Le 26 juillet 2016, 05:49 dans Mode • 0
Most of us are taught, at least when we're young and in school, that clothes should not be important, other than the fact that they need to be clean and appropriate for the particular situation.
My parents didn't foster vanity or labels. They eschewed preening and primping and caring overly much about our appearance. But their guidance obviously didn't save me from some embarrassing occasions.
I can still recall the too-short white pants I had to wear to my seventh grade band concert. When my supposed friend asked "Where's the flood?" I didn't get the joke at first, but once I did my face burned and I was filled with hatred for this girl, who was also tall but had pants long enough to cover her ankles.
The marching-band uniform I had to wear in high school was a constant source of shame, even though everyone else in the marching band wore the same polyester black pants and white, red and black tunic with epaulets, the same cap with chin strap and feather. Oh, it was terrible to be 15 and have to look even dorkier than I already did in my normal clothes.
I had a friend sew the pants so that they were skinnier, tapering them to the ankle. For some reason I thought the band teacher wouldn't notice, but I was decidedly wrong about that. She saw me before a parade and asked me what happened to my pants. (Well, she yelled the question. Her demeanour wasn't calm even in the best of situations.) I told her what I'd done and she shouted, in front of everyone, "FIX IT!!"
My mum did her best to keep me in pants that were long enough, but I was growing too fast for her to keep up and it has always been difficult to find pants that fit me correctly. We like to laugh together now about how trying on clothes with my sister and me was more of a psychology session than a shopping experience. "I just don't feel it's me," my sister or I might say. We always invoked feelings in connection with clothing.
I'm living through the same thing now with my own teenagers, especially my daughter, who has loved clothes since she laid them out for herself in the shape of a person on her floor each night at the tender age of 2.
Both of my kids have school uniforms, which you'd think would improve the situation, but really doesn't. Instead of donning the required outfit each day and skipping off to school, there is always a certain amount of tweaking, of bending the rules as far as possible to make the uniform their own, be it elaborate socks or a hat hidden in a backpack for later. And if you grow out of a uniform midyear, good luck finding anything left at the store.
Our clothes are how we show the world who we are, especially when we're still figuring that out. They reveal our style, which is not merely shallow appearance but a window to the substance beneath. Our clothes can say, I am creative, or I like this band, or I am conservative or nerdy or wild. Or they can tell people, "I am a mess and can't find anything that even fits me", which is how I felt that day in seventh grade with the short, white pants.
While I agree we should advise our kids not to get too wrapped up in fashion and appearance, we need to understand how their clothing is both their armour against critical peers and their mode of expression.
So perhaps we should be more understanding when they come home crying and spend all night unstitching their ugly band pants that they were only trying to make a tiny bit cool for the sake of their dignity.