Sunday, October 04, 2009

Really, it was just an excuse to show off the sunflowers before they passed on

When I was in middle school, gosh, what a self-conscious kid I was, especially in the looks department. It seemed like nothing I wore was the right thing to wear, and we all know how important that is in the tender years of preadolescence and adolescence. Nothing in my closet was RIGHT - wrong color, wrong proportions, wrong cut, thin stripes instead of thick, the lime green that was so last year [Hey remember that year of lime greenness? Ugh.] I used to feel like the most ungraceful, ugly, ill-put together person on. the. planet. I do blame it for some of the grouchiness that crept into my voice and manner, an external manifestation of internal insecurities. Because sometimes when you're at a stage where the smallest things will set you off, feeling like the ugly duckling of the class will stack the cards even further against yourself.

I remember staring at college students or women in their mid 20's and envying the way they seemed so put together. Confident, smart outfits, or even just carrying themselves with a careless grace that I envied most of all, the way you can look put together without looking like you even tried. I couldn't ever imagine actually getting there myself.

I wince sometimes to think of that version of myself - mostly out of sympathy, some empathy, though I think a lot of my memories of that time period have faded away so I have a more and more difficult time putting myself in those shoes [sparkly blue Skechers, they were my 'Hm, I really shouldn't because they are so impractical but I will anyways purchase, one of the first of several. Those specific impulses, the ones that tug at some fanciful, free-spirited part of me, I've never regretted.]

I was thinking about that girl one morning as I was dashing off to class a couple weeks ago. I am always a tad bit late, and my roommate is, by now, quite used to the mad scuffle of feet and my unwieldy juggling act too many bags as I run out our front door and swipe a pair of shoes from our, erm, collectively extensive collection. I wouldn't call this 'casual grace' by any means, but I do think that part of the 'grace' I saw when I was younger was really just comfort in your own skin, and in your personal sense of style that evolves with age.

For some reason, when I bought this top it made me think "Paris." I think that's because I always think of Parisian style as quirky and expressive, the place where stores are brimming with articles of clothing that make you say, "You know, 98% of women could not carry that off, but on you, it works."

In other words, fashion as style -- personal style, and finding pieces that let your personal style truly shine. When I think of the number of times I've had that said to me - not that often, but enough, and especially when wearing a top with a ruffle rather reminiscent of a clown suit - well, frankly, it makes me a bit happy, that maybe I am slowly finding that comfort in my own skin. And that maybe I am developing my own, unique style.

Preadolescent Jessica, you're halfway there. If only somebody could have said that 13 years ago. Any ray of hope would have been nice.

[The ruffle is much more apparent in person.]


Antoinette said...

Very sweet! I love that we get to develop that sense of style, play around, take chances, "find ourselves" and sometimes even shape our identity. Yep, love it.

Stephanie N. said...

It's so true, Jessica, all of it. I just got all weepy-eyed, and felt like I could have written this about myself. I was that kid you were talking about. Thank you.

It feels so great to be 30 now, and comfortable in my own skin. Here's to sunflowers, sparkly blue shoes, and letting our personal styles shine!

瑛翹 said...

love the shirt! you're becoming one of those people i admire as "wow, she pulled that off"