I’m not actually a Park Avenue Princess.
I was born in South Jersey and raised on…Long Island. Yup.
But let’s move on from that because, fortuitously, tomorrow is Halloween. And, while I would never refer to an outfit that I’m wearing as a costume per se, it’s thought-provoking to note that when sauntering around the city in a pair of blanket soft leather trousers and a wool/silk blended Gucci scarf, noticeably flummoxed passerbys seem to sum up who I must be in the same way that they might if I were to affix a pair of glistening green wings to my body and prance through the streets summoning the spirit of Tinkerbelle. And that’s perhaps the greatest and the most unfortunate aspect of fashion — it’s enmeshment with assumptions of personal identity.
A couple of years ago, I was comfortably situated in a plush leather booth at one of my favorite resturants in Boston, eagerly awaiting the arrival of an order of steaming hot spinach & artichoke dip (I know). It was a snow ridden winter evening, and I was happy to be cozily snuggled indoors, enjoying dinner with Casey, one of my closest friends. Midway through our conversation, he abruptly confessed to me that long before we actually met, he had seen me in passing, and that I reminded him of a “certain someone.”
Sitting upright in my chair with a sprightly pop and a quick blush, I enthusiastically began to wonder who he was going to name. I’ve gotten Jamie Lynn Sigler before, I thought; maybe he’s going to say her. Instead, he remarked — unwavering, steadfastly, with the utmost seriousness — “Kathryn.” I mulled over the word for a second, bouncing its syllables off of the walls of my mind, trying fervently to conjure images of who he could possibly be referring to. Kathryn? Kathryn? Kathryn? As we locked eyes, the realization hit me in the way that startling revelations always do – hard.
I reminded one of my nearest and dearest friends of a fictional character. And, not just any fictional character. We’re talking about a narcissistic, sociopathic, Upper East Side horrorshow played by Sarah Michelle Gellar in the movie, “Cruel Intentions.” Casey and I immediately laughed in unison, with the shared understanding of what he was referring to. I couldn’t debate with him on the matter. From the outside looking in, I admittedly recognized why my aesthetic would be reminiscent of, well…Kathryn’s. By then, he knew me well enough to know that nothing could actually be further from the truth. Am I narcisstic? Nope. Shy and a bit uncertain at first, yes. Sociopathic? Well, hopefully not, or we have a greater issue here than style, but you catch my drift. Perception, which is largely based on physical presentation, is often intertwined with personal style. As with most things, this carries with it plenty of advantages and disadvantages.
As I’ve become more confident in who I am, I no longer feel the need to always dress up or even to ensure that I’m regularly wearing makeup. There are plenty of days when I trek around in sweats and a tee, unsweetened iced venti holding me up. Other times, I do enjoy putting myself together, sometimes, indeed, embracing a very Kathryn-esque look. The point is that whether I’m sporting a pair of Uggs and mismatched sweats, or a look like the one I put together here, I’m still me – not a Park Avenue Princess, not Kathryn from Cruel intentions…just a girl who was born in South Jersey, raised on Long Island and trying to find her way in the world.