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The fashion world should have been on red alert yesterday.  Ever so quietly, but with great hope and promise, a different kind of fashion show took place at the Rose Garden Theatre of Brampton.  Why was it so quiet?  Well, we’re talking here about a revolution of minds and hearts that needs to start small but sure.  There was none of the glitter and pomp and hoopla that go with the kind of fashion shows that are sponsored by fashion industry bigwigs and feature skinny models wearing clingy, revealing, expensive or artsy clothes that the average person couldn’t afford or would even want to be caught dead in.

No, no, no.  This fashion show in Brampton was on a strict budget and put together by ladies who called on friends and family to help them do what seemed a daunting but very much relevant project:  to showcase stylish clothes for young girls and women that would reflect their true sense of dignity and femininity.  This event — billed as a “Mother and Daughter Fashion Show” — was earnest, honest and sincere.  The best part for me was the fact that the models that showed off the outfits were real women:  mothers and their daughters (the women of the future!).  With a big smile of admiration (okay, so it was probably more goofy than anything….), I watched these women who had 2 or 3 or more kids walk down the runway in outfits I really liked.  They didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or awkward or huge.  Rather, I saw them all as possibilities:  for wearing around while running errands, for going on a picnic, for going on a date with my husband.

The truth is that clothes-shopping has become a chore.  To look for clothes and not be able to find ones that fit is one thing.  But to go into one store after another and not be able to find clothes that I can wear without unnecessarily showing off body parts that should be off limits to others’ eyes can be an exercise is near futility and frustration.  Let’s face it:  a lot of the current fashion available these days are either too clingy, too darn small, too low cut, too sheer — too revealing.

So am I embarrassed about my body?  No, and let us be clear about what the real issue is here.  When I wear clothes, I am not only trying to protect my body from the elements, I am also trying to present myself with dignity and do so with great respect for those who will happen to (whether they mean to or not) rest their eyes on me.  I love my body — it being the only one I’ve got — but I do not have to wear tight-fitting clothes that are barely on me to let the world know that I value this part of me.

We need more designers that are not just creating clothes “for the sake of art” or for pure profit.  We need designers that give due consideration to the women who will be purchasing and wearing their clothes.  These real women may not have children yet or may have 10.  They may be tall or short, slightly overweight or very overweight.  They may be on the go from one errand to another or they may be working from 9 to 5 before rushing on home to get dinner on the table for the family.  They may be a little tired or they may be a lot tired.  They may look in the mirror once in the day or not at all.  They may wear make-up or they may not.  Regardless — these are the real women and most of them (us!!) face the challenge of wanting to look good in their clothes and still maintain that feminine mystique that is so much a part of each individual woman.

I had Daughters #1 and 2 with me at the fashion show.  The thirteen-year old was thrilled — she loves beautiful clothes.  The seven year-old was very observant and tried not to fidget around too much.  She said afterwards how much she liked this polka-dot dress with a poodle skirt, and I had to agree with her as it was a nice outfit.  I enjoyed myself seeing how the audience was a mix of teen-aged girls, pre-teens, mothers and a sprinkling of more mature women (read: grandmothers — one of whom is a good friend and whose daughter-in-law and two granddaughters modelled at the show).  We need events like this in order for women to come together and help each other discover that there are possibilities out there and all is not lost.  We need to encourage each other and bring more women to events like this.

We need to tell our daughters and nieces and other young girls about the kind of beauty that comes from within and does not depend on one’s physical attributes or the comments of other people.  We need to encourage our girls to like what they see in the mirror without wanting a tummy tuck, a face lift, pouty lips or a dress that’s barely there.  We need to teach them how to be real women by showing them how we do it ourselves.

Be on the look out for designers that create clothes that are both stylish and dignified, keeping in mind that this does not mean drab, dull and shapeless.  We don’t want to look like a piece of meat on display; neither do we want to look like a sack of potatoes.  Voice your opinion of bad women’s fashion to the stores that carry them.  Your views will be heard by a store manager (make sure you ask for one) who will match your face with lost sales for the store.   Do check out this young and stylish designer, Christa Taylor, whose designs are modest but modern.

Finally, as the fashion show’s guest speaker, Shaylin Aarssen of TRENDS, very aptly pointed out in her well-composed speech, the minute we put on our clothes, we are on a runway.   Our clothes reflect a lot about ourselves and we need to be mindful of that.  Putting the effort to dressing well makes a difference in our way of working and dealing with people.  We feel more confident and more efficient — and that certainly makes for a happier and classier woman all around.

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