Giving it who for…

Last night in bed I was flicking through my already well-thumbed copy of Closet Confidential by Daddy Likey blogger, Winona Dimeo-Ediger. Now, before I get to the crux of this post let me just say, if you don’t have this book you NEED go out and buy it NOW. It is pure, hilarious genius, and packed full of sage style advice. Lauren bought me a copy for Christmas and it is already well thumbed. It lives on my dressing table! My favourite part of the book is the shoe alphabet, in which she divulges a “shoe truth” based on this blog post.

Getting a shoe compliment from a woman is like having Bobby Flay come up to you at a party and tell you your seven-layer dip was incredible, like having Whitney Houston (pre-crack, of course) duck her head into your car window at a stoplight and tell you that she overheard you belting out “I Will Always Love You” and that you’ve really got something there, like having Mario Testino tap you on the shoulder when you’re posing for Myspace self-portraits in front of your bathroom mirror and saying “You’ve got a good eye, kid.”

Something about this truth struck a chord somewhere and set a chain of thoughts in motion. This week I have been asking you all to vote for the outfit you like most for me to wear on Saturday night. Now, I’m not a girl who usually has problems dressing herself (yes, I know, that depends on your point of view… my hot pink legs have received some VERY odd looks today). I know what I like, I know what I feel good in, I sometimes like to push the boundaries on what I feel comfortable in, hence now LOVING the purple skirt that I was previously seriously uncertain about. 90% of the time I am happy (and excited) to choose going out clothes, and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve replied to an invitation out with “Ooh yay! – Can I wear a pretty frock?”

So why am I struggling so much with choosing an outfit for tomorrow night?

Looking back, the last time I asked for your opinion was for another night out in Manchester, going cheesy clubbing for Mikey’s birthday. This might lead one to believe that it is the location that is affecting my decision-making capabilities, that something about Manchester makes me uncomfortable in my skin/clothes, but I’m pretty sure such an urban hive of a city like Manc caters for pretty much every taste…

I have come to the conclusion that my indecision stems from a desire to feel that I belong. Whereas in my day-to-day life I dress for myself, when going out with this particular group of my uni chums I try to dress to blend in. I try to dress like they would want me to, less flamboyantly than usual, even a little like I did for nights out back at uni. I dress for acceptance.

The problem is that I don’t own clothes that fit in with their collective style. I can’t pull off easy elegance like Elena can, I’m far better suited to fun and funky retro. And when I try to find an in-road to that look I get frustrated and end up feeling inferior at best, invisible at worst. I feel like I lose my sparkle.

This really is my problem. I have been friends with these guys for over a decade now, I dressed crazily at uni (Stripy pink roots? Pillar-box red dip-dyed hair?? Bindhis and tiaras??!) and that didn’t put them off – I should be pretty confident that they at least kinda like me… 😀 So why am I so afraid of alienating/embarrassing them? Why can I not wear one of my lovely dresses and go out my usual sparkly self?

I don’t know the answers. I just know that this whole dressing for other people thing is NOT worth the effort. Because people either like you or they don’t, and if they like you, they’re not going to let a net underskirt get in the way!


18 thoughts on “Giving it who for…

  1. When I wore my hot pink tights last week they attracted some strange looks as well, but I think they looked good with what I was wearing and I didn’t want to wear black or grey like almost everyone else in my office! What I’m going to say is fairly obvious, but you know yourself and what suits you, so you I think you should go for something that you feel good in. The other people around you might not remember what you were wearing, but they will remember you if you’ve got your head held high and you are feeling good about yourself.

    Oh, and WORD on the shoe compliment thing. I was so tickled when that man complimented me on my shoes on Saturday!

    • Yours did look good – they matched your cardi perfectly too!

