July – Wardrobe wars


Now while I’m all for a bit of entrepreneurship in my children, I have to admit I’m struggling somewhat with the Teen Child’s new start-up venture.

Attempting to pack the other day for our summer holiday, I was wading through the Teen Child’s wardrobe (most of which was on the floor or balanced precariously on her desk chair – a “wardrobe” of clothing really is a misnomer for children aged from approximately 12 through to, oh, I don’t know, about 25), ready to toss it in the case, chuck it in the dirty washing or relegate it to the charity sack. And then, beneath the chaos, I discover – to my joy – a neatly folded item of clothing. It looks quite familiar, and when I unfold it I realise it’s my husband’s hoodie.

It’s a very old hoodie that dates to before we got married, which of course is an event that occurred in a sort of “lost era” – a period of time that, according to the children, runs from approximately the beginning of time until 2007, when Steve Jobs announced the launch of the iphone at the Macworld Conference. Anything that occurred between those times is not really worthy of comment.  

Anyway, the Stussy hoodie in question dates back to that period, around about 1992 to be exact, when my husband “stole” it from his university friend Matt when he ran out of clean clothes one term. And Matt nicked something back in return, and my husband never gave the hoodie back, and they had a bit of banter about it over the years and then my husband took it backpacking and sent Matt lots of “fun” photos of him in the hoodie in various exotic locations, and he was still wearing it when I met him. And it’s just been one of those silly things that we’ve joked about over the years, and Matt still asks for it back every time we meet up for dinner in London. Ha ha. Anyway, how cute, I thought, the Teen Child is now borrowing it and I really must WhatsApp Matt’s wife and tell her.

Except it turns out she hasn’t borrowed it at all. She’s sold it. Online. (Which is why it was so neatly folded, ready for posting.) Along with my husband’s 1970 Brazilian World Cup replica shirt, a very old pair of Zara heels (possibly 2010? I think I bought them for a Melbourne Cup lunch at Happy Valley Race Course; anyway, they’re terribly old but awfully comfortable) and a 1990s Quiksilver surf shirt.

“Oh my god, but they’re all so retro mum, so cool,” insists the Teen Child when I bring it up with her. It turns out she’s sold the Stussy hoodie for about three times what Matt originally paid for it back in the ‘90s.

“Well that’s fantastic!” beams my husband. “What a great result for an old top.”

What about Matt? I ask. After all, it officially still belongs to him.

My husband looks at me as if I’m mad. “He doesn’t seriously want it back, darling. It was a joke.”

I know, I say. But it doesn’t seem quite right, selling other people’s wardrobes like this. Can’t she get a normal teenage job, like packing chickens for Chicken on the Run, or washing up at Jaspas or something?

To be honest my husband is less jaunty when he finds out about the Brazil shirt (I, on the other hand am overjoyed – it’s a foul luminous yellow thing that has faded in the wash over the years and these days resembles more of a weary duster than a trendy sporting shirt; it particularly riles me when he insists on wearing it as suitable “casual dining attire” in lovely European trattorias when we’re on holiday), but he still thinks the whole project very commendable.

Until he discovers his Bristol City top is missing. And the Tween Child can’t find her new Netburners. Then things start getting a bit serious.

I remember when the children were tiny and cute and still (relatively) compliant and I used to joke with other mummy friends about how revolting they’d be when they were teenagers. I envisaged “tense” standoffs over make-up and high heels when they wanted to borrow my things. But it’s weird how the reality of teenagerhood is about a zillion times worse than you can imagine. Of course she’s not doing anything as lovely as wanting to borrow her mother’s “cool” clothes and shoes; she wants to sell them. And not because they’re cool, but because they’re “retro”. I don’t know whether to be complimented that other people want to buy my stuff or insulted that the items fall into some kind of specialist “Nanna-wear” category.

Anyway, things reach peak stress when the Teen Child couldn’t locate her brand new layered, distressed denim Top Shop mini-skirt last week.

“Oh,” pipes up the Blonde Child. “I had to dress up as a gypsy for the end-of-term school assembly. I thought that skirt looked a bit old so no-one would mind. I donated it to the Year 4 dress-up box.”