Tagged: Fashion Pearls of Wisdom

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: It’s Not Always Regret

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about covering old tattoos and the idea of tattoo regret…

‘You’ll regret that when you’re older’ the charming phrase often uttered to those of us having decided to ink our skin. No longer in my reckless youth I am still choosing to cover my skin in tattoos and still being asked if I will regret that when I am older. Is there a defining age when you are considered old enough to be able to judge what your future self will and will not regret?


After laser and finished cover up by Paul Goss

Having laser removal and tattoo cover ups are often used as ammunition to back up warnings of regret, however removal and regret are not mutually exclusive. I have chosen to have both laser removal and cover ups. All of the six tattoos I gained in my teens and twenties have now been concealed underneath tattoos I have had in my thirties. When I am in my forties, fifties, sixties, hell even my nineties will I have covered up any of those I have now? Who can say, I certainly don’t claim to know what my future holds. The thing that most people presume is that I regret having the tattoos I now have covered up, this couldn’t be further from the truth. At the time I got the tattoos I could afford, I got the tattoos available to me at that time, I got the tattoos that I wanted. At seventeen I marched down to the local tattoo shop with a shaky sketch I had drawn and had it tattooed around my wrist. The drawing was crap and the tattoo was worse, but none of that mattered I had finally gotten the tattoo I had wanted for as long I could remember.

Cover up in progress by Kelly Smith

I’ve always known I would become tattooed from early on and it was just a case of waiting until I could pass for old enough. Whilst that was the tattoo for me then, it wasn’t the tattoo for me now. I’m not especially sentimental, the memories will always be with me, and so I didn’t think too much about having that tattoo covered over with a bold, black snake. My tattoos have changed as I have changed. I am no longer the teenage version of myself, I have grown and changed as a person. My clothes, hair style and body shape have all changed so why not my tattoos?


Given the choice I’d still rather have all my old tattoos than have no tattoos at all. Tattoos are so much more than pretty pictures on our skin, they are the experience, memories and emotions attached.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Got Sleeves

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about how getting her arms tattooed was a big deal…

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I never thought I’d get my arms tattooed. It had never been in my plan. But then again when I first started getting tattooed I never thought I’d be even close to heavily tattooed, even when I started to get large scale pieces I never foresaw the next. For me getting tattooed has been a process, my tattoos are something which evolve- a collaboration between my own ideas and those of the artists I work with. Even now I don’t have a final vision in mind, I still don’t know if I will end up with a full body suit or not. I have a very wait-and-see attitude I guess. I know I will get two half sleeves and my sides tattooed to connect my back piece into more of a traditional style Japanese half-body suit. But my legs are a random mix of different styles, do I keep them looking separate or do I sleeve them?  I’m going off the point; the point of having my arms tattooed being a big deal for me.

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I think it’s a huge deal as even though over half my body is tattooed I still don’t feel that I look that heavily tattooed, not from the front anyway. Clothed most people wouldn’t even know I was tattooed. The arms are so visible though, there is no hiding. I have over thought my arms a lot, possibly too much which is why it took me until the age of 34 to have them done. I had also decided that I wanted them to stop at the top of the arm and not go over onto the shoulder and certainly not the chest. So now I have the outline down of my first sleeve, it stops at the elbow and creeps over my shoulder onto my chest. Yeah about that, once my artist had drawn it on, we tried a few different ways of laying it out; it’s just what looked best. I didn’t give it a second thought. Now it’s done it just feels right and I’ve no idea why I was stressing out about it so much in the first place. When I first started to get large tattoos it would take me a while to get used to them, suddenly having something alien on my skin. Now with each tattoo I feel a little bit more like myself with each addition. My sleeve is only half done but it feels like it has always been there.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Viewing Pleasure

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about how she feels she is always fully dressed because of her tattoos… 

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I’ve been continuing to think about viewing and how we control others seeing our tattoos. When I think about my tattoos I see them on my body as whole. When I’m thinking about new tattoos it’s how they will look and fit onto my body in its entirety, not what will look good peeping out from my clothes. Thinking more about this I realised that even though I share a lot of photos of my tattoos the only people who have actually seen them all in their entirety are my partner and my artist. What anyone else sees is fragmentary, tiny snippets of a fuller story. Bodysuits and large area tattoos are designed to work in harmony with the body and to be viewed as a whole akin to the naked body. In this sense, tattoos whilst a visible medium can remain highly private. As a lecturer and researcher in fashion and identity this is something I have become fascinated by, how we dress and how having tattoos may affect this.

