I’ve always had a complicated relationship with fashion and clothes. Textures of different clothing items could elicit such visceral emotions starting when I was a toddler. I will remember this forever. My grandmother got me a cute polka-dotted rain jacket when I was a toddler. It was stiff and plasticky. I could feel it crunch when I bent my arms. My mom would put me in that jacket when it was stormy out, and I’d hate it. Besides the texture I hated, there was a tag that would dig into the nape of my neck. It felt painful and extraordinarily itchy all at the same time. My favorite clothes were those that were soft. Cotton and cotton blends became my friend. I remember the dresses and leggings I loved to wear. I would feel such a wave of relief when those were clean and I could feel comfortable in my skin.
My complicated relationship with clothing continued as I got older. Being homeschooled throughout elementary school, I wasn’t exposed to the pressure of wearing the latest and greatest fashions. When I started going to public school in the sixth grade, I was introduced to a whole new world. I remember apple bottom jeans being popular and the item to have. If you had a pair of those pants, your social status was cemented. I tried wearing jeans throughout middle school and high school. The same problems always emerged. The button would always dig into my stomach when I sat down unbearably. It always felt too hot to have the denim clinging to my skin. I felt this pull toward dressing like my peers because I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be pretty. I would try the fashions I would see on my classmates on myself or posters for picture day and I never quite felt as beautiful as I thought I would when I was wearing those outfits. My mom was always patient with me when it came to clothes shopping. The ritual was almost formulaic. We would walk into the store and I would immediately feel a pit in my stomach. I would see a sea of textures that could make me itch. I could tell if I wanted to wear something just by touching the item. I would touch it for less than a second and either leave my hand there or pull it back like I’d touched fire. My mom would always insist that I try on the said item I’d already deemed itchy and scratchy. I cannot count the number of items I’ve bought and she’s bought that I’ve either never worn or worn very little.
It took me a long time to realize that I would feel and be the most beautiful if I was comfortable. I went through my closet and purged the items that I didn’t feel comfortable in. I started buying fewer items. I stopped pressuring myself to go to the mall to find the clothing I wanted. I decided after high school that I’d had enough of wearing jeans. I spent my college years in running shorts, t-shirts, hoodies, and yoga pants. I dressed this way, and I had romantic relationships, which astounded me. I thought men would only look at me if I dressed overtly traditionally feminine. For the first time, I didn’t feel a need to measure up to the standards of traditional beauty. The women around me in my major dressed similarly ( since we were exercising science majors, the amount of athletic attire worn made sense). I was able to focus on learning and growing as a person which was a wonderful experience.
As I graduated and began my career journey, finding comfortable clothing was a bit more challenging. Once again, my mom was my patient companion on shopping trips. There was a good amount of trial and error before I figured out what I could be comfortable in. As I edge towards thirty, I feel confident and secure in my fashion. I wear simple, basic make-up. I have clothing pieces that feel buttery soft and I can wear them in business settings. If finding a style that fits your comfort needs and your lifestyle as well as your career is daunting, I’d recommend seeking professional assistance. Some stores have personal shoppers who can help you pick pieces. My solution was to use stitchfix.com for a year. It worked for me because I didn’t have to go to the mall, and the stylist understood I needed soft clothes. I believe everyone feels the most beautiful when they feel comfortable and confident. I wish you luck in discovering your look!
Leave a Reply