A drunk teenager will sleep anywhere; a couch, the bathroom floor, even a doorway. A decade ago the drunken teenagers I surrounded myself with (and was one of) slept in my clothing, never wearing it but snuggling into the lava of the volcano of garments which erupted across my room. This isn’t the only time my hoarding’s made their lives more comfortable, I have been the costume department of their turbulent lives as long as I’ve known them.
I found the first Chanel t-shirt in a charity shop in my hometown for £1.20, you know the black ones with embroidered gold logo that’re going for £100+ on Etsy. My high school best friend would wear it; a boy who taught me that men didn’t have to be what my father defined a man as, that they could borrow my clothes and wear make-up and fancy the same people as me. Years later, bored and miserable at my first job post-university, an image of it popped into my head. A quick eBay search found one that had just been listed at £18; this sixth sense has served me working in the fashion industry since.
My ex had a lot of my clothes at the time of rupture. He still had a few of them – the ones he was wearing – after I’d got his housemate to let me into his flat, taking everything I’d ever bought him and listed it on eBay. He got me back by taking my two favourite possessions, a Versace x Elton John tee that had been around the world and back with me, and the Chanel tee. My mother bought me a new t-shirt. I never wear it anymore, preferring to think of my high school best friend wearing it to lunch with his boyfriend, now fiancé, rather than thinking of my ex.
A cardigan I’d just bought – only £4 from Oxfam but the perfect loose chenille ode to grunge – was lent to a friend for a first date. A first date that became one of many firsts; the first time a flower had been delivered to her desk, the first time someone remembered she liked to eat from plates warmed in the oven, the first time a wall colour was a collaboration. I never saw the cardigan again, but I saw all of that. A floaty black angel-sleeved dress mum bought me was commandeered by my best friend for her NYE plans. Last seen as a dancer lifted her above his head and they disappeared into the crowd, I guess my angel sleeves gave her wings.
Paying for a London hotel room for five (or so they thought, actually twelve) advantageous fifteen year olds so we could go to a festival was one of my favourite but also most preposterous ideas my parents ever had. Three hours after losing each other in the mosh pit, a friend grabbed me in hysteria and burned a perfect circle in the breast of the fern-green lamé 1980s prom dress she’d borrowed. Twelve years later I yanked off the MM6 Maison Margiela dress I’d bought especially for my birthday party and pulled on the Christmas Tree. Looking down, the hole winked at me and with it came an image of my friends rapping to Eminem’s “Without Me” in the sun, poorly-rolled cigarettes in hand, grins on faces.
They come back smelling of smoke or BO, or be stained. You may never see them again. But you get to hear your friend giggle down the phone about a new love interest… Clothes are to be worn, and you know you buy something new for every night out anyway. Do you really want to wear green lamé with orange chenille anyway?