you look awesome today, by the way: being unapologetically vain

for the longest time, i must admit hated the combination of red and blue. perhaps i was because i associated it with some sort of patriotic undertones, like the union jack or the american flag. but for whatever reason, it rubbed me the wrong way for ages and never really entered my warddrobe. it wasn’t until i was in my early twenties when i saw someone walking down the street in a gorgeous red coat and a turquoise dress that i thought maybe i had wrongfully dismissed this colour combination.

you look awesome today (by the way) by gabrielle matte

back in december, at the salon nouveau genre, i saw these great cards and wanted to buy a million. i think giving (and receiving) compliments is really important, and i feel like the simple but creative design of these cards really does justice to the simple message. i ended up buying three. one sits by my dresser mirror, one by my office desk, and i sent one to a friend after she complained on facebook about looking gorgeous and getting no compliments.

the thing is? i often don’t get compliments. getting dressed up for others was something i did for years while trying to figure out my own sense of style, but i learned after years and years that dressing for yourself is far more satisfying. and you know what? no one takes pictures of me. i master the self-timer to document how badass i think i look, and share it with folks who i think might appreciate it online. even then, however, i wouldn’t say i get floods of compliments.

polka dot shirt, thrifted when i was fifteen! still love it
poodle pin, thrifted
blue tights from simons
red lipstick from rimmel - jet set red
you look awesome card by gabrielle matte
dress from suzy shier
shoes from lisazain on etsy

today, for example. this is what i looked like. i had the day off, took the time to do my makeup, get decked out in a sweet outfit and take a stroll around my neighbourhood before picking up my bike from the repair shop. did one of the dozens of people i passed on the street smile at me? no. did one person tell me how awesome i look? no. but does that really matter so much? i wish i could so no without a doubt, but i’d be lying. i know i look good, and i want to hear it every once in a while. but knowing that, having that confidence, is more important than feeling validated for your appearance in the long run. i have to say i prefer radio silence to harrassing comments, but that’s a whole other post.

my advice to others: appreciate yourself. don’t wait for others to photograph you, photograph yourself. document your outfits. look in the mirror and say damn! you look fine! give compliments to others that you’d like to receive. stop strangers in the street whose outfits make you smile, and tell them.

femmes and family shared this on tumblr the other day, and it really resonated with me:

don’t ever apologize for posting pictures of yourself

Fill your blog with your own face

Show off your arms, thighs, ass, shoulders

Make pages and pages of your own teeth and hair

Dedicate space to loving the cracks in your lips and the chewed parts of your fingers

And if you are called vain, then you have succeeded

In getting others to notice

How fucking beautiful and important you are

i find it strange how absent these conversations are on fashion blogs. so many people preface posts with apologies for long gaps between posts, or for the quality or lack thereof of their images, or how their faces look without makeup or whatever… even if they are perfect. i think a lot of this is tied into a fear of coming off as vain, or “full of yourself.” you know, those shitty accusations slung around in high school? the internet ain’t always so different. i’m also reminded of the conversations about the “internet world” vs. “the real world” readers i have, and my fear that people who know me in real life might think i’m vain for taking hundreds of photographs of myself.

at the end of the day, i tell myself: so what. so what if someone i know in passing comes across my blog and assumes i think i’m all that. because you know what? i am. i am! and i wasn’t able to say that a few years ago. the road to confidence is a long one, let me tell you. it took me probably a decade of unlearning all these beauty myths imposed on me: that i was too tall, too clumsy, too loud, too hairy, too whatever you want to say to dimiss me. but at the end of the day, if i surround myself with people who know that i am not only really awesome looking, but really awesome all around, that’s what counts. fuck the myth that you can’t have style and substance.

this leads me to other words of wisdom from femmes & family:

vanity is a term used to make people feel guilty about loving themselves

so, be vain. celebrate your face, your body, your talent for putting together a fantastic outfit. without further ado, here are a bunch of babes who have done that. other red and blue/turquoise outfits i love:

Kristy Lou of Fatty Unbound

Kristy Lou of Fatty Unbound

actress Priyanka Bose photographed for Wearabout

actress Priyanka Bose photographed for Wearabout

tenue du jour~outfit of the day

Elfee Duquette, StyleLikeU Scout

Elfee Duquette, StyleLikeU Scout via refinery29

and last but not least, a stroll down nostalgia lane (if you’re a former emo kid like myself)

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26 Comments

Filed under fashion, personal, self-portraits

26 responses to “you look awesome today, by the way: being unapologetically vain

  1. Arielle Greenberg

    If I saw you on the street, I would totally tell you how awesome you looked! I do this ALL the time with women. And I was just dressed up all nice this past weekend in Portland, Maine, and got some great comments from beautifully stylin’ folks, and it was a mutual love-fest. I love being told I look good by some incredibly lovely person, and I love telling them right back.

