FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

On Christ­mas Day, I wore the dress The Teenager wore last Christ­mas Day. On Stephen’s Day, she wore The Youngest’s Christ­mas dress and the night after she played a gig wear­ing one of mine. As I write, The Youngest is sprawled on the sofa be­hind me, wear­ing my track­suit bot­toms.

I never in­tended be­com­ing one of those moth­ers who shares clothes with her daugh­ters, but when there are three women of roughly the same size un­der the one roof, then it seems churl­ish not to. Be­sides, I’ve never quite man­aged that whole dispir­it­ing tran­si­tion from the ground floor of Arnotts to the first – a place where, when I was grow­ing up at least, women of a cer­tain vin­tage wan­dered around dis­plays of sen­si­ble cardi­gans and moth­ers-ofthe-bride style dresses that were in­ex­pli­ca­bly three times the price of the joy­ful, wispy bits of non­sense on the floor be­neath. It wasn’t just Arnotts ei­ther: all the depart­ment stores in Dublin housed young fash­ions on the ground floor and then qui­etly and ef­fi­ciently herded the in­vis­i­ble mid­dle-aged women of the city and beyond up to the first, out of pub­lic view. To be hon­est, I think it was that whole im­pli­ca­tion that if older women do have to buy clothes, then at least they should do so away from the madding crowd, that turned me off ever mak­ing a proper pil­grim­age up the es­ca­la­tor. If I am to dress like a teenager, then I de­mand the right to be seen and laughed at do­ing so.

And in our house at least, no­body seems to mind. I do re­mem­ber, a few years back, un­ex­pect­edly bump­ing into The Teenager in the chang­ing rooms of New Look and think­ing she ap­peared mor­ti­fied. But her reg­u­lar rum­mages through my wardrobe al­ways bear fruit, so if she was em­bar­rassed that her su­per­an­nu­ated mother was stand­ing in a skater dress in front of her, then for the sake of her own wardrobe at least, she wisely kept quiet about it.

In fair­ness to her, my own for­ays into my older daugh­ter’s wardrobe are less re­ward­ing. Take the roughly out of the pic­ture and the sad re­al­ity is that she is a size eight to my and The Youngest’s size 10 – which means that while she can wear ev­ery­thing we own, we can­not al­ways fit into her clothes. Also, her feet stopped short at a five, while mine and The Youngest’s marched on to six. Luck­ily, though, none of the three of us (so far, at least) has even the re­motest in­ter­est in shoes (or hand­bags, come to that) usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with our gen­der, and so we largely keep our­selves to our­selves where footwear is con­cerned.

I should point out that the whole clothes shar­ing thing – apart from the in­ter-changea- ble shoes – does not in­volve any of us wear­ing the same out­fit at the same time. I have seen pho­tos of moth­ers and daugh­ters dressed iden­ti­cally – usu­ally just Amer­i­can ones, in fair­ness – and for rea­sons I can’t even be­gin to process, I found them re­ally creepy. Maybe it’s be­cause I look at them from the per­spec­tive of the daugh­ter, not the mother – and while I and my girls are per­fectly ad­justed with our com­mu­nal clothes, I would never, ever have con­sid­ered wear­ing any­thing be­longed to my own mother. Of course, my mother be­longs to the gen­er­a­tion for whom grad­u­at­ing to the first floor was manda­tory – there were no mut­tony flib­ber­ti­gib­bets like me back then – so there was noth­ing of in­ter­est to me in her wardrobe, apart from her wed­ding dress, which I wore for a few Hal­lowe’ens – and equally, there was noth­ing in my teenage closet that she would have been caught dead in.

And even in our own house­hold, there are some lines I won’t cross. I have never bor­rowed shorts, play­suits or cropped tops, or the tiny kilt that flat­ters The Teenager. I have only ever ac­ci­den­tally worn their un­der­wear, and I won’t go near the lad­dered tights that they both in­ex­pli­ca­bly deem fit for pur­pose. In spite of what it says on so many of my la­bels and how I feel in my mind, I know I am not re­ally For­ever 21, and I have no de­sire to frighten horses by re­veal­ing more of my flesh than is strictly nec­es­sary. But I de­clare now that if ei­ther of them ever mar­ries, I will not be buy­ing my out­fit from any first floor. If it comes to it, I might even chance that kilt. God knows, I wouldn’t be the first per­son with un­suit­able legs to wear a kilt to a wed­ding.

I’ve never man­aged

that dispir­it­ing tran­si­tion to Arnotts’ first level, away from all the joy­ful bits of non­sense on of­fer on the ground floor

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