Friday, October 7, 2016

Fashion and the Power of Self Expression

self expression fashion blog

There was a time in my life when my favorite outfit combination was brown capris with white polka dots, paired with a brown shirt with white polka dots. I believed outfits made up of the same pattern in (almost) the same shade was the epitome of fashion, which lead to many years of stars-on-stars, stripes-on-stripes, and polka-dots-on-polka-dots. While I didn't really care about what I wore, I had fun and took pride in picking out my carefully-matched clothing. Life was good and clothing wasn't a big deal.

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.

Ella

12 comments:

  1. This post was so perfectly beautiful relatable!! I LOVED this Ella! <3
    P.S. I adore you style! ;)
    XOXO

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  2. Gahhhh exactly. I love this. You put it into words so perfectly. Also your style is goals <3

    Love,

    Anne // www.aportraitofyouth.co.uk

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    1. Thanks, Anne! I just wanted to write a post to emphasize how fashion is more than just wearing whatever is in season: it's about what makes you feel most like you! I'm glad you were able to relate.

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  3. I can relate so very much to this, it isn't even funny. Recently, my school forced me to die my hair a 'natural' colour after I had dyed it during the summer, and my teacher pulled me in front of the class and ordered me to take my (incredibly light) foundation off even though she knew I was self-concious about my face.

    And even with clothes, I feel like expressing myself is incredibly important. I mean, I'm hardly what you'd call ' on trend'. Someone once asked me if I liked their Jack Wills hoodie and I proceeded to ask them who exactly was Jack Wills?

    Turns out, it's a brand. Fun.

    I really enjoyed this post, Ella. Mind if I put it on my favourite list for my September recap?

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    1. Just hearing about your school dress code is frustrating me right now! The idea that schools can control your hair color is really upsetting to me--because that doesn't just affect you within the school walls. And your teacher publicly humiliated you? For wearing makeup? That's not okay!

      I'm glad my post resonated with you. And yes, I would be honored to be on your recap! :)

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  4. This is so so important. I honestly think fashion is just about whatever makes you feel confident in your own skin. Street style and hipster is awesome, by the way!

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    1. Yes, exactly! I hate the idea that there are "boundaries" on fashion, because that's not what it's about at all.

      Street style/hipster ftw!

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  5. This post is amazing, dress codes are limiting freedom and that makes me :( I express who I am in my clothing, my emotions for the day, etc. Dress codes just frustrate me, and it's even more frustrating that there's more limits on what girls can wear than boys.

    ~Noor

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    1. Exactly! There's actually a big debate about dress code in my school currently, after the new administration started cracking down on girls who were breaking dress code. A lot of people see the rules as sexist. There was even an article in the newspaper about it.

      The fact that our self expression is restricted in a place we spend most of our time means that it's that much harder to be ourselves.

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  6. I adore this post, and I'm so glad you embrace the quirky fashion choices you made when you were a kid! A lot of people just cringe at the way they used to dress, but I love your outlook on childhood fashion.

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    1. Thank you! There's no reason to admonish our childhood selves. I was so much more comfortable then in my matching ensembles than I would have been in what I wear now--because I was being true to myself!

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