Saturday, October 11, 2014

Clearing the air

Let's clear the air about a few things.

Phenomenal Fashion was not an attack on high school girls.

If you read my piece and believe that to be true, then I'm sorry.  No harm intended.

Yet...

Did my piece say these girls lacked in accomplishments, athletic talent, musical abilities, character or compassion?  Absolutely not.

Did my piece say that today's clothing choices detract from all the good that young people represent?  Absolutely.

I used my experience as a mom of young girls in watching fashion trends to be analogous to what's happening across the country.  And across the country, teenage fashion blurs the line between stunning and sexy.  My preference is for teenage girls to look stunning.  Sexy (albeit unfortunate) belongs elsewhere.

I believe in challenging young people.  To study harder.  To stand in front of a room and exude confidence.  To practice harder for the next game.

I find it hard to believe I'm the first person to challenge young ladies to employ some modesty.

My approach is that of tough-love.  I expect much from my children.  And, in return, I strive to give them my best.  I'm just not into fostering a false sense of self-confidence.

And so, I'm just not into lauding young people when I know they're capable of more.

Back in "the day," my mom would have told me I had a good game no matter how lousy I played.  My dad wouldn't let me go to bed until we practiced how to seal a more effective box-out.

Young people need a dose of both: unconditional praise and a challenge to do even better the next time.

Every smart, beautiful, talented, compassionate teenage girl has the ability to stand-up to culturally accepted fashion standards and choose better.

And I'll remain steadfast in my challenge to be phenomenally fashionable.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Phenomenal Fashion

I've been taking my girls to our community's promenade since they were little. The girls put on dresses and necklaces and clip-on earrings and faux feather boas, and we go see the fancy dresses. 

At the end of the night, we pick our favorites.  Pink dresses and full skirts always score well with the girls.  The blue and grey shades always catch my eye.

Lately, it seems, the hem lines have been getting shorter.  The backs more open.  The neck lines plunging deeper.  The high heels taller and taller.

And each year, we've noticed.  Since about Kindergarten, Noah has expertly used the word "inappropriate."  Nell fumbles over the syllables, but it will soon be part of her vocabulary, too.

We return each year, the girls hoping for something poufy and sparkly, and I, quietly watching in the back for that young lady who’s willing to take a stand against teenage fashion trends and don something elegant, classy, and sophisticated.  The girl who’s ahead of her time; who’s fearless in the face of pop culture.  The girl I want my little girls to grow up to become.

So when this year’s Homecoming candidates rode past us in the back of pick-up trucks during the parade, I was once again watching for that girl.

And I was disappointed.

When I see Homecoming candidates, I see girls on the verge of becoming young women.  I see girls who represent years of hard work and achievements.  Girls standing up for our school; our community; our churches. 

But when their arms reach longer than their hem lines; when their back is fully exposed on a chilly October evening; when their skirt inches higher as they walk, it’s so very hard to see those accomplishments; so hard to see a role model for my little girls when they’re wrapped in barely enough fabric.

Fashion isn’t the absolute definition of a person.  But that old saying…

…what you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say…

…seems to apply here.

What you choose to wear can convey messages that are positive and driven and accomplished.  The right dress has the power to say, “I’m proud of who I am.  I’m proud of my school and my community.   I’ve worked hard to be standing here today.  And I will represent you well going forward.” 

Finding that dress is not so easy.  And especially not easy on a week’s notice in the midst of a busy senior girl’s schedule.  And even worse when you’re a tall girl with an athletic build searching for a dress in the juniors department.  (I am that tall girl with an athletic build.)

But it’s possible.

Thanks to my much more fashionable mom and sisters (and to watching dozens of What Not to Wear episodes while taking care of my baby girls), I know how to find clothes that fit, that are fashionable, and that express who I am.  I have learned how to choose clothes that flatter the good parts, and to hide the not so good parts.  And thanks to the internet, I don’t have to go far to find them.

Loft, Anthropologie, J Crew, Old Navy, Gap, Boden---are some of my favorite places to shop.  I look for sales.  Or, I find inspiration and recreate with pieces I can find at Target or Wal-Mart that suit my budget.

These clothing lines offer classic pieces that have staying power in my wardrobe, and offer plenty of modern fashion for even the most stylish among us.

I have warned Brent since the girls were little: we will drive farther and spend more money to find clothes that the girls and I can agree on in terms of fashion and sensibility.

He gets it.

But our influence will wane as the girls grow up.  They’ll be looking to pop culture, to the girls at promenade, to the Homecoming candidates for their influence.

So I’m asking you now: be a fashion leader, not a fashion follower.  Let your fashion sense show us the smart, independent, driven, compassionate girl you are.  Choose elegance.  Sophistication.  Stand up to the lesser standards and be something phenomenal.

Because my little girls are watching…and they wanna be just like you. 

(Here's a few homecoming alternatives I adore...)