Words of Wisdom: Fashion Edition

Open Letters

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I read this on Refinery29 and smiled:

“Clothing Shopping Mistakes: “The Too-Small Thing (That Fits If You Haven’t Had Lunch Yet & As Long As You Don’t Breathe)”. News flash: You like lunch. And breathing. Buying clothes that don’t fit with the assumption that they may fit if you do a bunch of things that aren’t that fun is a terrible idea. There will always be another version of that item in your actual size. You can wait.”

On that note, as someone who loves clothes, I cringe a little as I recognize the traps we create in ‘justification land.’

I feel like I have this problem with coats … and shorts. I always envision myself being this kickass person with the perfect, polished winter coat. I usually buy a discounted version of the coat I really want and end up not loving it, while secretly envying other people’s amazing outerwear. I need to learn to hold off. I need to cull and then just wait for the perfect coat… not its kid sister.

I have the same problem with shorts and leg-revealing items, but worse. I trick myself into thinking that if I just buy the right pair of shorts,.. I will be a person who likes to wear/looks good in shorts. Buying the right pair of shorts will not change my legs. Only eating less cheesecake, drinking less wine and working out more will change them; and I’m not sure that the sacrifices I’d have to make to get those legs (ie. living without the joys of eating delicious desserts) would actually be worth having those model-esque legs… or make me the kind of person I’d enjoy being around. So, rather than envision and be tormented by clothes that fit a “better” version of me – a deluded, unrealistic version – I should focus on wearing the clothes that make me feel great NOW. I’ve been going to Polefit (more on that another time) and it has totally changed my relationship with my thighs; I can now go to the gym in shorts and be proud of how hard my legs work for me. Win.

Although it would be kind of nice if just buying the shorts Shay Mitchell is wearing on Instagram made me look like Shay Mitchell…

But clothes, for me, are like a superhero costume – items that send a message out into the world, transforming and arming the wearer, concealing tiny weaknesses (our personal kryptonite) and letting us putting on a braver face to the world. It’s not quite an ‘I woke up like this,’ as much as a ‘I created the me before you. Good work, me!’

If I spend too long living in fashion ‘future’, I will miss fun present. I have a great collection of well-worn faves, vintage, hand-me-downs, handmade items and a mish-mash of pieces from contemporary stores, and making good with what I have has been the focus of this past year.

I want to be focused on enjoying my slice of life (and cake), while relishing the great assets that might I might be overlooking while considering my (mostly) shorts-averse pear shape. Also, when I do wear shorts, I ought to consider that the strength in these legs is what lets me do all the things I love, like dancing in the kitchen, walking the streets of foreign places, and shaking it to music out on the stage, or on the dance floor.

It’s a fashion mindfulness moment: be present. be happy.  and eat that cake.

Fifty Shades of Fit

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I have been known to be easily seduced by the charms and promises of a new fitness regimen. I have a wandering eye. Although dance has always been my first love, I’m a woman of the world with a lot of experience in the sweat and muscles department. And although on the surface I may not seem to have a type, my forays into alternative fitness regimens all seem to have something in common – they are challenging, require thinking on your feet, distract me from real life and make the time fly by – like those hours-long phone calls with someone who so engrosses you that you lose time. And music. Yes, there is almost always music, or the sound of a soothing voice.

Rather than preventing me from falling asleep, like those all-night phone calls, these activities have helped me sleep better, sending me to the pillow exhausted. In my early years, dance, horse-back riding, gymnastics, and musical theatre were my passions. I wasn’t a smash into people, high impact sports type of gal, however, I played field hockey, soccer and, briefly, volleyball, where physical contact was rare, but well earned when it did happen. I’m not averse to a good slide tackle, eyes on the ball, of course. And I was fierce with a field hockey stick, mouth guard in… splattered with mud and grass.

Running, on its own, never did it for me. I go out of my mind, but not in a good way. I wonder what I’ve done to deserve it – the whole time – and I count the minutes til I can stop. I never have that gleeful ‘burn’ and satisfaction people talk about – but instead have that ‘can I please not be doing this, can I please be done now’ feeling, followed by a wheezy sense that my lungs will come out my mouth if I bend forward. I was a long distance runner in grade school, but I also didn’t have J-Lo’s butt to carry around with me.

Strangely, I can dance for hours, while running for ten minutes makes me want to die. It’s partly the lack of motivation (why run?) and since I get no joy out of it on its own (except if I feel like running spontaneously and can stop when I feel like it), I really struggle to make myself do it for the sake of my health. The only time way I can reconcile the objective-less ‘running’ with my goal-oriented, performance-competitive side is to imagine what might provoke me to feel that running would be worthwhile. Answer: running AWAY from something. I’m seriously considering one of those zombie obstacle course races – where the undead chase you. That is a motive I can get behind.

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So, all of this is to say, that I am newly smitten. After spending time enjoying long-term, non-monogamous relationships with hula hooping, circus school, yoga, hot yoga, salsa, contact improv and other completely engaging fit-but-fun ways of getting my body moving, once again I’m at the pole studio. It has all the challenge and reward of the other activities I love. The learning curve is hugely motivating. I feel an incredible burn and giddiness when I notice my own improvement. It has music and creativity, technical skill, problem solving (ever try getting your hips above your head by inverting onto a pole from standing?) and I get to dance around to music while sweating my ass off.

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Pole Fit is a lovely balance of ‘muscles and mascara.’ And anything that can get me to put on a pair of shorts and not feel hugely self-conscious is getting an A+ in my books. I’m too busy wondering where my hand goes, fumbling with sweaty palms and hoping I look confident and cool to worry about how my butt looks. And when I’m smiling, it’s because I just did an awesome boomerang, diamond, hang ten or ballerina… even though my arms are burning and my abs hurt from laughing at the last five times I didn’t quite get it.

So, of course, I’m making another date.

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