January 19, 2015

Best Dressed, Self Love #1

Little 16 year old me!
Do you ever look back on photos from High School and get that terrifying mix of embarrassment and nostalgia? I have delved into the depths of my "old photos" file folder for you guys today to pull out some serious winners! Yikes! It's funny how much you can change in under ten years. It seems a bit crazy that seven years ago I was just 16! It seems like a century ago, a world away from the person I am now. 

Back in 2009, 6 years ago now, I was graduating high school. Everyone gets their yearbook out and swaps for days on end to get signatures and notes from people they will inevitably forget within a few years. For some context, I was not popular at my high school. I wasn't unpopular either, I remember being pretty happily anonymous. I had moved to our corner of suburbia just before 8th grade, meaning unlike everyone else, I hadn't been in the same classes with all of the same people from grade school. I went into high school knowing perhaps five people out of my class of over four hundred. I have always been the type to belong to a small group of friends rather than a larger one, and from my perspective I thought I had gone through school being relatively under the radar. 

You know how high school's do that thing where they make everyone vote for the senior class superlatives? You know, best smile, most likely become president, class clown, etcetera. It's a popularity contest, so imagine my surprise when somehow I was nominated for the "best dressed" award! How enough people could remember/figure out my name to garner me a nomination I really will never understand. Then, though I was nominated with several of the classic (think blonde and pink) "popular" girls, I won. I won best dressed and I had never been so confused by a compliment in my life!

Remember myspace photos? yikes! Sophomore year of high school? I can't remember!
I think that was the first time I ever truly realized I was being noticed for the things I wore. I mean there was always the weird glance, someone staring for a bit too long in the hallway before I would realize "oh it's because I am wearing a hat!", but I never really understood people were taking notice of me until I randomly ended up on that silly special page of the yearbook. 

I wore some pretty crazy outfits to high school, I mean quite out there. I would wear little feather hats I made myself, high heels on the daily, velvet blazers, and vintage dresses from the thrift store. I wore colored tights, bright glittering eyes shadow, and red lipstick in a world of chapstick. In a sphere where Hollister t-shirts, jeans, Ugg boots, and a Northface fleece jacket were the norm I stuck out more than I realized at the time. I thought my look said "fashion!", but more often than not it was just plain overkill. Then again, why not! After all you are only young once!

I think part of my confidence then stemmed from being made fun of when I was younger. For being a bit different, of course, the classic reason any kid ends up on the receiving end of children being awful. Luckily I ended up becoming immune pretty quick, I became impervious because it annoyed the people that wanted to get to me. Soon enough I couldn't care less what people thought of me and before you could say millinery I was wearing feathers on my head.

I hadn't discovered fashion until my junior year of high school. Up until then I had wanted to be an artist, a painter. The "emo" trend was all the rage when I entered high school in the halcyon days of 2005! Luckily my mother never let me bleach my hair or get one of those terrible haircuts. I wanted to be "alternative" and "edgy" but failed pretty miserably. I made my first real foray into crazy style statements when I was a sophomore at age 15, deciding that wearing different brightly colored clip-in hair extensions everyday was super amazing. Then everything changed when I opened my first Vogue magazine. Suddenly I became obsessed with Alexander McQueen and Dior, with runway shows and Style.com. I hadn't known there was this whole other world filled with crazy amazing clothes, fantasy dress-up clothes, the kind of clothes dreams were made of! Until then the only "fashion" I had heard of was what the "popular crowd" had been wearing, the trends within the tiny realm of my high school. This was capital F fashion, with over-the-top runway shows to match! I was transfixed!

Wearing 1940's pin curls, a floral chiffon blouse, a full skirt, and heels on a school trip my senior year!
All I can think now, despite cringing at the remaining photo evidence, is of how proud I am of my 17 year old self for not giving a damn about what anyone else thought! I wore those crazy outfits, high heels, and feathered hats without ever giving a thought to what the rest of my quiet suburban classmates would think. I can honestly say that I did not give a moments care to what any of them thought, and now looking back I am so glad I didn't! I may have had no idea what I was doing, but I felt great and had taken the first step into becoming the person I grew into and am today.

Sadly once I got to college things changed, I was too damn worn out all the time to put in the kind of effort I had before. Demons that had begun to growl in high school grew into full fledged self hate. That's why self love is a journey, very rarely do we start out in life having everything already figured out. I would have to fight over the next four/five years to struggle back to a place where I would wear what made me happy. I had to relearn that tough skin confidence. I had to re-instill the idea that how I felt about myself mattered more than how anybody else did.

I am telling you all this as the context, so you can know where my love of fashion and vintage began. I'm pretty sure high school is a weird time for everyone, being a teenager isn't easy after all. I am glad I had the metaphorical cojones, if you will, to dress how I damn well pleased as a "kid". It took me years to get back to a place where I can now do it again. I hope that by sharing how I lost that spark, and then how I fought tooth-and-nail to get it back, I can inspire at least one person to say to themselves "enough!", to stop staying "five pounds from now" and start saying "Today!"

So this is my little into into a series of posts on self love coming up this year. Thank you as always for reading here on my little corner of the internet. Now go forth and remember, wear whatever you damn well please!


  1. I feel like I want to pen a heartfelt note in your yearbook now. ♥

    Wonderfully touching, lovely, and very easy to relate to post, sweet dear. I was neither popular nor unpopular in high school, too. Compared to grade school though I was a social butterfly. I don't have many photos from my teen years (almost none actually), so it's harder for me to literally look back and cringe, but I do still have the memories of course and there I definitely do wince sometimes - especially when I think of my failed spiral perms (my hair wouldn't hold a perm for anything!).

    Big hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

    1. I actually lost a ton of photos from high school in a hard drive crash before my senior year, thank goodness! I actually had a spiral perm myself in 7th grade, I looked like an 80's hair band version of myself! That was the same year I was a cheerleader...not a great year fashion-wise for me! yikes- live and learn as they say!


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