|via Poorly Dressed|
The truth is, I'm almost twenty-nine years old and I have no idea how to dress myself. This is not to say I get it completely wrong, I usually manage to have one leg per-leg-hole; but what I'm saying is, if it's not a tee-shirt and jeans, I'm lost.
I have no fucking clue what "casual jewelry" is. To me, that's an imminently confounding oxymoron. I can't wear what is "in" for several reasons. One, I can't keep up with the ever-changing world of fashion. And two, I'm not two-dimensional. I wear scoop or vee-neck tee shirts, slightly slouchy jeans, and whatever pair of shoes seems weather appropriate. This is because, like many women, I'm not wholly comfortable in the skin I'm in. I have rather large boobs, and I feel like widely and lower-cut shirts minimize my D (for dumb) bust. Sound contradictory? Put me in a turtleneck and I seem to sprout what can only be referred to as the Great Mammary Mesa, spreading endlessly sideways and downways, making my bust and, through guilt-by-association, my waist, appear more expansive than either is, but less defined than they could be.
It's more complex than that, though. I didn't know what a hair-straightener was until my freshman year in college. My roommate demanded one evening–as we were preparing to go out and exercise our fake IDs for all they were worth–that she get the inaugural opportunity straighten my hair. I mean, I wasn't totally clueless. I was aware that such devices existed, I had just never USED one. My mother had told tales of her sister ironing her hair in the '60s, and the process seemed like the shortcut to facial burns to me. Plus, I had read Little Women, and Meg's hair gets burned off with a curling iron, so there was that. But Ria happily showed me the wonders of heat-abuse; and ten years later, I still have a flatiron, though I rarely use it, mostly due to sheer laziness. Honestly, I cut my own hair because I'm going to complain about whatever cut I get. I might as well save $50 and only have myself to blame when I walk out of the house looking like a late-'80s Dave Mustaine impersonator. Which is exactly what I looked like when I tried to embrace whatever curls occasionally pop up in my hair. Not a good look, especially when a bald man-of-a-certain-age sees you at the post office and says sympathetically, "Oh, bad hair day?"
When I was little, if I refused to brush my hair, my mother had it cut shorter to save both of us tears and pain, I'm sure. I have had short haircuts on and off since childhood and I am perpetually in a state of inbetweening as a result. It's pretty awful. Someone please remind me of this the next time I go to trim my bangs.
The first time I saw my mother in make-up, I'm fairly certain she and my father were on their way to a Heart concert sometime around 1988. She simply put on light eye shadow and some mascara, but the memory of my usually bare-faced and naturally pretty mother in makeup stuck. It looked abnormal to me, and it was. My mother is spartan with her makeup even when she elects to wear it, and didn't promote play-make-up to her daughter.
When I was three or four, I was at a girlfriend's house, and we were allowed to play with her mother's out-of-style makeup. Having only previously been exposed to ChapStick as a remedy for chapped lips, I managed to give myself a clown face with a deep shade of crimson while the other girls I was with drew perfectly bowed pouts as if they had been using Clinique in utero or some shit. I remember being laughed at by the others, which stung strongly at the age when you are first becoming aware of the horrible feeling of shame, and have to this day never been able to pull off lipstick. I am always fascinated by women who can incorporate it into their daily visage.
I never learned to accessorize. I can't wear earrings without fiddling with them, and I'll be damned if I know what an appropriate necklace for whatever outfit looks like. Scarves? Those are for keeping winter-wind at bay, not for matching to my socks. Handbags? Those things are simply for HOLDING MY SHIT, I will not spend more money on one than I will ever carry in it, and I can't see why women have closets full of them. I'd carry a wallet if I weren't guaranteed to lose all my important stuff and probably break my phone that way. The Coach bag I carry now was a gift and was only put into play when my $15 JC Penny bag ate it. Prior to that, it was filled with cat toys and was affectionately known as Oscar's Bag, since that cat has a much greater fondness for bags than I ever will.
My glasses qualify as fashionable only because that's what was offered and what I could afford when my old pair finally succumbed to the weight of super-glue that had been holding them together a few months ago. I wear my shoes until they fall apart. My jeans are pock-marked with holes, not because I sought out the "distressed denim" look, but because I'm clumsy to the point of self-endangerment and my Old Navy jeans are usually the first casualty in my daily war with my appendages.
I hate shopping for clothes, and for myself in general. If given the choice between shopping and a hour chatting with Goebbels, I would probably opt for the latter. Clothes shopping is almost exclusively an anxiety-filled rush, executed like the world's most poorly planned military strike. I get clammy hands if the trip takes longer than expected. My blood pressure soars. Sometimes, even now, there are tears of frustration (but usually only when I get into the car). As such, I will never understand the women who love to discuss "retail therapy," as if hours in department stores sifting through racks of over-priced, mass-produced clothing made by under-paid, under-fed workers in a far flung sweatshop was somehow a great way to blow off steam. I've been kicked out of more than one store (Abercrombie & Fitch, in particular) for asking leading questions of other shoppers on how they feel about wearing clothing made under such conditions. Then again, my distaste for shopping might stem from not having any money myself. But to put it in perspective, I'll gladly hit Home Depot and browse paint chips for hours. Household decor, I can do. Decorating myself? That's usually a disaster.
In high school I inconsistently flirted with a goth look, and a punk look, and had a stripe of magenta purple hair which I dyed in the kitchen sink. (If I can locate pictures, I will share.) I would show up looking like I escaped from the set of a Tim Burton film one day, and in a sweater-set the next. Slowly, my wardrobe devolved into monochromatic mania. I would dismantle and reconfigure clothing to suit my needs, mostly my needs were to look as much like a John Hughes hero as I could. It was odd at best, and schizophrenic at worst. While things got a bit better by college, that is, more consistent, but I just melded into blandsville. A sophomore year roommate, Juliana, finally convinced me to stop wearing only black tee-shirts and I hesitantly ventured back into the color spectrum. I still have my Morrissey tee-shirt from high school, though. (Hot Topic's finest.)
After that, I bought a few work-appropriate staples, in shades of gray and black, and a few tops to match (in white, black, and gray). A former boss once suggested that I hire a personal shopper at Nordstrom. Myopic (and monied) bitch looked utterly confounded when I emitted a belly laugh and walked out of her office shaking my head.
But, as I sit here in yoga pants and a stained tee-shirt, basking in the glow of Real Time with Bill Maher, I've realized that what it boils down to is that I'm neither responsible enough nor vain enough to even attempt to follow, lead, or rediscover "fashion" in my life. I'm just irresponsible and vain enough to write a blog.