Fashion in the literal sense means a manner of doing something… to form or create into a particular expression. Every single day we put on clothes, even if it is the same t-shirt, jeans and jacket of everyday, we just created something called style; a distinctive appearance. Something only unique to us. It is the basic form of creativity everyone participates in, willingly or unwillingly. Fashion is Creativity. Fashion isn’t the clothing, or the brand, or the price tag. Now physical looks shouldn’t be revered over everything the way it is now. They say “dress how you want to be addressed”. This has become an excuse to weigh on some immoral scale whether to accord respect and decency to a person. I think this is a bias that should be placed on the addressee. If I’m a respectful person, whoever is in front of me, regardless of what they’re wearing, they deserve respect. So that school of thought is flawed.
I’ll take it one level deeper for you today. Creativity and beauty are something as natural as the science of grass growing in the ground or oxygen existing in the open air. Creativity, beauty and art are abstract concepts that spark something in everyone. It is tied to an emotion in us. Even the evilest and vilest characters are creating something, to them, their creations are their art. When something appears before you, your first instinct is to appraise its beauty, as the beholder. Putting aside a person’s physical (biological) attributes, there is a way a person will combine pieces of clothing that elicits an emotional reaction from you. You might not be conscious of this every second it appears, because it’s a constant stimuli when you’re meeting people, but it’s there. Depending on your biases and how you’ve trained your brain, it will respond positively to someone who looks how you think everyone should look, and respond negatively to someone who breaks rules that to you, should not be broken.
You are constantly being appraised, even for a femtosecond, walking through a mall, people’s eyes are constantly scanning for what looks normal or out of place in other humans, and when it is sighted, a reaction will be there.
Fashion, is indeed, putting your best foot forward. This does not mean dress to please anyone, this means dress so that when anyone’s senses lands on you you, they might be blessed. Fashion is philanthropy. It is how you bless the world with your presence. Because while you being on earth is grand, for you, in the large scheme of things, you need to contribute to the world. Fashion is the very basic level of that contribution. Putting on clothing a tiny bit different every single day, it brings creativity out of you.
Now this all sounds grand, but fashion wasn’t meant to be as impossible as it is now. There are people who, thanks to social media, are stuck at this basic level of creativity. They do not have personalities or lives and only live to consume without creating. They are not aware they are consuming, they think they are creating. Wearing the latest expensive brand is what they call stylish, being gifted clothes to put on is a sign of doing well, but it really isn’t. They’re just covering nakedness with more money. The trend of watching people put on clothes in the name of “GRWM” (Get Ready With Me), is heart sinking. It is meant to elicit a need in people to purchase, to spend money, and it is just wrong for me. It is why I will never be a “fashion influencer”. I do not exist as a tool to promote or elicit consumerism in people. But instead with my writing, I may attempt to elicit positive feelings about clothing choices. I know very few people read as compared to watching 30 second reels, but I can only do what I do, how I do it best.
There are also these crazy standards of fashion turning people into gatekeepers who decide this is how everyone must come forward with creativity. Everyone is fashionable, there shouldn’t be classism in fashion. Fashion police is basically Creativity police. It doesn’t make any sense. No one in history has been able to tame, define, or place art in a box. They have tried though. Yes, there are times when what people wear can flaunt and offend any and all the senses of the human brain that responds to stimuli, collectively for everyone. But the gatekeeping of fashion, has let many people feel inadequate in the way they present themselves, so they don’t even try anymore. They don’t put their best foot forward for fear of being judged. It is a cold world, but as you read this, I hope you find some warmth.
When you’re struggling with confidence on any level, start in front of your mirror. There’s a reason you look more stylish on days you feel particularly good. It’s in there in you. It’s all connected. Take a conscious effort to address this creativity in you. You do have it.
Buying clothes, do you ever buy seemingly nice things but never wear them because they don’t work with anything else in your wardrobe? Putting on clothes. How do you put on clothes? How do you see yourself when you first wear that outfit? Do you engage in a little bit of brain-sparking when you’re pulling that shirt over your head? Do you let it mean something to you? Or do you dismiss it and say, “no one cares?” Do you actually say “no one cares”, or “I don’t care?”
Why don’t you care? Now if all forms of fashion creativity are dead for you, cool. (Fashion creativity is tautology by the way but we’ll roll with it) Someone like Mark Zuckerberg, the need for clothing is to cover his nakedness in the most functional clothing. It is very okay if fashion is functional for you. Some people hang paintings in their houses not to appreciate them but to cover their naked walls. But even Mark has created his own style, a statement of sorts, by doing the same thing over and over and over, to let us know, he’s aware of fashion and creativity, and this is IT for him.
But if what you hear in your mind is “no one cares” or “this looks bad”, then it means there’s a part of your mind that wants you to try a little bit more, but you’re afraid. If when you put on clothing, you linger in front of the mirror for a second, dissatisfied but not quite sure what to do about it, not willing to invest any more time of your day into it; then you are killing your creativity at its most basic level, and this may just spill into every other aspect of your life.
There’s a reason people considered artists are eccentric in their fashion or seemingly stylish. It is because they allow themselves to express their creativity in every aspect of their lives. So while you may not sparkle and tingle when there’s a blank canvas or typewriter in front of you, you should tingle when you think of putting on clothes. We live our lives doing so many chores, working, making money; being stylish makes wearing clothes not a basic chore, but a fun brain activity.
