Friday, July 22, 2011

fly your freak flag let your true colors shine

The development of a personal style is crucial for any aspiring fashionista (or fashionisto). Individual flair is without a doubt the most important part of any look: Without an accessory, detail, or pattern that undoubtedly screams "YOU", there is not much separating your style from that of a store mannequin. The process of creating a signature look, however, is much more difficult than it sounds. It can be especially daunting to incorporate representations of your personality into your daily wears if you are still discovering the ways in which your personality makes you unique. On my own journey towards discovering a sartorial representation of my personality, I decided to take a moment to consider the evolution of my style in order to determine how my wardrobe choices have come to represent my life, past and present.

Since I can remember, I have used clothing as a way to express myself. From the time my two-year-old self concluded that less is more (I once stripped down to my pull-ups during Sunday Mass without my mother noticing until it was too late.) to the more recent  personalization of my "young professional" wardrobe via eccentric yet appropriate accessories, I have always relied on unique, if not necessarily fashionable, looks as a way to express my creative energy.

As a ten-year-old, I remember being obsessed with the classic teenage romantic comedy "Clueless". I was fascinated by Cher and Dee's matchy mid-nineties outfits complete with hats and gloves, but the looks I tended to gravitate towards most were Ty's "before" outfits, made complete by her carefree attitude and quirky personality, even if she was a bit dense.

   My favorite "Ty" look is pictured below. "Why do I love it so much?" you ask. Three words: Troll Doll T-Shirt! For the record, I had a pair of troll doll earrings with green hair and green belly button gems that I wore almost every day during this period of my life. I was into the Kool-Aid red hair, as well, a few years later. It felt disgustingly sticky, but the smell was intoxicating when I washed it out in the shower. 

  Here are a pair of similar earrings that I found on bluefairy68's shop on Etsy.

On the topic of Ty and her offbeat style, Travis was obviously the cutest/ funniest/ coolest guy in this movie. No matter how many times Cher "as if"-ed Ty's secret love interest, I swooned each time he appeared onscreen.(Check out that velvet shirt in the bottom photo!)

Once I entered middle school, I began to really experiment with fashion in ways that somewhat upset my mother and completely befuddled my friends and classmates. Typical classroom attire might consist of hot pink tights with a patchwork skirt, mid-calf white go-go boots, and a ratty rolling stones t-shirt. On occasion, I was also known to arrive at school with stars drawn on my cheeks in black eyeliner. I don't remember if my primary goal was to draw attention to myself or avert it from my awkward body/ personality. Probably, it was a combination of both.

I recently watched "My So-Called Life" for the first time, and found a doppelganger of my middle school self in Rayanne Graff. Her over-the-top eccentric looks mimic the ensembles my  fourteen-year-old self put together on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, her personality so reminds me of myself at that age that I could not help but imagine I was watching a replay of my own life in her character's unconventional antics. Even stranger, I felt an incredible level of nostalgia as I watched this fantastically insightful yet short lived television series.

These are some of Rayanne's best looks for the following reasons: Colored tights, mixed prints, crazy hair, candy necklaces, floral jacket, and tattoo shirt.

A discussion of "My So-Called Life" would not be complete without mention of the insanely adorable Jordan Catalano. Who cares if he can read? In the words of Angela Chase: "I just like how he's always leaning. Against stuff. He leans great."

Fast forward to 0:55 to hear Jordan's epic tribute. SPOILER ALERT: It's not about Angela!

By the time I entered eleventh grade, I was much more self-conscious concerning my clothing choices. Although I still ignored most trends and loathed expensive fashion wears, I toned down my eccentricities in favor of a muted rock and roll inspired look which basically consisted of badly ripped jeans, midriff baring band tees, converse sneakers, and poorly dyed hair. During this period of my life, I regularly found myself on my dorm room floor listening to my favorite Hole album, Celebrity Skin, on repeat singing/ screaming "OHHHHHHHH, GIVE ME A REASON TO BE BEAUUUUTIFULLLLLLLLL......." along with Courtney Love. I suppose that should be embarrassing to admit, but it's not.

Regardless of her personal mishaps, Courtney will always be a rock star.

Fortunately, I have since navigated my way through college and my first professional job, where I began to realize the artistry and resplendence of designer fashion and learned that trends can be fun as long as you make them your own. Instead of viewing runway looks as nauseatingly pretentious and tediously mainstream, I now consider an exquisitely tailored Celine blazer and a beautifully undone Prabal Gurung cocktail dress to be incredibly dynamic works of art.

I am happy to report, however, that I still incorporate my past obsessions into current looks via whimsical headbands, colored hair sprays, and rock and roll motorcycle boots. My style is organic, constantly incorporating new elements and perspectives as I continue to develop my interests and inspirations. All the while, I try to maintain some element of my past in order to remain grounded and genuine to my former selves.

While I have yet to discover for myself a totally definable signature look, I feel at ease knowing that bits of my story emerge through my daily fashion selections. As I continue to develop my look over time, I would similarly encourage you, as you seek to express your own personality traits and eccentricities through fashion to analyze the evolution of your own style. By revisiting your (possibly) not so stylish past, you will have taken the first step towards discovering your uniquely fashionable future.


Sartorial Soul

The photos of Ty and Travis were selected from IMDB's "Clueless" photo gallery. Screenshots of Rayanne Graff were pulled from Tavi's amazing post about about "My So-Called Life" on her blog, style rookie: The photo of Jordan Catalano was found on korac's blog thirteen wishes. The Hole shots were found on the sites: Women in Rock, Bitten and Bound, The Kitchen Sisters,, and the music blog Music Is Amazing.

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