My first memory of clothes is a brown floral print dress with lace on the sleeves and collar. It had matching bloomers with lace around the legs. It twirled and I felt like a princess in it. I remember feeling special because my mom had sewed it. I can picture her cutting out fabric pieces at our yellow kitchen table with the 70s hippy flower wallpaper behind her. She made most of my clothes and I loved them all, especially my Annie dress.
Years past and I began to realize that homemade lacy dresses with cutsie buttons was not “cool.” I yearned for Guess jeans, LA Gear tennis shoes, shaving my legs and makeup. My mom did her best to hold it off…but eventually she had to give in. I can still remember my Guess jean jacket with a faded black lace pattern.
Then junior high hit. I remember LOVING my first day of school outfit. Peg-legged jeans with a purple shirt, matching elastic-banded purple socks, my hair piled into a high side pony tail with my matching purple hair scrunchie, purple earrings that looked like safety pins and white Keds. Oh, yea, and purple eye shadow. Ready for the big leagues.
How wrong I was. Yes, there were a fair number of girls dressed just like me. Color-coordination was the thing. But the “really cool” kids wore torn jeans, frumpy plaid button-up shirts, dark black eye makeup and the hair…high. Really high. How did they do that? It was like a lions mane.
I spent the next two years fighting my mom to let me dress like that. Trying so hard to make my straight, fine hair do that crazy mane thing. Following the pack as we all loved New Kids on the Block. Always a step behind.
My very best friend was always a fashionista. She did not try to look like the trend of the day, but created her own style. I would borrow her clothes and try to pull it off. But it didn’t work. It wasn’t me. Where did her confidence come from? How did she do it?
Around my sophomore year in high school I realized it was not happening. I started wearing baggy shirts and hiding myself in my clothes. I made sure the colors would not stand out. My fashion style became “don’t notice me, OK?”
Then I started putting on weight and the heavier I got; the more I wanted to hide.
The funny thing is, that I have always LOVED clothes. Even when I was 250 pounds and couldn’t wear anything remotely “in fashion.” Even though I’ve never had a “fashionable bone” in my body. I love and appreciate clothes.
When my first baby was born I often would go to the mall by my house. I would wear my son in a sling and just look. I would go into the stores sometimes just to feel a fabric or see a texture closer.
I still do that. But I rarely buy anything. I get clothes from places like Target and the thrift store. The most important qualification is that it fits and hides me. My favorite, and most worn clothing item is a big, black, safety-blanket sweater that swallows me up.
A few years ago I stumbled onto this TV show called “Project Runway.” I started recording all the episodes and would watch them when nobody was around. It was my little secret. Just finished the current season finale last night.
It’s hard for me to understand why I love this show and fashion in general. I’m something of a hippy/environmental girl. My birthday is Earth Day. My babies wore cloth diapers. I own lots of tie-dye. I recycle. I even have reusable paper-towels. So, yeah, I’m kinda serious about saving the earth.
Yet, I love fashion.
Here are the reasons I should NOT (and they are really good!):
First, the whole message the media sends to women about how they look is just WRONG. We are supposed to be thin, have white teeth, dress beautiful at all times, be perfect housewives/mothers/executives, never feed/eat any junk food and always act classy. So, so wrong. See the current JERK at Ambercrombie & Fitch.
Then there is the human element. In order for us to have all this cheap fashion, the companies that we buy clothes from outsource to countries where they exploit their workers. Just look at what happened recently with the garment factory in Bangladesh. 900 people died. That’s unacceptable.
Then there is the environmental impact. Rivers running red and horrific air pollution in China. All so we can have cheap t-shirts from Wal-Mart. Shame on us! Not to mention all the pollution in our own country. Synthetic fibers made primarily from petrochemicals. Water shortages. Pesticides. The list goes on and on.
So, where am I going with this?
I’m on a bit of self-discovery kick (if you hadn’t noticed).
For the last month, I’ve been on a hunt for my outfit for the Listen To Your Mother show. That’s right. A month.
My dear friend, the one that was always the fashionista, was in town and took me shopping. She tried so hard to help me see myself as beautiful. “To celebrate my curves.” I just couldn’t quite follow her. I tired.
Then I started going into the stores that I’ve always admired from afar and trying stuff on. I was so worried nothing would fit. I kept thinking, “You don’t belong in here.” But, I have to tell you, putting on a $350 dress can change a girl. Really. Now, I can’t afford said dress (even though I bought it, but later returned it). But I did realize a few things:
* I don’t have to wait to be skinny to wear nice things.
* I feel more confident when I put together an outfit that works.
* I am not condoning or ignoring what happened in Bangladesh/nor personally polluting the planet by buying a new dress.
I finally found a dress that I LOVE for the show. It’s flowy, pretty and a bit more affordable. I found some fun shoes too. They even have heels.
Now I don’t think I’m ever going to become a fashionista. And, really, I don’t want to. However, I do want to enjoy my clothes. I want to put something on and feel like it’s an extension of me; that it reflects who I am and what I’m about.
For the past week I’ve been paying attention to what I put on. I’ve been combining my clothes in ways that I think look nice. Wearing jewelry that has been stuffed in a box under my bed. And people are noticing. Not just my clothes, but me.
“What’s going on with you?”
“You are glowing.”
Taking a little time for myself in the morning is actually making a difference. I feel more confident and I’m standing up for my needs more. Good stuff.
Even though I may not like it, clothes make a statement about you to the world. You are judged by how you are put together. It’s a fact. It also says something about how you think of yourself. If you feel “worthy” of beautiful things. And I do.
I’d love to start researching American-made clothing and support local sewers. I want to invest in clothes that make me feel good and that I can feel no guilt about wearing. I found the, Ethical Fashion Forum, and plan to explore that further.
One of the fellow LTYM cast members just concluded a fabulous blog called Foxy Like a Crafter. Sad to find it now that she is done, but happy it’s there. I’m going to read/look at every post in time and see her journey. I admire her greatly and know I can learn from her.
As I grow and start accepting and loving myself, clothes are going to be a big part of that. And I want some help. So, help a girl out. Let me know where you get clothes. How did you find your style and what motivates you? Tips. Tricks. Share. I need you!
SIDE NOTE: When I first envisioned this blog, I thought I’d mostly be writing about my children and mothering. It’s funny how it’s turning into something else. I’m going with it, because I need to work through this stuff and get it out. Thanks to those reading and sticking with me. Much love.