How to make ANY outfit look good.

There were two things that I wanted to be as a high school freshman: a Varsity cheerleader, and the lead in the school play. As a quiet, mousy, afraid-to-even-raise-her-hand-in-class kind of kid, these seemed like totally normal things to want. I was too shy to ask a question during English class, but getting up in front of everyone during a basketball game and jumping around in a short skirt? That sounds GREAT! Sign me up. There was a guy I liked on the basketball team.

I mean, of course there were OTHER reasons I wanted to be a cheerleader – because it’s a SPORT. And a healthy extracurricular. And a great opportunity to build life-long friendships with my other cheer… mates? Cheermates? Is that a word? Cheer friends?

Whatever. It was mostly about the guy. And everyone knows cheerleaders are hot.

So I dragged my friend to try-outs with me – you know, because I was too afraid to go alone – and together we learned all of the basic chants, stunts, cheers, I think there was a dance involved? The only thing I can remember is thinking how they made everything look so much easier in “Bring It On”. I couldn’t even do a cartwheel, let alone the front handspring-stepout, roundoff back handspring-stepout I had planned to blow everyone away. You know, if I practiced enough. How hard could it be? It’s just, jumping around. On your hands.

I did the splits for my “stunt” portion during try-outs. That was one of the things – you had to do a “stunt”: a cartwheel, a roundoff, a handspring, you could even do a forward roll if you weren’t coordinated enough to do anything else. Which I wasn’t. But I chose to do the splits, because I decided that a forward roll might be too dangerous for someone inexperienced like myself.

Also I thought the splits would be more impressive. Which they would have been – had I actually done them, instead of whatever I did. Because what I did was slide down about halfway to the ground, until my knees started to bend and my legs made this triangle shape with the floor, and I was like “Ta-da!”

Hah. Hah. Hah. Oh, right, did I mention I’ve never been able to do the splits?

I was shocked (I know!) when I didn’t make the team. The squad? I don’t know, whatever. My dreams of becoming a Varsity cheerleader that year were squandered, and the only thing I had left – the ONLY other thing I wanted – was becoming the lead in the school play. Because, for some reason, I thought this would make me cool. “She’s the LEAD in the school play”, they’d say. “She’s going to be a star!” Like lead in the high school play is the first step to Broadway.

There was also a boy. In the drama club. And I liked him too, and wanted to impress him with my amazing acting skills, because I thought that I had amazing acting skills. Kind of like how I thought I could do the splits for my cheer try-out. I had amazing, and slightly unjustified, confidence as a fourteen year old.

Of course there were OTHER reasons I wanted to be in the school play. Because it builds a healthy level of charisma and increases skill in public speaking, and… it looks good on college applications? Probably? I don’t know. Whatever, we both know it was mainly about the guy.

Wearing a leopard print bra to a job interview.

I’m not big on superstition, but I once held a rabbit’s foot in my pocket while I was taking an important exam.

And by “important exam”, I mean a sixth grade science test, and by “rabbit’s foot”, I mean a picture I ripped out of magazine of Justin Timberlake. It was earlier that year when I discovered a “lucky rabbit’s foot” was legitimately supposed to be, like, you know… a rabbit’s.. FOOT… and I was like “What kind of sick person carries around some dead rabbit’s chopped off foot? How does that bring them good luck?” 

It doesn’t. When you think about it, the concept IS a little Jeepers Creepers, ya know? 

But a picture of Justin Timberlake during his Ramen noodle hair and N’sync days? Yes. That will TOTALLY bring you good luck! Probably. If you write the answers on it somewhere in very small print and only look at it occasionally when the teacher isn’t paying attention. Ya know, for luck.

Of course I wasn’t smart enough to do that. Which is probably why I thought I needed a “lucky charm” to get through a sixth grade level science test in the first place. As long as I had a picture of my fake boyfriend “Justin from N’sync” in my back pocket, I was sure to do well. It was magic, and luck, and the Gods and a higher power – and my crazy little eleven year old brain that legit thought some sort of voodoo could make me a really good guesser – all working together.

Ah, to be eleven and weird again. 

I don’t remember how I did on that test. But – to ease your mind – I went on to go to Junior High, and High School, and College, and now I’m a Regional Sales Manager in Chicago, so – however it turned out – I guess not being able to retain information about volcanos and bugs didn’t ruin my life. 

That time I bleached my hair.

