When I was fourteen I had a lucky “outfit” that consisted of velvet, velvet and more velvet. My crushed maroon baby doll dress matched swimmingly with my crushed maroon velvet scrunchie and looked absolutely smashing with my crushed velvet converse—until one day when the girls at school made fun of my matchy-match-maroon-crushed-velvet-world.
That was the last time I wore my favorite outfit. Because regardless of how I felt about all of those velvet pieces, I was TOLD that it was wrong.
I regularly think about that outfit. How magical it felt when I wore it. How I’d lay out all of the pieces in a row before school and how empowered I felt putting them on, one by one…
And then I think about how FAST that changed and for what? A passing comment from a “friend” who thought my lucky outfit was the lamest?
We all have things in our wardrobe that work as a sort of pick-me-up. For my son, it’s his special shoes that help him “run fast” and for my daughter it’s her “rainbow power” belt she made for herself to wear on days she’s not feeling especially empowered.
My great grandmother’s ring makes me feel especially happy when I’m wearing it. My moto boots make me feel bold and my wool blazer makes me feel like the adult I need to sometimes be.
Clothes are like costumes. They help us get into character.
Now that I have kids and I see how, for whatever reason, certain articles of clothing become sentimental. I think about the shoes and the belts and the dresses and the shirts that make them feel superhuman and hope with all my might nobody derails that.
“Wear what makes you happy,” I tell them. “Wear what makes you feel powerful and interesting and yourself.”
This is a no-brainer when you’re little, of course. When you’re two or even five…
And then, as you get older, it becomes a no-brainer once again (thank goodness).
I recently stumbled upon a dress that reminded me of the one I loved so much in middle school. It wasn’t maroon or even velvet but it was vintage and familiar and smelled a little like my closet did in 1994. And it gave me the same joy, the same excitement that the baby doll dress gave me all those years ago.
I bought it, of course.
And this time, I won’t let it go.