If I Could Turn Back Time: Trev and Smell in This Is England ’88

I often have the feeling that I’m a stranger in my own country: I speak English most of the time (always at school and from time to time with my daughter); I only write in English; I’m fascinated by anything related to British culture and I love British tv series! This Is England – the film and the two tv series that have been released so far – occupy a special place in my heart, because it presents true-to-life events and characters, set in a decade which I lived as a teenager.

After presenting in detail the outfits sported by some of the female characters of This Is England ’88 (the mini-series aired in December 2011), now it’s the turn of two characters I particularly love – Trev (played by Danielle Watson) and Smell (played by Rosamund Hanson).

Trev is one of my favourite characters, a girl who exudes kindness and complexity, even if we don’t know much about her. In This Is England ’86 she was the protagonist of one of the most painful and hard-to-watch scenes of the whole series and the tragedy she’s gone through drives her even closer to Lol, since they share the same experience. I’m a bit disappointed because this character has many potentialities which haven’t been fully displayed so far. Even if her look has gone through an evolution (in the movie she was blonde and had the traditional Chelsea haircut, while in This Is England ’86 she sported darker hair and an asymmetric haircut), her style has always remained the same and this surely symbolizes her loyalty to her past and – in general – to her friends.

In the three episodes set in 1986, she sports one outfit only, which is so her – beige Fred Perry polo shirt with black piping, jeans and Fred Perry harrington jacket with white laurel.

In the tv show, she hangs out with her friends and also helps Lol with her daughter Lisa. The screencap above is adorable! Oh, and all this display of Fred Perry items makes me want to buy a laurel polo shirt as soon as possible! There are still no news about a possible third instalment of the series, but I really hope Shane Meadows will give Trev more screen time and more attention.

Along with Lol, Trev is the symbol of style consistency, something which Smell doesn’t have. She loves fashion, she likes experimenting with her own image, so it’s not a coincidence that her look is the one which has gone through the most evident evolution. When we first met her, in the movie, she totally channelled her inner Strawberry Switchblade: polka-dot clothes, heavy make-up and big hair were the main features of her look. In This Is England ’86 she changed hairstyle (a quiff with shaves sides), make-up (less gothic) and clothes, which have a more new romantic mood. In This Is England ’88 she changes once again, starting from her haircut and hair colour.

The first scene in which she appears is set in Shaun’s bedroom: she’s wearing his plaid pyjamas top and sports a short bowl haircut in a vibrant shade of orange, which beautifully contrasts with her pale complexion and awesome eyebrows.

The second scene is still set in Shaun’s bedroom: she wants to help him to rehearse the part he has in the upcoming school comedy, but they end up quarrelling. Shaun is now focusing on Faye, but he is not able to tell his girlfriend that he is fancying someone else. In this case, Smell is wearing fishnet stockings and a simple black tank top.

Smell totally masters the art of making an impression with accessories, and the outfit she sports at the karaoke evening at the pub shows it. This time she complements her look with brilliant accessories – beaded gloves, a stunning collar, gold jewellery and a quirky hat with veil. I’ve got a feeling that most of these pieces are vintage or thrifted, but she’s able to give them a proper 80’s vibe.

Her collar – embellished with tiny coins – is the best piece of her outfit, but I’m also in love with her make-up, which still has a touch of Gothic (see her aubergine lipstick and carefully lined eyes).

Her outfit includes a black corset and a brown gathered satin skirt, something totally different from what the other girls on stage (Kelly, her mother and Titch) wear. Her extravagant style is one of the reasons why she’s really special.

The third scene featuring Smell is again set in Shaun’s bedroom: she’s wearing a nice slip dress with lace trims. Here, her haircolour appears to be almost red.

The most dramatic scene for her is set at Faye’s house. Smell crashes the girl’s party, because she knows something is going on between her and Shaun. Something is actually going on in Faye’s bedroom and when Smell finds it out, she reacts badly and leaves the house in a hurry. I love the outfit she’s sporting here: it’s quite complex, but the final result is far from being heavy-looking. She’s wearing a white corset over a black top with thin straps, a floral printed full skirt (the hem is in contrasting green).

Accessories have a key role in this outfit – a gorgeous cut-out collar, a rhinestone necklace and a black choker, clip-on earrings, a fur (ermine?) thin scarf and a feathered headpiece. This mix and match of different cultural echoes, of formal and informal, is exquisite and original.

Her make-up is flawless, as usual. She wears her trusty aubergine lipstick again, a touch of pink blush and exaggerated cat’s eye lines, amplified by a grey shade of eyeshadow.

The last appearance of Smell is a sad one: it’s Christmas but she’s alone, wearing a Paisley-printed shawl on her shoulders, thinking of what happened the evening before and about Shaun’s cheating. She doesn’t go to the hospital to visit Lol, who has just committed suicide, but I’m sure she’ll reconnect with the other girls in a possible new mini-series.

This is the second last post devoted to the style of the female protagonists of This Is England ’88. Next time will be the turn of Jennifer, Woody’s girlfriend, a character whose style I feel very connected to.

What do you think of Trev and Smell? They’re very different from one another and their style mirrors this difference, but they have something – friendship – in common which brings them together.

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