Oona has written a wonderful post of how we use clothing as a weapon and it really resonated with me. My true inner self is not something I have really talked about here as, to be honest, many formative years of ridicule makes me hesitant about revealing her. I grew up as an only child in a single parent family during the 1970s and 1980s when single parents and their children were social pariahs. Add to it that I grew up poor in an affluent city populated with judgemental and idiotic people and the picture becomes complete.
Growing up, my wardrobe consisted entirely of hand-me-down that didn't suit me but was offset by wonderful pieces sent to me by my English grandparents. I dressed to fit in (as well as I could) or disappear, and dressing to suit my mother's uber preppy tastes was always a priority. It just wasn't worth the argument to go out in something I actually felt comfortable wearing. To this day, I hate button down polo shirts and khakis. I have an aversion to penny loafers, grosgrain ribbon belts, field hockey, and cliques. Want to see my utterly miserable? Dress me up like a Washington politician! LOL!
It took me a very long time to start dressing for myself and be comfortable in my own skin and it really didn't start to come together for me until shortly after I became a mother. Pregnancy was very freeing for me from a fashion perspective and I really ran with it. Before that, there was a lot of trial and error and fashion disasters! I tried being a goth (you can imagine how well that worked, considering I don't wear black and hate punk music!), a mod (a bit better - much more 60's influenced), a rocker avec a black fringed suede jacket (we called rockers skids - nice, I know) until I finally settled into a mish mash of hippie meets Audrey Hepburn.
When I picked up sewing clothing seriously again (I have sewn since I was 9) that fantastic fall down the creative rabbit hole began and I've been happily chatting with the Mad Hatter ever since, bar a few mishaps along this yellow brick road of endless possibilities. It was also a great thing to acknowledge my own inner Star Trek/Star Wars/Lord of the Rings/Disney movie quirky geekiness! Meeting the Mad Hatter is enlightening, no?
Nowadays, I use clothing as a source of comfort and affirmation - a suit of armour with a positive intention. I am an unapologetic clothes horse of epic proportions. Changing my wardrobe over to reflect the seasons results in hours of careful unpacking, repacking, hanging, and folding and I absolutely look forward to it. I am proud of the fact that I rarely shop RTW, stocking my wardrobe with a mix of handmade and thrifted pieces Bright colours, happy prints - primarily florals and polka dots- and simple silhouettes announce who I am.
I am introverted around those I don't feel 100% comfortable and and distinctly challenged by being in a group with more than 3 new people. At these times, I use clothing to either repel human contact as it's just too overwhelming or protect my inner self at times when human contact is socially unavoidable. Small talk and idle chit chat is awkward.
My life is fulfilling and affirming. I am surrounded by a beloved group of people who love and appreciate me for who I am. Along the way, I have had to make hard choices to protect my inner self but the rewards are always greater. As I have grown, my clothing choices have grown with me. I own not one single piece of clothing that would be considered fashionable or allows me to 'blend in' and I'm proud of that.
2014 has been a year of challenges for my family and I. I will not be sad to see it go and have already been thinking about what I want to do in 2015. More authentic blogging is on my list as I found that the blogs I love the most don't shy away from sharing inner struggles. It's that ability to connect with the blogger that keeps me coming back.
But my mantra for 2015 is, quite simply, this: