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There comes a point in every young woman’s life where she establishes and embraces her own personal sense of style. I knew very early in my 20s that I was never going to be the most fashion-forward gal. While everyone else was wearing bubble skirts and bandage dresses, two very popular trends of the aughts, I was coveting Jennifer Aniston’s practical boot cut jean.
I’ve always loved sensible and affordable clothing. I thrive in a turtleneck. I am my best self in a crew neck sweater. Sure, I dress like an uptight workaholic about to find love in a Hallmark Christmas movie but it works for me.
At times, my reticence to take fashion risks or invest in designer clothes has been a topic of conversation amongst my fellow Yahoo Canada Style editors who have had to teach me about Hypebae street style, logomania and explain why anyone would ever choose to wear a bucket hat.
Covering celebrity style is often a constant reminder of my own limited fashion sense. However, an unexpected champion has emerged from the wreckage of my own internalized style shame: Katie Holmes.
Yes, Joey Potter herself. The “Teaching Mrs. Tingle” star and the only woman to mysteriously walk away from a recurring role in a Christopher Nolan franchise. Katie frickin’ Holmes.
I was in the midst of a three day migraine when I was scanning Getty Images for content and came across a photo of Holmes and her boyfriend, Emilio Vitolo Jr. boppin’ around New York. Holmes was dressed in a blazer and what appeared to be the comfiest joggers in the world.
“We have to find these pants,” I wrote to my manager linking her to the photo, before politely excusing myself to die.
When I learned that what I assumed were $500 cashmere joggers were actually only $70 from Mango, a brand I have worn for years, time stood still.
SHOP IT: Mango, $70
I was Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind” — filtering through years and years of Holmes’s fashion moments. Was Katie Holmes the fashion icon I’ve been looking for all this time? The polka dot tights. The Khaite sweater. The vast collection of trench and double breasted coats. The sensible flats.
Look at everything she’s given us!
It was back in 2002 when Holmes put ombré hair on the map with her is-this-intentional-or-is-it-just-Sun-In locks. She’s braved skin imperfections, questionable career choices (re: leaving “Batman Begins”) and was proof to an entire generation of women that yes - it’s totally OK to date, marry and then divorce someone shorter than you! She weathered speculation that she was faking her pregnancy, successfully hid a relationship with Jamie Foxx for almost seven years and now looks loved-up with her hot younger man. Who doesn’t love a resilient queen?
In all seriousness, Katie Holmes and simple pair of Mango joggers tapped into and eased one of my biggest insecurities. It sounds silly, but it’s true. My friends tease me and I make fun of myself, but in order to keep fashion anxiety under control, I tend to shop from a small pool of brands. They feel safe, comfortable and the most “like me.”
I’ve always been insecure about whether or not I’m “feminine enough” or “good at being a woman.” I’m working on dismantling a long-standing belief that femininity equals desirability. I was always fascinated with the way some women seemed to have an inherent knack for expression through fashion and beauty, mostly because I grew up feeling like they eluded me.
In my teen years, I struggled with an eating disorder and hid behind baggy clothes. I went through my fair share of bullying and name-calling, and thought it would just get better if I could be like the Joey Potters, the Brooke Davises or the Marissa Coopers, effortlessly stylish and beautiful. I would practice doing my hair and makeup at home, even though I had nowhere to go, hoping that if I could master eyeliner I could avoid being teased for being a tomboy.
In my 20s I was finally healthy but had to learn how to invest in and take care of myself. I didn’t even know what I wanted to wear, I didn’t know what I wanted to convey to the world. I dyed my hair blonde and my best friend would dress me up in her sister’s clothes whenever we would go out with friends. I only wore black, thinking it was a safe way to avoid a fashion mistake and it took the guess work out of matching colours and patterns.
Now, in my 30s, I try to take chances and wear colour instead of dressing like an Italian widow. I stick to classic pieces, sweaters and button downs that I never have to worry will go out of style. Most of the time, I think I do an OK job of looking put together when I leave the house, but inside there’s the same internal monologue that wants me to believe I’m not good enough: Do I look OK? Do I look like I fit in? Does everyone think that I don’t belong here?
I double checked and then triple checked that Katie Holmes was in fact wearing Mango joggers. That brief moment of recognition, where I thought, “Hey, I love Mango, too,” was like a reassuring pat on the back that that fashion muscle has gotten stronger and that my instincts for what’s stylish (to me) are sharper than they used to be.
The joggers are currently sold out, but you best believe I’m on the waitlist to get a pair of my own.