Dressing up for family get-togethers is just a task. I say that because my relatives-most of them-make it their business to openly ridicule anyone they feel isn’t dressed right. Problem is, when it comes to matters dressing, it’s difficult to describe, ‘right’.
If one shows up, say in an outfit my family- extended paternal- don’t like, they will blatantly make fun of it, and if it’s too classy they’ll still make one feel bad about it. A few years ago, my sisters and I showed up at a family gathering dressed in denim pants, stiletto heels and some fancy tops. The next thing we knew, we were the topic of a very unpleasant conversation. “Who were you coming to impress?” One of the cousins mocked, and everyone else burst into a derisive laughter.
Obviously they had never been to our closets, because then they’d know we were actually dressed down. Once, one of my uncles took my sisters and I shopping. It was entirely unprecedented because he had come to pick us home. My sisters and I had turned down his invitation to attend the annual get-together. He cajoled us on phone but it didn’t work; he decided to show up in person. Usually the event takes more than one day but he promised we’d be back that same evening.
Seeing as he’d made the effort to come for us, we couldn’t say no. Mom wasn’t going and dad had chosen to stay behind to keep her company, which happens rarely; normally he attends most of the parties alone. We didn’t pack any clothes because we hadn’t planned on sleeping over. On the way we stopped at a mall. Apparently he had duped us; we were going to spend the night at our cousins’. He asked us to pick all the items we’d need. He seemed happy we were with him, so neither of my sisters nor I wanted to burst his bubble; compliantly, we picked anything we thought was necessary. While shopping, I picked out a cute sleeveless top which was very decent, only that it wasn’t covering my arms.
Light-heartedly, he asked, “Did the tailor run out of fabric or what?” We laughed, but at that point we understood one thing; he was a bit conservative. The last time we had attended any family function was about five years before then. We hadn’t seen much of each other when we were transitioning from girls to young women. The clothes we bought then were clothes we wouldn’t buy on a normal day. They just felt too plain.
Since that day, we were always too careful not to dress in anything which revealed too much skin, or any skin for that matter. The next time we attended a get-together, we had to go shopping for clothes that would be more apt for the function, not because what we had was indecent, but simply because we thought it would be good to wear something that was ‘conservative’.
After wearing denim pants, t-shirt tops and blazers to subsequent functions, we got tired of it and went back to our usual clothes. Normally, when choosing an outfit, there’s that fine line between elegant and skimpy. All short dresses/skirts don’t exactly fall in the trashy category, so one doesn’t have to particularly wear maxi dresses in order to look decent. It’s all about striving to make it all look stylish.
In the last function my family and I attended a few weeks ago, one of my cousins showed up in a print maxi skirt. Another one of my cousins ridiculed her, “Is it the skirt that’s big or it’s just you who’s big?” I wasn’t the one under attack, but I thought some comments were better left unsaid.
When my big sister was in high school, one of her classmates told her, “One doesn’t always have to say what comes to mind.” Basically it’s all about applying brain filters. Essentially, when it comes to matters dressing, no one wants to be ridiculed about what they wear; one’s physical appearance has a lot to do with their self-esteem, and again, it’s always upon an individual to choose what they want to wear.
People have different tastes and preferences; that’s given. One’s idea of indecent or elegant might be viewed differently by another person. It therefore becomes an issue if one has to pay attention to everyone else’s opinions when picking out an outfit. I’m thinking, maybe when my cousin was dressing up for the party, she thought everyone would be okay with it, but as it turns out that wasn’t the case; she was ridiculed for it.
If you ask me, one should wear what they are comfortable in. Obviously the occasion dictates the dress code, but one should own their style, so that if anyone was to raise issues about it, one would defend it. In my opinion, it’s better to fail for being you, than to fail for trying to do/be what everyone else thought you should do/be, because even though I consider it wise to pay attention to other people’s opinion, sometimes those people aren’t always right.