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Image: Evolving and Static

in_junior_high.jpgMy younger son brushes his hair every morning in exactly the way he deems appropriate. It must be "smooth, straight, and soft." Meanwhile, my older son doesn't want his hair too spiky, but it has to be at least a little bit spiky because he doesn't want the completely-smooth look. He'd prefer textured to soft, too.

Of course they have differing clothing preferences, also. Thankfully my younger son is flexible enough to incorporate his brother's hand-me-downs in his wardrobe, but he'll add "flair" to them to fit his own aesthetic.

I figure some of their preferences will change; but others will stay the same. After all, my oldest son has adored the color green since he could even perceive colors. And my youngest son is likely going to be the more fashion-conscious one, since he adores "dressing up."

I was lucky enough to be an 80's child, so my hair preferences in grammar and middle school involved poof, satellite bangs, and spiral perms. And clothing was neon, bold stripes, and pegged pants. Hey, the former two are making a comeback!

As I went on through high school and college I had fun with my look. I followed trends, but parts of me still stayed the same. I always had long wavy hair, and I adored my v-neck sweaters (or v-neck cardigans.)

Once I graduated from college, I "updated" my look in the ways I thought it was "appropriate." I dressed more conservatively and wore my hair in a simple, boring style. I ended up working in a lab where I could have kept my old look. But, somehow I thought that I was supposed to be an "adult" and adults are booooooring!

As I went on to grad school I realized I could be whomever I chose. At the time, though, I was most focused on schoolwork (and labwork) so comfort was key. It is sad that my least-fashion-conscious period of my life occurred while I was living in New York City. No wonder I couldn't get a date! (Well, except when my hockey teammates took me to lesbian bars to hang out with them; I got noticed there.)

Early motherhood of course kept "comfort" as the top factor in my look, but when we moved back to my hometown, I was surrounded by a lot of very posh people. (I know, NYC fit that bill, too, but somehow I was blind to it at the time.) I got rather confused: what really worked for me? I didn't want to just copy the gals in my playgroup, but my jeans-and-T standby wasn't particularly becoming.

As my kids have gotten older, I've started focusing more on me, but the results have been mixed. There have been moments where I've thought I'd discovered something, "This is SO ME!" only to have it fall by the wayside. (You know those "I can't believe I did that!" moments.) Other times, my newly-discovered find becomes a reliable friend.

backthen.jpg

I have an old Brown sweatshirt that I can't bear to part with. It has holes all over the place, and will likely rip in half at some point. But it is so comfy!

My "CAPA" sweatpants are even older. At this point, I keep them in a drawer since they have a hole in an unfortunate place, but I can't throw them away because they are the one piece of souvenir clothing I have from my old dance studio. And dance was my passion.

I wore my old leather jacket to the ground, so got a "new" one about seven years ago. I wear it nearly every day, which is why there are some bizarre markings on it. But that just gives it character, right?

Believe it or not, I still have a V-neck sweater from middle school, too. It is in excellent condition and it fits me fine. (During junior high it was "oversized." Heh.) But of course I'd never wear one of those long jersey skirts or floral sweaters from that era, nor would I wear "telephone earrings."

During my lab job between college and graduate school, I went through a real "stripes" phase. (College was plaid, of course, which I still adore, but I keep it on my handkerchiefs rather than my garments.) I bought an excellent striped vest from a men's store. My then-boyfriend hated it. But, I still own the vest because I love it.

I don't know why.

I don't know why one particular sweater, or one particular vest is still in my closet. Of course, if I had predictive skills as to which purchases would be life-long, I'd save a lot of money!

me_right_now.jpgA few weeks ago, I misplaced my glasses. I usually wear contacts, but sometimes I like wearing glasses. This is in complete opposition to middle school, where I'd only sneak out my horrendous specs in the dark of the classroom if we were watching a movie. My heart would pound, afraid someone would catch a glimpse of me. Even through most of high school I'd continue throughout the day with a single contact lens if one fell out. I'd only pull out my glasses to drive home safely.

But then my senior year, I got frames that I loved. I actually chose to wear them some days. That very first day I wore glasses in public without blushing, I also wore a red and blue rugby shirt that I stole from my brother's closet. That shirt now hangs in my closet. And it will until it falls apart. (All rugby shirts I've purchased for myself have ended up worn a few times, and then chucked into the donation pile. I'm not sure what magic the one I've held on to contains.)

Throughout the years I continued to get frames that I actually liked. So when I misplaced my latest pair, I was disappointed to have to go back to the previous model. What used to be "me" no longer felt right. (Seriously, it is funny to look back on photos and wonder "What was I thinking?" but at least I was confident at the time, and that is key!)

Just yesterday, my brand-new glasses arrived. (That means I'll likely find my misplaced pair, pronto.) I'm thrilled, even if my older son thinks I look a little funny. (He didn't say as much, but I could read his eyes.) But, at some point in the future, I imagine I'll wonder why I went that route. Five years from now I might have totally different hair and a vastly different taste in frames. I'll believe, "Now this is me!" of my new style. But, I might still be wearing my sweater from junior high, or my brother's old rugby shirt. Who knows?

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