Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What Not To Wear

I spend a lot of time looking at clothes I want to buy, specifically dresses. Dresses from ModCloth. I have about half a dozen items from this website and I want more. MORE!

I got into a dress kick after realizing how depressing it was to wear pants. I hate pants. They're always too long, which makes me feel too short. Low rise gives me muffin-top. High rise on my short-waisted body makes me look like Steve Urkel. Medium rise works, but getting the butt, thighs and waist to all co-ordinate into something flattering takes an act of God.

I do own one pair of nice jeans that fit. I got red paint on them while we were painting the apartment. Le sigh. So now I have zero pairs of jeans. And winter's coming. My pretty, pretty dresses and skirts are not likely to cut it. Actually, I even have a new dress on the way. But I justify that because it's the perfect little black dress I've always wanted. I bought it to ease my suffering after the Rogers fiasco.

Back when I was about 20, 21, I dressed like a hobo. I wore clothes that had seen me through art school (we're talking paint splatters, charcoal, general grime and wear and tear) AND high school to boot. I had this pair of shoes that finally gave up and died one winter (I was using them as boots) after having worn them for about four years, day in and day out. I discovered a large hole in them, which explained the river that flowed out when I took them off to examine why my feet were so icy and clammy.

My sweaters had holes too, and my pants were ill-fitting or worse: loose with elastic bands (all the better to gain the freshman 15 and keep it with, my dear).

After college I interned at Wedding Bells magazine. I learned a number of things working there, but what has stuck with me the most is I finally learned how to dress myself like a real person. The women there offered pointers, guidelines, and positive reinforcement when they saw me wearing something they liked.

When Smokey peed on the boots I'd been wearing everyday, my boss saw the bright side: new shoes. When I wore a skirt to the office, she came in to see me, having been alerted to this fact and offered praise. How could I not respond to that? I was living off of $1,000 a month in Toronto with rent that was $675. And I went shopping.

I threw away everything else I owned in a fit of What Not To Wear glory and started from scratch. My early 20s were not an attractive time for me either. I managed to lose the college weight easy enough. I quit drinking pop and eating fast food. 10 pounds fell off in about three months. I grew out and cut off crispy hair left over from a blonde experiment gone bad, and then I coloured it red.

But it wasn't until I was about 24, I'd say, that I really hit a stride. No more fugly pants that don't look good, no more boring T-shirts, no more lame shoes (Though I still wear holes in my shoes now. Hey, when I like something, I like it). Throw in some exercise (Not a lot, but any is more than my natural inclinations), growing out my hair to something finally not resembling a child's hairdo, and I have an appearance I can feel reasonable about.

I was just thinking the other day how I wasted about half of my 20s looking like a bum. Kinda bummed me out. One good thing about growing up is developing a sense of self, with it a sense of style and actually, it almost makes up for the slowing metabolism. I'll revisit this thought when I'm 30.


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