Dressed to Impress
(story by Mir, from WouldaCouldaShoulda)
I don't think I'd characterize myself as "fashionable," past or present, by any stretch of the imagination. The way I dress is… fine. I think. I enjoy clothes, and I especially enjoy shoes. But I don't spend a lot of money on clothes, or a lot of time. In my current life, I'm a jeans-and-t-shirts type, most of the time. Do I clean up pretty good? I like to think so. Do people look at me and go, "I wish I had her fashion sense!"? Probably not unless they're sniffing a lot of glue.
Still, it's clothing that encapsulates so many memories for me, when I look back on my life. I've written about some of my more unfortunate clothing incidents here, even. There's lots of good memories attached to clothes, too, though… even though a lot of the clothing in question is—now, at least—similarly cringe-inducing.
There was my first pair of Esprit pants, in middle school, when Esprit was very "in" and hip. The pants were wide ankle-crops and sort of a coral-colored chino, and I loved them so much, I wore them all winter (with no socks, because socks would've been uncool!) while my ankles froze. I often wore them with my one and only genuine-Izod polo shirt, which was white, and which I wore with the collar flipped up whether I was wearing it alone or layered over a turtleneck. Eventually I retired those items as Cyndi Lauper and Madonna caused us all to run out and buy neon-colored slouchy socks and jelly bracelets.
In high school, there were the acid-washed Lee jeans (hey, it was the 80s, I swear they were cool then) I loved beyond all measure; they came up past my belly button and were tapered down to the ankles, and they made me feel so cool. I wore them with big, baggy shirts or sweaters I pilfered from my father's closet.
There were the two lovely wool skirts my mother bought for me, doubtless picturing me looking a little less hobo-like than usual, and finally wearing something pretty, which I then paired with deliberately inside-out sweatshirts and—the crowning horror, in my mother's eyes—long underwear bottoms, instead of tights. In fact, I remember a stand-off one morning before school, when she finally put her foot down and said I was not permitted to leave the house looking like that, because people would think she was neglecting me. I was fifteen, and tried to point out that anyone who assumed she was still dressing me at my advanced age had other issues. I remember being incredulous that she was worried anyone would judge HER based on what I was wearing.
For years, in college, I had several pairs of overalls I wore with a variety of tops, making sure to cross-buckle only one strap, because that was the cool way to wear them. Apparently I was both a college student and Huckleberry Finn. For occasions requiring me to look a little nicer, I had a black-and-white pinstriped Liz Claiborne jumpsuit thing… sleeveless, with long pants… and I rolled up the legs a little just to make it look even better. (I don't know. I just know it seemed like the thing to do.)
When I got married the first time, I selected a vintage dress that was unlike anything I'd ever worn, or even seen before. It was pretty. I thought it looked the way a bride should look. I felt attractive yet somehow alien on my wedding day, which turned out to be an interesting sort of foreshadowing to the marriage itself. The second time 'round, I bought myself a cocktail dress sporting a riot of pinks and oranges all around the skirt. I felt like jubilation, and like my best self. (So far, that was pretty good foreshadowing, too.)
Trends come and go. Some of the items I loved in the past make me roll my eyes, now, but they were still easy ways to try on different skins and see what worked.
I remind myself of this, now, as my daughter begins forming attachments to various outfits. We joke about the One True Shirt and One True Jeans and such, as she cycles through loving certain pieces of her wardrobe. I don't always love what she puts on, but I try to bite my tongue. (Just to be clear, I would speak up if she were to wear something immodest, but that's not been an issue.) She's looking for what fits. And what I know, even if she doesn't, yet, is that what fits today may not be what fits next week or next month or next year, but that's okay. Change is inevitable. Will she look back and cringe? Maybe. Maybe that's part of the process, though.
Do you remember parts of your life via clothing, or am I just weird? If you're a parent, do you veto your kiddo's choices if you find them odd?
(Get More Mir here)