I’ve always considered myself a bit of an offbeat; I had different style, interests, and even an unusual name that sometimes made me stick out like a sore thumb. If I’m being completely honest, there were times when I was younger when I wished I could fit in a little more — those formative years can be tough — but I’m so glad I stayed true to myself. It’s so much more fun and freeing to be myself.
I started thinking about this after watching Modcloth’s new series of short films that feature women who go “against the current” to be their unapologetic, authentic selves (starring Awkwafina, Halsey, Dascha Polanco, and Hari Nef).
I remember a specific point in time that made me look at things differently; it was the summer before 8th grade when my sisters and I flew from Florida to Virginia to visit our grandpa. I was wearing my favorite outfit: lilac corduroy bell bottoms and a matching polyester 90s-does-70s button down. It was like a pastel leisure suit for a 12 year old girl, only with corduroy bottoms. I thought it was everything. My older sister assure me it was, too. But one day, our grandpa dropped us off at the local mall and some girls started teasing me, walking behind us and mocking my ensemble. It was something that would’ve wrecked me even one year prior when all I wanted was to blend in and not be noticed, but I took one look back at them and thought, “I don’t want any of what you have.” The outfits, the hair, the attitudes — they were nothing I desired, and so it was easier for me to shrug it off. We were different people with different interests and sometimes different is just too much for people to handle, so they criticize it. I probably wore that outfit once a week the entire 7th grade year, so I wasn’t going to let a group of mean girls in another state change that.
I went on to experiment with my wardrobe quite a bit, over the years. There were lots of misses, but that’s the fun of experimenting. There was a time when I wore a lot of men’s golf pants or ties with velvet blazers, there was the year of the snake print pants (of which my best friend’s boyfriend had the same pair), the time when I bought nothing but thrift store pieces and reconstructed them — which is how my own [now defunct] line was born. There was also a time when I wore fishnet stockings on my arms, fashioning them into sleeves. Finding yourself can be a wild time. It’s easier to go with the current — and honestly if that’s what make you happy, that’s okay, too. Going against it and finding your own style, interests, and identity can be spotted with (or drowned in) cringe-worthy moments, but that’s just part of the learning curve.
I’ve had people say, “I miss when you wore X” or “So sad to see that you’ve changed,” because they remember me in a very specific way and want me to stay that way. For me, it’s not about being consistent or finding one identifier and sticking with it. It’s not about having the same style and same tastes for the rest of my life. It’s about allowing myself to be fluid in expressing myself as I see fit from day to day. There are days when I am in the mood to wear a scarf in my hair, cat eye glasses and a full on retro look. There are days when I want to wear jeans and a t-shirt. There are days when I think, “Maybe I’ll try wide leg pants, today” — and then they become a staple in my wardrobe. My style isn’t a static thing I sought out, found, and held onto. Trite as it may seem, it’s a journey. An evolution. Lilac corduroy bell bottoms and trapeze dresses included.
“I’m allowed to be more than one thing. And it feels good to be myself.” – Halsey
This post was sponsored by Modcloth.
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