• Madelynne Juenger

A Breakdown of my "Soul Outfit"

If I could pick out an outfit to visually represent the way my soul feels, it would be this one.

A swirling pattern of clashing colors set against a contrasting backdrop of black, all encased in a rosy warm exterior. It’s both dramatic and loud. Playful and soft. Exciting yet expected. And conflicting in all the ways my persona so often feels. And as a person who treats getting ready every day as a form of dress up, it felt special to find an outfit that just felt like me.

After I put it on and looked in the mirror, I immediately thought, “This is what I look like in my mind.” I don’t know if that makes sense, or if it just sounds terribly cheesy, but it finally felt like my inner self and outer self were lining up perfectly. This is a very rare occurrence, so when it happens, it kind of feels like magic. And because I love both clothing and magic, I decided to break down this wonderful outfit occurrence below.

The belt came first. It was originally sewn onto a frilly polka-dot dress that was practically begging to be worn to a sock hop. The dress became too small, and while I accepted the fading of my sock hop dreams, I couldn’t quite part with the belt in all of its orangey-pink glory. So I cut it off and tucked it away in my closet for safe keeping.

The shoes came second. In an alternate universe, I have always been someone who would make Kat Stratford proud. And though I know she hates big dumb combat boots, I think she would appreciate the way I stomp around in mine, ready to squash the patriarchy with every loud step. These boots were purchased with slight hesitation because I wasn’t sure if they really “fit” with my “aesthetic”. But then I decided to stop overthinking and just buy the dang things already because they make me feel cute and powerful. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. (Life tip: embrace your alternate universe self. We weren’t built to be one-dimensional characters. Buy the big dumb combat boots, stomp loudly, and get on with your day.)

Then came the dress. I found it amongst a crowded rack of clothing nestled inside an intensely colorful vintage store. So basically, I found it in heaven. I only had ten minutes to shop and in that time my eyes were saturated with sequins and flower patterns and lace galore. Luckily, my eye caught the bright flowers of this particular dress and it was (and I don’t say this lightly) a match made in heaven.

And last, but definitely not least! The coat! The pink cherry on top of it all! I actually owe this find to my sister who grabbed it off a rack I missed at Goodwill. I was wearing the aforementioned flower dress while shopping and this coat perfectly matched not only the flowers on the dress, but the barrettes in my hair. There are days when the stars truly do align, and this was one of them. So I bought it ($4! Eddie Bauer!), rushed home, and snapped these photos feeling like my best self.

And it was in the process of fastening my old belt around the waist of this “new” old dress and layering them both with this perfect pink raincoat, that all the pieces fit together: A colorful mix-matching combination that didn’t exist before, but is now what I am referring to as my “soul outfit”. Which, if you want a proper definition, is the equivalent to playing dress up as a little kid and putting on an outfit that makes you think, “Yes, this is what I want to be when I grow up!”. And according to my soul outfit, I want to be a person who finds joy everywhere, including flowery dresses because they happen to be the best for twirling. I want to be a person who walks confidently through life, even in shoes that I’m not quite used to yet. And I want to be a person who is prepared for every “just in case”, which means that a jacket is always a handy accessory to keep around. Overall, I want to be the kind of person who isn’t afraid of contradictions or change. I want to be the kind of person who embraces growth and learning and gray in-betweens and exciting moments of uncertainty. And at the very least, I want to be the kind of person who owns a perfect pink raincoat and even has the matching barrettes to go with it.

x Madelynne

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