She Wore a Bolo Tie: One Girl’s Struggle with Personal Style (or Lack Thereof)

February 12, 2008 at 1:50 pm 9 comments

One of my favorite parts of going to the hair salon every 10 weeks or so (besides paying out the ass to have toxic chemicals applied to my tender scalp) is the fact that I get to sit around and read women’s magazines for a couple of hours. The only other time I read magazines is when I fly, but reading an article about this year’s best crop of wrinkle-reducing moisturizers isn’t the same when I’m being constantly interrupted by my jittery colon sending messages of ABORT! ABORT! ABORT! every ten minutes.


Do you MIND? I’m trying to find out my Intimacy IQ!

It’s just so much fun to page through a glossy spread about bangle bracelets or espadrilles and pretend like I’m actually going to apply these things to my daily wardrobe. Maybe it’s the smell of chemically burned hair that clouds my thinking, but as I’m surrounded by all that estrogen and hair spray, I find myself completely convinced that from this day forward, I will shop only at vintage stores and sample sales, practice yoga at my desk, take Women’s Studies classes in the evenings, and make my own exfoliating face scrub out of grapefruit juice and grits.


Mel’s Diner meets Clinique

But it’s really all pretend. Because after 31 years on this earth, I have learned to accept the fact that I will never be the girl who adjusts her eye makeup depending on the time of day, and I will never know how to transform a business suit to a fun drinks-with-the-girls outfit by simply removing/adding a couple accessories. I don’t even have a dress code at work, so I can basically coast through the week on jeans and sweaters and not look out of place in the least. And that’s OK with me, because I’ve never been what you’d call “fashionable,” or “a girl with a strong sense of personal style,” or “a person who has the ability to match two things together without the aid of the internet, a color wheel, and an encyclopedia.”

When bridesmaid’s dresses cross-breed.

Actually, that’s not quite right. I can tell when things match, I know enough not to wear white pumps with stirrup pants, and I can put together a perfectly acceptable outfit for my daily intents and purposes, it’s just that I never really had my own style, you know? That ability to just inherently know what to wear and how to put clothes together that go beyond the realm of jeans and t-shirts. You know those people who can pair a quirky skirt with a vintage tank top and manage to look cute instead of homeless? That’s who I admire. That’s who I hate with the intense gut-burning fires of jealousy, but also: admire. And I might as well take it one step further and confess who I’ve always been secretly jealous of. Ready for this?

My soul aches with pain and despair, for I am late for my shift at Hot Topic.

Yes, I’m actually jealous of the Goths. And not the ones who do it for a few years in high school just to piss off their parents, the ones who really mean it. The ones who dress that way because that’s just who they are and how they like to express themselves. There’s no embarrassment, there’s no self-doubt. They have the balls to show the world who they are, no matter how hard it makes their grandma cry.
Your grandfather didn’t lose a leg in Normandy so you could wear Wet-n-Wild eyeliner, young man.

So while I never really felt the calling to be a Goth, that doesn’t mean I didn’t try to force some semblance of personal style upon myself back when I didn’t know any better (a.k.a “junior high”). Yes, my junior high days were the breeding ground for my many experimentations with personal style. During those dark days, I had tapestry vests and black acid-washed jeans in heavy rotation when it came to my daily fashion choices. Did I mention there was a bolo tie? Because there was. And it was glorious.

The “Kick Me” sign of the accessory world

But nothing was as tragic as the time I went to the mall in search of a new outfit. Not just any new outfit, THE new outfit. The outfit so magically rad that I’d be catapulted to the highest realms of junior high popularity, and soon girls with unwieldy bangs and thick glasses would be the Cindy Crawfords of the hallways. Armed with babysitting money and a healthy dose of self-delusion, I made a bee-line for my favorite store and dove into the racks. Perhaps sensing my desperation and eagerness to part with my cash, one of the salesladies offered to help me pick a few things out, and I agreed. This was where things got a little…weird. She started picking things that were pretty far out of my comfort zone, and I remember thinking that maybe she was going a little heavy on the shoulder pads…but no! I have to let this lady work her magic, I thought. After all, what I was wearing was getting me nowhere, so it only makes sense that I’d have to leap pretty far out of my usual realm to make a significant change, right? RIGHT?

