Short. Tight. Provocative. Skimpy.
That pretty much describes what I was wearing the day this little piece of material would teach me the lessons of a lifetime.
The setting of this story takes place a few years back in South Beach Miami. My boyfriend at the time had taken me shopping and gotten me this dress, since we were attending what he repeatedly described as a “cocktail-style reception.” One of his childhood friends, who lived out there, was getting married and even though I had my doubts as to how appropriate this dress would be, he assured me that 1. the dress looked amazing and 2. it was more of a party then a big fancy ordeal. So I agreed. I would not know no anyone at this party, but it was Miami and I felt good, so what could go wrong? It was bound to be a good night!
The night of the event, and upon our arrival, we walked in strutting our stuff – me in my skimpy, and he in his Armani suit, walking hand in hand, proud and happy to have this night out. But our air of happy confidence would soon meet it’s end as we opened the door, only to get smacked in the face by the realization that this was indeed, no casual affair.
For the record, I happen to be someone who enjoys having a fashionable edge and who generally makes choices in the wardrobe department with conviction. So when I walked into what I basically recall as Miami’s-DRESSIEST-night-of-the-year -GALA- reception, I was instantly shocked and devastated.
It was a night where fancy wines and chiffon were equally flowing. Women were wearing gowns with ruched puffy layers and fancy lace, silk scarves, and embroidered fabric. There were charmeuse prints and ruffled taffeta, long dresses with trails and satin gloves to match somewhere, I’m sure. And so, in a quick moment’s time, I had lost my edge and had become that girl in the skimpy dress.
Terrified of what people would think, I quickly threw my boyfriend the “stone cold glance” (you know the one) of pursed lips and flared nostrils (with dark voices rumbling inside of me), as I recalled his laissez-faire attitude about the whole casual thing. I wanted to scream. But alas, there was no point – he was oblivious. He kissed me on the cheek and said, in a tone of reassurance, “You look beautiful and we are going to have a great time.”
It was a bitter sweet moment of confusion, where I realized that I could of been wearing a garbage bag with Birkenstocks and he would still have seen me as radiant. And yet, despite the romantic insight, I could not shake off the feeling of defeat. So instead, I gave into insecurity.
For the next few hours, I stood next to my boyfriend, not really contributing to any conversations, feeling meek, naked, embarrassed, imagining all sorts of awful things people were saying about me. It was like someone had turned the dial down to “dim” on the personality light switch. Maybe I could hide in someone’s puffy dress? Or make pants out of two scarves? That could work!.. uhh, sigh. No, it wouldn’t. Plan B was a quick escape, but when I realized I could not do that either, I compromised and must of gone to the bathroom one hundred and twenty-four times that night just to get away from my thoughts and the crowd.
It was, actually, during one of these godsend timely visits, that I fell upon a wise fairy godmother of a lady and the three little words that would wash my troubles away. She was an older woman in a very elegant mermaid cut dress and an attendee of the reception, who washing her hands in the sink. I went up to her in an attempt to gain some comfort and a female friend, and asked her point blank, “Excuse me, can I please ask for your opinion? Please tell me the truth. Is this dress too short and do I look REE-diculous?!!” She looked at me with honesty in her eye and grace in her voice, and said, ” You know what, dear, you are wearing it now, so you just have to own it – and make it look good.”
Just own it. Hmm..It rang back in my ears like the answer to a puzzle I had been waiting for! I instantly understood that this was a matter of my state of mind. My dress was short and there was nothing I could do about it. It didn’t matter who thought what, if I wasn’t feeling good about it, no one else would be either. I had been walking around with my tail between my legs and that look was just NOT working out for me. So I looked in the mirror once again, this time with new eyes, and said, “Yeah, I look great! I am a good person. I have a good heart and I’m not going to let anything come between that! So I am just gonna own it.”
And just like that, I picked up the pieces and I walked out of the bathroom for the very last time, with a new-found sparkly attitude. My head was held high, my heart beaming, and most important of all, I was owning it and believing in myself. My night finally turned into the fun one I had anticipated. I made friends and my bubbly personality came back to life. Women started asking me where I had bought my dress, and one even came up to me, and playfully joked that I was lucky because she could not breathe under all her layers of her dress.
In short, the lessons that I learned from this night are priceless.
The first lesson was that sometimes, the closest people to us see us as our best and in moments of low points and that we should listen and take those views on for ourselves (or even a little if that’s too hard) until we believe it. Because it is true, when we feel low it is the people that love us that can see our beauty, our truth, and our radiance more clearly just as my boyfriend had pointed out at the beginning of the evening.
The second lesson is that sometimes, “life will happen” or there will be momentary setbacks to our confidence, when we must bring forth power and rely on the JUST OWN IT Rule. This may include when you are on a date eating spaghetti and you get slapped in the face by a saucy noodle*, or when you do a late night run to the corner store in your pajamas only to find the cutest guy standing behind you in the line* [* signifies personal experiences.] Or maybe it is much simpler than that. Maybe it is the first time you confidently wear those patterned jeans that you have always wanted to, or tried the new bold eyeliner you always thought you could never pull off, or when you all of the sudden feel shy about showing your hubby that new kinky lingerie with the cut out part.
No matter what life throws at you, you can find comfort in knowing that all you have to do, is take a deep breath, love yourself no matter what, keep your head held high, and own it, baby!
In fact, I invite you to take on this frame of mind to each and every situation where you experience doubt, and see the new bold attitude and excitement that results. You think you can’t wear that blue eye shadow that’s fashionable? Says who? How about those colourful jeans or that Victoria Secret swimsuit you’ve been eyeing? Can’t wear those? The bold hair colour you’ve always wanted to try? It’s all the same and as long as you love it and own it with a humble heart and your head held high, others will love it and you too!
I have an idea. Lets start small. Next time you are going out to an an event and you are rummaging through your makeup, how about you don’t skip over that colourful eyeshadow palette that you have been postponing to wear! You bought it for a reason, so lets put it to use now and play up your look with the new-found “just own it” confidence.
Here are some guidelines to how to play up your eye with a pop of colour and something new:
1. Select the colour that you have always wanted to try; whether it is purple, forest green, or a light frosted blue. There are no wrong answers! Creativity is subjective, so its up to you!
2. Start with a neutral eyeshadow and cover the entire eyelid. This will work as a base.
3. Add the frosted blue or colour of your choice to the inner corner of the eye, covering both top and bottom of inner eye. The key here is to pair it with darker shades on the lid, so that this colour is the lightest shade on your eye.
4. Select a darker shade like black or charcoal grey and either a) blend it with a tiny bit of the frosted blue to create a darker hue or b) simply use the black or grey by itself.
5. Using a crease brush, shade in the natural crease of your eyelid with this darker hue, putting more emphasis on the outermost corner of your eye. This will deepen the look, and will create more of a playful smokey eye with a pop of colour; as opposed to just heavily- coloured blue eyes.
6. Using a black liner, line both the top and bottom lash lines to create more definition.
7. Stipple in some of the blue on the lower lash line, over the liner to create a cohesive eye look.
8. Keep the rest of the look clean and neutral, and perhaps select a nude lip to keep the focus on your new fun just-own- it eyes!