Why I REFUSE to say, "I would never wear THAT"; an essay

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Some would say this jacket wouldn't work for them. Some would say a girl who is 5' 3" like me shouldn't wear it. I have something to say to those people.

Growing up petite, fashion magazines would always be telling me that I cannot wear this or that because of my height. It made me feel shitty. And I try to avoid anything that makes me feel that way, but at the same time, I do not think it is wise to ignore something simply because you do not agree with it or makes you feel uncomfortable, or less than. So I didn't unsubscribe to those magazines that told me it isn't acceptable to wear those clothes on those models. Instead, I decided to take inspiration from what made me feel happy, from what I found interesting. Currently, it is sculptural pieces, but mostly it is whatever fits me that day and makes me say "That's so LADYWOLF." To me, that is fashion: Wearing clothes for the love of clothes. The body comes second to the art of dressing.

In that vein, fashion is a shield for me, a confidence builder. Any time I hear

"That is different."

or

"I could never pull that off, but it looks good on you." (You know, the ol' compliment-but-not-really-a-compliment),

it is fuel for me to dress even more "different". That type of sentiment bums me out too though; when one limits themselves to a certain mold, I believe that narrows their horizons and opportunities to connect with others. It's the same with food:

"I would never eat olives."

Me: "Have you tried them though?"

"No, but I know I wouldn't like it. Gross."

Or my favorite: naming "best friends". Announcing your BFF's is really exclusionary to me, and limits the possibility of making deep connections with new people. Unless, of course, you call all of your friends your "best". Anyway, that's another topic for another day.

This same mentality applies to fashion. When we decide to dress one certain way and to chastise certain clothing, it limits us in other ways. Saying you would never wear wide brim hats to a person wearing that hat, also says that you would probably not connect with them in other ways in life. Not wearing something because it is "out of style" works the same way. Trends exist because brands want us all to buy the same shirt at the same time, so they can make those dollar bills. And the people with the most money, and the most fear of not fitting in, are the ones who adopt those trends, making those of us who are less fortunate feel like we are missing out. Would I call you "basic" for doing that though? No. I think there is much more to you than wearing the latest trends. Would I do the same if I had a ton of money? Probably.

I, personally, never grew up with a lot of money and had to get creative with my attire. So much so, that I remember kids thinking I had a ton of money. I remember one girl in 8th grade saying, "I don't think I have ever seen you wear the same outfit," and remarked that my family must have a lot of money. In reality, a lot of my clothes were thrifted or bought on discount and wouldn't last long enough to make a second appearance in my #OOTDs. Don't get me wrong, my mom did buy me some clothes at NY&Co and American Eagle, but I never got the type of reaction to those as I did when I'd wear something from the thrift store. Unique always won over fitting in. 

Don't get me wrong though, I'm not hating on trends. You should just wear whatever you want and not feel restricted. Our society pushes us into these molds though, and even someone like me who is okay with whatever you are wearing, is forced to fit those molds from time to time.

Let's fast forward to my life as a creative professional, working as a photographer and designer. I live in east Tennessee, so sometimes wearing low-cut shirts or ragged denim just because I like them isn't good for business. Let me tell you guys though, the close-mindedness in my neck of the woods goes even further. Yes, I have a story. One day a year or so ago, I went to present a website to a client (mother-daughter owners; The daughter in her 40's, mom in her 60's.). I was dressed in my regular modest powersuit that works well when meeting with clients and keeps the focus on my work, but that didn't stop the judgmental comments that day. As I was opening my laptop to show them the product of my hard work, the daughter looked as my nails and said, "Mother calls that nail color 'Whore Red'. She really doesn't like that color. She's very particular about colors." I looked at the mother and said, "Well, I'm not." I could have said more. I could have said, "Putting absolutes on a color and attributing it to a woman's sexual lifestyle makes you a shitty person. And it is harassment. Did you know women can harass other women? Did you know that being a 'whore' isn't actually a bad thing?" But I wanted them to like the website I made for them, so I kept my mouth shut. I definitely had the "You're a whore." vibes from them the entire time though. When I got in my car, I realized I also had a lighter shade of Whore Red on my lips, which I was vehemently proud of. I gave this whore a kiss in the mirror and carried on.

To sum it up, don't dress by the indoctrination of others. You are much more than your outfit of the day. Wearing a trend doesn't make you "basic". Wearing red lipstick doesn't make you a "whore". And don't dress like you are a superior being because of your outfit, and most certainly, do not shame others because they choose to dress differently from you. You are a multi-faceted human who is naked underneath all of those clothes after all. Wearing clothes should be fun, and I'm thankful to have the closet full of clothes that I do; moth holes and all.

I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.
— Groucho Marx

Spread kindness,

Whitney


Want details on this #OOTD? Go this this page, and I'll tell you all about it.