Not to blow my own trumpet, but I was kind of an awesome kid, in a dorky kind of way. I miss that childlike state of uninhibited-ness before I learned that there was supposedly a 'wrong' way to dress - when clothes were for a) covering nakedness and b) turning into a knight, rock star, princess, woodland spirit, pirate or werewolf (depending on what library books I was borrowing at the time). Comfort, practicality and fun were my watchwords, before puberty hit and all of a sudden I was trying to meet boys (aargh!), look trendy (double aargh!) and impress other people.
(Maybe the title of this post is a touch misleading. Despite best efforts, I don't know that 'cool' was something I ever successfully achieved. Once a My Little Pony-obsessed, happy little dork, always a My Little Pony-obsessed, happy little dork - or something like that.)
Fear not, I don't intend to revive my previous wardrobe of socks with sandals, dodgy leggings and paper armour (painstakingly made by my mother. I think she drew a pterodactyl on the shield). Well, maybe the socks and sandals combo - bite me, it was comfortable! But I'm trying to focus more and more on dressing for myself, and currently hearkening back to a time before it even occurred to me that other people might have even a sniff of an opinion on what I was wearing:
- Accepting my geekiness. It is time to stop worrying about being liked. No, somehow I don't think I would have survived better in secondary school if I had joined the art club, the reading group and the Lord of the Rings gaming team, but I might have stood more of a chance of enjoying myself doing my own thing, rather than aiming for a level of social acceptability determined by 'popular' kids.
- I'm trying to channel how I shopped as a kid, changing back from 'does this go with my overarching style concept? Does it express every nuance of my soul? Will it be flattering?' to a far more basic, 'I like this colour/picture/style/fabric,' with a side order of 'hey, I can actually move in this'. Not that I don't think about what looks good(ish), just not making other people's potential opinions my first priority.
- Get curious; play more. And stop being afraid of looking odd! Well, more odd. Since I have begun trying to embrace my inner child (I'd love to find a less cringey way of expressing that sentiment), I've watched an artist painting in the grounds of a cathedral, found a street art display, bought a carved wooden charm from a homeless man, spent a day writing in the woods and played table football in a Jack Wills shop. It takes some time to stop worrying about whether or not people are watching when you lie on the ground for the perfect photo, but it's been worth it so far. (I have found that having blue hair actually helps with this. People seem to assume you are a quirky artist type and smile at you sort-of-fondly when you do something a bit strange.)
|Appropriately dorky picture from Christmastime|
- Embrace nostalgia. I grew up in the 90s so I'm having a big 90s trip right now - watching Buffy, putting stickers on things, digging out old magazines and lists of birthday presents from friends, from primary school when gifts included glitter hair clips and hand-drawn pictures of dogs.
- Resisting selfie culture. Don't get me wrong, selfies are great and they do have their place, but for me, I find it less than helpful to live every experience through social media; trying to fit each outfit and event into a tidy frame. This may be the cheesiest thing I've ever typed, but at the moment I'm trying to live #nofilter.