Lil Ma's daycare teacher, Miss M, recently commented on an outfit I was wearing.
"That's really cute," she said. "I love the way you dress."
I smiled and thanked her for the compliment. Miss M is in her early 20s. During the past six months, she's had at least five hair styles and a variety of outfits. I'm easily a decade older, and I remember going through a similar phase. Back then, getting dressed felt like an Olympic event. I'm happy, I thought, to be done with that.
That's when I realized something. At long last, I love the way I dress too.
It's taken me 30-something years, two kids and a slew of fashion faux pas to find a style that works for me. The bulk of the journey was spent adjusting my frame of mind. Here are the lessons I learned.
Know (and love) your body. I've got a small rack, a narrow waist and a backside that is one-two sizes bigger than everything else. I wasted years in college longing for a narrower hips, and from time to time, I pull out a Barely-B bra and wish it were a C. Most days, though, I get a peek of myself as I'm stepping out of the shower, and I think I look just fine.
Work the positive. Accepting my curves allowed me to focus on finding clothes that flatter. Bright color, sparkle (cool jewelry), and structure are my best friends.
Admire and adapt. Steering clear of trends entirely can result in a fashion rut. Pinterest, blogs and people watching help me keep my wardrobe up to date, but I have to be selective to make sure new pieces work with what's in my closet. It gets easier over time.
Know your limits. There are some things that just will not work in my case. If overalls or parachute pants ever make a comeback, I guarantee you that I will not be wearing them.
I spent a lot of time thinking about the word I would use to describe my style. I went through all of the fashion buzzwords. Classic, chic, et cetera. None of these seemed right. My style is simply me, and I'm good with that.