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Stylish youths lost in the in-crowd

Blindly following the fashion herd betrays youngsters' lack of confidence, says Clare Morgan

Phew, I am so relieved. Muffin tops are slowly disappearing - and not a moment too soon in my opinion.

There are precious few girls around whose midriff is their best feature and worthy of being shown off at every opportunity. So I am delighted that perhaps this will be the last summer during which we are subjected to those unsightly rolls of fat hanging over too-tight jeans.

The saddest sight of all is post-childbearing women revealing a midriff covered in stretch marks. Do they not have mirrors in their homes? In a land where pear-shaped is the norm, why did this particular fashion ever take off?

So for the remainder of the summer, we are harking back to the Age of Aquarius, with bold printed maxi dresses and smock tops. Both cover a multitude of sins and leave something to a man's imagination. However, these oversized smock tops, which are fantastic if you are about to give birth, do seem to add pounds to otherwise skinny girls, so we seem to have swung completely in the other direction.

In the north of England, the Vicky Pollards of the neighbourhood, together with their male counterparts, are known as "scallies". This group seems to ignore fashion altogether. The girls have this awful uniform of scraped-back hair and unflattering wardrobes, while the boys wear baseball caps perched right on the tops of their heads and tracky bottoms with elastic around the base of the legs, topped off with a hoody.

Surely these combined wardrobes will cut the teenage pregnancy rate. How can the idea of going anywhere near each other be remotely appealing?

This ghastly way of dressing is simply a uniform. Most young people have a tendency to dress in a similar way - either directed by the high-street stores of the moment or by a wish to show an allegiance to one another. It seems to give them comfort and the security of belonging to a group.

When my children lived in Germany and attended school without a uniform code, they found it difficult to decide which clothes to wear each day. They quickly caught on to the accepted style of dressing, such as neckerchiefs, which they would never have worn had they been living in England.

On hearing that we were to return to the UK and back into school uniform, they were thrilled. The majority of young people are not courageous enough to create their own individual style and so instead slavishly follow the current trends.

My only recent experience of independent thought among youngsters was when I attended a party with a group of fashion students from Brighton. They were not outrageous, but just showed an individuality that was refreshing. The streets would be so much more interesting to walk down if their example was followed.

Alas, the young of our species are exactly that - young. Only as fully-formed adults will they have gained enough confidence to adapt current trends to suit themselves and create their own identity.

- Clare Morgan runs the Clamor Fashion Agency in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

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