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The Confidence of a Toddler

by Christopher Donovan 8 days ago in trends

Wear What You Like

"Whatever you do today, do it with the confidence of a four-year-old in a Batman t-shirt."

There are very few fashion trends I've lived through that I'd willingly like to see revived.

I was only a child in the 1970s but I've seen the photographs: I wore more shades of brown than there were on a World War One battlefield. No thanks; I'm good.

The 1980s were fun, but I seemed to spend all of my time either having a perm, or dressing like Don Johson in 'Miami Vice.' That much white might look good in Florida, but it's utterly impractical in sodden Hampshire; everything I wore ended up covered in mud (more brown again). Again, don't call us, we'll call you.

In the first half of the 1990s, I could be found in flared jeans and t-shirts that had lots of flowers on them. It was the Second Summer of Love apparently. Err, no, it wasn't. The Gulf War raged and we had Poll Tax riots; there really wasn't too much love in the world regardless of how flowery our tops were. Never again.

At the end of the decade, I dressed like Noel and Liam Gallagher's sartorially-challenged younger brother. I also got a huge, silver-hooped earring. What seemed like a good idea at the time now looks like an act of insanity. I never want any of that ever again.

During the 2000s and 2010s, I settled into a style I've since christened 'Lazy New Dad', and owned more check shirts than could be seen at a country and western concert. Yeah - not good.

More recently, I followed a trend, and grew a lockdown beard. It was simply the latest in a long line of styling disasters - I didn't look like a hip barista; I looked like a hobo who might have murdered your family. I'm clean-shaven again now, and little children don't run away from me in the street.

So it’s a big fat no to all of them.

There are historical trends that I didn't live through, but - again - none of them float my boat. Part of me hankers for an age when men dressed like Cary Grant or as if we're in an F Scott Fitzgerald novel. However, I used to have to wear a suit for work. You might feel like 007 for the first hour, but after that you just feel constricted and want to throw a t-shirt on. Like much of adulthood, wearing a suit is not nearly as much fun as you'd think.

Going back further, there's absolutely nothing in the Victorian, Georgian, Jacobean, Elizabethan, or Middle Ages I can see that would add to my wardrobe. Granted, it'd be pretty cool to carry a sword, but I'm also sure that's only going to create problems after a few drinks on a Friday night.

So, given that there's no trend I've experienced, nor researched, that I think highly of, what would I choose to revive? What?

Well, there is one. But it's not so much as a trend as a state of mind. It's 'Toddler Style.' Honestly, after Covid we could all do with a bit of levity; I suggest that we all dress exactly how we want, when we want. In other words, with the freedom of a toddler. That's what I would revive.

Being Dorothy

Early one morning, I once found my youngest daughter sitting in her bedroom dressed as Dorothy from 'The Wizard of Oz.' After removing her pyjamas, her first thought was not to find sensible, and suitable attire; it was to put on a gingham dress, and a sparkly red hairband. When I asked her why she'd chosen those clothes, she'd said, "I felt like it." It's hard to argue with that kind of logic.

When I told her she'd need to change before we left the house, she'd asked me, "Why?" In her defense, it's a great question. One I didn't have a likewise great answer to. Because there really was no reason why she couldn't go to the supermarket dressed as Dorothy. If she wanted to, she could go absolutely anywhere she wanted dressed that way. Well, not school, of course. I know they're pretty relaxed about the uniform dress code but I think that might be pushing it.

But, as for anywhere else? There's literally no reason why not. As a child, she's not bound by any societal constraints - if she had wanted to go to the cinema dressed as a coyote, no one would've minded.

And a very large part of me would love that same freedom.

I'm not saying I want to dress up as a character from my favorite movie (although I can't deny it'd be fun to walk around Liverpool for the day as Darth Vader), nor wear an outfit that clashed so hideously it looked as if I got dressed in the dark. And I wouldn't turn up to a wedding wearing a wet suit, or a funeral dressed in a soccer strip; I do have some standards.

But I'd love the freedom of simply not caring.

I'd relish the confidence of a toddler. Of loudly telling the world, "This is what I am - deal with it. Yeah, I know the soccer shorts don't match the Batman t-shirt but this outfit makes me happy. Now, who wants to play on the swings with me?"

It'd be great if we could just dress as we pleased with no thought beyond personal happiness. No worries about whether what we're wearing is 'in'. Or cool. Or whether it makes our bum look big. Not concerned about what others might say. Simply - does it makes us happy? Are we comfortable? I don't want to go back to the 1970s - it was a grim, grim decade. But I would love the freedom I had as a kid during that decade to pick clothes that just made me happy.

Who knows, if I had that freedom, I might dust off my 'Miami Vice' look - not all of it, but I did have a snazzy pair of white loafers that might very well be a disaster by modern-day standards, but which were still fairly cool. I'd be weary of wearing them again because they would clash with every single item of clothing I have in my contemporary wardrobe. However, if I had the mentality of a toddler, I wouldn't care.

I hate the second-guessing that goes into every piece of clothing I choose. The worry that comes from wondering if what I've chosen is going to be suitable, or is correct for the occasion. My youngest daughter has no such worries - she couldn't care less.

I want to be more like her.

And, after the rigours of Covid, I reckon we could all do with a little relaxing of the expected norms.

It'd be fun. Silly.

I want the confidence of a toddler in a Batman t-shirt. That's what I would revive. And, starting from today, I just might try to.

So, if you see a middle-aged man wandering around Liverpool in a hotchpotch collection of clothes, don't worry - it's just me. I'll be channelling my inner toddler.

And the smile I'll be wearing will tell you that is one trend well worth reviving.


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Christopher Donovan
Christopher Donovan
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Christopher Donovan


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