“I always believed that fashion was not only to make women more beautiful, but also to reassure them, give them confidence.”- Yves Saint Laurent.
Taking you back to May of 2018 right around my 27th birthday, I was surprised with a trip to New York City, duh it’s one of my favorite places! And because it was my birthday, I could do ANYTHING I wanted. Well, “within reason” Cooper said (but let’s be honest there is not much reason in NYC. That’s what makes it so great!) He had planned a couple things, as well as seeing some friends but with the plethora of weddings we had in the upcoming months and just because it’s me, I was going cram in as much shopping as I possibly could. Why? Again because it flippin’ NEW YORK CITY!
We were on our way into Chelsea when we passed a window of a store I had never been to before and on the mannequin front and center was this gorgeous red and white floral floor length dress. It had cap sleeves and small tasteful cutouts on the sides. The red piping around the edges looked like the soft serve ice cream with the red flavors swirl. After walking around the store for a bit, I was unknowingly pulling things off the racks and into my welcoming arms. The stylists who were there that fateful Friday were just as quickly getting the garments into a dressing room for me (smart, so that I had no clue how much I had actually pulled). I had circled the small perimeter of the store a few times before I walked back into the dressing room to try on. I dug through the hangers to find that red and white dress I saw in the window. Zipped it up to look and it in the mirror and… Boy did I HATE the way it looked on me. Not a cut-outs kind of girl. Feeling a little defeated, I picked up another dress. Not my favorite of the bunch but I had these stylists tote about 15 pieces back here so you better believe I was going to try them all on regardless of how much my dress dreams had been crushed. This teal, blue/green, with specks of shimmery gold was very pretty but it had these flutter cap sleeves that for some reason just didn’t speak to me (I always felt they made me look broad and wide) but for pure entertainment pulled the dress over my head and turned around. You guys… I had never been in something that felt more gorgeous.
On a more serious note, I have had a pretty severe struggle with body image issues since about middle school with periods of it being manageable and then times where it wasn’t. Anyone who has had the same struggle or even just a bit of self-consciousness knows it can be crippling. Dealing with an issue like this can take the fun and joy out of shopping. For something that I love so much I often have to give myself a quick pep talk before turning around in the mirror so that panic doesn’t set in if I see something in the mirror I don’t like. But back to my story about “the dress” I stood in front of that mirror and for the first time that I can remember or the first time in a long time I looked at myself and I thought what I saw was beautiful. I felt beautiful in this dress. And in that moment I realized why I loved fashion so much. It has this special ability to make someone feel so beautiful, so confident, so sure of themselves that any insecurity they have goes out of their mind and does and not come back while they are in that piece of clothing. And THAT is the amazing thing about fashion. This dress was that for me. I had that moment standing there in the dressing room.
I knew that Cooper and the girls who had helped me would want to see me in at least one thing I had picked out so I made my way out to the main part of the store to show them (which I NEVER do). Cooper was the first to see me and the look on his face had been something I hadn’t ever seen, almost to the point where I thought to myself “OMG he hates it”. But all he said was “Wow, Linds you look stunning” Can you believe that!? “Stunning” not “hot”, not “pretty”, not even “beautiful”. “Stunning”. I turned the corner and the girl who had pulled the dress for me said something along the same line as Cooper. This was an unknown feeling for me I didn’t really know how to handle it! I’m pretty sure I just stood there. That was it. The dress was mine.
The bigger picture I was trying to shed light on is that fashion and the industry can be an easy thing to judge purely based on the fact that it has created itself by, on the surface contributing to the physical appearance of a person. Therefore producing what some might call a “shallow” image. For those who do not necessarily see the point or benefits, they think it is an industry filled with self-absorbed, conceited people who heavily splurge on multitudes of clothing. But for those who do, it’s a conduit to confidence. It has the amazing ability to empower and transform you. That feeling might happen often or might be few and far between but seeing or feeling that once is enough to realize that the clothes we put on our bodies can be much more than that. So, men then next time you think it’s just a dress remember that for some of us it can be much more. Make fun of me or us all you want but I guarantee that feeling that was had is far from a joking matter.
I did wear the BA&SH dress to a wedding that June but when you have an item that is so special it is great to be able to wear it again in a different way. As the great Leandra Medine (The Man Repellar) says “When in doubt, add a motorcycle jacket. Heck, when not in doubt just add a motorcycle jacket.”
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Photo Credit: Alana Peoples