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For The Love Of Clothes

When a friend recently dug up this picture she took of me the second year I lived in Berlin, my first thought was, OMG, that jacket! I inherited it from my aunt and it was the softest faux suede. I wore that jacket long after the elbows were worn out and it was too small for me because I love, love, loved it.

I also thought, Oh yeah, that’s back when I preferred to wear muddy Earth tones. Rebeccah dear, what’s up with that belt? Why oh why did mom jeans ever come back into fashion? They look terrible on everyone!

In other words, I noticed the clothes before I remembered that nice day we spent together all those years ago in Potsdam.

I’ve loved clothes and shoes ever since I can remember. When I was growing up in urban Jesus freak communes in Sacramento, my meals paid for by food stamps, I was still dressed in pretty princess silk and lace numbers from Saks Fifth Avenue because my clothes horse, nouveau riche, super conservative, alcoholic grandmother loved dressing “the girls”, i.e. me and my sister (have I ever mentioned I had the strangest childhood?)

Grandmama was also definitely a label whore, making sure I was decked out in Gunne Sax, Esprit and Guess which caused lots of jealousy in junior high. I don’t think I would have cared if she’d bought clothes I liked that were no-name brands, but then again I’m probably taking things for granted. If I hadn’t had the trendy clothes she bought me, maybe I would have been lusting after them like everyone else.

As for my adult life, about 80% of all the clothes I’ve ever bought has been from thrift stores. This is partly because I’ve never had much money–and when I did, I wanted to spend it on things like travel or books, not clothes–and partly for ethical reasons.

My budget has always been in the realm of fast fashion when it comes to clothes, but I just don’t want to support these businesses because of the working conditions and because their clothes is cheap and designed to fall apart once the season is over.

If I can get something at a thrift store that is way better quality for only five bucks, therefore saving the piece from a landfill, why wouldn’t I?

Besides, as any passionate thrifter knows, it’s all about the thrill of the hunt.

Whenever a major change has crept up into my life, the first thing that happens is my clothing style changes, sometimes ever so slightly, sometimes in a mad rush. Goth light, hippie chick, generic 90s college student, bombshell, sporty honorary lesbian, vintage girl and Trachten princess, each of this has been my look at various times in my life.

How much of your life is spent in clothes? 85%, 90% maybe? This cloth you wear against your skin expresses who you are to the outside world.

Celebrate it.

Jeans from Zehnle von Langsdorff, shoes and wrap top thrifted, necklace from the Bauhaus Stiftung in Dessau, tank top from Armed Angels.

I really love the show Queer Eye for many reasons, but I love what Tan does the best. When Tan redresses people, he always takes their personality into account, because feeling comfortable and like yourself is as important as anything when it comes to dressing. And everyone on the show looks so great in the end.

As for me, the look I have on above is probably the closest to my daily dressing style color-wise (sadly, the heels mostly stay in the closet because I walk a lot and the cobblestones in Berlin wear out heels fast). I tend to wear a lot of blue (although it’s not a color I particularly like otherwise) with dashes of brighter/warmer colors mixed in.

I love the color of this simple rope necklace I bought at the Bauhaus Stiftung several years ago. The jeans were made by a friend of mine who has her own fashion label in Berlin, Zehnle von Langsdorff. Their pants are out of my price range, but I translate their website and newsletter and get paid in clothes instead of cash. So worth it. Love these jeans.

I’ve also recently discovered the eco fashion label Armed Angels, where I bought the blue tank top. Sadly, most of their clothes is designed with a more androgynous body in mind (something us curvy plus size gals have to deal with a lot), which means I can’t really wear it. But I do have some of their basic pieces, and love them. Gorgeous materials and colors and decent prices, really, considering the quality and sustainable production behind the scenes.

Sweater thrifted, leggings Old Navy (I think), t-shirt Laurel (too lazy to put in the accent mark), skirt and belt, Marianna Deri (ditto), I made the earrings myself (three cheers for Fimo clay!)

If I someday earn a bit more money than I do now, I’ll sprinkle in more pieces by local designers amongst the second hand wares. But this skirt made by the Düsseldorf-based designer Marianna Deri was something I simply couldn’t resist (her website is already in English, otherwise I would have tried to translate for it. My sign always reads: Will translate for gorgeous clothes!) She brought some of her designs to my friend’s shop and I fell in love with this parrot skirt.

I had to have this piece because there’s a deranged parrot in the novel I’m working on named Killer, although she’s a sulphur crested Cockatoo, not a Macaw.

Yes, I admit it. I’m a parrot nerd.

Belt, Marianna Deri, leggings, Old Navy (?), everything else thrifted

I honestly believe every woman should believe she’s the most beautiful woman in the world. I don’t mean an envy driven, Snow White’s stepmother nasty competition belief in beauty. I mean cultivating your own unique look, owning it and loving it.

This is who you are and you’re one of a kind (and yes, I am aware this sounds like a cheesy ad campaign).

Look at clothing lines like Universal Standard (sadly not available in Germany). The models they have on the website come in all shapes, sizes and colors and they all look fucking fantastic.

Confident.

If anything, women should learn to err on the side of over confidence rather than the ubiquitous self doubt that plagues our gender.

This is how I try to live.

But when I look at the pictures here my first thought is my boobs are way too big, I’m at least 30 pounds overweight, I look around ten years older than I am in my head. And are those middle-aged jowls? Egads!

Yes, I love color and fashion that makes a statement, but this kind of look can turn clownish if you’re not careful, and the danger goes up the older you get.

Ugh. So much for confidence.

But luckily, I have my love for clothes. I feel its texture and take in its colors and recall the history of so many pieces: where I wore them, when I wore them, why I wore them, with the passion of a well-remembered love affair that never lost its champagne bubble brilliance.

See. Writing that I feel better already.

XOXO

Rebeccah (who loves to thrift and, in her mind, will be forever 35). 😉

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