We all have an opinion about it, however subconscious, because each of us has to face it. Every. Single. Day.
What to wear.
I can hear the collective sigh among male readers: a girl post. How fast can I get to the red X in the corner of the screen?
Hear me out. Despite both of our preconceived notions, this affects men, too.
Take my father, for instance. He will tell you in no uncertain terms that clothes don’t matter and are not worth thinking about whatsoever. It would seem logical, then, that you could dress him in anything and he would have no opinion.
But try taking him to buy a pair of shoes. We went to Nordstrom after my insistence that he not embark on another family vacation with geeky, toe-revealing black sandals. I thought he would mindlessly accept the first pair I picked out.
No. He rejected pair after pair after pair of fabulous shoes. One had too many straps. One didn’t have enough straps. One was the wrong brown. One looked too feminine.
The point is, by the time we walked out with a pair of sandals, it was clear that even those who care the least about fashion in theory, actually care very much about fashion in practice.
Why? Because everyone sees your choices.
In few other areas of your life does a choice stand so prominently in front of every person you encounter, friend or stranger. In a matter of seconds people look you up and down and can tell twenty things about you. That, I believe, is why fashion is so paralyzing.
I am one such person learning to walk after paralysis. My form of disability is what I like to call Safety Fashion. My choices are solid and classic — that also makes them incredibly boring. If you had to pluck me out of one catalog, it would be J.Crew. Take everything that is J.Crew out of my closet and soon you will have an empress with very few clothes.
I love solids, I love fabrics that flatter, I love pieces that can move from season to season. I have shoes for every occasion, but none that scream that they are impractical.
And I am entirely over this.
I am over worrying about whether I can pull it off. I am done trying to conform to what others expect.
My sister Erin is my idol in this regard. She reigns supreme, with confidence to spare, in outfits so daring she gets remarks everywhere she goes.
However, this is also the sister I blame for my fashion fear. She practically pushed me right into the closet of Safety Fashion. In high school, it would not be unusual for me to be completely ready, about to head out the door, only for her to look me up and down and slowly remark, “Is that what you’re wearing?”
I dare you to find five words that can strip a person’s confidence faster. Not that I blame her. I probably was less-than-ready for the catwalk.
Every other time I have wanted to bust out of my closet of fashion fear, it’s as if the door swings both ways and hits me in the face. It’s guilt. Why invest in clothes and accessories when I should be working on making myself a better person? Why give thought to color when there are people in the world with no clothing?
Ugh. You would think I was Amish.
So I called this fashion-forward sibling to get her take. She happens to be extremely devout in her faith in Jesus and Marc Jacobs, so she had to have faced this problem before.
“I honestly believe that how you dress matters. It matters in how other people perceive you. It matters in how you perceive yourself. I know personally when I make an effort to look presentable, I feel better about my day, about myself, I have more confidence,” Erin explained. “I do think fashion is important. It’s taken to extremes in people who idolize fashion, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a sinful thing. It’s a heart issue. I enjoy fashion, but I enjoy it in the place that it is.”
Good enough for me.
But there is one other pesky issue: based on my previous post, my biggest obstacle to any shopping endeavor is money. I loathe shopping and spending money on clothes. I have always failed to pull out the credit card because why invest in something that is not going to be stylish in six months?
Then I remember that this is exactly why H&M was invented, and I relax a little.
Maybe it’s too many episodes of Rachel Zoe, but I am envisioning walking down the street in this:
But it takes steps. Baby steps.
Maybe I could take my first step with this:
…before moving to this:
It’s delicious to behold. Am I brave enough to pair it with a cocktail dress? Of course.
Am I brave enough to pair it with something to make it appropriate for the grocery store? In the words of Rachel Zoe… “unclear.”