I wasn’t allowed to dye my hair growing up. It wasn’t a ‘religion thing’ or a ‘Conservative thing’ or an “afraid of chemicals” thing – my parents just told me that I wasn’t allowed. End of story. My mom said I had “beautiful hair” and dying it would be like “ruining it”.

These kids today walking around with “Mermaid hair” will never know the struggle.

I mean, I get it. My natural hair had “dimension” (I think that’s the word that hair-people use). So many shades of brown – natural highlights, natural LOW-lights – just growing out of my head. And it was healthy! Ugh. SO HEALTHY.

But, you know, I was a teenage girl and thought that dying my hair was the equivalent of a Mia Thermopolis make-over. (Dye hair = look like Princess of Genovia.) But my mom wasn’t having it. “Pick your battles”, they say, and this is the one that she picked.

A lot of parents put their foot down about partying and premarital sex, but my mom has never been like a “regular” mom. She’s a cool mom.

(Also, I didn’t get invited to parties in high school and boys didn’t talk to me. So if she really wanted to put her foot down about something, the hair thing was kind of all she had.) (Click the heading to read more)

That time I wore wooden shoes.

Oh, but not just any wooden shoes — platform shoes. With a heel. A large, wooden, platform heel.

I KNOW. I blame Lizzie McGuire. Because I was fifteen and saw Hilary Duff wearing them in a Candies ad and thought that if she was wearing them, then I should wear some too. (They must be “in”, right? This is Candies. I’m not over in the old lady section of Kohls- this is the JUNIORS section. EVERYTHING in the Juniors section is cool. I’m practically shopping in Hilary Duff’s closet, I bet she wears these every day.)

So I bought myself some wooden shoes with a platform heel. Whoever said advertising doesn’t work has clearly never met a desperate-for-style fifteen year old girl walking around Kohl’s with her mom.

Don’t wear a dress to the airport.

I wouldn’t call myself a nervous flyer, I’m more of a nervous airport go-er. Because airport security has a special way of making me feel like an international terrorist. Not on purpose, it’s not as if they’re eyeing me up and down with a couple of pitch forks. The majority of TSA agents that I’ve met were actually very nice. But they have a job to do, and they take it seriously. Which is a good thing, because if there’s anything that would make me a nervous flyer, it would be some crazy guy on my plane.

But – let’s be real here – if you think I know how to make a bomb out of a bottle of shampoo, you’re giving me too much credit. I write my own fashion blog and keep selfies saved on my phone, I’m not the kind of gal who would dump my salon-brand-argon-oil-no-frizz shampoo down the drain just to start concocting a missile. I’m WAAAY too vain for that.

But TSA figured, you know, better safe than sorry. Who knows? The next world renowned international terrorist could be a twenty-six year old girl from the Midwest traveling with fancy shampoo and wearing a Calvin Klein dress.

Because that was my real mistake. Wearing that dress to the airport. Who wears a dress to the airport? Beyonce?

Ripped jeans. Because, fashion.

I’m sure my dad wasn’t the first parent to tell his teenage daughter “no” when she asked him for a pair of ripped-up, faded, holy jeans. “They have holes in them,” he’d say. “Who would pay seventy dollars for a pair of jeans that have holes in them? I can’t even donate jeans like that to Goodwill.”

Dads. They just don’t understand fashion.

I bought my first and only pair of “holy jeans” for the same reason that I bought a velour tracksuit (circa 2003) and a whole bunch of big sunglasses: because Jessica Simpson wore holy jeans and tracksuits and big sunglasses and she was Jessica Simpson. She was married to Nick Lachey. She was in that movie Dukes of Hazzard. She thought tuna might be chicken, which at the time, I thought held a solid argument. The can really does say, “chicken of the sea”.

So when I saw Jessica Simpson wearing jeans with holes in them, I decided that I had to go out and buy some jeans with holes in them. Because Jessica Simpson made them look chic. And effortless. Like she was fashion-y, but she wasn’t trying too hard to be fashion-y. It just happened. She just woke up, threw on whatever was laying around, and BOOM! Instant pin on Pinterest.

Of course Pinterest didn’t exist back then.) So I didn’t know what kind of “holy jeans” to buy. I had to rely on episodes of Newlyweds and the Juniors department at JcPenny to guide me on my style choices. Which is how I ended up with my very own pair of holy jeans – and they didn’t come from my attempt at spending hours with scissors, sand paper and a copy of Seventeen magazine that featured an article about using sand paper and scissors to rip up your jeans. (This was a real article, by the way. I remember, because I asked my dad if he had any sand paper laying around in the garage. #JustGirlyThings)