When it comes to clothes, our friends have a more profound influence on us than any magazine or designer ever could. From my school days when one friend got on my nerves SO MUCH for copying the way I folded my socks and my miniature backpack (what?), to my early twenties when I was inspired by another girl’s amazing style, I've experienced first hand how the back-and-forth between women and their wardrobes can be a fascinating exchange.
Aged 16, Best Friend Jen and I each had a Fred Perry polo shirt dress – mine was navy, hers was white – which we wore with Adidas Gazelles. We loved looking the same and making a statement to the world together (which was, er, essentially ‘Britpop rules!’ – very profound...)
Sometimes you embrace that, deliberately sharing a style and becoming greater than the sum of your parts. Other times there’s no greater horror than showing up to a wedding or party and finding another woman wearing the exact same dress as you. What do you do? There’s only one thing you can do – laugh and embrace.
The girl I mentioned above has having had the greatest influence on my style is Anna-Marie. When we first became friends I was deep into my Gwen Stefani-inspired 'skater girl' phase, wearing baggy jeans, band tees (yay Feeder!), skate shoes and backpacks. She was - and still is - the world's biggest Madonna fan and had a Desperately-Seeking-Susan-meets-electroclash thing going on.
From her I learned that it's ok to wear a vintage '80s cocktail frock and pink plastic earrings to the pub because, why not? Our styles are very distinct (ok apart from when we accidentally-on-purpose wear polka dots or leopard print to the same party) but what I've taken from our friendship is to have confidence in 'dressing up' and to refuse to ever feel silly or foolish for being 'overdressed'.
Now, together we're trying to figure out how to adapt and 'grow up' our style without losing that sense of fun and creativity which defined our twenties.
Then there’s the person you spend aaaaalll daaaaayyy loooooong with – in my case, Ms Rebecca Holman. Our colleagues have started pointed out that more often than not, we look like TWINNIES! I’m not sure at exactly what point our styles started blending together, but on an average day one of us (probably both) will be wearing: cropped trousers, brogues, a navy jumper, a white shirt, a camel coat and/or a Breton top. We’ve also got the same hair now, so yeah, there’s that too.
Unlike my schooldays when I felt a deep, seething resentment for the girl who so blithely imitated MY nifty sartorial quirks, I really like this gradual, grown-up process of osmosis by which Rebecca and I are picking up on each other’s style cues and adapting them into our own looks.
It's also flattering getting emails or tweets from friends (or xoJane readers!) saying “I’m dressed ‘like’ you today!” (which invariably means they’re wearing a Breton – God am I that predictable? Uh, yes, I’m wearing one right now). And I do the same - sometimes when I'm stuck for inspiration as to what to wear to a particular event, I think "what would Anna-Marie/Lou Doillon/Gwen Stefani do (wear)?"
I love looking at what women are wearing in the street and on the bus too. But one thing I'm not very good at - and want to start doing - is telling them when I admire their style, because whenever it happens to me it feels so good. I'm just too shy to approach a stranger when she's about to cross a road and say "I have to tell you, I love your shoes/bag/whatever" - but it needs to be done!
Do you and your friends/colleagues share wardrobes? Have you been influenced by one pal in particular? Tory said this on Twitter yesterday: "My two best friends and I have 20 per cent the same wardrobe. We constantly knowingly copy each other" so I KNOW it's a thing!