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Before I had tattoos I would never have worn short dresses, I now crop off the bottom of my jeans so that my ankle tattoos can be seen and I am always on the hunt for yet another backless dress. I used to dress quite outlandishly, obsessed with Vivienne Westwood my clothes were always a talking point and I certainly stood out in a crowd. I’d walk for miles in skyscraper heels and think nothing of it. These days I’m more often found in ripped jeans and dirty old Converse. I wear more of my boyfriend’s clothes than my own, over size t-shirts and plaid shirts. Perhaps getting older has had some impact on this; I will always opt for comfort over fashion now. I save my money for tattoos rather than designer shoes.

How would I dress now though if I woke up tomorrow without any tattoos? I look at photos of myself without the tattoos and I feel like I look naked. I feel like a part of me is missing. Now my skin is dressed I don’t have the need for fancy trappings. I feel I can dress simply- because I am always dressed by my ink.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Public Property

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about the stir visible tattoos can cause…

Us Brits are a predictable bunch, first sign of a little sun and we are stripped down to our shorts and vests before you can say ‘ice cream van’. Every year the warmer weather seems to jump on us out of nowhere- no warning until one day you are walking home from work in your faux fur coat as everyone else passes you in flip-flops. Lament as I did in my last column about winter clothes hiding our tattoos; I had forgotten what a stir tattoos can cause. In true Brit fashion I jumped at the chance to go to work today without my woolly tights on, legs bare and if I’ll admit a bit cold! I was walking around enjoying the vitamin D when I heard it ‘look at those tattoos’! The girl actually gave me a sheepish smile as she realised she hadn’t been as discreet as she might have though and I couldn’t help but laugh. But it did bring back to me the reminders of how other people find our tattoos to be something of their business. Suddenly my skin that had been protected by jeans and thick jumpers was exposed and public property.

This got me thinking about who we get tattoos for and how we control who sees them. Back, torso, bum these are all quite private areas which we generally conceal on a daily basis. For me anything above the knee is generally hidden away from sight unless I consciously choose to wear something like shorts or a backless dress. I am fully aware that if I chose not to cover my tattoos I will draw attention, wanted or not. As I’m sat writing this in the park a guy comes over and asks if he can look closer at my arm/ back tattoos – I’m wearing a vest top. I say sure and we have a quick chat about whether they hurt and where I got them done. He says I’m a ‘tattooed wonder woman’ and bids me farewell. The more visible tattoos I get the more I have to consider how I control my body. I’m not sure I’m ready to be in position where I can’t choose to hide my tattoos, not yet anyway. I salute those who do.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Completion

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about her tattooed body being complete… 


‘It’s the end of an era!’ My artist exclaimed as we completed the final session on my back piece. Over 18 months we had put in 30 hours to completely cover my back and thighs in ink. That’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears – literally and on numerous occasions. It didn’t feel like the end of anything though, months of eagerly awaiting to be finished and… And well nothing really.

I don’t feel any different. I don’t know if I expected to really? Perhaps I expected to feel more complete in some way. I am extremely happy it’s finished, it looks beautiful and I can’t wait for summer to show it off. The thing is it’s not really finished-finished. Next we will add sleeves, after that extend around my ribs. Will it be finished then? Is there ever a finite finishing point when we begin to get tattooed?


For me I don’t think there will be. There may come a time when I no longer feel like getting tattooed any more but I expect that to be because I’ve found something else to become obsessed with rather than ever feeling ‘finished’. I don’t have an idealised image of my tattooed body that I am on a mission to achieve. I do have a small list of artists I would like to tattoo me and an idea of what and where the tattoos would be.

I think the biggest question I have for myself is whether I want to achieve a full body suit or just continue with some more large pieces and keep those empty spaces. If I get one leg finished into a sleeve then I’ve really got to do the other, one Japanese style and one traditional, would that work? I feel a body suit, for myself at least, would need to have a coherent design – but then I look at where my two different styles meet and for some reason it just works. Perhaps it’s like fashion, how we string together old jeans and beaten up trainers, those well worn and much loved items that when combined are ‘just us’. For no other reason that that simply we like them and choose to live our lives in them.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Tattoo Tea Party

Last weekend saw Tattoo Tea Party return to Manchester for its fifth season and our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom popped along to see what this year’s convention had to offer… 

An action packed convention with an all the fun of the fair theme- dodgems, waltzer and side shows galore. Hosting over 350 artists over the sprawling Event City we wandered the maze catching up with old friends and discovering new. Tattoo styles were diverse with many artists choosing to offer walk-ups all weekend what better place to get your latest tattoo fix.

