Yes, I’m Really Wearing This -- Part 2 - Here’s What You Can Do With Your Approval Rating
Let me just start by saying that I am fully aware my fashion sense sometimes borders on gaudy with a first cousin to “hmm, that’s not what I would choose”. Most days I am completely OK with that. I don’t always dress age appropriate. I don’t always dress to mimic current styles. I almost NEVER dress solely for comfort. I do try to dress so when I walked out of my house I am unique. I appreciate a well-planned out, organized, color coordinated ensemble. I blame this on my mother. Not ‘blame’ in a bad way, I loved my mother beyond measure. And not ‘blame’ in the sense that I am trying to emulate her. No, I blame her because she chose to dress me like we were living in the Great Depression when in fact we lived on Rich Road in Virginia in the early 70s. (That’s not a metaphor. That’s just the name of the road we lived on when I was a young girl.)
My parents actually WERE raised in the Great Depression. (If you read “Heritage” than you are already up to speed.) It was an extremely difficult time for them and the take away for my mother was that store bought clothes were expensive and handmade ones worked just fine. A bolt of cloth and a working sewing machine kept my youthful closet interesting. Now I know the term ‘homemade’ nowadays conjures up posts on Pinterest or Etsy. There are even websites where you can BUY tags that say “Home Made by…” (Does anyone else see the irony of buying a label to proclaim something homemade?) Let me assure you however, that what I am referring to would not make it to an Etsy site.
Please don’t find me ungrateful. My mother was a good seamstress. As a toddler, I had some very cute outfits. As a young child I didn’t even notice that my clothes were not the ‘same’ as the other kids in school. But then the day dawned where all that changed.
We moved from Rich Road in Virginia to a little farm in rural eastern North Carolina. (My parents wanted to move back to where they called ‘home’). I was 11. We moved sometime during the winter, so it was an already established school year. So picture this, on my first day of school in this new town at a very sensitive and awkward age I walked in wearing homemade purple plaid polyester elastic waist pants. Yes, they were that bad. I know. I just cringed a little myself thinking about it again. What I didn’t know at the time was as I was walking in to be introduced, some of the kids thought I was a new teacher! That’s not exactly the impression a pre-teen at a new school is hoping for. I would like to say as life events go, it wasn’t that traumatic, yet here I am 40 years later talking about it.
Shortly thereafter I started to have a little more input concerning my wardrobe. I still didn’t own my first pair of store bought blue jeans until I was 13, but my closet had less and less contributions from the sewing room. I worked hard to develop my own personal style. Sure, maybe over the years I have gone a little overboard at times. I don’t intentionally set out to look distracting, but I have probably done it from time to time. I know it has cost me dates. Some guys just don’t get me. Truth be told I very much envy the women who pull off a very simple, classic look. It’s timeless and chic. And it escapes me.
Well meaning counsel might even suggest that I use bright colors, textures and layers to distract from or hide the ‘real’ me. That boots and scarves and dangling earrings provide an emotional camouflage. That is an interesting concept and has actually crossed my mind before. A painful self-realization that I will leave as fodder for another day.
Part 1 of this ‘series’ was how we often stress about the opinions of others. And look for ways to measure those opinions. While I am often guilty of doing just that, I have chosen to frequently rebel against the conventional. My line in the sand of individuality is my fashion statement. Where is your line? What is so YOU? Make sure there is something distinct in your life that no one can come through and erase or diminish it. Maybe it is a sport. Or an artistic talent. Even your career. Maybe you can finish every crossword puzzle you come across. (More power to you on that one. I am awful at them.) Whatever it is that makes you unique, celebrate it! Be magnificent at it! In this one area tell the world what they can do with their approval rating system. Because you own it!
So while I admit that I still want you to like me, I am ok if you occasionally shake your head at my outfit du jour. Maybe there are times when I look more like that 11 year old in purple polyester than I should. But for me, it makes me joyful. Plus I can never get lost in a crowd.