Today, I got my hair done — it was about damn time, trust me — and I got into a lengthy discussion with my hairdresser about fashion and trends and where it’s all going, and she made a good observation. Right now, it seems that almost everything is acceptably “in” — if people are starting to sport the neon hues of the late ’80s/early ’90s, it seems like the fashion forward can get away with just about anything.

It got me thinking about who I was back then, in 5th or 6th grade, and while there are a lot of things I wish I could have changed about myself, I really respect my fearless fashion sense. Yes, I succumbed to a few trends I probably could have lived without, but the thing is, I rocked them. I didn’t just have teal leggings — I had teal leggings with a huge purple menswear shirt and a teal tie for a belt, and I wore it with a funky hat and big bangs and giant mismatched earrings. I wrapped my mother’s scarves in a triangle around my waist to change up the look of my skirts.

If I liked it, that was what mattered — nothing else. Camo boots from my dad’s hunting/fishing store? Sure. A ’50s-style scarf for my ponytail? Absolutely. And then, there were the hot pink suspenders with an otherwise grey-tones outfit. Loved it.

I was young enough that I wasn’t getting these outfits from magazines or models — I found pieces I liked (that Mom would buy for me), and I mixed them up and came up with my own look. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in a lot of ways — I was embarrassed to be so tall, so brainy, so athletic — but I made no apologies for my offbeat fashion sense. Until part-way through 6th grade. But that’s a whole other post.

I can’t tell you how much I wish I could get that fearlessness back, perhaps without the recklessness. I think I’ve outgrown wearing some of the really crazy things just for the sake of crazy — I have plenty of crazy in other ways — but the loving an outfit simply because I think it rocks? That’s something I need to find again and grip with all my might.