Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C: Can't Spell Clothing Without it

Brought to you by the letter "C"

and the number 36

CLOTHING:  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.


M. J. Joachim said...

And our figures change so much as we grow older too. I prefer comfort and to wear what looks good on me, in spite of fashion trends. And I like to let my outfits be an expression of who I am too. Such a fun post to read!

Michelle said...

Hi Karoline. Embrace your "womanly curves" and other womanly parts that have been bestowed on you. And yes, as we grow older, we become more comfortable with ourselves and feel less pressured when it comes to clothing and style.
Happy A to Z'ing...........

Bookish Geek said...

I love everything about this post - it was a delight to read. Thank you for sharing it. :)

- Patricia of Bookish Geek

CreativelyNamed said...

"Yes, yes, yes!" That's what I found myself saying while I read this! Unfortunately, I fall quite short of feeling "shiny" in anything I wear yet, but it seems there is hope! Great post, thanks for sharing!

Kajal Kapur said...

Very nice, witty colored blog. At so many places, i could hear myself describing my adolescence.

Thanks for sharing a beautiful write-up. I'd be looking forward for more, from here on!

Mel Chesley said...

Augh, high school sucked enough without having to worry about the fashion trends! Jeans and t-shirt are still the norm for me, sadly, but not much I can do about that sometimes. Nice to meet you through the A-Z blogging challenge. I'm new, I'm Mel and I'm here:

Good luck!

Kristen Dyrr said...

I love your clothing history. I, too, always had trouble finding the right clothes. This is an awesome post.

Tami Von Zalez said...

We've chosen the same day's topic!

Popped by from the AtoZ Challenge.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

This was SO entertaining! An I am in awe of this phrase: "a closet-full of sparrow-colored sadness." Brilliant. I guess if others hand-me-downs fit you, you are not the only one of your shape and size! Thank you for the most entertaining post in ages. I'm skipping the challenge this year, but coming round to support. You can visit me at if you like.

Jarm Del Boccio said...

I LOVE resale shops. I get my best clothes there! Happy A to Z!

Coffee Lady said...

Greetings! Just stopped by from the A-Z challenge to see what you did for the letter C. Great post! BTW I shop for at least 80% of my clothing at resale and thrift stores.

TaMara Sloan said...

I loved your post! After having 5 children in 7 years, I struggle with what size I am. I am finally coming to grips with the fact that my body is much "curvier" than it used to be and am buying more clothes that actually look good on me instead of trying to hide my body.

Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

Lucy said...

Dropping from the A-Z Challenge! What a wonderful post. The struggle with body issues it just seems to be never ending but I am so glad you are finding peace with yourself. I know with age I became more comfortable with my body.

Marta Szemik said...

My womanly curves have sagged a little since I've had the kids. OK, let's be honest, the twins have dropped down to my belly;) But I'm comfortable with my body. A good push up bra and they're back in their place.
Thank you for the nice post.

Karen Tamara said...

Great post! And nice to meet you. I'm just stopping by from the A-Z challenge to say hi.

I am one of the only women I've ever known who HATES to shop. One, I generally want to off myself when I catch a glimpse of what I look like in the florescent lighting of the dressing room. WHY nobody has come up with the idea of candlelit dressing rooms is beyond me. They would sell WAY more clothes if they used some nice soft lighting. Am I right? ;)

Also, I gotta say, shopping for clothes generally bores the living crap out of me. haha. I have three daughters who are shopaholics but they definitely didn't get it from me.

I do, however, LOVE a good T-shirt. In fact, I recently started collecting them. And one of the best thing about T-shirts is that I can buy them online!! And you can't go wrong with a T-shirt that has a saying about a movie or book you love. No matter what size or age you are, T-shirts are for everyone.

Okay. I'm done. I swear I am not a T-shirt retailer or something. I just got overly excited to have a reason to talk about my love of them. haha

Munir said...

Most of the time our bodies are better than we think they are. Confidence and a happy and free spirit can enhance no matter what kind of figure we have.

Connie Gruning said...

Excellent post! What an awesome C.
Consider me a new follower!
Connie #133
A to Z Challenge.
Peanut Butter and Whine

Anonymous said...

I remember the awkwardness of growing up, a changing body, and no fashion sense. I never got the fashion sense. love the post.

Cynthia (The Sock Zone)

Anonymous said...

I remember the awkwardness of growing up, a changing body, and no fashion sense. I never got the fashion sense. love the post.

Cynthia (The Sock Zone)

Ruchira said...

Growing up, Changing body,clothes that all your friends look good in but dont fit you .. been there done that !

Rebecka Vigus said...

It never goes away does it? That fear of looking like a fool. Be thankful you were blessed with womanly curves. Mine are only in my butt.