All my life, I’ve had this one little problem.
I always overdress.
It’s not intentional, I promise. Most of the time, I’m just trying to fit in, although admittedly that’s something I’ve had issues with my whole life. In fact, occasionally I wonder which came first – the overdressing or the trouble fitting in? Chicken or egg, perhaps.
Either way, I just never seem to match those around me. When others wore sneakers, I wore penny loafers. When they upgraded to ballet flats, I’d moved on to heels. Formal occasion? You’d better believe I was the only black-tie-ready attendee.
To my mother’s credit, I didn’t start out different from my peers. All my childhood photos up to age six are just adorable – though granted, it’s hard to overdress a toddler. They look good in anything! And the selection is unparalleled; oh, how often I’ve drooled over the dresses – the pleated, full-skirted, petticoat-ed dresses in chiffon and satin-ish polyester and velvet. I would die to wear such a lovely frock in real life, or even just to a party, but the selection for adults is far more restrained (literally, in some spandex cases).
But sometime in elementary school, I was given autonomy over my daily dressing, and things went downhill really quickly.
For example, up until I was thirteen or so, I hated sneakers and blue jeans, as well as non-clothing essentials like pizza and chocolate. (I KNOW! I don’t know what planet I was from.) However, I did love sweatpants – particularly with my mom’s oversize knit sweaters. I know we all made questionable style choices in the 90s, but I stand firm in the fact that I took it to an extreme. I was an ADULT, darn it, at the tender age of 10, and my clothing choices matched.
The high heels in junior high, the giant purse instead of backpack throughout high school…I just never seemed to be in step with those around me. Part of this, of course, was due to money. We were never able to shop American Eagle or Gap, let alone Abercrombie, the ultimate dictator of taste. Still, you’d think that the popular girl who flew to London twice a year for school shopping would have been more overdressed than I was.
I did learn how to dress casually in college thanks to theatre and dance classes and my beloved Joe McNabb tracksuit, but I’m not going to lie – even now, I choose ballet flats over sneakers. One just needs a touch of class, non?
Why am I bringing all this up? Well, this weekend, I went to a Halloween dance with some friends. My first thought was, “Oh, that’s easy, I’ll just pull out my vintage 50s dress and be a sockhopper!” But then I read the invite and realized that “Gothic Victorian” was the theme. Different is good, but out of place is not.
So the challenge was to come up with a Victorian-tinged Halloween costume for a classy adult party. Fortunately, I’d come into a gorgeous blouse from a friend a few weeks earlier, and it kept leaping to mind with the idea “PIRATE COSTUME” yelling loudly.
Not gonna lie, I procrastinated until the afternoon of the party. At that point, it was too late to change plans, so I pulled out my black pants and a pair of boots on which the lacing mimicked the lacing of the blouse and decided to run with it. It didn’t look too bad, so the final issue was just hair and makeup. I checked in with my hair to see what it wanted to do (not joking, actually – going with my hair’s mood means a heck of a lot less frustration on my part) and opted for a very Victorian bouffant crown with a somewhat deconstructed topknot that I hoped would stay put in dancing.
All done, I called the look “Deconstructed Pirate,” felt absolutely beautiful, and decided I was pleased with what I’d come up with for no money. Admittedly, I was a bit miffed that my husband stopped me from taking my rapier into the city with me (the perfect prop!), but he was right – no matter how great it would have looked, it was an open weapon. Details….
What I’d missed, in my exuberance over the Victorian era, was the Gothic/Halloween part. You know, where everyone is creepy or bloody or scary? I missed that part (fairly obvious in the photo above), and while I remained pleased with my costume, I did find it somewhat hilarious that I’d overdressed yet again. Thankfully, my friend had some great blood-colored lipstick, and a couple of swipes on my cheek and neck at least pulled me back towards Halloween.
I guess I’ll never learn!
Are you a chronic overdresser too, or is it just me? On a related note, what are you wearing for Halloween this year?
First photo courtesy of Celeste Camano.