Top: Goodwill — Skirt: Gift — Flats: 6pm.com (Frye) — Locket: Hand-me-down — Bracelet: ABC Store — Earrings: World Market
I feel like I’m getting more comfortable with wearing outfits that land firmly on the sweet/romantic end of the Great Outfit Continuum.
I talked a little bit about my uncertainty re: “cuteness” a couple of years ago, and what it means to me to perform femininity with clothing that has strong feminine connotations. I’ve thought about it some more since then, and I realized that my main discomfort is really directed towards feminine clothes that also skew young, due to that fear of looking “childish.”
There are a number of reasons that we’re socialized to be uncomfortable with not-little-girls dressing like little girls, reasons which are more complex than I can really fully understand or elucidate. For me, though, it’s not only about visual dissonance of age vs. clothing; young girls don’t historically have a lot of agency in our society, and when I wear clothing that skews young or childish, there’s an unconscious fear in my brain that people will deny me agency because of it. Of course, that’s an ongoing problem with feminine clothing in general–see the rise of shoulder pads and power suits–but the addition of youth compounds things.
Not that I necessarily want to wear clothing that reads as little-girl-y; it’s just something I’ve been thinking about. When an idea feels uncomfortable, I want to ask why and think about where that discomfort comes from. Why did I feel uncomfortable about going to work with unshaven legs? Why did I raise an eyebrow at short-shorts? What makes “age-inappropriate” clothing inappropriate? Pretty 101 stuff, but even when I don’t come to a solid conclusion, I’d rather think about it than ignore or avoid the discomfort. I want to recognize these moments and use them to my advantage.