Wrangling with my Wardrobe
I’ve been shopping a lot recently. I know I know, instant eye-roll, but hear me out. Not just shopping, but thinking about clothes. About the nature of what dressing means, to me on a micro level and to the world as a whole. Its more than just a consumer sport - spending money to keep up with trends. Clothes are a large part of our daily life. They are realistically one of three (or four if you consider food + water to be separate entities) of our most basic needs.
I grew up in a suburban town in NJ known for its mall. People loved the Freehold Mall, they would travel from all over the state and surrounding ones to come to our mall. Even when I tell people where I’m from now, all the way on the other side of the country, if they’re familiar with NJ or that area at all, their response is usually “Oh the Freehold Raceway Mall right”. A weird thing for a town that can claim being The Boss’s birthplace and the location for a Civil War battle to be known for, but hey, tristate people love their malls. When I was in high school I used to spend at least one day of every weekend at that mall.
From the dawn of time, or at least the dawn of time as I remember, I was obsessed with clothes. My Grandma, who was basically my best friend until she passed when I was in the 8th grade, and I bonded over a lot of things, but especially clothes. My dad would call her Imelda, referencing the shoe hoarding widow of Ferdinand Marcos, the 10th
president/former dictator of the Philippines. If she found a pair of shoes she liked, she’d buy them in every color they sold. She would take me to Payless at 8 and do the same for me. She had her entire master bedroom closet brimming over with her clothes. Her overflow closet, what should have been used for coats at the house’s entry, was also filled with pants of every hue and the perfect blouse to match.
You can say my Grandma’s affinity for home shopping and shoe buying sprees, mixed with the literal larger than life presence of the Freehold Mall, mixed to create a real Forever 21-clad nightmare growing up as a teen girl in suburban NJ. I spent much of my high school days buying at least one new outfit per week. It was silly. Seemingly frivolous in hindsight. “How did I even find the money to be so reckless?” I would think to myself later in life, as I hustled as a freelancer working tirelessly to make enough to just pay bills most months.
For a long time I took a hiatus from clothes. I felt guilty for having spent so much, especially on fast fashion that fell out of style as quickly as it came in, not to mention how rapidly it was literally falling apart at the seams. I tried to work on me. I focused on my career. Clothes began to make me anxious. I had a hard time shopping, because I wasn’t spending time keeping up with fashion trends and I was so concerned with money, that it was hard to fork over for clothes I knew would inevitably end up shoved in to the back of my closet barely worn once they were out of style.
As someone who had once taken such joy in being crowned Best Dressed of the CHS Class of 2010, I had decided clothes were frivolous and to be so consumed with them was ridiculous. It was a sad state of affairs honestly, when something that had once given me so much joy, now just gave me a sense of dread.
When I came to LA, and moved in with my high school bff I re-learned how to shop. I re-learned what I liked and didn’t, and to stand true to buying stuff I liked, even if it wasn’t necessarily on trend. I re-learned how to laugh when I would find myself fitting in sizes ranging from a 4-10 all in the same brand on the same day. Dressing up became fun again.
If you look good, you feel good. It may be one of the cheesiest sayings out there but its a catchphrase for a reason. If you’re looking great on the outside, its hard to help but feel good. I am not negating the fact that what’s going on inside largely effect what your outside may be looking like. But if you feel *mostly alright* inside - with yourself, where you’re at in life, etc - and you add a bomb outfit, its hard to not feel like you can basically take over the world. Fashion is powerful.
Yet, when we decided to introduce more fashion features to Til Six all of my deep seeded feelings of shame surrounding being into clothes rose right back up. Would we be taken less seriously? We’re principles at an agency - would this discredit all the work we do and how hard we work to be taken seriously as young women in our industry - to suddenly be blogging about fashion? I’ve been quietly ruminating on it for a couple of weeks now.
But then I remembered how happy dressing up makes me, and I know I’m not alone. I recently read something written by another blogger, @officiallyquigley defending the #ad post. She talked about how when she was young she aspired to be an editor of a fashion magazine. I was like “GIRL ME TOO!” As a kid I hoarded these things, to the dismay of my mom, who often found them strewn about the house. But she pointed out how blogging, the internet and social media has given us all the platform and ability to be the editors of our own magazines. And the coolest part?! I don’t have to put things here to appease out of touch old male board members! I get to write what I want, and look good doing it. Which makes me feel like a rockstar and like all of my dreams coming true wrapped into one. And really thats all that life is about. I just needed to change my perspective, and embrace the little girl who looked at Vogue and swooned, who obsessed over shoe silhouettes with her Grandma and spent her weekends inside a Jersey mall, because its ok to find joy in simple things, like a dress.