These days I have only a vague idea of which clothes are in style or what beauty products are popular. This is partly because I’ve worked from home for the last 4 years and partly because my priorities have changed.  Because of social media, I see which skincare products are “must-haves,” but I’m not rushing out to buy them.  However, there was a time when I had my finger on the pulse of every new make-up trend.  I knew the “right” shoes to wear, how to wear my hair, and what perfume to buy.   I give to you… TA-DA!… my thirteen-year-old self, the “me” who only thought about the outside. “Inner work” wasn’t even a glint in my eye.  Even the adults around me had no clue (or interest) in such topics.

The summer before I entered 7th grade, my mother gave me my first Seventeen Magazine. I remember thinking that this was out of character for her, but it was a very happy surprise.  I’ll never forget it.  Brooke Shields was on the cover.  She was thirteen and beautiful whereas I was awkward and mousy.  I poured through the pages over and over. I studied the make-up tips and couldn’t wait to buy my own stash of eye shadows and lip gloss.  I took the “How Good a Friend Are You?” quiz and aced it—naturally.

I discovered Tickle deodorant.  It came in 4 different scents and each scent had its own distinct packaging: blue, pink, green, and yellow. Tickle’s big selling point was that it had a much larger rollerball than other deodorants—very important when you’re 13.  I picked the blue bottle for no other reason than blue was my favorite color. I wasn’t crazy about the scent, but that didn’t stop me from slathering it on.  Of course, the irony of the situation was completely lost on me.  My 13-year-old armpits were bone dry, but after slathering on Tickle I would have to hold my arms up and fan my armpits.  If it’s true that “necessity is the mother of invention,” then we have Tickle to thank for all the dry solids on the market today.

There were also some unfortunate Avon purchases.  Every year a few girls in my class would pass around Avon catalogs.  I don’t know why, but we were all big on the perfume. I’m guessing because it came in cute decanters and pins.  I remember buying a rabbit pin for Easter. It had a little compartment in the back that contained solid perfume. It smelled delicious. But one day I forgot to take the pin off my shirt and it went through the washing machine and dryer. The pin survived, but the perfume did not. I was crushed.  One Christmas I purchased a snowman decanter filled with “Sweet Honesty” perfume and the scent was honestly awful. But I sucked it up because I HAD to have it.  I mean, it looked cute on my dresser.

For the next few years, the arrival of Seventeen Magazine’s back-to-school issue was one of the highlights of my summer. My friend and I would each get a copy and compare notes. Did I have my Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers? Check.  Would I be getting Fair Isle sweaters in multiple colors? Check. Had I read the article about Robby Benson being “one of the good guys.”  You bet your Sweet Honesty!

As I entered high school the stakes were even higher. The good news was that I was starting to make my own money. Good thing because my mother couldn’t and wouldn’t justify paying a small king’s ransom for Jordache jeans.  Looking back, I can’t blame her.  I had plenty of jeans and “cords” from The Gap. But if Phoebe Cates was wearing Jordache, then so was I.  At the time, “keeping up with the Joneses” was weirdly exhilarating and it was simply a part of life.  Every girl I knew felt the same way. Granted, I lived in a very small town.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how nice it will be to dress up and meet with friends and clients.  It’s been a long time since I’ve worn anything other than yoga pants.  I know I show up differently when I’m dressed up.  I feel like a new version of myself. I’m still me, still authentic, but I carry myself in a different way. But, unlike in my early teen years, it’s freeing to know that a nice outfit isn’t tied to self-worth or outside validation. It’s simply fun and a new way to express myself.  Truth be told I’m always happiest in soft, cozy clothes and I don’t care if they’re from Neiman Marcus or Target.  And that leaves me…tickled.


