“Fashion fades, style is eternal.”
That’s what Coco Chanel said, and as a patron of modern style, I guess it’s not up for debate. Style, and from there stylish, is a term applied to those who are deemed worthy of it. Being stylish is at the epicenter of the fashion world, and it’s such an important part of our aesthetic culture. I mean there’s a magazine literally called InStyle. Endless how-to guides on how to achieve this elusive level of make-it-work-ness. I remember being a kid and my mom, who was always very stylish, never missed an opportunity to drop a style tip here and there. Never wear these colors together, don’t wear these kinds of shapes together, etc, and most importantly, always be confident. Confidence is the best style.
Naturally, I ignored all of it (except for the last one). Rather, I interpreted things in my own way. My family was always very into fashion; my mom worked in fashion and my brother currently does. They were always watching runway shows or referencing high fashion designers, and honestly, I could not have cared less about any of it. I also didn’t have any style whatsoever, at least not in the conventional sense. For the first 12 years of my life, my method of dressing myself was not by color or shape, but by theme. Blue denim shorts with red/white/blue stars on it + olive green t-shirt with camouflage stars on it? Obviously this works, because hello, stars. Oh, and not to forget the pink snakeskin watch that I wore for 3 months straight and rhinestone chandelier earrings for sparkle.
I could never quite commit to one particular look or style, having always been drawn to at least 4 different styles at one time. I think that’s a bit of hallmark for me from an early age that still rings true hah. In middle school I morphed into the goth/punk phase, which I loved, and still do love (but I live in the desert and I’m just not as committed to misery as I used to be). Though even then, I occasionally wore bright colors just because I felt like it. I started to DIY a lot of things.
Through high school I again morphed into a variety show of styles. One day more goth, the other more shabby chic, as they called it, and another day maybe even a country western thing. I bought this leotard from American Apparel and had no idea what I’d wear it with, but was determined that I had to have it and make use of it somehow. Nothing I owned made sense with each other, but I threw them together anyway, because I just felt like it. And once I found a piece of clothing that I really loved, I wore it to death. The converse I bought in the 6th grade? Had them until my junior year of high school, and only retired them because they were literally shredded past the aid of duct tape and safety pins. I had a Doors t-shirt that I got when I was 15, and only laid it to rest 2 months ago, at the age of 25. All good things come to an end, but I like to preserve as long as possible. I had a blue bag I bought from Target when I was like 11, and refused get rid of it until I was about 21.
Below, a collage timeline of my journey through my “style.”
When I began sewing, I was more focused on costuming and the like, and really had no interest in making everyday clothes, because fashion to me was what my mom and brother always droned on about and that seemed endlessly boring. They were always critiquing what I wore, always trying to say but never quite saying that I had no fashion sense whatsoever. However, my interest in making my own clothing didn’t spawn out of an interest in fashion, but rather frustration for never being able to find things that I always wanted to wear and could also never afford. As I’ve learned more about making clothes, and in turn more about the clothing industry itself, there are many facets to it and the industry that pose a lot ethical questions that really piqued my interest. We could get further into that, but that’s a post for another day.
At the end of the day, sewing and making things for myself is something that I just truly love and enjoy, so I decided, after being inspired by the new wave of sewists cropping up through communities like BurdaStyle and Colette, that I would attempt to make 95% of my own clothing from here on out, with the exception of things like shoes and accessories. I was tired of wearing things that didn’t fit quite right and worse, buying random things that I would never end up wearing. With every move I’ve made, I manage to collect about 3 trash bags full of clothes that I seldom, if ever, have worn. No more! I wanted to make a concerted effort with this bespoke clothing, and in order to effectively do that, I needed to really get to the bottom of this concept of style.
Turns out, I still don’t have any. I read articles and tips from designers and makers and creatives about how to find your own personal style; consistent colors or patterns, motifs that you enjoy or are a common thread in your wardrobe, etc. And guess what? There is absolutely nothing consistent about what I wear from day to day. And then it dawned on me from a conversation I had with my boyfriend.
I said, “you know, I don’t feel like I have a style?” and he said “Yeah, you have more of a mood.”
Ahh, yes! Exactly! At last, some clarity in words. I can truly say that what I wear depends solely on my mood for that day. I can go from broody goth chick to sexy clingfilm red dress to t shirt and hiking boots and my dirty hat, and everywhere in between, from day to day. I feel that it’s akin to people saying “follow your dream!” except you are a full-time dreamer, with about 20 different dreams depending on the day. This is great to realize, but presents a set of unique challenges when it comes to wanting to make something unique to you. I’ve made many things so far that I am initially intrigued by, but by the end of the project, I find myself going “meh.”
And that can be really challenging! Through my analysis, some common threads (badumbumtish) I’ve noticed are:
- Fitted but not tight
- Anti-high heels
- Slight punk flavors (denim/patches/denim denim denim)
That’s all I’ve got. If anyone else seems to notice anything else based on these photos that they can more eloquently describe, I’m all ears. In the meantime, the evolution continues, and honestly, so does the confusion over what to make and for which version of myself. F. Scott Fitzgerald (who, random side note, I totally love as a writer but was such an insecure dickhead as a person??) once said of writers:
Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.
The first time I read that quote I thought holy crap, I think this could apply to a lot of creative/artistic people in general. It definitely hits the nail on the head when it comes to myself. Aspects of my personality stay the same, but who you’ll see on any given day depends on the moon, the sun, what I read the night before, a film I’ve just seen, a song I’ve just heard.
Making your own wardrobe is a long term project, so I’m not in any rush, but I do feel that I need some kind of direction to head towards if I’m going to make any sort of sense visually. So begins the conscious evolution of style based purely on who you feel like being that day. All tips tricks and advice are welcome!