From my 2000 sewing notebook
Around the time I got serious about learning how to sew--winter 1999/2000--I decided it was high time for a Mikhaela makeover. I was 19 now and in college, and I had outgrown my grungy high school look. And combing through all those lovely pattern catalogs, I decided that maybe wearing dresses and skirts might be fun for a change.
As you can see above, my high school fashion uniform was quite... casual: self--cut uncombed hair + metal-framed glasses + threadbare thrifted (or punk rock) T + ill-fitting stained jeans + steel-toed Doc Martens or Converse sneakers. Here I am in full regalia in 1997 at the Rhode Island School of Design's high school summer program:
After some study and trips to the eye doctor and the hair salon, I put together my new look, as described in the above sketch (still with the Doc Martens, by the way). At the thrift store, I began heading for the dresses, skirts, tank top and cardigan aisles instead of the men's T-shirt rack:
I even started rocking sweetheart necklines! I still have and wear the below $4 dress find, a beautiful black velvet strapless number with an elastic-shirred back, big front waist bow and all-over squiggle burnout pattern:
And I acquired some stain-free darker jeans. But as you can see from my notes, while I was willing to do skirts and makeup, I was SO not about to start shaving my legs (that came years later). Some more "after" examples, from 2001:
Of course, no "before" and "after" story is ever that cut and dried. In high school I did glam up for prom--I even painted my nails green to match my consignment-store dress (though I think my mom talked me out of "matching" green lipstick):
And to this day I still rarely wear makeup and often sleep in many of those old tees ("Go Ahead, Make My Day", "I May Grow Older But I Refuse to Grow Up"). Still, from 1999-2001 was when started to think seriously about fashion and style, and realized it could actually be fun! It was also the beginning of my habit of re-evaluating and updating my wardrobe and overall look every few years, though never quite as drastically as that first time.
So, what was your biggest self-inflicted style evolution? How do you feel about it today?
Update! In retrospect, I wanted to add one note to this post--I by no means meant to imply that more girly or figure-hugging or stereotypically feminine looks are generally "better" than more butch or androgynous styles, because I don't believe that at all--I love seeing women rock those styles! But for me, dressing in those ill-fitting tees and jeans came from being a bookish punk rock nerd girl and the frequent target of harassment by classmates, having low self-esteem and just generally not feeling very pretty--I felt exposed in more girly looks, like everyone was staring at or laughing at me.
So this makeover was not about conforming to outside pressure to look more girly--it was more about transitioning from an anti-style to finding my own sense of Mikhaela style, if that makes sense!