Over a long chatty lunch with a dear friend, the subject of what clothing means in our lives came up frequently. After spending my career around the clothing industry, I emphasized the importance of fashion to me. Even though later in my journey fashion and trends shifted into the psychology of what our closets mean on an everyday basis. I wanted to take clothing to a higher purpose than superficial seasonal picks and lead it into self-esteem and confidence.
We both seemed to have a different take on why and how we valued shopping for a new look. I loved every minute because just being in a well appointed visual experience was a joy to me. On the other hand, she found it to be a more basic and thrifty experience. We bantered back and forth and then she asked if she could tell me a story.
She shared that when she was a little girl she lived in a very poor neighborhood. Her mother was quite adept at tailoring and would take thrift shop items and smock them as well as adding buttons and bows that brought them into the realm of items purchased in a high-end children's store. When she showed up at school the teacher constantly complimented her and her peers taunted her as she stood out against the background of their plain attire. She spoke wistfully of how she wanted to hide and felt uncomfortable so clothing became a sense of low self-esteem in her young life. Today the thoughts still haunt her and so clothing psychologically means something different to her than it does to me.
It was time for me to share my life experience. We returned to Philadelphia after my Dad had lost his business in Miami. We lived with my grandmother in a very nice neighborhood and my new clothes came from a flea market booth. I attended an elementary school with children that could purchase their clothing at the very best stores. Every day I stood out and was bullied for my look that was not up to their standards. I dreamed that someday I would have beautiful clothing and belong and shine wherever I went in my life.
We looked at each other and both shared the "AHA" moment. She felt that "fashion standing out" was a return to the embarrassment of her past. I felt that "fashion standing out" was a journey past the embarrassment of my past.
We shared a hug and a glass of wine. After that day our mutual shopping excursions took on a different and wonderful meaning.
What experiences in your past have colored the way you shop now? Tell me your story! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org