The day I wore an absolutely outrageous outfit to the mall


By Leah Landrum [email protected]

A group of girls huddle around me after saying they liked my outfit and hair.

Leah Landrum

The task was simple: Dress outrageously, go out in public and write about the experience. I was confident and excited until I actually left the privacy of my mother’s house.

My first step was looking through online photos of eccentric and odd outfits. I decided on a pastel Goth look, but with an extra dose of crazy thrown in. My outfit ended up being nothing like pastel Goth, but it definitely fulfilled the outrageous requirement.  

I scoured through my closet and drawers for anything black or pastel colored. I also rummaged through my accessories and went out to buy bright pink lipstick and some temporary hair dye.

At this point I was very excited. I couldn’t wait to see the end product and get to the mall. A small part of me was nervous, but it didn’t show.

My sister dyed half of my curly hair pink and the other half blue. I was hoping for a pastel pink and blue, but the dark hue of my naturally red hair caused me to end up with a dark aqua blue and a bright fuchsia.

I settled on a black tank and capris, a black glittery tutu, a bright pink tutu, an aqua green bralette, black combat boots, a black choker and a white floral wreath for my head. I threw in some other jewelry and added a skull backpack and a stuffed bunny with a skeleton face.

I used the brightest makeup I owned with blues, greens and pinks on my eyes and blue and pink on my lips. I put pink on the top lip and blue on the bottom. After my sister styled my hair, and I decided that my outfit was crazy enough, I left for the mall with my mom, sister and her fiancé and my 2-year-old daughter.

The reactions I received from my family were funny enough that I knew the reactions from strangers would be even better. My daughter told me I was beautiful and even wanted blue in her hair. My sister’s fiancé said I looked scary and didn’t want to be seen with me. 

I thought I was ready and I was very excited to see the reactions I would get, but as soon as I slid out of the car, I wanted to crawl out of my own skin and just float away. My heart beat against my chest and I cringed during each of the first few stares, forcing myself not to hide behind my mother like I did when I was a shy child. 

My husband planned to meet us at the mall, and when he first saw me, he walked the other direction and refused to be seen with me. He came around and walked with us for a bit, but conveniently took our daughter to get some food and then to play in the kid’s area.

I first ran into a group of four girls who liked my outfit and hair. This surprised me, since I certainly didn’t like it. I thanked them and even took my photo with them. 

Another group passed by and the mother gave me an evil glare. It was the worst look I’ve received in my entire life. I’m not quite sure how my outfit affected her, but she seemed to take it personally.

I received countless stares and a few more glares. Many people laughed and tried to hide it, others would smile at me as if they knew it wasn’t my typical attire and some made motions to say they liked my hair. 

After walking around observing reactions, my mother and I decided it was time to start asking people what they thought. We started at a jewelry store across from Hot Topic.

The women behind the counter thought I looked funny, but told us they weren’t the best people to ask since they were used to seeing people dressed like me coming out of Hot Topic all the time.

As a test, we walked through Hot Topic. As expected, I didn’t receive any stares. In fact, I fit in perfectly with the employees — their hair was colored much like mine. One employee had the sides of her head shaved and sported a brightly colored Mohawk.

We left the store and decided to find a more conservative, perhaps fancy, store. We checked out White House Black Market and Coach. You could see the look of amusement on the employees’ faces, but they were perfectly polite to me. When we told them my assignment and asked their honest opinion, some said they believed I was going to a bachelorette party. I received this reaction from three different people.  

I decided to remove the floral wreath from my head, in case that was why people were thinking I might be going to a bachelorette party. After it was gone, I didn’t get that reaction again.

We then started asking random individuals walking through the mall what their initial reactions were. Some girls said they liked my outfit and others said they liked my boldness. One girl said I looked “hella good.” 

A group of girls laughed after passing me, and when we asked them about their reaction, they said that they would never dress that way, but if someone was happy in that attire, then they should go for it.

We went up to a woman with her husband and asked them for their honest opinion. The woman, who reminded me of a nicer version of Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”, gave me a rundown of the outfit.

She complimented me for matching my colors and then said, “What are you doing with that bra?”  She proceeded to ask why I would leave the house with a ripped skirt and finished by saying, “Keep the boots. That’s all.” This was by far my favorite interaction throughout the entire evening.

I even got the courage to wink at two male employees who were smiling at my outfit. I asked my sister what they did when I passed them, and she said they smiled even more and laughed a little.

After I felt I had received enough reactions and responses, I rushed into a restroom and took off the tutus and put my bra on correctly. I still looked a little crazy, but I felt a lot better. My hair still received some stares, but much less than before.

During the whole evening, I think I may have offended some, but I definitely entertained many. Was it fun? Yes. Was it terrifying? Definitely. Would I do it again? Probably.