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We chatted to Bex Lowe who was offering the most kawaii flash think smiley pizza, grinning tea cups with some old school gamer influences too, Hadoooooken anyone? Tacho Franch came armed with bold traditional Japanese flash peonies, neko, Noh masks and fat toads. Whilst we and many others gathered around to watch in fascination the hand tapped tattooing by Lawrence Ah Ching.
Tea Party is a vibrant, family friendly show which return next year 4th-5th March 2017










Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: The Taxi Driver

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about the perception that all tattooed people are criminals… 

My boyfriend and I jumped into a taxi, on our way out for a few drinks. He starts telling me a story of what had happened to him earlier in the day involving a community officer giving him a telling off for putting an empty can into someone’s refuse bin which was out in the street. Needless to say, knowing James, this debate went on for about half an hour ending with him taking the can back out of the bin and telling the bloke what a jobs-worth he was. I’m crying with laughter by this point as I know how stubborn he can be in proving a point, when the taxi driver pipes up: ‘No way, I thought you were gonna say you smacked the guy one’, we both look at each other, ‘with all those tattoos and your clearly ripped’ (it was a tight t-shirt and biceps kind of day) ‘when you walked up to the car, I thought bloody hell you know’!

We didn’t know, that was the first time I’d ever really thought about other people’s perceptions of us. The taxi driver was just having a laugh with us and nobody took offence, but it’s easy to forget how stereotypes still exist around tattooed people. Have we really not moved on from the image of the bad guy with tattoos? It reminded me of my guilty pleasure Australian soap Neighbours who always chose a greasy haired, leather jacket clad tattooed bloke to signify a new character who was inevitably up to no good. Australia has been in the news with reports of changes to the law under Queensland VLAD (Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Bill 2013) part of which would see all new tattoos photographed and recorded to create a new database of tattooed people – because only criminals have tattoos right?

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: Winter Anonymous

Our columnist Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, is a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about how she misses seeing tattooed people in winter… 

Jumper and jeans, jumper and jeans, jumper and jeans… That’s been my staple wardrobe for the past few months. Three near identical pairs of skinny jeans, three near identical black shirts and three crazy vintage 80s mohair jumpers, my unfaltering uniform of warm semi-smart winter work wear. Replaced on the weekend by a less smart pair of baggy boyfriend jeans and a plaid shirt with a stray hole in the back. For someone who works in fashion you’d think I might be more creative but in winter I just long for comfort. I’m not alone, for the most part everyone you see walking around is wrapped up, in coats, hats, scarves, gloves.


As we shield our skin from the elements however in doing so we also conceal our tattoos. It’s almost like becoming invisible, no funny looks, no rude comments, no sneaky stares – well maybe the odd one at the novelty jumpers. It’s made me notice how much I miss seeing tattooed people. The vibrant, colourful bodies of the summer replaced with a sea of grey coats and black umbrellas. When I’m sat on the train I look out for a tattoo peeping out from a cuff, or a little one tucked behind the ear, call it commuters eye-spy. Myself, I find a ripped jean knee or turned up ankle cuff the only way my tattoos can be on show and it makes me realise that I do very much enjoy being tattooed. Not to show them off to other people, but seeing my roosters claw slipping out from an ankle gaps just gives me a reassuring pleasure that this is my skin.

Fashion Pearls of Wisdom: The Look

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about how others perceive her as a heavily tattooed woman… 


I’ve lived with tattoos longer than I have without, however I have only considered myself ‘tattooed’ more recently. There is a difference I think in having a tattoo and being tattooed. When you make the decision to become more heavily or more visibly tattooed, how people view you will change. You may or may not be aware of this at the time but it will happen. I first began to notice this after getting my knee tattooed, joining the other tattoos on my leg into a front-sleeve from ankle to thigh. Up until this point, though still fairly heavily tattooed the majority were in areas you wouldn’t see on a daily basis, back, thighs, feet. In passing you might only notice the large rooster on my shin. It seems there is a skin coverage ratio as to when you start to offend old ladies with your very presence.