    • hurrah! spread the compliments, spread them far and wide! do you live in portland? i visited maine a few summers ago and loved it, took a mini road trip down to bar harbour.

  2. I love the red, white, and blue color scheme! It just screams perky and confident to me, and it includes all my favorite colors!
    This post also reminds me of a blog post I wrote on my blogspot about using “bad” emotions to our advantage, and used Jackie Kennedy as an example!

    • oh wow, i just read it, how powerful! i want to take the time to comment over there, but thanks so much for reading cassie. i’m going to add you to my blogroll right now.

  3. you DO look awesome today (by the way). You always look beautiful and so very Julia! I love that you’ve got a style all your own.

    I really enjoyed reading this post cos I have absolutely fallen under the category of bloggers who sometimes fret about accusations of vanity. As I’ve gotten on in years I’ve cared less and less but I remember feeling like I always had to balance flattering photos with plenty of “I have a bajillion zits today” (often true) which isn’t bad but it shouldn’t feel necessary. I think the better approach would probably be “I look awesome and I have a bajillion zits, crooked teeth and dirty hair”! YEAH! Why make apologies for something we’ve no control of?

    Excellent post as always! xx

    • thanks hannah! you know the feeling is mutual. i must say though i think you’ve always been great at finding a balance with your candor and style. personally i’ve never looked up to perfection – i tend to see it as more of an illusion than anything else. i love the way you talk about your snaggletooth as a hinderance but also as something so truly hannah, you know? it’s only human to look in the mirror and think there are things that could be improved (hence, my reference to “unlearning” some of that) and it is important to know that just because someone’s blog gets linked by justin timberlake that they aren’t without their physical/or otherwise imperfections. i have to say i think you tread that line quite well darlin’.

      i’ll always love getting compliments from you! canadian livejournal buddies 4 life!

  4. Emma Eaton

    If I saw you on the street and I didn’t know you, I’d be way too intimidated to talk to you because you just look soooo cool! You’d have to catch me staring enviously at you (which you would). Although I did very drunkenly tell a girl in a bar that she looked amazing on Saturday (respectfully of course!) sometimes it’s just too hard to say that to people in the light of day! But when you notice people walking into street signs around you, don’t be surprised!!!!!! xxx!

    • awwww emma! i always feel funny when people say they would be/have been intimidated by me, because i really don’t feel that way about myself. you’re right though, it’s not always easy to give compliments. i tend to hope that someone will make eye contact with me before i throw it out there, but i am also not the shyest of people in general so that helps too. spread the love! spread the compliments!

  5. Colonel Hazard

    Thanks for this post, and I’m pretty sure you look badass EVERY day. As a woman who is finally okay with receiving compliments on my fashion sense and awesome style, I think I needed this affirmation of my decision to dress for myself and appreciate it.

  6. you looks AWESOME! i love red and turquoise together. i did a project on anaglyph 3-D art in college and it’s reminded me of that ever since.

    i really like this post! i’ve definitely gotten that gross guilty feeling for feeling vain because i post photos of myself on the internet. no more!

    and while i think i’m pretty good for complimenting friends and coworkers when i dig their style, i NEED to let more strangers know this. once a woman leaned over to me and said “i LOVE your coat” when we were walking through an intersections in opposite directions and it completely made my day.

    • aaaaah i love stories like that! people remember that shit! it’s a daymaker! and people don’t realize it. one time i went to a party and wore a dress i wasn’t sure about, i thought it was maybe a bit too funky, and i’ll always remember one drunk girl slurring that she normally didn’t do this, but that she could not get over how cool my outfit was. i think of her like every other time i wear that dress!

    • andibgoode

      This is something I need to be better about, too. I’m terrible at complimenting anyone! I always feel like I’ll say something really awkward that might come across as weird about how they have nice teeth or smell good.

  7. Angela

    Red and blue together reminds me of superheros! I love this color combo. I never comment here, but I think you always look fantastic.
    Kristy Lou’s outfit above is especially amazing, too.

  8. andibgoode

    1. You do look awesome! These colours look great on you (and I love them together a whole lot – spent most of one winter in them. Haha.) as does the red lippie.
    2. I got to a point, a couple of years ago, where I felt completely confident in the way I looked and knew I looked awesome and stylish even if no one ever complimented me (though I will say I often get, generally older, people telling me I look nice etc – often coupled with something how I look like a ‘real woman’ should which bums me out or they just won’t stop telling me I look nice and it’s ridiculously embarrassing but still better than being harassed) and I’m still at that place: I’m almost always super confident about how I look. But, somehow, I haven’t got to the point where I’m confident about…well, the rest of my personality, I guess. And the rest of my talents so I still feel like I need a lot of validation about those things but I could probably write an essay on the weird balance of being confident about how you look but not who you are and if the clothes are some kind of shield or something.
    3. Despite all that I still feel embarrassed if people catch me taking photos of myself. And sometimes I wish others would take more photos of me on the days I just don’t have the energy to do it (though I usually harass my mum to do it for me).
    -Andi x

