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Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

It just fits

Johanna Wen
I went to San Francisco and posed in front of the Golden Gate Bridge with my black vest and white button up. I brought my favorite outfit with me almost everywhere.

Fingers sifting through clothing hangers, my mother stopped me by holding up a sleek vest. Trying it on, I spun around in the small Goodwill changing room, posing and looking myself up and down in the mirror. It was perfect. I knew I wouldn’t leave without it.

It was a black sleeveless vest that has five buttons on the front, two– unusable– pockets, a v-neck, a back that is a pale silver with thin vertical stripes and a waistcoat cinch that always seems to come loose by the end of an hour.

However silly it sounds, vests have really ingrained themselves into scattered and short memories (arguably you could say that it’s invested itself into my mind.)

I was always picky about what I wore. Everything was overly saturated with bright pink colors, or was drenched in frilly words and flowers. I didn’t really know what I wanted to wear for a long time, then in middle school: I didn’t have to choose. However, when the time came where I had to wear my own non-uniform clothes, I was well prepared. I had realized that I never had to be limited to a girls section, and had fallen in love with the clothing old Europeans wore in my history textbooks, which meant goodbye pocketless pants and hello shirts with plaid button ups and medieval clothing.

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The desire to wear a vest came into play around the same time, but I just didn’t know what I would pair it with.

I remember when a blonde senior girl wore a beautiful vest to my AP Human Geography class near the end of my sophomore year. I can’t bring myself to recall what color it was, or if it had designs on it, I just know it was radiant. Whether it was for a mini theater production or just for her own style, she inspired me. So after class, I excitedly walked up to her and asked where she got hers. “Thrifting” was a vague answer, but it really did push me to make the purchase.

It was my dream piece of clothing: I loved the way it snuggly fit on a figure, outlining one in not only a subtle alluring way, but also for the powerful and professional tone it adds to your demeanor. The look of a businessman. The term “it’s giving gender” is exactly how I feel as well: it bolsters my identity as genderfluid. It made me feel confident, so I wore it to (almost) everything.

I remember wearing it to school often, then wearing it to my first job interview at Crumbl. Trenton, the manager at the time, asked me at the end of my interview if I wore this all the time or maybe if I dressed up for today. I can’t even remember what I said, but only that I felt a bit lighter, more confident.

I wore my vest to presentations I gave to my parents, I wore this suit to Halloween, to the Reinfare, and for cosplay, I wore this suit to the movies, I’ve had people mistake me as an employee at clothing stores, I wore this suit to my last school culture festival I may ever participate in and I wore this to my AP tests.

In all of these individual times, I’ve felt more myself.

The day before my friend’s funeral, I hung up the clothes I would wear. My pressed black pants and a mid-length sleeved, white button down shirt with a black vest draped over it. I hung them both on a suspended hammock that I haven’t sat on in a few years. Then I fell asleep staring in their direction.

In the morning I rolled over in my bed, took a shower, dried my hair, put on my pants and shirt, buttoned my vest, and contemplated on wearing a tie before brushing off the cat hairs that adorned the front of the vest like a pattern.

My friend wore a variety of sweatshirts, hoodies and big shirts. They wore a light lime green crop top once and cosplayed characters from shows and games they liked. I first met them when they dyed their hair a rainbow of colors, later dying it blonde then pink. They were non-binary and they said that they wanted to dress more femininely, but they were insecure about their body. I had prepared myself to see them in a suit of some sort one last time, but they weren’t present at their own funeral.

I can’t remember what they wore on the last day I saw them; I think they wore a sweater. I just know that I wore my brown vest with matching brown pants and my gold necklace. I dressed up in relatively old-fashioned to match the theme of a Dungeons and Dragons one-shot I had planned and never ended up doing. I watched Bo put up groceries, assuring me I didn’t need to help, as I snuggled myself into their light gray couch.

Fashion is a form of self expression, a way to be who you are in your own skin, and to exhibit confidence. I truly believe that people should wear what they want with confidence and without unwarranted discrimination. It could be your last day alive, and wouldn’t you have wanted to wear at least one thing that made you feel like a million bucks?

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    Claire BJun 5, 2024 at 10:22 pm

    Beautiful story Joe 🙂