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Author Anouska Knight reflects on some crimes against fashion

Shell-suits, bum bags and perms, oh my! I’ve committed some of the most atrocious crimes against fashion. Boy, have I. And while I’d love to blame a parent (of course they were on board for the bum bags, where else do you sensibly keep your spare hair scrunchies?) I’m in no doubt they were not the chief orchestrators of my many sartorial faux pas.

This fact, however, was not enough to steady me when my 12-year-old son recently lodged a request before I began ordering September’s new school uniform. I wondered what deviation from the prescribed kit list he thought we were going to make. Uniforms are uniforms after all. And we’d already had the talk about not making him wear any more baggy clown (normal) trousers, because skinny is the new normal, apparently.

I completely understand the need to fit in with cool kids, I was nearly one myself once. That shell-suit from Donnington market was the bee’s knees. So I relented on the skinny(er) trousers and braced myself for this new request. I was right to.

He wasn’t actually asking much. Nothing flash or difficult to find. A sundry, really. Inexpensive, readily available, an undergarment between his black school trousers and black school shoes. Can you guess? You’ll never guess. White socks.

I’ll just let that sink in.

Now he’s a good looking kid. But only Danny Zuko can do a Danny Zuko, and even Danny couldn’t do it in 2018, could he? I asked my boy if he remembered the time I made him sit through the big numbers of Grease. He gave me a what would you know look. Maybe he’s right. What do I know? I used to have a two-part fringe, the upper section back-combed and hair-sprayed into a vertical wall towering above my scalp, the lower section of the same fringe tongued and teased into a car bonnet-like structure encasing my forehead. What do I know, indeed?

Trends do seem to come boomeranging back. Bum bags are back. Boy George eyebrows (circa 1982) seem to be enjoying a renaissance too. I guess it all comes full circle. The good, bad and Zuko. Maybe I will buy my boy those socks, and take plenty of photos for us to snort at in a few years, when he comes to me complaining about the stuff his own kids are trying to convince him is fashion.

Anouska is a bestselling author of four novels published across 20 countries. Currently writing Women’s Fiction for Harper Collins.

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