Last week I was sitting with the group of designers who will be working with an awesome class of students at NC State’s School of Textiles this fall. The professor of the class, Professor Kate Annett-Hitchcock, aka Professor Kate, has been a mentor for my business and a true fan of Reid Miller Apparel. She told the designers that my blog has given her a real deep understanding of the brand. She said, when she wore my jeans in London she actually did feel powerful and independent.
I could not have been happier to hear this. My jeans allowed a woman to feel her power. I marveled at that. How it is possible to create something tangible like a pair of jeans you dreamt up, and infuse them with an idea? That, as a result, a woman can feel powerful in her clothing. It is not possible to express my joy here in words.
And then I had two subsequent meetings with active, brilliant women and we talked about our frustrations with clothing that we own. The fit. The fit. Always the fit. A woman told me that she only likes 10% of her clothing. She talked about the blazer that constricted her shoulders, about the clothing she bought in a larger size than what fit so that she could move and be comfortable.
I told another woman of the professor’s feelings of being powerful in the jeans and she was moved to tears. I realized, we are just so used to struggling in our clothing that we don’t even think about it. We are so used to feeling like shit about ourselves in what we are wearing.
And I started to think of all the clothing I have worn over the years that makes me feel like my body is the problem and not the clothing. My butt is too big, my hips are too big. In tears in a dressing room with my mom when I couldn’t buy a dress because the top and bottom never fit at the same time. The times when I’ve tugged at my pants and heard the small criticism inside that it is my body that is the problem. If my hips are enormous no wonder the pants don’t fit. If my back weren’t so big maybe the shoulders would fit (big in women’s terms always seems to mean ugly, something to feel ashamed of).
I think about all the tight clothing I’ve worn that wasn’t designed to move. How I had to pull and adjust here and there when I moved because even though I’m a living, breathing, moving, woman THAT WAS NOT THE INTENT OF THE CLOTHING!!! It was not designed to move. It was designed for you to stand still with a little glass of Champaign and be admired by a room full of people. So when you move you feel like it is your body that is the problem and not the clothing. WTF!!!
And so I think again about Professor Kate’s comment. And I think: It IS possible to put something on and feel powerful, independent and beautiful. And I think that this is not just some piece of marketing but absolutely fundamental to the mission. Put on the clothing and feel your power. It doesn’t add anything it just keeps you from feeling limited. Not just your movement, but your power.
And to do this it must fit you. You must be able to see that there is nothing wrong with your body. It was the clothing all along.