and thread and sewed my jeans as tight as they would go. Not, in hindsight, the best look for a 12 year old sporting a healthy dollop of puppy fat, but that was hardly the point. Alas, a few months later, flairs were exchanged for drain-pipes. Back to the drawing board and my first taste of accidental trend-setting.

I did try a few rebel fashions after that – I died my hair pink and spiked it up, and even had a parka for a while which I could have camped in. But I was never comfortable being part of a set group of people, and fashions seemed an extension of that. My best friend at 15 was an out-and-out hippy. Beads, bangles and afghan. I remember the whafts of patchouli oil. Me – I just sewed more patches on my jeans and lived in my leather jacket. My step-mother tried to convert me to ‘rich chic’ without success. It was never going to happen.

My naturally curly hair was something I hated too, and whilst most women in the 80s were still getting their hair permed, I crimped mine straight at the first opportunity.

Once I was signed by Sony, the whole question of fashion and image became more important. I gave the stylist quite a head-ache turning down one look after another, until we found a rather striking catsuit. Totally unfashionable, but it worked. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. A range of crazy and loud catsuits followed. At one point they even became ‘in’! For a short while. Again – accidental stylishness.

But however hard I try to dress up on the few occasions where I have to make the right impression, the inner rock-chick shines through any veneer. The truth is – I’m no good at being fashionable or conformist. My whole personality centres on being individual, and I shun social engagements where I cannot be myself.

A good example was whilst organising the marketing for The Last Adventure in 2010. A big shot PR company was hired and insisted I wouldn’t get into any of the magazines without an up-to-date fashionable look. ‘Ok’, I thought, ‘Let’s give it a go.’ I tried on various dresses from a rack supplied by the stylist, and picked out a few for the photo shoot. Now I appreciate that many of my listeners really like these photos! They’re very girly and I have my pins out. All very cute. (See title photo.) But it really isn’t me. And it was a great exercise as it proved that it didn’t work at all. I’ve had far more attention and press coverage with the steam punk style I adopted afterwards.

The fact that steam punk is currently in fashion is, once again, purely accidental. These things come around once in a while and disappear again. Frankly – I wouldn’t know as I don’t read any of the magazines. Only when you tell me.

Ironically, now that flairs are out of fashion again, I rather like them…

Unfashionably yours.

http://www.dorisbrendelmusic.com/upside-down-world-vinyl

10 Comments

  • Admin says:

    Thanks John. And Gregg – that’s one of the ‘fashionable’ pics from 2010.. Doesn’t quite feel like me..x

  • John Douglas says:

    Very interesting read, I never had the need to follow the ‘in thing’, still don’t. Keep doing what you are doing and people will do their thing, you speak through the music not what you wear! Although I do think you look hot (above), but I like the music. XXXXX

  • Gregg Palmer says:

    I dunno Doris…in the photo above you look quite fashionable and in vogue…and cute as well…lolol

  • Admin says:

    Thank you guys! A lot of this fashion stuff leaves me completely in the dark. Especially handbags! Why people would want to spend a small fortune on them is completely beyond me.. Give me the bargain bucket any day.. xx

  • Alan Walters says:

    You have a very interesting pedigree which has obviously shaped your strong will fashion choices and much of your life choices. So glad you chose music to express your Amazing creativity. I’ve missed some of your great blogs as I think I’ve been in a vacuum lately. Food for thought as always. Well done!

  • Nick Giles says:

    Thanks Doris, this was a great read as always. Please do not change at all and continue to rise above fashion….

  • Nick Giles says:

    What a lovely read this is, thanks Doz, do please stay as you are and don’t change one bit.

  • Steve Smith says:

    I find last year’s fashion is generally cheaper 😉
    Yours Scottishly,
    Steve.

  • Admin says:

    Thanks Paul! x

  • Paul Singleton says:

    Great post Doris love your writing x

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