Why you should wear that you love – what I learned from my past fashion faux-pas
I have never considered myself ‘fashionable’. In fact, not only do I dislike the term, but my many ill-advised fashion misadventures in the past would indicate quite the opposite. However, it is through making these so-called fashion faux-pas that I learned what ‘personal style’ is all about.
Let’s start in primary school – my favourite piece of clothing in the world was a giant tartan circle skirt that I couldn’t spin around in without taking out a vase or two. While all the other kids were wearing quite sensible things like t-shirt and jeans, I was always in my big tartan skirt, trying to be a princess. That is, until after my pre-teen growth spurt, when no amount of denial could help me fit into it anymore.
Come high school, I had developed an obsession with all things country western (except the music). I had a pair of maroon cowboy boots and even a cowboy hat in the gaudiest hot pink. Despite being the cause of much pointing from strangers and humiliation for my friends, I wore that bright pink cowboy hat everywhere and with everything.
Then, in uni, having learned nothing of fitting in with the crowd, I had moved on to my ‘school girl’ phase – probably something to do with my discovery of Japanese Anime – which had me permanently outfitted in tiny (tiny) mini-skirts and knee-high socks – I even put my high school uniform back into rotation. This borderline sexy costume (paired with an anti-bra attitude) had me branded as the tart of Law school, whose untenable skirt length had probably had me up skirted by every boy on campus. Quite the contrary to being embarrassed about flashing my undies at every crosswind, I was rather knicker-proud about my unsexy cotton numbers, complete with the days of the week printed on the bum.
Later, embarking on my legal career, I decided that it was time to finally become an adult and dress in a ‘socially acceptable’ way. I tried to read fashion magazines, follow trends, and emulate celebrities and even bloggers, but the more I tried to observe all the fashion do’s and dont’s out there, the more confused I became.
Looking back to my fashion-ignorant self, how I looked to others never even crossed my mind. I was just wearing what made me happy and gave me confidence. No wonder the ‘what x you should be wearing this season’ rhetoric never made any sense, and I realised that the question I should have been asking all along is not ‘What am I supposed to wear?’, but ‘What do I want to wear?’; not ‘What style should I adopt?’, but ‘What is my signature style?’.
Much soul searching revealed that, despite my previous track record of gimmicky ensembles, I am a minimalist. I would rather be comfortable and feel like ‘me’, than win any best dressed competitions, and own a few nice things, rather than a wardrobe full of fast fashion. So I wear sneakers any chance I get, invest in well-made signature pieces (in neutral colours for versatility), and am a believer in casual clothes for all occasions, even (and especially) for evening.
It’s not that I am an advocate for dressing conservatively. A judgement about right or wrong in personal style is really not relevant at all. Rather, contextuality is important, and expressing yourself is important. For example, we all need to understand that such things as a two piece suit is inappropriate at the beach, but on the other hand, I can easily see myself wearing a white linen blazer and matching pant on a tropical island somewhere.
I created Beige Renegade precisely to debunk the suggestion that the fashion truth is out there (like the X-Files, this is just fiction). Your clothes should make your life easier and happier, and for this, one must look within, not without. To truly express oneself through how we dress (in other words, personal style as a calling card) is, after all, the purpose for which fashion exists.
So go forth, find your signature style, and always, always wear what you love.
Photography: Helen-Jayne Driscoll – Boho Tailor
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