Thanks, Mrs. Bossa, for this wonderful opportunity to write a guest post!
I’m a feminist fashionistette who once worked in corporate fashion, but was lured to graduate school by a passion for women’s issues. These days I’m writing my dissertation about clothing size standards. Several months ago I decided to avoid mirrors for a year (while planning my October 1st wedding!), and I’ve been blogging about the experience at www.ayearwithoutmirrors.com.
My no-mirrors experiment was actually motivated by a fashion emergency: my growing anxiety over wedding dresses. I put a lot of pressure on myself to both (1) find the impossibly perfect wedding dress (ideally… modern-yet-traditional, flattering-yet-brave, luxuriously-yet-inexpensive, unique-yet-classic, etc. etc.), and (2) to look insanely gorgeous in said dress, once found.
At some point the search stopped being fun. I hated feeling vain, insecure, and indecisive. Never one for subtle life-changes, I rejected these obsessions by rejecting my reflection.
I’ve always found pleasure in expressing myself through clothes. You may have noted above, my style is all about combining opposites. I revel in mixing bright colors with neutrals, feminine with masculine, flowing fabric with sleek lines, old with new, preppy with bohemian…. sometimes all at once! Thus, it scared me to wonder if shunning mirrors might make life boring.
Thankfully, this hasn’t happened, but it’s taken careful strategizing and a few attitude adjustments. Here they are. (Note – you DO NOT need to abandon mirrors to try these things out, though it could be fun!)
1: Feel your fashion.
How many pretty-but-painful items line your closet? Instead of focusing on how good something looks on you, first figure out whether it feels good. In the beginning, not being able to see myself felt like cruel sensory depravation. Then I started focusing on senses other than just sight. This led me to try new styles, and to abandon trends that hurt. My walking commute demanded solid, supportive (preppy!) boat-loafers instead of delicate uber-feminine flats. High-rise, high-stretch (high-comfort) jeans now softly hug my tummy and hips instead of cutting off circulation at “muffin-top”.
2: Buddy system.
Focusing on feel does NOT mean abandoning style or flattering clothes. (Hey, snuggies are comfy but lack that pleasing je ne sais quoi!) Once you find fashion that feels good, check with a trusted friend to make sure you look as good as you feel. It’s a simple as that. (If you shop alone, consider staging a fashion show at home…or starting your own blog featuring your favorites!).
3: When in doubt, copy yourself!
Once you find something you love, get one in every color. When faced with buying a new outfit for my wedding shower, I bought the EXACT same Rachel Roy dress that I’d worn for my engagement photos, but in a new fabrication (and at a steep discount!).
Since I’d purchased the first dress before my no-mirrors experiment, I knew it was flattering, and had fabulous photos as proof.
4: Abandon control.
Back to weddings… I found my dress. I bought it the day before I stopped looking in mirrors, and – to be honest – I really wasn’t sure about it. It has ruching (I hate ruching), has uber-girly flower appliqués, (including one in the back that looks, to me, like a bunny-tail!), and it wasn’t made in a famous design house (I’d always fantasized about name-dropping a bit, if only to myself…). But it felt comfortable, was clearly flattering, the price was right, and my mom got goose-bumps.
Buying my dress was a first step letting go of wedding style perfectionism and it felt great. And now I’ll be completely reliant on others to help me navigate dress fittings, choose a veil, jewelry, lacy underthings, and shoes (not to mention the all-important old/new/borrowed/blue items). Others may disagree, but sometimes good enough has to be good enough. Even on your wedding day (well, as long as we’re not talking about the groom!).