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So You Want to Dress Like the Main Character

Welcome back to “So You Want To….” the monthly fashion column where I provide you with clothing options for incredibly specific vibes, aesthetics and events! This month, it’s time to celebrate the Main Character that lives in all of us.

Something about getting back out in the world (safely, and with caveat that we are far from done with COVID) has been cranking up the Main Character energy in my life. Taking public transit again? She’s a main character! Running to CVS? The main character is picking up hair gel, thank you very much! Meeting a friend for a beer? It’s the dang opening scene of a romantic comedy! Is it silly and probably bad for my ego? Yes. Is pretending I am the protagonist in romance novel a fun way to tamp down some of my nerves about being out in the world in general? Also yes!

To help you feel like the Main Character you are, I’ve written the beginning of your story instead of the “this is a good pair of jeans,” descriptions you would typically find in this column. Let the clothes and words take you away, to a place where you are the main attraction — cause babe? You deserve.

Widow With a Shocking Secret

A composite of four images of clothing models wearing a loose button down, jumpsuit, tie-front buttondown and flowing sheer robe, respectively

Left to Right: Duna Rhodes Poplin Sleeveless Shirt, French Connection; Printed Crepe Ruffle Jumpsuit, Nordstrom Rack; Carol Bow Blouse, ABLE; Darling Lace Robe, Bloomingdales

“I was just as surprised as anyone, and completely heartbroken, obviously,” you say, wrapping your hands around the steaming mug of coffee offered by your new neighbor.

She’s like the rest of them: gorgeous in an easy, moneyed way that put you on the defensive the moment you sat down in her sumptuous kitchen. You push the envy down. She thinks you are one of them, that’s why you chose this town, that’s why you are doing this.

She looks shocked and sad for you, and beneath it, there is something else — curiosity, a little hum of attraction. You can already imagine the call she’ll make to the other neighborhood wives, and smile tremulously, preparing to lay it on thick. “I’m so looking forward to getting a fresh start. Not for me, but the kids. My heart just breaks for them.” She follows your gaze out the window where your kids are playing with her twins and you see her soften. Perfect.

Bad Boy With a Heart of Gold

It’s the third time the engine on your motorcycle has crapped out this month, and as you come to a shuddering stop, thick raindrops start to fall, hissing on hit sun-warmed pavement. “Of course,” you mutter to yourself, reaching for your cell. “Just my luck.” You know service is spotty out here — that’s the reason you went for a ride tonight, you wanted to get away, needed clear your head.

The sky lights up, and the crack of thunder that follows is so loud you jump without thinking. You’re squinting at your phone when headlights make you look up, and a car slows to a halt. “Need a ride?” a familiar voice asks.

You groan and spin around, and there she is, smirking behind the wheel. You ignore the flutter in your gut. “Not from you.” You grunt. Another peal of thunder echoes through the valley.

“Suit yourself,” She laughs, easy and unbothered. Her laugh feels like it hits you somewhere in your sternum; you feel your cheeks flush in response. Shit.

Recently Divorced Contractor Raising Their Three Kids On Their Own

The drywall in the kitchen needs to be replaced, and you want to double check that the sump pump can handle the torrential rains that come every spring — but otherwise, the place is in good shape. You let out a quick sigh of relief, and turn to the person beside you with a grin. “You picked a great spot; this place looks great. Just a couple of structural things I’ll need to do before we can focus on the fun stuff.” God, you missed this — the smell of wood, the feeling of concrete under your boots. The pleasure and satisfaction of creating something.

Things had been so hectic for you and the boys since the divorce, but you finally figured out a routine that worked for the three of you and getting back to work felt better than you imagined.

They rock on balls of their feet excitedly, with a wide smile that reminds you of honey in the sun. “Excellent,” they breathe — and you can see it, the thrill of making a home, of making a space yours. You ignore the pang of jealousy, pressing it down until you can almost believe you don’t still want this for yourself — someone to come home to, a house you built together.

“Let’s check out the backyard,” you say, forcing a quick smile. “I’ve got some great ideas for a patio.”

Cool Girl Next Door Who Knows All The Good Parties

You’re just setting your makeup when your phone lights up again. You ignore it — your friends have been trolling in the thread all night, getting sillier and sillier as the pregaming drinks set in. You grin at your reflection in the mirror, satisfied by your razor sharp blue eyeliner and glittering cheekbones.

Out of the corner of your eye, you see your phone light up again. You roll your eyes as you collapse onto your bed to catch up on the sixty five texts that have somehow piled up while you’ve been doing your makeup. There, on your lock screen, above the thread (they’re up to seventy now) is a text from her.

You reach for the jar of tequila and soda you’ve been sipping on all night — your roommate is incapable of keeping any glassware in the house that isn’t a reusable jar. She actually texted. will i see u tonight? You take a big gulp of your lukewarm drink and respond before you have to chance to overthink it. Yes.

The Mysterious Neighbor Who Is Obviously a Witch

Left to Right: Nailah Button Down Tunic, Universal Standard; broderie shirt dress in black, ASOS; V-Neck Patterned Kaftan, Nordstrom Rack; Agnese Long Kimono, Agent Provocateur

You’ve been feeling uneasy lately, a kind of uneasy that you can’t chalk up to anything specific — which makes you more unsettled. It’s the way the wind is moving through the trees, the way the river courses silently but furiously, the hush at dusk, too still. Unnatural.

You light a candle and set an intention for focus and for strength, then, somewhat unexpectedly, forgiveness and grace. You aren’t sure where that came from, but it only adds to your growing certainty that something’s out there, waiting. You pour yourself a mug of mulled wine, then with a certainty that surprises you, set out a second mug.

The wind whistles long and hard through the eaves of the old house, then falls silent. The knock on the door doesn’t surprise you, but the woman standing on your threshold does.

“We need to talk,” she says, stepping inside and closing the door before you can get a word out. “Something is happening.” Her movements are steady and sure; she looks at you seriously, dark eyes glittering. Her hair has gotten long, falling halfway down her back in heavy, rippling waves. It was shorter when you loved her.

“I know,” you say. You fill the mug with warmed wine and press it into her hands. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

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Christina Tucker is writer and podcaster living in Philadelphia. Find her on Twitter or Instagram!

Christina has written 110 articles for us.

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