There are not many events in my life for which I am expected to dress to the nines. Weddings, funerals, masquerade balls, and other traditionally formal shindigs are usually spaced out enough in my social calendar that I don't have to face the fact that I hate dressing up very often. When these events do pop up on my radar, however, I immediately begin dreading having to dust off one of my fancier and less-beloved outfits: Outfits that are likely covered in cobwebs and looming in the corner of my closet.
There are a number of reasons why the prospect of wearing dresses vexes me. For one, I don't feel confident in any "polished" look because it simply doesn't feel like something I could truly do justice to. My interpretation of everything fashion and beauty has a flair for the messy and half-done, exemplified in my propensity for wearing thrift shop flannels, Dr. Martens, and sloppily applied lip color. Looking pristine is not only something I'm not interested in, but something that makes me feel downright out of place. Seriously, being in a room full of faces with perfectly applied foundation and not a hair in disarray is, essentially, my own personal hell.
The thing is, dressing up always feels hyper-feminine to me. Half the time, this isn't really much to complain about. The other half of the time — or whenever I'm feeling more masc — wearing a dress can be stressful and inducing of total dissociation.
Of course, dressing up can be fun under the right circumstances. But for all those humans out there who can't stand the thought of going to another friend's wedding, here are some things you're bound to understand.
1. The Difficultly Of Remembering You Have A Skirt On
I'm the absolute worst at remembering that my lower half can be exposed in a flash when wearing skirts or dresses. I naturally want to move about freely, contort and cross my legs, and just generally sit with my legs open (a more comfortable stance for me).
In that little "oops" moment when you realize that as you were sitting slightly reclined on the subway with your legs wide open you flashed a commuter with your tightest pair of undies, things can feel pretty embarrassing. I don't agree with this idea of "sitting like a lady" when in feminine clothing (or ever). But when I'm surrounded by people other than my friends or partner, I'd rather not have to worry about exposing myself constantly and be able to sit and move about instead.
2. The Fact That Fancy Shoes Are The Worst
As someone who spends most of their days in combat boots, even graduating to a clog can be challenging. Pretty much any shoe that is meant to go with formal attire (specifically flats and heels) has never been anything but uncomfortable. Flats give me blisters and make my already non-existent arches feel achy and stiff, while heels are always a balancing act, leaving my toes aching by the end of every wear. I'm always that person at the function who takes their shoes off pre-dance floor time (aka the more acceptable time to be galloping around barefoot).
3. The "Grown Up" Dilemma
Although I am a legal adult with drinking privileges, voting rights, medical bills, and all that jazz, I hardly ever feel like one. Getting fancy has the ability to boost my ego for at least a little bit, but most of the time I feel a bit silly and impostor-like — as if I'm trying to pose as an adult.
Of course, adulthood should not be equated to wearing formal attire, nor does maturity have one sole definition. However, I still sometimes finding myself negotiating my right to be formal or take myself seriously. As I've grown older and gone to fancier events sans my parents, I have become more comfortable with occupying my Business Bitch persona. Everyone deserves to feel like a boss/queen for a night, right?
4. The Tragedy Of Stains
As a creator of crumbs and a person who spills constantly (especially after I've had a few), I get very concerned about staining my fancy attire. I have no skill in removing stains, and am known to walk around with days-old chocolate marks on my pants. I also hate doing laundry and know next to nothing about dry cleaning. So when I stain a dress, it's usually stained for life.
5. The Impossibility Of Makeup
The one thing I really look forward to when going to a formal event is getting to wear all the makeup. I may not love dresses, but there's nothing that gets me more than a winged eye and a bold, kooky-colored lip. However, when I try to go all out, I often realize how difficult it can be to do makeup. I mean, I know nothing about how to apply foundation or bronzer or whether you're supposed to put those on all at once.
Of course, we shouldn't ever strive for "perfection" and everyone's interpretation of beauty is different and valid. But I find that when getting ready for formal events, I often wish I had a steadier hand or watched more makeup tutorials.
6. The Hair Product Confusion
I literally never do anything with my hair, but I become a bit more aware of that fact when at formal events. My flyaways feel more noticeable and I realize that I don't even own a hairdryer. Every now and then, I ask my best friend to teach me how to sculpt my locks with gel and cream. But I never follow through. Aspirational beauty only causes heartache anyway, and my wild and wavy hair is gorg all by itself.
7. The Weirdness Of Gender Norms
Formal attire is almost always a feminine affair for me, which doesn't always bode well with my psyche or the masculine parts of my body. I sometimes feel awkward rocking hairy pits with a dainty, short-sleeved dress, not only because of the touch of masculinity, but because somehow hairiness seems informal.
For a feminine-presenting person who was taught to shave all their life, that discomfort obviously makes sense. But I like to think of my hairy bits, especially my armpits, as another cute accessory for my outfit, as well as something that keeps me grounded in my gender fluidity.
8. The "Why Can't I Always Look Like A Punk?" Question
I sometimes wish I could show up to super formal events like weddings in Docs, a T-shirt, and bed head. The concept of dressing up always seemed to have such rigid lines to me, but I'm sure there are tons of formal options that are more my speed — and dresses that lend themselves to all things minimalist or goth. Usually, I can't afford (or refuse to put too much money towards) brand new clothes, and finding these alternative options is a bit more difficult at thrift shops. Oh, the struggle of keeping to your style for a damn wedding.
9. The Brief Enjoyment
Sometimes — even though it's out of character — I really do enjoy dressing up for the night. Being a queen for a few hours is pretty fun, and on occasion even very cleansing for the soul.
That being said, I'm always glad to return to my stained muscle tees and cuffed skinny jeans the next day.
Images: Meg Zulch; Pixabay