Well, technically, that was right. But the outfit she chose for me? Wrong. So, so wrong. I’ve tried to scrub the image of it from my brain for years now, but I can definitely tell you that it involved really large buttons, obscenely pointy shoulder pads, animal prints, and lots of mustard yellow. As for the overall style of the clothes, let’s just say it was somewhere in this neighborhood:

Please Hammer, Don’t Clothe ‘Em

Unfortunately, as most stories of this ilk go, I did not realize how thoroughly ridiculous my outfit was until the instant I stepped onto school property the next day. I don’t recall anyone making fun of me to my face, and actually, their silence was somehow worse. It was as if they felt I was doing a fine job humiliating myself and they need not intervene. Or maybe they were afraid of me. After all, if a 14-year-old girl willingly wears clothes from the Arsenio For Her collection, what won’t she do? I’m not sure why they spared me, but I do know that those 8 hours were the longest of my life.
What that little stunt taught me is that – no matter how hard I want to be – I will never be one of those people who can pull off a tunic or cowboy boots without looking like a total douche. The downside is that I’ll always feel like a total outsider when it comes to trying trendy new clothing fads. The upside? There’s never any danger I’ll be the first to sink my money into something as unflattering as Uggs.

They make my ankles look fat, my legs look stumpy, AND they’re suspiciously similar to the diabetes booties my Gram wears around the house? Where do I sign?!?


Entry filed under: And you KNOW THIS!.

Google-mania! Things That Make My Heart Stop, Vol. 1

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kdiddy  |  February 12, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    ditto on the personal style thing. I kind of just don’t care 99% of the time. and my job doesn’t have a dress code either, so I essentially have been wearing the same general outfit since nursery school. Jeans. Shirt. Shoes. Sour expression.

    there was a very dark period between the ages of 12 and 14 where I tried very hard to be cool. that combined with puberty made for some horrible visions and it’s funny because my memory has completely re-written the outfit that I wore the night that I got my first real kiss. I remember jeans, a red turtleneck and a cute white sweater with my hair down. in reality, I wore PEGGED jeans, a christmas turtleneck and a purple 90210 tshirt and my hair was in this monstrosity of ponytail and bangs and frizz. and of course there were my glasses and my braces. I’m amazed that I ever got laid, let alone kissed, having outfits like that in my arsenal.

  • 2. jiveturkey  |  February 12, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Oh, my friend. The pegged jeans, they were painful. But hey, you still managed to get a little action, and that is no small feat. Kudos.

  • 3. Fern Grower  |  February 12, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    I loved reading your fashion blog on a snowbound day.

  • 4. Friend of Said Turkey  |  February 12, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Great post! I actually lol’d at the bolo tie.

  • 5. 4th reader of said turkey  |  February 12, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    The pegged jeans rocked the house. And the shaker sweaters. And the v-neck sweaters worn backwards. Oh, yeah.

    • 6. Daughter of 4th Reader  |  August 18, 2009 at 5:52 pm

      I’m so glad I don’t even know what those things are.

  • 7. Serenity  |  February 13, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    God i have tried sooo hard to erase all memory of my junior high school wardrobe and somehow you managed to bring it all screaming back. Thanks ever so much. I didn’t have anything like what you described but i know what i was wearing most of the time just did not quite… work… ugh.
    Totally, ugh.

  • 8. CC  |  March 3, 2008 at 10:07 am

    I think it could be even more traumatising that your brain has completely WIPED from memoory what you wore in the first place. Thinking back now, all I can imagine is being naked.

  • 9. Out and About « Jive Turkey  |  August 17, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    […] I just share how much I love buying clothes for that child? I’ve already shared how fucking backwards I can be when it comes to my own wardrobe, but shopping for babies these days […]


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