Wear Something Gaudy

What to wear?

A few months ago, I was at work when a woman came in with her toddler daughter. This would have been unremarkable save for the fact that the three-year-old and I had on the exact same outfit (I had just turned 26 years of age). From our purple tops with matching neck bows to our tutus, to our brightly colored tights, to our outstandingly bad ass boots, we were twins in our garishness. As the toddler and I gave each other mutual appraising and approving looks, I realized that I had two options. One: I could feel ashamed that I had dressed like a child, or two: I could realize that I had dressed myself with the carefree abandon that we possess in spades as young children, but lose as adults. I chose option two and have continued dressing for my inner three-year-old.

I am very glad that I did because recently my three-year-old niece told me, “Auntie Mandi, we are pretty and awesome!” (Unable to have our positive view of ourselves partly limited to looks, I replied, “Yeah, and smart and tough!”)

The timing of touting our own awesomeness was positively providential. Later that day I logged onto Facebook and read a blog reposted by my friend, the inimitable Laura White (have you read her blog on this site? If you have, I commend you. If not, you now have your next reading assignment). The blog was about how at age five we are assured in our own awesomeness. As we grow older, we allow society to take away that awesomeness. My favorite line from this blog (found here) is when the author says, “Did you consider they (the people trying to take your awesome) might be full of shit?” Until I read that, I don’t think I did.

I am trying to get my awesome back. While perhaps seemingly (and I say falsely) superficial, one of the easiest ways to change your attitude is to change what you are wearing (Just ask an actor. They know that for one to get into the head of a character, one needs to literally get into his or her shoes). Each day I wake up with the oxymoronic notion of wanting to be a different character while still being intrinsically me. Some days I take sartorial influence from Charlotte Charles from Pushing Daisies because I have her moxie; some days its Sherlock Holmes because of his attention to detail; some days I want to dress like a super secret agent because I am mysterious; some days I want to dress like a girl who stays in sweatpants all day because I am lazy. We can get back to our awesome, and we can do it differently each day, with the imagination and self-approval of a child. We can be foppish or fashionable or folksy or formidable or flashy or fit, and we can channel this through our frippery. Wear Something Gaudy Day (October 17th) is the perfect excuse. How will you let your awesome shine? If you need inspiration, I have some books in which the characters have fully embraced their awesome.

Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century
By Sam Kashner

Sure, sure, they were still married to other people when they fell love (and lust), married each other twice, and divorced each other twice. They boozed and cheated and said horrible things about and to one another. But, my goodness, did Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton ever know how to live. They just did not give a flying poo. They did what they wanted and lived with fire, passion, and gusto, society’s judgments be damned. Not to mention that Taylor had it written into her contract that she wouldn’t work while she had her period. How did she do that? (Not only do I find her impressive, but I identify with her because she famously choked on a chicken wing, while I, albeit it not so famously, have also choked on a chicken wing).This book is perfect for Wear Something Gaudy Day because you know that Liz loved herself some gaudy baubles. Plus, she and Richard Burton had their ups and downs throughout their lives, yet through it all they lived with unabashed awesomeness.

Reads well with: Eddie Fisher and chicken wings

Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel
By Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

Let me get my mild irritation with this book out of the way first: it is poorly edited. Here and there the reader finds typos and passages in need of clarification. However, if you can overlook this, you are in for a good time. It is quite the fun little steam punk romp. The main characters are a fastidious librarian inventor named Books and a bulletproof corset wearing anachronism of a secret agent named Braun. Both characters have to surmount their self-doubts in order to unleash their natural chutzpah and talents upon the world or, more specifically, the underground world of malevolent English secret societies. If you need ideas for Wear Something Gaudy Day, might I suggest a top hat or a bulletproof corset?

Reads well with: The Heavy and a kiwi fruit tart

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