An Attempt to Dress Myself Like an Adult
I don’t know why I’m doing this. I hate fashion. I am one to often, and audibly, make fun of that girl in psych class who looks like she just stepped out of some trendy Soho coffee shop. (This is community college, honey. Nobody here gives a shit. The girl behind you is wearing pajama bottoms.)
It is a rare day that you find me in anything other than black stretchy food-baby accommodating pants and a sweatshirt. And I actually wear the same pants to work, at least twice a week.
They’re black jeans.
They came from the maternity section.
And the fact that they were only eight dollars on clearance really doesn’t make that statement… better.
All of this said, there was a time when I cared about what I looked like. I used to buy makeup. I used to attempt to shop. But at some point every shopping trip turned into a catastrophe of “God damnit, nothing fits my fat ass,” and “I like this a lot but my HIPS ARE TOO WIDE,” and “WHY IS EVERYTHING MADE FOR TALL PEOPLE.” Eventually these trips conclude with me leaving a store empty handed and trying to find food.
Recently though I looked in the mirror, and realized that there was more than just a lack of shits given about my image at play in all of this. I realized, as I stared at my tired reflection, that I was wearing yet another one of my father’s oversized sweaters. I wear one of these at least five or six days of the week.
A brief explanation: I lost my family to rather tragic circumstances and a year later, I am not just enduring the inevitable grief that follows. I am also wearing it, every single day.
My entire closet is comprised of my fathers XXL Nike sweatshirts, his enormous ugly sweaters from the 80s, my mother’s old jeans, blouses my sister bought me, t-shirts from shows and theme parks and cities we all went to back when I was home, and safe, and we were all together.
This realization hit me like an anvil. It was kind of sickening, actually. Is this really how I wanted to represent myself? Is this really how I saw myself?
So, I did what any millenial in my situation would do.
I turned… to Pinterest.
I looked for a while, searching terms like ‘fashion’ and ‘style’ and to be perfectly frank, I had no idea what I was looking for. Things like fruit patterned sweaters and tassley pink scarves are of no interest to me. So I had to start asking some important questions.
What did I want to express about myself? What could my clothing say about me? Without the umbrella of my parents, what did I look like?
These were questions that I had never really pondered before. Those few articles of clothing that I did purchase were bought because a. It was on clearance, and b. It fit. I took little consideration into what it looked like. And to be frank, I would have found a question like “What could my clothing express about me” to be vomit inducing before now.
A Barbie Girl I am not.
Anyway, in this exploration, I discovered a few things.
I’m actually a little egotistical. I’d like to think that I look good in what I’m wearing.
That little goth girl that lived in me when I was a teenager… never died apparently. Most of what I pinned was black.
I don’t like superfluous stuff, like excessive jewelry or ruffles, and I’d rather have five of the same thing than five different things.
I am not tall. I will never be tall. No amount of hoping or dysmorphia will ever make me tall.
I am my mother’s daughter.
I am reminded of something my father said to me once. We were driving home one night, when he turned to me, and said: “We’ve had our differences, but you know what I’ve always liked about your mother?”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“She’s been a class act since day one. She always knew how to look and act the part.”
This is an observation that hasn’t left my mind, and this moment occurred when I was about fifteen.
My mother was the type of woman who, until she suffered from herniated discs in her spine, would wear pumps and a full face of makeup to the grocery store. Every occasion was an excuse to look her best. Even her yoga clothes were patterned and fabulous.
What this says about her self esteem, given that the amount of makeup she wore was… extravagant, I’m not sure. I’m not extravagant or fabulous, by any means. And I don’t aspire to be such things. But I find myself drifting toward the same classy, timeless pieces that she might have worn.
The pieces that I selected include, and are pretty much limited to:
Pumps, in patent leather and matte leather. Black, nude, and maybe if I’m daring, red.
Trench coats, that stop at the knee, in black and camel.
Black suit pants, well tailored, that AREN’T TOO LONG GOD DAMNIT.
Black blazers, that don’t encompass my entire arm, and hand, with an inch to spare.
Solid color t-shirts, in black, white, nude, and red. Maybe a few band t-shirts that fit well.
Yoga pants that don’t look slutty. Camel toe isn’t attractive, and neither are wedgies.
Simple sweaters, in black, nude, grey, red, and maybe navv because someone said it looked good on me.
A pair of thigh-high heeled pointed boots because why not.
Edgy sunglasses. A good number of them.
Black tennis shoes, since those heels are gonna hurt at some point.
There are certainly pieces of my mother in here. The pumps. The cleanness, the class. But the dark colors are, I realize with wonder, a me thing. I fondly remember her calling me a vampire as a kid. I got mad then but she kinda had it right.
I can look over all of these items, and stare at these photos, but I’m still not sure what any of this… says about me.
Do I even have a style? What do you even call all of this… stuff?
I’m not sure. But I feel confident in… whatever all of this is. I feel like it is an accurate representation of what I look and feel like on this inside.
It is a step in the direction of individualization.