"Are you wearing less makeup?"
I met up with my boss from a previous job a few weeks ago and she asked me that. I hadn't realized it, but she was right. I was wearing less makeup. She commented that it looked good, but it got me thinking about how much I have changed over the last year. In my early Instagram days, prior to focusing solely on the outdoors, I would post images of random things... and one of those random things was pictures of my high heels. Yep. That's right. I'm literally laughing out loud as I write this, remembering that one of the pairs had spikes on them. Not goth spikes, more like... fashion spikes... I'm hoping there is a difference.
I felt more pressure in my previous job to dress in a trendy and stylish manner (although I'm still wondering what I was thinking with the weaponry). I worked at an advertising agency in the heart of downtown Seattle and there were a ton of young, pretty, trendy women, who all knew how to look and dress the part. I would speed walk in 4" heels to H&M or Nordstrom on my lunch break - which lead to many spontaneous purchases and a LOT of buyers remorse. I had two different lives. There was fashionable Holly with a full face of makeup, and then there was mountain Holly. At that time "Mountain Holly" struggled. I felt like nature was no place for fashion, makeup, hair brushes or vanity... or at least it wasn't supposed to be. I knew I shouldn't care about my appearance, but I never felt fully comfortable letting go. I loved the idea of being so versatile, but I was unsuccessful at executing either version of myself properly.... because neither were truly me.
I left my downtown Seattle job almost a year ago, and although I still work in advertising, my current office vibe is so much more relaxed. My lunch breaks are now spent eating, as opposed to shopping. Not feeling obligated to dress in a certain manner and being away from the downtown scene of fashionable women has really helped me to explore and discover my own style, and figure out what suits me most. Call me vain, but I do care about my appearance, both in and outside of nature and I'm glad I have learned to accept that. I wish I could tell you that I feel my most beautiful when I'm in the wilderness and 100% natural looking, but I don't. I never have. ...and let's just acknowledge that hiking clothes for women used to be pretty darn boring. Figuring out that I was neither the super trendy, fashion forward girl, but also not your raw, no-makeup wearing mountain woman was a bit liberating. I've allowed myself to say it's okay to blend these two worlds. For example, when I go backpacking, I now bring what I call my "lady bag," which has a travel sized hairbrush, tinted moisturizer, colored chap stick (I'm a big fan of Maybelline's Baby Lips) and all the fixings for my eyebrows... what can I say, I feel naked without them. Some people might judge me for that, but looking slightly put together makes me feel more comfortable and confident, and it's certainly not harming anyone.
It's important to find what works best for you. For me, I had to try out both ends of the spectrum to realize the best versions of myself were somewhere in the middle. I still like to look nice on a daily basis, but in a more true to myself and casual way - which means, I have a lot more plaid than I did before and I'd rather collect puffy coats than high heels. I've also embraced my femininity in the mountains though and I think it's helped that brands like Eddie Bauer are picking up on the desires for women, like myself, who want more feminine trail attire - without losing too much in the way of functionality, if at all. So from the women who want to bring tutu's, dresses and lipstick into the mountains, to the women who think that is ridiculous and wouldn't conceive of tacking on the additional weight of a hairbrush and basic makeup items.... I say, to each their own. You do you, and I'll do me. I've been slowly purging items from my closet, from the hideous hiking pants that zip off below the knee, to an assortment of faux fur vests and ridiculous shoes. None of it is me, and so it must go.
....ok ok, I kept one vest. It's just so cute and cozy.
Oh and in case you were wondering, the spiky heels were thrown out long ago... and as far as I know, no one was harmed in the process.