My Style Through the Years (It Ain’t Pretty)

Musing: My Style Through The Years
In 1982, when I was about 10, I noticed that my 19 year-old older sister Vickie was wearing one of those pie crust-collared Princess Diana blouses and I thought she looked fabulous. Following this sudden desire for something flouncy and fashionable (and pondering the contents of my own wardrobe), I had a fit at my poor mother because I wasn’t allowed to wear “fashionable” clothes. This of course wasn’t true, I just hadn’t shown any interest in fashion (as opposed to clothes or dressing up) up to that point. And Vickie, bless her, went out and bought me an almost identical blouse… that blouse was the first treasured item of fashionable clothing I can remember having.

And thus began a long fashion love affair set to last and last between me and my wardrobe. Now although that blouse was the height of fashion at the time, not everything I chose after that point necessarily reflected the same fashion savvy my sister showed. Having gathered together a number of embarrassing photos of myself for a collage displayed at my birthday party the other week, I thought I should share some of the best (worst?!) ones with you lovely readers. I hope you’re ready for this – there’s some shockers…!

Catherine aged 4
1976, aged 4
Wearing a floral, fringed crop top and demonstrating some wonderful manners. We lived in Canada when I was little [I’m English], so I can only remember wearing either summer dresses or ski suits with a balaclava – that’s it.

Catherine aged 5
1977, aged 5
This is the most perfect bowl haircut I’ve ever seen – I bet my mum was hovering behind the photographer with a comb. The dress looks like it had a fight in a haberdashery department  – oh but it is pretty 😉

Catherine aged 10
1982, Aged 10
This was around the time of the Princess Di Blouse Debacle. Who would have thought those necklaces would come back into fashion 30 years later…? Thankfully that hairstyle hasn’t reared its ugly head again.

Catherine aged 14

1986, aged 14
At this age fashion had properly entered my consciousness, albeit in a flowery, drop-waisted bad skirt length kind of way. Though if you didn’t grow up during the 80s it would be hard to detect any fashion sense going on here. Plus posture wasn’t my strong point.

Catherine aged 16
1988, aged 16
Probably the most horrific picture here (I have a feeling I’ll regret putting this one up). All I’ll say is that the band Bros had a BIG influence on what I wore, it wasn’t my fault! I couldn’t help it 🙁

Catherine aged 17
1989, aged 17
High-waisted, voluminous ‘mom’ jeans and a comic strip shirt. No wonder I look so shocked.

Catherine aged 17
1989, aged 17
Wearing denim shorts in Paris I kept getting my bum pinched. A LOT. (Does that still happen to women in Paris now…?) Oh and check out me holding my first SLR.

Catherine aged 18
1990, aged 18
Wearing denim shorts again. I think it’s all I wore in the late 80s.

Catherine aged 18

1990, aged 18
I wasn’t joking about the shorts, they’re just not denim this time. I can’t believe I actually went out like that – not once did my dad ever say “you’re not going out dressed like that young lady” to me?! Plus my manners towards photographers hadn’t improved.

Catherine aged 18

1990, aged 18
How hilarious is that longing stare? By this time I was surgically attached to my camera and photographed my friends and family all the time, and that included the odd self portrait. Unfortunately it’s hard to take it seriously with the massive eyebrows and Deee-Lite hair.

Catherine aged 20
1992, aged 20
When I went away to college, I dyed my hair black and wore a lot of grungy clothes. And by the looks of it, I lived in a hovel and got excited about home-made pizzas. =oh god, so awful=

Catherine aged 22

1994, aged 22
A “nice” outfit I wore to my brother’s wedding. It was a matching maxi dress and long sleeveless jacket… what you can’t see is my cropped blonde hair under that delightful straw hat.

Catherine aged 27
1999, aged 27
Here’s the proof that yes, once upon a time I used to wear all black. Except I didn’t realise that it would make my thin arms look like long twiglets. I know better now.

Catherine aged 28
2000, aged 28
Does anyone else remember making denim skirts out of pairs of jeans? I made this out of my brother’s old 70s pair. Plus I had transparent plastic shoes with a bag to match… I think Mel Gibson liked the outfit more than me.

Catherine aged 29
2001, aged 29
Although I should really mock myself for wearing my dad’s vintage 70s Adidas tracksuit top, I do treasure this (Polaroid) photo because it was the first ever one taken of me and Mr Summers together.

And as that heralded the start of my life with Mr Summers, I think it was a good photo to end on. I do apologise for some of the horrors featured above, but I thought it was about time I gave you all a laugh and showed you how wrong, so very wrong, I used to get it.


So was it merely because of the fashions at the time, or was I actually quite hopeless at dressing myself? I just can’t imagine all the young, super stylish bloggers around at the moment looking back in 20 years and thinking how daft they looked. I don’t remember being known for being a trend-setter when I was younger, though I was always interested in fashion. When new trends come out we all (in most cases) embrace them like they’re the best thing since sliced bread, wear them to death and of course inevitably laugh at ourselves about 15 years later.

