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!