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When I was thirteen, a new clothing store opened on the other side of town. It was our first fast fashion retailer and everyone in my grade was desperate to get in the doors. The only problem was this, it was far away and none of us had access to cars at such a young age. Also, and this comes with a warning of showing my age – internet shopping didn’t exist back then. We had to rely on an adult to drive us. I begged my mom for weeks to take me. Girls were turning up wearing the coolest slogan tees and jean skirt minis from this shop daily. I counted all of my babysitting money and figured out I could afford to buy at least three items and still have a little money left over for savings. How sensible. One Saturday, mom drove me across town, with my moaning little brother in the backseat. I’m pretty sure he was bribed with the promise of McDonald’s on the way home. As we pulled up and parked the car I spotted two pairs of corduroy overalls styled in the windows. I made a deal with the devil as I eyed up the items. “Dear Universe, I’ll do anything if only these overalls are long enough to fit me!” I went in, grabbed the biggest size they had, and ran into the dressing room overcome and hoping for the perfect fit.
I pulled the first leg on and saw the gap before I had hoisted it over my knee. The overalls were short, and not in a cropped cute way. I sat down and sobbed, softly, on the bench in the dressing room. I’m not sure what made me think that a new store would suddenly cater to a different size. The year was 1993 and this was very much the age of 579…. read that to mean sizes 5, 7 and 9. At the time I was a size 12, ironically. Just out of reach. But even if I were a size 9, the pant leg would still be too short. I left the fitting room with a smile on my face. I refused to run into any classmates feeling anything less than an active part of this shopping community. I marched over to the slogan tees, picked up two and found a rainbow red sweater that I called my “statement sweater” for the whole season I wore it. I checked out, got back in the car, thanking my mom for driving me all that way, and showed up at school that next Monday sloganed to the max. I never forgot those overalls. But, not for the reason you think. Here’s what bugs me about that moment. I was thirteen, and my style was not a natural one. I read Vogue as if it were the Holy Bible. I digested every page, every single way in which a sweater would be layered, or a collar turned up. Nowhere had I seen overalls styled in anything other than a classic manner. Today, I would tell my 13 year old self to buy the overalls, cuff them, wear with ankle boots, a heavy knit and rock that look like the best of them. Make it your own! I was too scared to make it my own, too scared to stand out more than I already was. What a silly teenager.
Well, that teenager is a full grown ass woman. And this woman wears overalls. And they’re still too short. But, I cuff them, style them out and make them my own, because I refuse to do anything less. So, people, that’s the overall story. And it’s why you’ll see me rocking them whenever I can. The sizes may be bigger these days, but the vertical challenges remain. Although I see the world through different eyes now. If we don’t like something the way it is, change it, fix it… do something to make it the way you’d like to see it. That’s today’s lesson, and it doesn’t just apply to clothing, people.
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