Something blogging has taught me, however, is what my own style is and how I should dress for my body shape. Doesn’t mean I get it right every time, but I sure have fun trying. This blog will provide some belly laughs I’m sure come 2032 😉

Catherine x
(Birthday party outfit post tomorrow!)

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  1. February 8, 2020 / 1:30 pm

    Such a fabulous post! Being the same age as you, I am completely familiar with all of these styles. Gosh, we did think we were so cool in our shorty shorts and cropped tops, didn’t we! And I totally embraced the grunge era during my college years…also living in a hovel ( a cockroach infested one, no less) and living on pizza and ramen! I don’t know how I stayed so thin during those years considering my diet! Haha.


  2. October 29, 2012 / 4:27 am

    What a GREAT post! Style is always evolving and the more we work it the better we get at it. It is inevitable. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing, I enjoyed it very much! You are so beautiful!

  3. October 26, 2012 / 5:06 pm

    You're still beautiful!


  4. October 13, 2012 / 12:23 pm

    well this is just so fun! i have loved reading this Catherine and i feel like we get to have a look at your life through the years, and getting to know you even better. it has to be said, you've always been a babe havent you! and of course, very much still are! xxx

  5. October 11, 2012 / 12:09 am

    Fashion is ridiculous- nothing ever looks good when it's of the period. I think you look adorable all fashion phases- and you make me feel good- like you didn't always have such style savvy- there is hope for all of us! Happy Bday by the way!

  6. October 10, 2012 / 10:16 pm

    This is such a great post! Oh, and I used to live in my skirt made out of an old pair of jeans!

  7. October 10, 2012 / 5:12 am

    Baby look how far you've come! I was reading an interview with Stacy London recently where she said that she had several decades of bad style days and didn't really get her stride until her 30s. Sometimes it takes us a while to get there, and that's okay. Love this blog idea!

    Cable Car Couture

  8. October 9, 2012 / 8:35 pm

    Loved these photos, especially the one at your brother's wedding (reminded me of Audrey Hepburn). Funnily enough I lived in Canada as a young child, but years before you did. I feel inspired to go through my old photos and post some of them on my own blog – in my case, covering 60 years! I will of course link to your blog when I do so. It's fascinating to see how you evolved and became the inspiring individual that you are today.

  9. October 9, 2012 / 6:22 am

    What lovely photo's, I think I first met you in the late 90's…… 🙂 xx

  10. Anonymous
    October 9, 2012 / 2:52 am

    Anyone who is stylish at 40 took chances when they were younger. We all have such photos — thanks for sharing yours!

  11. October 9, 2012 / 1:19 am

    that up close shot of you at 18 is so pretty…but I think you are for sure getting better with age. you're just so beautiful!

  12. October 8, 2012 / 11:50 pm

    This post had me in stitches…loved it. And I can so totally relate to it. Trust me, being a fellow Generation X'ter, I have some very similar photos lurking in the vaults. Perhaps I will bring out the "fun" one day on my blog. I can think of one shot that would put ALL of yours in league with a Vogue photo shoot by comparison: it is a photo of my dad, my brother and me with a beautiful back drop of some falls in Yellowstone National park. Despite my dad's cowboy hat (we weren't from the West), he looks very handsome but his kids…uh, well, not so much. I had an atrocious haircut, tinted glasses, braces WITH head gear and my brother looks like a miniature George Burns. I roll with laughter every time I see that photo. I swear it could be used as proof that I was adopted.

    Thank you for the laughs. But really, even in the "awkward" shots, your beauty still shine through. : )

  13. October 8, 2012 / 11:11 pm

    Okay people I think I'm getting overwhelmed with the flattery!!! I am truly horrified at some of the pictures here, I meant when I said they were shockers… I think you're all looking at someone else's pics!!???? Though of course I really, really appreciate all your lovely comments, but you are allowed to be as horrified as me!

    Catherine xoxo

  14. Gray Skies
    October 8, 2012 / 10:04 pm

    I loved looking at these photos! They're so fun and funny 🙂 You've been absolutely gorgeous your whole life, haven't you?!

    Also, these photo helped me finally realize who you remind me of! In some of them, especially the one with black hair, you look a lot like the actress Emily Mortimer.

    • October 8, 2012 / 11:00 pm

      Haha you're the second person to say I look like Emily Mortimer, Stacey – and I can see it myself! I often see pictures of her I think look like me, which often doesn't happen if people say you look like someone 🙂 And you're also too kind, sweetie xo

  15. October 8, 2012 / 8:18 pm

    This is fabulous. Thank you so much for sharing. You were gorgeous then, in all your outfits, and gorgeous now!

  16. October 8, 2012 / 8:10 pm

    Isn't it amazing how fashion comes back 'round? The outfits with denim shorts -versions of them could be seen on The Sartorialist or on a 19 year old celeb today. What this montage proves is that you have always been lovely! ~Sarah

  17. October 8, 2012 / 8:00 pm

    Really liked this post: it is amazing to see the evolution of a person style! The picture of you at your brother's wedding is simply adorable!

