Tuesday, 3 May 2011

What to Wear?

As with a lot of women, the question 'what am I going to wear?' is almost enough to induce cold sweats.

I don't mean getting dressed for a normal day of dropping kids to school or doing the groceries. But a night out can honestly have me trying almost everything in my wardrobe on and still coming up blank.

As far as I'm concered 'what am I going to wear?' is one of the hardest questions I've ever had to answer and unfortunately it's one that comes up fairly regularly.

If you had have asked me a few years ago, it would have had me running to the shops to buy something. I still remember spending two days looking everywhere for an outfit for my uncles wedding. By the end not only was I almost in tears but I had spent way more money that I had planned and was still not happy with the ensemble.

Part of the problem for me is that I have always struggled to find my style. I'm not talking fashion or how to be stylish, I'm talking about how I see myself and the clothes I own versus the clothes I like and the way I'd like to look.

When I was in my teens I spent a fair amount of time wishing I had clothes like everyone else's.  But lack of money meant that I never felt like my outfits were 'right'.  At the same time I used to look at one of my cousins and her boho/art student/op shop style and wished that I had the courage to dress like she did. She always looked fabulous and never looked like anyone else.  Unfortunately for me and my dressing confidence, the want/need to fit in, meant that I spent my time (and what little money I had) trying to be like everyone else and never quiet getting it right.

I used to go to parties and be called 'hippy chick' and although somewhere deep down I was proud, the surface part of me was mortified that once again I had failed to be the same (as cool) as everyone else.

Skip to my 20s and I was dressing for the sort of work that I was doing. Everything in my wardrobe was either home wear or corporate wear. None of which were embracing the kinds of clothes I actually want to wear, but by now I have no idea how to dress more the way I feel.

Skip to motherhood and most people would say this is when they start to play it safe with their wardrobe. I am the opposite. More and more I am feeling like I am dressing the way I have always felt. With my corporate clothes all gone I've started feeling braver about how to dress myself and less worried about what people think about my clothes.  It took a few defining moments;

1. Moving to the inner west - when we first moved here it was unthinkable for me to walk out of the house without getting dressed semi-decently and putting some eyeliner on.  I worried that people would notice and judge me as I had felt they had in my teens.  Within a few weeks, I started noticing that people here don't care. I regularly saw people at the shops in their PJs, and most looked as if they had just skuffed around the house for the morning and then decided to pop to the shops.  If they were dressed it was often in some cool looking outfit that looked comfy and original. I can still remember the first time I went out in my home clothes with no eye liner and how free I felt.

2. Going to the beach - a few  years later I went to the beach with some friends and the kids. I was feeling very self conscious about getting into my swimmers infront of everyone. But after a little while I noticed there were women who were older, larger, more saggy, less boobs, more boobs unshaven, and everything else in-between.  If they could embrace their buldge, sag, hair then why couldn't I? And realistically, let's be honest, no one was even looking.

3. My sons - both of my boys have very strong ideas about what they want to wear, especially Hamish. He has always chosen things outside normal 'boy' wear. For a long time he wanted long hair, he likes to dress in bright colours including pink and purple and he generally doesn't care what anyone else thinks about it. Even Jack who plays it a bit more conservatively has regular moments where he let's his own style shine through (the photo of his favourite purple fingerless gloves that he wears almost constantly is a great example)

4. My friends - I now have a lot of friends that dress like my cousin. In a way that says 'this is me'. A key moment was when a friend and I were going out.  After worrying for hours, I dressed in jeans in a black top not knowing what else in my wardrobe was going to be 'appropriate'.  When she rocked up she had knee high boots on with satin leopard print PJ pants tucked into them looking like puffy pantaloons, bright pink dress with a lacy black top over and a ratty faux fur jacket over that.  I looked at her and those crazy pants and wanted to cry and/or hug her. I thought her so brave to even try that combination and she looked wild and amazing and a little nuts. But who cares, she was brave about how she put things together, she didn't feel like she needed to play it safe and she didn't care if anyone else thought she looked a bit nuts she was confident in her ensemble and because of that she looked amazing.

So slowly but surely I am trying to be braver. I've learnt a few lessons; that skirt really doesn't work as a dress, layering is all about textures, colours, necklines and length, if I wear something that in hindsight didn't really work chances are (being in the inner west) I'm probably still not the worst or weirdest dressed person in the room, you can get everything you need at the shops, but it will be cheaper (meaning potentially you can get more) and less like what 'everyone else' is wearing if your happy to scrounge around the markets/op shops.

So now on a daily basis I dress more the way I feel. And rarely worry about what anyone else thinks. Still going out to special events freaks me out as my wardrobe is full of 'my' sort of clothes, comfy, colorful, and easy.  But at least I've got my day to day sorted. Maybe it's time to work on my going out wardrobe ... Actually that might be a lot of fun!

Reading - rereading Philip Pullmans, The Amber Spyglass

Watching - Spaced, loved it. If you haven't checked it out do yourself a favour.

Listening - Lykee Li, I heard her described as Bjork crossed with Florence and the Machines. She's marvelous.

State of Mind - Tired but after lots of fun on the weekend kinda refreshed at the same time.


Nikki said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and making me smile, remember, regret, wish, plan, reflect and hope. I really enjoy reading your posts.

Wondering Willow said...

Thanks for your lovely comment Nikki!

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