Friday, November 4th 2016
It’s a normal November day in Egypt, which means picking what to wear is just about the hardest mission you have to take care of for the day…summer clothes will get you freezing and winter clothes are just as warm as a hot frying pan. So on that warm/cool Friday morning, I stood in front of my closet perplexed with no decision-making ability whatsoever on a simple smart-casual ensemble that fits the occasion. Finally, with worldly hesitation and only because I was super late, I pick a pine green sweater, a white shirt and a pair of straight cropped jeans. I then take out my camel brown loafers that I haven’t actually put on in almost a year, I take my stuff (well, the important stuff at least just to save space) out of my backpack and into a normal-sized purse that goes with the shoes, tame the crazy curls on top of my head with my hands and out of the door I go.
It’s sunny outside, not roasting sunny but nice sunny, quiet like any other Friday morning. I’m strolling the empty street with my shades on breathing in the cool autumn breeze, paying the final goodbye to the last signs of summer and then…I see my loafers. It’s not that I haven’t “seen” them before, I was the one who picked them at the store in the first place; but, it’s like I have suddenly gotten all conscious of them…the classic cut, the color, the texture. I can’t say they were uncomfortable in any way, quite the contrary, but they just didn’t feel right as if they didn’t fit, like they were in the wrong place. It then occurred to me, it’s not the loafers that didn’t fit; it’s actually me!
I have never thought of myself as a person who likes to “dress up”, never liked heels or small cute purses or even formal suits. Of all the crazy rules that I had to deal with at workplaces, dress code has been the most aggravating. I buy a new a pair of sneakers almost every month because I simply wear no other shoes than sneakers…I only happen to have a pair of black oxfords along with those camel brown loafers just in case. And so it made sense, I just didn’t feel in place with the loafers and the medium-sized bag and the “smart-casual” look. It wasn’t simply me.
Of course I’m not writing this to tell you about my loafers or poor fashion choices (it would have been super great if I could do that knowing that you would be interested though). Thing is, as I looked at my loafers, saw how they made me feel out of place, I started to think that sometimes we just lose ourselves piece by piece over the most superficial of things. You get a new job that obliges you to wear a suit every day, you succumb thinking it’s okay, that a suit is nothing more than an outfit but then years into the job, and if you’re lucky enough, you come face-to-face with the ugly truth…that a suit has never been just a suit, that you’ve lost a great deal of yourself giving in to the dress code, to the dull unfulfilling job, to the suit. You go to college where everyone looks young and cool and loosen-up and your thick super nerdy glasses don’t seem to fit in anymore, so you trade them for contact lenses oblivion of the fact that those glasses said a lot about who you really were…same with the wrist band or the anklet or the luck charm you had around your neck.
You know what, people have literally picked crazy arguments with me, sometimes they’d even beg me, to go get a perm or a protein shot or whatever to tame my curls and I’d always say no without being able to give a valid reason. But now I get it, if I’d listened to them and gotten my frizzy messy hair all straightened up, I would have felt lost and disoriented, like I wouldn’t be able to know who I am anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for change and enhancements and trying on new styles but if it doesn’t feel right, like it perfectly fits then to hell with fashion trends, social conventions and beauty standards.
I also get that sometimes we don’t get a say in it, that we have to dress a certain way or act a certain way because the situation mandates so but you know what? Going down that street in a pair of loafers that didn’t really feel right, I wasn’t completely lost thanks to that little blue band I had around my wrist. Going hand in hand with the blue anklet I had, there was a great deal of myself out there to hold on to…of course, and you have no idea how thankful I am for that, there is always the messy hair to remind me that I’m never gonna pull off being any other person than my nerdy clumsy self so I didn’t actually have much a reason to worry in the first place. Still, it felt so good to feel that blue wrist band under the long green sleeves of my sweater, knowing that the real me, the sneaker-wearing me is still there and hopefully will always be there!