When I was in London a couple years ago, I passed by a hipster-looking eyeglass shop in Camden. I went in, intending to just browse around. Although I’m a daily glasses wearer, I had owned the same pair of almost eight years; oversized, mousy brown frames that I still liked well enough. They even survived a faceplant when I got bucked off once, impressively.
I touched them absently as I browsed. What if I got a crazy pair of glasses? Cat eye, or little round Harry Potter ones? I picked up a pair of iridescent, jewel-like frames, with flecks of peacock blue and gold. They were at the far end of the “beautiful” spectrum, right before it turned into “tacky.” I put them on and grinned in the mirror. The woman who smiled back at me looked like a fiercely intelligent, charmingly eccentric creative type.
I took them off, returning to my ordinary self. “Those are one-of-a-kind,” the young, bearded sales associate told me. He had watched me try them on. “The acetate that they’re made from was leftover from the ‘70s, and we only had enough for the one pair.”
I checked the price tag and rolled my eyes. The number shown matched his description of them well enough. I sighed, putting the frames back on the rack. Of course they were ‘70s – that was my favourite decade. I had always wished to have been born 30 years earlier. I walked out into the cobblestone alley, wistful.
Ten minutes later, I doubled back, retracing my steps. Not typically one for impulse buys (or expensive buys, for that matter), I closed my eyes and pulled out my credit card, practically throwing it at the hip sales clerk, who smiled knowingly.
And you want to know something silly? Those glasses did, in a way, usher in a new era in my life. As superficial as it sounds, the way we dress and present ourselves to the world affects the way we feel about ourselves. Those glasses made me aspire to be the woman I saw in the mirror when I first tried them on: fearless, bold, and embracing of her weirdness.
Stuffy equestrian dress codes and social taboos deserve to be broken.
There are a number of seemingly small things, from sunglasses to hats to jewellery to a hilariously awesome pair of sneakers, that accompany you to the barn from your “outside life” (like my glasses do – otherwise I would be blind as a bat). I’m not saying that buying prohibitively expensive accessories is the only way to define oneself – but anything that helps you step out of your comfort zone is worth a try.
So maybe it’s that pink show jacket that your trainer threatened to disown you if you bought. Or the oversized belt buckle you loved but worried other people might think was tacky. Or the nose piercing you’ve always wanted but never had the guts to go through with. Stuffy equestrian dress codes and social taboos deserve to be broken.
In this life, we can be whatever we damn well please, whenever we damn well please. If you dress as the woman you want to be, instead of the one you are now, you’ll catch up to her at some point.