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I’m All Grown Up and I’ll Wear What I Please

4638212189_b464e5f105_oI 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

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  1. Suzannah says:

    Wow! Great question!! I have to narrow this topic down to shoes! I am tall and have been since I was also the second tallest person in class (taller than all the boys too). At 5’11”, I tower over people. For years I have felt self conscious wearing anything with a heel because let’s face it, I still tower over my students. (I am a business owner and professor). At some point I started to embrace my height because it has always been helpful for sports and I can’t change it. So now, I wear the cute shoes/boots I want to. I wear flats or 2 inch heels, it doesn’t matter anymore. I would love to hear how other people decide how they dress too!

  2. Christie says:

    I changed the way I shop a few years ago inspired by an article in O. The article said you should ask yourself 3 questions when shopping: 1. Do I love it? 2. Does it fit? 3. Does it say what I want to say about myself? That third one is REALLY helpful in eliminating fashion mistakes that just sit in my closet unworn. I often see things when shopping that I love… on someone else. But on me, just doesn’t feel right. I’ve passed those questions on to teen girls or young women I know — I think they are so wise and it’s probably among the most helpful things I’ve EVER read! (No offense to FBG!) 😉

  3. Lisa says:

    Love those ladies. wish I could have seen the full show. I tend to focus on fit and shy away from things that I love when I see them but that might be a bit over the top for me. I may have to try to change my perspective…

  4. Ooooh em gee, Christie nailed it up there. The “does it say what I want it to say about myself?” question is golden. A lot of my wardrobe technically “fits” my body right now, but it doesn’t match the “look” I’m trying to curate (a product of buying too many cheap Forever 21 items over the years without enough thought). Totally contributes to that sensation of opening your closet, looking at everything you own and *still* thinking, “I have nothing to wear.” These days, a piece saying what I want it to is the biggest factor in whether the purchase is made.

  5. Veronica says:

    How I shop/dress? Well unfortunately that used to always depend on who was around me. I like accessories; scarves, hats, jewlery, wrist cuffs, my tattoos, my piercings. I am slightly off-beat and love it. I am also pretty trendy, so if boat shoes are becoming popular, I usually grab a pair about a year before they get really big, and typically my friends wont be wearing them, but I don’t care. I like things that are different. The problem is that in the past, my boyfriends would make me feel uncomfortable wearing this slightly different fashion. I remember when I first liked leg warmers when they started coming back. And I wore them out one night and my boyfriend made snide comments about them. He basically told me I looked ridiculous. This hurt….and luckily I dropped him after I came to my senses. But eventually I met my best friend, who 2 years later turned into my boyfriend, and then 2 years after that turned into my husband. He accepts everything about me. And even though he will make jokes about something I wear, I.E. my pink animal hoodie (complete with fur on the head and animal ears), he will also say I look awesome in it. He may not have picked out my fashion sense, but he knows I actually dress well that suits me, and he loves everything about me. Since being with him, I have become more bold in my style, and I am no longer embarrassed to dress more crazy, and rock my awesome accessories! I am more completely me than ever before, and when I try out some new thing in my style I rock it with confidence. It’s sad that it took acceptance from a man for me to be comfortable being me, but man I love him and his acceptance of me! I guess that’s what you get when you actually marry the person who was your best friend for so long before things even became romantic…Oh and I found that I get more compliments now on my fashion than ever before, from even complete strangers, and it’s probably because now I actually stand out in stead of just blending in.

  6. Sara says:

    I watched it on Netflix.com and loved the show…it’s great to see creative, vibrant women of all ages. It’s about knowing who you are and feeling good. Wear what makes you happy!

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