Thinking I’m Grown: Pants (Fashion & Style)


My mother loves shoes.

I, being my mother’s daughter, loves shoes. And bags. I really love bags. I remember my first purse! It was this small canvas bag (a cross-body bag, as the kids would say now) with a rainbow strap. I was 5-years-old. I remember being fascinated by how my mother and aunts transformed from just ‘being in the house’ to how they went outside into the world.

I loved playing in my mother’s heels. I loved playing in her makeup to my own detriment sometimes. I also remember being so mad at my Aunt Linda I put water in her eye shadow and ruined it. Her son, my cousin saw me and I never did that again. Trust, she made sure I wouldn’t.

The thing that made me love fashion though–magazines, Different World, Family Matters and the Grande Dame of 1990’s television, Lisa Turtle (Lark Voorhies). Now, remember–I’m an 80’s baby! I remember when what is known now as ‘hip-hop fashion’ became more mainstream. I remember wanting to go to FIT because Lisa Turtle was going! I remember looking at the girls who looked like me in Essence, Word Up!, Hip- Hop Beat magazine and wanted to dress like the girls I saw.

I wanted the Tommy Hilfiger Coat, and Nautica jacket and the door knocker earrings. Yet, I had the parents that didn’t let me really have all that. But the good thing is I still had Kim from Different World, and Laura Winslow from Family Matters. And My So-Called Life (young Jared Leto was–ooh, Lord!) made me wish I was a high school sophomore as an 8th grader so I could dye my hair red.

It was 8th grade where I started to put this thing called a style together. Aside from writing, fashion gave me a place to be creative. It gave me a place to make my way in the world–always a wonderful thing. I mean, I wore short and tights together because I saw Laura Winslow and Clarissa Darling from Clarissa Explains It All do it! And when Clueless came out? YAS! I started wearing heels and jeans since I had seen Clueless and My So-Called Life. I mean, it was the mid-1990’s! As Black girl going to public school, you really couldn’t veer too far left or right–but I did. And I have had heels ever since. My go to look before kids involved these things: heels, jeans, a tee and earrings.

Fashion was a my safe place! And makeup and outlet! It was Junior and Senior year of high school where I started to become more confident in what I wanted. This is when deliA’s was still a cool place for girls of my era to shop at (Thank’s Sassy/JANE Magazine!). I wasn’t so concerned about something having a label. I was more concerned about it looking cool. Flat out!

It was after high school, when I really got into make-up. This is where getting ready to go somewhere became an event. Getting ready was an event–just like it was when my mother got ready. I started to get my nails done in a salon when I was 19, and it was on from there! I felt elegant, moreso. To this day, there is something about a full set of nails and a bomb outfit with my hoop earrings which make me feel like I am so unstoppable!

I think once a Black girl begins to develop her own style, it’s like opening a treasure chest. There are features of your own physical form you saw in younger pictures of your mother, grandmother or aunts. It’s like going into a time machine! I remember when wide-leg jeans were in fashion: my mom told me that they reminded her of bell bottoms. My Aunt Linda told me they were bell bottoms ‘they used to wear.’ From the jeans, came the hats, and from the hats, the bags. From there, my mom reminded me of my ‘cute Easter dresses’. I remember how pretty I felt being that dolled up for the holiday. Yes, the shoes had always been a staple.

I found out my mom loves scarves and big earrings. I found out that my Aunt Valarie thinks that every woman needs a signature lipstick. I found out that my mother is a fan of Estee Lauder: White Linen in the Spring and Summer; Beautiful in the Fall and Winter. “Every woman needs a signature scent, Jennifer.” And after a few trial and error, I have 3 actually.

Naked by URBAN DECAY.
Gucci Guilty.
Yellow Diamonds by VERSACE.

Fashion for me was expression of the highest sort. Finding more and more of myself every time I found myself liking a shoe, or a bag, or wanted to change my hair. I found out my grandmother didn’t get her first pair of hosiery till she was in her twenties–yet, my mother made sure when I wore dresses or skirts I had slips and ‘stockings (the old school word for ‘pantyhose’ or ‘hosiery’).

The beautiful thing is now, I get to give that same energy and gift of discovery to my daughters. My youngest already loves shoes. Especially, my heels.

[Image by Typorama]