Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Style Through the Ages: Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my Birthday! Happy 28th Birthday to my little ol' self!

While I typically don't make a big deal about my own birthday (I have WAY more fun celebrating other people's), when I saw my birthday fell on a blogging day this year, I decided to put together a post that shows how my style has evolved throughout the years - because, guys, it's interesting.

After I hinted at my old style in a recent post that threw me back to the 80s, a few people challenged me to share some throwback photos (maybe as proof?) of my evolving style.



I like to joke that even before I could say the word "dresses," I loved being in them and I owe that to my mother, grandmother, and aunt. I remember handful of outfits so vividly from my toddler age on, a few that stand out in my head because I remember feeling such strong feelings for them even at these young ages, where I couldn't possibly even understand what these feelings were.

Geeze, you'd think I was destined to be a style blogger or something with those posing skills...

I was so head over heels in love with two dresses from my Auntie Denise - a dusty pink floral dress with puffy sleeves that she made me (she actually made 3 dresses for my sisters and I to wear to our cousin's bar mitzvah), and a bright sundress covered in lilies that she gave me for my birthday. I remember being so mad that my mother never let me wear it "just because." She refused to let me ruin it while I played. She did, however, let me wear it for the first day of Kindergarten and then again for picture day. I wish I still had the dress so badly! It makes me smile because it's a style I'd totally wear today - with a petticoat underneath, of course!

The pink dress my aunt made me - my parents still have these dresses!

Those two dresses defined me as a young girl and definitely played a part in my adolescence as I watched my older sister become a bad-ass Tom Boy who played softball and loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and wanted to be Melissa Ethridge for Halloween (mini guitar included!). I was the opposite (along with my little sister, who is only 10 months younger than me, so practically my twin) - I took art classes, had more Barbies than I knew what to do with, and was Minnie Mouse for Halloween (the classic retro gal!).

The lily sundress that still haunts my fashion dreams!

As I started middle school, I noticed something strange. I didn't fit in with anyone at all. It was a hard adjustment. Why was it that when I started the new school year (at a new school no less), none of the clothes I picked out when we went Back to School shopping were like the other girls? What was going on here?

I just naturally gravitated to bold colors, patterns, sparkles, prints, and styles. I didn't even realize that my style was unique until middle school started and that was such a hard time for me. I am still impressed that little 12 year old me refused to give in and wear the clothes my classmates wore to make it easier for myself. While they all shopped at American Eagle or Aeropostle, I loved Limited Too and ordering from the Delia's catalog (also, one called Girlfriend's, which had such funky stuff!).

This was my FAVORITE way to do my hair in middle school

I found solace in the TV show, Lizzie McGuire, in those years. These girls dressed like me! I wanted to be their best friend! I copied their funky hairstyles (remember the fake hair scrunchies that had color bits in them? Oh I ROCKED those despite the teasing I got at school), fell madly in love with Gordo (ask my sister, I believed we would get married someday), and event sent them letters in the mail (fun fact: I received Adam Lamberg [Gordo] and LaLaine's [Miranda] autographs! Back then, they signed head shots and sent them to you if you sent fan mail!). I'd go to school with a brave face and just make it through the week until Friday - Friday was when Lizzie McGuire aired and I got 30 minutes of peaceful bliss, where nothing anyone said at school mattered and all the teasing melted away.

This is definitely a moment of "what int the world was I wearing?" but I know why I wore it - I loved mixing patterns and coordinating colors. 

In high school, I was still somewhat of a loner and stood out greatly but people bothered me less. Either they got bored because I just ignored them and refused to fuel their fires or they simply realized I was never going to change and my funky style was here to stay, I don't know what it was, but either way it was a little better in the 4 years of high school. I joined the A Capella Choir and threw all my energy into performing with them as well as writing. I wrote so many full length novels in my spare time and shared them with my small circle of friends. My style evolved as well - to what I like to call Pop Punk Princess with an 80's twist.

I LOVED those rain boots, especially with my tights, and look at my earrings - they were working rubix cubes!!

I loved Hot Topic. I couldn't get enough striped tights, bright fishnet stockings, leggings, denim, BIG funky earrings (I was an earring queen!), tutus, goofy graphic tee shirts, and sometimes hats. I loved 80s music and my dad's record collection. I shaved my head at 14 (leaving just stubble since my mom wouldn't let me shave it entirely!) and rocked spiky hair, faux-hawks, and more.

It was then that I had another experience with a dress changing my life. I had a black white polka dot dress from Hot Topic that I wore so much. I often wore it with fishnets or striped tights (look at me, mixing patterns!) and I just LOVED it to pieces. It fell below my knees, the skirt was a pretty full skirt (not full swing), and was a stiffer material so it had some oomph to it. Again, I adored it and didn't know what it meant.

The polka dot dress of my dreams in my sophomore year school photo

My senior photo!!

In college, the punk rock edge faded away and I let my hair grow in and stuck with more of a pixie cut, but I still rocked the 80s and the colors and the skirts. I started to wear only dresses and skirts and my style started to evolve again. I loved vintage and retro style, but didn't have anywhere or way to buy it for myself. I still remember a few dresses I got from Delia's that had vintage vibes and I wore them until they either didn't fit or wore holes in them. They were my favorite things ever (fun fact: I still have one in my closet today!)!

What I wore to my senior dinner dance - I see some retro coming through here!

True story - that's a Minnie Mouse skirt I made myself out of old sheets! The sewing job was terrible but I wore it quite a bit!

Fast forward 8 years or so and here I am, in what I feel is my truest form of myself - a retro housewife with a modern pinup twist. I think back to the lily dress in Kindergarten, the polka dot dress in high school, the Delia's dresses in college, and every favorite outfit in-between and now know it was my true self trying to find its way out. I love that I now make my own money to buy vintage reproduction, have my own home (albeit rented) where I can keep all my dresses, and have a man by my side who supports my collection (aka true happiness) and loves seeing me all dressed up.

Oh high school - I had so much angst and a DeviantArt account, clearly!

I can proudly say that I am 100% happy with my life and who I have become and know that if my middle school self were able to get even one tiny glimpse of the future back then, and she got to see me twirling in a Bernie Dexter dress and Malco Modes petticoat with Cody laughing at my side, she'd be so completely and totally overjoyed to know that it was all going to be so damn worth it.

Sophomore year, going to the Spring semi-formal (fauhawk grown out by then)

If you've made it this far in the post, I appreciate you reading, and bravo! This was a long one. But my story is important to me. It means a lot. I am such an advocate for young people being themselves and staying true to themselves and never letting anyone change them.

The posing, I tell ya! I knew what I was doing! (I'm in the middle making the weird face)

I understand just how hard growing up is in those teenage years and I was so lucky to have had the strength and confidence I did to make it through it (not to mention amazing parents who let me be me through and through). Without it, I have no idea who I'd be today.

A few more college snaps - I call it my in-between phase where I was getting an idea of who I really was but not quite there yet!

So Happy 28th Birthday to me! I cannot wait to see where I am in the years to come!