Anatomy of an Outfit: The Non-Conformist

October 25, 2010






Just as the weather began to turn cool I threw this outfit on to go pick up some invitations from the printer and grab some half-and-half from the grocery store. When I was checking out said half-and-half the clerk said “I don’t know if you tried really hard to put that outfit together but you look really cute.” I said “thanks” and blushed a little but what I wanted to tell her I’d been putting this outfit together my whole life. That in the 5th grade I would wear zip up Airforce flight suits (found at the Goodwill) to school. Like, on a random Tuesday. And that in middle school I wanted to be Eddie Vedder or Kurt Cobain (their female counterparts were not accessible, too much effort and I was still years away from puberty). I would wear ratty old cardigans and one plaid around my waist with another up top. Plaid on plaid action – which actually inspired this scarf / plaid combo – an outfit I wore in the 7th grade. I was voted most non-conformist in 6th, 7th and 9th grade. They did away with it in the 8th because kids didn’t know what “non-conformist” meant and gave me an even harder time about my knee high argyle socks and camouflage velcro shoes. I think I thrived on freaking my peers out – I almost demanded a reaction. I would like to think that, to them, I was challenging what it meant to get dressed in the morning.

In the 9th grade I graduated to Junior High where kids thought my polyester suits and homemade bell bottoms were rad “but they could never pull it off”. Again, I was voted most non-conformist and when my teacher (who always complimented my outfit choices) told me she was counting ballots a huge number of them went to “Kathleen Turner” (my maiden name was Thomas) and she assumed they meant me. They did.

The 28-year-old me is high-fiving 12-year-old Kathleen when I get compliments on my outfits. We showed them. Even though I feel like I’ve toned it down (or creativity in fashion has become more mainstream) I still get “I could never pull it off” comments. Maybe my highschool superlative is more about the attitude – the way I wear the clothes and not how the articles of clothing wear me. And that’s taken years and years of practice.

Wool coat – Urban Outfitters
Scarf – Urban Outfitters
Plaid – JCPenney’s, mens section
Tee – Urban Outfitters
Jeans – BDG, Urban Outfitters (gah, I’m like the poster child for UO here)
Boots – Frye
Gloves – Target

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