I call it ‘the look’. There are three main stages to the look: shock, repulsion and judging. It’s not the sole prerogative of old ladies either, they are simply the most reliable audience. Being the kind of person to walk around with their head in the clouds it wasn’t me who noticed this first but my boyfriend who takes a lot of enjoyment in my new found super power. Since he pointed it out though I can’t stop noticing it, especially in the summer when I took to wearing very short shorts (from M&S just to add insult to grandma injury). Having a laugh about it when you are with your friends is one thing, having it happen when you are on your own can be quite another and I’m not afraid to admit it’s upset me at times. When you’ve had a bad day, got a plate full of worries the last thing you need is a group of strangers being rude to your face when your only crime was walking past them. More often than not I will stick my headphones in and sunglasses on, blocking out he world as I walk along. Other days I’ll ‘have it on me’ as my mother would say and crack out the biggest Cheshire Cat smile to the nay sayers, ten points if you can get a forced smile in return.

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With tabloids reporting on Sam-Cam’s tiny ankle dolphin like she’s the first middle class woman to ever get tattooed it only broadens the gap between those of us who are more heavily tattooed rather than help shrink it. Having a tattoo is trendy, so long as it’s small and preferably cute, whilst being tattooed is still very much taboo. I’m not sure why anyone would particularly feel the need to have such a strong opinion on how I or anyone else choose to look. Perhaps I look like a criminal, or fallen woman in their eyes? Perhaps I’m just something to talk about in an otherwise boring day? Whatever the case I’m glad I stand out in a crowd, I’m glad I challenge the photoshopped beauty ideals pushed by glossy magazines. As for the old ladies, we’ll just have to wait until our generation are collecting pensions. Perhaps we’ll have something the youth of the day are doing to be shocked at, perhaps our wrinkled tattoos will be uncool to future younger generations. But at least we will have some stories to tell.

Pearls of Wisdom: Tattoo Conventions

Our guest blogger is Natalie McCreesh aka Pearl, a fashion lecturer, freelance writer and creator of Fashion Pearls of Wisdom. In this post she’ll be talking about getting tattooed at tattoo conventions… 

I went to my first tattoo conventions this summer, the first Liverpool Tattoo Convention, the second Leeds International Tattoo Expo. They were two fairly different experiences, Liverpool being a huge gathering spread out over a warren of rooms filled with artists and merchandise stalls whilst Leeds was a smaller, more intimate affair. I enjoyed both equally.


Before my first convention I wasn’t sure what to expect, admittedly getting tattooed with an audience wasn’t on my list of fun activities but it was an occasion to get tattooed by my artist without having to travel as far. So I booked in to have my knee cap tattooed by Max Rathbone who had tattooed the rooster on my shin the year before. Yep my knee cap, in public – one of the most painful places or so I’d been told. I wasn’t getting tattooed until later in the afternoon so I had chance to say hello to friends and watch my boyfriend James get tattooed by Andy Walker. This is where we differ as a couple, I like to book my tattoos in advance whereas he prefers to be spontaneous on the day and go for walk-ups (choosing from the artists flash or pre-dawn designs on the day). He also got a little filler from Ad of Folklore Tattoo– a super fun bunch. My turn came and Max scribbled on my knee with coloured pens, he assured me these freehand scribbles would be a peony so I trusted his word and let him crack on. Max had tattooed me before and I was familiar with his style so I could sit back and relax knowing I would end up with an amazing tattoo. To my surprise getting your knee tattooed wasn’t half as bad as I’d expected, phew! Although the swelling after scuppered any plans for a night out, it was back to the digs with a pizza and a bag of frozen peas, our arms laden with prints and other trinkets.

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My second convention experience was just as good, after the vastness of Liverpool the intimate nature of Leeds Expo was a real contrast. Whilst there was less to do there was more time to chat. I had booked in with Holly Ashby whose work if been a fan of for a while, having bought some of her stunning prints for our home and as gifts so I was excited to meet her. Even though I’d not met Holly we had chatted before hand and decided on a design, having already been tattooed at a convention I wasn’t freaked out like I had been for the first convention. That said at Leeds there was a lot more people walking past and taking photos, at first I found this a bit weird but Holly was absolutely lovely and it ended up being really fun talking to other people approaching her booth. We got to chat to people from all over the globe including other people there to get tattooed by Holly – it was like joining a special club. Inner thigh was a bit of an awkward spot as I ended up sat on a bench with paper towels tucked in my knickers, but it was worth the slight embarrassment as I adore the placement of my gorgeous pooch tattoo. In one hilarious moment a couple came running up to us brandishing a napkin, after some confusion it turned out they wanted a lipstick kiss print too use as a tattoo template. I am still left to this day wondering if some has my kiss tattooed!


Natalie getting tattooed by Holly Ashby taken by Graham Pile