11.24.2014

a weapon of cloth

oonaballoona | a weapon of cloth

Growing up, our extended family looked like The United Nations. Only not so much with the United part. Holidays found our nuclear foursome piled in the Jeep, heading out for a day of ham, greens, biscuits, and raised eyebrows. We weren't dark enough to suit half the table, we weren't light enough to suit the other half, and let's leave aside the fact that the table itself was a mix of about seven races in the first place.

But in my mind, I was a gorgeous exotic bird! Some alien life force, gracing the scene with my plumage! I gazed with benevolence at the humans I was strangely related to, knowing that their inferior brains could not process the abstract language of my mismatched cloth! 

As Ruggy and I discussed the upcoming avalanche of holiday occasions, we cringed over the one or two events that will likely be more chore than play. There's always a couple of those, aren't there? Now, I plan to dress to the nines at all of the festivities, naturally, but when we spoke of these particular little wrenches, I breathed, through clenched teeth and with fisted hands: I AM GOING TO LOOK FABULOUS.

And it hit me: I use clothing as a weapon! Of course you do, Ruggy soothed. 

Um. 

WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS?!

Long before I learned to sew, my childhood self would rifle through an eye searing closet, and assemble the most outlandish ensemble I could think of, adding a few stars on my cheek to top it off (I held a high rank in my own personal army) before racing down the stars to the delight of my Mom, who loved to see what I'd come up with next.  (Actually, the delightful Corinne and I just talked about this very memory in a recent episode of The Sewing Affair that I've been remiss in linking! I guess it's on my brain.) By the time my Dad got home from work, I was in hand painted oversized tees, practicing arias under my breath while we made midnight ice cream sundaes together. I regarded my brother's black ensembles with confusion, but respect. That was his mark.

But man, I put a lot of responsibilities on my colorful childhood closet! Though I could stand on stage completely alone and sing out in a spotlight, when it came to walking around in everyday life, I was super, crushingly shy. So I let my clothes speak for me. My ensembles did the talking, the fighting, even did the socializing for me: every weekend was spent at the mall hand in hand with my Nan, shopping sales, strolling happily past the cliques draped about the food court. My daily outfit was my technicolor armor, meant to blind the popular girls before they could come up with a sour glance, meant to raise my cousins' eyebrows to skyscraper heights, meant to trumpet for me: I AM DIFFERENT AND I KNOW IT. YOU ARE TELLING ME NOTHING NEW.

Not much new being said here either. Ruggy received my realization sans surprise. He assumed I knew what I was doing. Always a bad assumption. Of course we use clothing as a weapon, a crutch, a bandage. A spotlight! By nature of our skill set, we're very much aware that it's more than cloth. But it really hit me: my passion for this woven arsenal came from growing up in a family that was branded as "different" in society, in school, in our own extended family. My parents' mission to make that branding be a positive sent me charging out of the house to fight a colorful battle enswathed in the most outrageous version of "different" that I could be. 

Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad. For real. 

What do you use your clothing for?

90 comments:

  1. Yes, as the only mixed one it was like that, and yes I dress to the nines at every family occasion I have to go to. But I never thought of it as a weapon more of a contest. Since a child I have done it, there's never a time I don't over hear she thinks she's better why dose she have to dress up,... because their jealousy of my appearance kicks out the race in my eyes and that's victorious to me. Petty maybe but it is what it is.

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    1. i don't think it's petty at all. doing battle with finery seems a classy way to go!

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  2. Ow, what a lovely, reflective piece. I wish I could use cloths as a weapon - or perhaps as armour? Not sure I want to maim anyone with my fashion choices....
    I think it takes real confidence in your sense of style, which I have never had but hope to learn (is 38-and-three-quarters too late to learn???). My lack of confidence comes from a combination of going to a very judgemental mean-girls high school, followed by two decades of being a pariah of the RTW market - factories don't often make clothes that my mahoosive boobies will fit into. That's why I sew. I'm in charge now. Mwahahahaha.

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    1. ey, never too late to learn! if it makes you dance around, it's probably good. i think that's maybe the only lesson ;)

      ain't it grand to be in charge!

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  3. Interesting idea -- I think usually when we think of people using clothing as a weapon or armor, we think of severe clothing. Like Claire on House of Cards. But you do it in a very different way. Part of your uniqueness!

