'Some of the clothes we love, we might love to laugh about; others we might love to use to remember who are where we were, alongside who or where we are, now'Ana Ovey

Some of the stories I’ve been told about people’s clothing have been heart-warmingly entertaining. It’s fun to think that fashion, even in the everyday, doesn’t have to take itself seriously, and that self-expression doesn’t have to be sombre but can be self-deprecating, lovely and charming. Other times, the stories have been heavier and have tracked changes in people’s lives, and changes in how they view and present themselves. It’s amazing how important both are.

Ada

Ada's layered shirts allow her to symbolise the relationship she has with her parents, whilst also making for a vibrant outfit Ana Ovey

“This shirt is one of my dad’s, he has a collection he gets printed himself. He’ll think of a really funny thing to put on a t-shirt and then get it, and wear it proudly. Some of them are really witty things, others he just thought of and put on a t-shirt. This one is of a piece of kale, and it means ‘the kale attitude’. Kale in Germany was a really traditional vegetable that they used in lots of German dishes. So this shirt was made way before the whole ‘kale’ trend happened—I like the fact that now it’s a trendy shirt, but back then it was just dumb.

“The shirt under it I stole from my mum. She has lots of sleeveless undershirts that she wears in the summer. I used to never wear them because I hated my arms—so me stealing that shirt from her is saying, ’I can wear that, I can show my arms’. It kind of symbolises the way my mum and I have this relationship where I have all these inhibitions she doesn’t have, and then she teaches me, by absorption, not to have them. We never talk about that kind of thing—or never productively—which doesn’t help. But that’s what the shirt means.

'I wore them when I was painting here, they got all these paint splatters, and suddenly everyone loves them!'Ana Ovey

“The trousers are my favourite pair of trousers in the world, from a charity shop in Vienna. There were lots of normal trousers, and then one pair of orange jeans – and I thought they weren’t gonna fit, because these things never do – but I put them on, and they fit!

“The shoes are from this organic and ecological hiking brand. We bought them when I was around 13. We’d moved to Luxembourg and there was a shop that had these Austrian shoes, which is where we’d come from. I was there with my mum, we spent hours picking them out. I wore them to school, and got instantly bullied for them. People were like ‘are you a clown? are you going bowling?’ And it was really hard, and I didn’t wear them for years! For a while, I wanted to spray paint them black—my mum didn’t understand. I always had this weird feeling about them, I didn’t like wearing them. I took them to Cambridge because they’re the perfect winter shoe that’s solid and good for snow. I wore them when I was painting here, they got all these paint splatters, and suddenly everyone loves them! Now, they’re cool and artsy; it’s the same way my life went: people thought I was weird, and now people think I’m weird but it’s really cool. I don’t know if I did that, or if it just happened. The shoes symbolise that.”

Chris

While Chris is adamant that his t-shirts has one of the worst designs he has ever seen, it epitomises an attitude he continues to live his life by Ana Ovey

“My friend says the jacket looks like a bus seat. I think that’s great but not many other people do—I’ve been shouted at in the street for it multiple times. It’s quite new, but it’s been to a lot of places – it’s been to the bottom of the Cam recently; I had to trawl around the mud in the Cam for ages because I’d prioritized rescuing my phone, everyone was looking and laughing at me. I don’t feel like I should wear it on public transport—there was one time a passer-by reported a floating head to the police, and another someone mistook me for a seat and sat down on me.

“The shirt is a weird one, I got it from a Chinese superstore in Portugal, in the middle of nowhere, in an industrial park. I’ve tried to look it up on the internet, because it’s so weird and so wrong, and I’ve not found it anywhere. It’s the worst t-shirt design I’ve ever seen in my life: it says ‘What is this, This guy looks cool’—that’s the top part, which I quite like, because it subliminally gives people the impression that I am cool, before I go and ruin that. Then it’s got six zebras, a barcode, then it says ‘delinquent boy’, and I assume ‘but he’s sure he wants to protect’, not that this makes much sense. Then it just says ‘That’, ‘Information education’, followed by ‘Why you so depressed? To stimulate maternal men’, which is a code that I live my life by. I’m hoping that one day all the maternal men will have been stimulated, then perhaps the world will be a happier place. Until then I’ll wear this t-shirt.”


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Mountain View

More dash than stash

Sentimentality can branch from lots of different causes. Some of the clothes we love, we might love to laugh about; others we might love to use to remember who are where we were, alongside who or where we are, now. Loving a shirt can look like, and be because of, a lot of different things. That’s pretty wonderful.

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