Wednesday, September 30, 2015

10 steps to get your cool back

When I was in my early 20's, I was a very beautiful woman. I use the word WAS because once I became a mother, looks were last on my list. I ditched my mani-pedis for anxiously nibbled off nubs, traded my heels for sensible foot wear, and leaned into motherhood. Hard. I took a nosedive off the homely cliff and hit all the schlub branches on the way down.

Then my kids got a little bigger. Everyone told me that when they'd grown big enough, I'd get back to myself again, and they were right to an extent. I'd started finding ways to laugh that didn't include mocking cartoon characters and bonding over diaper explosions. I'd stretched my limbs, reached outside of my comfort zone and embraced a bit of the person I used to be. I had forgotten what it felt like to have your own interests and hobbies and I liked it. Internally, I felt like I was back and ready to kick ass and take names.

When I looked in the mirror, however, instead of this gorgeous, thin, 20-something, I saw a fluffy, wrinkled 30-something, staring back at me. I could slip back into my old sense of humor, my passions, my ambitions-- but three kids have morphed by body into something unrecognizable-- I would never get back my flat stomach, that beautiful skin and the natural beauty of youth.

I'd watch young girls go by, wearing styles I didn't recognize, listening to music I didn't know, by artists who were probably born after I graduated high school and I would get dejected. There's a point in your life where you look at yourself and at the younger generation and realize that your sense of what "cool" is, is no longer relevant. I tried some of the young, hip styles and I kinda just ended up feeling like... well, pretty much like someone who would say the phrase, "young, hip styles." My window of cool in the traditional sense was over and I was going to have to learn to accept that.

I knew, of course, that I couldn't just give up on my pursuit to reclaim my sense of style. Having a hard time defining yourself, lost woman? Embrace that blank slate and decide to write something amazing on it. You get to start fresh. How often do you get to do that?

When I was lost, I looked for a guide on how to find my way back into my style groove and I didn't find one. So for all of you mothers who gave themselves over so selflessly to their children and know don't know what the hell a "nay nay" is, this is for you:

Some helpful tips for finding your new, more sophisticated, sense of cool:


1. With fashion, like with anything else, if you don't know what you like, you have to try a bit of everything.

A little bit of print mixing, new colors, new patterns, new shapes... Go somewhere and load a cart up with everything you see and just spend the day in the fitting room. Bring a friend and have a fashion show. Repeat until you figure out what types of clothes bring out your inner rock star and then buy the hell out of them. There are tons of great fashion choices in all price ranges out there and once you start to get into your style groove, plenty of online retailers that make swoon worthy items.


2. Dress for the body you have, not the body you wish you had.

My 20-something figure was adorable in tight knits and jeans, but my 30-something self looks better in draped material and playful prints. I've started wearing lots of dresses and heels, and sure, sometimes I feel overdressed for the playground, but for the first time in a long time, I feel comfortable in my own body. On the days where I just don't feel like dressing up, I've noticed a big difference with, not only how others perceive me, but also in how I feel as a person. I'm much more outgoing and confident when I'm not hiding behind big sunglasses and sweat pants, so I make sure to respect myself enough to allot time to get dressed.


3. Allow yourself to have imperfections.

I know the parts that set me off. We all have them. I've finally signed a peace treaty with that deep wrinkle that rests above the bridge of my nose, which basically states that I will stop trying to attack it with creams and potions. I have accepted that it's here to stay, so I might as well try to like it. My arms are bigger than I'd like, but I just tell myself that they are strong. My legs are thick, but when I wear a short skirt, I feel like I'm representing for all of the other thick-thighed beauties. My stomach might be poochy, but my ass is amazing.

Can't win 'em all.

Find those things you love about yourself and shout them out loud. For the things you don't, think of a reason, any reason, why you should like it. Be proud of your body because it does amazing things for you.


4. Find your perfect shade of red lipstick. And then rock it like a bad bitch.

Red lipstick is the LBD of lips. You absolutely must have one go to. It takes some practice at first, feeling comfortable in it if you aren't used to wearing such a bold color, but trust everyone around you who tells you (and they will tell you) that you look gorgeous. Give it a minute and you'll start to believe it.


5. Utilize your computer.

Watch Youtube makeup tutorials. Start a Pinterest style board. Follow fashion blogs. Shop Modcloth and heart all the things. There are endless ways to explore your developing tastes. 


6. Take you time every day.

There are dishes and laundry and kids and work and dinner and probably, by now, a literal fire to put out, but you still need to put YOU on your to do list. Sit and meditate. Go for a run. Watch some shows on Netflix. Hell, hide in the closet and eat a pint of Haagen Dazs.  Just get that quiet, alone time in. If you don't feel good, you're not going to look good, so make sure to take care of yourself.


7. Selfies, selfies, selfies.

Work your angles. Get to know your face and what looks good. Snap tons and tons of photos and take in all the positive comments. Allow yourself to acknowledge that you are beautiful and absorb that energy.


8. Do the things you love and don't care about what anyone else thinks.

Yes, it's easier said than done, but if you base your decisions on what other people think, you're never going to win. Trust your gut and just go out there and be brave. Tell the world that this is who you are and allow yourself to embrace it. You deserve to be yourself, whoever that is now.

9. Be nostalgic. But don't stay too long.


Allow yourself to take that trip back to songs you haven't heard in forever, and remember all things that you've always wanted to do. Allow your daydreams to filter through your grown-up brain and ask yourself if any of them are feasible. Make a plan to do the things you've always wanted to do. Daydream, but do it productively. Don't wish for the past, it's gone. Instead, bring the bits you loved from the past into your present mindset.


10. Find your tribe.

It's important to make friends who are just interested in being with just you. You need to be able to define yourself without your family, and doing that means having a social life outside of them. Take a class and meet some new people. Go to an event for something you used to enjoy. Find people who vibe on the same frequency as you and lean into them. Those people will build you up and help you appreciate yourself, even on days where you feel disposable. They will be your village, your port in a storm, your outlet for your frustrations and your shoulder to cry on. Emotionally, everyone needs to find their special tribe of weirdos and if you haven't yet, keep going. I found mine online. Your people are out there.

So I don't know if I qualify as cool or not, I'd like to think I do. I've gotten to a place where I feel pretty comfortable about myself and I'm happy being a square. I like me. And you will like you too, I promise. Just keep trying and never give up on yourself. You are worth the journey.

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