It was about eight years ago my little sister had a fashion intervention with me. I was interviewing for a job promotion and she was helping me pick out outfits. After a fashion show of all my best ‘interview looks’, she sat me down and told me I looked like that mom in the Swiffer commercial.
At the time I was working in a male-dominated industry, so my default uniform was the continuation of a 21-year-old’s interpretation of ‘this is what I need to wear to be professional’: loose dress pants, a plain blouse-like shirt, sensible shoes. I mean, they could have raided my wardrobe to dress Swiffer Mom!
I had no clue how to dress myself. So, we went shopping and my sister made me try on everything I never would and I started to accessorize and wear colours and new styles of shirts and wild stuff like that! (Think Swiffer Mom on a girl’s night out!)
What really got me interested in fashion was learning about it. When I had my second baby I spent hours upon hours nursing and rocking her. So I read blogs on my phone about makeup and fashion. I started to enjoy trying new things. I started to get excited about styles I liked. I took ‘style tests’. I made Pinterest boards! I made shopping lists! I got dressed each day instead of staying in PJs.
In the past, I would read blogs and look at magazines or other women and think ‘Oh that is such a great outfit’. But I would stick with ‘Swiffer Mom Gone Wild’. It was a big step to buy these clothes I was secretly admiring and wear them in public and start to ‘own it’. BUT I have realized that when I dress how I WANT to dress I feel empowered. When I dress in clothes that fit me well, that I like the look of, that I like the feel of, then I go about my day without worrying if I will ‘fit in’ or feel comfortable.
When I dress how I want I feel more authentic – like I am sharing who I am beyond the clothes. I enjoy thinking about what values I have, what characteristics I have and finding ways to dress that will reflect that. I feel like I am expressing who I am and what I am about with the clothes I put on. I feel like people could have a first impression of me that is probably more accurate.
BUT HERE IS THE THING
I have noticed a pull towards and a pull away from it over the years.
Minimalism has made me evaluate what I have and why I have it. When I read the book SEVEN by Jen Hatmaker, there was a chapter where she only wore seven items of clothes for a whole month. I really appreciated her insights into separating your personal value and identity from what you wear.
I have also felt kinda jaded with all the fashion influencers of today. There are great fashion influencers out there, but there are also some who focus on the price tag, the great instagram pic, the need to always be dolled up and really – it is all kind of blending to look like the same hair and style in every square. There are ones out there who have spray tans and fake eyelashes and every day is another photoshoot. To me, this isn’t real life fashion I could relate to.
I contrasted the ideas of seven items of clothes for a month vs a new outfit for every selfie. I felt like fashion was becoming a game you could only play if you have the money for it.
This past month of the #moms30for30 I found that I didn’t want to post my outfit selfies on Instagram. I was wrestling with making others feel like they aren’t enough if they don’t dress a certain way, or buy certain clothes. I don’t ever want what I share to be about affluence. BUT I do want it to be about women enjoying all the part of their crazy beautiful lives! And the clothes we wear are a part of our lives.
As I wrapped up the month, I had to remind myself all the reasons I was seeking out fashion those years ago. It was out of my comfort zone, but it was something I could do for me. It was something I enjoyed and I can still enjoy it.
This month helped me remember that fashion can be enjoyed no matter the price tag. It helped me to remind myself that I can enjoy exactly what I have and not feel like I need to have more and more clothes. It helped me to reignite my interest in putting outfits together. It helped me remember that I can keep encouraging other women to ‘own it’ too without making it all about consumer side of fashion.
At the end of the day, style is about creativity and self-expression. Which is an underrated thing. Creativity and self-expression help us live our best lives. I think style is meant to be enjoyed and encouraged.
I hope that as you were watching this challenge you were encouraged as well. I hope you find ways to feel like you are dressing how YOU WANT in a way that tells the world a bit more about you.
And in closing, here is the WHOLE MONTH of the moms30for30 Nov 2017!
I organized the by sweaters because my goal with this challenge was to make outfits out of what I have and get different looks from the same piece. I feel like I could have done this with way fewer clothes and in the end, only ended up wearing 26 pieces (10 cardis/vests, 10 shirts/tanks, and 5 pairs of pants) 25 outfits (there were some sweat days in the mix #reallife).