I used to love What Not to Wear. It was one of my favorite TV shows. Whenever we signed up for cable, as we used to do every few years, I would binge watch the episodes I had missed, as well as all the re-runs I knew so well. And when we inevitably cancelled our cable yet again, the one thing I would really miss was watching that show.
I used to wish Clinton and Stacy would ambush me and offer me a makeover. Not because I thought I dressed badly…quite the opposite, in fact. People always complimented my outfits. But I figured, how fun would it be to be given $5000 guilt-free, and get to go shopping in New York City with two people who know so much about style!
I also didn’t understand the people who would hesitate in deciding whether or not to get rid of their old wardrobe in order to get the makeover. To some extent, I still don’t. So many of their participants wore clothes that didn’t fit, were stained and worn, unflattering, and often of poor quality. And some of them looked like they were wearing costumes…or like the clothes were wearing them, instead of the other way around. I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t breathe a sigh of relief and thank Stacy and Clinton for the money and the free advice.
But lately, I’ve been thinking about my wardrobe, and about what fashion is. And I’ve come to the realization that maybe I wouldn’t have wanted to be on What Not to Wear after all.
Why the change?
I’ve come to realize that much about modern fashion is about blending in, not standing out. Dress the way everybody else does, so you fit in. Wear the current fashions so you don’t make a spectacle of yourself. Do what everybody else is doing.
That used to be my goal. Look like everybody else, and maybe no one would notice me. Maybe if I wore the same styles I saw in fashion magazines, people wouldn’t notice that I was overweight, or that I was an introvert, or that my interests are different from most people’s. Maybe I wouldn’t stand out.
I no longer care if I stand out. I dress the way I want to dress, in clothes that I like, and that I think look good on me. Yes, because I often wear a petticoat under a full, 50s-style skirt, people might think I’m in a costume. And the full skirt isn’t necessarily a slimming item of clothing, so people might figure out that I’m not a size six. And the bright colors of my wardrobe certainly don’t blend in with the neutrals that are popular now. But these are the clothes that I dreamed of wearing my whole life, that make me happy and feel good, that express who I am in a sartorial way, and that look good on me.
Does that make me What Not to Wear worthy? Perhaps. I’m sure Stacy and Clinton would have loved to tell me all the things that are wrong with the way I dress. But that no longer matters to me. And if someone offered me $5000 to replace my wardrobe tomorrow, I’d have to turn them down, because if I accepted, I be turning my back on who I am, and that’s not something I’m willing to do!