  9. DAMN GIRL. I am a former Jade Tree lovin’ kid like yourself and today I have been thinking about apologizing and not saying sorry a lot. These past few weeks I’ve been reading my twat poems to audiences that I feared. At a reading in Baltimore, some of my friends had brought their family–I’m talking 80 year old grandmas and some VERY Catholic parents–and I just wanted to apologize and apologize and apologize. And sometimes, I did. I apologized because I didn’t want to seem too proud of myself for looking the way I did and talking the way I do and taking pleasure in talking about cunts and farts and shits and squalor and love in the way that I want to talk about them. And then I started to wonder who I was apologizing for. Am I sorry that someone else does not want to hear it or am I sorry that I want to be heard? I’m not sorry that I want to speak it and I’m not sorry that I want to be heard. All of this is on my mind, and your beauty and your killer style is on my mind and my apologizing too much in public and in private is on my mind. Thanks for always talking about everything that I want to talk about with someone or hear someone talk about, and for always being that someone!

  10. I have always loved that blue and red combo; I think if the shade is aqua or turquoise it keeps it from looking like you’re wrapping yourself in a flag.

    Taking and posting outfit photos has always been kind of a painful process to me, but your post has me inspired to maybe try again.

    (You *do* look awesome, by the way!)

  11. Yes I needed to read this so bad I have been thinking about this a lot too yet keep falling into that trap. Explicitly, verbally mentioning the falling into that trap but not wanting to has helped. Sometimes. But not today and to see this post was so perfect.
    Also totally echoing andibgoode.

  12. ALSO YOU LOOK AMAZING I LITERALLY CAN’T DEAL WITH IT

  13. it took me years to use that combination as well. you look gorgeous! and i loved the quote you used to exemplify what style should always be about.

  14. You know, I’d say that about 80% of the time, I really don’t want strangers to feel like they can just come up & talk to me. Maybe it’s the difference between living in a bigger city & a small one. Or maybe it’s a difference between your outgoing personality & my more reserved one. (& it works out for you! I would never talk to strangers in line at a Feist show… <3 )

    I do love compliments from my friends/family. Now that my femme conference friends have mostly moved to TO I feel a definite lack of style love in my life. But mostly I want strangers to see my clothes and maybe feel inspired to dress up a bit in their own way, you know?

    Maybe the other issue is that I work retail, and so the "I like your xyz" is so often part of the stodgy artificial & fake customer interaction process, and in that environment I don't like it when customers act like they're entitled to much more than my professional expertise. Like, don't ask me what my plans for the weekend are, don't ask me where I grew up, don't talk to me about my hair!

    Anyway, none of that means that your desire to give and receive compliments from strangers is at all wrong, just, it's so strikingly different from my own perspective that I wanted to talk about it…

  15. mermaidens

    Speechless – this is such a stunning post. Bookmarking for rereading over and over again!

  16. mermaidens

    I’m absolutely speechless – this post is perfect. Bookmarking so I can read it over and over again!

  17. I’m covered in goosebumps after reading this post (found my way here from the Karina Chronicles I think?), partially because my office is freezing… but MOSTLY because I fucking love every damn thing about what you’ve written here. Oh, and you look fucking fantastic in that adorable getup.

    I’m on the road to confidence myself, working on worrying LESS about what others think and just listening to what I think. Dressing for myself and taking pride in my blog instead of feeling embarrassed when real life people find out/ask about it. But you know what I say? I’d rather be a little full of myself than empty. And if others judge me for it, they can suck it.

    Finally… I love complimenting others on their outfits or hair or smile or shoes or what have you, even if it’s just another dame I’ve never met sharing in the elevator. It makes everyone feel good, so why not?!

  18. How awesome is this blog post?! I love it…just now found your blog via Andi B Goode…and so glad I did. The women you shared look fantastic as do you. Thank you for a great read!

  19. i agree with every damn word!!! This is just the kick i needed to tell myself that it is ok to fill My blog with pictures of Me. And i love your outfit! I used to have the same dilemma with blue and red combinations – now though, i love it!

    >’.'<

  20. This post made me so happy!! I’m a personal trainer, so I rarely get dressed up, and when I do I always feel like I’m missing something.. how do people know what looks good?? But honestly, I always know what I LIKE, and this post made me get really excited about wearing what pleases me and only me :-) I’m psyched about the next time I get to wear “real people clothes”! (that’s right, I’m talking about YOU, Aladdin pants I bought in Zanzibar…) Thanks for the great post, and keep the empowerment coming!!
    Jessi

    http://jessikneeland.wordpress.com/

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