Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Country Wasn't Cool

I grew up riding, but it's been years since I've spent any serious time on a horse. I've missed it!
Last Sunday was the first time I’ve pulled out a pair of jeans in months. I actually can’t remember the last time I wore them. I like jeans, but I just don’t feel as comfortable, or as confident in them, as I do in dresses, skirts, and trousers. It has nothing to do with the level of formality, either. I live in cargo pants for Fall and Winter weekends. I love cargo pants. I’d love jeans, too, if they were as comfortable as cargo pants. As a general rule, they are not. Finding jeans that fit well has long been a challenge, and dragging new jeans into a dressing room is the surest way to ruin my mood during an otherwise successful shopping excursion. The problem is usually one of proportion – jeans that fit my waist are usually too snug in the hips,butt, and thighs (nothing makes me less comfortable, or more self-conscious, than too tight clothing). When I find jeans that do fit the junk in my trunk and still allow me freedom to move, the waist is often so large that a belt is an inadequate remedy. As a result, I don’t buy a lot of jeans. And when I find a pair that is comfortable and actually looks halfway decent (I’ve yet to find the perfect pair), I keep them forever.
It was fun to introduce my niece to family farmland and the town where I grew up. She's camera shy, though my Aunt took several great photos of her that I've shared with friends and family.
My 12 year old niece, on the other hand, lives in jeans. Skinny jeans, no less. I like them just fine on her. I cringe at the thought of wearing them myself, just as she winces at the thought of having to put on a dress (and if it’s a pink dress, forget about it). She doesn’t hate dresses. I don’t even think she hates pink. She just doesn’t like it for her. Dresses make her feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. I get that. Our wardrobe preferences are at opposite ends of the spectrum, but the primary reason for our choices is the same: we wear what makes us feel comfortable; what makes us feel more confident; what makes us feel most like ourselves. We talked about the importance of feeling comfortable and confident in your wardrobe, regardless of what’s “in style” or what others may think we should wear, on our way home from a Sunday afternoon horseback adventure in the countryside where I grew up.  I love that, even at 12 years old, Abby has identified a personal style beyond a typical preteen preference for the most popular brand names in the same styles that “everyone else is wearing.” I also love that she nevertheless respects other people’s tastes. Wise beyond her years, that girl.
I picked up this RM Williams hat when I was working in Australia in 1998; the last time I got a lot of saddle time. It's still got a bit of Down Under dirt ground into it from where both my horse and I took a tumble during a camping trip in the Blue Mountains. Falling off and getting back on is just part of the deal - the dirt is a badge of honor.
I wish I could say the same about my own 12 year old self. I was, at that age, very concerned that I didn't have the white leather Reeboks that everyone else was wearing, and for a time I wore an unsettling amount of neon yellow (with too tight acid washed jeans) simply because it was "in style," and regardless of the fact that the color made my pale skin look jaundiced. On the other hand, I have always loved hats and I have always loved cowboy boots. Neither were "cool" when I was a preteen or a teenager, but when I wore them that's exactly how I felt, whether I was trail riding; traipsing around the county fair; or hanging out at a Friday night football game. I still feel that way now.
 We may be opposite sides of the same coin when it comes to wardrobe, but when it comes to horseback riding, my niece is more than willing to borrow a pair of my boots, and we’re both likely to be wearing quirky socks underneath. Her newly discovered enthusiasm for riding has also reignited my own love for it. Maybe we’re not so different, after all.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it! 

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