Monday, 6 July 2015

What's Underneath: Week 1

I have followed StyleLikeU for nearly 4 years now. I discovered them in my first year of university and proceeded to watch their entire back catalogue of short films (if you haven't ever scrolled through their website get to it now!) Their films are short but sweet portrayals into various people's experience of clothing and more specifically style. They launched their What's Underneath campaign last year and it's gone from strength to strength. Having secured kickstarter funding to make a film about the project they are now reaching out through instagram to ask what's underneath.

As part of their campaign I was contacted by them recently and asked what does your style say about you and what assumptions do people make about you based on your style? so here is my response. You can share your own story via Instagram using the #IAmWhatsUnderneath tag.

I have always dressed in a expressive way. As a child I favoured exotically patterned and coloured items: leggings dotted with fish, a jumper with brightly coloured diamonds, spotted pink swimsuits. My mum always encourage my brother and I to dress up. We had an elaborate dressing up box filled to the brim with the remnants of various members of her friends' wardrobes. Including Sari's,  1930s ball gowns and medieval costumes. I was fascinated by the embroidery and texture of the garments. My style now is really just a continuation of that early love. Studying fashion history at Central Saint Martins only furthered my love for history, textiles and clothes. I remember on my first day wearing an outfit inspired by the Russian Tsars. The reference was lost on almost everyone but to me that doesn't matter. I dress for myself, the pleasure of putting the garments together into a story or character is enough. It's taken me a long time to reach such a comfortable place with dressing this way. As a teenager I spent years trying to conform. I wore all black for about 7 years, which seems so crazy now but I was so scared to stand out that I thought that was the only way I could survive at school. I dyed my hair and wore clothes which now make me recoil but at the time I was terrified that my upbringing filled with colour and art made me weird and unapproachable so I gravitated to the extreme opposite. When I left school I started to realise that conformity didn't equal comfort. People are often horrified by my style. British people are particularly scared of 'too much' colour or print; it's deemed garish and unrestrained. Equally I have as many people tell me that I've brightened their day. I see wearing colour as uplifting. I've struggled with depression in the past, colour has been the single most useful thing in changing my outlook. I don't just extend it to my clothing but my home too. All I hope is that my use of colour will touch one person and make them have a more cheerful day; even if it's just for a second. 

Outfit Details

Two piece suit - made by my mum using vintage fabrics, Penny MacBeth

Printed top - years old Topshop

1970s wooden hand-painted beads - Charity Shop

Turquoise tassel earrings - Heather Finn Knitwear

Felt hat with faux flowers - Penny MacBeth



  1. There's so much of your story that resonates with me. The years spent dressing in black, the reactions from other people and the depression. Embracing colour, dressing for yourself and sticking your fingers up at the haters (they're only jealous) is just the most liberating thing ever. Kudos to you for knowing who you are in your twenties, many people take a lifetime to accept that comfort and conventionality aren't happy bedfellows.
    Gorgeous outfit. i want to steal it all. xxx

  2. I've been a fan of StyleLikeU for a few years now (and I have to agree, the concepts and politics explored by each interviewee are nothing short of amazing), and watched some What's Underneath videos today by Ellen Elias and Mari Malek, both of which I found incredibly inspiring and recommend you check out if you haven't already done so :)

  3. Oh Lally. We are so happy that you are dressing your truth. After I saw "Out of Africa" I dressed like that for the longest time. Not a soul noticed. But you probably would have. You are a beautiful petunia in an onion patch.

  4. Dear Lally: I dressed in dark colors a lot when I was younger because I wanted to hide in the shadows (this was in the late 70s early 80s).You are such an inspiration, and I so enjoy seeing your colorful self. I suffer from depression and have found that color does help, indeed, and your blog always cheers me!

  5. I think you're very interesting and sensitive, for me the way you dress, to express yourself is wonderful and natural too! In Italy it's different, you're strange if robes of black ... for me the black was the peaceful retreat for many years, perhaps even now ... I love black because of the shape of myself, even though many times I felt he teased, humiliated. Especially in the summer! Now the way I dress is transformed, and I will not ask myself too many limits. Colors are life, and black is a small but important part of my life.
    However you are gorgeous!

  6. I love this insight into how you've evolved into your style, and like Vix, I also see parallels. At any age you would be an inspiration, but the fact that you are only in your twenties and so comfortable about being unique just really makes me smile. Colour and flowers. So important for good mental health. Colour makes me physically excited. Is that mad? I neither know nor care. I find there is the odd dissenter, but in the main people are just lovely to me about my clothes. Yesterday three total strangers commented on how beautiful my dress was and how it cheered them up. What an amazing thing! Keep up the good work Lally Macbeth, the good people of Cornwall and the Internet need you! Xxx