How clothes brought back my concert confidence after my Ariana Grande bombing agony

Concerts have always been a huge part of my life and finding the perfect outfit for the night is one of my favourite parts of the whole experience. From my first concert all the way back in 2014, living every 10 year old’s dream while seeing One Direction, I fell in love with live music.

Ever since then, it’s been an endless journey of begging those around me to accompany me to just about any and every concert. I’ve now been to an incredible 21 concerts with six live shows already booked for next year (for which I already have each outfit planned). This is how my outfits brought me back to live shows after a shattering experience left me feeling like I’d never attend a concert again.

If I’m being completely honest, my excitement over booking a concert sits at around 50% to see the musician and 50% to plan the best outfit humanly possible. I’ve always found the prospect of finding what to wear a thrilling challenge to see how I can best match the theme of the artists I’m seeing.

From the accessories I choose to how I style my hair and the design on my nails, I try my very best to fit the genre. My heart-shaped sunglasses when I saw Lana Del Rey, my thank u, next hair clips when I saw Ariana Grande and my pink nails when I saw P!nk are just a few examples.

Back in 2017, after much begging and a failed first attempt in 2015, I couldn’t believe my mam agreed to come and see my all time favourite artist Ariana Grande with me!

Following months of anticipation, the concert day had finally arrived and I could’ve burst with excitement. We travelled to Manchester with my perfect outfit. On reflection, I believe it was a poor fashion choice on my part but in all fairness, I was 13, the Ariana Grande crop top and black skinny jeans is certainly not an outfit choice I’d ever make now.

I remember sitting in the arena right after Ariana hit the stage in disbelief that I was seeing my childhood idol with my own eyes. Unfortunately just moments after the concert ended, a bomb went off inside the arena killing 22 innocent people.

Credit: Alamy

This was later deemed as a terrorist attack and while I was lucky enough to escape unharmed, I was utterly distraught and in a state of shock that something like this could happen to me. In the weeks and months after I struggled with a lot of sadness and guilt, along with confusion.

As a 13 year old I couldn’t quite comprehend why this happened, but I remained sure of one thing and that was that I would never be able to attend a concert again.

As time passed, I realised while the thought of going to an arena again horrified me, I kind of missed the whole process of getting ready to go to a show. So with time, I was able to find the strength to book a ticket to see Dua Lipa and the nervous anticipation began.

I realised that finding an outfit, a pink lace crop top paired with blue jeans and a blue denim jacket along with my ever comforting silver hoop earrings, distracted me from the worry I had leading up to the show. To be able to focus on a part of the process I found so exhilarating helped me put the same energy into my excitement over the show.

The confidence I felt in my clothes contributed to how comfortable I felt at the concert, and while it wasn’t easy I managed to have fun watching an artist live again. With time, I went to more and more live shows and I discovered that when I was looking my best I was able to feel my best!

I even managed to build the courage to see Ariana Grande again two years later in Sheffield. On this occasion, I wore a bee necklace I had bought when I was in Manchester, which became the symbol of hope following the Manchester Arena bombing. It felt very special to me to carry that symbol with me in some form and helped give me the confidence to go to the concert.

While to everyone else these may just be clothes, to me they represent much more than that, the key that gave me the confidence to fully enjoy concerts again.

Many charities were set up in the aftermath of the attack, with South Shields-based charity ‘Chloe & Liam Together Forever Trust’ created in memory of Chloe Rutherford, 17 and Liam Curry, 19 – a couple who were victims of the attack.

The charity puts on a number of events across the region in honour of the young couple – if you would like to donate to the cause, click here Together Forever Trust


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