Friday, November 18, 2011

The First Time

I worked in retail for over three years in three different stores: Lane Bryant,  LOFT (Ann Taylor Loft back then), and finally Banana Republic. Three years of associate discounts expanded my wardrobe exponentially and broke my bank simultaneously. It was while working at LOFT that I really began to find my own style: a love of pencil skirts, fitted silhouettes, streamlined classics, and just a touch of daring. One holiday season (nearly 4 years ago now), I started wearing belts at my waist. Right at my waist. I remember feeling self-conscious about this, like everyone working and shopping thought I might be making a huge fashion faux pas. I continued to do it, relishing in how the styling highlighted my curves, accentuated my waist and was the easiest kind of accessorizing. I was still hesitant, but I was hooked. This was the exact outfit I wore that day, that first time for a now frequent styling.

Sweater - LOFT / Belt - Lane Bryant / "Perfect" black pencil skirt - Simply Be / Handbag - Furla /
Shaping Sheers - Spanx / Heels - Nine West

A couple weeks after I debuted my belted waist, a fellow LOFT associate wore the exact.same.outfit. Right down to sweater (it WAS an ATL sweater after all), skirt and placement of belt. I'm not going to lie - at first I was uber annoyed, especially since said associate was of the tiny, gorgeous, long blonde hair and long fluttery lashes variety. Let's face it, I was also jealous that she seemed to rock my outfit idea so much better than I did and possibly threatened that my personal sense of style had been usurped. But the more I thought about it - and continue to think about it -  the more flattered I am. I, the resident curvy girl, seemed to set a trend. I, the resident curvy girl, rocked that trend in a way that made other (skinny) people want to wear it too. Shocked as I am by the realization (as one who continues to battle self-esteem and body image issues), I can't deny that it was moment that has defined my personal style and, more importantly, self-confidence in that style.

I actually haven't worn this outfit since then, though I have most certainly worn variations of it. Wearing it again makes me think about how my personal style has changed, how it has stayed the same, and how it has given me a kind of identity. I find such contemplation ultimately important for this, my 200th post. It wasn't intentional, interestingly, but that makes it all more special. Serendipitous. The reasons I started this blog - as a way to subconsciously confront, and hopefully someday squelch, those pesky self-esteem and body image issues of mine - continue to carry me through and inspire me, and to provide proof that it has done so. As we approach the season of giving thanks, I find myself thankful for the endeavor, and for you, the community of bloggers and readers that bolster it.

Ring - Lane Bryant / Necklace - Talbots / Earrings - The Limited

I'll be taking a little hiatus next week for the holiday (we're traveling to Boston to spend time with Bob's family and friends), but you can be rest assured that I'll return in all my fancy holiday-dressing glory as I work through another busy Nutcracker weekend. I hope everyone has a wonderfully thankful Thanksgiving until then. =)


  1. I usually avoid commenting on blog posts, but this deserves an exception. I'm a curvy girl who has had body image issues my whole life. I just want to let you know that you've really helped me embrace my curves and have made me realize how beautiful a feminine figure is. You've not only inspired me to wear more fitted silhouettes, but have also helped me to like what I see in the mirror when I'm wearing them. I see how great your clothes look on you and how they flatter your figure so well, and I think that maybe (or hope, anyway!) that my clothes look half as good on me. Thank you for helping me like myself a little bit more!

  2. Happy holidays Jess! You look fantastic as usual, and I really love your whole story! Keep being as fabulous as you are!

  3. Belts make me SO self conscious. I feel they accentuate my lack of waist. :( I actually get really uptight when I wear them then obsess that I need more definition once I take it off.
    Enjoy my city next week! It's cool out now but it is supposed to go back into the 60's.
    I worked at Banana Republic and my husband worked at Ann Taylor so I toally get it! :)

  4. That, my friend, was an amazing 200th post, thank you for sharing (the post, your style, your experiences, and the belted waist accessory from heaven). *heart*

  5. Hi,
      I love this outfit on you! You are an inspiration to me... 200 posts putting yourself 'out there' for all to see is so brave and I'm sure it's rewarding too.  I'm a newer follower of your blog and I look forward to the next 200 posts. Have fun in Boston! Cheers!

  6. it really is very rewarding, on so many levels. thanks so much for reading! =)

  7. i totally thought of you when i was traipsing along boston! weather was pretty nice during the day we did the freedom trail - so glad about that!

  8. thanks so much, ariana! you are also pretty fabulous. =))

  9. Hi Kelly - thanks so much for your kind words. it really moved me to hear this, and i'm so proud and so grateful that i could even help one fellow curvy girl in this way. it's so unfortunate how we can be our own worst enemies when it comes to how we see ourselves, especially when there are many around us that love us just as we are. so when we can get to that point were we can see what they see, that we can look into the mirror and not cry or even grimace, but to LOVE what we see, that is such an empowering feeling.

    i've no doubt that you are rocking your clothes, because, really, it's how we feel about ourselves in them that lets us rock them so, ya know? thank you so much for sharing, kelly!

  10. You were in my hood. I liked in the north end until recently.


Thank you so much for commenting! Reading what you have to say truly makes my day!