I have an awkward past and it was probably never more awkward than when I was in middle school. Like most of us at that age, I was experimenting with who I wanted to be. I told my friends I wanted to be a rock star or a ballerina or an astronaut, but, secretly, I would have settled for just popular. I was sure that if I could dress like the popular kids, I would be one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the brands that all the cool kids were wearing. I never owned a pair of Guess jeans or a Benetton sweater or an Esprit top. I had to make do with a small wardrobe of discount clothing from Sears or JC Penney. I was creative with what I had, but I was always a little disappointed with my looks. Now, with the perspective of thirty years, I see hints of the the style I’d develop and love as an adult. If only I could go back and tell myself that copying the popular kids is for unimaginative sheep. Rock the awkward, young Kasmira!
I’m growing out my first perm. I should be wearing glasses, but I’m too vain. (My vanity will eventually lead to my flunking out of math class because I can’t see the daily quizzes.) I freaking LOVED this sweatshirt. It pictured a puffy, white bear painting himself to look like a panda. I remember wearing it with white shorts, black socks, and white sneakers on a field trip and thinking I was the ultimate in stylishness. Even back then, I appreciated the classic combination of black and white, punched up with a bright color. I did not, though, have an appreciation for hygiene. For some reason, I boycotted brushing my teeth for days at a time.
Things were looking up. I got a spiral perm and highlights. I still wasn’t allowed to wear makeup, but I’d sneak some of my mother’s or apply a friend’s at school and then wipe it off before I got home. By this time, I really started getting into jewelry. I remember going nuts over the cheap bracelets at 2 + 2 at the Clackamas Towne Center (in the pre-Claire’s Boutique days). Even back then, I carefully sorted and stored my jewelry. Each pair of earrings had its own, tiny ziplock bag and the entire collection was stored in a decorative tin. I wore these fan earrings almost daily, until I finally lost one. The “K” necklace is my mother’s but I appropriated it for many years.
I never transitioned from awkward to popular, but eventually cared less about being and looking like others. My style, like my sense of self, became better defined each year. I created my own look, focusing on the things I love – color, layers, and accessories – without blowing the budget. Who really wants to spend a lot to look like part of the crowd? Never stop being you, awkward or not.
This post is an updated version of Jr High Style, originally published 9/5/2007 at whatiwore2day.blogspot.com.