Let’s talk about the “art of dressing up” a.k.a “personal style” and its cathartic properties, because fashion is so much more than acquisition of material goods and inclination to show off one’s societal status. It’s so, so, so much more than that. If anything – it’s definitely a therapeutic vehicle of self-expression and an art form in itself.
Growing up, my mom had a lot of influence on my style. Not that she was trying to impose or make me acquire any particular sense of style, not at all. She was more of my “style mentor.” She helped me choose the clothing made out of high quality materials like cotton, wool, cashmere or angora. She told me which shapes and cuts looked good on me and which didn’t. Which colors make my eyes and hair really pop in a good way. Thanks to her I have acquired the basis of style very early on in my life. If you blindfold me I can tell just by the touch, which material is which. I can also “feel my way around” the closet in the dark and manage to find the exact t-shirt I’ve been looking for, just by touching. True story, I swear.
Most of my early childhood photos are of me wearing my mom’s clothes, jewelry and makeup. Then my brother and sister were born and they’ve have acquired a distinct style over time as well. My sister and I used to dress up together and play out different roles: one day we were Parisian ladies in silk, fur and pearls who brunch, on another day we were 70s time-traveling bohemian souls in floral prints and round sunglasses. Growing up, we had a tendency to express ourselves creatively through fashion and that carried over into adolescence and adulthood.
In high school, I was going through my rebellious phase. I’ve started listening to – I’ll sum it up into – “emo” music, although it definitely varied. My style was reflection of that as well. Think Hot Topic-meets-Converse. A jeans and t-shirt kind of gal. That was my staple and a way of expressing myself as an edgy, don’t-talk-to-me kind of person. I never wore dresses or any pastel colors.
In college, I went through a “retro/vintage” phase. Yet again, my style was influenced by the 70s fashion, but oh boy, in such a bad way that I cringe when I think of it. Think really loud prints and obnoxious colors that really hurt your eyes. But that was just a phase as well, because I wanted to be perceived as an outgoing always-so-happy person. That might’ve been annoying to some – I now realize why.
The style I have today started developing my last year of college and two years after my graduation, while I was doing some “soul-searching.” For the first time in life, I didn’t feel the need to fit into a certain mold or acquire a certain style, because I can be anyone I want to be. I think I’ve actually tapped into my early-childhood-self, because I became more creative and dressing up became even more fun. I can be a bohemian, sexy chic, edgy or retro gal for a day. I can be more soft and feminine or more edgy and tomboy-ish. I just choose who I need to be for a day and I go from there. Dressing up is a form of art and expression for me, providing some sort of catharsis.
Okay, I need to be strong today – let’s do clean cuts, geometric shapes, and metallic accents. “She looked like it, so she became it” is my daily mantra.