This I Believe

Lorna - Lexington, Virginia
Entered on December 13, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in style.

My taste in clothing originates with the three year-old girl who would hide behind her mother’s skirts when strangers spoke to her in public. I was shy and used my mother’s clothing to protect my identity. Her skirt was a curtain I could draw between the ruthless world around me and my delicate, soon-to-be ever-changing self. But when I wore a skirt, my shyness dissolved into thin ribbons of chiffon overlay that made my ensemble shimmer and my personality glisten. I would talk to anybody anytime about what I was wearing. And I did.

During the week my mother would make slight alterations to my outfits, telling me, “Perhaps you should leave your white gloves at home today, Lorna; you don’t want to dirty them on the playground.” I would take her advice and never notice the heavy sigh of relief when she realized she had avoided one more visit to the principal’s office to explain my bold sense of style. On Sundays before church, however, I tailored myself for the occasion and cloaked my three-foot frame in every enterprising article of clothing I owned. I greeted the average Sunday congregation in oxblood cowboy boots, pink tights, a purple jumper, a yellow down-brimmed hat and every piece of plastic jewelry I could hang around my neck, fit around my wrists, or slide onto my fingers. An elderly British woman in Chanel anxiously awaited my arrival and conversed with me about what I was wearing. I called my plastic beads “lovely” and my red boots “extraordinary,” a term I borrowed from my father when I debuted my outfit to him that morning. I believed I was lovely and extraordinary. I believed in my style. I believed in myself.

Today I am a college senior. I am still lovely and extraordinary. I study in the library with a vintage Swarovski necklace draped delicately around my neck and walk to class in oxblood cowboy boots. I smile when my boyfriend pulls me closer to him to feel how my silk bias cut evening gown fits the contours of my body.

And I believe in clothing that changes according to my mood. Fashion trends pass up and down runways as swiftly as moods pass through my young adult mind. Trends may be fleeting, but they originate in less ephemeral style, much like my constantly shifting moods originate from my own self. Amidst all the clothes-changing and mood-changing, my style remains reliable and steady and lifts me inch by inch into adulthood, just as my stiletto heels lift me inch by inch into the world around me.