Dressing myself has never been my strong suit (pun intended). Without a sibling to mock and cajole me into leveling up my fashion game, I was pretty lost. Which is, of course, why I had two children – so that they never have to suffer my same fate.
At 12, I became weirdly obsessed with over-sized T-shirts emblazoned with Christian-ized versions of popular “secular” slogans. I suppose I found them funny. I would pair them with khaki pants, perhaps still unsure of my own gender. Every single time I passed a Christian bookstore (which was, in suburban North Texas, freakishly often), I’d feel compelled to go in and buy another shirt or two.
I just couldn’t help myself.
I recall doing so just before a rollerskating party in the 8th grade. I can still feel the wind in my hair as I whipped around the rink (alone, obviously), proudly sporting a shirt printed with “God’s wiser” over the familiar red, white and blue Budweiser logo.
Before that, my mom dressed me. In velour overalls.
In 10th grade, I finally got on board the fashion wagon. My one rule: anything from Abercrombie is hip. I paid a visit to the local mall one day after school (with my mom, of course), and purchased precisely one pair of jeans and two shirts. Being a private school-goer, we mostly wore uniforms. “Jeans days” were on Fridays, so I guess I figured there were too many days in-between to recall how many times I’d worn the same shirt and jeans combination.
Until my friend Karla remembered. Loudly. (Thanks, Karla!)
After that, things got a little bit better. I started to care more, so I began buying clothes more frequently. In fact, I don’t think I saw a dime of the money I raked in from working at The Limited – it all went right back to the mall, usually to the benefit of stores like Wet Seal or Forever 21. Places where my dollars would stretch the farthest. Where else could I go home with an entire bag of items for only $15?
Never mind that one spin in the washing machine tore them all to shreds like toilet paper.
In college, I finally started getting creative with my fashion. I had a sense of “style,” one might say, although it was still horrifically misguided by the tenets of my high school youth group: nothing too flattering, nothing that showed skin, nothing that could give boys… IDEAS.
Giving boys ideas was satan’s work.
By the time I met my husband at 22, I was still insistent on wearing T-shirts layered under my tank tops. In Southern California. At the beach. At night clubs. In the shower (not really, but you get my drift). When Nick gave me a dress and some jewelry for my 23rd birthday, I figured he knew best.
And for the next decade, he did.
But I’ve also been coming into my own. Our brief stint in South America helped. Nobody wears clothes there. It’s much too hot. And I really got into it, because y’know, at 33, I might not have many skimpy-clothes-wearing years left. I wasted far too many of them double-teaming my tops.
I don’t even wear a bra anymore.
Who needs them? Definitely not me. I can’t even stomach them anymore. Why bother, when my go-to daily uniform is a pair of leggings and an oversized sweater? I only recently got into jeans – and even then it’s more of a love/hate relationship. A friend told me recently that she sees jeans as too “dressed down” for things like meetings, coffee dates and general public appearances.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her jeans are my “Sunday best.”
If you get me in jeans, consider yourself important.
The unfortunate truth is, as little effort as I put into my personal fashion, I’ve always fancied myself a fashionable person. Not that I’m fashionable right now, but that there’s this ultra-creative, modern, artistic fashionista hiding inside of me who just hasn’t had the opportunity to emerge.
Which is sad, because anyone named “Lauren” should be hip and cool and whimsical.
Laurens wear flowy shawls and feather earrings. Layered crystal necklaces. Chunky ankle boots. Patterned tights.
I’ve only worn tights twice. The first time, my husband told me I looked like a hot dog (and everyone in our dinner group agreed). They were mustard-colored tights… paired with a slightly flesh-colored dress… maybe I was hungry when I outfitted myself that evening. The second time, it wasn’t really the tights that did me in, as much as the unfortunate combination of a green dress with brown boots, imparting an instantaneous “Robin Hood” vibe.
The problem with becoming the “fashionable Lauren” I’m meant to be isn’t money, really. It’s time. I mean, you can take $10 to the local goodwill and come back with a pretty cool, eclectic mix of stuff. My friend Alana does it almost weekly.
But if I’ve got an afternoon free – something which only happens once in a blood moon, when the stars align and Jupiter is in the 217th house or whatever – I’m not going shopping. I’m curling up on the couch with Broad City on Hulu. I’m catching up on some house painting. I’m writing a blog post.
And that’s the real problem with dressing myself.
There’s always way more cool stuff to do.