Sometimes the Clothes Do Not Make the Woman

Sometimes the Clothes Do Not Make the Woman

My quest began with an LF sweater out of the bargain bin. It was a blue / green / purple pattern and oversized just the right amount to be “cute” and comfortable.  


Even as an eighth grader, this sweater felt like the key to finding my personal style. No one at school had anything even close to it. This sweater was everything I wanted to wear in one perfect piece, it looked like something every girl on Tumblr would have. Perfect for my aesthetic.


The giant v-shaped cutout in the back only made it that much better. 

When my mother bought it for me, I don’t remember her saying anything about wearing something underneath to cover up the insane amount of exposed back. Forget about showing off a bra, it was genuinely just an impractical garment. A sweater is supposed to be warm; the airflow in from that thing was akin to wearing a crochet coverup on the beach. 


It didn’t matter. My confidence wearing that sweater skyrocketed. No one could touch me, I felt like myself. 


I wore a stretchy bandeau under it, a ribbed sugar lips black one, to be exact. It was a miracle I had one so I didn’t have to compromise the look of it with a tank top. That would have thrown the entire vibe off. 


But I wore that sweater to eighth grade, bandeau to the wind. Looking back on this, I was slut shamed for wearing this sweater and I STILL regret giving it away. It was one of the few things I remember ever buying that felt like my style


Isn’t that the point of “fashion?” To wear what makes you feel good? To be unapologetically yourself in the clothes that you’re wearing? Everyone made fun of me for wearing that sweater, and to this day I only remember how much I liked it. 

That’s a rare feeling for me. As I transition from nineteen to 25-year-old-teenager, my wardrobe is really just a hodgepodge of stuff I’ve had since college, things from thrift stores I just had to buy, work clothes - that I should probably get tailored - and sweatshirts. Sometimes, with the constant inundation of trends and what other people find cool, the line between what I actually want to wear and what’s popular can appear blurred. Plus, shopping these days is a choice between ethically made and expensive, thrifted and not guaranteed, or kill the planet but not your bank account. Not to mention the drastic fuckery of women’s clothing sizes. 


Normally I’m a size ten shoe, but not always. There are exceptions to this, like my Saucony running shoes (10.5) or my Diadoras (9.5). Pants from Aritiza have to be AT LEAST a size ten to simply pull up past my butt, while size six jeans from Frame are just right, if not a little roomy. A medium top from the gap is huge, but a 3XL rainbow sweater thrifted from L Train fits exactly how I want it to. Sweatpants have to be extra large, while size small leggings from Athleta are sometimes - but not always - too big on me. Curating and shopping for myself is a demoralizing routine of buying and returning, or wearing and eventually giving away. 


It’s a deterrent to get dressed, which is a shame for someone like me who strives to express myself in my clothes. Nothing makes me happier than liking my outfit. That’s getting harder and harder these days. Take the ballet flat craze that was everywhere this past fall. I am the least dainty person I’ve ever met in my life. Everything I do makes noise, it’s loud, I stomp and clomp and raise my voice. Ballet flats are the last shoe I’m ever going to wear.

But that’s okay. 2024 brought an onslaught of resolutions; be more active, watch more movies (ironic, I know.) However, one that I am really trying to achieve is to dress better. That doesn’t mean more on trend, it doesn’t mean spending more on expensive designers. I want to buy more consciously, more effectively. I want to play dress up in my own closet, and actively choose clothes that fit, feel good and make me feel like my eighth grade self in that sweater. Light as the air that flowed through the back.



Victoria Patti

The first piece of clothing Victoria Patti can remember obsessing over was a pink poncho her grandma knit for her. Now, she's a creative writer and digital marketer based in New York on the hunt for clothes that feel like her, like bright green Free People clogs and thrifted rainbow sweaters. In her spare time, find her at Brooklyn Standard, the best deli in Greenpoint, or at the movies, using her AMC A-List pass. To read more pieces like this, subscribe to her substack, Using My Outside Voice, and follow her on Instagram (@victoria_patti) 
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