Post by T.M.
CM and I were eighteen years old for the whole duration of our Leaving Cert year – that’s the last school year for second level students in Ireland for those of you not in the know. It was the best of times (our parents obligingly acknowledged that we were legally adults and gave us a certain degree of freedom), it was the worst of times (well, we did have the most important exams of our lives looming forth.)
A lot of our friends were already in college and we partied a lot that year, despite the heavy school-work load – every single Saturday if I’m not mistaken. Those were the days of the Celtic Tiger and the town was always alive – pubs full, more than one night-club actually open – and we made it our mission to go out out.
I used to baby-sit my neighbours’ kid from time to time and if they came home before 12 I would pop home, change into my glad-rags, skip down to The Source Nightclub and use my humble payment to pay my way in and have a couple of drinks.
Luckily I lived a hop, skip and a jump away from the club so I actually could get changed. There would have been NO WAY that I could have shown my face in there wearing my civvies.
There’s a curious sartorial tradition in rural Ireland (not that we thought of ourselves as rural) of getting dressed up to the nines whenever you step out. If you’re going for dinner, going for drinks, going dancing, whatever, you’re going to put on your finery.
There’s no harm in it of course, why the hell not stray from your normal garb at the weekend and enjoy the dressing up rigmarole. CM and I and our friends loved getting together in one of our family homes armed with enough clothes to make up a full fashion collection, to chat and laugh and share a bottle of two of something.
I spent my first couple of years in university getting dressed to the nines three times a week and I really enjoyed it but somewhere along the way my taste just…changed. Instead of going to raucous nightclubs I went to late-night dive bars. I never wore tracksuit bottoms out or anything (actually scratch that I did once but it was Super Sunday so I have a good excuse) I would wear nice things out but things that I could easily have worn during the day. My youthful penchant for mini skirts, tight tops, poker-straight hair and vampish make-up slipped away to a certain extent.
For a few years I didn’t need to bother getting dressed up up to go out out apart from rare situations like Christmas – when everyone makes an effort – or a random girls night when group of us just felt like it.
After uni I went to live in Korea which we all know is the land of K-pop identi-people and Gangnam style. Korean style is very cool and affordable and Korean people are very stylish but fashion for most of the international community was, for the most part, very casual.
It’s also different in Dublin. Simply put, there’s no need to dress like you’re going to Coppers or Lillies if you’re not. What’s also different is that going out nights aren’t reserved to Fridays and Saturdays like they are ‘down the country.’ It’s easy to decide to meet friends on a Sunday or Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday and be able to go to a few places that will actually be a bit atmospheric. There’s no need to go home and transform into your Midnight at the Oasis alter-ego. It does, however, give the perfect reason to wear an ensemble that will seamlessly take you from day to night, which is what a good many people who live in Dublin generally do.
I find it funny when I go home to the West, to see the stark contrast from day to night. But then again, that’s what I do to when I’m back in my neck of the woods. It’s jeans, a jumper and Converse for daylight hours and more than likely a new dress and a very long prep time for after the sun goes down.
This Saturday just gone – in Dublin – I went to a lovely Girls’ Dinner. It was a rare opportunity for me to warrant spending time getting ready and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe I would do it more often if I wasn’t so, well, lazy but I think it’s the sense of occasion that I like.
This year, a fair few of my friends will be celebrating, ahem, special birthdays. CM and I will be passing that milestone too. And I must admit, I’m really looking forward to the occasions and all the pomp and ceremony that goes with them.