I positively loved fashion when I was a little girl. I loved flipping through catalogs and magazines and picking out things that caught my eye, not because of how I necessarily thought they’d look on me, but because of how they made me feel.
I loved clothes that made me smile. I loved pairing unexpected colors together (and it was the late 80s/early 90s, which was a great time for that), I loved wearing all different kinds of fabrics, and I especially loved snagging my mom’s accessories and wearing them in unintended ways. (I wore a lot of scarves as belts and rings as pendants in those days.)
And hats! I loved hats almost as much as I loved Zack Morris. (Nothing better to frame that six-inch wall of bangs, baby.)
Falling Off the Clothes Horse
Around sixth grade, I started holding back; I became really self-conscious about looking different. I was the second tallest student in my entire elementary school (and taller than literally every single boy), and years of gymnastics and dance and sports had made my arms and legs considerably more muscular than your average 11-year-old’s. So, I started choosing clothes that hid the parts of my body that didn’t look like my friends’ or like the people in magazines.
This wasn’t just a puberty issue. It’s something I’ve struggled with ever since. Even when I’m at my leanest, my broad shoulders and muscular build keep me from wearing certain items — sometimes because it’s not flattering, but sometimes it flat out will not fit. For more than 20 years, my clothes have been almost invariably chosen based on two criteria: Is it flattering? and: Do I love it?
In. That. Order.
Time for a Change
A couple of weeks ago, I came across a video called Fabulous Fashionistas featuring six women with an average age of 80 who, basically, don’t give a damn about what they should wear. They wear clothes they love, regardless of whether or not society thinks they’re appropriate.
The full episode is no longer available on YouTube — what I watched was almost 50 minutes long — but even this short trailer inspires me. These women wear clothes they love — clothes that make them feel gorgeous and vibrant and strong and unique — and it’s that amazing, confident attitude that helps them all look so freaking … well, fabulous.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to start wearing clothes that, like, accentuate areas that I’m not all that comfortable showing off. A big part of pulling off an unusual look is owning it, which requires confidence, which requires a level of comfort. Still, I’m working to expand my comfort zone.
Since watching the video I have reevaluated the way I shop. Now, my first question is: Does it make me happy? If so, then I ask: Will I wear it? I mean, if it’s ill-fitting or just not right for me, then no, I won’t wear it, even if I’m completely mad about it on the hanger. But just because it doesn’t cinch in at the waist and make me look particularly slender, that doesn’t mean it won’t find a place in my wardrobe.
I’d love to know how the rest of you shop and dress. It’s one thing to love your body and be proud of what it can do — that part, I’ve got down pat. It’s another thing to find confidence to wear whatever you love simply because you love it.
So! Let’s hear it — do you focus on flattering fit or how much you love something when you decide whether to buy or wear it? —Kristen