A Love Letter to Fashion

Thanks for the memories…

Lucy Slight is a well-known freelance fashion & beauty writer and stylist who has been working in the media industry in both New Zealand and Australia for the past sixteen years. Today she takes us on a strut down memory lane as she reflects on both her fashion favs and faux pas’. 

I still remember standing in the home of the seamstress that made my sixth form ball gown; a black floor length taffeta halter neck number with shimmering black beads hand-stitched down the bust. As I was being nipped, tucked and lightly stabbed with pins while she moulded the dress to my frame, I recall the joy I had in knowing that no one else was going to have a dress like mine.

At the time (2002), the only place to buy a dress for the ball was Stax in Shore City, so unless you wanted the same green-shot-purple strapless gown as everyone else in sixth and seventh form, you had to get yours made. I have no idea how much it cost my parents, but it’s still the only item of clothing I’ve ever had made-to-measure – and I’m married. That dress (may she rest in peace), will always hold a special place in my heart, but as a lover of clothing and fashion from a wee, surf-shop-loving Shore girl to a Westie former fashion editor, there are scores of sartorial memories and treasured pieces that I hold dear.

The sky-blue polar fleece O’Neill hoodie that I got from Saturday’s Street & Surf (where I later had my first *cool* job) is a seminal one. After receiving compliments from both my mum and my neighbour on how lovely I looked in light blue, it was this very hoodie that led me to discover I had a ‘cool’ skin tone and therefore my complexion looked better against blue-based hues. A bright fuchsia woollen turtleneck that I had around the same time (and always made me look like a raspberry) was immediately stuffed down the back of my drawer, never to be worn again.

Mufti Day at school was always an exciting time – an opportunity to show off a new surf shop purchase – and you can bet I wore that O’Neill hoodie with pride. But as a high school student, I was still relying on my parents to buy my clothes. So while I still feel a pang for my Zeal Babe shorts, tencel Just Jeans jeans and candy-striped singlet from HBK, it wasn’t until I was earning money that I truly was able to have a meaningful relationship with fashion. The first pair of shoes I ever bought with my own money were red patent leather slip-on loafers from Wild Pair. This was also my first taste of the thrill of instant gratification that comes with making a rushed purchase, and the spiral of regret that follows when you put it on at home and it doesn’t actually make you feel a million bucks. This taught me a brief lesson, sure, but you can bet there have been many more high fashion highs and low fashion lows along the way.

Working as the fashion and beauty editor at Girlfriend magazine for five or so years in the early 2000s was (and still is) the best job I’ve ever had. I was paid to shop! Not paid well, but still… great perks. It made me more considerate with my purchases, too. Since I was at the mall sourcing for shoots every few weeks, I learnt the joy in taking my time when parting with my money, instead of rushing in.

I’m a big believer that in life, when something is meant to be, it will be, and it was when I was styling a bridal shoot for New Zealand Weddings magazine in the mid 2000s that I came across Australian bridal designer Bo & Luca at The Department Store in Takapuna. As I sifted through the rack choosing gowns to style for this shoot, I knew that if I ever got married, I would wear Bo & Luca. Fast forward to 2017, in pursuit of my own wedding dress, I came across the exact gown I had fallen for at The Department Store a few years prior, available to buy as a sample, in my size, heavily discounted from a bridal boutique in London which was selling through a second hand dress website in New Zealand. Fate had stepped in, and the cherry on top? I got it through customs without getting stung with duties tax!

My wedding dress is, of course, a piece I’ll cherish forever, but there are more items in my closet that I can’t bear to part with, even though they’re currently sitting there gathering dust. One day, I hope one of my daughters will find my cropped denim Karen Walker jacket with lightning bolts from the 2016 Star City collection and pinch it to wear to a house party. Maybe one of them will wear my wedding dress… If they’re anything like me, I know if nothing else, they’ll appreciate the stories behind my favourite pieces, and maybe cultivate a collection of their own treasures with a tale to tell, while reminiscing about the ones that got away, or were savagely dumped. Because even though they’re just clothes, they all deserve to be part of a little love story.

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Wedding dress imagery by Amanda Thomas Photography