I originally wrote this as a guest post for my friend Kim’s blog last year but thought I’d revisit it here. What? It’s my intellectual property and I’ll do what I want with it! Ahem, excuse me. Anywho, I’ve made some edits since it’s been published but if you want to read the original post, check it out on here.
I’m not sure how everyone else learned how to put together an outfit, whether it’s an ingrained sense of fashion or you just stick your hand into the dresser/closet and wear whatever you pull out (I’ve been guilty of this on several occasions), but this has been a long, long lesson for me to learn. I turned 30 last year and everyone knows the transitions that result from turning such a milestone age: the horror of realizing you’re no longer in your twenties. The agony of knowing you’re that much closer to this mythical “Hill” that people keep referencing as if it were some magical far off place somewhere in the ether (or New Jersey, whichever is furthest). The misery of knowing that you are now the MIDDLE AGED! ACCCK!
But once the excitement of my birthday died down and I had eaten the last of my cake, I took stock at where I was in life. I was officially 30. A grown up. I felt pretty grown up, but problem was, I wasn’t looking the part. I don’t look my age to begin with so dressing the part is probably the only way to keep from being asked which Barbies are the most popular with girls my age.
I was never a fashionable person. I have pictures to prove this, though, thankfully, there is no photographic evidence of my most cringe inducing outfit in memory. I’ll give you a hint: it involves a pair of striped jeans my mom made. For my older sister. That I stole and wore in junior high thinking I was hot stuff. Yeah. I quickly adopted an “uniform:” a t-shirt or sports jersey, jeans and a pair of Nikes. Every single day. Sometimes I would trade pieces out for a pair of overalls (yes, for real) and a sweater but everything was oversized and kind of shapeless. Oh, and most of it were boy’s clothes. Including the jeans. It’s probably no coincidence that I went through junior high, high school and most of college without a single date. Though I’m sure the glasses, braces, and general geekiness in high school played a role with that as well.
I don’t know why I refused to wear clothes that fit, or were even made for girls. But this refusal was so epic that my friends still talk about the day I showed up in a pair of women’s boot-cut jeans. This was back in 2001 (and one of them yelled out the window, “ARE YOU WEARING BOOT CUT JEANS?!!!”). So yeah, after having spent the majority of my life in this uniform, it was hard to break free from the pervasive thoughts of how I was supposed to dress. My jeans and t-shirts had become such an integral part of my personality that the thought of branching out struck fear into me, as if I would no longer be me if I willingly wore a dress just because I wanted to wear a dress. I had stopped myself many times before from purchasing an article of clothing because I thought it didn’t fit who I thought I was and it wasn’t until I was peering down into my thirties that I realized just how silly and limiting this thinking was. Clothes should reflect your personality; not define it. And so, with this new found revelation, I embarked on one of the most ambitious project of my life to date: updating my wardrobe.
I’d like to dress like this. But maybe not the heels. Okay, maybe the heels if I were going out.
And like this. I can still wear jeans!
And so I have been slowly adding new pieces to my wardrobe: dresses, dressier shirts and sweaters, belts and even managed to find fitting jeans (when I put them on, I was shocked that they made me look like I have a butt. CAN I GET FIFTY-ELEVENTY PAIRS OF THESE?!). And while I’m far from being certifiably fashionable, I’m finding clothes that reflect my new outlook about myself and where I’m at right now and I’m feeling a lot better about myself. I’m also beginning to feel more confident in reaching past my comfort zone to try new things. Brightly patterned shoes? Why not! A slightly shorter dress than I would usually buy? Let’s try it on! Sure I may still get hung up every now and then on something that might not seem like “me” but I’ve learned to embrace those pieces and rock them anyway. I’ve found those seemingly out of character pieces have become my favorites and garner the most compliments. Sometimes it pays to take a risk.
So I’m excited to see how my wardrobe evolves with my new stage in life. Who wants to help and come shopping with me?
Though, one of the best things I’ve learned so far?
Best. Accessory. Ever.