Okay, so that’s not really my life’s goal. My mom would die if she heard that it was. All of that education and good parenting down the drain just because her oldest daughter wants to be a Barbie. Don’t worry Mom, it’s not like that. I still want to be smart. But I want to look like a trophy wife. In a good way.
In order to really show you what my fashion building blocks are, I have to share more about me. I’m not too terribly interesting, but I am sure that those people who used to be on the Oprah Show could find a story to tell in my background somewhere, so here’s my version:
Being a child of the late 1980s posed certain fashion challenges, the first being that my mother’s side of the family is obsessed with turtlenecks. Now, I mentioned this in my first post with one of the first pictures, and I’m not kidding. Every Christmas, my mother asks for turtlenecks. My aunt commonly wears her turtlenecks well into July, and probably only puts them away for a week and a half in August when it gets really hot but pops them out again the minute September begins. To be fair, we live in Maine, so turtlenecks are called for when the weather is downright frigid in January. January is the key word there. However, when you are the only second grader in your class who has been told to wear a turtleneck every day of the week, a little part of your fashion creativity dies.
It dies a little more when you are embarrassed by your size. Growing up, I was never the skinny kid. I didn’t get my mom’s string bean genes; I got my dad’s Canadian French thick stock genes, the ones that current fashion trends don’t seem to cater to. With my dad’s genes and my mother’s sweet tooth, I have had to battle my insecurities about my weight for some time. I can remember telling someone I was on a diet in third grade (how crazy scary is that, even if it wasn’t true?). So, in order to not stick out any more than necessary, I wore basic t-shirts and jeans to blend in. I found a crowd of kids (the intellectuals) that I fit into, and we all kind of dressed the same. It was kind of a “we spend so much time getting homework done that we don’t have time to mess with complicated looks” look. You know the one.
Only our clothes weren’t ripped (that wasn’t in style and meant that you needed to buy new ones) and we had heads that weren’t blurred out and/or cut off. Yeah, we were classy.
My younger sister has also always been the “pretty one.” When I was around 10, I remember one of my mother’s coworkers (who was also a teacher, mind you) telling my sister that she should be a model. The woman then looked at me and said, “Oh, and it’s a good thing that you are so smart! At least you have that!” Ummm… damaging much? Ouch. That feeling kind of stuck with me. While I was the chubby intellectual, my sister was the model (and she was smart, too). Her style has been her own since she tried layering five poofy dresses in our dress up box at age three. I admired and still do admire that about her. I wanted that. But with my body shape, I didn’t dare to try. It was all about conceal and camouflage.
Thanks to field hockey and tennis, I began to lose some of my weight and become more comfortable with my appearance, finally getting my eyebrows waxed so, you know, I had two, not one. In college, I worked out more, had better control over what I was eating, and found that it was okay to play outside of the lines some of the time. For once, I was the “fashion expert,” as my college roommate and best friend C loved nothing more than t-shirts and wind pants. I was a “girly girl” when I just wore black flats. It was a new tile and a fun new feeling. With college also came, for the first time in my life, cable TV and access to the mother of all fashion “how tos”: “What Not to Wear.” (“Project Runway” wasn’t on any available channel and it was wwaaayyyy too outside of the box for me.) Little by little, the pieces started to come together.
Grad school was an eye opener. I went from living in Maine my whole life to moving to a new state (Rhode Island) and to a city (Providence) for the first time ever. My parents were raised in a way that made them think that I would be murdered every day of the week in a city (which is probably why my mother would call me to make sure I was alive every Sunday). My new friends came from all over the place: Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio… everywhere. And their styles reflected that. Not wanting to be known as the girl who probably rode a moose to school every morning, I looked for inspiration in what I saw on the street and in my classrooms. My closet slowly grew, but not always in good ways. You see, with new friends came new eating influences. New eating influences equals new weight. I definitely had a skewed self image for the clothing I was trying to pull off.
After graduating with my Master’s in teaching, I moved back to Maine to a job teaching middle school. Not exactly a fashion runway, but I made do with the clothing I had. I would pick up a staple here or there and try to make it work. I picked up a Jillian Michael’s DVD and began working out. Oh, and I was getting married at the end of the school year in July. It was time to get serious about what I wanted my body to look like. By the time the wedding rolled around, I think I looked pretty excellent in my favorite big white dress, if I do say so myself.
Now, almost a year and a half later, my husband B and I live in a small city in Maine that has introduced me to my current passions: YouTube and thrifting. B is responsible for the first obsession (how did I not know about how to videos before this year?) and from there, I looked into thrifting. In order to save us as much money as possible, I wanted to go school clothes shopping to spruce up my wardrobe after losing around eight pounds over the summer. I thought of how I had found crafting supplies at Goodwill over the summer for different projects, so maybe I would give them a shot. What I found was an amazing resource for finding all of the brands I love at ridiculously low prices. Oh, and I am addicted to the hunt. You could catch me thrifting on any Saturday B has to work. He probably groans in his mind when he reads that statement. Yes hunny, I love thrifting. But it’s okay, you don’t have to come if you don’t want to! And oh my word, can we talk about how fun and addicting haul videos are on YouTube? Why do I feel the need to watch and drool over what everyone else has found?
So here I am, on my way to a better wardrobe, a healthy lifestyle, and a clothing budget that won’t break the bank. I think I have found my diva gene.