For a long time, my typical outfit consisted of bootleg jeans, a worn t-shirt, a cardigan and flats. For work, I dressed up a little, around the house I could be found in oversized sweatshirts and sweatpants. I rarely touched make-up, a hairdryer, high heels, anything that required socks, or contact lenses. When I went out socially, I was nearly at a loss as to what to wear, particularly if I was going out with my stylish friends who imbued me with both inspiration and envy.
I’d once boo-hooed women who concerned themselves with their appearance. Who wants to spend that much time trying on clothes? Looking in a mirror? Worrying about your make-up? I wanted to be comfortable, mobile, unfettered by any aesthetic issue other than whether there was spinach in my teeth. Natural, I said. Instead of investing in clothes, I invested in my body: I kept fit, ate well, and took care of my skin.
While I still value these things, I’d overlooked the power of confidence and the benefit of having your appearance reflect who you are. I think, though I didn’t admit it in these terms, I’d wanted this all along. After all, I spent years buying cheap clothes in an attempt to be a better-looking version of myself and, ultimately disappointed, believed that true style lay beyond my grasp because I was unwilling to financially invest in it as others were.
How silly. As I tell my students, we all make choices that help or hurt us. For years, I’ve been making the wrong choices, wardrobe-wise. Why I’ve started to care now, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s all these fashionable folks walking around Southern California that inspire me, or being a graduate student with time to ponder these things. Or perhaps I’m simply on the edge of 30 and finally confident enough to resist fashion trends, peer pressure, and all those other things that pull at our desires and wallets.
And so, this year, it’s time for me to find my style. And in the obsessive behavior that’s typical of my personality, this blog is not only a chronicle but a drawing board as I venture on this journey. As Amanda Brooks says in I Love Your Style:
[F]inding your personal style is really about discovering yourself. There’s lots of room for experimentation along the way, but arriving at a strong sense of style that suits you and makes you feel great every day and everywhere depends on confidently knowing who you are and what’s important to you.
Who wouldn’t want to feel great every day and everywhere?
So: Who am I? Who are you?