    Thinking about how I use my clothing, the word that springs to mind is competence. I think I tend to use clothing to project a certain image (nothing new here). I use it to make myself look competent and pulled together under the assumption that looking like that makes people think you are that type of person. I try, at all times, to project competence. Probably too much sometimes! And just about every clothing choice I make works toward that goal. When I worked in sailing, that was a very different look than it is today in my office job, but in both instances, I had the exact same goal!

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    1. oooo, Claire. 80% of why i watched was to drool over her clothing, and it's not even in the same country as my style!

      it really is wonderful, though we sometimes take it for granted, to have this device that we can use to project the image we want.

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  4. Mad admiration for Ruggy - and for your warrior clothing. I've always thought your clothing suits the Oona that shines through in the blog... a rare skill.

    Oh yes. High school was all about dressing for communication.

    Now? Now I dress for figure flattery and practicality and to be an approachable Scary Christian Lady in the long skirts... ;) Respectable but fun? I guess. I try to look like myself, the inner Hearth.

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    1. "to be an approachable Scary Christian Lady"

      i may have laughed out loud (with you) when i read this the other day. LOVE THAT.

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  5. FYI, whenever I show Jordan your photo, he calls your our daughter from the future.

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    1. HAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! i love that! i wonder, does he approve of the way Future Daughter dresses? no wait, don't answer, first he needs to peep the scandalous dress i'm putting up today. AS IN THE FUTURE.

      whoah.

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  6. You might just be my favorite New Yorker. Because you wear beautiful colorful clothes and not the drab, boring monochrome which most of New York wears. Makes my eyes hurt. You are right about clothing being a weapon. When I am pissed off or sad with my family, I want to show up looking drop dead gorgeous (not sure I succeed, but in my mind I do :) ) to a family event wearing self-made clothes looking all smug. Because noone else in my family sews :)

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    1. i don't know why new yorkers insist on a palette of no-color! maybe to blend in with the buildings? or give off a "don't F with me" vibe?

      and, i'm pretty sure you succeed.

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  7. A great post. I've always thought of protective dressing as girding my loins although that is probably a Medieval male utterly inappropriate reference. But apropos in the sense of protecting one's important, delicate bits. Isn't it amazing that we can be the last to know what we're doing?! Would be interesting to sally forth in the simplest garb and see what that feels like. May we all find joy in the holidays--and survive the messy parts.

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    1. eh, we've got loins too! pretty powerful ones, considering all that they are expected to do;)

      interestingly enough, when i'm sewing something crazy i usually want to be in white, or denim, or solids-- unless it's summer, then all bets are off. ALL PRINTS ALL THE TIME.

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  8. I wish I could have used my clothing as a weapon. I was too insecure for that. I dressed to hide my insecurity, in things I felt good in and secure. Not invisible, but protected. A few, very important pieces. That showed, what I wanted to show of myself to the outside. I am braver now, but still my clothes give me security, my second skin and now that I am able to make them myself it is easier. Thank you for sharing this, lots to think about!

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    1. i love that you had those few pieces to show the parts of yourself that you were ready to show. beautifully put!

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  9. In high school clothing was an armor for me, but in a different way. I tried my hardest to blend in, not with my fellow students but with the background, so I'd be left alone. After moving to the city and getting into art school clothing became a way to explore and express my interests, more about communication than protection. I like this evolution a lot!

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  10. Here, here. I may feel incredibly awkward in any social situation that involves more than three new people, but I'm gonna look good in the midst of my awkwardness. Clothes give me courage.

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    1. hahaha! i know what you mean about the 3 people rule, i had to work hard to break that! clothing helped immensely.

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  11. this is a really beautiful piece. thank you so much for sharing it! clothing was, for a while, a weird zone for me: it had to be different enough to anger my mother, similar enough to not get totally called out in school, but still different enough that i had branded myself as my own kind of cool. typically i accomplished this with my red sneakers and clam-digger trousers. :-)

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    1. you are welcome, kindred spirit. i imagine a school aged puu tromping down the halls in about 26 different colors. so this is eye opening!!

