Lauren Rearick, Coline Ali-Belhadj / EyeEm, HelloGiggles
Lauren Rearick
March 21, 2019 4:46 pm

I used to believe that bangs, a short-lived green dye job, or my neon purple lipstick phase could somehow solve all my problems. Turns out these drastic changes in my appearance—or in my lipstick routine—didn’t answer life’s eternal mysteries. They did, however, provide me with a fleeting sense of self-confidence…followed by an immediate sense of discomfort and the realization that I had made a huge mistake. I figured that the one style choice that would forever “change my life”—and somehow compliment my personality as the world’s most shy Aries—simply didn’t exist, even if I wanted to be bold and trendy.

Then, I found a faux fur leopard print jacket.

Despite my brief, unsuccessful attempt at a non-traditional hair color, taking fashion risks isn’t usually part of my personality. I fear bright color in my wardrobe, and I’d prefer to wear pajamas to every function possible. But when I saw that faux fur leopard print jacket on Hot Topic’s website, I took a leap. I needed a coat for the cold  East Coast weather, so I purchased it. Once it arrived and I put it on for the first time, I felt like the most lavish—and warm—person to ever embark on their daily Dunkin’ routine.

Hot Topic / www.hottopic.com

Over the past few months, I have worn my leopard print jacket during just about every adventure. And, actually, this fashion choice is changing my life. I haven’t won the lottery or secured a job position that pays me to watch cartoons in my pajamas, yet, but I’m different. Wearing something so fun and bold—even if it’s just to go to the grocery store—instills in me an extra dose of self-assurance. All those trends I’ve feared or assumed I failed at? I might actually be able to pull them off. (On that note, I’m still not convinced that I can wear hats.)

Wearing a piece that’s feels so not me has made me realize that, maybe, there are parts of myself I didn’t even know existed.

Sure, I might never try green hair again, but somewhere in my heart—likely buried deep—I’d dreamt of pairing a fake fur coat with a red lip and glitter eyeshadow. I just never knew it. I may have previously scoffed at the idea of wearing all of these things together, but now I find myself willing to take risks, to try new things, and to be unafraid in chasing after what I want—even if what I want is the perfect shade of crimson lipstick.

Courtesy of Lauren Rearick

For much of my life, I have preferred to stay in the background.

I don’t enjoy attention, but I’ve quickly discovered that people love to ask other people about their faux fur jackets. During my normal daily errands, someone stopped me on the sidewalk to share a story about their mom’s stylish faux fur jacket. On another trip, I was commended for my “bold” choice in fashion. Both instances served as reminders that I am validated in my style adventure and that, if this is going so well, I should continue pushing myself to try new things in areas beyond fashion. (I’m happy to report that I’m still never going on a rollercoaster, though.)

Believe me, I understand that, to some, my fearless purchase might be nothing more than a basic necessity for the cold weather plaguing Western Pennsylvania. But to me, it is so much more. I thought that I had myself completely figured out, but then a jacket (that was on sale at Hot Topic) changed everything. In all areas of my life, I will do things that would have once made me uncomfortable. Who knows, maybe I’ll finally find a hat that emboldens me, too.

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