How One Expensive Skirt Made Me Consider My Class Status

Disclaimer: what you’ve read above is not strictly true.

I’ve been considering my class status for a little while now, but the arrival of this pricey cult-classic skirt posed an opportunity that offered all too convenient a title. Aside from being every silky dream I’d ever hoped it would be (it’s 100% silk satin, for everybody who has asked (not entirely sure what silk satin is tbf)), I guess I have something else to thank The Naomi for: finally giving me an in for discussing the sketchy subject of class.

*Yeesh*. A sharp inhale of breath, right? Whilst we’re moving in the right direction in terms of discussing a lot of the other -isms, class and classism is still something that we tend to brush under the carpet. It’s kind of like a sweaty vagina: we’re aware of it, but we don’t want to acknowledge it’s there.

It’s something which I consider a lot, however, and more-so over the past year and a half as I’ve found myself in a situation that somewhat resembles financial comfort (but absolutely is not - hello student overdraft, my long-standing friend). If I want to order four Deliveroos a week and impulse buy a much-hyped Instagram skirt, I can, without fearfully wondering how I’ll pay my gas bill and, well, what even is council tax anyway? It is a real must?

I’m saving and spending at the same time, and whilst I’ll admit both an accountant and a little self-restraint would land me in a much more financially stable position, I’m okay for now. I’m inhabiting a space in my mid-twenties that I always doubted would come: spending without a pit of dread in my stomach.

It might sound like I’m bragging, and in a way, I guess I am and I’m not. I am, because I never thought I would get to this point where considering a 2-week road trip along the East Coast of America was actually a genuine possibility, and I’m not, precisely for the same reason.

To explain, we’re going to need to wind the clock right back.

 

Tee - Topshop

Skirt - Realisation Par

Shoes - Bershka

Necklace - Carrie Elizabeth Jewellery*

Lipstick - Glossier, 'Like'

We make a lot of assumptions about the lives we follow online, and I often wonder what other people’s are of mine. Naively, my natural instinct whenever I see a blonde blogger sporting Realisation Par outside of an independent coffee shop is that she probably came from a comfortable, middle class home. You know, the kind where there’s a shared family mobile plan and yearly trips to Turkey, and big, massive, wonderful Christmas celebrations?

There’s nothing wrong with this - in fact, this is precisely the kind of life I really wanted when I was younger, probably because my reality was a little different. I grew up in a council house as part of a single parent family, who, at one point, had to live in the front room of their grandparent’s house because my at-the-time alcoholic Dad got into debt and lost our home. I got my first job at 13 and blossomed as a good ole proper working class gal. I had a sick childhood surrounded by nurturing, loving, salt-of-the-earth people, but I distinctly remember noticing the differences in class in around my second year of high school.

The kids from the comfortable families went on the annual school ski trips, which I believe at the time cost around £800, a sum of money which seemed absolutely alien to me in every way. The kids from the comfortable families always had the latest phones - on contract, too - and they had overpriced tiny Nike backpacks and cinema cards and enough spare change to get the bus AND buy a McFlurry. The kids from comfortable families used to go on shopping trips with their parents and THEN go out for a big family dinner, a nice nuclear set-up with a Monopoly night garnish.

I feel it’s worth saying now that I absolutely did not grow up in poverty. We were on benefits, but we always ate and had hot water and a roof over our heads, and the £40 a week I earned by working on a burger van meant I could buy a whole heap of useless crap from Primark. This isn’t the woe show, rather I’m trying to offer a little insight into my background as a means of explaining the weird disconnect I feel now.

And maybe disconnect isn’t even the right word; guilt, feels a little more appropriate.

Because there are moments now, as I bridge the gap between 24 and 25, where I feel guilty for no longer inhabiting that space. Moments where I take a step back and look at myself spending £120+ on a skirt which I’ve seen flaunted on social media, and think, ‘what in the holy fucks are you doing?’. Have I forgotten the value of money? Am I disconnected? Have I forgotten the working class roots which I hold so close to my heart?

Sometimes when I go to visit my grandparents, I won’t think twice about the expensive bag I’m carting around on my arm. But then I’ll get through the door and my Grandad will ask me to help him price match his latest ASDA receipt online, and reality hits home in an infusion of confusion and I’m left looking at this overpriced object as if I’ve lost touch with reality. I’m almost embarrassed, and certainly embarrassed if anybody in my family ever asks the price of anything.

Of course they’re all infinitely proud of the fact I’m enjoying my life and I’m able to treat myself to the OTT things I want. The judgement doesn’t come from them at all, rather it’s a quiet revulsion at myself for being so ostentatious. What am I trying to prove? That I have money now? That I don’t need to go to the supermarket cash point to see if I can withdraw £5 from my EMA? Did I really need to spend so much on a sack of leather to do that? And then all at once I’m caught between being proud of myself for being able to buy the unnecessary expensive crap that I never had access to, and feeling like a complete imposter.

And that leads me to now. I want to say I’m proud of my background but I think that makes me sound like I grew up in a bin bag; we still went to Blockbuster and got the occasional McDonald’s, it’s just that the things which seemed normal to middle-class classmates wasn’t a part of my normal. Sometimes I notice the difference now, even in blogging, and I’ll automatically feel a quiet affinity with anyone I recognise as being the same kinda council estate kid who drank £4.99 vodka round the swings at the local park. But am I that kid now?

I worry that I’m tiptoeing out of reality without recognising the transition. I appreciate and understand how much a fiver is and can be, but when I’m buying things like this bougie skirt, I question if the fibres between myself and true value have become unspun. Every person is relatable in terms of their own reality, but I just don’t want to lose grip of what has always been mine, no matter the direction my career takes.

So there it is. I think I have a case of working class guilt. I guess this blog post is open-ended in a way because there’s no resolution or clarifying ending thought - I simply wanted to do a little thinking out loud and be as honest as poss about my life behind the screen. Chatting about money and class status is a direct route to uncomfortable shuffling in most cases, but I trust that you guys won’t think that “I’m showing off” or being an exhibitionist; I just think it’s something that we should be able to talk about, so feel free to share your own stories and experiences in the comments. I always read them, so it would be interesting to hear any conflicting or similar emotions.

C x


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