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  12. Yep...we were the only Afrio-Americans in our school, my brothers and me - a girl. And we were very poor. So when the Jourdache jeans & Etienne Aigner purses were all the rage for the teenage girls I didn't fit in. Aside from the fact that my wonderfully circular butt that stuck out and said hello to everyone it met and my long beautifully shaped muscular runners legs both rebelled against the cut and sizing those jeans and their friends used, I flat out refused to insult my almost nonexistent 25" waist with such strange numbers as 30 to compensate for these lovely attributes. Thank God for the sewing machine....my strange junior & senior high school wardrobes were a reflection of my love for Vogue and Ebony magazines, a sewing machine & the local fabric store around the corner. My mother laughed at me Every time I walked out the door to school. Oddly enough - she later demanded I sew for her....things that make you go hmmmm......

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    1. I hear you! I grew up poor in an affluent city. The only child of a single parent at a time when single parents and their children were not acceptable by society. Clothing made me either blend in and be 'acceptable' or disappear and be invisible. Only when I finally had the courage to dress to suit myself did I finally feel good in my own skin. Plus, leaving that hateful, judgemental city helped, too!

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    2. And I hear you on the trousers. I gave in to the fad for hip-sitting waistlines in my high school time, precisely because they were the only ones that sometimes fit. Hated the exposed back this inevitably led to with the fad for short tees. Thank God for sewing now, because that's still the only way to get trousers that fit!

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    3. well i just love everything about this, to hell with all of the judgements people feel they have the right to impose. TO HELL!

      but this: "I flat out refused to insult my almost nonexistent 25" waist with such strange numbers as 30 to compensate for these lovely attributes."

      AWESOME.

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  13. I am the same but with my hair colour. If its wild and purple and blue and pink people don't talk to me. This in turn is ridiculous as I am a ballet teacher who will merrily prance in front of kids but can't walk into a pub. Brains are weird!!

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    1. oh i wish i could take class with you!! with a fuchsia lock of my own...always wanted one.

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  14. I grew up poor but my mother did and didn't. Both her parents were educated but didn't spend money on things for the kids. They went to the opera and symphony and such. My mother said she had two dresses growing up but my guess is that they were an exceptionally high quality. When she married into my father's working class family, she distinguished herself by being a snob (oh boy, they loved her). She dressed us in clothes she made herself from cotton and wool and would have died rather than see us wearing polyester or something she deemed tacky. But...we had no money and when their marriage fell apart, we had even less. Still, I babysat so I could get what I could to uphold the standard. None of this makes me sound very good at all. It's this reverse snobbism, don't you dare look down at me because I'M WEARING COTTON AND WOOL AND NATURAL FIBERS!!!! Oh. Yeah. I guess that's a sort of weapon, too.

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    1. Hah!!!! COTTON AND WOOL AND NATURAL FIBERS!!!! ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY

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    2. you don't sound like a snob, in fact the story of your childhood closet is absolutely fascinating!

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  15. This is a wonderfully worded post. You are as flamboyant with words as clothing and can express yourself in a way I wish I could. Our family is drifting into the multi-colored as are most in modern times. Sometimes people are puzzled by my slightly darker grandchildren. But I think this will eventually be the norm. I love clothes and dressing is fun for me. I've never had to use it as a weapon but I have always resisted ever having to wear a uniform. I know so many women who would prefer to be told exactly what to wear.

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    1. thank you, cheryl!

      i am so eager for the day when multi colored is the norm. it is a constant source of complete perplexment (yes, i'm going with that, google spell check) to me that we get hung up over skin.

      and yes, there are many who find their weapon/comfort in a uniform! thought that's not my bag, i find that far less perplexing :)

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  16. More than a weapon, clothing is powerful. Like I wrote in my feature for Coca Cola, what we wear says not only who we are, but who we aspire to be. Furthering that statement, we can become who we want to be by dressing the part. "Don't dress for the position you have, dress for the position you wannt."

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    1. i think that means i want to be a sky hostess for decadent teleportations to mars.

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  17. I love this! I tend to overdress for occasions...every occasion... but where in life I may feel inadequate or shy, I make up for in my choice of dress. I can totally see myself as an "outlandishly" styled senior but loving it! As I get older, I make less and less apologies for my choice in attire. You are blessed to have this freedom since childhood! Bravo to your awesome parents.

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    1. yes, making up for the shy was so much part of it for me too! i plan on getting as wacky as i want to be.

