Tag: Fashion

In the boatshed

boat building workshop

Up-Helly-A’ is over for another year, and those of you who have completed a dry January are hopefully toasting your success with a glass of something strong and sweet. We’ve really enjoyed seeing all your #myshetlandlife posts and photos this month – keep ‘em coming, we love to hear from you.

For this month’s issue of Shetland Life, we’ve immersed ourselves in the past. And, what better place to escape February’s biting cold? We visit Tommy Isbister in his boatshed and find out about his love of boat building and woodwork.
Maybe you’re thinking about celebrating Candlemas this year? Then let Alex Garrick-Wright take you on a journey through Shetland’s fascinating world of calendar traditions.
Or have you ever wondered about some of our place-names? Eileen Brooke-Freeman discusses some of the piggy place names around Shetland – this is the Year of the Pig after all.
And for those who are in search of a good story, and the odd trow, there are plenty of those to while away the last of the winter nights…

Finally, looking ahead we’ve been thinking about ways to get fit and beat the bulge. If you want to find out what we’re planning, pick up a copy of Shetland Life – out tomorrow!

Meet our new fashion writer

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Fashion – it’s a fairly subjective thing. What looks good to one person is an abomination to another; some people spend time thinking about it, other folk just Wear Clothes.
I have been tasked with writing a fashion column for Shetland Life. I’m not sure whether I’m qualified to do such a thing, or indeed how anyone would be. As the mother of a nine-month old baby, my current requirements for choosing what to wear include questions such as “Is it spew free?” and “Can I breastfeed in it?” (I realise these might not be very inclusive terms to bring to a fashion column. Perhaps a better one might be “Can I croft in it?”) Functionality definitely plays more of a part in what I choose to wear than it did before.
Perhaps that’s the case for many people and all the more so in Shetland, where the weather can be unforgiving of the latest trends. Who wants to look cool when it means bare ankles in a force 7? Perhaps you just need to adapt what is “fashionable” to your situation.
The recent trend for knitwear is a boon to the fashion-minded who live in cold climes. Fair Isle and Nordic patterned ganzies, yoked cardigans, cosy hats bought or – even better – homemade, are probably the one catwalk trend that you can easily channel in real life. You can comfortably wrap yourself in layers of oversized wool, smugly fending off the cold and looking chic at the same time.
Fashion – that is, high end, designer fashion – seems, to my untrained eye, mostly bonkers. It is an art form, however, and thus doesn’t really need to work as clothing.  In that sense, I find it brilliant. And bonkers as they seem, the trends that trickle down from the catwalks of London, New York and Paris do inform what ends up on the high street if that is where you choose to take your lead.
Street style (fashion that looks to what people are wearing to inform trends and subcultures) is arguably more influential than catwalks. Truly stylish people, it could also be argued, don’t pay attention to trends but dress in a way that flatters and is individual.
There is a presumption when it comes to fashion that it’s the preserve of city dwellers, the wealthy and the young. Being neither of the first two and creeping towards not being considered as the third, I still don’t want to be relegated to the unstylish heap.
While it’s not something I spend a lot of my time thinking about, I feel like I have found what I’m comfortable with, style wise. I navigated the awkward preteen years wearing oversized Guns N Roses t-shirts with leggings and dying my hair with food colouring: a uniform, I was misguidedly convinced, which was sure to impress and help me blend in. As a teenager, tomboy style (if you can call it that) ruled and my friends and I lived in baggy sports sweatshirts. My university years were a blur of hideous boots, increasingly low cut jeans, questionable belts and “tops”. At some point I wore more dresses than I do now. After that, it was more jeans, and jumpers. I seem to have spent my 20s in jeans. I’m not sure much has changed.
But as someone approaching their mid-30s, while I’ve found things I feel comfortable in and think look ok, I realise I don’t actually know what is fashionable. A quick Google of the latest trends reveals that slip dresses, backpacks, chunky sandals and, erm, tiaras are amongst the items to be seen in for 2016. It’ll be interesting to see how many of those I can spot on Da Street.
Jokes aside, it seems to be the case that many people won’t wear things in Shetland that they would “sooth”. This train of thought probably applies to more than just clothing, and I find it interesting that this happens: why folk feel the need to adapt their personality to their surroundings. Individuality can be smothered in a place like Shetland – perhaps folk feel self-conscious in a small community, not wanting to stand out. Or perhaps it comes back to the weather. Regardless of the snobbery that can exist about being fashionable in a rural place, there are lots of stylish people in the isles.
People choose to wear what they do for a myriad of reasons. Fashion can be a means of self-expression and for some, an important part of shaping their identity, a means of belonging. For those that don’t think about it on an aesthetic level, factors such as cost, ethics and practicality may play a part.
Dressing can also be a cathartic process. What we wear can have a big impact on how we feel – physically, but also emotionally. Besides providing warmth and protection, clothing can act as an extension of our personality; it can reaffirm our beliefs and help us make sense of the world. Wearing something smart can improve our self-esteem and make us feel ready for work; wearing something beautiful can make us feel like celebrating. Wearing something old and comfortable can make us feel secure and relaxed: much as I love a fancy new pair of shoes or a party frock, there’s nothing better than coming home and getting cosy in your pjs and smucks. But like I said, I’m mostly covered in spew, so my opinion probably doesn’t count at this point.
Writing this column has made me think more about clothes, look at what people are wearing and wonder why folk wear what they do. It’s made me think about what impact being in Shetland has on people’s approach to clothing. So if you spot me looking at you for what might seem an uncomfortable amount of time, I’m probably just admiring what you have on and pondering these thoughts.


