“Honey, I don’t know how you’re doing on the inside, but your hair is holding up beautifully.”
I want to go out, I really do. In theory. but in practice it is an almost impossible task. I order most of my clothes online. I love it when they come. I try them on and plan out gorgeous outfits, following all the fashion rules. Then I hang the clothes up in my closet, and that’s where they stay.
I want to wear them very much, but the fact is, I am a recluse. People make me nervous. I don’t like talking to people I don’t know. Since I don’t really know anyone, I don’t talk to anyone. We do live in a small town, so there are exceptions. People who work in the stores, the pizza delivery man, the ups man: i don’t mind regular exchanges with these people, unless they get too chatty. My explanation of this is very simple- my favorite poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, wrote, “I want to be with those who know secret things, or else alone.” For me, the quote simply means that I want to spend time with people who know me very well, and if I can’t do that, I just want to be alone.
But fashion does not exist in a vacuum. I know this. Clearly, I knew this when I became interested in fashion. So I believe I subconsciously want to be noticed-in fact, subconsciously I am a pretty stylish woman. For years I have just thrown on any clean clothes that were lying around, and went out the door, seldom even looking in the mirror. I told myself I didn’t care. And maybe I didn’t, maybe I was focused on my first child, my son. Maybe I was more interested in my art projects. But maybe I was afraid to be noticed because I thought I would be criticized. Maybe I didn’t want people to see me, because I was afraid of what they would see.
Fashion demands a certain amount of pride. Maybe not in a city where fashion is the norm, where women do wear designer labels, mix prints, and step out daily in stiletto heels. But here, where anything beyond a t-shirt and shorts draws attention, you must have nerve to wear the latest styles. I knew this when I got interested in fashion. It’s another form of art. A great outfit is like a beautiful drawing. The difference is, you get to display the outfit faster.
I waited 2 months at least to display the outfit I wore in Wal-Mart that night. It was like the pictures attached here: a silky pink and white polka dot top like the one Katie Holmes wore in the attached pic, and a blue and pink polka dot pleated skort like the skirt shown. It was the perfect match of mixed print, both polka dots but in contrasting colors. I wore simple off white sandals and I carried a black Coach bag. I’m a beginner, of course, but I think I did pretty well with this outfit.
I didn’t have anywhere to go. There are no gallery openings here, and there is no hip downtown shopping district. We don’t even have a mall. But I did need to go to walmart. So I made a list and called the cab lady. I know now that her name is Denise, but at the time my son and I were just referring to her as the cab lady. I don’t own a car, so if I want to go anywhere that’s too far to walk, I have to call a cab. I do speak to the cab lady. I want to go places sometimes, and to do that I need her, so I talk to her.
We chatted on the way there, and parted ways at the door. We each had our own shopping to do. I walked through the store, loving my outfit. I was so happy that I had finally gotten to wear it. I felt as though I had a painting on display in a gallery, and I was happy about it. This is how I experience welfarechic. I’m a recluse, and I don’t need anyone to tell me how great I look. Compliments from my peers would be awesome, but for now I feel good if I have put together a great outfit that shows some of my personal style. Being chic is about confidence, knowing the styles, and sometimes creating your own. Welfare chic is about those things and something more. Welfarechic has pride to it, an edge that says ‘I can do it.’ It also says ‘don’t even try to stop me.’
This whole transformation from boring me to a budding fashioinista has been really strange. People who thought they knew me (which would probably be about two people) are probably disgusted with me. And I do know why. In the average world I am probably what you would call a literary snob.
I have always felt that what you know is far more important than what you look like. I studied history, education, art, sociology, etc. throughout my life. I made notes for every book I read, so that I could refer to the quotes later. I have never met anyone who had the same eclectic range of interests as myself. Once in a great while, someone would compliment my looks. Usually they would compliment my hair-it is naturally curly and people do sometimes compliment me on it. I have decided recently that they don’t mean to compliment me. It just looks so bad they feel like they hav e to say something, so they say they like it. It’s the same with my shape. People used to compliment me for my size. I am 5ft and have been petite for most of my life. So for some of my life the comlpiments about my size were real. Now, I weigh more than I ever have. I feel nauseous when I say that, I look so gross. But much like my hair story, people still say I am petite. I don’t understand why people say these things.
In this frame of mind, I have become interested in clothes. I think I am a strong person because of all that I have been through in my life. But now I am curious about fashion. I occassionally attribute it to a midlife crisis. That may well be true. My problem is that it’s hard to be a fashionista when you’re at home alone. You have no reason to get dressed, much less put together a fabulous outfit. There’s no way around it. If I want to wear some of the beautiful clothes I have bought online, I have to go out. .