Unbeknownst to most (if not all) my interest in fashion has actually spanned decades. I’ve always thought it’s cool to convey a personality through the expressive art of fashion and style. That same thought propelled a lot of my old illustration work; I really enjoyed drawing characters and to dress them in clothes that express their personality and mood.
I’ve also spent a few years in amateur theatre and dressing in a costume was always a great way to directly channel a character for a performance — to put aside one’s ego, and inhabit another’s. Once the costume is off though, it’s back to normal; but those moments with it on are like glimpses into other worlds, others’ lives. No wonder Halloween is a popular time for many!
For a long time my own real-world application of fashion was distinctly less expressive nor representative as my illustrations and in the theatre. Often dressing down — or too young — I’d represent myself in a way that at times would irritate me when it felt like people would treat me like some scrappy teenager, even though I was mid/late 20s. Sadly at the time I hadn’t the perspective to realise it was my subconscious self-doubt that dressed me down and presented myself as immature.
That’s the unbiased strength of fashion: to represent and to express, whether it is to the self or to the world. While during those earlier “immature” years I felt personally locked in an invisible box I could not see the boundaries of, seeking meaningful (and challenging) life experiences had pushed and exposed me to see and explore many other sides of it all, and I could finally identify and work on getting out of the issues that I felt I was contained by.
I imagine a lot of people go through this process some time in life and may find themselves feeling liberated wearing something like a superhero costume, a steampunk top hat with goggles, or even the opposite sex’s clothes. Fashion can be liberating and empowering, and how you use it can lift you up or (unconsciously) bring you down. I have made a conscious effort with fashion over the last 5 years and found that it made me feel a lot better about myself. Taking more time, care, and respect for myself in what I chose to wear was all I needed to feel more lifted.
I’ve crafted my own arbitrary rules to dress by (always in flux too), as I found that following these particular points make me feel good about what I wear and give me a foundation to let the good times roll:
- I prioritise wearing colours/shades of white, black, blue, yellow, red and brown. Avoid grey and green! Purple is always a good idea (R.I.P. Prince)
- Some clothes may sound/look good, but not feel good. I now always take the time and effort to try them first.
- It’s really important to have comfortable, good quality underwear. Feeling good on the inside works better when you are well supported!
- I just can’t wear baggy trousers outside anymore. Can’t be too tight-fitting either, but should be well fitted (the best trousers I have ever owned are the one’s I’m pictured wearing from Parisian brand Patrons).
- I love subtle, smart and offbeat details. Designers which employ something beyond the norm always get kudos from me (Homecore is most certainly one of them).
- I’m not sure I can ever own or wear a leather jacket. There are a bunch of items like these that I immediately knee-jerk reject as they seem too common, widespread and just derivative for me to personally align myself with (and yet I’m OK with lumberjack/flannel grunge shirts…). Mind you, I never thought I could wear a denim jacket too, so there ya go…
- Must have good quality buttons.
- I’m taking Natalie’s example and avoiding synthetic materials!
- Avoid cheap, over-produced brands. While they are more affordable/accessible to buy, I end up feeling as cheap and throwaway as the clothes are. Saving up for that extra special piece means I value and treat it with more respect (La Garçonnière and L’Eclaireur in Paris are two good places for a range of independent/high quality clothing).
- Quality second-hand & vintage clothing is always a good idea (Espace Kiliwatch and Marché Noir in Paris are my two favourite second-hand clothing shops).
I think this outfit I’m wearing really exemplifies all the guidelines I strive for. The Patrons denim jacket with its comfortable fit, heavy buttons, embroidered details and cool imagery is something I never thought I would be into, but fell in love with first time I saw it. It could really be a classic and timeless piece in my wardrobe.
Denim jacket — Patrons
Shirt — Crazy second-hand patchwork flannel one I got from Espace Kiliwatch
T-shirt — Acne Studios
Trousers — Patrons
Socks — Acne Studios
Shoes — Converse Chuck Taylors
Sunglasses — Céline