This year, I want do a series of posts about the people, places, and events in my life that have influenced my personal sense of style. Thinking through my style evolution has been fun for me… and sometimes surprising (as evidenced by this post). Finding the way to truly express myself through my style has been quite a journey, and it has only been in the last few years that I have truly started listening to my own voice in the way I dress.
I went to a pretty conservative college. Not so conservative that guys and girls had separate sidewalks, or I had to bring a chaperone on a date, or got kicked out for listening to Disney music… believe me, those colleges ACTUALLY exist. However, it was a conservative enough place that certain “institutional preferences” ruled my life for four years. I had a curfew, I couldn’t drink, and I had a dress code. Yes, a dress code… in college.
While my friends at other universities could roll out of bed and show up to class in a pair of pajama pants and a hoodie, I had to get up and actually TRY to look presentable every day. Men had to wear a collared shirt and dress pants. Women had to wear a skirt or dress, that at least hit the knee with a nice shirt. (Generously, we were allowed to wear dress pants in the cold western Ohio winters. ) All of this was under the guise that it taught us to be professional in our future careers. And I HATED IT!
There were days I just didn’t feel like doing my hair or pulling on a skirt and hiking across campus for my 8 am class. Sure, I found out how to get around the dress code by pairing a long, boring skirt with a college sweatshirt. And there were plenty of times that I got a talking to about how my skirt was too short. It was not really the most stylish period of my life. Honestly, I would roll my eyes about the whole professionalism thing and anxiously waited for the day that I could dress like a normal person again.
Fast forward to today… I voluntarily wear a dress several days a week. In fact, more than half my closet is full of dresses and skirts. Even on the days I wear jeans, I usually try to find a way to dress them up. True, what I wear now is significantly more fashionable and probably wouldn’t fit the dress code exactly… but the dreaded dress is still a major part of my wardrobe.
Even though Cedarville may have relaxed their dress code in the last twenty years… I have kept it up. I LIKE looking polished and put together. Doing my hair, putting on nice makeup, and finding a killer outfit makes me feel like ME. Gasp! Could it possibly be that telling me “looking nice equals looking professional” actually stuck in my brain?! How strange that something I used to be so adamantly annoyed by would become part of my fashion DNA.