One of my earliest sartorial memories is my grandma wearing a jumpsuit like this one with her short permed hair and giant glasses, sometime in the early 90s.
When I had the opportunity as a college student to rifle through her closet, I ended up taking home a retro cotton knit romper, something beach-inspired, and tried to convince myself to wear it outside the house. But it was the early aughts, and a combination of teenage peer pressure and the overarching trends of the time weakened my will to just go for it.
I am slowly climbing out of that dark hole of worrying about what others think. It’s always been easier for me to do that with clothing than with other, more urgent, choices and behaviors.
I still think there’s value – both in terms of self protection and in terms of community building – to really listen to what others’ think. But I’m learning that every opinion isn’t equal. It’s the whole “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent” thing. Those who know me and value me, or those who I know and value in their fullest context, are ultimately more welcome to nudge me along to self betterment, or call me out when I am being ridiculous. But the random customer who doesn’t like my hair or the acquaintance who is trying to pick a fight over a misunderstanding doesn’t get to have the same hold on me. That hold can be so powerful, so confusing, so draining. And when there’s no real relationship there, and no intention of building one, there are limited solutions, too.
I’ve been singing “Let it be” a lot lately.
Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.