|"I remember wrapping myself in it in the store, feeling the luxurious and warm texture |
of its wool blend (...) I was finally happy." (Source)
My parents didn't have the money to buy me decent clothes putting all their savings in their children's private school education. My closet mainly consisted of clothes passed on from my wealthier cousins once their were too small for them or out of style. I didn't like being seen in these green furry tops, grey pilling jersey skirts or overstretched fading t-shirts, so I preferred wandering around in my uniform and my sport gears offered by the school.
A few times per year, the school would allow us to attend school without our uniform. What most girls would have seen as a great opportunity, I saw like an awful experience of constant self-awareness lasting eight hours. One of the amazing things about uniforms is that they level us all. Your social background isn't as obvious, but on those days, I was more than aware that I came from an underprivileged background, shifting in my seat, trying to focus on the teacher and avoiding neighbouring eyes inspecting me with disdain, wonder or worse, pity. I came without my uniforms twice or thrice, but the experience was too painful. I started coming at school in uniform every single day regardless of the special events. Usually I wasn't the only one, some having forgotten the event, and this made the experience a bit less tormenting.
Most of the girls attending my school continued their education in a mixed private college. Their were no uniform there. Every morning was a fashion show of guys and girls rolling in luxury cars and showing off their latest Chanel, Marc Jacobs or Gucci item. I accepted my role as a nerd in that herd of preppy kids since early high school, that was what I was good at and known for, but I wanted more. I wanted to be a Chanel girl too. Since my parents couldn't give me the money to dress like that, I started working during my first year in college. No, I didn't start working to buy a car or to save some money like most teenagers, I started working because I wanted to buy designer clothes...
My first purchase was a $400 green wool coat form a local designer. I remember wrapping myself in it in the store, feeling the luxurious and warm texture of its wool blend and how it moulded my body perfectly. I never had a garment fit me so well and feel so elegant. I was finally happy.
The first morning I wore it at school, people looked at me differently. I liked the attention I was getting. I wasn't used to it, but I want more of it. Slowly I revamped my closet. I wasn't only known for my brain anymore, but also for my great sense of style. The flow of compliments built my self-esteem. My closet started defining me and I was catering that superficial definition instead of getting to know my inner-self more, which would harm me later on in life...
Whenever I was going out shopping, literally emptying my account, I was getting a buzz from the thrill of buying something expensive that nobody else owned. With time the buzz more than the need to renew my wardrobe became my motivator to go shopping. Shopping became my weekend priority after studying. I would spend the whole day in stores. The sellers called me by my first name. I liked being a "regular" and the focus they had on me when I came visiting their store. They only needed to smile and present their latest collections and they knew I would empty my account in front on them.
A year later, I had an amazing wardrobe for a 17-year-old, but no money in my account. When people were looking at me, they saw a seemingly fierce stylish woman and that's all that mattered back then.