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  18. I am so on your wave length with this! Whenever I am going to an event where I don't know anyone or I am not particularly fond of the people there I have to make sure I look amazing. It gives me extra confidence! For the people I know don't like me it's like a royal middle finger to them to be looking amazing too. Plus I'm used to always being the one that is over dressed at everything so I just roll with it now.

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    1. the royal middle finger! HAAA!!!

      i'm getting used to that scenario too. and i find that if the less-dressed people around you see that you're comfortable, they're usually more comfortable with your heightened dress!

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  19. Such an inspiration you are! Beautiful writing. Beautiful clothes. Beautiful philosophy. It is an utter joy to read your posts, but you knocked this one out of the park. I am old enough to be your mother for sure, and maybe even your grandmother, but you inspire and seriously entertain, all of us.

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    1. thank you so much sue! what a beautiful compliment, really, thank you.

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  20. I wonder.
    Wish-fulfillment? Creativity?
    It's like I use my clothing to be the version of myself I've dreamt up. Making an idea a reality. There used to be a good part of defensiveness about it, too. I was different, too, being the only believer in class for years, and being different, in whatever way, is always strange for young people. Part pride, part defensiveness, part lashing out (often without realising it).
    Now it's mostly pride, because I've finally sorted out through the mess of "is it me, or is it my faith, and how much of it matters?" to "it's my faith that this is me (as I was created and meant to be)" and whenever I manage to wear my creativeness, that's what I am, yay!

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    1. i like "making and idea a reality", i like it A LOT. i guess we do that every time we cut into fabric.

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    2. Definitely. Sometimes, to tell the truth, the reality falls short of the idea, but still...

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  21. Really interesting. I mostly dressed to blend in, as a refugee child and now, working overseas, in my so-called 'home country'. I like your way better, I think.

    - the artist formerly known as saro

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    1. SARO! how you doin'?!

      so, are you blending? or a wildflower?

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    2. I can't complain! I moved back to Afghanistan and am cleaning up my sewing machine (which was stored and covered in dust). I'm totally blending in but am on a fabric website right now, looking at snakeskin-print fabric. This bitch ain't blendin' no mo! (Real talk: I'd probably blend in more if I wore snakeskin in Afghanistan, my original people like to flash).

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  22. Wonderful epiphany! Clothes are so important in telling our story and I've always appreciated that. I could never have outshone my mums fashion sense growing up (school pick up in odd flouro sports socks and pointy black boots), but she definitely encouraged me to be bold. At primary school she told me to not be a sheep and I listened, although I'm a lot safer and casual with my clothes now I hasten to add. Parents are great and so is this post!

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    1. thanks marilla!

      your mom sounds like eye candy. you know, in a not creepy sounding way. cheers to wonderful parents!

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  23. Oh, I loved reading this! We should all be our own "leading lady" (as Janie Bryant of Mad Men fame says), and our clothes have a whole lot to do with that.

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    1. ooo good quote. adding that to my mantras.

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  24. Of course we use clothing as a shield. Cary Grant (who no one could ever call a slouch in the sartorial department) learned from people (believe it or not; I read this in a biography) like Fred Astaire who sent him to his tailor - to use various tricks to disguise what Grant saw as his physical flaws - one shoulder was, to his eyes, lower than the other one, so he had the tailor put extra padding in the low shoulder. Grant also saw his neck as being 'thuggish', so he had the tailors make the collars on his coats, suits, and shirts just a little bit taller so that would smooth out the line between his shoulders and his chin. My dad was short - he always made sure his suits and coats fit perfectly in the shoulders and were just a little bit longer to give him a longer line; he also wore a hat with a smaller brim. So, people have been using clothing to hide flaws, make themselves look more graceful, more powerful, taller, for centuries (ahem, codpieces, anyone?). Me? My favorite trick is shoulder pads (the 90's were heaven for me) - I'm short and have a relatively thick waist - with shoulder pads, I actually have shoulders and the contrast and triangulation makes my waist look a little smaller.

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    1. okay, THAT'S NUTS! who would have thought, cary grant had (self imposed?) body issues!

      this reminds me of an old book i found on how to dress for your figure-- rules like "being a pear shape is the saddest thing in life for some of us." HA! but, i do love tricks, and knowing what works for you.

