We use clothes to help us fit in.

Period.

Even if we are brimming with confidence, many of us feel the need to look the part. One of my NYC friends will be attending a wedding in ruralish North Carolina this fall. When I was talking to her the other day, she was already obsessing. And the wedding isn’t till October.

“I have nothing to wear!” She whined.

“How about that cute black dress” I asked

“Gee. I won’t stand out like a New Yorker at all in that…”

And this went back and forth for awhile, her ruling out every dress she owned and me asking her to video chat her closet to me so I could talk her off the wall. She became obsessed with wanting to fit in, though she had absolutely no idea what fitting in would entail. I asked  her “what about the nice navy, just wear it with a chunky heel neutral shoe”, because I’m betting outdoors will be involved in some way. She started trolling clothing websites no matter what I said. And I could already envision her putting the new dress up for sale on her local Mom website because she was going to buy a dress she didn’t like just because of her need to be part of the group.

This is where dressing for yourself and dressing for the occasion and location collide.

Sure- we have some sort of inbred desire to be part of the group. I’m going to say it’s probably something to do with our evolutionary need to survive- fitting in is sort of like camouflage- if we blend in we won’t get hunted. And by hunted I mean talked about. No one wants to walk into a room and feel that everyone is talking about them. And if we don’t feel comfortable in what we are wearing, if we feel out of place, we’re going to think that every conversation entails people saying “Can you believe she’s wearing that?”  Every time someone looks at us we think they’re staring with disdain and derision. If we don’t feel like we’re part of the group we’re going to check the mirror about a thousand times, pull down hems, readjust sleeves….and be miserable…

I get wanting to fit in via clothes. And traveling to a different environment cements this in. I can tell a tourist in NYC by their clothes. Just like you can tell I’m a tourist when I visit someplace else. Different parts of the country have different dress codes. But how much do we accede to regional dress? If we visit the southwest do we immediately put on cowboy boots? If we go south do we wear pastels? Do we automatically shift to our environment? Change the camouflage? Seek to fit in?

I will tell anyone visiting NYC in the spring to have waterproof shoes and layers. But that’s not to fit in: that’s about being comfortable with the varied weather patterns that NYC presents. I would never tell someone to just pack black. To me fitting in means being ready for the weather.

When we visited different parts of the country last summer I did not bring “Southern” clothes or “Midwest” clothes. I brought my clothes. My collection of black, grey and olive t shirt dresses. My comfy black sandals. My white sneakers. I did bring a function over form bag that I don’t normally use at home, but that was because I really needed the function. And I didn’t care that people knew where I was from before I opened my mouth and my accent spewed out. I was OK with my way of dressing. I am OK with my way of dressing.

When you travel, you travel. The person that you are. Just wear what makes you comfortable and happy. The rest will fall into place.

Though really- there’s nothing wrong with a nice pair of cowboy boots…

 

 

 

 

 

32 thoughts on “The Fit

  1. Reading your posts this week has really got me thinking a lot about my own closet, and style…. or serious lack thereof!!! It’s time for some serious change… and figuring out just what ‘fitting in’ is for me…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good call on that camo idea. Blending in, staying among the pack–conforming to social norms or being ousted out into the unknown and risk your safety, your self-confidence, maybe even your life if we consider how clothing signals adherence too and violence against certain social groups.
    Perhaps we need to take on that tourist mentality more often, even when we aren’t traveling. Seems less stressful…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. A neighbor lamented that the problem with being pregnant was that her clothes were not in style once her size went back down. I remembered thinking, “I don’t even worry about what’s ‘in.'” I have four boys and a house and buy what’s comfortable and timeless.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think I have a style or my own sense of style! If I need an outfit for a special occasion I bring my sister shopping with me. She has a great eye for what will suit me. I depend on her judgement and she has never led my wrong.
    Without her I would never ‘fit in’

    In two weeks time I am traveling to Miami to visit my daughter. Style is not an issue. I cannot wait to swap my coat and boots for shorts and sandals.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Or we wear clothes to stand out.
    Regarding cowboy boots, I have several pairs!
    Black short and pointy
    Brown tall and pointy with stitching
    Brown tall and rounded toe
    Pink medium with stitching and pointy
    Brown mules that are cowboy boots in the front with several colors and are kickass!
    Have a good weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think more people wear them to fit in, or not stand out. Even in nyc, I can walk down the street and no one really stands out with what they’re wearing, flamboyance is still the exception.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think there’s some trurh to that even for those of us who are less fashion aware than others.

    Only exception I’ll make here…Walmart. Which is a store I loath but they have the best prices for toilet paper, paper towels and detergent.

    I just came from there…lol. I do NOT want to fit in with that crowd… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like celebrating differences. My accent set me apart for the 50 years I lived on Long Island. There was no hiding it. I’d open my mouth to say hello, and people would ask where I was from. Living in NC now, I enjoy hearing a NY accent. There are lots of different Southern twangs here, too. Clothing can work the same way. If you came to a party in your basic black, I’d want to know more about you and what brought you there. There wouldn’t be time for me to talk about you behind your back.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I think a classic dress crosses different areas of the country. I did, however, wear a flower in my hair at a wedding in London to get into the spirit. Your friend should embrace the spirit of the occasion and buy something she likes. When you’re confident you can rock anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Problem is, I don’t think my friend is all that confident in her own skin. On anothe4 note, another friend is going to a wedding In England…apparently you can rent a fascinator/hat

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I agree with your points; however, a wedding… we do want to fit in. I have always found weddings tricky. Even when celebrities with the the Royal weddings in England they were concerned with “fitting in.” Sometimes, we do need to fit in. Most of the time though, like you said, “be who you are.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL – we’ve all been in that position of showing up somewhere and we didn’t get the “memo” on how we should have dressed. So, sure, we get through the event, but wish we would have dressed differently.

        ACTUALLY, I think now people go to an opera or symphony as if they just did gardening and rushed to catch the show. I don’t think that is correct either. NOT sure what the happy medium is. 🙂

        Like

  9. It is interesting how people want to fit in in terms of dress at events they are attending. For me, I usually play it safe with a pair of black pants and a nice top. I’ve always wanted to visit NYC, and I have heard black is the colour over there (here in Melbourne, Australia, it seems many people like wearing black too…). Agree with you. When you travel, you want to travel comfortably and always best to consult the weather beforehand. Hope your friend finds something nice to wear 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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