    • October 8, 2012 / 10:50 pm

      Oh thank you, C… Though i just have awful memories of being sunburnt that day ( it was in Malta)!! Thanks sweetie xo

  18. October 8, 2012 / 7:52 pm

    I am years older (58 now) than you, but I recognize a lot from the eighties. We are not responsible. It was the time. Even I had shorts and they looked fabulous on me. Used to make them really common with linen white short boots. Hahaha.
    Loved these photos of you. And really, they are not horrible, they are only a window to those times and you were developing, growing.
    It does comfort me too as the photos clearly show that things get better with age. LOL

  19. October 8, 2012 / 6:36 pm

    Ha! I'm a year behind you Catherine, in my countdown year. So this was like looking at a mirror image photo by photo! Particularly the bowl haircut and princess di flick! No denim shorts ever though, but yes to the bros influence!!!

  20. October 8, 2012 / 6:20 pm

    What a great post. Style always evolves and you wouldn't be where you are today without this journey.

  21. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012 / 5:57 pm

    I think you are astonishingly beautiful in every one of those pictures. Honestly.


    • October 8, 2012 / 10:45 pm

      Oh my goodness… This is starting to get silly, people – you are all waaaaaaaay too complimentary!! I don't think my 16 year old self deserves this praise :)))

  22. October 8, 2012 / 5:13 pm

    i love looking back at people's style over the years! you and i had similar photographs, except i wasn't confident enough to wear cropped tops! i did go through a shorts and tights phase…a long one!

  23. Anonymous
    October 8, 2012 / 4:25 pm

    Love it! I was also born around the same time as you (albeit the other side of the world) and I totally recognized these killer looks!

  24. October 8, 2012 / 4:04 pm

    Amazing post, Catherine! Hope your birthday party was spectacular. I too had the bowl cut and rickrack-encrusted red dress at that age, and the 1990 shorts-over-tights was huge! And the wide hairbands. 🙂 You have always been a total dolly. xo

  25. October 8, 2012 / 4:00 pm

    What a great post. It isn't just me with an interesting past on the fashion front!

  26. October 8, 2012 / 1:55 pm

    Awww wow these photos are great!!!! Such a cool post, I love seeing old photos. 🙂

    Take care,

    Daniella xox

  27. October 8, 2012 / 1:44 pm

    Oh, Lord, being the same age as you, this is a bit like taking the trip down my own memory lane. I remember it all…the bowl haircuts, princess Di blouses, PLASTIC transparent shoes (yikes!)etc etc…
    You're a braver woman than me though. I'm not sure I want to hang my "dirty laundry" for all to see. LOL

  28. October 8, 2012 / 1:35 pm

    What a fabulous post, Catherine. You were always beautiful and stylish, but grown better and better like the really GOOD WINES.

  29. October 8, 2012 / 1:17 pm

    I am more or less the same age as you (born April 1971) so I see me in those picutres! The only thing to be said is "it was the 80's". We all wore those now terrible high-waist (and washed!) jeans and shorts and the cropped t-shirts. I think I had a comic shirt too, but my brain had erased all memory of it until now. It's nice to remember, though.

    Lovely post.

  30. October 8, 2012 / 1:03 pm

    You look adorable. No matter what else, your personality and sense of fun shine though in all of these! And Mr. Summers…so handsome!! How fortunate that you've kept all of these photos!

  31. October 8, 2012 / 12:47 pm

    These are such great photos!!! You have such great style it's good to see how it's evolved. I admire that all this time (up until now) you dress how YOU want and like and not what the world dictates.

  32. October 8, 2012 / 12:35 pm

    LOVE your ability to just put the photos out there! But there again I would if I had such lovely ones – I think I do have a bowl cut somewhere now I come to think of it…..just not quite as perfectly coiffed! Brill post – keep them coming! XX

  33. October 8, 2012 / 11:57 am

    I love love LOVE this post. So much. It is nice to know I'm not the ONLY one out there with questionable photos. And I had the same bowl haircut too. I believe we may have lived parallel lives, by the looks of it (except that I wore incredibly dorky "Tootsie" glasses and had a horrible mullet – a la Sheena Easton)…sigh.

    • October 8, 2012 / 10:33 pm

      Yeah I couldn't find any pics of my mullet, Shannon! Maybe even my mum was too ashamed to keep them 😉 Thanks hun xo

  34. October 8, 2012 / 11:56 am

    Great post !

    Love your pictures and articles!!

    A blog like this should definitely be followed so here I am 🙂

    Hope to see you on mine as well 🙂


  35. October 8, 2012 / 11:48 am

    Cute posting..The closeup pic of you in the headband is have such a pretty face.

    • Anonymous
      October 9, 2012 / 12:08 am

      I agree! And there's NOTHING wrong with your eyebrows. They are perfectly nice, normal eyebrows!

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