Friday, August 2, 2013

The Birth Story of Defensive Dressing

Q. Where did "Defensive Dressing" start as a term and a blog? 

A. In my mind, as a naturally obvious description of what it is like to get dressed when one feels one has something to "hide" under clothing, thus we Dress Defensively. It was such a natural term to me that I didn't realize it wasn't in common usage, until I spoke it a few times and people asked what that meant. I'd say, "You know, when you pick out what you are wearing like, 'Okay, this shirt will camouflage my back fat / love handles / belly." Then with instant recognition, people would light up, "What a GREAT way to describe it!" (And I would think, "Well, duh, that's why I said it...") 

Then I signed up for a workout challenge, where I had to make SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, blah blah - Google it if you care). She wanted me to set a weight goal, but my honest response was that I don't know nor care what number I want to be, I just know what I want to look and feel like. I have been in trouble in the past obsessing over the number beyond my toes, and it SUCKS. I don't want my mood swings related to a 4-second placement on a scale, it's just asking for a round of talking myself off the internal ledge over a .2 pound gain that might be PMS or salted food, or yes maybe FAT but it's POINT-TWO pounds. She grudgingly accepted that I would measure myself on a scale of 1-10 of my sense of Defensive Dressing.

A 1 on the scale of Defensive Dressing is freely grabbing any article of clothing, throwing it on and looking and feeling amazing in it. A 10 on the scale of DD is wishing I looked Polynesian so the daily wearing of huge, flowey muu muus would simply appear to be deep dedication to my heritage through traditional dress; in other words, at 10, ALL articles of clothing are chosen to attempt to HIDE OUR STUFF.

As I continued to use the term, more people related. Even men (the civilized ones, not the cheap-beer-guzzling ones that actually believe they still look awesome in that wife beater) say they definitely understand Defensive Dressing. Come on, it's the unwritten mission of Tommy Bahama wear: "Our mission is to provide $120 man-shirts to hang (hopefully) gracefully over your man-belly that's ingested a few too many $120 martini dinners."

Then one day I was at my friend Lisa's, sharing with her my story of DD-ing on my last Vegas trip. The nature of her business is very reliant upon internet marketing, so I guess her head goes there in reflex: "DEFENSIVE DRESSING DOT COM!" she blurted out at top volume. I got a rush of energy that was reeeeally fun, and I knew she was onto something. She rushed to her computer to see if it was available as I almost held my breath... I really CARED about this website, which was weird. "IT'S AVAILABLE!" she yelled. So I grabbed it with no idea what I'd do with it, but it was MINE. It SHOULD be mine, it felt right.

I Googled the term, and amazingly enough, it was a phrase rarely used. Relating to actual FASHION, I found one article scanned from the 80's or 90's that used the phrase, but the author was using it to tell women to avoid getting attacked by men by not wearing mini-skirts and the like - dress "defensively" to avoid rape. (Oh, okay to be accurate, I just checked - it was written in 2008 in the Deseret News if that means anything to any of you; it FEELS like it's from the 80s because she suggests wearing padded shoulders to appear bigger and wear baggy opaque clothing and fedora hats to add height, all of which made for a fashionable ensemble in my high school years).

The other reference was a single blog entry 5 years ago by a young woman who dressed in something she really liked because she knew work would be crappy - she "defensively dressed" cheerfully against the impending misery of her employment. 

UNBELIEVABLE. It sure FELT like it was a common term.........

I loved sniglets as a kid - anyone remember those? I mean LOVED THEM, I had the books. For those who missed the early 80's and/or the HBO show "Not Necessarily the News," a sniglet is "any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should".

I have always loved expressing myself with brilliant words that may or may not be real but I follow it by saying, "If it's not a word, it should be," and I'm totally serious.
Defensive Dressing is my own sniglet phrase.