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  25. Yup. yupyupyupyupyup. Even better writing than usual, btw. Made me think about what is my weapon in particular? as arrows are different from hatchets are different from mines? If yours is I'M WEIRD AND I KNOW IT, I think mine is I'M HIGHFALUTIN' AND YOU MIGHT NOT FOLLOW MY REFERENCES.

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  26. I love you so much. That podcast made my day when I heard it! Transmissions from Oona! I think these days clothing is about comfort and self-love. I've really stopped dressing to impress, and more to feel good and have fun. It's a lovely way to approach getting dressed in the morning.

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    1. haha! helped that it sounded like i was coming to you via spaceship.

      i do love looking at my closet nowadays. though i yearn for the day that i can walk into a whole ROOM in the morning.

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  27. Fun post. Clothes absolutely communicate. I've followed various blog discussions and been completely mystified when half the group is arguing that purple hair doesn't 'say anything'. Of course it does!!! Best to be sure your clothes (etc.) are saying what you WANT them to say. I want my clothes to say chic, expensive and original. I don't always make it there, but I try. One of my favorite quotes is: "Style says 'me'. Fashion says 'me too'." I want style.

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    1. me too! same goes for tattoos-- well, yes, i want to look at your beautiful tattoos, isn't that part of the reason you're adorned?

      i adore that quote.

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    1. hey, sometimes it's necessary. i certainly have those days.

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  29. Yes! I've used my clothing as a weapon of I'M FABULOUS NO MATTER WHAT YOU THINK since I was a teenager. I started sewing my own wardrobe at 15 because the super wide leg pants I adored weren't sold in the small town I lived. Trips to the big city (Toronto) were only once a year, and then I couldn't afford the prices anyway.

    I realised I used clothing this way when I was in high school. I wrote a short story for English class about a girl who worked two jobs waiting tables and had to wear black to those jobs. At the end she opened her closet, pushed the work clothes aside and pulled out the "rainbow that was hidden behind the darkness", and led her life as she wanted.

    It's a powerful weapon. Confidence is key in life, and dressing so as to direct attention to yourself challenges everyone around you to take notice, because you have confidence in yourself. I'm so happy to read that someone else feels the same way about bright clothing.

    My 2 year old daughter is showing promise in this area too. She currently believes no outfit is complete without a tutu.

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    1. I like your story. You know - I understand the idea of clothing being a weapon. However, the fact that your 2 year old daughter shows promise in this area gives indication that perhaps we need to see who we actually are when we look in a mirror - not as dictated by outside trends. Hopefully for your and my daughter they will just be true to themselves....like you, me and the rest of us here. :-)

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    2. ooo, "the rainbow behind the darkness." LOVE THAT.

      yes, it does take a certain confidence to go for it, whatever "it" is. but i found too, as a shy kid, that it added to my confidence.

      i hope both your daughters continue to look in the mirror and see who they are that day. i've been meaning to make a proper tutu for about a year now....

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  30. I definitely used clothing as a costume - to define who I wanted to be at that time. Now, with all these maternity tops I've been wearing, clothing is a very practical, almost purely functional thing with just a bit of me in there. I'll shine through again soon enough!

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  31. My sister and I grew up poor and had virtually no clothes. Now she owns a clothing store and I sew, with an enormous stash and four closets full. Yes, clothes tell a story.

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    1. and that particular story is glorious.

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  32. I was the opposite. I remember begging my mom for this fabulous denim baseball jacket with yokes done with bright primary color satin. It was beautiful and very flashy. Although it was marked down, we still couldn't afford it. Every time I went into that store I ran to the sale rack to find it. It was marked down several times before my mom finally let me buy it. I could not have been happier to have it. I came home and hung it proudly in my closet. I loved to see it every time I got dressed. I never wore it once. I was too shy to wear something so bright and call that much attention to myself.

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    1. oh such sadness!! do you still have it? i had the same story with a pair of wildly adorned eskimo boots, they were too crazy even for me. i regret that so much...

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  33. In high school I set myself apart from the small town farming-community uniform of jeans, sneakers and flannel shirts by wearing my idea of classic and feminine -- wool sweaters and silky blouses (polyester, because as far as I knew real silk was more or less a myth), flared skirts, and (oh, part of me CRINGES to remember it, and part of me is a little bit proud of my youthful ignorance of good taste and determination to express myself) STRAPPY HIGH HEELED EVENING SANDALS! What possessed my mother to let me out of the house like that? Today I think I am still trying to persuade the world that I am a one-of-a-kind, effortlessly glamorous, impossibly sexy, utterly feminine throwback to a more elegant world -- but ironically, I think I am now handicapped by having developed an awareness of Good Taste and Appropriateness!

