I know you have it – I can practically see it, hanging at the back of your closet or buried at the very bottom of a drawer. You bought it without making eye contact with the salesperson, afraid they’re thinking what you are (i.e. “Her thighs are too big for this”). Nonetheless, you own it and are convinced one day you will wear it.
It?s the crime we?re all guilty of ? buying something that you ?will wear, as soon as you lose ten pounds.? I?m staring at mine right now. My offences include a gorgeous Miss Sixty shirt I bought in Italy, a pair of Paper Denim and Cloth jeans I got at a huge discount while working at Over the Rainbow, and a Juicy Couture tee shirt my grandmother got for me in Florida.
In any case, they don?t fit me. I can barely squeeze my 34B?s into the Juicy tee and it cuts off circulation under my armpits. The Miss Sixty shirt is too short at the sides and reveals areas of my midriff that are best left hidden. The Paper Denims are too high waisted, and even though I seem to get a lot of compliments when I wear them, they don?t make me feel like I deserve any compliments.
So why do we do this? Why torture ourselves by wearing items that only highlight our weakest points? I think I know, or at least I know what makes me do it. It?s that nagging voice that keeps telling me I can do better. I could do more sit-ups or take up jogging or drink eight glasses of water a day and in no time, I?ll be a size two. An admirable goal, really, because there?s nothing wrong with striving for a healthier lifestyle. The problem comes when the goal isn?t a healthier lifestyle at all; the true goal disguises itself under the pretense of being healthy but really, we want to be something we?re not. We buy these ten pound shirts or pants or whatever because we believe the clothes will transform us. They will make us taller, flashier, smarter, more like That Girl. That Girl is someone you work with or know from school or is even a family member. Somehow, she has mistakenly been given the physical traits you should have. Trust me, I know because all my life I?ve wanted what someone else has. My younger sisters have the most beautiful tan skin, while I?m pale; Audrey Hepburn has the biggest eyes, while mine are small; my friend Sarah has great arms?the list goes one and on. I could torture myself for days thinking of everything I could improve upon. I can?t get myself to lose weight or grow hair overnight, but you know what I can do? Buy stuff. I can whip out my debit card and buy the tee shirts, jeans, books, mascaras that will somehow transform me. It?s like I?m pretending my wardrobe is magical in a Narnia sort of way ? I can step into it and come out transformed. And it?s not just my wardrobe. I spent a long time wanting to dye my hair blonde ? ?just for a change,? I said, – but really, I wanted to look like Ashley Olson. I bought liquid eyeliner because Audrey Hepburn always wore it and pined for an obscenely priced Nars eye shadow that I saw in the pages of Strut magazine. It?s a bizarre thing, to act as though I believe these things have a certain magical property yet know it actually is bullshit. You could say it comes from magazines and television and of course it does to some extent, but the truth is, this is all me. It?s entirely in my head. Even if I grew up in an Amish household and never saw a fashion magazine in my life, I?d still want tanned skin like my sisters.
So what should I do? Should I give up and keep believing that my Italian bought shirt will make me more beautiful or the Paper Denim jeans will make me taller? Or should I sign up for that Amish existence after all and throw all this self centered consumerism nonsense into my Ikea wastebasket?
Neither, I say. I love clothes and I?m not going to apologize for that, and neither should you. What I think is necessary is that you continually challenge yourself. Stop and ask yourself what you?re doing before you whip out that wallet; does it really look good on you, or does it look good on That Girl? The question I?ve had to ask myself probably seem painfully simple: what kind of clothes do I like, what looks good on me, and what my favorite colours are? These may seem like idiotic questions ? of course you know what you think you like ? but you should really sit down and think about it. Do you really like black, or did a magazine just tell you it was in this season?
It turns out I like well tailored, simple clothes with elegant flourishes. Clothes that look good on me are long, loose tee shirts, low waisted jeans and off the shoulder shirts. I like purple, blue, black, brown, and pink.
It?s time for us to stop thinking of fashion as something that defines us and start thinking of it as something we use to express ourselves. Our clothes are part of that crucial first impression, and no one wants that impression to be you wish you were someone else. Find out your favorite colour and wear it. And my ten pound items? I gave them to my sisters. They look better with their tanned skin anyways.