Most of my friends cringe at their photos growing up and say out loud, “What was I thinking?” I never had that problem. My mom picked out my clothes until I was eighteen.
And we have very, very different tastes.
For so long, I hated shopping. It was always a back and forth battle in the dressing room or browsing the racks. I had no desire to wear anything revealing, but in the late nineties, I coveted things like silver pleather pants, lime green novelty tees, and then as I got older all I wanted was black, black black. But that wasn’t what my mom liked, and since she was the one with the money, I was always left with a weird compromise outfit that didn’t make either of us happy, especially me.
But I promise this post isn’t a giant shot at my mother.
There was another reason that shopping was so upsetting to me. And that was my weight.
I wasn’t a “fat kid” but people made me feel like one, so I was sure I was. My friends were all petite and slim and therefore, at least 20 pounds lighter than I was. It didn’t help that I developed very early. I started wearing a bra in the third grade and was a C-cup by junior high. By the time I graduated high school I was pushing DDD. While my size 0 friends were coveting the fact that I could fill a bra that required an underwire, I was crying that I couldn’t shop at Limited Too, that my hips made me look like I was constantly wearing mom jeans even though I was thirteen, that when people looked at my group of friends, they labeled me as “the fat one,” a name that always found it’s way back to me.
I figured that I couldn’t escape the fat label, so I stopped caring how much I ate and did whatever I wanted. But this post isn’t about my highs and lows of my weight so we’ll skip all those numbers for now.
Once I was no longer under my mom’s fashion control, I embraced what I liked, which was basically a lot of novelty tees. The problem with my little tees displaying my love for Legolas or The Boondock Saints was that nothing fit right. The XL label didn’t account for my large cup size, didn’t think how it would fit an actual XL person, that rolls that would stretch the fabric weirdly and turn into an unflattering crop top after two washes. So that turned into me living in a black hoodie zip-up. It would cover up the things I wanted covered, but still reveal the Jem and Holograms decal I loved.
I was told my look was juvenile. My mom tried to buy me colored tops, and I kept a few, but I always felt matronly in them, never liking the colors or the way the cut of them made me feel. My best friend’s mom begged me to stop wearing black. My friends made little comments about how they dressed better than I did. Shoes were no better. I wear a size 7 1/2 and am only 5’1″ so if anyone can pull off a high heel, it’s me. The first time I tried to leave the house in a pair, I was laughed at. I had five pairs of heels and I wore three of them once in the entire time I owned them.
I was finally making my own decisions about clothes and it felt like everyone, including the clothing stores were making it difficult for me.
After that, I gave up. I still wore my black, but I stuck to plain slacks and tees that were interchangeable from work to hanging out with my friends. The only thing that I was able to get creative with was my jewelry. Some people still gave me a hard time about my leather cuffs or my earrings that looked like a pair of zippers, but more often than not, I would get compliments from strangers about my choices in accessories. “I love all your rings!” “That handkerchief looks great in your hair.” “That purse is so cute!”
I honestly don’t know what finally flipped for me, but I know it happened in the last couple of years. I started shopping online more, searching outside of stores that could be found in my home state of Massachusetts, even outside of the United States. I finally measured my body, and paid attention to the size guide on websites and if you’ve never done this OMG PLEASE IT’S A LIFE CHANGER. Everything was eye opening, realizing what stores catered to my body type and what didn’t. Not settling for the plus size stores or departments that didn’t adhere to my style. I went through my whole closet and got rid of everything I hated wearing, but kept because it fit or was work appropriate. If it didn’t make me feel like Cailin, it didn’t have a place in my life, never mind my closet.
I didn’t do a giant shopping haul because ain’t nobody got money for that, but I slowly started collecting pieces from places I’d never shopped from before, but had found through the magic of Polyvore. Strappy sandals from the UK, comfy tees from China, hand-stressed shorts from Etsy. And, yes, I still wear all my crazy jewelry.
So cool, Cailin. You got over your jaded history with clothes.
But why a fashion blog?
I decided to start this blog because the more I started wearing what I wanted to wear–the skater dress when I was just going to the mall, the flower in my hair when I was just going for a car ride, the bat coat in the middle of January–the more people commented about what I had on, this time in a positive way. People wanted to know where I got my shoes or my rings or even my makeup bags. I don’t have a lot of plus size friends, but I have come across some women that are as frustrated as me that they can’t just walk into any store and grab anything they please. But while I’ve found enjoyment in browsing the internet for things that I like AND will fit, some people don’t.
In short, this blog is a giant answer to the question: “Where did you get that?”