I have a weird relationship with fashion. Like every teenager I was always torn between wanting some one to notice me and wanting to fade into the background. I was desperately trying to find myself. Going through all different kind of phases, trying out new looks (and hair colors) just trying to find one that felt right.
I never found it. Along the way I did find hot pink toe socks with gel kitten heeled flip flops, shiny metallic leggings and over sized zebra stripped cardigans. Yes, these are two combination of things I proudly wore in public.
As much as it pains me to think of these outfits as some thing other humans actually saw, I know they were important. Important in my journey towards self discovery.
I am now 28 and I am sitting in my childhood bed room at my parents house waiting for this pandemic to be over.
When I got on a 4 am train headed south at the beginning of this pandemic I naively thought it would be over in a matter of weeks. So I didn’t bother packing a lot of clothing, seemingly content to wear one outfit on repeat for weeks (lets be real I haven’t changed out of my PJs much)
I was wrong.
We have been on lockdown for nine long weeks.
And I miss my clothes.
This statement originally came as a surprise to me. I honestly thought I would relish the opportunity to not be define by my clothing. I would like to claim I am the type of person who proudly wears my clothes but the reality is, that when passing any reflective surface in public, I am filled with horror and sadness to see that the outfit I so confidently put on that morning looked terrible.
The combination of clothes is wrong. My clothes look cheap. These jeans are awkward. I am too fat. My shoulders too wide. My arms look flabby. This shirt is too baggy. It’s a rare occurrence that I see myself and think I look fine.
But recently some thing strange has started happening. In fact it start off by coincidence. I was wearing a pair of grey socks with frilly tops. I don’t know where they came from? I can’t remember buying them but here they were. I always loved those pictures of the women wearing shoes with visible socks of any kind (Thinking of Elsa from the Hookup Plan here, its hard to find a photo but here is a not great one) I remember a look Leandra Medine wore; blue-grey sheer glitter socks and blue loafers. A look I could never dream of pulling off. She looks like a boss in her grey suit and colourful tank underneath. If only.
But one morning I couldn’t find a pair of plain black socks ( I am a very tidy and organised person. But some how I struggle with socks. I almost never have a matching pair. Working on this in 2020)
So I wore the grey frilly socks. I had them pulled all the way up so they were covered by my jeans but some where along the day they slid down. You could see the frill. I am going to be honest I didn’t notice but then a friend commented on them. In fact she didn’t just comment she complimented them.
I remember sitting there thinking holy shit. Maybe I can wear this. So I got a little more brave.
I am part of the Man Repeller Fashion Closet group on facebook. I don’t ever post any thing just read and observe in awe as these women are everything I wish I could be. Their humour, and confidence in their lives and looks, some thing I wish I could emulate.
So I did. I didn’t jump right into the deep end but I started slow. Buying socks with patterns and more color I normally wouldn’t dare to wear (meaning not black.)
I sat up late at night watching videos of closet tours, browsing instagrams, making Pinterest boards trying to find ways to create looks that inspired me but were still within my comfort zone and worked with my closet and lifestyle.
I want to be the decadent type of women who wore a satin dress to brunch for no reason other than she is feeling it ( I also actually just ordered a satin dress, its black but OMG what am I doing? Maybe by the time I work up the nerve to wear it for fun we will be out of lockdown and I can go to brunch again)
I feel a little stumped right now. I have been wearing the same Christmas themed pyjamas for what feels like forever and I miss my frilly socks ( its as much a shock to me, as it is to any one)
I use to have a very strict idea of what you had to wear to be taken seriously. Adults wore certain kinds of clothing. I couldn’t wear frilly socks, or baseball caps and be a person with responsibility. But reading Man Repeller changed my mind. Surely Leandra was a serious adult. I mean she runs and founded a real successful company.
And here is the thing. Am I ever going to be that girls wearing bright colors and bold patterns? Probably not. I have nothing against them, they just don’t feel like me.
For the first time in a long time I am prettty happy with my wardrobe. I feel content in my monochrome vibe. Black, Grey, White, and the occasional dark blue feel comfortable.
And I can add the odd Dad hat to my wardrobe, right?
I once experimented with an mustard colored coat, and while I adore the coat I always felt off wearing it. So I didn’t.
The best piece of fashion advice I ever got was from a former roommate of mine. She was visiting me in London. I had this top I had always loved but never worn because well, it was very cute but it wasn’t me. And she told me to get rid of it. She told me if you put it on and you don’t feel comfortable, then it won’t look good and you won’t wear it.
She was right. I kept the shirt for another year, never wore it. Finally I donated it.
I wanted to be braver and wear more experimental clothing but I realized that wearing some thing that made me uncomfortable wasn’t the same as wearing some thing I wasn’t confident enough to try. And that is a hard distinction to make. But I am learning.
The women of Man Repeller and their community of readers have been instrumental in me realising maybe I could be just a tad bit more extra with the clothes I wear and right now all I want is to wear an oversized button up and dream of being an Olsen Twin. Thats really all I want in life.