outfit of the [yester]day: return to the sea

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Two years ago today, I published my first cautious “outfit of the day” post, showing off what would become two classic staples of my personal aesthetic: Peter Pan collars and nods to marine biology. At the time, I possessed only that one vintage-style dress, and I wore it so often that I ended up buying its twin in another color. I’d never identified as someone who was Into Fashion, but there was just something about that dress–as soon as I zipped it up, I felt like a cheerful, quick-witted girl detective equipped to handle anything with anachronistic flair.

In the time since, acquiring pieces for my quirky wardrobe allowed me to feel more confident and more myself than I’d ever been in jeans and sweaters or Young Professional Workplace Wear. Now, if I so desire, I have the ability to wear colorful retro dresses literally every day. Even a skirt decorated with galactic, bioluminescent mermaids and sea creatures is at my fingertips! But — as my absence from this blog might have suggested — over the past few months, I’ve begun to lose confidence in my bold fashion. In some moments of confusion, I’ve almost wondered if I might have to abandon the style that I love and start showing up in slacks or skater skirts!

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I’ve always acknowledged this paradoxical aspect of my character–that I’m shy and retiring in public but wear outfits that don’t exactly make me blend in. Transitioning into a new stage of my life and an unknown social environment made me terrified of looking like some freak that wears the most bizarre clothing ever.

Wearing my favorite ridiculous skirt (and these incredible bell sleeves, which might be my new obsession!) yesterday, though, felt like coming home. Why would I settle for a more “acceptable “skirt when I could smile down at mermaids and whales all day? So I’m back, and I am going to try to return to outfit-posting as frequently as ever – it’s a great way to remind myself of how much joy this form of self-expression brings me!

If you dabble in any of the countless varieties of “alternative fashion” like I do, how do you handle confidence and anxieties about sticking out in a crowd?

6 thoughts on “outfit of the [yester]day: return to the sea

  1. Elena September 13, 2017 / 2:47 pm

    I love your outfits!

  2. Elena October 16, 2017 / 8:04 am

    Hello Keely,
    when I first read this post, I wanted to write something about “standing out” but I eventually only wrote the essential message you see above.
    However, the thought resurfaced every now and then, especially yesterday when I bought a blue cardigan made of 60% viscose and 40% iridescent lurex yarn, which I forced myself to wear this morning. (For the records, I have kept my jacket on all morning…)

    This is an exception because I don’t often wear “outstanding” clothes but I think I can relate to your occasional lack of confidence nonetheless. That’s because I always wear “the same” clothes.
    I own few clothes (long story, let’s say that I could afford many more but don’t buy them) if compared to the average woman in the western world, especially if considered that there are distinct seasons here in northern Italy, where I live (basically, I need everything from snow shoes and heavy sweaters to airy skirts and sandals) and sometimes I wonder e.g. if my colleagues will notice that I am still wearing the same dress I had 8 years ago and what they’ll think about it.
    Most times I do not care but there are days when I feel insecure because of this. In such cases, I try to remind myself that there are reasons (each of us has her own) behind my choice and walk on ^_^

    Also, I read that most times, most people don’t notice. I am attentive to detail and notice if one wears something unusual (the funniest was seeing people with their sweater worn inside out or with the front in the back :-D) but my experience tells me that most people are not like me.

    I hope you’ll keep your style because your dresses are beautiful and you are so pretty with them.

    • Mailbox Mermaid October 22, 2017 / 8:55 pm

      Dear Elena, thank you so much for your wonderful, thoughtful comment – I’ve taken a few weeks off of blogging and to return to your message was a wonderful surprise! I’m quite attentive to detail, like you, so I too always assume that everyone is noticing all minute aspects of my dress – even when, odds are, they are probably too busy with their own thoughts to even notice! I hope your iridescent blue cardigan is brightening your spirits, even if it stays under your jacket 🙂 (And I understand your struggles exactly, in terms of weather – it’s meltingly hot here in the summer and full of blizzards in the winter, and I am stubborn in my preference for summery dresses!) Thank you again for your kind words and bringing some rays of sunshine into this autumnal evening!

  3. Alissa Howard November 29, 2017 / 10:17 am

    The very first thing I have to say is the print on that skirt is so cute!
    I’ve definitely worn a few outfits that stand out, with bright blues and pinks and such, but rather luckily I’ve never been very insecure when it comes to my clothes. I’m not sure what the key is, but I think reminding yourself that people don’t care is the trick. Try to imagine the situation reversed, and imagine how you’d react to seeing someone wear what you’re wearing. You probably wouldn’t care or you would like it. Well this is probably how most people think when they see your outfit too! And the few people that might dislike it and voice those opinions, well luckily those are not the kind of people you’d want to associate yourself with anyway.
    So keep wearing what makes you happy! And maybe you’ll even give someone else the confidence to wear something that’s considered a little different too! 😀
    – Alissa

    • Mailbox Mermaid December 2, 2017 / 8:56 pm

      Thanks for your kind words of encouragement, Alissa! 🙂 Wearing quirky clothes has been one of my favorite forms of self-expression these past few years, and I was sad to see my self-confidence wane earlier this fall when I started grad school and became super nervous about how I would be perceived – but as you say, people really aren’t judging as much as our inner voices would have us imagine, and I’m happy to report that by now, I’m back to my usual, colors-loving self! Wishing you bright, bold days too! ❤

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