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    1. hahaahaa! silk as a myth!

      i was with you on the evening sandals. our moms should get an award! maybe you should give yourself one Trashy Day per month ;)

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  34. In the past I was always took the opposite of your approach to holiday dressing. No one in my extended family dresses up so I always dressed in ordinary clothes to be like everyone else, all the while secretly lamenting the fact that no one ever dresses up. But just a few years ago I started thinking, I keep making all these clothes that I have "nowhere to wear" so why not just wear them wherever. So now I dress up pretty much every time I leave the house and sometimes even when I don't. I dress for holiday gatherings and I'm the gal who is always overdressed in Walmart.

    I like the idea of a "United Nations" family. I think that's becoming more common. Even my lily white extended family has a few darker faces now and for some reason that makes me happy.

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    1. the result of that undefinable reason is a very good one, indeed.

      i've noticed that drugstore excursions illicit surprised smiles-- and usually better manners from strangers. i'm glad you're wearing the fancy you create.

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  35. You're very welcome, Oona. You've always been a source of constant joy.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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    1. right back atcha, Big Daddy. LOVE YOU!!

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  36. I love this post Oona! I loved hearing about your crazy colour combos when you were chatting with Corrine and I especially loved that your parents were so supportive of you. Cothing is the ultimate form of expression in my opinion and I love seeing how people use it to show who they are.

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    1. thank you heather! it was fun to yammer on about ;)

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  37. I had a job once where my manager told me "I don't like your hair, I don't like your clothes, but you still did a good job". She was surprised that I was good at my job in sprite of my lack of style (in her eyes). I was always dressed appropriately for work, though I maybe wasn't very stylish.
    First of all it made me see how people in my line of work (marketing and communications) will judge you more on how you look than on the quality of your work.
    But secondly it has made me dress differently. I really think about what I wear to work now and I have noticed the difference in how I am treated. But I feel that is more clothing as self defence than clothing as a weapon.

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    1. yes, i've had this exact conversation with many friends in the corporate world. the "in spite of" kills me. i'm lucky to be in a business where my fashion choices are less... mandatory.

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  38. I love reading posts like this!

    My dress sense is pretty much the opposite of yours. I like plain black 18th or 19th century style suits, maybe with a bit of red or purple. I want my clothes to say "I stopped following fashion when Beau Brummel died. Oh, is it the 21st century? Dear me where does the time go. It seems like only yesterday they were beheading the French nobility." And thank goodness for sewing, because the stores NEVER have what you're looking for.

    I may not understand how you feel confident in a million bright colours, but I still really admire your style. Giant rainbow explosions suit you incredibly well.

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    1. i laughed like hell when i read this, "beau brummel"... my guests probably thought i was crazy!

      although your palette is opposite, it sounds like the same theory to me!

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  39. First off may I say how much I enjoyed reading your personal insight and observations. I can so relate to your sweet story! As a teen I first learned to sew in high school, and it really was a major form of self expression for me! I did dress different from the other kids, and I was proud. I think also what shaped me was having a step mom who -at an early age, picked out my outfits for me and I hated it! I was determined that some day I would dress as wonderfully as I wanted to.

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    1. oh, stepmom! i wonder if she thought she was helping? i would have hated that! learning to sew was an excellent retaliation!

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  40. Oh, Oona, my clothes are my weapon, but they also express what I feel without using words. They say who I am without. This was problematic before sewing because long ago I stopped liking what I saw in shops. The only alternative then was using clothes and shoes from other decades and that got me the mocking in more than one occasion. That's what you get growing up in a place and society that didn't see much. I don't care any more and anyway, I live now in a city and an area full with color, where many people seem to use their clothes to express themselves.

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  41. Awe, you ARE a gorgeous exotic bird! I LOVE seeing people who make an obvious statement with their clothing. It's so brave and fantastic and I admire it a lot. Wear your feathers proudly!

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  42. I like to think of clothing and accessories as a creative expression of who I am. We are the first palette. The older I get, the more daring I am to just be myself and wear whatever I want. Who cares?!

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i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!