Southern Girl Academy: Fashion

One of my earliest memories is a line of big-haired aunts around a salad bar. That and sneaking into the china cabinet to look at my Grandmother’s feral, jet-black hairpiece.

When properly utilized, this impressive structural anomaly boosted her teased and hairsprayed coiffure to heights previously unknown to mortal women. Along with her pearls, the hairpiece was deployed for weddings, funerals and Sunday church, spending the rest of its time lounging menacingly next to the gravy boat where inevitably a timid clutch of grandchildren would double dare each other to touch it. I couldn’t tell you why she kept her hairpiece in the china cabinet, only that she made the best chicken and dumplings I’ve ever had.

Needless to say, I grew up with an eye-rolling aversion to anything remotely identified as “Southern” or “feminine.” I eschewed cowboy fashion and camouflage for oversize men’s button-downs, leggings and black wingtip dress shoes. Oh, you didn’t know they made black wingtip dress shoes for women? Of course they did, it was the eighties. And I wouldn’t have been caught dead in pearls, opting instead to wear a tongue-in-cheek vintage t-shirt under a black blazer to give a speech for 11th grade student body president.

Embracing my traditional Southern roots while accepting my feminist sensibilities wasn’t easy, and my wardrobe suffered the rebellion accordingly, and schizophrenically, over the years as a result.

Growing up with two brothers, I spent hours on horses, ATVs and bass boats. I’ve gone mudding, frog gigging and deer hunting. Alternatively, I’ve dolled up for beauty pageants, homecomings and proms. Haven’t we all? A Southern country upbringing requires a staggering amount of shoes. But one thing remained a constant: I never left the house without mascara.

red bootsThankfully, I’ve come to learn a few things about what it means to have style, and perhaps even Southern style, if such a thing exists. I’ve even come to terms with my love for high heels and vintage aprons. I own, and even wear on occasion, a modest string of pearls and a pair of red cowboy boots. I still never leave the house without mascara.

I’ve accepted that a Southern woman can be soft and hard, pretty and tough, deliciously diverse and delightful all the same, with the appropriate shoes for any occasion. After all, a Southern woman must be prepared if her beau suggests an impromptu midnight boat ride to check his trotline. (True story.) And if my most recent birthday shoes are any indication, I am a woman who is ready for anything.

birthday shoesBeing comfortable and happy in your own skin, with your own unique style, can be the truest form of feminine expression.

Maybe I’ve finally grown into a proper, stylish Southern woman, one who has learned to appreciate good china, perfect meringue, a killer blowout and a man opening a door, but I haven’t forgotten the strong Southern women who’ve opened them, either. And I still have that t-shirt.

Angel Murphy Galloway is a reformed country girl living among numerous pairs of shoes, three dogs and one husband in the big city of Little Rock, where she works in nonprofit arts management. She also really likes your outfit. You can follow her on Twitter @angelmg.

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5 Responses

  1. I just want to come live in your closet for awhile. Is that okay? No? Too creepy?

  2. The converse and black heels, I’ve got. It’s the red boots I want!!!!

  3. After today it seems I need to add snow boots to this list. Dang.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kerri Jackson Case and Savannah B, sogirlacademy. sogirlacademy said: #SnowDays are no excuse not to look your best. @angelmg gives advice on finding yourself & your own Fashion: http://t.co/B53NUkT […]

  5. Loved your comment on never leaving the house without mascara. “I need to fix my face,” was a phrase I can plainly recall my mother saying before we would venture out to the store. To this day, I won’t leave the house without lipstick!

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