I've gone through countless style transformations in my 16 years on this earth, whether I was nine and literally just pulling random clothing out of my drawers, ten and wearing a cape to school picture day, or eleven and rocking hot pink, zebra patterned, velvety bell-bottoms. Now I can laugh at the clothes I wore as a child, and while my first instinct is to proclaim that I had "no fashion sense," when I stop to think about it, I realize that, although my clothes weren't "trendy," I was actually embodying what fashion is truly about: self expression.
Nine and wearing baggy, tie-dye tees and floral shorts, I was portraying the free-spiritedness of my youth, and the carelessness I put into my outfit is a reflection of that. Ten and sporting my wizardly-attire (see above re: cape), I was showing the world a picture of a naive, fun-loving child whose quirkiness was spilling out the edges. I was different, proud, and unconcerned with the world's view of me. Eleven and donning my snazzy matching ensembles and vibrant prints, I projected the image of a bold, slightly clueless pre-teen, unafraid to stand out and be herself.
When I hit the ages of 13 and 14, some of that boldness fell away, revealing the insecurities and lagging confidence that comes with being a teenager. I wasn't sure who I was or how I wanted to present myself to the world, and that showed in my clothes. The opinions and actions of those around me began to influence me, and suddenly I wasn't sure how to express myself. Occasionally I found clothing I felt truly good in: my first pair of skinny jeans, my favorite striped shirt, a thrifted pair of black boots that I originally bought purely for a play and ended up wearing often. But most of the time my style meandered, settling on generic pieces that fell flat or that didn't boost my confidence, like a good outfit should. I just didn't know how to express myself through clothes.
Last year I began to truly find my voice in fashion. I started to find outfits that made me feel confident and happy, and that I felt were truly a reflection of myself as a person. One "milestone" I particularly remember is a day last year when I wore a skirt, flowy shirt, and jean jacket, and the girl in my grade who I considered my fashion "inspiration" commented that she liked my outfit. My fashion icon approved of my clothing choices! Mark the day! Even though a good outfit should make you feel awesome without the validation of others, it's always nice to get a compliment, especially from someone whose opinion you value.
This year I feel I've truly found a style I love, which works for me on every level. It's casual but edgy, a mix of street style, grunge, and hipster. It reflects the artistic and creative side of me, which is such an integral part of who I am. When I'm wearing an outfit I love, I feel the most true to myself. I feel confident. I feel unbreakable. And that's how clothes are supposed to make you feel.
Fashion is not about "flattering your figure". It's not about following arbitrary rules. It's not about wearing what everyone around you is wearing just because you feel like you should. It's about being true to yourself and letting your clothes speak for you. Fashion is about simply being yourself.
L8r sk8r, and don't forget to stay true to yourself.