Brought to you by the letter "C"
and the number 36CLOTHING: It used to be that none of mine fit. Ever. A trend that, sadly, started way back in highschool. It was the ninties. It was grunge time. I was a late-bloomer. Underneath my sloppily oversized sweatshirts and jeans I clumsily arranged my mis-managed body into something that was vaguely human-shaped. Well, highschool human anyway. It was a sad little shape that was full of arm-bones and leg-bones and joints and bits and pieces that just hadn't yet figured out how to fit together. It was buried under layers of that good old grunge, and in warmer weather the kinds of tshirts that were popular at the time. By which I mean the fiercely unstylish kinds that make it so that nobody will ever really take the wearer seriously. Even when the wearer has no idea. Because in this case, she didn't.
Shortly after the first strange years of middle and high school came the bosom fairy, in all her drunken splendor, to bestow upon me a matronly curve that many other women would soon spend big bucks for. A bosom like mine would scrape clean every silicone farm this side of the mississippi, had it been bought and paid for; however luck wanted my goofball figure to come by this military-grade gun-rack naturally. And so I did. One reluctant cup-size at a time. And I heard things like "if you got it, flaunt it." and I did not know what that meant. And I heard things like "anything more than a handful is a waste." and I did not know what that meant. And then my button-front shirts (the handmedown ones that I still clung to) stopped buttoning entirely. And then the costume-makers for the high school musicals started shaking their heads woefully as I insisted that I was a certain size OR ELSE because I just wanted to be like the other girls. But I had no idea what that meant.
And underneath all those brand new curves still jangled the rest of me. Strong as a kitten and graceful as an ox. And I had the emotional fortitude of a deranged puppy to boot. Gods what a time it was.
All those limbs and tissues came together quite poorly in highschool and it was lucky that grunge was in, at the time, so that I could blessedly keep my trainwreck self to myself. I had neither fashion sense nor grace and on the day I entered college I forced myself to bumble about in new arenas that would expose me to both. I quickly learned that while grace can be worked into a body, fashion sense can not. I worked hard to understand my unforgivingly clumsy body and eventually (through years of karate classes and a few ill-advised dance courses) got the hang of it. I learned to walk like a grown up though I stubbornly continued not to. Jeans and tshirts were my uniform. And when it came to girl-ing up the place, I had a few frumpy little skirts to run around in.
It wasn't until well after college that I started to panic about my sartorial future. I had the moves, I didn't find much benefit from showing off the curves (who seriously needs that much attention? geez!) and I had a closet full of sparrow-colored sadness that carried me to and from my workplace. which, at the time was a hotel that insisted I wear their specific cut of cotton-polyester-hell. The poor tailors had their work cut out for them, too, they were each about a thousand years old... little russian women... and were JUST skilled enough to eke out a few extra stitches here and there to comfortably accomodate my suddenly "where the hell did those come from" ample boobs. We're talking a matter of stitches here, too. A hard sneeze and those little brass buttons would have gone flying across the hotel lobby.
Now I'm a seasoned "professional" with a big girl job in a big girl office and all the perks and joys that go therewith.
And I'm still paralyzed with fear every morning about how to dress myself. That fear abates, however, every morning when I see that my little wardrobe is no longer sparrow-colored. It's more... well... Pollack-y (heh, chickens) with a lot more flounce and a lot more confidence in the bosom-coverage department.
What has changed? I've started shopping with fashionably knowledgeable people, for one. Supergal is awesomeness encarnate and she has what it takes to tell me that no, it's not 1873, it's time to find something that exposes at LEAST my shin bones. Like a skirt or some such nonsense. And she's the only person I know thus far who can convince me that a little bit of collarbone every now and then is okay.
I've also stopped looking in magazines. None of those women looks like me. Women stopped looking like me about twenty seconds after Marilyn Monroe's heart stopped and every woman thereafter seems to have been put on this planet to say "see? see what looks great on me but not you?"
I've gotten appropriately sized undergarments. That was a hard one. Nobody likes underwear fittings and it's even worse when the size they figure you for only comes in Surgical-tape-taupe and is supplied by companies funded by the Hefty corporation. Makes a difference though. What. A. Difference. Finding the right size REALLY does make a difference. Did you know that that funny bridge part in the middle of the bra where they put the little bow... did you know that little piece is supposed to TOUCH your sternum area? I know, I was stunned too. (note to my regular readers, inappropriately gifted black lace bras are not part of the "what I'm doing right" bucket, by the way. That thing went far far away long ago.)
Once I got used to the womanly curves being where they belonged (and it took a LOT of getting used to, I don't mind saying) and now that I'm looking for styles from EVERY ERA (literally) that feed into modern fashions... I am finding that I not only DON'T look frumpy (largely) I also don't FEEL frumpy and by the gods I can actually make eye contact with yonder beautiful people and kindof feel like one of the crowd. And I don't have to dress like a pinup or a nun or a tramp or a dowager, I can sort of grope around in the darkness and find my own happy medium that's taking notes from every category and then add in touches from categories that we don't even have the names for yet.
Strange, right? Another thing I've recently become pretty fond of is the whole second-hand shopping thing. I don't get the outrageous stuff like you see a lot of trendy hipster second-handers do (none of that crap fits me anyway) but I'll be darned if some of that jettisoned material from other people's closet just doesn't land on my every hinge and bone absolutely perfectly. Not sure why it happens that way, but other people's leftover clothes seems to really be working for me. And huzzah for the recycling, too, right?
Well, maybe it's not that altruistic of me... but frankly it's kindof neat to think that I'm keeping a certain amount of pants and tops out of the fashionably-passe-dung heap of this country.
It can go on me.
And I'll wear it.
And I'll feel pretty shiny in it.
And THAT is a brand new thing.
OH and I've started wearing dresses. Too. So that's kindof a newsflash as well.