      One of the interviews I went for when I was job-hunting last year I wore navy tights and shoes and the receptionist got very excited as she was the only one in the office who wore anything other than black or nude tights. She told me even if I wasn’t the best candidate she was officially awarding me best dressed. I liked her! 😀

      That guy camplimenting you was a real coup though – I mean a stranger, on the street (i.e. not in a club toilet where alcohol has loosed the inhibitions) WHO WAS MALE. That’s like the ultimate in shoe compliments!


  2. I can so relate to this. The group of friends I see most often all tend to dress very casually for almost everything. I, on the other hand, am a fellow owner of hot pink tights, and don’t consider myself to be dressed AT ALL unless I’m wearing a pair of stilettos. Over the past couple of years I’ve really tried to force myself to actually *wear* all of the clothes I buy, and break out of the jeans mold, and the result of that is that it’s become second nature to me to wear things that are just very different from the “norm” in our group”. And the result of THAT is that when I see my friends, I tend to dress down, so I don’t look like I’m trying too hard, and just so I don’t look ridiculously overdressed. It’s actually quite weird, because I wear things around the house, or out shopping/visiting family etc that I would consider much too “dressy” or unusual for a night out with my friends. I don’t know the answers either, but I do think your last paragraph is spot on, and I suspect people probably pay much less attention to what we wear than we think they do!

    • That sounds very familiar… my motto is usually that I’d rather be over-dressed than under-dressed, but just with these guys I go in completely the opposite direction!

  3. I got a few strange looks when I wore my hot pink tights to a wedding in November. I decided it was admiration…. for my nerve!
    You may remember many years ago Cie when I was wearing Scarlet tights and your school friend Lottie comented on them. That was the first time round for Bright tights! Be your self – that’s what we love you for xxx

    • Your whole outfit for that was brilliant though!

      I’d fogotten about Lottie and your tights! See, it’s all your fault – if you’d dressed without panache as I grew up I’d be a far more boring dresser now… 😛


  4. You are my style Icon Cie! Always have been, always will! This is just a self confidence issue and maybe some deep seeded fear of being judged, i don’t know. What I do know is, when you dress as yourself you turn heads (in a good way!!!) and you light up a room. Whatever you wear, you need to feel comfortable, and remember that you are happiest and strongest when you wear your personality on your sleeve, literally!! The stress is coming from trying to fit in with a style that isn’t quite you, and therefore a personality that doesn’t quite fit. Maybe go extra extreme – maybe go for the ultra-cie look (she could be a superhero), let your personality dazzle through ultra strong and banish away all the negative worries. Don’t try to box it into a clothing genre that doesn’t make you feel comfortable. If people out in Manchester don’t like it, that is an issue with them, not with what you are wearing!


    • Ultra-Cie Awaaaaaay!!

      Aww, bless you, thank you sweetie. We haven’t been out (or stayed in!) dressed up for far too long – we owe one another a frock night! 😀 xxxx

    • Laura Ashley, charity shop. It has butterflies all over and is a wrap-dress. I’ve only worn it the twice, but it’s the only outfit I’ve doubled up on since I started at Macmillan, so I must love it!


  5. Oh my gosh thank you so much for the shoutout, and I must say I that what you’ve written here is so true–it’s so easy to get caught up in dressing for other people. I have certain groups of friends that cause me to tear apart my closet and burrow into the pile of clothes on the floor and cry before I hang out with them. Maybe I should not be their friends anymore, actually, because this is getting out of hand, but basically what I’m saying is GREAT post, girlfriend! 🙂

  6. Hello!

    Just for the record, I’ve lived in Manchester all of my life and your style is very Mancunian! Enjoy yourself this eve and get your mates to take you to the Northern Quarter or to the Deaf Institute rather than horrid towny Deansgate (that’s my advice anyway!).

    Have fun,

    Anne X

    • Woo! Thanks Anne, we didn’t get very far beyond the restaurant – a few drinks in a cheesy/towny bar then home for cake in our PJs (I sometimes think we’re getting old…), but that’s probably better for my wallet!


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