how not to dress for others

Carrie tells her parents that she’s become a “cool dresser.” Image source. Is it courage or conformism?

I wish I knew how. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. With my 30th birthday came a naive hope that the boatload of cultural expectations was finally slowly sailing away. Celebrities and dubious fashion icons are after all getting younger and younger (as I am getting older and older), so surely I could finally be my own person, in my own clothes, chosen and made by me for me. Sweet maturity.

If only. Nature abhors a vacuum. So now there are new pressures. You don’t have to pretend to be a sexy go-getter anymore but now you have to hit that impossible sweet spot between trying hard but not too hard to look “youthful but age-appropriate” or however else to describe that thing no actual living person can ever get right. And then there are other pressures that depend on where you live and work and the people around you.

Sorry if this seems like the dark opposite of a personal style story. But I’ve been noticing that alongside people’s wardrobe inspirations and ambitiously original sews often runs a thread of concern about how they are seen by those around them. I remember learning, after admiring hundreds of cool handmade/homemade outfits on various blogs, that Zoe Edwards came up with the Me-Made months in response to fellow sewists telling her they didn’t have the courage to wear the clothes they made.

I just hate feeling that even when I really don’t want to be too concerned about fitting in, I end up being really preoccupied by it. I keep returning to this post from Roobedoo, and the great quote nested there, originally from this post. They articulate more clearly what I’m trying to say, which is not that I want to be a rebel. I just don’t want to be a conformist.

Into-Mind, the one style (non-sewing) blog I like to read now and again, offers some tips for fighting your inner cowardly conformist here. But I’m curious if you have any tips or stories to share.


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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

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