By: Dabrianna Green
As a fashion major (or any person interested in fashion), I get a lot of compliments. Many of them end in “I could never pull that off.” I have never understood this phrase, but I suppose that’s because I have never worried about “pulling anything off.” Can’t you just put on what you like and walk out of the door?
I’ve come to learn that it’s not that simple. For many, if the item they’re eyeing doesn’t fit the “norm” or a current trend, it’s a “risk” to wear it. Not only is it a risk, but it’s a risk they’re unwilling to take. I’ve always associated risks with potential danger, which led me to do some research to verify that I had a thorough understanding of the word. According to Merriam-Webster, a risk is defined as “someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard.” So, you’re telling me that walking out of the house in my emerald green lipstick could be hazardous? In what way?
“Pure, intense emotions. It’s not about design. it’s about feelings.” –Alber Elbaz
This led me back to the dictionary where I discovered that the word “hazard” has multiple definitions. The one I was familiar with, “a source of danger,” completely supported my idea that wearing something unique doesn’t typically present much of a risk (unless there are cultural boundaries). However, a different definition “the effect of unpredictable and unanalyzable forces in determining events” helped me to make sense of it all. What people mean by saying dressing differently is risky is that they’re going to risk the unknown. They’re going to risk different reactions and remarks to whatever it is they want to wear. To them, that is hazardous.
“Fashion is art and you are the canvas.” –Velvet Paper
Many people in the fashion industry make a living off of this concept; they’re called fashion stylists, personal shoppers, and consultants. These trained professionals are often paid big bucks to dress their clients in what is “flattering” and “trending.” As someone pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in fashion, I will never undermine the significance of these careers. Fashion is art. Having a critical eye accompanied by knowledge of structure, fabric, depth, contrast, and etc. is a skill. However, there becomes a point where it’s all just taken too seriously— especially in regard to everyday life. You don’t need anyone to tell you what looks good. You don’t need anyone to dress you in the latest trends. Yes, it can be fun to play dress up with someone who specializes in fashion. They have special access and insight, which can help you think outside of your norm and add variety to your wardrobe. However, it’s important to remember that you are fully capable of dressing yourself. Wear what you want to wear. Wear what you like. Wear what makes you feel good about yourself.
“Fashion is about suspense and surprise and fantasy; it’s not about rules.” –Wolfgang Joop
We’ve had it drilled into our heads that certain garments flatter certain body types, certain colors flatter certain features, and that certain items are just a fashion no-no. Says who? A person’s training, degree, or status doesn’t necessarily make their opinion valid— you do. The moment you hear an opinion and turn it into fact, you validate it in your mind. It doesn’t have to be that way if you don’t want it to be. If you have “love-handles,” but you love how you look in that crop top, wear it. If you want to wear purple winged liner just to go to the supermarket, do it. Dress for you; it’s your right. It’s ok if someone doesn’t like what you’re wearing. You may not like what they’re wearing, that’s ok too. Their opinion belongs to them and your opinion belongs to you.
Fully adjusting to this idea doesn’t happen overnight because people can be harsh. This can naturally make us gravitate towards holding back and blending in just to avoid the negativity. We live in an age where it’s normal make fun of a complete stranger’s outfit on social media. Celebrities are posted on best and worst dressed lists each time they step out of the door. It’s easy to get caught up in wearing whatever results in a positive reaction. It takes strength to break away from that, but it’s a strength that’s needed in order to be fully confident in who you are. By conforming to the opinions of others, you’re missing out on you. You deserve to express yourself. You deserve to look in the mirror and be excited about what you see. You don’t deserve to only feel good about yourself because you look like everyone else. Where is the fun in that?
“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” –Rachel Zoe
Whatever you’re drawn to, you’re drawn to it for a reason. This is called personal style. This is called (insert your name here). Own it. That is who you’re meant to be. That is how you’re meant to dress. Do it. Being a replica of everyone else is doing the world a disservice. If we were all meant to be the same, we would be. Guess what? We’re not. From our DNA to our thumbprints, we are all individually crafted in a way that no two people are the same. This is something worth embracing. We all have our own unique characteristics to offer, including our styles. They communicate who we are, they inspire others, and they just make us feel good about ourselves. Be you. Inspire. Fulfill your desires. This is what you’re here for.