December 28th, 2018
Our childhood was heavily influenced by our parents and they picked our clothing for us up to a certain age. With this background of having things decided for us and with a subjective theory about what is good and bad for us, how do we find our style? Do we carry with us our parents’ legacy in our wardrobe forever?
Two people spoke to me about their family history and how they traced their style through time.
As a child, Sandra was given a lot of freedom and she thinks this is the greatest part of her relationship with her parents. ”I could do whatever I wanted. When it came to clothing, my parents supported my choices. The only no I received was price-related. Some things were sometimes too expensive for the family budget.”
Sandra was the youngest child in her family, so her relatives handed her all the unused clothes they had around the house. She rarely went shopping with her parents. Being born in ’88 in the city of Bucharest, she couldn’t be very picky. She accepted and wore what she got because there were no shops or malls to go into and say – I want this and that.
“I rediscovered a blue jumpsuit in some old pictures. I remember that it had a tongue, a nose and two eyes sewn on the fabric and I was very attached to it. I also rediscovered a backpack my mom had bought from Paris for my first day of school. It had a mix of red and blue, and a rectangular shape. I was small, blonde, with a smile on my face, feeling proud of my backpack or maybe excited for the first day of school.”
During that time she began “the war on thick tights.” She couldn’t stand them on her skin and she was forced by her mom to wear them. The tights were made of fabrics that regularly gave her rashes and itchy skin, they were long, above the waist and gave her a feeling of suffocation. A long time afterwards she wouldn’t wear any kind of tights, even in the coldest weather.
“Another thing I remember from my childhood has to do with my grandmother, who was a superstitious woman from Transylvania. She used to sew my initials on all my underpants and make me wear them inside-out so that people couldn’t put a hex on me.”
Until the age of 14 or 15, Sandra wasn’t interested in clothing. She was fat and kids made fun of her because of this. She has constantly practiced her sense of humor and self-irony in order to handle the social anxiety. “They never got to my clothes, children were busy bullying me about other things.”
“Oh, I didn’t tell you about the 8th grade ball when my mom bought me a pair of high heels. The heels were around 1 inch in length, but I didn’t know how to walk on them. I was like a boy, I didn’t wear skirts or dresses in my daily life. My mother sat with me for two days around the house, teaching me how to walk on heels and how to sit on a chair. I think my mom was relieved to find that I was still a girl. A kind of girl who was born a girl, but then turned into a boy, and then at one point became a girl again. “
The second “wave of freedom” she received from her family came around when she turned sixteen. Sandra wanted to get her first tattoo, her mom signed an agreement and joined her in a tattoo studio. Over time, three more tattoos followed.
When she was around twenty, Sandra started a new relationship with her clothes. She had lost weight and she was feeling good about her body. Maybe she wanted to make up for the years when girls around her would dress in feminine clothes and she wouldn’t. Only after a long string of experiments, she realized she didn’t need to dress in tight dresses or short skirts. She started choosing clothes that allowed for freedom of movement or that gently hid her body.
Black seemed to become her favorite color because it was clean and elegantly suited her body shape. “I feel very comfortable in black. I don’t find it dark or macabre, as some people think. Choosing clothes comes naturally to me. I buy what I like, it’s an instinctive process. I don’t overthink clothing. I tend to choose functional items. My hair is the only thing I still play with. I went through all the colors – purple, white, green, pink and all the shades of the those colors. It took me a while to get used to people staring at me. I remember I once went to the supermarket. My hair was long and purple, the texture looked like a wig. People couldn’t stop staring at me, and I didn’t understand why. It took me a while to realize that – Oh, Sandra, you’re head is purple!”
When she was 25, or 26 years old, she often wore a long fur with pink patches and a bag with fake pony hair, the same color as hers. “I was this apparition that you either fled from, or had an epileptic seizure over.”
Now when she’s 28, Sandra either buys simple clothes she can feel comfortable in, or clothes that border the kitsch. She is still attached to black, and the brands she likes are extremely different from her daily style.
Regarding the question – Does our family influence our aesthetic or not? Sandra feels lucky that she has been given a lot of freedom by her parents. The only “trauma” she had was about the tights in her childhood. Otherwise, she was able to experience everything she wanted without being chastised or feeling guilty. “My mom makes jokes about me, about how we are so different. I often come home wearing glitter, sparkles, strange clothes, and she often says – Oh girl, I can’t even look at you today. But I know she’s saying it in a coolish way, without negative subtext.”