The Awesomeness of Overdressing

I’ve loved to dress up since I was little. I had really complex games in my head that required dressing up. I was a snow queen. I was an elfin warrior princess. My characters had detailed back-stories. They had developed love interests. They could speak fluently in languages I’d never learned. Kidding. That’d be pretty sweet, though. Being schizophrenic, I mean. That would be sweet. Kidding again. Sorry. I can’t help it. You know those people who you roll your eyes at and say, “Everything is a joke for you, isn’t it?” I do that to my brothers a lot. I might kinda deserve it myself sometimes, though. A little bit.

Being a homeschooler, I always stood out. Sometimes it was because I didn’t understand fashion. Homeschoolers often have their own take on subjects like these. At thirteen, Emily thought the hottest outfit imaginable was a bikini under overalls. I thought jeans with peace signs all over them were amazing. Especially if my shirt had a lot of peace signs on it too. Maggie really probably couldn’t have embarrassed herself, but she talks about homeschooled fashion a little at ETDC here.

Or maybe I stood out because I walked around with my face jammed in a Stephen Hawking book about theoretical physics, twitching and unable to make eye contact because I was afraid that the “school kids” would steal my soul and make me drink alcohol and smoke pot. No, no. I did go on an astronomy kick for a year or so, but I made a lot of eye contact. I just like to joke about homeschoolers being socially awkward because that’s what everyone expects. It’s pretty funny. When my fiancé found out I had been homeschooled, we had this exchange:

Him: what’s up with that?

Me: what do you mean, what’s up with it?

Him: why did you and/or your parents choose to go that route?  how did you like it?  did you miss out on developing rudimentary social skills and become really weird?

Me: i liked it a ton. it’s really too bad that i had to turn out a socially incompetent, quivering wreck of a person as a result. oh, and i never learned how to tie my shoes. my parents must’ve just forgotten to teach me that!

Him: that’s why i just wear velcro keds. you’re lucky – i don’t have anything that’s easy to blame for my crappy personality.

Then he asked me out on our first date. He was kind of shy in person. I’m pretty outgoing. It was cute. And he definitely doesn’t wear velcro Keds. But he does wear kind of dorky New Balance sneakers.

But anyway. As a kid, I stood out, and it was fine, because all of the other homeschoolers thought I was extremely fashionable and cool, and I didn’t really have occasion to interact with a huge group of school kids (they’re really rather nice when you get one or two on their own). In college I learned the art of blending in. It was hard. It required many intensive training sessions with an ancient master. But I was dedicated. And sometimes I succeeded in disappearing. I wore jeans without peace signs and cute, form-fitting tank tops. Once I slipped up and went to class in a sweeping purple skirt with tiny silver bells sewn into the hem and a gold-embroidered top, but most of the time I was good.

A few evenings ago, we went out, and I felt like dressing up. I put on a clingy dress and ridiculous strappy gold heels. I was completely overdressed. My fiancé said, “Wow, no one here is dressed up.” I started to feel awkward—the ancient master had taught me well— but then, gently, I began to feel something else entirely. I felt good about being overdressed. About standing out. About being obvious.

Being overdressed is fun. You have to pull it off with confidence. You have to walk with your shoulders back, like you planned it, like you’re dressed up because you live a dramatic, impressive life. I mean, why the hell not? Maybe you do. I spend too much time feeling self-conscious about little, unimportant things. Maybe I’ll buy a peace sign. Nah. I’m kinda over those. How about a bright red dress?

Un-Roast: Today I love my knees. They have a cool shape. I can’t describe it because it’s too complicated. I’m sorry. I wish I could.

Everyone: How do you like to dress up? What would you wear if you could have the most ridiculous, expensive, strange clothing ever? Or would you just choose sweats and a tee shirt?

Stay tuned for an amazing guest post from the famous and fantastic blogger superwoman Janetha from Meals and Moves. That’s tomorrow.

And check out Maggie and my guest post about true beauty on 5 Seed. Thanks, Yancy!

8 Responses to “The Awesomeness of Overdressing”

  1. 5 Seed Natural Beauty responded on 04 May 2010 at 10:31 am #

    Hi ladies! Kate, are those new pics, or old? Did you just get a haircut, and if so, how did I miss that?! So pretty!

    Thanks so much for the interview – I LOVE the way it turned out!

  2. Cindy responded on 04 May 2010 at 11:10 am #

    I love your sense of humor…have I told you?
    you crack me up!

    typically I’m a yoga pants and tank type of girl. (at home) and then I just put jeans on to go out.

    I’m a mom, I chase kids. I “dress up” all week at the office and I get tired of slacks and button up shirts.

    HOWEVER…on the rare occassion when we socialize (like when we get an obligatory invitation to a memorial service…haha) I do enjoy spicing up my jeans…HA with a girlier shirt.

