It’s All About the Clothes
I wouldn’t say that I’m a slave to fashion, but I definitely care about the clothes I wear. When I was in high school and college, I often tried to dress how I thought girls should dress. I copied my friends as best as I could. As a result, I would find myself in low-cut shirts and tight jeans that made me feel as though I was trapped in a nightmarish Halloween costume my mother picked out for me and forced me to wear. Only, this was my everyday life. So when I finally broke free at the age of 23 and allowed myself to wear the kind of clothes that felt like “me,” I never looked back.
In my closet, you’ll find rows of colorful sneakers instead of pumps, an impressive selection of hats, lots of t-shirts and an array of ties and vests. I wear guys’ jeans and shorts because I feel comfortable in baggy pants. When I go shopping, I normally head the men’s section first and foremost. Button-down shirts, bras and khakis are the only things I buy from the women’s side these days.
Which leads to me another crossroads with my daughter—shopping for clothes. I buy Maggie dresses and pink-colored clothing, as well as a mixture of t-shirts and cute little sweatpants. I don’t want to force my style of dress onto her the way my mother did to me. I want her to wear clothes that fit her personality and style, not mine. She’s still too young to have a say in what she wears, in fact she hasn’t actually started talking yet. But I look forward to the days when we can go to the mall together and she can pick out her clothes (within reason, of course).
When she’s older, she may not be the least bit interested in matching the color of her sneakers to her t-shirt and hat like I often do. She might not even be interested in matching altogether. Maybe she’ll prefer to wear all black or sport mismatched shoes. I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s best for her and her well-being that she wear whatever feels most comfortable to her. I know this because I wasn’t allowed the same privilege and it left a gaping hole where my self-confidence should have been. I can’t blame it on my mother, though she didn’t help matters. The reality is I was afraid to dress how I really wanted because I didn’t want to stand out or be different. Oh, the things we will do for other people’s approval …
The last time I was at the mall, I strolled through Footlocker while pushing Maggie in the stroller. I found an adorable pair of fresh, white Nike Air Force Ones and I couldn’t help myself. I bought them for her. She’s worn them only once or twice, because they are a bit too clunky for her to walk steadily in. Down the road, she may grow to love them. She may not. She may toss them aside and happily run around barefoot.
Either way, it’s her choice.
Lyndsey D'Arcangelo is the author of the Golden Crown Literary Society Award-winning book, The Trouble with Emily Dickinson and its sequel, The Education of Queenie McBride. While she continues to freelance and write fiction, the majority of her time is spent looking after her baby daughter, Maggie and watching ESPN. (lyndseydarcangelo.com)