A story of something borrowed and something true (to brand).
I’ve always enjoyed wearing clothes that aren’t mine. Perhaps it’s a trait borne from being the youngest sibling with access to bigger and better wardrobes than my own. For whatever reason, borrowing clothes has always given me a sense of gratification hard to come by with something I owned myself.
A week before my debs in 2016, in true myself form, I hadn’t organized a dress. I took a notion that I would wear my sister’s dress she had worn to her own debs seven years previously. In a moment of Celtic Tiger indulgence, she had it made from scratch, an emerald green, backless silky number with a halter neck and beaded straps. In my mind, I saw myself gliding into the school in my secondhand version of the famous Atonement green dress. Six days before the big night, I pulled it out of the attic and tried it on. It wasn’t backless, the parts where breasts were supposed to sit looked sad on my flat chest and the beaded straps had more going on than Britney Spears in 2007. I had a frantic look on the standard debs dress websites but still had a notion about wearing something secondhand. It felt right to wear a dress that had been through the occasion before. I ended up buying a dress on depop and I was grateful for that sense of comfort for an occasion that was already pressured.
Last month when I was invited to Elle Galan (The Swedish Fashion Awards), my first thought was of course – how on earth did I get invited to this. My second thought – what on earth I was going to wear. I had a browse of outfits from previous years, soon realizing what I was getting myself in for. The event was the whole kit and caboodle, red carpet and the biggest names in the Swedish fashion industry. Naïvely, I threw out a few emails to sustainable Swedish designers, unsure how to go about the PR maze of getting dressed by a brand. But again, I couldn’t shake the feeling that borrowing something would be a better fit for this momentous occasion. I wasn’t ready to wear something new for an occasion so new to me too.
Turn to three weeks before the event. I was at home in Ireland for Easter when I saw model and sustainability advocate, Rozanna Purcell, had posted some dresses she had worn to past events. A couple of slides in, she showed a black gown with a gold scarf strap. It was simple, elegant and sexy, all in an understated way. She had been following my secondhand fashion account on Instagram since I had about 20 followers, my sister having mentioned me to her while working with her on her most recent cookbook. I messaged her about the dress – which turned out to be a Mugler she had upcycled with an old scarf. Within a few messages, she not only suggested lending it to me but offered to give it to me – no strings attached. Just a small donation of Mugler to a girl she had never met.
Getting to wear something already worn by another boss Irish woman gave me the extra boost I needed in unknown waters. The dress was a hoot – It matched the occasion in just the right way and when complimented, I reveled in the opportunity to talk about its history.
The sisterhood of the travelling Mugler won’t stop with me and I’m looking forward to passing it on to someone else. Something that beautiful deserves to enjoy every party it can.