I had no concept of personal style until I was in college. I sort of experimented with style my freshman year of college, but I really figured out what I liked to wear during my sophomore year of college. Perhaps it was because I had so much free time when I wasn't going to class because Disabled Services wouldn't take to me to class for one trimester, and then so much free time again when I could walk again but had seizures almost daily so I took a hardship withdrawal from my classes. Maybe it was just because I was actually growing up.
But this is not about that. Not really anyway. This is more about what I wore before I had a style. Up until I was maybe 12 or 13, most of my clothes were either bought by my mom at yard sales or hand-me-downs from my friends, family friends, and my older brothers. My family was poor because my dad lost his job at the plywood mill four days before I was born after it went out of business because of environmentalists and spotted owls. Most of the clothes I wore at home were boy's clothes. I wore mostly girl clothes to school until I was in high school. It made sense for me to wear boy's clothes as play clothes growing up. I was one of those kids who would play outside all day until dinner during the summer (when I wasn't reading books). I had two older brothers and I was a tomboy. I loved climbing trees and fences, playing sports and made-up sports, and playing in the dirt after my mom's garden was done and we were allowed to. When I was playing outside, I wore what my mom called my play clothes, which meant boy clothes that I could get grass stains on or rips without getting in trouble. I wore girl clothes to school, especially in elementary school, before I figured out that I didn't care what other people thought of me, and when I pretended like my favorite colors were pink and purple so I would fit in with all of the other girls in my class. Coincidentally I was very popular in elementary school, the most popular girl in my grade (of 20-something kids total). Of course, that was before kids decided that it wasn't cool to be smart and helpful. One of the things that I remember wearing to elementary school was a pair of dark purple overalls with a white heart print turtleneck underneath. Another thing I wore was a hot pink tee shirt with a flower print and Tweety bird on one of the sleeves. (There will be pictures on this post later, when I am not feeling too sick to scan and upload pictures, which in my room is much more complicated than it sounds. It involves me holding my laptop balanced on the back of my desk chair.) Anyway in middle school everyone joined cliques and decided that it wasn't cool to be smart, which meant that all of my friends from elementary school disowned me and I was left in the group of kids who didn't belong in any cliques, which is where I remained through high school. I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else, because they were real friends. All of us were unique and different and didn't only like each other because of the fact that we all enjoyed the exact same things, like the kids in cliques. When I was in 8th grade my grandpa died of stomach cancer. I think that's when my depression started. It was accompanied by apathy. The good thing about this was that I finally stopped caring what other people thought of me. I started wearing guy clothes to school sometimes, because they were more comfortable than my girl clothes. I had this one hoody that had belonged to my older brother. It was dark red and had tribal graphics on the sleeves and a really cool dragon. It was my favorite.
By high school I wore a mix of guy clothes and girl clothes. I also had this weird thing until about two years ago where I refused to wear skirts or shorts that were above my knees. Because of the guy clothes as well as the fact that I never had a boyfriend or even a date in high school, most people assumed I was a lesbian. I didn't care what they thought of me, but I was also tired as just being "one of the guys". I have always had mostly guy friends and by high school, I was tired of them not looking twice at me. I was also a late bloomer who didn't hit puberty until I was 14, which didn't help. It also didn't help that I was year younger than everyone in my grade. To put that in perspective, I hit puberty when I was a sophomore in high school. That year, my mom took me on a shopping spree at a thrift store. I bought all new clothes. I had gone from a size zero in jeans to a size 3-5 and also gotten taller and less scrawny, so I needed new clothes because my old ones no longer fit. I bought mostly striped shirts. I also bought flared leg jeans because I didn't realize that they looked terrible on me. I bought one tight v-neck t-shirt and this pair of jeans that I still don't know why my mother let me buy them. Probably because she knew I would only ever wear them once. They were really tight fitting and had a very short zipper and then a leather tie that laced them up instead of a longer zipper. That is a bad description. Anyway that is the outfit that I picked to wear the next day of school to attempt to impress my crush. He was in my chemistry class, my wood shop class, and my P.E. class. It actually wasn't on purpose either. He had shaggy dirty blonde hair and we were actually good friends, but he was another guy who just saw me as one of the guys. I had met him the previous trimester in advance algebra when we sat next to each other. I helped him with advanced algebra and the next trimester, he helped me with chemistry, the first class I ever struggled in. Seriously that dot method thing and valences and stuff just whooshed over my head. He was in the grade ahead of me and he was the class clown, but he was actually really smart. Nobody ever beat him at chess and we always had random conversations about stuff like real life Peter Pan syndrome. Anyway I wanted to make him notice me as more than just one of his friends, so I wore the tight outfit. He came up behind me in wood shop and then when he saw that it was me, he went "Whoa, Jessi!" and then was kind of speechless, which made me happy. What didn't make me happy was that my shirt was too short and I had to keep on pulling it down all day. It really didn't help that the leather tie on my jeans kept loosening itself so I had to run into the bathroom all day to retie it so nobody would see my underwear. So that was the only time I ever wore those jeans and I started wearing tanktops under the shirt, which was actually one of my favorites, despite having three-quarter length sleeves. And as far as the crush thing, my crush never went away even though he started dating a nerdy looking new girl who somehow got accepted as a popular kid right away. (She was actually really nice though, so I couldn't hate her.) I had to learn to be happy with just being his friend. And I decided that wearing clothes that I wasn't comfortable in just because I was trying to impress boys was not a good idea. My freshman year of college, I started wearing too-big girl clothes, as well as occasional guy clothes, some normal girl shirts, and skinny jeans. I vetoed the too-big girl clothes sophomore year after I realized that with my short haircut and guy clothes, I looked like a guy or a potentially homeless person. Especially since I didn't wear makeup. I started wearing mostly girl clothes, with the occasional guy's black guitar shirt because they were cool. I started wearing makeup when I was in my wheelchair, because it made me feel more self-confident. It made me feel pretty too, instead of just like that girl in the wheelchair. When I dyed my hair black, I started wearing more bright colors, because my black shirts with my black hair were just too much black. That's when guys started checking me out and making me feel uncomfortable, like the stranger on the Ave who tried to hold my hand and asked for a bite of my sandwich. Now that my hair is brown again, I get creeped on much less, which I can really appreciate. I have also discovered my own fashion sense, a mix of tough and feminine clothing and accesories, sort of a better version of sometimes wearing guy clothes and sometimes girl clothes when I was younger. And sometimes I actually make a conscious effort to look good when I get dressed, which I never did until last year.