Carol Campos
Carol Campos
Like many, I struggled for years wondering what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I had been working in the corporate world for over 20 years, most recently in a leadership role with a Fortune 5 company. Although I was consistently recognized and promoted throughout my career, I somehow knew that I was meant to do something different. I felt stuck in a life that didn’t fit, yet I had created it. What was my purpose? I had no idea. Finally, I left my corporate job and made the leap into the unknown. After doing months of self-discovery work (actually, play!), reconnecting to my higher wisdom, and re-remembering who I was at my core, I realized I didn’t have to fix myself. I also realized that I didn’t have to worry about “finding my purpose.” What I found was that I’m multi-passionate and didn’t want to be boxed into one thing. I didn’t HAVE to be boxed into one thing. I started a podcast and a blog where I explored the human experience—including my own beautiful, messy, but perfect road. This blog later became my column on BizCatalyst 360°. I became a mentor and a wayshower for others. I became a consultant to help improve company culture and improve client relationships. These are things I couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. But as often is the case, the Universe had an even bigger plan for me than I had for myself. My Soul knew what I would be doing long before I did, and I’m grateful that I followed the Divine map that was laid out before me! I love traveling, exploring new cultures, being in nature, and helping people on their own paths. I hold a B.A. in Communications from Hofstra University. I live in Massachusetts with my rambunctious and hilarious cats, Petey, and Emmett.

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  1. Dear Carol,

    I read your essay twice! I acknowledge that your experience was from a ‘girl’s’ point of view, but there are so many parallels with a ‘boy’s’ point of view! You have a wonderful way of describing your early years and beyond. I think it is to an extent about keeping up with the latest, trendy clothes and………deodorants!. As you mention prior to getting a job, persuading your Mom to spend a lot on designer clothes would be challenging. And there is of course peer pressure. Keeping up to date with the latest fashion……..and deodorants. Attending school and meeting friends afterwards there is sometimes a realization that some wore Polo Ralph Lauren, Nike trainers or other trendy labels. Then the pressure demands a similar focus.

    Gradually, and with great relief, you have the relaxed confidence; just finding yourself and wearing you YOU feel comfortable with, rather than keeping up with, or matching other people’s outfits. You are yourself. And yourself is the best fashion label on the planet……or Universe. as you say, ‘Not tied to Self-worth or outside validation’. You are you. No competition. You are comfortable in your own skin and comfortable with the clothes you feel comfortable wearing. And dressing up? Again, outfits that you like. No championing. No competition. Just you.

    Working from home, which I did for some time, flying around Europe to secure country managers and other positions for American software technology, I learned a lot about presentation. Meeting with clients in Paris, London, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Milan and Munich…..and more, in those days, 20+ years ago, wearing a suite and necktie was essential. And a pair of quality shoes. Such attire afforded visual acceptance. Especially in Paris!! One country manager who I had hired always checked if I was wearing the quintessential Paris necktie. There was an exchange of good humor! I still have a draw full of these iconic neckties. In a suit, I felt comfortable. It was the ‘uniform’ of business. No competition. I felt comfortable in my own skin.

    When working for a company, there was ‘dress-down Friday’. This was a time when all the labels appeared! Polo Ralph Lauran and beyond. Strange! I dis not go for the external labels, but I preferred formal attire at work. When working fro home, I wore a shirt and tie and afterwards, ‘went casual’.

    Clothes do have a dual sided effect. What you feel comfortable wearing and others’ perception. Feeling comfortable is the only thing that matters. Then you are yourself. These days, when at the Kings and Scribes Exhibition at Winchester Cathedral, three times a week as Exhibition Steward, I wear a blazer, trousers, shirt and tie. I do often wear my Paris label neckties (and more formal, English ones) but they are not ‘flashy’; special designs. I feel comfortable in my own skin. Or in my own outfit!

    You really got me writing for England again, Carol!!! I just love your essay. It projects YOU. The Carol I have known for three or so years. Gentle and generous. I am sure that alchemy has a special part to play.

    • I thoroughly enjoyed reading your comment, Simon. “…yourself is the best fashion label on the planet.” I love that! Thank you for sharing your own experiences. I think I would have been lost in Paris–quite literally but also fashion-wise! It’s always interesting to read about your travels for work and the different experiences you encountered over the years. I’m guessing you’re one of the best-dressed at the Winchester Cathedral! Thank you again for reading my essay (twice!). How special that we get to support one another’s work. 🙏🏼😊

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