My work colleagues tend to make jokes on dress down days that I don’t ever dress down. They’re mostly right. I have a t-shirt and leggings for the gym and a silk bathrobe for lounging in but I don’t own any clothes that most people would consider dress down. I don’t own sweat pants or track suit bottoms. When I want to dress down I have a hooded maxi dress from Pinup Girl that’s super comfortable and warm but that I still feel like myself in. In my everyday life this suits me just fine. I’m comfortable in my dresses and cardigans. They’re my armour against the world. They help bring me confidence. I also do my hair nearly every day and my makeup. I find power in a good wet set and a red lip. I think that they give me that power because they make me feel like me.
I didn’t always dress up. I’ve been all over the shop. I was an always manicured, full makeup, hair straightened, and never without the wrong handbag woman when I lived in New York. I was the skinny jean wearing, knee high booted, hair scraped back, with a touch of makeup yummy mummy when I first moved to the UK. I was the no makeup, big hoodie, and whatever jeans smelled cleanest mature student and also the always in a black suit, hair in a severe bun, minimal makeup mature student doing the bar in the UK. I’ve written in the past about finding my style and the reason I phrase it that way is because all my previous styles never felt like me. I always felt I was putting on a persona. I acted and dressed how I thought I was supposed to rather than how I wanted to. This all changed when I found vintage/pinup. I felt like I was finally in my own skin and it fit perfectly. I now feel confident almost all the time in my clothes and with how I wear my makeup and hair.
And then I go on holiday. On day one of a holiday I tend to scrape my hair to the top of my head, forget the makeup, and become a bit of a slob. I always think it will be a luxury to forgo my normal routine and just let it all hang out but it never is. This holiday I did still bring the clothes that make me feel comfortable, including this floaty green number I got from Top Vintage. It’s floaty and stretchy and perfect for holiday because I feel great in it. I got up the first day of my holiday, popped my hair on top of my head, threw on my dress and I felt deflated. I took off the dress and went to the pool instead. Several hours later I came back from the pool and realised I hadn’t felt like myself, even with my swishy movie star dress. I’d felt flat because I hadn’t taken the 10 minutes to do my hair and makeup. I went straight to the bathroom and did my makeup, put my hair in a French twist with a hair flower, and threw my dress back on. I felt like a million bucks. As soon as I saw Mr Westwood he said “you look like yourself, you look happy.”
I’ve taken a few days to figure out why I didn’t feel like myself without my hair and makeup done. I never care whether my friends have makeup on. I don’t care if people I see on the street have their hair done. I don’t judge what other people are wearing. Was I judging myself for these things? Did I need to feel done to feel like myself? Wasn’t that another form of not loving myself? No, no, and no. I feel comfortable with some mascara and lipstick and I feel comfortable with my hair styled. I spent years thinking that I wasn’t beautiful no matter how done or not done I was. I spent years hating whatever I wore because I was in it. I spent most of my life in a battle with my hair that I never seemed to win. If I am happiest now with some war paint, a pin curl set, and dress that makes me want to give a twirl than no one (including me) should judge. I realised that trying to do holiday woman the way I thought it should be done was the same thing I did for years. I was putting on someone else’s persona and it just didn’t fit. I am the woman in the swishy dress, the hair flower, and the bright lippy and I love being this woman. I realised that finally I didn’t want to take a holiday from being who I am and for that I’m pretty damn grateful.
Have you ever tried on a different persona? How did it make you feel? Please let me know in the comments, through, email, or on the Facebook page.