White polka dots against black tulle, T-shirt knotted over top, black lace choker, and boots that made me feel invincible. I was walking to class, and a girl came up on my left. For some reason she kept going straight, almost as if she were trying to walk through my shoulder.
I’ve been on the receiving end of comments like this often, because every day, I enjoy taking the time to “curate” and present my best self to the world. It’s my way of waking up and embracing the challenges of the day. But sometimes people misread this as arrogant. Some people think I’m trying too hard. Which means the situation above isn’t a unique occurrence.
I’ve heard stories from friends and family who dress to face their day and conquer the world, and who are shamed or looked down upon because of it. (It’s something we’ve talked about on CF before.) On college campuses (and in the wider world), that strive so desperately for diversity, why are we sitting on the voice of the individual?
When did embracing who you are and who you want to be become a bad thing?
I can’t pretend to have all the answers, but I’ve been living from a place of trial and error for the past five or six years, so I thought I’d share a piece of my story, and my advice for conquering such identity crise.
First, think of your clothing as the voice that speaks before you can.
It’s a vehicle, one that carries you through classrooms and coffee houses and various social settings. Like it or not, it says something about you. It doesn’t have to say “trendsetter.” It simply has to say “You.”
So, how do you find your “voice?”
The first step is to recognize and seek out things that resonate with you. These things can be simple – a force of nature, a person walking down the street wearing an amazing jacket, a moment in a conversation, or a word on a page. Take note of what moves you. When you begin to understand what compels and interests you, you can begin to find ways to incorporate it into the way you dress.
The second step is silencing your inner critic. There will always be a voice inside your head saying, you can’t do that. You can’t wear that. You don’t have a right to wear that.Listen to it and you’ll discover which lies you have been buying into.