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October 9, 2007

Wardrobe Diaries: Style Swap

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girl in red top and jeans

Photo Credit: Perry Hagopian

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Julia, Day 1
I was the first to mock Jessica Simpson in those infamous high-waist-jeans photos, so imagine my shock when high-waisters are exactly what Michelle packs for me on day one of our fashion swap. Gone are my cutesy-comfy ballet flats and chiaroscuro of office-appropriate separates. Instead I’ve got a couple of five-inch wood carvings strapped to my feet and a red silk balloon-sleeve blouse. Michelle is a brilliant stylist, but I stare dubiously at my reflection. Do I look retro-chic, or like I never made it home from last night’s groove at Studio 54?

The outpouring of compliments at work catches me pleasantly off-guard. My boss rushes out of a meeting to ogle the outfit, and I think she’s going to shed tears of joy at the sight of me in color. All of a sudden, I’m “Sassy!” and “Trendy!” according to multiple sources — a real office head-turner. Thing is, I’ve always felt plenty sassy in my own clothes. I start to fear people have been missing that side of me. As if on cue, word spreads that Michelle is skulking around the office in my pencil skirt/turtleneck combo and librarian specs. Everyone thinks it’s hilarious, but I feel a pang. What’s so hilarious about one of my go-to outfits?

I shake it off and decide to make the most of my temporary diva-dom with dinner at one of Michelle’s favorite restaurants — a dark, moody wine bar downtown. My boyfriend, Reed, meets me there and is awed by the color — but not my sinking body language. “Try not to cringe,” he says, adjusting my slumping shoulders. “If you look all slouchy and uncomfortable, that’s how you’re going to feel.” I do feel uncomfortable (my feet are blistered and Michelle’s chain-strap bag has become an albatross on my wrist), but the outfit only works if I play along. For the rest of the evening I concentrate on confident posture. A little too hard, apparently, because I take a nosedive down a flight of stairs when we’re escorted to our table. All eyes on me again, but oh, well. I’m getting used to the attention.


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