Wear what you want. Why do these four words have such a strong meaning to me? Where did this passion come from? To answer these questions, we will have to travel back in time, back to the early years.
I have always enjoyed fashion, shopping and the time that I got to spend with my Mom. Fashion was a secret language that we shared, it was our bond and it was just our “thing”. Some of my fondest memories with my Mom were the Saturdays that we spent together. Our Saturdays were always the same; morning chores, lunch and shopping. Every Saturday without fail, in sickness and in health, rain or shine, we did the same thing. We got up, cleaned the house (which absolutely did not need to be cleaned), got fancied up and started out on our adventure food and style. As a kid, it just seemed like that’s what Moms and daughters did. Didn’t every Mom and Daughter on the block spend every single Saturday at the mall? No, I don’t think so, I think they might have broken up their routine a little or at least. But looking back at this now, I see that those days were more to her than just lunch and shopping, it was her escape. Her way of taking time for herself and doing something that made her feel good, this was her creative outlet. All of these things, all of these reasons were passed down to me. This passion has given me an eye for fashion and flare that is my own. It has given me the confidence to walk into any room knowing that I’m wearing what I want. That was gift that I will always thank her for.
My Mom and I had this routine until the time she passed. We were the longest running cast members in this play, but we were not the only players. Let’s meet the supporting actors. Grandma, now my Grandma had a wicked eye for fashion and never left the house without looking like she was walking out of a catalog (yes it was a generational thing), My Sister, my Sister got drug out every weekend with us, but she just but didn’t have the passion like we did. My mom for some reason never gave her the option to stay home which didn’t always make this for a pleasant experience but she was with us. I know now that my Sister didn’t enjoy shopping because she didn’t feel confident and unfortunately didn’t know how beautiful she really was. It is statements like this that make me wish I had a time machine to go back and tell her exactly how amazingly beautiful she really was. Heavy sigh!
So, every Saturday the four of us would head off to some store or some mall. Yes buying new things was fun (and the ultimate goal) but we didn’t always buy something. Sometimes it was because we didn’t find anything and sometimes it was because we couldn’t afford to buy anything, but we still tried. Sometimes only one person bought something, yep it was always a group effort to shop. For some reason it took all four of us to buy just about anything. It took four of us when my Grandma needed a new hat. It took four of us when she needed a new shovel or tomato planet. It literally took all four of us to buy anything. Why you ask, I’m not really sure and I just look back and appreciate the time that we had together. The fact that we didn’t always buy something came not only from not being able to find anything, but the fact that we didn’t have enough money to buy anything. During these years we still got up, cleared the house (yes it was still perfectly clean but we cleaned anyway), went to lunch then headed to the thrift stores instead the malls. We went from AmVets to Goodwill but never to the JC Pennys or May Co. Those trips were over and wouldn’t return for many years. As a kid, I didn’t mind that we were poor and I didn’t mind shopping at thrift stores. I still remember being so excited when I found that “one” deal. That top for a quarter a pair of pants for .50 cents or even that one great book for a dime that I could lose myself in. Now my sister on the other hand didn’t have the same great experience during those times. She was 6 years older than me and in High School. Kids aren’t nice sometimes and they knew we were poor (I’m sure you know where I”m going with this), yes, they teased her about her clothes. She was already struggling with her acne and her looks, and unfortunately, this just pushed her over the top. I remember not being able to understand by anyone would tease her, I thought we clothes were cute. She was my sister and to me she was perfect. I still remember a particular pair of overalls that she got. I thought they were so cute (I loved overalls then and still do today), but the other kids just tore her down for them. It’s those kind of memories that kept me out of resale shops for years. I associated thrift stores with my sister’s pain and couldn’t bring myself to go into one. I recently decided to face that memory and went back to the same thrift store that we shopped at when I was a child. It was exactly the same. It looked the same and smelled the same, the only thing that had changed was me. I talked to my sister (who has passed) while I was there and told her it was okay now. It was such a healing moment for me. It allowed me to face the pain that I associated with thrift stores. Since that moment thrift shopping is one of my favorite things to do.
Back to the story….Through the years our Saturday shopping adventures never stopped. Even as a teen we would have our Saturdays together. Now this seems sweet, but in reality this was just expensive. While my parents were doing better than they were, they still did not have the money to buy me whatever I wanted. To tell you the truth, even if they did have the money, my Dad still would have made me work for anything I wanted that was over the basics that they gave me. So off to work I went at 16 to buy myself the clothes that they other girls were having handed to them. Yep, that’s right, my friends had parents who were rich, and I had parents who thought teaching me the value of a dollar was more important. Looking back now, I was the lucky kid and had the good parents. School, work, school, work school, work, shop, become my routine. I still remember getting paid just enough to buy my outfit for the weekend and pretty much didn’t have anything left over. I worked everyday after school for that one outfit. It was a really good outfit!
Even out of school and out of the house my bond with My Mom and shopping continued. No matter how far away I had moved (I moved about an 1 hour away), we would still meet every Saturday. I would drive an hour, she would drive an hour. It didn’t matter, we just wanted to see each other. We wanted our time together and we just plain ole wanted to shop. There were new clothes just waiting to travel home to our closets. There were times throughout my early thirties that I just didn’t have much money. I was a single Mom and didn’t have the extra income to spare on my clothes. But that did not stop us, oh no. We would still meet for lunch and still go shopping. Only difference was my boys were usually the ones to get a new top, socks or a small toy, but they got something. My Mom, being my Mom would always slip something into her bag for me. I really don’t care what anyone says, a mom will be a mom no matter how old you get!
So let’s look back at this journey. From childhood, thrift stores, endless lunches, hours on the road and decades of bonding time. Fashion and the time spent with my Mom, is time that helped me become the person I am today. I didn’t realize then that all the conversations over lunch, all the small talk at the stores and all the questions about what looked good, was nothing more than a Mother/Daughter relationship forged in a Nordstroms department store. Looking back now I see that I took these lessons and turned them into my own. I took the encouragement she gave me to buy something that I wasn’t quite sure of and rock in my own way. Exactly what I’m trying to do now for millions of women around the world. I’m trying to give them the same love and encouragement to “Wear What You Want” that she gave me. I know in my heart that she would be proud. Not so much of me, but for the gift that she gave me and my desire to share that with you. Her fashion, her style, her confidence. Her fashion choices helped her when she was sad, it made hard times not so hard and it just made her happy. I can say with confidence that it does the same for me. So thank you Mom. Thank you for those unlimited lunches, hours of shopping and endless conversations.
I will end this with a message from my Mom and myself. Fashion isn’t what you wear, fashion is about how it makes you feel. It tells the world what you think about yourself and what you want the world to know. Wear what makes you feel good about yourself and you will find your style and I guarantee you it will tell the world one thing…. You will tell them that you are amazing!