November Comment by Vaila Wishart

We are different from other parts of Scotland. There are aspects of our culture which are distinctive and we’re fortunate that people are passionate about keeping them.

Take knitting, for example. When it stopped being taught in our schools an army of (mainly) grannies took over to make sure the knowledge is passed on to the next generation. Dialect and fiddle are still taught in schools, and are also alive and thriving in our homes.

Our weather, an acquired taste if ever there was one, combined with wildlife, geography, geology, archaeology and history, gives this little archipelago a character of its own and we celebrate these differences with festivals and other events throughout the year.

Other areas have singular traditions too. Our next-door neighbour to the south, for example, has a completely different dialect and culture as well as landscape.

There are not many political differences with other parts of Scotland, but there have been attempts in the past to make it so. The Shetland Movement’s desire for more autonomy was all well and good, but some of us recollect that the lovers of all things Scandinavian over Scottish reduced the council’s reserves to almost nothing with rash investments and uncontrolled spending. Yet there are still folk around who quote the shining example of Faroe, conveniently forgetting that when it went bankrupt it had to be bailed out by Denmark.

Some use the Falklands as a good example of what could be achieved if we had more control over our own affairs. The Overseas Territory of the Falklands (population less than 3,000) does have millions in reserves from fishing rights yet pupils have to go to England to do their A levels and stay there if they want further or higher education. That’s a wee bit further than a trip from the Ness or the West Side into Lerwick.

If press reports are correct, the recently-launched Wir Shetland group believes we would be millions better off if we left the EU and became a British Overseas Territory, taking control not only of fishing rights and oil and gas, but the entire economy. Who exactly is going to relinquish those rights?

Overseas territories are often islands where people stash their cash to avoid paying tax or are strategic military bases. Neither of those options appeal. The mini-nationalists of Wir Shetland, one of whom thinks so much of the place that he doesn’t even live here, appear to be mainly of the Tory variety.

The kind of policies Tories pursue are currently apparent in Westminster: look after the wealthy and kick the poor. That’s not the kind of Shetland I want to live in.

Sharing knowledge and discussing mutual concerns with folk in other parts of the country is a good way of finding solutions to our current problems. We’re not so different from other areas in wanting more local control. Those involved in Our Islands Our Future are working on aspects of it, but it takes time and needs a good case to be made in a reasoned way with those who do hold power in order to make progress.

Playing Stop The World We Want To Get Off is not likely to hold much sway with the politicians in either Westminster, Holyrood or Brussels. Perhaps a better title for Wir Shetland would be Wir Fantasists.

Razor clams – spoots to thee and me – were once an occasional treat for us coastal dwellers. They have now become a delicacy prized by gourmets and fashionistas in posh city restaurants. A recent Sunday Herald article spelled out the consequences. Down the West Coast of Scotland spoots are threatened by overfishing; in some cases by electro-fishing, which is not permitted in Scottish waters.

Furthermore, illegal fishing, if done in waters which have not been classified as fit for consumption, can lead to food poisoning, but with shedloads of money to be made, that is not something that bothers illegal fishers.

There are calls for better policing of this lucrative trade. While there have been a few prosecutions, fisheries minister Richard Lochhead is quoted as saying the government is determined to enforce the law. And so it should.

Fashion is hard to avoid in any aspects of “lifestyle” (dreadful word) and food is one of the casualties of this fickle industry. Over the decades changing fashions can leave us bemused.
We have been urged, for the good of our health of course, 
to go to work on an egg, to 
drink milk, then semi-skimmed, then skimmed, to avoid dairy products and eat margarine, eat cereal for breakfast, eat a Mediterranean diet (in this climate!), eat raw vegetables, avoid red meat, eat berries because they are superfoods, drink more red wine, avoid alcohol – it’s all fashion mixed with pseudo-science.

Best to ignore it and just stick to a balanced diet. You won’t catch me falling for any of that nonsense. Now where did I put 
my yuzu juice and the chia seeds…