If this is you, and you want to try a bit harder with fashion, then I have a tip for you: there is a sweet spot between what fits your body type (based on how you see your body in terms of its proportions), what you’re comfortable with (modesty, showing skin, covering your chest) and what you’re comfortable in (functionality, movement, mobility). That is where your fashion creativity lies.
I’ll insert myself here. I have broad shoulders, this has been my best kept secret for years. I can hear someone who knows me and reads this saying “that’s not true”. My upper body is larger than my lower body, not disproportionately, but I see it in the mirror, it’s noticeable for me, it’s present in my face. We all have that. One feature of our body, we don’t see it as something that needs to change, it just is what it is. I have a large chest because of my bust. My physiology was built to carry that weight, thank God, because my back pain could be worse. In fact I realise the larger my chest gets, the less back pain I’ll possibly feel. It’s something I’ve been experimenting with during my body positivity series. You can read more here.
Now instead of being concerned about it, I just dress in a way that makes it less obvious, not to people, but especially to me. Because there are certain clothing that could make me look disproportionate. In winter you’ll find me in turtlenecks, they are great for broad shoulders. As for V-necks, they’re are good to take attention away from broad shoulders, but for me it may show off too much cleavage, so I watch what I buy in how low the neck line can go. I play around with my level of comfort there. You’ll also hardly catch me wearing sleeveless, armless, or tube clothing without covering my shoulders. I’d been doing this since I was a teenager and I wasn’t fully aware of the why. My dad took it to mean I was dressing modestly. The first time he saw me wearing sleeveless clothing I was in the university and he thought I was becoming morally bankrupt. For me, it was a day I felt good in many other ways, my shoulders did not care.
There are so many clothing like that, I won’t go near them with a long pole. But sometimes I love an outfit more than how my shoulder might look, so I rock it anyway. If I wear anything that makes my upper body seem wide, I simply counter it with flared bottoms. That satin thin-strapped dress? Has flared bottom. That ruffled shoulder top, I’m wearing boot-cut jeans or a skater skirt. I might be wearing something that doesn’t have a lot going for it, but my body proportions will always be perfect to me in the mirror. Emphasis on me feeling good about it. This adds to my confidence and every step I take, I am blessing humanity. I am an angel of kindness that will take your day from zero to amazing, because your eyes landed on me today. Aren’t you lucky?
That is how I can describe the confidence from dressing well and knowing it. That is the feedback I get from adults, children, men, women, even babies will reach for my sunshades because her! New toy so new friend! Replace the aura of vanity, with confidence. Cloaking the concept of self-confidence under vanity metrics has robbed a lot of people of feeling good about so many basic things. An army of small wins weigh the same as one big win. No win is too small for your life.
I used to be afraid of being too extra with the way I dressed. I was that friend that appears shiny. And I was that friend that was surrounded with people who did not understand their energy, not to talk of my own energy. So I let their voices get rooted in me. I have tried “toning” down. But it is a lot of work reducing yourself. Also this winter, I was going through a phase of cocooning, and did not want attention. Because I cannot compromise on style, I compromised on colour. I went full nude and beige and brown. Not because it was trending and every store banned colour from their hangers; but I thought these muted colours could mute my presence. Now summer is coming around and I feel more ready to face people, so colours are back for me. But even with those muted colours, there was still expression. Now I’m not throwing my beige clothes out, they can always be accessorised! Also, that trend is not for everyone… some people end up looking pale and washed, and while I appreciate their fit, one may subconsciously think they are ill. Please don’t wear colours that make you seem ill. That’s just ill fitting.
Do people call you extra? Pish Posh! You’re only fulfilling a basic human need to create, and express, and you are blessing people on earth, fulfilling destiny! In the sarcastic words of Jon Bellion, “A voice says I might need my soul… but… we all need fashion”.
Fashion counts for something. But I don’t want it to count for you for the wrong reasons. Because regardless of what you wear, you deserve respect, you deserve kindness, you deserve decency from people around you. Stay where you’re comfortable, and if you choose to, find your own sweet fashion creativity spot in your own time. Go full thrift mode just to discover a new style, before you spend money on a name-brand you’ll get stuck wearing. Try on clothing, admire yourself in the mirror, holding a glass of water, see how it feels, and take it off. For no reason. Sometimes enter a store, with a full wallet and a bouncing heart, and leave without picking anything, because as you scan, you see a bunch of clothing your body won’t like, you see colours that’ll wash you out, items you do not need to spend hard-earned money on. Understanding your style can save you a whole lot of money. Whether you say you care about fashion or not, you will spend money on clothes. But will you like the clothes?
Another tip to feel less judged by people, is to judge people less. A judging voice is not partial, it turns on you and judges you too. When you think people are judging you, it’s your judgy voice just multiplying your energy back to you. You think you know what’s right for everyone? You think you know what looks good or doesn’t? Well you will never know what is right for yourself, or be enough for yourself. So practice letting go of controlling the perception you build of people in your mind. When you see a work of art in form of a human being, just take it in as what it is. Don’t attempt to change it, control it, fix it, it doesn’t need fixing. Just like this entire essay wasn’t meant to fix you. You don’t need fixing. Because what you choose as your fashion sweet spot, will always look like a canvas to me, and many other people who appreciate art no matter how it is presented.
I wish you self-confidence, inner peace, and love.
One response to “WE ALL NEED FASHION”
[…] what feels good. Read my post on fashion. Fashion is first a form of self-expression, even though it has been reshaped into a statement of […]