I tuned into the new season of Project Runway this weekend before our usual Friday night dinner at my mother-in-laws. A favorite pastime, I love to stream and watch a few episodes at a time, putting on my makeup with a glass of apple-cider tea, sitting on my couch, overwhelmingly excited to see the different styles and designer’s creations. Despite my commitment to 15 seasons- there is a very large disconnect: whatever the judges love, I hate, and whatever the judges hate, I love. Am I ahead of the fashion curve? Or am I just true to what I love and what appeals most to me- chic, elegant, subdued and loud at the same time?
My face-to-face “interview” for overnight camp in rural Pennsylvania was held at my parent’s house in Long Island. 9 years old and full of gumption, my mom kindly asked me to go upstairs and “change into something nice”. Not wanting to impose her choices upon me, she wearily let me decide; when I came downstairs, she muttered under her breath, “dear god”. But, my wonderful, kind, and supportive mother never asked me to change out of the frilly socks, ballet shoes, basketball shorts and young-lady blouse I chose, she let me stay true to my choices as we sat down with the camp owner, as if to say, “classic and different- take it or leave it”.
I remember in the 6th grade, it was January, and I awoke in the morning with the brilliant idea to, “dress fancy to school” that day. I put on the black, slip-on wedge Steve Madden shoes that were, oh-so-popular at the time, tights (until then, never before seen on a 12-year-old girl) and a beautiful dress saved for religious-holidays or fancy dinners. It was beige. I felt beautiful. I don’t want to delve too deeply during this particular post, but I was teased (teetering on tortured) constantly, throughout my younger years, so the fact that I didn’t mentally prepare to be torn apart for my “dress”, by the obnoxious, spoiled kids I went to school with was a defining moment in my life- I got off the bus, I took off my jacket, and I wore the look proudly.
When I got to college, and people noticed I had a classic yet edgy wardrobe (I like to think, even several seasons ahead of the current curve), friends constantly asked me to borrow my clothing. My group of girlfriends would come over to my apartment and we’d cook, drink wine, and get ready for whatever the night had in store for us. Now, as the 29 year-old me, I am fervently opposed to those who dress according to what they covet from another’s wardrobe, just to vary their look. But back then- I just couldn’t say no. One friend squeezed into my clothing; I didn’t have the heart to say, “it doesn’t fit”, or, “is that really your style?”…. Another friend, my closest during college, wore virtually the same size as me, but her laid-back style greatly differed from my fancier, edgier and slightly weirder panache, and towards the end of the four years, we stopped borrowing from one another, as my clothing suited me, and her clothing suited her. I always felt it was dishonest when we shared.
I think the most important thing about fashion is being true to oneself no matter what styles shift in and out of popularity. The hipster trend is everywhere, and has been for some time now- people begin to look more copy-paste than they do care-free and laid-back, which was the intention of the movement and of the genre. It becomes harder and harder to justify dressing elegantly, and such types of clothes are more sparse, harder to find. The search for the perfect skinny work pants or leather shift dress doesn’t stop me- I can’t wear anything that isn’t my own personal taste or doesn’t work with my body type. I have to be me, from my head to my toes.