    I actually really like dressing more now! It’s why I want the 10 off my middle, so I can feel a tad more confident and not have the smoosh that always reminds me I’ve turned THAT corner (you know my YOUTH) and become WOMAN. grr.

    it’s a great journey and wouldn’t give up more confidence and who cares what they think attitude for slightly-er better skin. (or some parts being a few more degrees NORTH) get my drift!

    gravity happens. TO US ALL.

    I am really trying to live the expression 50 is the new 30 (well than…40 is the new 20??) okay…26

    love you guys! LOVE YOU IN SHORT HAIR. I’m guessing it’s an older pic…

    btw, my MOM sewed my clothes for me to go to “regular” school. I stood out too. but not in a good way.

  3. Jamie responded on 04 May 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    love the pictures. I am not into fashion, so I just think this when I get dressed: “OWN IT!” even if it’s something silly, haha.

  4. Elize responded on 05 May 2010 at 9:36 am #

    **wow, loved this!!

    fashion was a struggle growing up, wanting to be accepted/blend in with peers but still really loving the tie-dyed gym shorts & matching tie-dyed tee shirt (oh yes. i went there. at least once… then i “lost” the shorts and only wore the tee shirt. bummer. ’cause I really loved them.)

    i’ve since learned how to go ahead with what i’m inclined to wear because ultimately, i’m uncomfortable if i don’t. and that’s a wasted day! **

  5. Kate responded on 05 May 2010 at 10:48 am #

    No,that hair is from years ago. But maybe I put the photos up because I secretly want to cut it all off again….Summer does that to me. I just get this urge, and start reaching for the scissors. It’s dangerous :)

    @Cindy, YOU are hilarious. <3

    @Elize: Ha! We should’ve combined outfits. Peace signs and tie-dye! Yay!

  6. liss responded on 20 May 2010 at 10:51 am #

    The short hair is adorable on you! And overdressing kicks butt. I love your topics. I would never think to write about something like this, but I think about it a lot, because it makes me feel self conscious. But reading this helps.

    And you’re f-ing hilarious.

  7. ivy responded on 25 May 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    I’ve overdressed my whole life! I’m pretty sure I’m over dressed for couch sittin’ right now in a pink, lacey flowery nightgown and big, gold bamboo hoops. I’ve always collected vintage clothing and I used to wear vintage I have a killer fashion sense and for some reason, I was born w.o the gene to give a rat’s ass when people made fun of what I wore. I grew up in a really rural area (80ish people in my graduation class). How this related to my overdressing, I don’t know. Anyhoo, I remember leaning against a locker and one of the “popular” girls plucked at a corner of my psychedelic printed mod dress and asked, “What exactly is this made out of.” Another time, this bully girl tried to fight me for whatever reason. I was wearing a killer vintage 40s suit that was lemon and cream plaid and I had my hair in beehive. I just looked at her and said, “You are going to try to fight me? In this outfit? With this hair?”. Needles to say, she backed off. For my prom, I had a skyhigh beehive and the most amazing 50s dress. It had rhinestone oak leaves cascading across the bodice. The sash and satin trim matched my hair exactly. I also went stag w. a couple of BFFs. I also went through this dreadlocked hippie phase were I made everything I owned. Basically, I looked like a walking quilt. I rue wasting the best body years of my life under ankle length skirts and weird-ass, shapeless, backless dresses. I’m still supersparkly and possess the same aesthetic I did when I was 5. I have a ridic corp job. I was hired under the auspices of being “non-corporate” and was assured that I would be a good fit in my department. About 3 months in, my bosslady took to tell me my doorknockers were too big and the colors I wore were too bright. Fuck that noise, dude. I’m moving to Northern CA w. my boo (off the grid, baby) where my gold old lady sandals, glow in the dark cat earrings and vintage dresses will fit. Or not. Oh god, I’m always going to stick out like a sore thumb. :)

  8. Tara responded on 29 Jun 2010 at 12:49 am #

    Ivy, I live in NorCal. There are boring suburbs everywhere, but there are definitely places here where you will fit perfectly.

    In elementary school, I wore what made me not naked. In middle school, I went through a blending in phase, although I was never trendy, and I spent high school slowly becoming my grandmother. She is a classy Irish dame who I don’t believe owns an article of clothing that doesn’t sparkle or shine in some way or another, and when we visit, we drink tea (or, alternatively, sparkling cider in champagne glasses) and talk about Jane Austen and kids these days.

    So now I’m a chronic overdresser. My default at-home outfit is a slip with a too-large cardigan and a scarf on my head like a pirate. In public, I usually end up looking like a sailor, pinup girl, elementary school teacher, or some combination of the above. I’m happy with it; given unlimited resources, I’d probably just become more costumey and wear more vintage, and I’m past the point where I can actually bear wearing sweats. (I wear actual costumes pretty much whenever I can! I went crazy on spirit days in high school, and more than once I’ve insisted my friends dress up as superheroes with me before watching a comics-based movie. I was Hepzibah Smith for the last Harry Potter movie… bummer that they cut her from it, haha!)