If you’ve watched Project Runway on Bravo at all this last season (and if you haven’t, you should), you know that there was quite the uproar (OK, maybe it wasn’t an uproar per say, maybe more like an upmeow, I guess) over Kayne, the super-gay pageant dress designer who used to be fat, and his ‘taste level.’ Kayne stayed until the final five, if I’m remembering correctly, and even won a couple of the challenges, but was constantly being labeled tacky and overdone. The other contestants, and ultimately the judges decided that he just didn’t know where to stop.
This discussion of Kayne made me sad and a wee bit uncomfortable, because I loved almost all of his stuff and frankly, I think they might question my taste level too. Which is funny, because I’m not known for loving ruffles or bright colors and feathers and God forbid I be caught dead in anything even resembling a pageant dress.
When I was in seventh grade my ‘friends’ passed around a slam book. I think we got the idea from a Sweet Valley High novel, and honestly, we should have known better because I’m pretty sure that Jessica got voted biggest floozy and Elizabeth most giant nerd ever and everyone’s feelings were hurt even in the book. But despite all of that, being the obnoxious young teens we were, we made up categories ranging from prettiest to smartest to worst hair and passed it around writing names under each. But the time it got to me I was horrified to see my name unanimously under Worst Dressed. It was a whole drama and Rene’ Peru stuck up for me and it was the reason she and Arwen Rhan (yes, her parents were huge fans of Lord of the Rings even before it starred Liv Tyler) weren’t best friends anymore. Anyway, looking back, it’s not totally surprising. I have a unique sense of style. It comes from my mother, and her mother before her and my siblings each have their own variations of it. We like clothes and we like things that are different. When I was 13 I didn’t really know how to channel this and often ended up in the no-man’s land of Hawaiian print shirts with striped pants and whatnot.
I don’t think the slam book incident took away my desire to be different, but it certainly made me take a hard look at what I was wearing and just be much more careful in general with my fashion choices. I still made several quite unique decisions with prom dresses that will live on forever in pictures (what? A denim halter with rhinestone buttons, a white tulle skirt and silver platforms isn’t what you wore to your Jr. prom?) but I think I really made myself be more conservative than I really wanted.
I was thinking about all of this today when shopping at American Apparel down on Mill. It’s a weird store. It has really cute basics in all colors, but also totally bizarre stuff you might not touch with a ten foot pole. I came upon these leggings and was just totally amazed:
The conservative, doesn’t want to be openly mocked, side of me was aghast, but the 12 year old who likes sparkle and anything shiny or outrageous is still convinced that with the right shirt dress or skirt and top over them they would be awesome. And of course I’d have to have the right event… Man do I wish sometimes that I was that girl who could wear anything and no one would question me. That mod girl who rocks the black nail polish and the pink hair, or the super hippie who always wears her hair in braids, the old lady in the fancy dress at the grocery store. I want a style all my own and people to look at me funny if I show up in a simple jeans and sweater set, because it’s just not me. But to achieve that, I’d have to not be afraid of people voting me worst dressed, wouldn’t I?
Some day, I hope to be confident enough in myself and who I am that when I see something fabulous, be it copper lame’ leggings, or a poofy black lace skirt, or rhinestone studded tennis shoes, I buy it and wear it, and don’t give a thought to who might laugh at me when I do. Maybe even someday I’ll wear them all together (talk about the crazy old lady in the grocery store).