You would have to be living in a cave to escape the advertising blitz announcing to one and all: It's Back to School Time! You must buy everything!!! From a retail sales perspective, this has to be one of the most profitable times of the year. Who wants to go back to school looking anything less than fabulous?
(groovy flashback music) I never really fit in at school. Plain, chubby and smart, I wasn't a cool girl, ever.I wanted to be and the best I could do was wear the same clothes (maybe in a bigger size) than the cool girls. Fortunately, my mom was great about it. I don't think it was easy, but she made sure I had the Levi's jeans (please don't pull off my orange Levi tag!), Adidas three-stripe sneakers, Elton John t-shirt, sizzler dress (with matching panties), palazzo pants, knickers, mini, maxi and midi. I had elephant bell jeans, the denim jacket, a three-piece suit, disco leotard and skirt, jumpsuits and high-waisted pants. There was the fancy ski jacket (White Stag, with the tiny stag zipper pull), platform shoes and a real Gunne Sax dress. Yep, I had it all.
But I still never fit in. So, as a junior in high school, I finally decided to take my own fashion direction. It was a complete departure from my fighting-to-fit-in looks. My look ranged from 1940's style pencil skirts and padded shoulder jackets (not the typical high school wardrobe, and I probably looked more like a teacher), to floral skirts with ruffled ankle socks and high-heeled shoes. I was the first to sport the "Bad Sandy" Grease look. I think I even mixed in the occasional "Good Sandy." No real style, no point of view or particular aesthetic, just whatever I thought was cool that day.
By the end of senior year, I was decidedly odd. I did, however, have a date to senior prom. My time to really pull out all stops and go wild? No, I weenied out and completely reverted to trying to fit in. It was the prom, after all. I wore a very safe, aqua floral Gunne Sax. Booorrrrring.
And guess what? I was in the Ladies Room that evening, admiring my ho-hum look, when a group of cool girls approached. Really cool girls. They must love my Gunne Sax. Yes, it's real. Instead, one said, "I'm surprised. We were really looking forward to seeing what you'd wear."
Here's the fashion lesson: Don't dress for others. If you have to change your look to fit in, it's probably not a place you really want to fit in. Trying too hard never works. Embrace and develop your own look, your own personal style. Then OWN it.