Well, scratch that. It really started with a pink dress. A certain pink dress that I just HAD to have for my Kindergarten Graduation. Complete with ruffles, glitter, and huge poofy sleeves, it was everything I needed. Clad with my dress, my glittery “Katie” sash, and my play children’s makeup, I owned that Kindergarten graduation stage like it was my runway. And that’s where my love of fashion, cutting my own bangs, and wearing sparkly things really started.
And then came the winter jacket 19 years later. It was long and red and just the perfect accessory to help me stand out against the dark, Seattle skies I walked under everyday. Sophisticated enough that I could show the world I was as put together as this beautiful jacket, but sassy and young enough to show I was a dreamer and not fit for a traditional path. To me, it was freedom on a hanger. It embodied all of the things I had wanted to be but was too scared to actually try. It was exactly how I had seen myself since I was 5 years old picking out that graduation dress, but who I had been too scared to be with my ex. The fashionable side of me scared him and was too superficial, he said. I yanked it off the hanger, threw it around my shoulders and saw my new self in the mirror. I was beautiful. I was me.
Two days later, I drove home across parts of Washington and Oregon and into my hometown of Boise, Idaho. My Dad hugged me hard as he always does, but this time he whispered into my ear, “You look more yourself than I’ve seen you in years. You look beautiful”.
I wore that jacket all winter longer until the grey gave way to sunshine and the excitement for spring began buzzing about Seattle. And then it was a turquoise sweater. A long maxi dress that showed off my new, fuller figure. Bright yellow pants. Lace, bows, tribal prints, denim, ruffles. These pieces of fabric weren’t merely clothes anymore. They were different manifestations of myself coming to life with every outfit. I watched the runways, decided what I liked and what worked for me, and let my infatuation with style run wild.
And then came the red hair. And after I took my hair back to brown, the red lips showed up. I’ve begun an affair with the color red. For the rest of my life, it will always signify my transformation. My acknowledgement that I get to be whoever I want to be. That no one gets to suppress who I’ve been since I was a little girl, when I used to run around my Dad’s gold mine with a bow in my hair, panning for gold. When I asked for jewelry and makeup for my third birthday, but could still give my brother’s a run for their money on the baseball field. And when I chose that pink dress for my Kindergarten Graduation and wore it proudly, but couldn’t wait to change out of it when I got home to shoot bb guns with the “big boys”. Everything I’ve always been and wanted to be. Passionate, bold, strong, sensitive. Red.