Nothing about this outfit should work, on paper, or the blank slate of a Word Document. And yet, inexplicably, it does—it more than works, it draws me in from a sea of repetitive street style images and makes me look twice. Green stripes, patent leather, a sports jersey, and camo? I’ll be…if not damned…then confused and intrigued.
Despite following fashion religiously since I was about twelve, I’ve lost a bit of the creativity with which I used to tackle my closet. Growing into an appreciation of minimal basics has made my life easier and I don’t see myself straying too far from their appeal, but a little experimentation might be nice for a change. “It’s just fashion,” you might be thinking, as I don’t think everyone who reads this blog is as concerned with collars and culottes as me. I’d argue that, for me (and many others), it’s more than that.
See, a lot of my sartorial transformation took place at the same time that I was also dwindling my figure down to fit into the strict confines of anorexia. It was a proverbial squeezing out of all my personal pizazz—a yearning to become easily palatable, rather than a walking question mark. I’d learned that making other people feel things could be dangerous, so it was best not to let them, or myself, feel much at all. Sure, there was a dose of simple maturation mixed in there—the realization that purple leggings and Doc Martens just really weren’t my thing anymore—but it was also self-protective, another way to lock myself into a certain shape, rather than allowing myself to spill over and be who I really was.
This outfit struck a chord with me for seeming to have a foot in both worlds—colorful restraint, if you will. Minimalism really does appeal to me, but I find myself wanting to push up against my reliance on it lately, as I try to overcome the last remnants of eating disorder land. It’s about having fun with fashion again, and what that represents for my bigger picture—daring to try new things, to mess up, to be a little squishy rather than slick. It’s about lessening the sharp angles of my life and replacing them with a rounded edge—still refined, but not so repressive.
Loosening up on hemlines and patterns will not be the ultimate arbiter of self-love and care, but it’s an important slice of the pie. It’s a tangible way for me to take risks again, to live a life that’s less controlled. It’s a way for me to thump shame…to take the hand of my sixteen-year-old-self (with her insecurities, her bad attitude, and her sweet tooth) and say, “Hey you, you’re okay. You really are.”