Why I Dress Up

On a daily basis people ask me “Why are you so dressed up?” and I never really have a response. Until now.

People expect an excuse like, “I have to perform at formal convocation today” or “I have a presentation”.

But I don’t need an excuse–and I don’t really see my outfits as dressed up.

I know that personally when I do not dress well I do not feel well, so I have resolved to look nice to the best of my abilities every single day.

Some days this means jackets heels and skirts, other days it means nice jeans a blouse and heels. On days when I have to give tours I wear flats during the morning.

I often get a lot of flack in the collegiate setting for the way I dress–bright colors, flattering cuts, and eye-catching details topped off with styled hair and polished makeup.

I have come to the conclusion that I am simply living in the wrong town. If I were in LA not only would I fit in but people would embrace my style.

I am my own individual and I refuse to dress poorly simply because I stick out on campus.

Every day is a new opportunity to reinvent your image and I think it would be a waste of an opportunity to go out in public not looking well.

Also, I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be a tiny, straight, skinny person and I am ok with it. I am working towards becoming a much more fit and healthy person but my curves are here to stay. So rather than try to stuff myself into the clothes designed for girls who seem to have never reached puberty, I am very conscientious about highlighting my assets rather than my flaws. So many girls look about 20 pounds fatter than they actually are because they don’t dress to fit their body shape. Don’t even get me started on the girls who refuse to buy things in the proper size because they are too embarrassed to admit what their size is.

A person can still dress to match current fashions without looking like some sausage stuffed into one-size-fits-all pantyhose. Let me tell you, one size and one shape never fits and looks good on all. I want women to stop trying to force themselves into one particular model. One of the greatest things about humanity is that everyone is so different.

Doctors wouldn’t prescribe the same medicine for every single person just because it was in vogue–that could cause millions of health problems and even death.

Fashionistas have just as much (if not more) influence on women, so it makes no sense to try and force all women into one look. You may say my analogy is ridiculous–how does wearing the wrong clothing for your shape adversely effect your health?

You’ve all seen the Lifetime movies about young girls, and even if they seem overly dramatic the fact is they are representing real situations that occur over and over and over and over again. Self-harm through various mediums are often caused by bad body image. But even if these issues do not manifest in everyone, the beginnings of them do. Girls, from the time they are born, feel the pressure of society bearing down on them.

In elementary school it was basic, I didn’t have the cool back pack or lunch pail, and I had to buy a certain type of pencil if I wanted friends.

In middle school I hit puberty and developed before my friends and was constantly made fun of, called a giant, told to “take off my costume because it wasn’t halloween” regularly. Then people started calling me fat, and my hair was too frizzy.

Hitting high school, I wasn’t allowed the short shorts and I didn’t get the cool pair of sneakers that everybody who was anybody had. I started surreptitiously glancing at fashion magazines, looking at the women on the front covers, and wishing I could look like them but knowing I never would. I loved the color pink and wore it every single day, and I got no end of censure for that. Towards senior year I started to wear other colors, but I had gained quite a bit of weight and I knew that the reason I was the only one without a boyfriend was because I was so “fat”.

In Freshman year of college, I didn’t have a style yet. I knew a lot of things that I liked, but I was still trying to shop in the wrong departments and fit into the style of clothing that looked good on my size might-as-well-have-been-zero roommate. Needless to say I was a mess, and not even a hot one.

As college has gone on I have developed my own style, and started buying clothing differently. I shop for things that look good on ME, and I ignore the sizes. What’s a number anyways? The hardest journey for me has been to accept where I am at, and to make myself look good now.

I admit I do have one pair of pants I bought too small, hoping that someday I could wear them. And I am a lot closer to that goal. (EDIT: 5/21/2010   Not only do these pants now fit, but they are also too large!!!!)

But dressing yourself for how you wish you look rather than how you do always makes you look bad. (Read that again.)

I’m not telling you a sob story for sympathy, the sad thing about my story is that it is NOT uncommon. Almost (if not all) every woman I know has told me about her personal struggles with a messed up body image due to the expectations she had been exposed to since a young age. I think that is so heartbreaking, and I know for a fact that a person’s belief in their appearance colors everything else they do.

So back to the original point of this post: I choose to “dress up” because I feel the best about myself when I know I look good. I am not saying everybody has to wear heels and dresses, but I do assert that in every style one can find items that flatter one’s figure. One just has to know where to look, and never to settle.

And I don’t spend that much on clothing. I usually clothing shop once a year, with a few pick ups in between. I buy 90% of my items on clearance, at end-of-the-whatever sales, and I don’t hesitate to adapt and redesign used pieces given to me as hand-me-downs. People are shocked when I tell them how much the things I own cost. I’ve never owned anything designer in my life (I’m far too poor) but most people wouldn’t be able to guess that.

I admit that I do have days where my look is a little lackluster, and if I am not leaving the house all day I enjoy loungewear as much as the next person. But if I stay grubby all day I feel grubby all day and this is unacceptable.

I need to always be able to put forward my best face so that I can give my best work.

So the next time you see me walking down the path, feel free to ask me why I’m dressed up and I will tell you that I am dressed the way I am because I am confident in myself–or rather I am becoming confident in myself.I still have a lot of self-doubt when it comes to other areas in my life, but the more I “dress up” the less I am having. I am on a journey, and my wardrobe is another step to help me attain and maintain mental and physical well-being.

I hope that you can become confident and comfortable in your image as well.

If you need any help feel free to ask.

I love helping others gain freedom and confidence in themselves.




6 thoughts on “Why I Dress Up

  1. Yay Emilie! I totally admire the fact that you dress up everyday, and I think you set great example for all of us 🙂

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