… my growing collection of curved-hem boleros. Remember, this is a key enboobening piece! Witness:
(Woman #1 is having trouble walking in her very high heels)
Woman #2: Are those shoes Chanel?
Woman #1: Yes they are.
Woman #2: Wow. For that price, they should teach you how to walk in them.
A recent conversation with enc forced me to articulate something that I’d never acknowledged before, and I believe it’s interesting and relevant enough to share with all y’all.
Here are two teenage girls wearing weird hats. If you were to see them walking down the street thusly attired, you would have no idea what the hats were all about. But since, aside from their hats, they are dressed like normal teenage girls, you’d probably just assume it’s an inside joke, giggle a little to yourself, and move along. Maybe tell a friend about the incident when you arrived at your destination.
Here is a very pretty young woman in a slightly strange green velvet dress with a looooong gold bow. If you saw her walking down the street thusly attired, you would have no idea what the dress was all about. But since it is the main garment on her person and worn without apparent irony, tell me this: Is it possible you would look at her and think, “Yech! What is she WEARING? I wouldn’t be caught dead in that thing,” or similar? Be honest.
Confession: It is possible that I would look at her and think that. It’s true! This glowy little ball of light can veer off into Bitchville if she’s not careful. I am what I like to refer to as a Recovering Judgmentalist, and as ashamed as I get when I catch myself thinking harsh thoughts about others, I know how to both explain and reverse this behavior.
Growing up, I was a chubby, unathletic girl with terrible fashion sense. And I got made fun of for these heinous crimes by my female schoolmates. Kind of a lot. Now, I am a less chubby, slightly more athletic woman with damn decent fashion sense. I am consulted for stylistic guidance by practically ALL of the wonderful women in my life.
If I hadn’t been a self-conscious target of appearance-based persecution as a kiddo, I don’t think I would feel nearly so critical of people I now perceive to be stylistically stymied. Remember when you were a freshman in high school and you got made fun of for being SUCH a rookie? And then you became a sophomore and found yourself making fun of all the incoming freshmen for being SUCH rookies? That’s the syndrome. The I-was-just-there-and-now-I’m-not mentality that manufactures judgment where there should be none.
And here’s how I am working to eradicate it: I force myself to remember that style is a visual representation of choice.
Once you’re an adult, no one dresses you but you. The clothing and accessories with which we adorn ourselves represent the most expressive aesthetic choices we make in our daily lives. I love that! And it’s a great tool for me, as a Recovering Judgmentalist: Whenever I see someone wearing something I dislike or don’t understand, I force myself to say, mentally, “That is an interesting choice.” Which strips out the judgment and forces me to remember that choices are many-faceted. I know nothing about what prompted a particular stylistic choice in a particular person, and have no reason to generate any negativity – even unexpressed – toward choices about which I possess zero information.
Maybe our green dress lady is on her way to a play rehearsal or costume party. Maybe it’s Green Clothes Day at her office. Maybe this dress belonged to her Gran, and has deep sentimental value. Maybe all her other clothes are dirty. Maybe she’s hit a rough financial patch and this was the only thing that fit her at Savers. Walking down the street and glancing at her will never tell us anything about what motivated her choice. And even if her choice is simply a matter of taste, that, too, is valid and should protect her from judgment.
Next time you find yourself making snarky mental comments about a stranger’s style, give my little method a whirl. Pause and force yourself to say, mentally, “That is an interesting choice.” And you know what? You’ll find that doing so not only cuts the superiority and criticism right out, it also fires up the imagination. When you shift perspective from harsh judgment to gentle pondering, you’ll inevitably start concocting creative choice motivators for your newly dear stranger. Just look at all the wacky reasons I came up with for Green Dress Lady!
Our world is full of dear strangers making interesting stylistic choices. See if you can spot a few today.