Which we all know is about so much more than ‘just fashion’. How we present ourselves to the world is an echo of what we think our position and place is in the world.
For a long long time the rule: “You should wear black dress socks with black dress pants” was the sum of my knowledge about fashion and style. Let me make it clear that I’m not here to tell you how to dress like the trendiest mom in the park. This is about more than dressing well. It’s about that little line in the sand that we don’t cross as women. It is about dressing how we would love to look.
What happened today? My husband told me I looked too good. But before I get into what this all means, I’m gonna step it back and start with part one. I’m gonna take you on the flannel and neon-lined, personally embarrassing stroll through my historic closet
It begins with what I can affectionately call a ‘consecutive wardrobe topped with custom pieces’. Which translates to seven-year-old hand-me-downs and ‘statement’ pieces that were handmade for a scrawny girl with a bad home perm. But it was the 80s, and I could get by on my scrunchie collection and NKOTB backpack. Even if I used masking tape to add a ‘third’ line to my two-lined faux adidas sneakers.
If you are already embarrassed on my behalf you should stop reading here.
It gets worse.
How can it get worse? Well, welcome to high school! ‘What’s that? You need new clothes??? Two words: bag sale’. In the ‘Life According to Len (aka Dad) Manual’, if one of your four kid’s wants clothes it is both generous and creative to give them a fiver and tell them to head to the thrift store. So thrift I did, and as I mentioned I did look like a colour-blind elderly hippy for my formative years.
In college I rocked the rural classics: jeans, a graphic tee and a brown leather belt with my name stamped onto it (which, by the way, this is awesome and I will never part with it). There may have been duct tape patches on my jeans and hiking boots on the daily, but I was in an outdoor-focused course in a small BC hippie town so I blended in amongst the draft dodgers and wheat grass growers.
Speaking of blending in, this is something I sought from girlhood (and now I’m learning, helps shape me as a Type Nine). Blending in with my temperament, my accomplishments, and my appearance. Be nice, be mild, and be accommodating. I rarely discerned my heart, let alone spoke it out loud. I rarely believed in my choices. I rarely pursued my passions, tethered with fear I would look stupid, or shame that I would succeed. I didn’t even want to wear nail polish or necklaces so I wouldn’t ‘draw attention’ to myself.
Then came the big city University. I was venturing out into the world of ‘new clothes’ and cultural standards of appearance. I cluelessly navigated my way through Metrotown making unwise purchases. Like the same shirt I thought looked casual but sexy, so I bought it in every shade. Maintaining my uniform of tight jeans (sans tape de duct), a tight shirt and some tube socks. I updated my wardrobe with new brown boots or I’d throw in the ole ‘socks and sandals’ wild card. Just to keep you guessing if I was a functioning member of society or still drunk from the night before when I got dressed. Maybe a bit of both. It was university, don’t judge.
So then I entered the ‘professional’ phase of my life. I had to be taken seriously, so introduce the looser fitting clothes. I was working amongst the ole boys club in a semi-outdoor job so I dressed ‘practically’. I had a repetitive wardrobe of button-up blouses, cardigans and dress pants.
Was it what I loved to wear? No.
Was it what I thought I should wear? Yes.
Did I look like a Sunday school teacher? Cue the intervention from my little sister and the reference to my future career as the next muse for the mom in the swiffer commercial.
So this brings us to present day. Two (now three kids, since this was first written) kids and a few body changes later and my role as a Stay at Home Mom usually requires stain friendly, ‘wearable’ clothes. I could follow my status quo and keep it safe and clad in yoga pants (which I do around the house). But something is changing. Something more than how I dress, that’s just an innocent by-stander to the messy adjustment I’ve had into motherhood.
I don’t want another phase of my life to go by filled with neutrality and ‘safe decisions’ around how I talk, decorate, live, interact, eat, exercise, dress, act, anything! I am giving myself permission to fill my life with things I love, things I am passionate about. To put myself out there at the risk of failure and success. Fashion included!
If you want to hear the WHY to all of this, what has spurred this change, stay tuned for PART TWO: The Recovering Wallflower.