I’ve been asked on many occasions to describe my personal style and let’s be honest, it’s not an easy task. But this is meant to be a, hopefully brief, tale of my style journey, and how it has taken me literally years to cultivate a style I’m proud of. Style isn’t something that happens overnight, trust me.
Let us begin our tale with the story of my childhood style. To say I was eclectic, would be accurate. I had access to feminine clothing, masculine clothing, and Pakistani clothing. How did this turn out? Well the photos are evidence enough, aren’t they? I didn’t care what I wore or how I looked, I just took whatever pieces of clothing I wanted too and threw them together. I loved skirts and dresses with ribbons and bows. Bright colors, dark colors, didn’t matter, I was into it.
As I grew older I began to feel a shame about my femininity. My family was mostly males and my mother is very masculine in her behaviors and demeanor. Not in a bad way, she’s amazing and strong, but she had a crew cut and dressed the opposite of myself. I decided to emulate the woman who created me by also cutting off my hair and dressing more masculine. I’m talking the shit that your adolescent brother has in his closet right now. The baggy sweatshirts, ill-fitting jeans, t-shirts, pants the zipped off into shorts (the fucking best), and skater shoes. It was a time where I myself was becoming a woman, but was in pure denial.
This then became what can only be described properly as a “baby bat” phase of goth. Since I couldn’t afford any Tripp products from Hot Topic, I settled for dark colors. I wore this one dark blue hoodie, and this pair of dark blue zip off pants, like all the damn time. I knew I wanted to be goth, but had no money or means of doing so.
After the slowest accumulation of clothing known to man, by high school I was finally able to get away from classic adolescent outfits and try my own thing. I had a faux hawk, corset, skinny jeans, and some thrifted army boots, which are still in my closet. There wasn’t a single day for three years that I didn’t wear black. I’m kind of proud of that. My eyeliner became more dramatic as I tried out spiderwebs, and long wings. I layered tights and skirts and made what I could from the pieces in my closet. It was a difficult aesthetic to work with. It was a limiting style, because to be the kind of Goth I wanted to be, I was going to need to invest a lot of time and money. I wanted beautiful skirts with petticoats, and proper make-up and shoes. In reality I had no make-up skills, no money, and no clear path of what pieces I needed to have an efficient wardrobe. This resulted in a haphazard layering and outfit repetition.
Then came my senior year of high school. My faux hawk had gotten a shitty cut and couldn’t stand up, I was crushed. It felt wrong to wear my outfits with hair that was “normal.” This is when I began to go days where I didn’t wear all black, shocker. I started to experiment with new and vintage, with layering accessories, blazers, and trying different heels. It was fun because I had my moms closet to work with. I sadly was limited by school dress codes. I had a bit of income at this point so I could start to buy some pieces I wanted, but not a lot. I still didn’t know what made a wardrobe work, so I just bought whatever appealed to me without much afterthought.
College, woo, that was a damn miracle I made it through. Part of me wanted to be goth, part of me wanted to have a new style all together, what resulted was a sort of mish-mash of everything. This was the year that *tears up* I bought my first hat. It was from Target and it was purple and it upped my fucking style game. I wore beanies and that one goddamn hat until it started to look light purple. My year at university were so fun. I had money, I had time, and I had two Goodwills within driving distance. This was when I really got into thrifting and finding bomb ass pieces of clothing for almost nothing. It was fantastic. I feel like I had been swindled for years by purchasing new clothing. This was also the time I got my first real leather jacket, started wearing leggings as pants, and got my first pair of Dr. Martens.
It wasn’t until I returned from my year abroad, which had me in a limited wardrobe, but also allowed me to purchase clothing in Korea and Japan where the sizing was closer to my own. While abroad I finally found pieces as eccentric as myself. My wardrobe in Korea was only a handful of items that grew and have become staples in my closet. I realized that you could buy that crazy looking polka dot blouse that was three sizes too big as long as you tucked in the front to give your body shape again. I had seen so much unique style and I was finally getting a grasp on what I liked and didn’t like. Nothing was off limits to me, and no rules applied. If I wanted to wear leggings as pants, I wore shiny gold ones. If I wanted to wear clashing patterns, I made them ridiculous. If I wanted to wear white after Labor Day, I wore an entire motherfucking outfit of white with white accessories.
I’m now at the point where I can only accurately describe my style as that of a chameleon. It doesn’t matter what I wear, because it feels like I’m supposed to be wearing it. It was only years of adolescent embarrassment and teasing that stopped me from wearing what I wanted. It was until I had the confidence to know that my style was flexible and durable and didn’t have to be the same, it just had to be me. That’s what makes fashion so accessible, is that it has to be stuff you like. I remember hating people in high school who couldn’t be bothered to put on a pair of jeans, but always wore sweatpants and UGGs. But now I see that they are comfortable and fashion to them isn’t important, and honestly they make my outfits looks even better.
So here’s my advice to all the budding fashionistas who want to be more stylish: Mimic other people you like. Find YouTubers, bloggers, or photographers who have an aesthetic you enjoy and try to find the pieces they’re wearing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blazer, neon green pumps, or a beret. See if you already have it, or can buy one or two things to recreate it. That’s how you find your own style. Borrow from others until you have the confidence to try something you’ve never tried before. There’s literally nothing to be afraid of. The worst thing that could happen is that someone asks, “Why are you so dressed up?” Take this as a compliment, it just means you’ve upped your style game and they’ve noticed.
I literally have gone from being a girly-girl, to tomboy, to punk, to goth, to whatever the hell I felt like. If you want to be stylish, confidence is the first step. You’re not crazy, it doesn’t look stupid on you, just rock your wardrobe and the rest will follow. I’ll do a wardrobe staples post soon so you can see what I think every person needs in their closet. There’s nothing wrong with being nervous, I know there were outfits I wore four years ago that seemed so out there, and now they’re on the tamer side of my aesthetic. Have an outfit you’re proud of? Tweet me, Instagram me, or Facebook me, show me what you got.