I’m not normally one to use the writing prompt for ideas. It’s not that their ideas are bad or anything, I’ve just usually got so much to say, I’m not looking for outside ideas! Today, I was actually planning to write about my favourite sweater and how it defines me, and as the writing prompt is about clothing and style: it was a great fit! (pun totally intended!)
Dressing and clothes shopping have been a challenge for me since I became aware that what I wore mattered as much as who I am to the outside world. The first time this concept hit me smack in the face I was 10 years old and my best friend’s mom bought me a pair of Mac jeans so I could “fit in” with the other kids. The trendy jean of 1980, thank you very much, and for the girl who got hand-me-downs or GWG husky (boys!) jeans, I couldn’t have been more grateful as I gleefully took them in the powder room to try them on. I was absolutely demoralized when I couldn’t get them past my knees.
I’m built like an Amazon. What do you see when I tell you that? If you’re unfamiliar with body types, I am what is known as a mesomorph. The Encyclopedia Britannica states that a mesomorph is
a human physical type (somatotype) that is marked by greater than average muscular development, as determined by the physique-classification system developed by American psychologist W.H. Sheldon……The extreme mesomorph has a square, massive head; broad, muscular chest and shoulders; a large heart; heavily muscled arms and legs; and minimal body fat. He tends to develop muscle easily. His muscular development can usually be distinguished from that of one who has developed his muscles through body-building exercises. Compare ectomorph; endomorph
So, big. Not fat, muscular: but kids don’t know fat from muscle and all they saw was “big” and translated to “fat”. For me, stating I’m built like an Amazon is positive reinforcement that does away with all the negative name-calling I endured growing up (kids are cruel). When I make that statement about myself, it conjures up an image of a gorgeous, strong, independent warrior – you know…. the Wonder Woman of comic book fame! (not Linda Carter) – how I would like to see myself.
I think style starts here – how do we see ourself?
Style is personal. Trend is collective. Both evolve.
I have been a trendsetter in my life, though as a teen I didn’t feel comfortable in the spotlight it shone. Perhaps I continue to be more trendsetter than follower, even now, and just don’t realize. My style is eclectic. I am neither conservative, nor bohemian; though I have been both and the bohemian look is what I crave. It’s just not flattering on my shape, so I pick and choose, incorporating elements without being fully defined by it.
And then there is My Sweater. My sweater is the singular piece of clothing I own that has come to define me. It is unique in its shape and texture, unlike anything I’ve ever worn before, and while I’ve never seen one like it, it is as common as any black sweater.
A bargain find on a clearance rack about 2 years ago, I loved it at first sight. With my body-image and self-esteem issues, I remember being nervous about trying it on because I was worried the shape of it wouldn’t suit my shape.
Woohoo!! I shouted when I put it on that first time…yes, right there in the store….because not only did it fit – it made me look great! It was yet another defining moment for me, only positive this time, because it completely changed how I saw myself (physically).
My Sweater. My sweater is black, plain black and yet beautiful in its simplicity. Like any sweater, it has two arms and a collar, but otherwise it is completely shapeless until it is donned. Knit as a giant circle with armholes, it cascades along my curves, highlighting my best features and masquerading my worst.
Despite its utilitarian aspect, it incorporates femininity in the scalloped edges of the wrist, the delicate knit eyelet bands that provide just a peekaboo to what’s underneath and the cowl effect of the collar, rippling along the entire front length giving it an almost ‘frilly’ appearance – just enough to feel pretty without screaming “girly-girl” (which I definitely am not). Because I am a free spirit trapped in an ultra-conservative shell, my sweater is the best of both, incorporating the elements of conservatism and freedom that I need.
It’s definitely my favourite piece of clothing and because it is a sweater, it is versatile enough to wear in most situations; like the little black dress that every woman “should” have in their closet. For the record, I don’t anymore: it had a dry clean only tag!
When I put on my sweater, I suddenly feel safer; cocooned. It wraps me in its giant folds and warms me. This simple act of serenity helps me walk out my door with my head held high, ready to take on new challenges.
It has become the definition of my style.
When I left the corporate world 15 months ago, I shed everything that went with it. All the dry-clean-only tags in my closet went directly to Goodwill (or whoever picks up the donations in that purple box) and I stocked up on leggings and t-shirts. No, not a terribly attractive look, but a functional one and a comfy one. In my new role teaching kids to get creative, functional and comfortable became priorities over which designer’s name was sewn on the label!
And over every outfit: My Sweater. Regardless of the season, I wear my sweater. I wear my sweater so often, it has become the means by which others identify me. “I thought I recognized that sweater!”
When I’m not wearing it, I feel….Naked. Exposed. You could say that my sweater has become a security blanket. And you might be right. But it’s the prettiest darn security blanket I’ve ever had and at 44 years old, it’s great that I can disguise it as just a sweater. Just a sweater, like any other sweater, but somehow unique. Like me.