Friday, March 26, 2010

Dress code

Everyone's familiar with Taz, the Tasmanian devil from Warner Brother's cartoons, right?  He spins and spins, like a whirling dervish gone wrong, then stops to grumble incoherently and then spins and spins and spins some more. All the while destroying everything in his path....that was me this morning getting ready for work.  

I had known pretty much all week what I was going to wear today; having just bought a new blouse this past weekend and getting up at 6:00AM to be on public transit by 7:00AM, I need to plan a little in advance. Jeans and undergarments on, i watched myself turn into the Tasmanian devil trying one shirt on after another, throwing clothes across the room in frustration, tripping over my Momma-Cat as she was wondering what the hell was wrong with me. It wasn't that I was having a moment of I-hate-my-body (which I have had plenty of in my lifetime) it was just every shirt I put on wasn't the "right-one"...didn't say what I wanted it to.   

But what is it exactly that I was looking for it to say?  

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I moved to Portland, Oregon almost six months ago and have been shocked by the overall "style" (or in my opinion lack-thereof) in Portlanders. Everyone appears to have a uniform - with some room for variation of course: sneakers or hiking boots, jeans or sweatpants, a giant oversized fleece coat (typically multi-colored), scruffy beards for the men and lifeless cuts for the women. 

Yes, I moved during the Fall/Winter when people are looking to bundle up and stay warm - but can't you do that with some style? I mean New York and Chicago folks are known for pulling this off just fine.   

I never had thought of myself as one of the "better" dressed people anywhere I've lived, until I moved to Portland. Now this isn't to say that all Portlanders dress this way. The men and women in my office are all very stylish and "dress-to-impress" for the most part. Perhaps this is because of where I work? Public representatives. Physical embodiments of an iconic Portland event? I don't know. I do, however, know that my "casual" seems to be pretty dressed-up around the home of Portlandia.  

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This morning's whirling dervish extravaganza got me thinking about why I put so much effort into my appearance? Why I feel it necessary to slap on some mascara and eyeliner before venturing outside my front door? Is it a manifestation of this fictional 20-something lifestyle I've been brainwashed to believe I need to obtain?  

I was a techie in theatre during high school; so the uniform for those four years was a pair of jeans and t-shirt to make crawling around in costume closets and hauling lumber for sets easier. When I started college the uniform wasn't much different: jeans and tanks - perhaps the occasional skirt or sarong. Then about my senior year I started wearing high heels to class, coordinating my earrings to whatever color my blouse was that day.   

What was it that changed?   

I wasn't ambushed on some style television show about how to dress my body. No one told me "Morgan you look a mess" No life altering event took place other than being well into my early-20s.  

Now here I am in my mid-to-late20s and I can't help but wonder: 

What does a 20-something dress like?


  1. cool! i like that your co-workers are stylish... for the most part. hehe.

  2. love it! can i still read it even though i'm already in my 30's? i still relate. i truly know less about myself now than i did before as well. it's a harsh reality i've recently come to face among others.

  3. I had mostly the same style as you in high school and in college I only veered slightly away from it into the more comfortable zone of jeans, sweaters, and clogs (which seemed more like slippers, actually). More recently, however, I have become a little more fashionable. I am apt to say that a large part of this style is simply that I make enough money to afford nice Marciano by Guess dresses and Banana Republic pant suits, because having to wear a uniform daily does not necessitate purchasing said luxuries. But, I think it's more than just having the ability. I think it comes from the same place that makes me want to kick my sugar habit and compels me to exercise almost daily and motivates me to continue learning and writing. I think it's the desire to appreciate oneself and appreciate the things around us. The sweat and the smell and the soreness I feel after a good workout has the same sort of magic about it as exists after I've gotten dressed up simply for the sake of getting dressed up. I appreciate what my body can do, what it can feel, and the different ways which I can present it to the world.