Starting a year or so ago, maybe more, I discovered this thing called a fashion blog. It started with Fashionist, picked up The Sartorialist along the way, got greatly inspired by Blue Collar Catwalk, loved the sophistication of Frocks & Frou Frou, had its eyes opened to the worlds of body acceptance by Sal of Already Pretty, felt a kindred spirit in Ashley of Yammering Muse‘s inspiring vintage ensembles and cheered on Gabi of Young, Fat & Fabulous.
Reading fashion blogs led me to start rethinking not only the way I choose my outfits, but also the way I view my own outward appearance. Maintaining a positive body image has been a constant battle for me. Growing up (especially in high school), I struggled with feeling beautiful and because I didn’t fit the molds of smaller sized women, I felt completely cut off from the opportunity to enjoy clothes. Clothes shopping for me was all about finding a store that carried larger sizes and less about the clothes themselves. I still remember the revelation that was discovering Lane Bryant. But even then, I felt like clothes were about fitting in and covering up enough of myself to feel normal, not about helping express my own preferences/taste/style or about helping me gain confidence in my outward appearance. Now I am not saying that clothes are the answer to low self-esteem, not at all. But gaining confidence in my own sense of style and allowing myself to consider clothing options that I would have previously considered off-limits due to my size, has been hugely influential in the small inroads I have made to accepting and loving my own body.
The "pre-packing lay all my clothes out on the bed" routine
So where is this all leading too? Well, I decided to use my two week vacation to Seattle as a chance to challenge myself. Instead of packing the usual hodge-podge of random clothes, I would try to pack in such a way that I would be able to produce 12 unique and fun outfits that would both work for vacation activities (you know walking around looking at things and sitting in coffeeshops) but would also be ones that made me feel positively about myself.
What the clothes looked like in the suitcase (although I had a few clothes in another layer on top of this).
Thanks in huge part to Becca, my willing photo taker, I fulfilled my daily outfit challenge, but I have to say it was harder than I thought it would be and not for the reasons I had expected. Here is some of what I learned:
My outfit for a day trip to Vashon Island where burgers were eaten, lighthouses were climbed, tea/book shops were browsed and wine was tasted.
First, posing for daily pictures is hard! I was amazed how self-conscious it made me. While I have done a decent job of getting over issues about not always being amazingly photogenic, the act of getting someone to take a picture of me EVERY day was hard. I found that I tended to want to berate myself for being so egotistical as to want to photograph myself. Who was I to be posing for pictures? What was everyone else thinking when they saw me posing for my pictures? Would they think I was full of myself? Would they judge my clothes, judge me? I find this to be interesting, considering how much I enjoy seeing other people’s daily outfit photos and appreciate the time they take to do so. But for some reason when I tried it myself I was often left feeling awkward. I think if I were to keep up this practice, I would eventually get over this issue, but for my 2 week experiment this was one of the hardest parts.
I wore this for shopping on the ave, the Underground tour and the cooking of a yummy meal.
Second, posing itself was also hard! In addition to the awkwardness of having someone take a photo of you every day, there is the what do I do with my hands, my feet, my head part. In other words how the heck do people pose so naturally in their shots, boy howdy! I ended up doing variations of the same two poses for most of the week, but I definitely have a growing appreciation for people who make posing seem so natural and flawless.
Probably my favorite outfit of the trip, we wondered around Fremont, met up for lunch and had a picnic supper this day.
Layers are your friend! Especially when trying to dress for the cool/warm combo that is a beautiful Seattle summer day. This outfit ended up being perfect for the entire day starting in the overcast morning and finishing with the cool after a sundown at Gasworks Park. But as I also learned, keeping layers simple also lets fun pieces like this dress shine through. I think the Menno in me loves the dress even more because it came from my new favorite thrift store, Unique.
I wore this outfit for a day of walking around Vancouver.
Finally, keep it simple! Sometimes the most basic outfits ended up being my favorite, for example this is just jeans and tee shirt, but with my hat and earrings it ended up feeling perfect for a day of walking around and exploring a new city.
So there you have it, my attempt at being a fashion blog and some of the things putting more effort into my clothing choices have taught me about myself. While body acceptance and being comfortable in my own skin is a continual effort (and probably one I could get several more posts out of) this was a fun experiment in how taking time to consider my fashion, helps me gain confidence in my outward presentation to the world. And as I have often experienced, confidence seems like a long spiral of “fake it, till you make it”.
Most of all I am interested in what you all think. What role does clothing play for you? Is fashion a possible source of confidence for you or something you try to ignore? Are there clothes that make you feel special when you wear them? I would love to hear what you think.