Tammy Girl: the younger sister of Etam, the pre-teen treasure trove where glitter glue and teeny-tiny butterfly clips and stretchy chokers and those cargo pants with loads of ribbons dangling off them abounded. Lost to us, tragically, in the early '00s, there — inside that regional town teen Mecca — every girl and gay was given the chance to Bang On The Door TM and wear slogan-covered tops that skimmed our stunning new belly bar complete with hanging diamanté butterfly. The very same belly bar which would harbour a virulent infection on your AS level trip to Benidorm with the girls, and — much like Tammy Girl — be removed swiftly from sight, never to be seen again.
We, the dreamers – too young for the racier styles of Morgan but too old for Tesco Kids – were offered a chance to really explore our identities through Tammy Girl, later known coyly as just 'Tammy'. It was here we experimented with clip-in coloured hair extensions; it was through Mother Tammy’s eyes we were given the opportunity to go from Girly Football Top with glittery numbers and a stunning pair of lemon pedal pushers all the way to Goth Girl in black and purple striped knitted fingerless wrist gloves, which you’d wear in maths because you were complex. It was here we got our first Velcro purses with catchy phrases glittered onto them, like "I may be a princess but I still love football". The beginnings of fourth wave feminism, I hear you cry? And your cries would, indeed, be right.
It was revolutionary in its offering, catering to every style obsession and ghastly yet glorious trend as we careered through early high school while getting to grips with our smelly pits, our sprouting pubic hair and our slow adaptation to the digital age.
So what lives on? Nearly 15 years since the fashion titan closed its doors, alongside other much-missed beauties like Dolcis and Woolworths, we have since doubled back on our rejection of those stunning Tammy Girl styles, now desperately scouring eBay, Amazon, Etsy and the like to find the perfect '90s crop top, those glam dragon pants and that stretchy choker, all in a bid to look like Dua Lipa. And while there’s plenty of '90s and '00s fodder on the market, nothing quite beats the original.
Nothing can top the feeling of finding the perfect top in the perfect size among myriad other styles in a tangle of plastic coat hangers as Steps' "The Way You Make Me Feel" soundtracked your shopping binge, and your most recent playground heartbreak. Nothing will ever feel as glorious or as humbling as the way we would stand on Saturdays "in town" desperately wading through those glittery hold-all pods in the middle of the store, achingly trying to find a bargain pair of clip-on earrings to go with our new top, all for less than the fiver housed in our Velcro and nylon wallet, right next to our stunning bus pass picture.
Really, what we must take from this loss, and the gift of hindsight, is to appreciate a good thing while we’ve got it. We, desperate to grow up, outgrew Tammy and turned to Topshop, leaving her to wither and decay and send all her plastic accessories to landfill like the bad gals we are. This was shopping at its best — not streamlined, personalised, email-chain offers suited just to you — it was spontaneous, luck-of-the-draw, experimental and thus, perhaps, even avant-garde. There, I said it.