Monday, July 18, 2011

Day 115: 4 Mirror Free Fashion Tips

Thanks to Mrs. Bossa for featuring this post last Thursday at blog extraordinaire Mrs. Bossa Does The Do!

You may recall that this whole no-mirrors-for-a-year experiment was actually motivated by a fashion emergency: my growing anxiety over wedding dresses.  See, I'm a feminist fashionistette.  (FYI, per Urban Dictionary a fashionistette is: "someone who is "not quite as shallow as a fashionista, but someone who deeply enjoys fashion and looking good.")  Anyway, I put a lot of pressure on myself to both (1) find the impossibly perfect wedding dress (ideally... modern-yet-traditional, flattering-yet-brave, luxurious-yet-inexpensive, unique-yet-classic, etc. etc.), and (2) to look insanely gorgeous in said dress, once found.

At some point the dress search stopped being fun.  I hated feeling vain, insecure, and indecisive.  Never one for subtleties, I rejected these obsessions by rejecting my reflection.

Despite lingering body image insecurities, I've always found pleasure in expressing myself through clothes.  My style is all about combining opposites.  I revel in mixing bright colors with neutrals, feminine with masculine, flowing fabric with sleek lines, old with new, preppy with bohemian... sometimes all at once!  Thus, it scared me to wonder if shunning mirrors might make my life feel boring.
Life is NOT boring when you're wearing this much color! 
Thankfully, this hasn't happened, but it's taken careful strategizing and a few attitude adjustments.  Here they are.  (Note: you DO NOT need to abandon mirrors to try these things out, though it could be fun!)

1) Feel your fashion
How many pretty-but-painful items line your closet?  Instead of focusing on how good something looks on you, first figure out whether it feels good.  At first, not being able to see myself felt like cruel sensory deprivation.  Then I started focusing on senses other than sight.  This led me to try new styles, and to abandon trends that hurt.  My walking commute demands solid, supportive (preppy!) boat-loafers instead of delicate uber-feminine flats.  High-rise, high-stretch (high-comfort) jeans now softly hug my tummy and hips instead of cutting off circulation at "muffin-top".
Hooray for shoes!
2) Buddy system
Focusing on feel does NOT mean abandoning style or flattering clothes.  (Snuggies are comfy, but lack that pleasing je ne sais quoi, no?)  Once you find fashion that feels good, check with a trusted friend to make sure you look as good as you feel.  It's as simple as that.  I've relied on my sister, friends, and my future-mother-in-law for this!  (If you shop alone, consider staging a fashion show at home... or starting your own blog to feature your favorites!)

3) When in doubt, copy yourself!
Once you find something you love, get one in every color.  When faced with buying a new outfit for my wedding shower a few weeks ago, I bought the EXACT same Rachel Roy dress that I'd worn for my engagement photos, but in a new fabrication (and at a steep discount!).
This is a model, not me.
Since I'd purchased the first dress before my no-mirrors experiment began, I knew it was flattering, and had some fabulous photos as proof!
This is me!  And Michael!
4) Abandon control.
I look at this photo a lot.  It's the last picture
taken of me before I started the project.
Back to weddings... as most of you know, I found my dress.  I bought it the day before I stopped lookign in mirrors, and - to be honest - I really wasn't sure about it.  It has ruching (I hate ruching), it has girly flower appliques (including one in the back that looks, to me, like a bunny tail!), and it wasn't made by a famous design house (I'd always fantasized about name-dropping a bit, if only to myself).  But it felt comfortable, was flattering to my body, the price was right, and ... my mom got goosebumps.  I trusted my mom.

Buying my dress was a first step to letting go of wedding style perfection and it feels great.  Now - thanks to my no-mirrors pledge - I'll be completely reliant on other people to help me navigate dress fittings, choose a veil, jewelry, lacy underthings, and shoes (not to mention the all-important old/new/borrowed/blue items!).  Others may disagree, but sometimes good enough has to be good enough.  Even on your wedding day.  Well.... as long as we're not talking about the groom!

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  1. Cute dress! It flatters you very well. This post reminds me of when I decided to ditch make-up for my daily life (I still wear it for special occasions, like weddings, and performances). That really helped me let go of control. I think the most important part was just letting go...I wasn't making a statement that wearing make-up is bad (cuz it's not), but I was giving up my security blanket. I felt a lot freer and more comfortable with myself after that, so when I do wear make-up, it's for fun, and the wearing of it lacks the accompanying anxious feeling that I had to cover myself up. Also I get to sleep later in the mornings, BONUS!

    This also brings up a point I'd like to ask you and others about. When I first saw the image of the model in the dress, and then you, I almost posted that the dress looks better on you, and made a negative comment about the model and her body. Isn't part of this project to examine this kind of thinking, and hopefully reject it? Is it ever alright to say, "You look better in this than her" without creating competition between women and making someone feel bad about her body? How do you deal with something like that? How does your sister and future MIL tell you that something does not look good on you without buying into the body-hating mindset?

  2. Hi Amy,
    Thanks for this thoughtful comment. You know... I had to resist the urge to not say something about the model's body myself. She's very thin, and I was tempted to point that out in a negative way. I caught myself and resisted the urge to be a bit snarkily self-depreciative.

    Yes, the project is definitely about letting go of negative body talk, whether it's directed at me or at other women. Frankly, my "complaint" about very thin models would only have been thinly veiled anxiety about my own body, which made it easier to reject. But I still thought about it!

    As for my sister and future MIL... I NEVER use "fat talk" in the fitting room. I think it's my job to direct the conversation. Instead of acting like it's my body's job to fit the clothes, I focus on finding out whether the clothes fit my body. I'll ask "is this too tight?" or "is this flattering?". If the answer is "yes, too tight, " or "no, not flattering" I blame the clothes, not my body, (and move on to the next piece!)

  3. This is such a beautiful post! I am so glad to see that someone is going against the terrible and hurtful trend America is setting that brides to be must achieve perfection in EVERY aspect! As a bride to be myself, I think your advice and information is invaluable! Thanks so much.

  4. "...sometimes good enough has to be good enough. Even on your wedding day. Well.... as long as we're not talking about the groom!"

    Oh, but I disagree with you there, Kjerstin.

    Many women have given up on wedded bliss because they are searching for the mythical Mr. Right, and are unwilling to accept Mr. Right Enough.

    As if we are perfect ourselves and expect our grooms to be perfect also. (M excepted of course!)

  5. Cool tips, especially I like that buddy system tip. I can be a smart lady among my friends after I follow that.

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