In 2009, I got a hot pink t-shirt from H&M.
Some of you are probably raising your eyebrows and saying “so?” but you should know that since I got old enough to want to pick my own clothes, I’ve steadfastly avoided pink. Girly-girls wore pink, and I did not want to be a girly-girl. I was a girl who liked “Star Wars” and read lots of books and didn’t get asked to dance much at the school dances, and apparently all of that was incompatible with pink. Pink said something about being a girl that I didn’t want to have said about me.
So, after age ten or so, I’ve owned approximately three things that were pink. One of them was a bridesmaid’s dress. The other was this hot-pink shirt:
(That is my showing-off-new-scarf-but-self-conscious-about-photos face.)
When I bought it, I was trying to be bold and do something different…I guess. I have a history of wearing only a few colors (neutrals, light blue, peacock blue, and blue-tint reds), and apparently when I decided that year to branch out, I went all the way to the freaking flowering blossom at the end of that branch.
In keeping with my determination to be daring, I brought it to wear on my very daring internship in Ireland.
And I ended wore it twice in the first three days because my luggage was late and I had only brought one backup shirt in my carry-on.
In that regard, it has some sentimental value. When you’re re-washing a shirt every night because you don’t know if you’re going to have more clothes the next day or not, that shirt and you tend to bond a little.
But now? Now I’m like “why do I own a Barbie shirt.”
Again: nothing is wrong with Barbie-pink shirts. If you wear Barbie-pink shirts, I don’t dislike you. Probably the opposite! I bet you’re pretty awesome, and you’re ballsier than I am because you wear hot freaking pink shirts, while I hide out in black and baby blue.
But that’s the problem: I’m way more comfortable in toned-down colors. After this shirt and I got back from the internship, I almost never wore it. It’s pilled a little around the hem, and at some point it picked up a Sharpie dot in a slightly inappropriate place, so now it’s not my style and visibly old.
The other day, though, I thought, “hey, I can hide it under my brown blazer and wear it to work!” I added nice heels and brown and wood jewelry and went to work, confident in my chic pink-and-brown getup. I figured adding nice things in mellow tones to ye olde hot pink shirte was a good way to class it up.
And it was, for a while, until it got hot.
Then I had to take my blazer off. In the confines of my artificially-lit office, I couldn’t even look at my torso because I was so flamingly pink. I wanted nothing more than to go home and change out of my societally-coded pink shirt and into something safe and black and not eye-catching and not dotted with Sharpie or pilled on the hem.
And at that point, for the first time ever, the sentimental value I’d assigned to a piece of clothing faded. Sure, that shirt had gotten me through a tough few days of culture shock, but that was nearly four years ago. Today, I care way more about the black trench I got while I was there, along with the books I bought and the memories of the friends I made. I think it’s safe to finally lay to rest an old shirt that makes me feel on edge when I wear it. That’s not what clothes are about.