A few years ago, I slipped out for an hour or two of shopping by myself. I took my time browsing clearance racks, occasionally picking out a piece I thought might work. The salesgirl (age 17 or so) helpfully started a dressing room for me, and soon I was working my way through a pile of clothes, enjoying the fact that I was all by myself.
I put on a dusty rose sweatshirt that was a little shorter than my usual top length. I had on mid-rise skinny jeans, and the bottom of the shirt met the top of my jeans, but just barely. I stepped out of the dressing room to get a better look at myself in the big mirror. The girl who had been helping me clapped her hands, “You look adorable!”
Gazing into the mirror, I doubtfully asked, “But isn’t it too short?”
“Well, you can always layer it, but a little peek-a-boo looks good on you!” she responded.
I looked at her, stupefied. “I have three kids.”
I still remember the look on her face to my response. She didn’t say it aloud, but everything about her face said, “So?”
There have been many blogs and discussions about millennial moms hanging onto their skinny jeans and side parts, in defiance of the more recent fashion trends. And boy, do I get that. Comfort and practicality count way more during this period of my life. Has there ever been anything more practical than stretch jeans?
But sometimes, I marvel at what I see in the current trends: The rising waistbands that aren’t the most flattering for mom butt, but do highlight hourglass shapes, even when you don’t have one, tops and dresses that skim the body and celebrate curves, crop tops of every possible length showing a little (or a lot) of extra skin.
While I do love fashion, it’s not the actual look of the clothes that intrigues me. What makes my heart happy is who is wearing them.
People of all ages, shapes, and sizes are embracing more form-fitting tops and rocking a crop. Girls with incredible curls have dramatically perfect middle parts, along with their straight and shiny compatriots.
When most of these trends were here the first time around, I was in middle and high school. I was incredibly self-conscious of my body and would never have considered showing any part of my stomach. I didn’t wear tops that were super tight because I was aware I didn’t have the same body as most of the girls who did.
Even in my tween and teen years, I was caught up in what clothes looked like on me. Did they make me look smaller and closer to the unattainable thinness of the fashion ideal? My naturally curly (and frizzy hair) was painstakingly straightened almost every day to match what everyone else’s looked like.
So this summer, I enjoyed walking around and seeing how many people embraced the new fashions. Just looking at everyone else’s confidence gave my own a boost. I felt like I could do it too.
I bought a few more form-fitting tops and cut-off jean shorts. I even bought a cropped shirt or two, although I mostly pair them with high-waisted shorts. When I looked in the mirror, I loved that I was trying something different. I realized in a new way that fashion and trends are FUN.
Slowly but surely, I am following the lead of the younger generation. I am so happy for them, that they figured out how to embrace fashion fully well before they hit their mid-thirties. And I’m thankful for their courage, for staring into the face of a body having to look just one way in order to be trendy.
I’m thankful for a teenager at a store who looked at me like having three kids should have no effect on my fashion choices.
I’m thankful because THEY ARE SO RIGHT.
Three years ago, I bought that sweatshirt, but I have always worn it as a layer, over a dress, tank, or tunic-length top.
Maybe this year will be different.