home Uncategorized From the Highs of Dressing Like a Dude, to the Lows of Dressing for the Office: My Year in Fashion Rehab

From the Highs of Dressing Like a Dude, to the Lows of Dressing for the Office: My Year in Fashion Rehab

It was approximately six months ago when I found myself shuffling through the grocery store wearing camo-print pajama pants. Witness accounts may claim I was making a Honey Boo Boo, Mama-June, bingo face while humming Kim Mitchell’s Go For a Soda, and I will neither deny those statements, nor feel ashamed of their possible validity.

However, I did break a cardinal rule: I wore my pajama pants in public and came closer to becoming a Red Deerian.

There are lots of reasons why I stopped caring, the main reason being the nature of my former job which enabled me to spend six, luxurious years dressing like a dude. I also experienced a change in my life priorities when I became serious about my writing. Superficial shit like dressing myself fell to the way side, and disturbing past times like discontinuing to shave my legs to see how hairy they could get just seemed right.

When I started my current job a little over a year ago, I was thrust into a world where a certain standard of presentability was expected. Having a history of innately rebelling against superficial codes of conformity, my initial response was to freak out, flail, and find some way to stick it to somebody, or something, somewhere. While I had no choice but to adhere to wearing casual office attire, I decided the best way for me to RESIST! was to continue to dress like a dude. Except now I would dress like a classy dude.

My mother, who stood by me as I travelled this tumultuous journey, was supportive, and she suggested I model my new wardrobe after Ellen.

Ellen DeGeneres.

I was receptive to Mom’s suggestion; Ellen is undeniably handsome. But when I stood in front of the mirror clad in loafers and a dress shirt that screamedTESTICLES!, I realized it wasn’t dressing like a dude that I liked.


I wanted to dress like a  sixteen year old skateboarder circa 1995.

No, wait. That’s not entirely correct.

I didn’t just want to dress like a vintage, sixteen year old skateboarder, I wanted to dress like the love child of a skateboarder who had immaculately conceived a bum-baby with a lumberjack bear named Biff.



I officially crossed Classy Dude off my fashion inspiration board, and I accepted the fact that my best bet was to resort back to dressing like a heterosexual woman.
Those who met me within the last six years will be surprised to learn that at one point I had style. Now that I was re-entering the world of chick-wear, I realized that I had lost all sense of my fashion coordinates and was walking in circles like a runway model at a People of Wal-Mart fashion show. I also realized that the people in my life didn’t actually love me, because if they did, I would have already been on a flight to New York City to get therapeautically belittled by Stacy and Clinton in the 360 degree mirror.

After the trials and errors of learning how to dress myself as a teen, from posing as a 65 year old, Frasier loving male, to eventually dressing like an underage, Russian prostitute, I did come to develop a strong understanding of the shape of my body and the importance of enhancing my silhouette. Now I didn’t know shit. While the general shape of my body remained, I was ten to fifteen pounds heavier. It wasn’t that I disliked my curvier dimensions, I just didn’t know what to do with them. As small town, shopping mall fashion desperately attempted to swoon the teen market, it seemed as though they had overlooked women with curves, aside from (maybe?) the plus-sized niche, but I’m confident that many plus sized women could write a 30-page essay for the Journal of Why Can’t They Make Cool Shit That Flatters My Figure, Too?

For the first few months of the new job I hobbled around in ill-fitting, business-casual attire that swaddled my soul like a death cloth. But that wasn’t the worst of it.For the first time in my life I not only experienced what it was like to sit at attention in an office chair for eight hours a day, but I also experienced the pain of sitting in stiff, tight fitting pants that wedgied around my crotch, battering my porkchop as if I had been a victim in a Toddler With a Bat reel on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Things began to look up when I discovered the versatility/ comfortability of black leggings (in conjunction with bodycon minis and boots), a discovery that was prompted by my boss’ habit of stating, “GET OUT YOUR STRETCH PANTS, GIRLS!,” when she’d return to the office with donuts and homemade desserts called Lard on the Beach, and I Can No Longer See My Lemon cake. Since discovering leggings, my fashion angst has greatly diminished, and I half-assedly feel like I’m getting back on track to being a girl.

A few weeks ago my best gay, Will and I were discussing our tendencies to immediately divert our eyes to people’s asses when people watching, and I made some stereotypical girl comment about my blossoming Bonita Applebum.

“Please,” Will said. “You just look more ethnic.”

Since I now live in redneck, White Person Land, the white-girl box of beauty ideals surrounds me like a claustrophobic dressing room with a distorted mirror and track lighting, but Will’s comment removed me from my temporary mind-fuck and reminded me of the world that extends far beyond, and the diverse beauty it encapsulates– or some shit like that.

More than anything, I was stoked that Will had unknowingly made it “okay” for me, a pasty white girl to classify my figure as ‘ethnic’. This set a whole new politically incorrect precedence for me to burst out of a change room, throw a pair of jeans at an equally white sales girl, and make the declaration that due to the fit of their jeans pinching my “jelly”, I could no longer shop at their establishment and support their refusal to celebrate ethnically diverse body shapes. Awesome, huh? So wrong it almost seems right.

The road to fashion rehabilitation has been a long one, and while I still occasionally revert back to Carhartt work pants and a plaid lumberjack coat, I do feel as though I’ve returned to a balanced ground of fashion-appropriateness. Hopefully this will be a starting point for me to regain some creative inspiration and have fun with clothes again.

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