As far back as I can remember, fashion and style have always been important to me. Whether my family was going to my grandparents house for dinner or to the grocery store, I always put a lot of thought into my "look." My dad would often yell, "We aren't going to a fashion show! Hurry up!" What he didn't realize was that in my mind we were going to a fashion show. If we were going somewhere that my outfit could be seen, you bet your bottom dollar that I was put together from head to toe. I couldn't help myself. It was just part of who I was.
I can't imagine what my parents thought when I came downstairs and revealed my latest outfit. To give you an idea, here is a small sampling of what they saw. I wore nail polish to kindergarten. In third grade I was into turtlenecks, khakis and penny loafers with slicked back hair. I looked like a young Wall Street executive. Very business casual for a seven-year-old, no? My other favorite look during this time was black sweatpants that had zipper pockets with fluorescent lining, a sweater and (brace yourself) a comic book print scarf tied around my waist. I would fold it in half so it hung down in a triangle down one side of my leg. The boys in my class were not into this look at all. Neither was my sister who spent the good part of her day telling these boys that she would punch them in the face if they didn't leave me alone. I was called names all the time, but I couldn't control the urge to express myself through clothes. Next came the permed hair and the coat with the faux fur collar in the fifth grade. I was obsessed with INXS and wanted to look like Michael Hutchins, but I turned out looking more like Annie. Eighth grade was the year of the MC Hammer pants for me. My mom made me a pair in black satin that I wore with a green and black color blocked blazer and monk strap Doc Martins to graduation. Oh, and my hair was blonde because I had dyed it blonde and shaved it to play Charlie Brown in the school musical. I think there were gasps (and not good ones) when I went up on the stage to get my diploma.
High school were my years of aggressive personal expression and some of the most difficult years of my life. I was into the grunge look, which was very popular at the time. I wore ripped cardigans, jeans, combat boots, lots of velvet, bizarre t-shirts, terry cloth polo shirts and dyed my long curly hair a different color every week. When I was 15, I discovered the rave scene in Toronto, which meant I added a lot more glitter, color and fun fur into my wardrobe and platforms to my running shoes. My outfit for prom was really something! I wore a purple fun fur blazer my mom made for me, a silver mock turtleneck I found at the Goodwill, neoprene pants from le Chateau and homemade platform sneakers! I looked like a deranged club kid. All of these different looks and I was only 18!!! Now, at 36 years old, my style has evolved into a combination of all of these looks but with more of a geek chic spin.
People often ask me if my decision to wear bowties and glasses was it intentional. The answer is I wear glasses to see and I thought it was funny to wear bowties in LA, which is known for it cool, laid back style. I loved the way I looked in a tennis sweater, oxford, bowtie and thick framed glasses standing next to the guy in a t-shirt, board shorts and flip flops. It was like a clash of cultures. I've always looked like the person that didn't belong in the place they were, so why would LA be any different?
In a strange way, I have never fit in anywhere...and I love it that way.
As we get older, I think the act of dressing becomes a chore more than a joy, a necessity, more than an act of self-expression. I have never stopped playing dress up. One of the magical things about clothes is that you can choose which character you want to be each day through the clothes and accessories you put on. Sometimes I want to look like a college professor, other days like a greaser from the 1950s, to a sexy nerd or a tough guy (that's the hardest one for me to pull off). I urge you to do the same. Look in your closet and say "who do I want to be today?"
Lastly, know what you love about yourself! We all know the areas of our bodies that we don't like, but if you know which parts you love, you can focus on those areas when shopping or getting dressed. If you have great legs, show them off! A great butt?? Show that off. I'm a true believer in "If you've got it, flaunt it!" As cooler weather approaches us, I challenge you to put your best foot forward every day when you are putting yourself together. I promise you that you will feel so much better on those cold and grey days. Wear the brightest color, the boldest print! Stand out in the crowd!!