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Island influence

Thanks to Jersey, I’ve gone from Goth to Judy Garland wannabe

Moving from the bright lights of industrial Leeds to the quiet and beautiful island of Jersey was a culture shock. I went from a city that was 24/7 to an island that shuts its shops at 5:30 on the dot (unless it is late night shopping on a Thursday) and remains resolutely shut on a Sunday. I have often been stopped on a Sunday by a tourist asking when the shops will open. Their mouths gaping open in horror when I tell them "never". However, that is what I love about Jersey. Where the rest of the world is marching to a frantic beat, Jersey doesn’t feel the pressure to join in. Island life on Jersey moves at a blissfully slower pace.

The same can’t be said for its fashion though. I worried that I would miss my high street shops and the department stores. I remember howling at my friends that I would have to make monthly visits back to the mainland to stock up on my fashion essentials. I was an idiot and a very narrow minded one at that! As soon as I arrived on Jersey I realised the brilliance of this tiny island. Jersey might be small but it’s full of fashion prowess. Not only does it have a vast array of fashion shops: independent boutiques and department stores but I also had easy access to the beach. Where else can you be splurging the cash on some high-end fashion one minute and then in the blink of an eye be on the beach, dipping your feet in the clear blue sea?

I do have to hold my hands-up and admit that Jersey life has influenced my fashion direction. On the mainland I had a fondness for dark colours. In fact, my entire wardrobe made me look like I was in permanent mourning. I owned one maxi dress in uniform black. It mostly lived at the back of my wardrobe, never seeing the light of day because Yorkshire isn’t known for its sunny climate. On the days that I would attempt to wear it I would be greeted by shocked faces, "eeee, somewhat hopeful aren’t you? It’s a bit brass for that sort of wear" As for sandals, I didn’t own any. My hair was brunette and I favoured a heavy fringe. I combined this with sweeping eye-liner and lashings of bronzer to try and cover my poor vitamin D deprived skin.

Living on Jersey has changed me. I look very different. My friends tell me that I have changed, admittedly this is when I ask for sparkling water in the restaurant, but they are right, I have changed. I’m no longer a brunette, instead I have blonde highlights. My fringe has gone because I don’t have time to be faffing around with a fringe because nowadays I exercise. I never exercised on the mainland as I didn’t have time. My Goth inspired wardrobe has been replaced by such a rainbow of colours that sometimes I expect to find Judy Garland nestled in the back. I have gone from owning no sandals to living in my Birkenstocks. Only in Jersey could you get away with wearing sandals in December safe in the knowledge that no one will bat an eyelid. This attitude reflects Jersey fashion in general. We don’t follow the rules, we create them. We might be a beach loving island but that doesn’t mean that we don’t take pride in our appearance.

Yet, I am struggling with my fashion sense. Where do I belong? Like everywhere else there are fashion tribes on this island and I am unsure which tribe I belong to. There is the Breton brigade with their timeless and fail safe staple that we should all have in our wardrobe. I have gone from someone who steered from horizontal stripes for fear of looking fat to someone who loves this look. It is very Jersey, especially when teemed with a blazer. It says smart worker, ready to hit the beach at the drop of a hat. Then we have the jolly Joules set favoured by yummy mummies everywhere. I too have dabbled with this brand but I felt like a fraud as I’m no yummy mummy.

This is an island full of independent fashion boutiques and we also have de Gruchy and Voisins offering high end fashion. I need to rediscover my identity. I need to steer clear of the predictable island uniform and embrace its fun, carefree side. Jersey doesn’t conform, we don’t have Brexit impending doom. Jersey is unique and independent. It’s tied down by no-one. As Judy Garland said, "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else".

That’s Jersey all over and I need to take (fashion) note.

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