If you were to look back on my life, you would not consider my clothes fashionable. I would not be considered as a fashion icon (in any stretch of the imagination) for the first 20 years of my life. I always seemed to be a year or so behind everyone else, or not even on the same page as everyone else.
Take, for example, my 4th grade year of life, when I rocked a certain Disney Pocahontas t-shirt with pride the majority of the time. Or that time in 8th grade when my French class took a trip to Quebec and I wore a khaki overalls with a Tweety Bird embroidered to pop out of the front pocket. Or that time in high school when I rocked boy basketball shorts, baggy t-shirts, socks, and Adidas slides to school pretty regularly.
Now, in the year of our Lord 2021, these things that were once looked down on as uncool are somehow in fashion and I don’t know how to handle it. There’s an entire Disney scene where people are making Winnie the Pooh chic. During the pandemic, the fashion gods also decided it would be time that overalls had their comeback – maybe because now that people weren’t going out anywhere, it wouldn’t be embarrassing to have to undress every time you used the restroom?
Don’t even get me started on the mom jeans, puffy sleeves, the prairie dresses, and also the long pleated skirts that have flooded all of my online shopping feeds. Who decided this? Who is actually wearing this? And why are these “trends” acceptable now but not when I was wearing them?
I think the bigger issue is this: all those years when I knew I was getting fashion wrong but didn’t know how to “fix” it, I spent a lot of it wondering if there was something wrong with me. To realize and discover now as a 34 year old, that fashion is less about what’s “in” and more about how you feel in clothes, I feel like I am owed an apology by Fashion.
The older I get, the more I find myself relearning and rewiring my brain to build my self esteem and my confidence. All those messages I received in the past, consciously and subconsciously, really did a number on how I perceived myself (see also: growing up as a minority in a majority culture where everyone and everything did not look like me or represent me). And clothes are this funny thing where they often function as an outward reflection of how you feel about yourself on the inside. Low self esteem? Frumpy clothes. Unsure of yourself? Baggy clothes to hide in.
Now I shop for practicality, familiarity, and comfort. I know the colors I look good in and the types of “cuts” that look best on my ever changing body. I’m always willing to try an item or two off the “hottest trends to try” list, but not at the expense of my own mental and emotional health if I’m second guessing myself every minute I’m wearing it. I have found that the more confident I have grown in my own body and in the person I see reflected back at me in the mirror, the more confident I wear out the clothes I have found to really love, in fashion or not. I still have a lot of learning and self-work to do, but I do know this: you will miss me and this puffy sleeve moment. Skinny jeans & side part til I die.